May 31, 2011 Issue #5 Published by Sue Skiff

A Note From Sue

Hey Everyone!

Grrrrrr!!! I am continuing to deal with annoying computer issues. Everything takes much more time to accomplish than normal, as a result. Then yesterday, I had this e-zine all set to be sent out, when the site that hosts my e-zine went down.

This week’s dog training tip is on showing your dog that you are in charge. It is written in response to the following dog behavior question sent to me by an old friend (we’ve known each other since first grade!):

“I will be pet sitting my daughter's 5 or 6 month old black lab for the first time. I know that I should take care of her like ____ does ( the same routine and discipline) but my question is do you think the dog will not listen to me because Ive never pet sit her before?”

So, the short answer to the above question is, “No.” It is absolutely possible to get a dog, with which you have no previous experience, to listen to you. I do it all the time when I'm dog sitting. And, since my friend is the mother of 4, and a child care provider, I will add that a huge key to your success is the same as that for child raising; you need to be firm and consistent.

In answer to another question that I was asked: yes, I have always intended to include pictures in this e-zine. However, I am waiting until I understand the newsletter program that I am using better.

Have a question that you'd like answered? E-mail me.




Since dogs live in our world, they need to be able to follow our rules. Otherwise, all they have to go on is instinct. Therefore, it is important that humans establish themselves as the ones in charge where dogs are concerned. Contrary to what many dog experts say, this can be accomplished without acting dominant, or being the “alpha.” Here are four things that you can do to teach your dog to accept that you are in charge.


Think about someone who is a natural leader; someone that people are naturally drawn to follow. Think about the way that person holds her or his body, the confidence with which s/he speaks; the whole attitude s/he projects. This is the attitude of a leader. This is what you want to project to your dog. So, whether you believe deep down that you are a leader, or not, assume the attitude of one whenever you are with your dog.


Next, you want to be in control of all of the resources. What do I mean by “resources?” A resource is anything that your dog places a value on. Resources are: food, toys, your dog’s crate, your bed, your dog’s bed, the couch, treats, bones, attention, play, walks; everything that’s important to your dog. You must be the owner of all of these.

The most important of the above resources is food. Make sure that your dog understands that food comes from you, and that food can be taken away from you. Here is a technique for teaching your dog that food comes from you: Make your dog sit and stay while you prepare its food, and put the food down. If your dog gets up before you give it permission to, make sure that the food is not where your dog can get to it, and make your dog sit back down in the same place that it was in before.


Observations of groups of dogs have shown that the dominant dog in the pack always goes through the door first. Teach your dog to sit and stay while you are opening a door. Then, don’t let it go through the door until you invite it to.


Dogs that pull are showing that they are in charge of the walk. Also, if you stop whenever your dog wants to stop to sniff, you are allowing your dog to be in charge of when you stop. So, don’t let your dog pull you. And, be the one that makes the decisions about when to stop, change directions, and change the speed of your walk.

This does not mean that you should hold the leash really tight so that your dog can’t pull. It means that whenever your dog gets ahead of you, you need to turn around or back up. When your dog is walking next to you, praise it, and give it attention and treats. And, if your dog stops, just keep walking. Hold the leash loosely, with your arms relaxed. Use your body to control your dog, and be balanced over your feet.

Be persistent and consistent with all of the above, and your dog will get the message.

Good luck!


Last week, I told you a story about a sheep in a swimming pool. This story involves the same swimming pool. My dogs and I were staying at the house where this swimming pool is located. And, of course, I was caring for the animals at the house while the family that lived there vacationed.

It was early morning. There were a lot of animals at that house, and I had other jobs to do that day. So, I was getting an early start. My two dogs, the resident two dogs, and I all exited the house through the back door. The dogs all went off into the weeds to do their business, and I headed for the chickens. Then, I saw it; a bat. It was clinging to the side of the pool, and looked to be soaking wet. Not quite what I had been expecting. My mind immediately jumped to my previous swimming pool encounter with the sheep, and I began to wonder how many animals I was destined to find in that swimming pool.

I wondered how a bat would get into a swimming pool. Was it sick? Did it swoop too low when getting a drink? "Well, it can’t have rabies," I thought, "after all, the other name for rabies is hydrophobia (fear of water)." Still, you don’t want to touch a bat with your bare hands. I knew that for sure. I checked on the dogs. I did not want them to notice the bat. They were busy at their own affairs. Still, I took them inside just to make sure. The cats had spent the night outside. I did not see them. I hoped that they, too, had not noticed the bat. Then, I looked for two things; something to put a bat in, and something to protect my hands.

I found an incredibly small cage in the garage; perfect for the bat. I could not locate any gloves, so I had to settle for a thick towel to protect my hands. I easily separated the bat from the side of the pool, using the towel, and put it into the cage. I covered the cage, put it out of dog reach, and finished up my animal rounds.

When I was ready to leave, I took the bat with me. Off we went to the hospital at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum (LWM), where I told my story, and left the bat. At that time, I was spending many hours a week working at LWM. A couple of days after I dropped off the bat, a hospital staff member found me, and I was informed that the bat was not doing well, and not eating. Then, a day or so later, I got the call. The bat had died.

Bats are the biggest carrier of rabies in this area. So, of course, a bat that has died of an unknown illness has to be tested for rabies by the county. And, the test came back positive. All of a sudden, I was being pestered by County personnel. Had I touched the bat? Had any of the animals that I was caring for come into contact with the bat? Were the dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies? The calls went on for what seemed like days on end; and it was always the same questions. I had to tell them that I didn’t know about the cats. I couldn’t lie. I did get the information that the cats were vaccinated, and eventually the calls stopped.

I do have more stories about that swimming pool. However, I am happy to say that that bat was the last unusual animal that I found in it. Of course, you never know…..


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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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