18 month old male Golden Retriever by Jayne Matthews

18 month old male Golden Retriever – pulls on the lead, barges past his owners through doorways and growls if removed from sitting on the furniture.  Why might he be behaving like this and what alternative would I suggest to solve their problemFirst of all I would ask questions of the owner:

  1. What exercise do they give him?  If they don’t give him enough exercise, this will leave the dog feeling frustrated and unfulfilled.  The type of exercise also needs to be taken into account.  The Retriever belongs to the sporting breed type and suits an active family.  They need to be mentally stimulated also and that is why they are suited to be guide and assistance dogs.  Flyball and agility as an example would be a good activity for the Retriever.  Retrievers also love to swim.
  2. What diet is he on; this can have an influence on the way he behaves.  For example, just as children can become hyperactive due to a reaction to certain additives in their food, so too can dogs.  Sometimes a change of diet can change a dog’s behaviour and it may be found that the dog is allergic to an ingredient in their current dog food.
  3. Have they spoken to a vet and if so has the vet examined him for any health problems first?  What advice did the vet give them?
  4. Is he the same with everybody?
  5. How did they house train him?  Was he always allowed outside by himself?  If so that is allowing him to go through doorways before them.
  6. Does he barge through doorways all the time, or just when the doorbell rings?
  7. How do they play with him?  Does he guard his toys?

Pulling on the lead:  He is eager to get to where they are going.  If the same route is taken each day, to the park for example, then the dog learns the route and knows he is going to the park where there are lots of interesting smells.  He wants to get there as quickly as possible so he pulls on the lead in his eagerness to get there.  If his handlers have been taught to jerk the lead when he pulls, this will encourage him to pull even more as force encourages opposing force.  A change of route may also help whilst training him to walk nicely because having no idea where he is going he will rely on his handler more.

My alternative to solving this problem would be to turn around and walk in the opposite direction as soon as he starts to pull.  This may take some time to do, but he is still getting exercise and also having to think and work out ‘why’ he is being pulled away from the direction he wants to go in all the time.  Eventually he will work out that if he keeps the lead loose he keeps going in the direction he wants to go in, but if he pulls the lead he gets taken away from where he wants to go.

Whenever he is walking to heel, he should be clicked and rewarded, so that he knows what he is doing right and can link the correct action to the reward.

Another method would be to teach him to walk to heel with treats.  Holding a treat in your fist allow him to smell it and then keeping the treat fairly low, but your hand in a fist walk a few steps then allow him to take the treat.  Should he attempt to jump up to get the treat pull your hand out of the way until he stops and then hold it down again.  He will learn that if he walks to heel he gets a treat, if he jumps up it’s taken out of his reach.  Gradually lengthen the distance before allowing him to take the treat.  Then when he is walking to heel without getting excited or jumping up start putting the word with the action before walking.  Say ‘Heel’ and then take a few steps and treat.  When he is doing it every time, slowly decrease the times he receives a treat, until he is walking to heel without being treated.

Barges past them through doorways:  If he was praised as a puppy for going outside, this could have inadvertently rewarded him for going through doorways first and when he was a puppy he probably also learnt that when the doorbell rang if he ran towards the door somebody would come through and make a big fuss of him, which is rewarding in itself.

My alternative to training him not to barge through doorways would be as follows:

Start off by having him on the lead and asking him to sit by the doorway.  Reward (click and treat) him for sitting patiently.  Whilst he is still in the sitting position start to open the door, the minute he starts to move, stop and wait for him to calm down again.  If he stands up, ask him to sit again and start the process over.  He will gradually learn that if he sits patiently the door will be opened, if he moves the door will stay shut.

When he is at the stage where the door can be opened with him in the sitting position his handler should take a step through.  Again, if the dog moves, start over with the door open this time.  Always remember to reward him for sitting patiently.  Gradually increase the amount of steps his handler takes away from him until his handler is through the doorway with him still in the sitting position on the other side of the open doorway.  When his handler is through the doorway call the dog through and treat, get him to sit again whilst his handler shuts the door.

When he has stopped barging through start using the word ‘wait’ so that he can link the word to the action of waiting patiently to go through the doorway.  When his handler has opened the door, use the word ‘wait’ whilst his handler walks through the doorway.  Once through say ‘come’ or something similar to the dog for him to join his handler.

Each step of the exercise should be rewarded (click and treat).  Hand on the handle without him moving, door opened a crack without him moving, door opened fully without him moving and finally his handler walking through the doorway without him moving.  Gradually he can work harder for the click and treat, such as sitting and door being opened, then click and treat, handler walking through and calling him through and then click and treat.  Eventually taking it out altogether.

Persistence and patience is necessary, but eventually he will learn to sit or at least ‘wait’ whilst his handler goes through the doorway.  He will learn that if he waits patiently not only will he be rewarded with a treat to start with, but also by the door being opened and him being allowed to go through.  On the other hand if he misbehaves the door will be closed again and he will not get his reward.

Growls when removed from the furniture:  If he has been allowed to be on the furniture from a puppy then it’s no wonder he growls when removed.  We don’t like being made to move from somewhere comfortable, why should a dog feel any different.  By being removed from the furniture he is being psychologically punished for being comfortable.  Being comfortable is an external reward that is being taken away from him.

An alternative method of removing him from the furniture would be to give him a different reward for doing so.

To do this, try calling him off by sitting on the floor and calling him.  A dog will sometimes see attention from a human as a resource and reward, so by sitting on the floor he may see it as an offer to play or an opportunity for attention.  If this doesn’t work offer him a treat initially and try luring him off the furniture with that.  At the first sign of a positive movement click and treat, even if it’s just his head lifting up off the couch, at least he’s paying attention.  Gradually ask for more from him for his reward.  He sits up from a lying position – click and treat.  He stands up – click and treat.  He looks at the floor – click and treat.  Everything needs to be broken down into tiny steps and gradually linked together into one huge step, off the furniture.  Again, patience and persistence will pay off.  If he sits up and gets the reward, but then lies back down again, start from the beginning, but this time ask him to sit for longer before rewarding.  If necessary show him the treat and put it on the floor where he can see it.  When he gets off the furniture to investigate, click and treat.  Gradually move the treat further away after showing it to him, remembering to click and treat every time.

Once he understands that he will get a treat if he gets off the furniture a word such as ‘off’ can be added so that he can link the word and action together.

Eventually he will learn that getting off the furniture is not a ‘punishment’ because he will get rewarded.  Slowly decrease the amount of times he is treated or the size of the treat, but only when he is doing it every time without growling and to the command ‘off’.

Dogs live by the belief that ‘if it feels good and it’s safe, do it’.  Therefore they need to be trained from a very early age to control their impulses.  To do this handlers need to think of how they want their dog to behave when they are fully grown and what they will allow them to do when they are fully grown.  Just because they are puppies now and their behaviour is comical, does not mean that it will still be comical when they are fully grown, start how you mean to go on so that dogs and people are safe.

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Missing Dogs- Where Are Matt, Abby and Judy? Have You Seen Them?


From Tracey Bradshaw: This spring, Faith, Hope & Charity owner, Sheila Sexton was given the word by the city of Bridgeport, AL that they had chosen no to renew the lease on the land, leaving Sheila scrambling to find REPUTABLE rescues, shelters or Furever Homes for over 40 of her dogs.

For Sheila, these pups were her life and her children. She had many of them since they were just weeks old and left at her shelter door.

Sheila devoted her life to caring for dozens of dogs out of her own pocket.

Since the time that the city gave Sheila notice that they would not be renewing the lease, Sheila and the Friends of Faith, Hope & Charity shelter have rehomed over 30 of her dogs.

Sheila, a very kind and SELFLESS soul, did EVERYTHING humanly possible to get these dogs to safety. On several occasions, Sheila made tremendously long journeys on her own to get these dogs placed in a safe location. She has driven from Alabama to Illinois, Alabama to Massachusetts, Alabama to Florida — most of the time driving straight through the nights.

On 2 different occasions, Sheila even made a trip back to Illinois to pick up one of the dogs that she had placed with a family who wasn’t taking the best care of one of her dogs. She also recently made a journey back to PA to pick up one of 3 of her dogs that had gone to a wonderful & legitimate NO-KILL shelter. Two of the dogs were adopted, but one of her dogs was just very confused and having a difficult time adjusting and coming out of her shell, so Sheila picked up the sweet girl and brought her back home to Alabama. Sheila would do ANYTHING FOR HER DOGS!!!

NOT ONCE through any of this have any of the dozens of people who drove legs of the transports for many of Sheila’s dogs ever uttered a single word about ANY signs of aggression. And NOT ONCE have there been ANY complaints from shelters, rescues or families who have taken in any of Sheila’s dogs. All that has EVER been heard has been wonderful things about how sweet, loving and affectionate all of Sheila’s dogs are. Shy, maybe, but aggressive, NEVER!!

On May 5, 2011, Sheila made a journey from Alabama to Wisconsin to bring 5 dogs to what she thought was the safety of Green Lake Area Animal Shelter in Wisconsin and was informed by shelter manager, Janine Rubeck that her dogs would NEVER be in any jeopardy and also informed that GLAAS was a NO-KILL shelter. She trusted Rubeck to either find placement for the dogs or to call Sheila to let her know that it wasn’t working out so that Sheila could come back and get them.

Most recently, on Sheila’s birthday, July 19, 2011, Rubeck informed one of the Friends of Faith, Hope & Charity shelter that GLAAS had euthanized 2 of Sheila’s dogs, Tucker and Cassidy, for “aggression,” without even a phone call to Sheila to give her the opportunity of coming back to get her dogs. Sheila is still devestated.

When Sheila and some of the Friends of Faith, Hope & Charity shelter called Rubeck, she was rude and nasty. She initially REFUSED to give anyone, including Sheila any information on the other 3 dogs, Matt, Abby and Judy, but then ALL OF A SUDDEN said they were adopted and SUPPOSEDLY are NOT doing well in the homes they were placed in, however Rubeck & the shelter employees are STILL REFUSING to allow Sheila to know anything about what has happened to her dogs and where they allegedly are.

Sheila is heartbroken and filled with worry. She fears the worst has also happened to Matt, Abby & Judy.

The Friends of Faith, Hope & Charity even have a LEGITIMATE rescue ready to take in these 3 dogs, but the shelter CONTINUES TO REFUSES TO COOPERATE.

This page is to try to locate any information leading to the disappearance of Matt, Abby & Judy.


Ever since Rubeck has denied Sheila access to information about these dogs, she has had the website of GLAAS changed to indicate that they are not, in fact, a NO-KILL shelter.

If Rubeck had NOTHING to hide, she would give Sheila some sort of information to at least put her mind at ease.

Rubeck has also been caught in a MAJOR LIE. She informed Sheila that she was a certified behaviorist. There are less than 50 certified behaviorists in the US & if you go to this website http://www.certifiedanimalbehaviorist.com/page6.html
you will CLEARLY see that the name JANINE RUBECK is not listed there.

Her story has more holes than Swiss cheese and her failure to provide a woman as kind as Sheila for information about Matt, Abby & Judy is nothing less than SUSPECT!!


Thank you!!!

The FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Missing-Dogs-Where-Are-Matt-Abby-and-Judy-Have-You-Seen-Them/195671797156669

Anyone with information regarding Matt, Abby, and/or Judy please email PittieFullEventsPlus@live.​com

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From Jayne Matthews: FEAR AGGRESSION

From Jayne Matthews: FEAR AGGRESSION.

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From Jayne Matthews: FEAR AGGRESSION

by Jayne Matthews


Any kind of aggression in dogs is obviously a real problem for the handlers, but as with humans, aggression is sometimes necessary to protect themselves.  A perceived threat, such as a stranger approaching is not necessarily a real threat.  However for a shy or fearful dog any strange environment, situation or person is enough to send the mind into a turmoil of panic causing them to go on the defensive and bark, snarl and sometimes even lunge at the perceived threat in the hopes that the threat will go away.  If we ignore this, as some people would, in the hopes that it will eventually sort itself out this can become such a real problem to the dog that he will eventually attack somebody and will more than likely end up being euthanized, purely because his handlers didn’t want to or couldn’t see a way to cure the problem.

One of the reasons for fear aggression is lack of socialisation as a puppy. A puppy’s critical learning phase is between 2-16 weeks and the onset of fear in dogs is 6-8 weeks (Dominance Theory and Dogs – James O’Heare).  During these weeks a puppy must be introduced to as many different environments, situations and experiences as possible in order for them to learn not to fear them.  Any new experience past this time will be more difficult for the dog to accept without training.  At one time I believed, like many others, in the flight or fight response, now however I have learnt that there are in fact 4 reactions.  These are known as the four ‘F’s.

  1. Flight – Run away, if there is an escape route available.
  2. Fight – A dog will lunge and bite if warning signals such as the following are ignored:
    1. Yawning, blinking, nose licking
    2. Turning head away, then turning body away/sitting/pawing.
    3. Walking away or creeping backwards
    4. Standing crouched, tail tucked under
    5. Stiffening up and staring
    6. Growling/snarling, tail high
  3. Freeze – Almost catatonic state of immobility, possibly with a snarl or a growl.
  4. Flirt – Try to initiate play, act like a puppy or generally ‘fool around’ to show they are harmless and no threat.

The signs to look for, which are called ‘fear motor patterns’ are:

Body shrinking back with rear end lower to the ground, ears back and low, and tail tucked between the legs shows the intention to run away.  If on the other hand the mouth is slightly open with commissures pulled back in a fear grimace, pupils are fully dilated, tail is tucked, ears are slightly back but paw is raised this means that it is undecided whether to run away or fight (Dominance Theory and Dogs – James O’Heare).

When a dog behaves aggressively towards the feared object, whether a person, a situation or another dog the handler needs to be very careful how they respond.  Shouting or hitting the dog will only reinforce the fact that the dog has reason to be scared in that situation, as even his handler turns against him and shows aggression towards him, so can’t be trusted.  Showing sympathy and offering comfort to try to calm the dog down is actually rewarding the dog, thereby reinforcing the aggression as he believes he is doing the right thing.  Positive reinforcement is the best way to deal with this by rewarding the dog when he calms down and ignoring the aggression; this can be by way of a simple ‘good boy’ and a fuss, or playing tug or fetch.  However, if it is a person or another dog that is the feared object, it is imperative that the dog cannot reach them should he decide to lunge.

If the feared object is another dog, the aggression shown can be mistakenly labelled as dominance, when in fact it is fear based.  Defensive behaviour is often a coping mechanism designed to keep the scary object at a distance.  If a dog barks and lunges, generally the scary object retreats and even disappears thereby reinforcing the defensive behaviour, which in turn strengthens the behaviour and also improves the confidence of the fearful dog.  This leads people to the incorrect conclusion that this is just aggression or dominance when in fact the behaviour is fear based.

Another thing to consider is ‘the ripple effect’.  This is when the dog has suffered through a traumatic event in the past that has expanded and grown.  (For the Love of a Dog – Patricia B McConnell Ph.D)

Parts of the limbic system especially the hippocampus record the details of an event, but because future events cannot be predicted, as many details as possible are stored because it is not known which memories will need to be recalled.  If a dog is attacked by a ‘big white dog’ he may always be afraid of big white dogs and show aggression towards them, whilst showing no aggression towards any other dog.

Dogs can also suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), which means that behavioural problems don’t necessarily start immediately after the traumatic event.  Triggers can be generalised starting with ‘white male dog’, expanding to ‘big, white, male dog’ then finally any ‘big, white dog’ – The Ripple Effect (For the Love of a Dog – Patricia B McConnell Ph.D).

Aggression breeds aggression and if you show aggression towards an aggressive dog you are just proving to the dog that it’s right to be aggressive towards you because you are a threat.  Aggression towards a dog includes shouting, hitting or waving your arms around like a demented lunatic.

Dogs that are unknown should always be approached side on preferably in an arcing approach with no eye contact.  Leaning over an unknown dog can quite often be perceived as a threat, which can make the dog go on the defensive and bite.  This actually happened to a friend of mine.  She went to visit some friends who had a German Shepherd and when she asked the couple if he was friendly she was told ‘yes’.  She leant over to fuss him and I assume that not understanding the body language of the dog she didn’t realise he was warning her to ‘back off’.  The next thing she knew he had jumped up and bitten her on her face. Unfortunately and to my disgust the dog was euthanized after this because the couple took it as aggression rather than fear because the dog felt threatened.  Apparently he had a habit of barking at people, but then backing away as soon as anybody approached and if anybody stood their ground he would try to hide.  This is why I believe that what he was experiencing was fear and when my friend bent over he felt threatened and responded in the only way he knew as his warnings had been ignored.

When our Border Collie Meg first joined us, she was very fearful of people and in fact of everything, due to lack of socialisation in the crucial weeks.  She was 4 months old when she joined us.

Our main concern was that she lunged barking and growling at anybody passing or approaching.

I spoke to a trainer and behaviourist recommended by our vets who said that we should take Meg out and get her used to being around people because going to a training class would be too traumatic for her.  She told us to ask people to approach her slowly and when she started barking to back up slightly to the point just before she started barking, slowly decreasing the distance until they were standing next to her.

Heeding this advice we took Meg out to the local park and whilst my husband held her lead I would approach people of different ages, some male and some female and ask them if they would slowly approach Meg.  Obviously some people didn’t want to do this, which I can understand, but most of the people I approached were dog lovers and quite happy to help out.  I got them to approach her and when she started barking they backed up a step or two and she would stop.  When she was quiet again they would take another couple of steps.  This time when she started barking they would just stand still, when she stopped barking, they would approach again.  Once I could see that she was more comfortable and not so stressed I would ask them to back up a few steps again and this time throw her a treat.   After this happened a few times she started showing curiosity and some excitement when strangers started to approach because she linked it with a treat.  Now when a stranger approaches her she is friendly and sociable and will quite happily accept a fuss.  The only time she shows concern is if a stranger bends over her, which is quite often seen as a threat.  My response to this is to explain to any stranger to crouch down rather than bend over so that they are at her level and non-threatening, or better still to completely ignore her until she approaches them.

Knowing what I know now and looking back to how Meg was, I can agree with the fact that a training class would have been pointless because she would never have relaxed enough to learn anything  and it would have just shown her that she couldn’t trust us ‘not’ to take her into situations she felt uncomfortable in.

However, I now know that this method will certainly not work for all dogs, as the timing needs to be perfect.  The incorrect timing could mean positive reinforcement for lunging or snarling, thus increasing the risk of it happening again and the dog becoming more likely to attack.

Karen Pryor states in her book ‘Reaching the Animal Mind’ that there are 4 ways of overcoming fear, which are:

  1. Habituation:  This means making the dog live with the stimulus until it gets used to it and learns to ignore it.  I personally don’t like this method because all you are teaching the dog is that you will not help with his fears so he must help himself by being ready to go on the defensive at any time. 
  2. Desensitisation:  This means exposing the dog to the stimulus in small and gradually increasing increments until the dog accepts it.  I disagree with this method because all you could end up teaching the dog is that you can’t be trusted because you are the one making him face the scary thing over and over again.  If a dog feels that you can’t be trusted then he won’t listen to you when it’s necessary, making the dog very difficult to train.  This in turn could be misconstrued as obstinacy.  How often do owners say ‘he knows what to do, but he’s just too stubborn’. 
  3. Flooding:  Such extreme levels of the stimulus that the dog just gives up and accepts it.  I think this is the cruellest method of all because when training an animal you don’t want them to lose all hope and spirit and this to me would just break an animal’s spirit.  I have seen our dog Meg totally shut down and accept the car and it broke my heart every time because I was the one who had to force her to do something she was scared of.
  4. Shaping:  Click and treat so that the dog hears the click and pays attention and gets the reward.  The second movement then gets a click and reward.  Then you wait for the dog to move and click and treat (conditioning).  The dog learns that making the right move means he will get a treat and during this form of training any signs of fear/aggression can disappear

Suggested methods of training in order to overcome barking/lunging at other people

Clicker training – Shaping:  When somebody is approaching, train the dog to sit calmly and wait for the person to pass by using the ‘click and reward’ method.  This would be done by initially clicking and rewarding the dog for the best behaviour whilst the stranger is approaching, this may be not barking, sitting, turning away or just remaining calm.  The training progresses at the dogs pace, as he learns the basics of how he needs to behave it is improved upon, until you have the dog reacting in a calm, acceptable manner when strangers approach.

The good thing with the click and treat method is that the dog learns that he will be rewarded for making the right move and starts to look forward to training.  Dogs work on a ‘what’s in it for me’ basis, so they soon learn that if they make the right move they will get rewarded.  This makes them try every trick they know to get you to give them their reward.  However, rewards must be kept constant or frustration can set in.  This can make the dog react in one of two ways, they may decide to try harder, or they may just resign themselves to the fact that they aren’t going to get a reward so they lose interest.

This method can also be frustrating for the handler, as they know what they are looking for, but they just aren’t getting it, so they start to confuse the issue by talking to the dog to try to encourage the correct action.  Also timing is imperative because , for example, rather than clicking a dog for lowering his bottom towards the floor for ‘sit’ it is very easy to click the dog for starting to stand up again, thus the dog is being clicked (rewarded) for standing rather than sitting.

‘Watch me’

The first step would be to get the dog to focus on them and make eye contact.  This would be done by lure initially.  A treat would be shown and lifted up to the forehead for the dog to follow.  Once the dog makes eye contact the clicker would be used and a treat given, from the other hand.

Then this would be done without the lure, until the dog was making eye contact each time.   Clicking and rewarding constantly for good eye contact.

The length of time eye contact lasts for can also be lengthened, until the dog is maintaining eye contact for a few seconds at a time.  Only when he has held eye contact for the required length of time should he be clicked and rewarded.

Once this is being done confidently within the house, this exercise should then be tried with slight distractions, e.g. another member of the family walking around in the house, or in the garden with the sights and smells of nature.  Once this is successful, it can be taken outside the house with the dog on the lead.

From there it could progress to friends and family passing by.

Then it would be time to turn practice into reality.  Take the dog out on a walk keeping him on the lead at all times.  Whenever the handler sees anybody approaching, start the exercise, ensuring the dog makes eye contact at all times, still clicking and treating to reinforce the good behaviour.  By this time it should be perfectly possible for the dog to keep eye contact the whole time somebody passes.  Once the dog is behaving consistently then the reward can be slowly phased out, but only when the dog is consistent in all environments.

It is my opinion that this method would work because;

  1. The training starts off without the dog being under any pressure or in a stressful environment.
  2. The dog starts to learn the reward based behaviour and looks forward to being trained in this positive way.
  3. It builds a positive relationship between the dog and his handler.
  4. It is fun for the dog and the handler whilst exercising the dog mentally.

As the exercise progresses the dog works harder in hopes of being rewarded.

The only negative I can see here really is the length of time it may take for somebody to train their dog this way.   Not everybody would have the patience or understanding to train a dog this way, which could make it very frustrating for both the dog and the handler.

Victoria Stilwell – Dog Trainer and Behaviourist

On her TV programme ‘It’s Me or the Dog’ Victoria Stillwell quite often has to deal with dogs that bark and lunge at people when they approach.  Her suggestion is to allow somebody to approach and when the dog starts barking give him a ‘time out’ by walking him away from the group.  Then take him back and when he barks give him ‘time out’ again.  Continue this method until the dog no longer barks when being approached.

This method certainly seems to work on her show and I must admit I can see why it would.  Dogs are social animals and want to be part of the ‘family’ or ‘group’.  When taken away from the family group they will attempt to do whatever is necessary to become part of the family group again.  The only problem I can see with this is that if a dog is scared and wants to get out of the situation and away from the scary object/person, then taking the dog away could be seen as rewarding the behaviour thus encouraging the dog to maintain this behaviour.  Also when out walking with your dog, it is not always possible to avoid approaching people or take a different route because there is only one path or the path is narrow.  Therefore this method can only be used with forward planning and arranging for people to approach in a wide open space so that you have room to remove your dog to give him a ‘time out’.

Another method is the time honoured tradition of the ‘check’ chain.  Now called the ‘choke’ chain due to the fact that it tightens around the dog’s neck when it pulls or lunges.  It is now known by the more enlightened trainers that pulling a dog back by its lead only encourages the dog to pull all the more.  As I learnt in my first dog behaviourist course, pressure invites counter-pressure.  It is natural for force to be met by resistance.  Therefore pulling a dog back is not going to help when being approached by a stranger.  The dog is going to pick up the emotions of anxiety and maybe even fear from his handler, which will add to the dog’s arousal and confirm to the dog that he is right to be scared and show aggression, plus the dog will also learn to connect a stranger approaching with punishment, so will want to do whatever it can to avoid said punishment.

Personally the method I would choose would be the ‘Watch Me’ method.  This method can very easily become part of the daily playtime and learning time with our dogs.  It can be very rewarding for any handler to realise that his dog is making eye contact every time it is asked for and the dogs also get to look forward to the training time for the rewards involved.  It also helps to strengthen the bond between the dog and his handler and as time progresses the dog will look to his handler more and more in uncertain situations to see how to cope with an unknown situation.  ‘Watch Me’ can then be used in a lot of situations where your dog is uncertain and will build and strengthen your dogs trust in you.


Dominance Theory and Dogs – James O’Heare
Reaching the Animal Mind – Karen Pryor
For the Love of a Dog – Patricia B McConnell Ph.D
Stella Bagshaw Dog Trainer and Behaviourist with APDT 
Victoria Stilwell – It’s Me or the Dog! Channel 4 TV programme

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Schmiegel SAVED!!! A Story of SUCCESS!!!! by Betsy Ritter


Well, the big day is finally here!  Our miracle baby is off on a true adventure and well on his way to becoming a ‘normal dog’.  There are certainly those who said it was an impossibility….medical professionals and rescuers, alike.  However, I believe it was the faith and love of those who believed in him that pulled him through…..well, not only pulled him through, but pushed him to heights that few can fathom!!!  Whether they be rescuers, petition signers, letter writers, donors, crossposters, reporters, veterinarians/health care professionals, or simply those who said a little prayer for this sweet baby….take a HUGE BOW…..YOU did it!!!!

I simply CAN NEVER say enough for the courage and commitment of Kathy McGuire, Founder and Director of NJ Aid For Animals.  She is certainly setting the bar HIGH for all rescues.  It would have been easy for her to turn away, but she did not!  She stepped up to the plate and gave a voice to sweet Schmiegel – a voice he could not have had without her.  And let us not forget his original savior, John Micklewright, whose perseverance and conviction started the ball rolling.  John cared enough to insist that this comatose, feces-covered, starving pup who was so near death, be given a fighting chance.  When most would have thrown in the towel, he gathered his resources and contacted those he knew were like-minded, setting out to do what SHOULD be done….the RIGHT thing!!! Schmiegel would have disappeared into oblivion if not for him, like so many other starving, disposable, inner-city pups.  John and Kathy’s tenacity continued through to the legal system, standing up, once again, to give Schmiegel a voice, where there would have been none!  They were there, all along, even to see Schmiegel’s abuser to ‘justice’.  Their combined commitment to Schmiegel never wavered, despite the disappointing legal outcome.  Hats off to you, Kathy and John…there is a special star in Heaven for you, I’m certain!!!  Finally, I would like to acknowledge Michelle Bryson, Camp Director, of Camp Bow Wow, Cherry Hill, NJ, who graciously agreed to foster our sweet boy.  Michelle is well-versed on socialization procedures and training and will ensure that Schmiegel has access to all the stimulation he needs to be the perfect family pet for some extremely lucky family!!!   Bless you, Michelle, for providing the very best stimulation and training that our boy can possibly get!!! You are the best!!!

With an All Star Team like this behind him, Schmiegel is all set to CHANGE THE WORLD and bring awareness to the cause of animal abuse and neglect.  Please share his story whenever you can….it’s a success story that we NEED TO HEAR!!!!

And now for the specifics on how to enjoy our baby while he is in foster care:

Schmiegel will be in Haley’s Haven (number 1) for the indoor play area, and Leo’s Lounge (number 2) for the outdoor area.  Camp Bow Wow’s cameras are off when our facility is closed, the hours are:

Mon – Fri: 6:30am-7pm

Sat: 8am-7pm and

Sunday and holidays: 8-11am and 4-7pm

Also, people will not be able to see Schmiegel when he is in for breakfast (7:30am-9am), lunch (11:30-1:00)and dinner (4:00-5:30 or 6). The cameras are only in the play areas.

Link to ALL Cherry Hill Camper Cams:


Remember that you need to download Active X for viewing, if you don’t have that…Then default to the area you would like to view under the picture (in the green box).

Schmiegel Cam For Any Browser:


Schmiegel Cam For Internet Explorer Only:


The Camp Bow Wow Where Schmiegel is:


Camp Bow Wow on Facebook:



Betsy Ritter is a professional Canine Behavioralist/Trainer who runs Im-Paws-Able Training. You can contact Betsy at betsy@charlietotherescue.org

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The fears of a shelter dog by Jayne Matthews

If you think about life from a dog’s perspective, all you want to do is to play, exercise, eat and sleep and get plenty of attention from your handlers.  The attention does not necessarily always have to be affection, but anything that the dog enjoys and training can also be a part of this.

However, shelter dogs are a different story.  Generally these dogs have had a rough life.  There is a whole litany of excuses for why they end up in shelters.  These can range from ‘we’re moving house and the new landlord won’t let us have pets’, to ‘we’re having a baby and we don’t want a dog around the new baby’.  As all animal lovers know none of these reasons are valid, they are just excuses because the dog no longer fits in with their plans.  All pets are for the span of their lifetime, not just until we get fed up with the responsibility and don’t want them around anymore.

They may be only a puppy who due to lack of consideration on the part of the human family, was born into a family where puppies weren’t wanted, so they dump them in the shelter, sometimes with the misguided idea that they will find a ‘good home’.  The sad truth is most of them will be killed before they see 6 months, unless they are very lucky and a rescue finds them in time or they are noticed by a new family looking for a new puppy.

They may be an older dog, who has given their loyalty and love to their human family for quite a few years, but now the dog needs them and they find they don’t want to, can’t afford to, or can be bothered to cope with the responsibility or vet bills, so again the dog gets dumped at the local shelter.  Unfortunately these poor souls have even less chance because they are ‘OLD’ or have ‘MEDICAL ISSUES’ and not many people want the responsibility or the cost of an older dog, especially if there are puppies in the same shelter.

Wherever they are from and whatever their circumstances they have ended up in a shelter and feel nervous stressed and certainly scared.  There are lots of new smells, new sights and sounds and nobody to comfort them because the shelter is so busy.  They are probably still waiting for their family to come and get them, waiting to hear their voices or smell their scent.  Meanwhile they can smell the fear from the other dogs in the neighbouring kennels and who knows what the conversation is between them.

These dogs are then taken out of the kennel before they actually have time to settle down and taken into a room where they are assessed for character issues.  HELLO!!!  These dogs are scared, nervous and stressed and yet they are expected to act normally!!  They have food put down in front of them and no sooner do they start to eat it than some stranger tries to take it away from them!  A complete stranger tries to hug them and puts them through all their paces to assess whether they are aggressive, friendly or whether they have any other issues that may or may not make them adoptable.  If somebody I didn’t know came up to me when I was stressed and unsure and tried to hug me or take something off me that I had just been given, rest assured I wouldn’t be relaxed and comfortable about it and if I was a dog it’s damn well guaranteed I would bite them.  Whilst all of this is going on, the poor dog is giving off signals to try and get the human to back off.  Some signs of stress in a dog are:

  1. Sweaty paw prints – They will actually leave paw marks behind if on a tiled or concrete floor.
  2. Shake-off – They will suddenly shake themselves for no apparent reason, sometimes after or before a sneeze.
  3. Tail between their legs – We should all know this one.
  4. Tap-out – This is similar to a roll over (to have a belly rub), but it’s much slower and gradual, generally starting from one end or the other, whereas a roll over is more like a fast flip done through excitement.
  5. Hair loss – They will suddenly start moulting and fur will be flying off wherever they are touched.
  6. Urogenital checkout – This is when suddenly and completely out of context they will start sniffing, looking and licking their genital area, almost as if checking to make sure everything is still in place.

These are just a few of the signals that a stressed dog will use to ask the assessor to back off, which are generally missed due to lack of training, or ignored because they don’t have time to work those issues out.  Unfortunately a lot of the people assessing these dogs are not really qualified as trainers and therefore should not be assessing these dogs.

A lot of dogs lose their lives because of lack of knowledge by the assessors who don’t understand the stress that the dog is under or the signals that the dog is giving out.  The dog is trying everything polite within his knowledge to ask the assessor to back off, but the assessor is missing these signals and just keeps forcing the issue, until the poor soul feels he has no alternative than to bite the hand that is terrorising him.

If a qualified trainer was brought in to assess these dogs then they would be able to read and train these dogs so that they could be adopted and a lot more lives could be saved.  But until the people in power realise that IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS these poor souls will continue to be misjudged and to lose their lives through the ineptness and ignorance of people.

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Ignorance! It drives me nuts!

I have never agreed with Back Yard Breeders, but lately they’re REALLY striking a nerve with me.  At the moment I have a puppy named Miles that I rescued from my vets office.  He came from a BYB in Detroit, who couldn’t make any money off him because his legs are crooked and bowed from being malnourished, full of worms, and having a vitamin deficiency.  So this “Breeder” dropped Miles off at the vet to be Killed because he was useless, and wasn’t “worth” anything!  If the momma dog was properly taken care of, and not lacking for nutrients herself, Miles would have received proper vitamins through the milk… IF he was even given the opportunity to nurse long enough.  Miles will be fine, he’s doing great with treatment, but this idiot has no clue that Miles is even alive, and Im sure he doesn’t have a care in the world or a thought of this sweet little puppy ever, either!  I just can not fathom the thought of puppies, or dogs in general being merchandise.  Defective merchandise…. Trash it!  On the “rack”(not moving quick enough) to long… Trash it!

While I was at the vet with Miles today getting his leg brace changed, we were standing at the counter waiting to check out, and a police officer walked in with a little westie soaking wet (it was raining hard all night and day) and half bald with irritated rashy skin, covered in fleas.  The police officer was driving and saw this dog tied to a tree by his retractable leash.  He was very skinny and scared to death.  Who knows how long he was there, and why the idiot “owner” dumped him.  Poor guy! 

I know that these instances are just a small grain of salt compared to the amount of horror some animals have to endure, such as Jimmy Durante, Phoenix, Chamberlain, or the many others.  But when is this going to stop?!?!  What happened to HUMANS having consciences?  I just can not wrap my head around people just treating innocent animals so inhumane. 

I know that most people say they wish there was something they can do, but they’re just one person… Well all of us “one persons” CAN make a difference!  If you take just a few minutes out of your month, write a letter to your state representative and congress person letting them know the abuse and cruelty laws MUST be stiffened.  One letter may not make a difference, but if you ask your family, neighbors, and friends to do the same it WILL make a difference!  Please don’t just stand by wishing there was something you can do.  Act on it!  If nothing gets done, what did you lose?  A few moments of your time? Thank you…             Michelle Touchtone

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