Nov 23, 2011 Issue #26 Published by Sue Skiff






I Need Your Testimonials


How's It Going?

Well, this seems to be becoming a Wednesday e-zine, instead of a Tuesday e-zine. I actually did write the two main articles for this newsletter, yesterday. In fact, I wrote them in my head while I was bathing and having breakfast. Then, I wrote them for real, on my computer. However, I ran out of time to publish the e-zine, because I had to get ready to go house sit.

Emma and I are hanging out with Emma's friend, Zoey. They played all morning, this morning. Emma is absolutely worn out. This evening, the three of us will go to the house with the pets described later in this e-zine.

Check it out, I have resumed having the contents at the top of the e-zine, and I tested the links, and they work! That is, if you get the e-zine in HTML format. If you don't then it will just look funny at the top of the page. Ignore it.

I have also finally revised the last part of the e-zine, so check that out as well.

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.

Have a Great Thanksgiving!



Fetch is a great game! With fetch, your dog simultaneously gets exercise, gets to work for you, gets to play, and builds a stronger bond with you. Unfortunately, dogs don’t automatically know that they’re supposed to bring a toy back after they’ve retrieved it. They have to be taught. Here are some methods that I use to teach a dog to bring a toy back, and give it to me.


When I first start teaching a dog how to play fetch, I put the dog on a leash. That way, the dog can’t develop a habit of running off with the toy, and I can pull the dog to me, if need be. As the dog starts to understand the rules of the game, I start using longer and longer leashes (easily accomplished by attaching a rope to the leash). Once I see that the dog is consistently running back to me with the toy every time it is thrown, then I start playing with it off-leash. For some dogs, this process can go really quickly. However, best to expect that it will be a few weeks of consistent training before your dog can be trusted to bring that toy back with no leash on.


Fetch is a chained command. That is, it has several steps to it. First the dog has to go after the toy. Then, it has to pick up the toy. After that, the dog has to run back with the toy. And, finally, the dog has to give the dog to its human counterpart. The best way for an animal to learn a chained command is in reverse order. If you don’t believe me, next time you have to memorize something, memorize the last line first. Then learn the next to last line, and so on. The reason that learning a chained command backwards works better than learning it forward does, is that once the learner learns the last step, it is always working towards something that it already knows how to do. So, once it gets through the new stuff, it relaxes, because it is moving into familiar territory. The last step in “fetch” is where the dog gives up the toy. This is often also the hardest thing for the dog to do, so if it is taught first the dog has the added advantage of getting the hard part out of the way at the beginning. Teach giving up the toy first. Then, teach giving the toy to you. Next teach picking up the toy. And, of course, teach running out to get the toy last.


It’s the rare dog that enjoys giving up a toy, once it has the toy in its mouth. Teach your dog that every time it lets go of a toy on command, it gets something that it like (like a treat). Then, it will begin to like giving the toy away. If you follow tip #2, then as the dog moves through each step, it knows that at the end, it will get something good. Continuing the game is also positive reinforcement for the dog. So, let your dog know that when it gives the toy back, the game will usually continue. Instead of giving in to a game of tug-of-war if your dog won’t give a toy back, simply refuse to continue playing.


Initially, when you are teaching your dog to play fetch, you should be in charge throughout the game. This begins with you making the decision to play. You start the game, and you pick the toy that’s going to be played with. Then, you decide when the game is over. That means that if your dog is only going to want to play for a couple of minutes, you need to be prepared to stop before your dog decides to.

Once your dog understands that you are ultimately in charge of the game, you can relax this, and allow your dog to sometimes bring a toy to you unsolicited.

There you have it. Four simple tips for teaching your dog to play fetch your way. Done correctly, you can look forward to years of fetch games with your dog where you never have to chase your dog down to get a toy back. Now, go have fun with your dog!


When I was growing up, I felt way more comfortable around animals than I did around people. When I fantasized about my life as an adult, there were always lots of animals in the fantasies.

As an adult, I realized the huge responsibility that each pet engenders, including financially, and I have therefore endeavored to keep the numbers of pets down. However, I do have four. Of course, the cats adopted me. I never set out to get three cats.

As a renter, it can be difficult for me to find a place to live with that many animals, and that alone is enough to keep me from getting more. Even home owners can be restricted by their Home Owners Associations, or zoning laws, as to the number of pets they can have. However, if there were no restrictions like that, how would you know if you had too many?

This subject came up to me, because today I go to house sit at one of my favorite homes. The house is on a couple of acres in Alamo, Ca, and I have yet to count how many animals live there (not counting wildlife, of course). Let’s start with the mammals at that home. There are 3-4 feral cats that are fed in the front yard. Two of these were living there when my clients moved in 25 years ago! Then, there is a cat that has, in the last several months, decided that it wants to be strictly indoors. And, there is another cat that is indoor/outdoor. That takes care of the cats. Three other mammals will require my care at this house this holiday weekend; a 13-year-old dog, and two horses. And, of course, there are also two humans that live there.

Moving on to birds….. Inside the house live three parrots. The largest is a sulfur-crested cockatoo. S/he is quite social and noisy, and likes to go for my fingers when I am changing the food dishes. The other two parrots share a cage, and are therefore more social with each other than with people. One is a cockatiel, and the other is some kind of conure. They also like to be vocal.

Outside the house live several more domestic birds. First, there is a pair of ancient geese that pretty much do what they please. I have lost count of the number of chickens that also live on the property. When I first started house sitting there, there were also three turkeys, but they were moved on to other homes.

On to animals with scales…. There are two fish living in the house where I will be sitting. One is an oscar, and is rather large for an aquarium fish. The other fish was originally purchased to be food for the oscar, and is therefore quite a bit smaller. However, instead of being eaten, it took up residence in the aquarium of its intended predator; and the two fish have apparently spent many years together.

The only reptiles in the house are all of the turtle variety. There is one dinner-plate-sized red-eared slider that lives in a converted horse watering trough. Then, there is a young tortoise, as well as a box turtle. The two of them share a huge heated enclosure, and are about the same size as each other. The last time that I was there, there was also a hermit crab sharing quarters with the tortoise and the box turtle. This is kind of odd; hermit crabs being sea creatures.

So, did you add up how many there are? Me neither. I guess you can’t since I haven’t nailed down how many chickens there are. Is that many pet a lot? Is it too many? I would have to say that it is not too many for the couple that keeps them. All animals seem healthy and content. And, the ones that enjoy human attention, obviously (to me) get it. However, I do think that it would be too many for most people, because most people have lives that are too full to begin with.

So, I guess the answer to my title question is that “too many pets” depends on the person, or people, and their ability to care for their pets. But, you probably already knew that before I wrote this.


Do you enjoy reading the articles on dog training in this e-zine? Want to know more? Then, check out my e-book, How to Have a Well-Behaved Dog. In How to Have a Well-Behaved Dog, you can find more detailed articles on dog training, complete with pictures. There is also advice on dealing with many dog behavior problems.

You can purchase How to Have a Well-Behaved Dog directly from me in pdf format. If you order directly from me, you get the added bonus of getting a free 1/2-hour Skype consult with me, which can be used at any time in the next year. To get your pdf copy, click here

How to Have a Well Behaved Dog is also available for the Kindle at You won't get my free Skype training, but if this is your preferred way of reading an e-book, then here' s the link for the Kindle edition.

And, guess what? You can also get How to Have a Well Behaved Dog for the Nook! So, if you prefer to get your e-books from Barnes and Noble, then click here.


Silver Lining Pet Services is the business owned by Sue Skiff. It provides both dog training and pet sitting services.

If you own a dog, then look to Sue to alleviate any fears and frustrations that you have over your dog's behavior. Sue will come to your home, and set up a training program that is customized to your, and your dog's, needs. You can even have Sue do the training for you, in your home, while you go about your business. If you don't live within Sue's service area, you can contact Sue about setting up a Skype appointment to work with her.

As for pet sitting services, Silver Lining Pet Services endeavors to give traveling pet owners peace of mind that their pets will be well cared for while they are away.

For further information on the services provided by Silver Lining Pet Services, please visit our website.

I Need Your Testimonials

If you have used my services in the past, please consider writing a testimonial for me. I will put it on my website for all to see how wonderful a writer you are. I’m giving you 3 ways to do this. The first way is to simply send me an e-mail, with your golden words included. Or, you can post a review on my Yelp Page Thirdly, you can post a comment on my Facebook page Thank you for your help in making Silver Lining Pet Services a success!

Silver Linings is a publication of Silver Linings Pet Services, and is published for the purpose of marketing services. The current address of Silver Linings Pet Services is: 5555 Merritt Drive Concord, Ca 94521