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Is your dog ruining your household?

18 May

Naughty Dog
“Is your dog running your household?  Has it created chaos and division within your family or with a roommate?  Has your spouse or partner said, “It’s Either Me, or The Dog!!?”  Then it is time to teach your dog some manners.

Most dog owners have experienced the reluctant friend who is afraid of dogs, or the cautious bystander when walking their dog down the street.  But what happens when your housemates don’t like your furry friend?  Dogs are known to be man’s best friend.  They are loyal, forgiving, non-judgmental, and in many cases useful.

According to the documentary “In the Womb of Dogs,” which aired on the National Geographic Channel, the gray wolf evolved into man’s best friend about 15,000 years ago.  The early humans are credited with domesticating the wolf into what we know today as dogs.  Now, they are the most diverse species on earth.  We have trained dogs to be hunters, therapy dogs, bomb sniffing police dogs, herders, companions and now they are using dogs to identify early stages of various diseases in people.   If a dog can be taught to do all of that, why is Fido wrecking havoc in some households?  As a dog lover, it was important for me to write about a subject more closely related to my current experience and to help people with their troubled dogs in hopes of making their living situation peaceful.
When I got a new puppy named, Harvard, an Australian Shepherd “Aussie” from a top breeder,  he was welcomed into his new home with a menagerie of playful pets.  This Aussie was the pick of the litter and had an amazing pedigree.  However, what I learned in a short period of time was that his genetics could only go so far.  The rest was up to me.  I was given detailed instructions on his care, from the proper diet to specific training techniques, as well as how to socialize him.

I became the ultimate puppy “soccer mom” as I enrolled Harvard in not one, but two agility classes, along with his weekly obedience school training, not to mention multiple play dates with other dogs to learn how to socialize. Despite my efforts, Harvard still had a destructive puppy side to him – he still tore up the pillows on my couch, barked aggressively at passerbys, and made my friends so nervous that they refused to visit our home. As much as I loved my new boy, I needed to get a handle on his behavior quick before I lost my mind.  I called his breeder, Dr. Christie Cotton of IndigoMoon Aussies, who is also a handler and trainer.  I let her know that despite all my efforts, Harvard seemed to be regressing.

Dr. Cotton told me that as with toddlers, puppies need a lot of patience and love. You can’t expect a puppy’s behavior to change overnight. “Harvard is not old enough to control his impulses,” she said. “And just as you wouldn’t expect an eight month old child to be toilet trained, you need to keep in mind your dog is four months old.”  She suggested I focus my training with Harvard to tasks I knew he could accomplish in order to create an atmosphere of positive reinforcement. In other words, don’t overwhelm Harvard with too many training sessions. “His mind is mush right now,” she said, noting that I had overscheduled his training. “Keep the training sessions 5-10 minutes a few times a day,” she said. “Always end on a good note.”

But what if Harvard continued to destroy my house? I told Dr. Cotton how I was constantly shouting at my dog whenever he tore up my sheets or knocked over a lamp. She said scolding your dog all the time is counter-productive. “Do not try to force him to stop by scolding him or hollering over and over as that does nothing but prove to your dog that he is bad,” she said. “He learns to tune you out.”

She advised more tactile methods to discipline my puppy. “When saying ‘enough’ isn’t keeping your dog from treating your house like the wild wild West and knocking things over, go over to your dog and put your hands on him,” she said. “Touching your dog signals a brain change and switches up the energy.” The physical action of gently but firmly placing my hands on my dog would help to calm him down long enough to listen to me, she explained. “As you put your hands on him, say in a stern tone, ‘ENOUGH.’”
Rambunctious puppies need lots of confidence in order to train them to be more disciplined. For puppies under one year of age, Dr. Cotton says the key to successful obedience training is to keep your expectations low and take your time. Don’t overwhelm the puppy with too many obedience lessons at once. A little goes a long way.
Dr. Christie Cotton is a Breeder, handler and trainer of Australian Shepherds.  She is the owner operator of IndigoMoon Aussies ( She offers these tips to keep a household in order, family and friends happy, while loving our furry companions.

Tip One:

To have a successful relationship with friends and family who either visit or live with you and your dog, you must respect their feelings and be willing to compromise.  If possible, make areas in your home available that are free from the invasion of a frisky doggie.  Teach your dog manners and be a considerate hostess.

Tip Two:

Since some dogs have a tendency to be noisy and playful, tuning it out and turning a blind eye is not helpful.  In that situation, crating a dog or puppy for a few hours is certainly worth your family and friend’s peace of mind.  Creating boundaries and tailoring them to meet your family’s needs show respect and will increase the love shared with your dogs.

Tip Three:

But what if you can’t “dogproof” your guest? For example, if a guest in your home is simply not an “animal person” and you have done all you can to keep your dog’s unwanted attention away from them, sometimes honesty is the best policy. To ease the tension and stress, make sure you communicate openly with your guest. Dr. Cotton says sometimes you must set your own boundaries by informing your guest, “This is my home and this is my dog’s home. You are welcome to stay the entire visit, or you can leave.”

When all else fails, seek professional help and intervention. Just as counselors can help families sort through expectations, so can a dog trainer help you and your family work to achieve balance and harmony.  Sometimes we are unaware of the effects our animals can have on the peace of mind of our family and friends.  We should always teach our dogs to conform to OUR life with respect, compromise and good training; we can all learn to live together in harmony.

Now can we all just get along?  Francyne Ellison is the founder of The furLifeLiving Company. She can be found anywhere dog lovers gather with their friendly canines.
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How to incorporate a dog into your lifestyle!

29 Mar


Who knew a dog could be an accessory?  It seems that more and more people today are carrying their dogs around.   Can you blame us?  Being a on the go with a canine companion means we want to enjoy our loyal furry friends as well as maintain our super busy and fun lifestyles.   The trouble is now that the weather is getting warmer, my calendar is already starting to fill up with social events, travel and lots of outdoor dining.  Yet, I feel torn.  What do you do when you have a dog and an active life?  I needed to find out how to make it work, so I asked my friend, Kelly E. Carter, freelance journalist, celebrity reporter and New York Times bestselling author, who is a world class jet setter with a dog, how she covers the red carpet, travels around the world and hangs out at the Laker games while being good pet parent to Lucy her 10 year old longhair Chihuahua?

“I’ve had Lucy since she was eight months old” said Kelly.  “I knew I had a busy lifestyle, but I wanted a dog that could fit into a bag and that didn’t bark.  I did my research, spoke with some breeders and found the perfect dog for my life.” Kelly, gleefully shares this with me at 7:00AM, while Lucy sleeps in.  “Lucy is great with me everywhere I go because she is willing to stay out of sight and quietly sit in her bag.  Lucy lets me know if a guy is right for me, she breaks the ice when I am interviewing celebrities and she keeps me company when I work all night filing stories at my computer.”

Of course being a hot chick with a diva doggie, Lucy also has her own passport from Italy and Mexico and because she is so well behaved, she gets to where Kelly goes.  “We have visited Spain, Germany, Mexico, Martinique, France, Amsterdam and Monaco – where Lucy always gets the royal treatment.”  And the duo lived in Italy for two years. Whether Kelly is traveling by “plane, train, helicopter, bus, scooter, car, boat — and never in coach” Lucy the longhair Chihuahua enjoys life with Kelly, the jet setting hot chick of all times.
Unfortunately for me, my dog, Konga, a five-year-old Yorkie-poo, is not as refined as Lucy.  She barks and always makes her presence known.  It is hard for me to take her places and enjoy my fast-paced lifestyle with her and my friends.  So to take this one step further, I reached out to New York’s favorite dog expert, Dennis P. Owens and asked him for tips on how to get my dog to act right, so she can go more places with me?


Tip One: Basic obedience and behavior training is necessary, as well as crate training. If you are thinking about a smaller breed dog, many of them have anxiety issues so the training will go a long way.



Tip Two : Make sure that you’ve seen to his or her basic needs (food, water, physical exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction) well before Fido goes on-stage.



Tip Three : Adequately prepare your dog for the types of settings you want them to attend. If it’s a gala with a fireworks display, that type of excitement should not be the first time that Roxy is exposed to the flash and bang.


For those of you who want a dog, but need help deciding on the right breed that would fit into your active lifestyles, Dennis adds, “Consider the breed or mix carefully.  If you aren’t living the most [physically] active lifestyle, you may want to steer clear of enthusiastic, canine athletes, like the Jack Russell Terrier, Border Collie, Siberian Husky, Dalmatian to name a few.”    Dennis also suggests that for a calmer dog, or first time dog owners, a Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese, Toy Poodle, Mini Schnauzer and breeds of a lower maintenance temperament would work best– just make sure you do your research.

To see Lucy jet setting around the world and, please visit her web site at
Francyne Ellison is the founder of The furLifeLiving Company.  She can be found anywhere dog lovers gather with their friendly canines.