Wow!  The writing is taking way longer than I anticipated.  Competing with my dog has taken precedence.  But I didn't want to delay getting the new store up and running, so this section remains a work in progress.

I've provided my favorite blog posts from the past below.

If you'd like to be notified when new content is added, let me know.

THE GREAT TRAINING DIVIDE

April 1, 2013
by Cricket Mara

Dogs - we love them! We invite them into our homes and even our beds. We spend billions of dollars a year on them. We buy, adopt, rescue, breed them. We just can’t get enough of dogs. Everyone that’s ever had a dog can tell you stories about those dogs and likely has an opinion about training dogs. If you have a dog with issues, you’re likely to get training advice from a guy at the dog park, your grocery clerk, and your mechanic. People will tell you, “I’ve had dogs all my life…” as some measure of their expertise. Well, I’ve had teeth most of my life, but that doesn’t make me a dentist! It’s likely that you will receive a lot of conflicting advice as well. To make matters worse, there are trainers on TV, a slew of training books, and many websites and on-line resources that offer different training approaches and advice. How do you choose? How do you know what is right for your dog?

HOW TO CHOOSE A "POSITIVE" TRAINER

September 14, 2009
by Cricket Mara

I consider myself to be a positive trainer, but these days it seems like a lot of people who aren't still say they are.  The term came about as an alternative to the "traditional" or military style training, which relied upon force and "corrections" as a major component.  At the time, positive trainers were shifting away from the use of force and focusing on rewarding "good" behavior instead of punishing "bad" behavior.  But I guess no one wanted to refer to themselves as a "negative trainer" :-)  Reminds me of my husband's comments about political candidates.  They all say they are "tough on crime" because no one would vote for someone who said they were soft on crime, now would they?  Traditional trainers that use food and toy rewards may call themselves "positive".  Some call themselves "motivational" trainers.  These days there are folks that refer to themselves as "balanced" trainers.  But what does all this mean to you, a pet owner, when trying to choose the best trainer for your dog? I think you have to look deeper than the labels and the sales pitch and examine your own beliefs and philosphies and look for a good match.  You, like me, may feel very strongly about using only techniques that do no physical, mental, or emotional harm to the dog.  But even that can become a moral quagmire for some.  Does swatting your dog on the nose or rump constitute harm or abuse?  What about the sting of a shock collar?  Do you spank your kids?  See how complicated this can be?

THE ART OF SELF-CONTROL

October 19, 2015
by Cricket Mara

While I often hear people wishing their dog would “chill out”, mastering self-control is a two way street.  Dogs are opportunistic by nature.  Without training most will “throw themselves” at stuff they want.  This can lead to door barging, jumping on people, counter-surfing, etc.  However, humans are often guilty of poor self-control around dogs as well.  Commonly there are the “dog lovers” who are so focused on what they want from the dog (affection, attention) that they engage in excessive greeting (talking and petting) without regard to the dog’s behavior.  Another camp gets easily frustrated by the dog’s boisterousness or failure to respond promptly to a cue.  This frustration comes though in their voice and body language.  Both types of human behavior tend to whip dogs into more of a frenzy.   How can both dogs and humans learn to “get a grip”?

DOG PARKS - BE SAFE AND SANE

 October 31, 2009
by Cricket Mara

The dog park can be a great thing for your dog(s).  But it can also be very risky.  Here are some tips on getting the most out of the dog park and minimizing the risks.

1 - Know your dog!  If your dog is afraid of other dogs and/or people, the dog park is not the place to take him to "get over it".  Hire a trainer to help you with his issues and evaluate when and if he's ready for the dog park.  The same goes double for dogs that are aggressive with other dogs.  It's unfair to the other park users to let your "bully" rule the park.  Not to mention the risks you face should your dog hurt another dog or person.