Nov 16, 2011 Issue #25 Published by Sue Skiff


Good evening!

I'm a little late this week, aren't I? I have been working hard on my business, and I am happy to say that the result of this is that I have finally got my e-book, How to Have a Well Behaved Dog, up for instant download for anyone who wants to buy it. Now, comes the hard part; letting the world know that it is there, and getting them interested.

I invite you to check it out. As I said, once a Paypal payment(you can also pay by credit card) is made, the book can be instantly downloaded. Even if you are not interested in getting the book, please check out the sales page. I would appreciate any feedback on the sales page that you can give me. Let me know if it needs more or less content? Is it too salesy? Not salesy enough? Let me know.

Here is the link to the sales page for the book, from which the book can be purchased:

Please send me
your questions, complaints, opinions, articles, comments, and stories.

Oh yeah, I also wanted to mention that, if you ever want to view a back issue of this e-zine, the link for that can always be found at the bottom of any issue.

See you next week!.



Four Tips For Dealing With a Barking Dog

Dogs that bark excessively can be a real problem for their guardians. Not only do the owners have to deal with the noise, but there can be legal problems, as well, if neighbors complain about it. Here are some tips to try for teaching your dog not to bark.


Yes, you read that right. Teach your dog to speak on command. By doing this, you can reinforce your dog when it barks on command. Then, when your dog barks without a command, the lack of reinforcement will make barking just for the sake of barking less appealing. I a couple who successfully used this technique on their beagle. Nothing that they had tried previously had worked, but once they taught him "speak," he totally stopped barking inappropriately.


Teach your dog to stop barking when you say “quiet.” That way you can allow your dog to bark a little in warning, then tell it to stop, and reinforce it. Teaching “quiet” is effective for getting a dog to stop barking, but generally is not enough to keep your dog from barking excessively. So, use “quiet” in combination with other tips you find here.


Generally, I try to stay away from using negative measures to train dogs. However, one has to acknowledge that, sometimes, positive reinforcement just isn’t enough. The problem with barking is that it is self-reinforcing. The more a dog barks, the more it enjoys barking, and the harder it is to get it to stop. Many dogs react to spray bottles. When using a spray bottle, first tell your dog “quiet,” then if it keeps barking, spray it a few times in the face. If plain water has no effect on your dog, you can try mixing it 50/50 with vinegar, which is generally unpleasant enough to a dog to get it to interrupt a behavior.


If you have a dog that just won’t stop barking inappropriately, no matter what you try, you may have to resort to the use of a stronger negative reinforce. I strongly urge you to avoid using one of the electronic shock bark collars. These are designed to train through pain, and I therefore consider them to be inhumane. However, there is an alternative. It’s a collar that sprays citronella towards a dog’s face when the dog barks. This is generally unpleasant enough to get dogs to stop barking, and has the advantage that it gives the dog negative reinforcement whether a human is present, or not.

Teaching your dog not to bark inappropriately will not only give you more peace, it will also help your dog to learn to be calmer. So, keep working on it. It will be worth it. Good luck!


As I have said in previous editions, I used to be a research wildlife biologist. The longest period of research that I did was when I was in Yosemite studying great gray owls, eventually writing my master's thesis on them. Here, I am going to give you some perspective on what it is like to be a male great gray owl.

First, a little background; great gray owls are generally an arctic species. They can be found in arctic areas all over the world. In the US, they are found in the more northern states, usually. However, we have a little population in California that hangs out in and around Yosemite. Being an arctic species, they are mostly feathers. A female great gray owl (female birds of prey are larger than their male counterparts) can stand 3 feet high, while weighing less than 4 pounds. Since they are so light weight, they eat small prey; mainly voles (rodents similar to mice, but with short tails). The Yosemite owls also like to eat gophers.

Since their food is covered by snow during a significant portion of the year, great grays are capable of locating prey by sound alone. They actually dive through snow to catch their food. In Manitoba, Canada, great grays have been observed diving through one meter-deep snow that is firm enough to support a full-grown man, and come out with prey in their talons.

So, now that you know a little bit about the species, let’s talk about how stressful it is to be a male great gray owl. Great grays generally mate for life. However, they don’t necessarily stay with their mates during the winter. As winter is coming to a close, they will meet up on their breeding grounds, and go through a renewed courtship; preening each other’s faces, and billing (a bird version of kissing). As part of the courtship, the male also brings the female presents of food.

It’s the male’s job to find a nest site. Now, owls don’t make nests. Some owls will use old nests made by other large birds, or will nest in holes in trees. Great gray owls prefer to lay their eggs on a flat top of a broken tree trunk, or on top of a high stump. For the Yosemite owls, having good shade over the nest site is critical, because of all those warm feathers.

AS I said, it’s the male’s job to find a nest site. The male will tour the territory, looking for a suitable broken off tree trunk. When he finds one, he leads his mate to it for inspection. The female then sits on the trunk, trying it out. If she likes it, she gets herself prepared to lay her eggs there. If not, she lets the male know, and off he has to go to find another site.

The above must be stressful enough for the male, but it is nothing compared to what he has to go through once the eggs come (generally, they lay 2-4 eggs). Female great gray owls do all of the incubating of the eggs. This is not true for all bird species. The males of many species share incubation duties with their mates. Since the female great gray owl has to stay with the eggs pretty much 24/7, the male has to feed her.

Now, I don’t know if you are aware of this, but predators have a hard time obtaining food. Prey animals have all kinds of ways of avoiding getting eaten, so predators have many failed hunting attempts for every successful one. With the female sitting on the nest, the male great gray has to double his hunting efforts. And, as if that wasn’t enough, his mate will call frequently to let him know that she’s hungry. And, she’s bigger than him. And, she needs more food than usual, because of the energy required to produce and lay eggs. I clearly remember camping near a great gray owl nest where the female called to the male all night long. And, that little male would just keep plugging away, trying to catch some little animal to satisfy his mate.

But, of course, this is nothing compared to what happens when the eggs hatch. Once that happens, that little male has to catch food for his whole family. And, the babies grow quickly, requiring more and more food. After 2-3 weeks, the babies leave the nest. Owls leave the nest before they can fly, so at first the babies stay close to the nest site; with Mom staying close by to protect them. And, Dad is still feeding everybody. And, in addition to Mom calling to Dad to tell him that she’s hungry, the babies chime right in , and let him know that they’re hungry too.

Once the babies are flying well enough, they fly down closer to where the male hunts; still expecting to be fed, but also learning how hunting is done. At this point, the female leaves. Yeah, that’s right, she goes off, and leaves her mate to finish the job of child rearing. The male hangs around until his kids are hunting on their own, then he takes off, as well, no doubt for a well-deserved rest.

Whew! Just thinking about all the work those little guys go through makes me tired. How about you?


It’s part of life in the 21st century. You get the kids off to school, work all day, pick the kids up at daycare, make dinner, and collapse. But, what about the dog? How do you find the time to train it to be a good citizen? Maybe, you managed to get your dog into a puppy kindergarten class, and then a basic obedience class. But, you really didn’t have time to practice the way the instructor wanted you to, and now, well now, it’s all kind of fallen by the wayside.

You know that your dog can do better. Perhaps, your dog has some behavior issues. Whether or not they’re serious issues, they make your life harder, don’t they?

So, what do you do when you’re already stretched, and you know your dog needs more? The answer is “day training.” Day training starts with a meeting with me where you describe your dog training needs, and your dog’s behavior issues. I then come to your house for an hour or so, on agreed upon days, to train your dog. You get to get on with your life, while your dog gets training and attention from a professional. And, that training and attention is customized to your and your dog’s exact needs.

Maintaining what your dog learned is also built into the day training program. At the end of each week of training, I meet with you to go over what your dog has learned, as well as what you need to do to maintain the learning. After the agreed upon number of weeks has elapsed, I return for a follow-up or two, to make sure that you and your dog are on the same page, and everyone’s happy. For more information on day training, visit my dog training website

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