I must admit, I was a bit skeptical when it came to CBD oil and dogs, especially with skin allergies. I have tried everything with Kingsley. Kingsley was put through various tests for allergies, then I tried natural oils (all dog approved), homeopathic medicine (approved by my vet), and then prescribed medicine. I changed his food to plain and boring food. We even changed our address (not for him; we bought a house in the Junction area) hoping that would help with his skin allergies (and it somewhat did, however not much). So my friend Pam, from Toronto Dog walking, and I started this wonderful Bark Show (I will provide more details about it when I write a blog about it) and Pam invited the owner of Canna Canine, who described what CBD Oil is, what is made out of, and how it helps dogs. I was so grateful for his detailed interview and knowledge behind CBD Oil for dogs. And this is how our journey to better skin started.

CBD can help with the following:

  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Appetite
  • Arthritis
  • Behavioural Issues
  • Bone Stimulant
  • Cardiovascular Issues such as artery blockage
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Pain
  • Deteriorating Quality of Life
  • Diabetes
  • Digestive Issues
  • Fatty Tumors
  • Glaucoma
  • Homeostasis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Inflammation
  • Insomnia
  • Joint & Mobility Issues
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Phobias (Fireworks, Thunderstorm)
  • Seizures
  • Skin Problems
  • Vascular tension

(Info taken from https://www.cannacanine.ca/)

I didn’t think to take photos of before (as I was skeptical about it) however please see photos attached after. Kingsley had bad allergies under his neck, and recently on his legs, and on the photos, you can see no bloody skin under his neck and a little bit left over on his arms/legs (just below his chest).


Thank you #cannacanine for helping my dog heal.

Forever grateful.


Do you know what your dog walker/trainer/friend does with your dog?

Seeing dog walkers/trainers/pet handlers let their dogs run  in non designated areas, especially on sidewalks (I see it on Instagram, in person, Facebook) made me write this post and question you pet pawrents …do you know what your dog walker/trainer/handler does while your dog is in their care?

Do you know if they actually take care of your pet? Do they let your pets run in undesignated areas, such as sidewalk, in front of people’s lawns, into the streets? Do they misuse equipment on your dog?  Are collars/harness properly fitted?

Letting dogs off leash in unsafe areas (i.e., streets, people’s lawns, sidewalks) is UNSAFE for the dog and everyone around. I saw a very concerning video on Instagram yesterday, where a dog was chasing after a squirrel and almost getting into an accident with a car. This happened on Queen St. West. I know many people who live there and their dogs so to me it is EXTREMLY concerning that certain dog professionals conduct themselves in unsafe ways with their pets. Or anyone’s pet in general.

Let’s talk about what we can ask your pet professional:

  • Will you be letting my dog off leash in unsafe/non designated dog areas?
    Please don’t let dogs off leash in areas where they aren’t allowed to be off leash (i.e., streets, side walks, people’s lawns, baseball fields) as accidents may happen and have happened resulting in death.
  • Will my dog be under video surveillance? How often will they provide updates?
    Ask your dog walker/trainer/pet handler to record their walking, training or whatever interaction they may have with your dogs.
  • What sort of training strategies do you practice and implement?
  • How will you ensure the safety of my dog? What sort of safe practices will you implement?
  • How safe are pet toys you use with my dog?
  • How do you ensure my pets are safe in your car? I witnessed with my own eyes a dog walker opening a car and letting the dog run out across the street while she was locking her car.
    Are you trained for Pet First Aid & CPR?
  • Do you know how to break up fights safely?
  • Do you know how to work with a reactive dog?
  • How will others recognize who you are? Do you have your company logo on your hat/coat/backpack?
  • Are you familiar with dog body language?
  • Will you be leaving my dog in the car unsupervised with other dogs? Or at your home?

Anyone can say they can be a pet professional so please ask for their references, do the review search, look at their instagram videos/photos/posts and if it feels wrong, don’t leave your pets with them. Say no.

I don’t know about you, but I like to be super informed about what my pet is doing while they aren’t with me. What are you doing to ensure my pet’s well-being? What are you doing to expose my dogs to danger?

The cost of punishment

keep-calm-and-give-me-spaceI’ve never been the type of person  to publicly shame anyone nor hate anyone who doesn’t agree with my view on dog training (or anything in general). Yes I will definitely challenge you to support your argument with facts, but I won’t ever shame you or judge you in any way. We all have our reasons for why we use or don’t use resources available. Just because I choose to use positive reinforcement training doesn’t mean I don’t know about aversive techniques. Just as a reminder that I am a behavior analyst so I deal with behaviours every day (since 2008). I am also educated in the field (both human and dog) with a masters degree in Psychology (also CBT certified and working on becoming a board certified behavior analyst BCBA).

I know for a fact that punishment doesn’t get to the bottom of the issue. It stops unwanted behaviours for a short term and it usually manifests as another unwanted behavior. When you use punishment without teaching coping strategies or alternative behaviors, you are not ‘fixing’ the issue. And the great thing about science is that you can disagree with me all you want BUT facts don’t lie. You are intimidating your dog or your child and forcing them to act how you want them to act without teaching them why. You are also bullying them to respect you. They don’t respect you. They are scared of you. And that raises issues and concerns as that isn’t humane. WHY would you want to do that? Why cause trauma, anxiety, fear, aggression or self injurious behavior in your children or dogs? Or in absolutely worst case scenario, why cause physical injuries to a dog?

Are humans that desperate to train their dogs at a cost of getting injured? I don’t think so. Why are dog trainers allowed to hurt our dogs without consequences? Why sign up to use aversive training techniques, physically injure a dog when one doesn’t even know how to properly use aversive techniques? I wonder how many dog trainers actually know how to properly use aversive methods? As when using reinforcement, timing is crucial when it comes to using aversive methods as well.

Another issue that other trainers have with positive dog trainers is how we all ignore and redirect behvaiours. That isn’t true. There are other strategies used in addition to that to minimize unwanted behaviours and teach wanted behaviours. I’ve deal with tons of aggressive, reactive, fearful, anxious dogs. I’ve used antecedent interventions (that is what happens before behaviours) to safely interact with dogs, to minimize aggression, increase confidence,  you name it, I’ve dealt with it and used it. And also, as a professional in this field, I am aware of body language in dogs, my own body language and health concerns that aversive training may cause. I’ve never physically punished a dog or used aversive training methods. Just ask any of my clients who learned so much from me. My favourite strategy is counter conditioning along side with graduate exposure. It’s a humane way to deal with EVERYTHING that causes negative reactions.

Please say no to anything that will injure your dog. Or your child. Please say no. If it feels wrong, it is wrong.

The cost of corrections:


  • Physical punishment (i.e., hitting, shakes, swatting): fear of humans, especially hands or approaching humans, which may cause bites
  • Collar grabs or dragging dogs: –  can cause fear of human hands and humans approaching the dog and this can be a problem if you need to grab your dog’s collar for safety one day
    – can cause aggressions with whoever tries to take off his or her collar or try to reach for the collar (i.e., vet or a kid who tries to pet the dog near a collar)
  • ecollars, prongs, chocke collars: physical damage do the dog
  • Alpha rolls (flopping the dog over onto his back to show dominance or that you are the boss)
    Can cause injury to dog
    – Can confuse all the other dogs around if this is done in the public
    – Can confuse confusion to the dog you are preforming this on
    – It can cause fears in dogs
    – It can make dogs urinate every time they see their owner who does this to them
    – It can cause stress and anxiety in dogs
    – It will teach your dog that you as the owner are unpredictable and it won’t make the behavior stop
    – Dogs are not your subordinates. Please teach your dogs behaviours you want them to engage in.
  • Yelling/screaming:
    – Can cause confusion, fear/anxiety and stress in your dog
    – Yelling won’t get your dog to stop doing what the doggie is doing, but it will teach your dog that you are unpredictable in your anger and your doggie will fear you
    – And some dogs will ignore you
  • Spraying water or vinegar:
    Can cause aversion to water (imagine how hard it will be for you to give bath to your dog  or your dog might be scared of drinking water)
    – Your dog might to learn to only obey you when you have spray them
  • Negative Reinforcement:
    – Can cause dog to shut down
    – Can cause anxiety, fear & stress in dogs
    – Can cause aversion to toys, treats, outdoor activities (depending on when you use negative reinforcement)
  • In using positive behavior training world, discipline the dog means teaching the dog right from wrong. You can teach your dog by reinforcing behaviours you want to se and ignoring and redirecting behaviours or actions you don’t want to see.  Every situation is different. But punishing a dog for acting out of fear will create more fear and more aggressions in the future. It’s science. It’s been proven. And remember that punishment is a short solution.

What is counter conditioning?

counter conditioning.jpgCounter conditioning is my favourite strategy (among my other favourites (I’m addicted to science) strategies) for building confidence by exposing dogs to their triggers from safe distance.

Counter conditioning is when you are teaching your dog to associate something not so pleasant with something pleasant. For example, the sound of the doorbell MUST predict a treat or playing with toys (something that your dog absolutely LOVES).  Reinforcement must be something that your dog is absolutely crazy about and that is what you will use for positive pairing. You will reinforce for IMMEDIATELY AFTER the dog has spotted the trigger, as the trigger is coming closer, and after the trigger is leaving. As soon as the trigger leaves you are also stopping the treats. As I say to all my clients – your dog doesn’t have to sit or stay or lie down. As long as he or she learns that scary thing is not scary and is paired with something positive your job is accomplished. If your dog sits naturally as the not so great thing is happening, that’s GREAT! But it is NOT a requirement as you are teaching your dog self – regulation and not other skills currently. Make sure that your dog is aware of the scary thing but not stressed. If your dog is barking, growling, jumping then you are too close and need to get to safer distance and start with counter conditioning. 

Things to keep in mind:
1. Start at a safe distance where your dogs feels safe at and sees the trigger
2. If your dog reacts, that means he or she is close to the trigger, you might be too slow with spotting the trigger or giving high value treats
3. Have extremely high value treats.
4. Body language: Be aware of your own body language and how that can influence your dog. For example, if you spot the trigger first, do you pull on the leash and alert your dog of the trigger? Are there any key words that you say when the trigger has been spotted to alert your dog? Watch your dog’s body language. Does your dog start to fixate on the trigger? Does your dog’s body language become stiff? Pay attention to ears, their snout and the direction they are staring. Watch their tail. Your dog will tell you if he is uncomfortable
5.  Don’t over do it with training. Start with short amount of time/short distance and slowly increase time and duration. End your training session on positive note.
6. Think of strategies that can help you stay calm in situations. What works for me is taking a deep breath before I go outside or saying positive affirmations. We are all different and different strategies will work for you.
7. If your dog reacts, get your dog safely away from the trigger and start exposure to triggers from a greater distance.
8. Position yourself in between your dog and the trigger. Your dog will feel safer that way when practicing counter conditioning.
9. Do not punish your dog for reacting. Please understand that the environment for your dog is scary and punishing already. These tools are to build confidence in your dog and to teach your dog to tolerate triggers to enjoy being outside.
10. Mentally stimulate your dogs prior to going outside. For example, food toys, hide food indoors for them to work on their sniffing.

 #noreactivity #noleashagg #nobarking #nopunishment #onlypositivebehaviourtraining #consequence #behaviourmodification #mentalstimulation #dogpsychology #dogmannerisms #trainingdogsisthebest #huskiesofinsta #instadogs #instadogtraining #huskiesofinstagram #gorgeous #noforcetraining #sciencebasedtraining #rewardbasedtraining #desensitization #gradualexposure #cbt #counterconditioning #ispeakdog #dogstagram #dogsofinstagram #dogsofig #dogsoftoronto

Dogs bark. We talk. So what’s the problem?

Why Do Dogs Bark?


We talk using our words, through smiling, yelling, whispering… Dogs talk through barking, whining, howling and growling.

It’s definitely easy to reinforce their barking and it can turn into an issue as they grow older. For example, if puppies are barking for attention and you keep giving them attention, they learn that each time they bark, they will get attention from you.

Causes of barking

In order to teach alternative behaviour and put barking on extinction, we must find ‘why’ barking occurs.

If you have a barker at home, ask yourself the following questions:

Does my dog bark because he/she wants attention? Is he or she sick? Does he bark because he is hungry? Or because she didn’t get enough exercise and has a ton of pent up energy? Is he barking because she is scared of being alone? Do they bark because they are left alone for long periods of time? Is it breed specific?

There are several factors to consider:

Even though any dog can be an excessive barker, some dogs are more inclined to bark than others due to genetics (terriers).

I want you to think about physical factors. For example, is your house hot or cold? Is the dog cold or hot? Is he hungry or thirsty? Is he hurt? If so, he or she is communicating with you that he needs certain needs met. We request using our words and dogs do it through barking. Another important question to ask if how much exercise your dog gets? Every dog needs to exercise in order to release pent up energy. I provide at least 5 hours per day of exercise for my dogs. I will post another blog about setting yourself up with a schedule in order to optimize your time to exercise your dogs and to mentally stimulate your dog.
And now, I’d like to ask you about how much do you train your dog? Is your dog alone for long periods of time? How much time does your dog spend with you or with other dogs? Is your dog bored? Is your dog anxious? We are entering emotional needs of your dog.

bf856-dental-chew-toysThe dog might be bored, excited or anxious due to many different factors. If so, barking is a way of requesting attention. If your dog is lacking training, mental stimulation and social attention (from you, other people or dogs), by barking, your dog is letting you know that he needs more training, mental stimulation, training and social time.


Lastly, we are going to discuss your dog’s environment. Where does your dog stay when he or she is alone at home? Is your dog confined in a crate for long periods? Can your dog hear and see people/dogs outside? Is your dog close to the door and can hear others passing by (condo living)? Confinement for long periods of time, other dog’s barking, passing cars or people, sirens, storms, elevator noises, and other environmental triggers can definitely add to excessive barking. Dogs get bored. Dogs who don’t get enough exercise and mental stimulation turn that pent up energy into barking and destructive behaviours.

What shouldn’t you do?

  • Inadvertently praising them for being scared
  • Smothering them
  • Being overly protective
  • Giving in and feeding their anxiety
  • Being overly reactive to things
  • Being nervous
  • Giving them attention 24/7
  • Not training your dogs
  • Not giving them enough exercise

What should you do?

  • Make sure your dog’s physical needs are met.
  • Make sure you are training your dog every day
  • Make sure that your dog has appropriate toys for mental stimulation and chew sticks for mental stimulation
  • Make sure your dog’s environment is set up for success (i.e., install blinds, move crate away from loud environments, leave music or TV on)
  • Do spend time with your dog, Dogs are social animals.
  • Socialize your dogs with other dogs
  • Check if your dog is healthy
  • Hire a professional positive dog trainer


The power of positive training by Pet Miller

The other end of the leash by Patricia B. McConnell

Don’t shoot the dog by Karen Pryor

The culture Clash by Jean Donaldson

Cooper et. al – Applied Behaviour Analysis


What does positive dog training mean?

puppyPeople have misconceptions about what ‘positive’ dog training is. I hear very scary reasons why certain people won’t use positive training and the most common one is “I want to be the alpha.” You feed your dog. You take your dog out. Your dog waits for you to come back from work. Your dog depends on you for resources and play. How can you say that dog is ‘alpha or dominant’? Dominance is control of resources and nothing else. Another blog will be dedicated to this topic. Dog – human relationship is a a relationship just like between parents and children. And positive training doesn’t make you any less of a man or a woman. If anything, it helps creating a bond between you and your dog stronger, motivating your dog to learn, having a balanced and confident dog and most of all, creating a healthy and happy relationship between you and your dog.

positive-reinforcementI’d like to start with that positive dog training doesn’t mean cuddling, kissing and hugging your dog constantly (nothing wrong with hugging or cuddling your dog). Also, dogs like us humans, love their personal space.

positive dog training

Positive dog training (positive reinforcement) is evidence based and it means teaching dogs through reward – based methods (I.e., treats, food, toys, verbal praise).

positive training

Positive reinforcement involves the addition of a reinforcing stimulus (i.e., something that your dog will want to work for such as a treat) immediately following a behavior and the learner will want to want to engage in that behavior more often. When your dog sees that learning is fun, he or she will want to engage in positive behaviours more often.


A reinforcer is something the learner will work to earn or something the learner finds pleasurable.

First you need to find dog’s motivation by getting your dog to try different treats, different toys, kibble, praise, building your pup’s play drive and so on.

Effective reinforcers:

  • are provided immediately after the target behaviour has occurred
  • are provided frequently
  • are paired with a clear verbal description of the behaviour
  • are delivered with enthusiasm
  • are delivered continuously (continuous reinforcement schedule CRF) at first, and then more intermittently later on
  • can occur on a fixed schedule; e.g., every time a behaviour is observed, or on a variable schedule; e.g., every third time a behaviour is observed
  • fade out over time (after your doggie has demonstrated the skills in different environments)

You might ask WHY does my dog need to be reinforced? I answer this with “Why do you need to get paid for the job you have done”? We all need MOTIVATION (you go to your job because you know you will get paid. Getting paid is your reinforcement). Dogs ned reinforcement to learn skills. Reinforcement is used to teach humans and animals. It’s science!


Why use positive reinforcement?

  • You want to encourage and reward wanted behaviours
  • Reinforcement is the reason why we continue to do many things. Dogs will do the same
  • You want your dog not to be scared of you
  • You want your dog to see you as a leader and not an unstable person
  • Your dog will be more confident and well balanced
  • You will have a happier relationship with your dog

Why not use reinforcement? There are no valid reasons why you wouldn’t want to use reinforcement. Reinforcement is evidence based and very well researched that it increases skills. Think about your own experience with positive reinforcement.


Thanks for reading everyone.


Cooper, J., & Heron, T. (2010). Applied behavior analysis. Columbus: Pearson Education.

Diary of a dog trainer: I don’t know about your dog…

So I don’t know about your dog, but my dog gets picked on by huskies a lot. Other breeds are fine with him. Kingsley loves peace and quiet and avoids chaos and conflict at all times. He does love to play rough but if a dog says  “No! Calm down” he does and plays with the dog on his or her level. If another dog isn’t understanding his body language cues when it comes to “please back off! I feel uncomfortable” he tries to run away, however if a dog is bullying him, he will let out a growl to tell him “I mean business. Please stop!”

I wanted to talk about dog body language when they want other dogs to back off.


Dogs tell you when they want you to back away or if they feel threatened. For example, dogs will show behaviours such as looking away, lip licking, avoiding eye contact, moving away, turning head away, rapid eye blinking, yawning, sniffing, stretching, panting (rapid breathing) and licking.


If a dog isn’t getting these signals, then more dramatic “BACK AWAY: signals will be demonstrated by the dog who wants space. The dog will start to  show agonistic pucker (kind of like we do when we get mad), arched back, stiff body language, whale eye, flared whiskers, dilated pupils,   sweaty paws, will start to shake, his tail might be tucked or high up and will growl, bark and even attempt to bite.

If your dog isn’t getting that he needs to back off, as the owner, it is your responsibility to teach your dog to back off. Many unwanted dog fights can be prevented if owners watched and knew what clues to watch for when it comes to body language in dogs.

Let’s all be responsible pet owners and ensure all our dogs have a good time without being picked on.





Diary of a dog trainer: March 25, 2016

It’s Good Friday! And it has been so good to my doggies. They slept in until 11:30 am (they were never early risers), got to go to the dog park twice today, were walked 5 times (each walk was between 45 minutes to an hour) and a trip to the pet store (which was closed booooo).

Kingsley and Bella are both great loose leash walkers. Sometimes they decide to try to wonder off while being attached to me, and I just stop until they get back to me and continue our walk. I have lower back issues so I cannot be pulled or dragged.

When we got to the park, Kingsley and Bella were super excited. Kingsley loves to play with bigger dogs so when he saw a Great Dane (Rory), they hit it off instantly. Kingsley and Rory were running together for about 30 minutes. They played by jumping beside each other, sniffing each other, were running into each other, pawing and were bowing to each other constantly. Another doggie came in between and demanded attention by barking at Rory and Kingsley. Kingsley doesn’t like chaos and loudness, so he walked away.

This brings me to my next point – how do you know if a dog is interested in playing with your dog? Watching your dog and other dog’s body language is key in safe interactions. Dogs that want your dog to play with them and vice versa have  wiggly and curved bodies (not tense muscles and posture) with loose tail wags, pawing, head press, hip nudge, inguinal sniffs, nose to nose touching and play bow. These are say “come and play with me” “I’m relaxed” “I am ok with you around me”.


Can you think of other body language signs?

Until next time!






Diary of a dog trainer: March 23 & 24, 2016

The weather has been a bit bipolar. It’s been freezing rain and freezing temperatures so dog training has been cancelled with most of my clients as we mostly train outside.

My dogs and I went for a walk. It was difficult to walk so we made it short.

We had our cute golden doodle Charlie over last night. He stayed for 7 hours and played his little heart out with Bella and Kingsley.

Stay tuned for more updates!


Diary of a dog trainer: March 22, 2016

Loud music woke me up at 5:30 AM from my new neighbors. I got up and decided to take my dogs out that early for an hour walk. They protested. They didn’t want to get up. They usually don’t before 10am. But I was persistent and with the smell of their favourite treats, we ended up going for our walk.

Our walk was dark. It wasn’t cold. We went down Queen St. West to Shaw, down to King St. West, back to Sudbury and ended up back on Queen St. West. Doggies got to smell, tweet and walk. As soon as they got home, they had no interest in food or water, just the couch. And 5 minutes later, the hit the snoozeland.

I went on with my day.

After being away for 8 hours, I came home and my doggies were still exhausted. David (my spouse) took them to the park and a long walk. I decided to surprise them  with our neighbor’s dog Charlie (the golden doodle). We went for a walk in the rain, ended up in a dog park for 15 minutes as doggies had to catch up on their daily news, and continued with our walk back home. Doggies ended up being very wet. As soon as we got home, they started to play and chew each other’s faces off. All in good fun.

At 8 pm, I had to leave the doggies to go see one of my clients. We worked on ‘drop it’ and desensitization towards knocking. Little furball did amazing. His pawrent reported that he had reactivity to other dogs today but it is understandable as we just started working on it. Things will definitely get better with more exposure and practice. All my clients so far can definitely share their frustrations with their own’s dog reactivity however once they got it under control and taught their dogs to self – regulate, frustrations disappeared.

Great day!