All posts by AniEd Ireland

Academics are not for puppies

Puppies are not supposed to be “obedient”, focused, patient or calm…that’s a houseplant you’re thinking of… 😂

Different areas of the brain, so different abilities, develop along different timelines in young puppies. Puppy’s behaviour can provide us with insight about how development is proceeding. For the brain to develop normally, it must be challenged, experiencing appropriate feedback from puppy’s world. (Stolzlechner et al, 2022)

But here’s the problem. These processes are time dependent. The brain must be exposed to certain types of challenge, providing feedback from their world, at particular developmental stages. (Hubel & Wiesel 1970)

The puppy’s behaviour informs of where they are in terms of development, and we must respond accordingly with appropriate challenge to support and enhance that development.

While teaching and learning are certainly important for young puppies, concentrating on our human constructs and expectations, such as ‘obedience’, is not a good use of our time. We have limited time to make sure we support puppy in developing complex skills and tendencies through appropriate exposure. (Cutler et al, 2017)

There are many contributors to these processes, including puppy’s genetic background, and related effects, early exposure, particularly that in puppy’s first five weeks, and clues from the behavioural tendencies of related individuals.

This early work we implement in puppy’s first weeks and months are among the foundations upon which your dog’s adult behaviour is built. We get the payoff months and years later. (Puurunen et al, 2020)

We take an enrichment approach to behavioural development, which is often different from “socialisation” lists, puppy classes and play groups.

Just like children, puppies need time early on (their first weeks) to develop skills that will support them throughout life (McEvoy et al, 2022). Prioritising ‘academics’ at this time misses the mark.

If you were hoping to have a patient, obedient, focused, non-biting, appropriate toileting and chewing, calm wee-beastie, a puppy may not be for you 😉…and if you wish for those things in an adult dog, prioritising behavioural development with appropriate challenge, social & environmental exposure in their first weeks is where you start.

But so what if they are attention seeking?

I regularly have discussions with dog owners about their dog’s behaviour being demanding, or attention seeking, as opposed to their behaviour expressing some physical need, such as needing to go out to toilet.

And so called ‘attention seeking’ behaviours, whatever that means, are commonly listed as behaviour problems by pet owners, potentially affecting their relationship with their dogs (Hoffman et al, 2013).

Behavioural needs are just as important as physical and should not be viewed as some luxury dogs only get upon our whims.

Framing behaviour as “attention seeking” or “demanding” is a human hang-up! Behaviour functions, as in, dogs, like other animals, do behaviours that work. If you reinforce behaviour, such as sitting, by feeding your dog, does that make sitting “demanding” or “begging”? It’s just behaviour, whether you like it or not!

Indeed, we have selected for attention seeking behaviours, communicating with us (Persson et al, 2015).

Behaviour works!

A lot of the behaviours that work for dogs are directed at us. They are communicating with us, communicating their needs. They are not “manipulating” us to get what they want; there’s no need for negative connotations or sensitivity.

Dogs have no ways of providing for their own needs. WE control everything.

Be trainable.

I LOVE when a dog becomes an even better human-trainer and indeed that’s what I strive for…to become really easy for my dog to teach.

We learn together, we develop a dance of communication, we build a relationship.

Decker teaches Edwin about engagement walking.
How do I get this human to feed me?
I just walk at his leg and look up at his face….works every time!

What’s so wrong with your dog seeking attention?

While I do quite like a reframing of these concepts as “connection seeking”, for example, what’s so wrong with your dog seeking attention?

Connection, contact, interaction, acceptance and yes, attention, are all fundamental needs of social creatures. We live for it!

There’s nothing ”wrong” with seeking attention. Of course, there’s no “bad” behaviour at all but WE are the demanding ones…seeking to command & control.

Your dog’s behaviour is information. Your dog only has you. You are their world.

Their attempts at communicating should not be ignored or dismissed. They have limited means to inform us of their needs and meet them for themselves.

Give Attention. Freely.

You might not always be able to attend to your dog. That’s ok. I am not coming down on you because you have other things to do, or simply don’t want to engage right at that moment. You’re human.

And sometimes, if you dog isn’t able to settle themselves, isn’t able to be ok without your attention, they might need some extra support.

You can always get in touch should you be concerned.


What do the pictures involving ‘attention seeking’ behaviours look like? Identify those pictures.

  • give so much attention, freely, in every other picture
    Your dog doesn’t have to earn your attention, interaction, connection or affection.
  • Learn to recognise their requests.
    Do they need your time, attention, contact, food, your help? Are they asking to go out, come in, be comforted, for play & fun…?
    All are legitimate needs that must be met.
  • In which pictures do these behaviours occur? Predict & prevent!

    Provide your dog with alternative outlets for their needs before this picture/context starts. Help them work through these contexts so that they can engage in more independent behaviour.
  • It’s OK to not be able to provide all the attention all the time. Make lots of fun, attention & interaction available at other times.
  • Actively teach your dog to JUST BE
    Your dog doesn’t need to be doing things all the time. They need time and space to be bored, to muse, to stare into space.

Do you do #100DaysOfEnrichment? Start today…it’s free and fun!

So what if they ARE attention seeking?! Give it. Freely.


Decker is a poop-connoisseur 💩 He very much likes to adorn his body with the smelliest and enjoys a poop nibble from select samples.

This is, of course, gross to us 🤮 but pretty normal canine behaviour, and I am not pushed about redirecting this behaviour 🤷‍♀️

I figure that dogs must inhibit their very dogginess in a lot of life with humans so if there are gross-but-normal dog things, that can be done safely, I’m not going to get too worried about it.

Another pet owner may differ…I can imagine that if he had long hair that was tricky to maintain, I might not be so casual about poop rolling 😉

However, there are probably lots of behaviours that seem strange, unnecessary and even disgusting to us, that are perfectly normal and enjoyable for our dogs, for which we can make concessions.

When we ask our dogs to be in our world and behave according to those expectations, it’s vital that we provide so many outlets for DOG stuff (once safe) …even if it seems totally abhorrent to us!

It’s time, again, to be a little less human and a little more dog 😂

Do you and your dog do #100DaysOfEnrichment? You know you can do it, any time, for free, right?

What are you waiting for!?! Start here!

Think in Rollercoasters!

Life is pretty exciting for dogs!

Think about the swings in excitement, up and down, presented just by normal daily comings and goings.
This might include the excitement of seeing their family, getting a meal, noises outside or at the door, other dogs in the area barking or seen out on walks, people coming and going, car travel or trips out & about, joggers or other moving things, lots of sniffs and squirrels, not having enough time or space for eating or resting, and being tired, bored, cold or hot.

All of these goings on, that are completely normal and not necessarily negative, cause swings up and down in their body’s responses and emotional reactions. Stress responses, can be good or bad, and prepare the body to deal with challenge; physical, emotional, behavioural and so on challenges.

There might not be time between these challenges to allow for your dog to recover and relax again, so when piled on top of one another, the dog’s stress response may be bigger.

Life in Rollercoasters

While stress isn’t all or always bad, being wound up or stressed over longer periods isn’t pleasant and may be damaging for the brain and body. Remaining in a stressed, excitable or wound up state can most certainly have negative impacts on behaviour and behavioural health.

When we engage the dog in an exciting or exerting activity or expose them to such situations, their body produces conditions that prepare them for the impending challenges. Some of these conditions in the body are essentially addictive…you’ve heard of “adrenaline junkies”, right?!

Canine adrenaline junkies, just like their human counterparts, may put themselves in situations where they can get their fix, even situations that wind them up due to distress, such as barking or lunging at scary things. And they need a bigger, harder hit every time.

This means these dogs are up and up and up and up, and may find it more difficult to come back down, to inhibit their behaviour, to respond to cues, and may be living in an ongoing stress bubble.

The more the dog engages in such activities the more their baseline for calm is raised and they can find it more difficult to settle or calm themselves, they might be on edge, they might lose it quickly and easily, they might be over-active.

Key points:

We don’t want to stop activity or prevent excitement…’cos where’s the fun in that?! Instead we will think in rollercoasters to help prime the dog’s stress systems to engage and relax, engage and relax.
This will help the dog develop skills that allow them to calm themselves more efficiently after getting wound up.

But as much as we might like our dogs to be calm, they do need opportunities for crazy! And establishing a way to support them in this can help them cope better with the effects of daily life, and all the challenge that brings.

Key points:

Make each day a Rollercoaster Day!

Consider ways to insert Rollercoasters and your established Wind-Down Routine across your dog’s day to help them deal with all the challenges that life in the human world presents.

Have Rollercoaster Outings too!

Think about how you might integrate Rollercoasters into your dog’s outings. Use elements of your wind-down routine to help them come down a little, before bringing them up again as you both adventure together.

Include mixes of activating and pacifying activities as you go; it’s very easy to encourage sniffing after more intense activity and then dialing it up again and bringing it down with more sniffing. This makes outings far more beneficial, enriching and tiring…but in a healthy way!

Play in Rollercoasters!

True play provides lots of opportunities to rehearse stress busting sequences, just like Rollercoasters.

Play can be tricky to define and while we certainly think we know it when we see it, our play with dogs is often misguided. We have ideas of what human-dog play should look like…things like fetch games…and when dogs don’t play this way we think they’re not that into play or toys.

As is so often typical of us humans, we often approach play in the way we think the dog should play or in the way we think the dog should enjoy playing. And this so often turns the dog off play, changes the nature of games and ultimately causes break downs in communication and relationship.

Improving toy play from intense fetch, to real interactive dog-led play takes some effort; you’re not just a ball launcher any more. You are an active participant in the dance of play with your dog. Check out this clip:

Play Challenges from #100DaysOfEnrichment for more:

Day 2 Play: Release the toy, release the joy

Day 32 Play: Fun with Food

Day 73 Play: Be goofy!

Day 86 Play: The toy is not the reward

Rollercoaster Games!

When we do play with our dogs, we are careful to play in rollercoasters. This helps to prevent mis-communications between humans and dogs that can happen when things get exciting because humans and dogs often play differently.

Tug games, and variations of this play, are better toy based games for humans and dogs to play then a lot of fetch type games. No matter, we play in rollercoasters!

In this clip, Tayto learns to release the toy and sniff to help bring him down as tugging heats up, bringing him up again:

We can also apply some established behaviours to help bring the dog down again and respond to cues, in between play that brings them up, like in this clip:

Rollercoaster Games work brilliantly without toys too:

Clip link

Play toy-searches when playing tugging or fetching games but most importantly, mix it up. We don’t do the same play moves more than twice in a row. For example, toss the toy for fetch, ask for a cued behaviour on return, tug and release, then hide the toy for a search. Mix it up!

Clip link

Regardless of how you and your dog play Rollercoaster Games, the general procedure is some version of the following:

  • start the game when the dog is offering calmer behaviour, for example, all four feet are on the floor, they are quiet
  • if using a toy, introduce the toy low down so as not to encourage jumping up or grabbing – move the toy in an enticing manner back and forth
  • tug, play, interact for a 3-count
  • say your release cue (then toss food if necessary for sniffing)
  • have a break sniffing, lying down, doing other cued behaviours for at least twice as long as the play portion (e.g. 6-count)
  • when the dog has come down a notch, start again by initiating play

Check out Day 57 of #100DaysOfEnrichment for some Rollercoaster step-by-steps.

Applying Rollercoasters

Rollercoasters are great, in the moment, to help your dog do better with feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

When they’re ‘up’, provide them outlets for the crazy that come from you. This provides a release for them and may allow you to harness their responses, so you can more effectively guide them toward healthier behaviours.

By playing in Rollercoasters, and Rollercoaster Games, you are also practicing for these situations. Your dog is learning to respond and redirect, channeling their feelings, when overwhelmed or excited. All though fun and games, bringing many other benefits to your communications and relationship together.

Forget about obedience and traditional “training”; instead, think Rollercoasters!

Hello 2023!

Happy New Year!

Bear with us as we slowly climb out from under our Holiday blankets & get back to the business of 2023! Thanks so much for getting in touch with us over these past couple of weeks; we are getting through all your correspondence and will get everyone sorted very soon. We appreciate your patience!

Indeed, your support & patience has been greatly appreciated all last year as we have been finding our feet again. We wish you & yours a wonderful New Year…I’m sure we will all be dating things with the correct year again very soon…!

Despite the pressures of this time of year, reject resolutions of deprivation & denial.

Instead, set goals for ADDING more dog to your & your dog’s life.

Make 2023 MORE DOG with AniEd!

Giving Away & Giving Back

Black Friday is now a week of deals deal deals, really starting off seasonal shopping, and followed by Cyber Monday which has probably become a whole week too…but we’re not so hot on all this and generally don’t participate.

But instead of sell sell sell I want to make sure that we can support our industry by giving away and giving back.

It’s no secret that times are tough, and it’s looking like things will be getting tougher. That impacts everyone, on a personal basis and professional. This is a scary time to run a small business.

So, if you’re a trainer, just starting out, you’re established or you’re thinking about it with a keen interest, and feel that you would benefit from some free but serious & in-depth education, this is for you!


Ten longer form webinars (about two hours long plus time for Q&A) in this 2023 Webinar Program.

These are not really beginner coverings, and some basic knowledge of canine learning, behaviour & pet owner interactions is required to benefit. But, they are not necessarily advanced either so suitable for those starting out and those already established.

They are from our continuing education & development program for our trainers but these will be updated and presented live just for this program.

Topics covered (listed in no particular order):

  1. Game Changing LLW
  2. Car Comfort
  3. Barking Mad
  4. Canine Sleep & Sleeping Behaviour
  5. Canine Aging & Senior Dogs
  6. Getting Settled!
  7. Examining the Evidence: “reactivity”
  8. Examining the Evidence: “resource guarding”
  9. Examining the Evidence: Canine Fear
  10. Examining the Evidence: Separation Related Behaviours


I want to help anyone who feels that there might be barriers to education, whether that be financial or otherwise. With everyone feeling the pinch, it would be nice to support those who feel finances are a barrier to this sort of education.

We would love to support you if you are working in a voluntary capacity, trying to build and develop your business, or wanting to develop a new and fresh perspective, perhaps you need a reminder or are interested in upskilling.

I ask that if you apply that you also commit to participate as fully as possible. There’s no real point in providing live teaching and discussion if everyone’s going to just watch the recording!

This isn’t casual, when you do stuff with us you will be required to fully immerse!

Join in from anywhere in the world; all times will be Irish time (usually 7pm).


This program will start in the New Year and a definite schedule will be decided according to group participants & preferences. Some options will be provided and feedback taken into account.

Generally, the dates available will be an evening once or twice a month, usually starting at 7pm (Irish time).


We’re not going to ask about why you’re applying or about the barriers you experience. We don’t judge or make any inferences.

If you join us on this program, there are no obligations; this is not a selling tactic. (We don’t do that sort of thing.)

Complete the 2023 Webinar Program Application form here. Applications are open until Monday 4th December.

We will cap numbers at ten or fewer. We prefer smaller groups so nobody falls through the cracks and we can be sure to provide everyone with plenty of attention and interaction.

For more about AniEd:

Simple. Not easy.*

In the early 2000’s, TV dog training experienced a bit of a resurgence. Even though TV has often featured dogs and dog training, with the advent of social media (taking its baby steps) and the super slick presentation of Cesar Milan, and a helluva lot of TV-magic, TV dog training was booming. Internationally and appealing to all…all over.  

In just 45 minutes, look what can be achieved with both the dog and their humans…miracles at work!

The style of training demonstrated, and clearly most successful on TV, had never gone away. It’s been around forever and some of us had started to move away from this culturally appealing attitude to dogs a decade or even decades before. Battling the quick fixing had become the talk of trainer town, as those of us who had moved away from it struggled to sell our wares, to appeal to the masses, to bring them away from TV approaches to teaching dogs.

In those days we spent a lot of time, on Yahoo Groups and trainer-Twitter as far as I remember, talking about how we could help pet owners so enamored with the possibilities, to work with their dogs without pain, startle, intimidation, and confrontational attitudes.

We tried to bamboozle with “science”, which became our USP, impress with qualifications & post nominals, we tried to show that our way could be easy and quick. Just like dog whispering.
And we’ve been chasing those marketing coat-tails since.

I’m just musing here. We closed for a long time due to lockdowns and mental health, but when I came back I was certain that I wanted to do things differently. My thoughts may not resonate or appeal, and that’s just fine. I’m not sure they’re clarified terribly well.

Evolution is good, and is needed, and critiquing our own performance, without contrarianism, is essential as our industry matures.

For context.

I recently saw a TikTok video from a trainer who appears to be specifically active on that platform. It was a short clip demonstrating “one of the most important lessons” a dog should learn.
The application of aversives is often related to life or death scenarios in many species (including humans).

The trainer held open a front door and when the young dog approached the gap, the door was deliberately closed over, startling & bumping off the dog, physically moving them. Sorted!
Dog protected from running loose, and possibly dire consequences, all in the time it takes to scroll to the next video.

I can’t offer quick and easy solutions like this. Sure, I can work through some fun exercises using food rewards, and ultimately, the function of the dog’s behaviour, to reinforce various versions of waiting or engaging at open doors. But, I can’t do that in 30 seconds and make such bold life-saving claims.

The Battle of the Quick Fixes.

Quick fixes are attractive to pet owners, as they are to all humans. Pet owners are easily convinced of the appeal of the quick fix.
We are convinced that just one or two or three small changes, tweaking what we’re doing, will lead to big changes with minimal effort.

With TV training, what could be achieved in 45 minutes was the selling point…with social media though, that’s been cut down to 30 seconds…as we speed-scroll.

I can’t offer that. I can’t apply intimidation, tighten a slip lead, or bump up the social and aversive pressure. That’s not what I choose to do.

We have spent a couple of decades chasing the tails of quick fixers. Why are we marketing that? Why are we offering “just these three steps” to “fix” this or that?

Why would they choose your presumed quicker fix over another?

(I mean, we can talk about the whole “fixing” thing at another point, but suffice to say, your dog doesn’t need fixing, he or she ain’t broken.)

The Battle to Dumb it Down.

 Not only is quick fixing for sale, so is easy. We like to make sense of the world, and when we don’t understand something, we fill in the gaps in knowledge with whatever works.

That’s pretty much what’s happened with our understanding of canine behaviour down through the ages. We didn’t know, so we explained the mysteries with stories, folklore and magical thinking (and not just about dogs).

Gosh, it’s so much nicer when our understanding fits with our biases, right?!

Not only can you seek advice to “fix” your dog quickly, but also with just these three tips, a magic recipe, cookie cutter teaching, it’s easy too.

We have been chasing these tails too. Why? Behaviour is complicated, and pet owners need at least some knowledge and skill. Doesn’t mean we have to overwhelm them, and we can still present those complexities in a digestible manner, but we don’t need to pander to dumbing down dog behaviour.

For example, Explain One Concept, Five Levels of Difficulty playlist.

Do we need another guru?

Easy peasy quick fixers are elevated as gurus, as sages. The dog training industry is diverse, with people entering from all sorts of backgrounds. This means standards lack clarity and we see a lot of fads and bandwagon jumping.

We jump from cause to cause, at the whim of social media popularity… the latest quick and easy.
Critical thinking isn’t always at the forefront, and consilience is easily abandoned. The wheel gets reinvented. A lot.
And it’s an easy sell to a vulnerable population who may not yet understand the bigger picture, or understand our industry beyond social media.

We don’t need another guru selling quicker, easier, snake oil.

Great expectations.

We have higher expectations of dogs than ever before. We expect dogs to live more and more like us, and less and less like dogs. The further we keep them from their very doggieness, the more we must provide, often on a contrived basis.

And this means the needs of dogs have become more complex to meet.

Pet owners, if you want to help your dog, you’re going to need to develop some skill and knowledge, you’re going to need to put the work in. We have higher expectations…we have to step it up too.

Invest in people.

So, it’s not easy and it’s not quick.  Doesn’t sound like the greatest marketing tagline.

Why are we promoting that which we can’t deliver? That’s not so great either.

Instead, how about we try investing in support structures, in skill building, in knowledge development.
Rather than putting the emphasis on selling selling selling quick fixes and all the trimmings, let’s try teaching, guiding and supporting throughout the journey, which can take some time, and will require dedication and commitment (Williams & Blackwell, 2019).

We can invest in supporting pet owners developing skill and knowledge so their dog is safe and their needs are met.

Fly in the face of marketing.

We have to sell. We need to eat & live. Our dogs need cool stuff.

But I also want to change the tide. I know that quick and easy get views and clicks and likes. I know that the terms pet owners use to describe behaviour and “problems” are going to find me but then the proliferation of inaccuracy continues.

And what about their expectations? I sell you quick and easy but in reality, I can’t necessarily reproduce that.  

Dumbing down dog behaviour is not what I do, not what I can offer.

Unrealistic expectations, particularly about the work that will be required to live with and love a dog, contributes to dogs becoming unwanted (Hawes et al, 2020) (Diesel et al, 2010) (Diesel & Brodbelt 2008).

I’m not selling quick and easy, but I am offering unwavering support, tons of guidance, a new and revelatory understanding of your dog.

You need to feel supported, you need to feel that you understand what we’re going to be doing, but we can still recognise that adherence is shockingly low particularly as we will be asking for lifestyle changes (Lambe et al 2018) (Talamonti et al, 2015) (Casey & Bradshaw 2008).
Not quick and easy.


This isn’t about training methods. I don’t participate in trainer wars. If you are offended or feel your training approach is targeted, that’s not the intention. Don’t feel the need to defend what you do, that is totally up to you and I’m not interested.

This is about what I can offer, what trainers who teach like me can offer. Effectiveness isn’t enough, but it is important.

I want effectiveness relative to the dog’s needs and that might mean pet owners understanding their dog’s behaviour a little more.

My route to balancing the needs of humans and dogs is through support. Being there for the long haul.

Be the change.

We can acknowledge that we will need to ask a lot of dog owners. They probably didn’t think they were signing up for that when they got their dog, but I want to be able to realign their expectations with reality.

Most of the dogs I see are demonstrating multi-layered behaviours of concern. To help build relationship, there will be lifestyle changes required, we will tackle broad areas to meet needs beyond our demands of dogs, and beyond quick fixes.

When I came back to work, and reopened, after a long COVID related closure, I vowed to do things differently. I often give out about our tendency toward reinventing the wheel but at the same time I don’t keep doing what I’m doing just because that’s what we’ve always done.

I continue to move to a more educational model, recognising the needs of pet owners, minimising blame, providing support and guidance. And it’s not quick and it’s not easy.

*Describing training as “simple, not easy” is from Bob Bailey who argues that, while training is the application of simple principles, balancing the needs of the humans and the animals add complexities.
We should be simplfying each step, adding precision to cues and reinforcers, and where there are problems, look to timing, criteria and ROR. Be a splitter not a lumper! Sounds simple, right?!

Have a plan for fright-night…and beyond!

Halloween is just upon us and over the last month or so, we have been trying to spread the word about planning to support our pets on the night, particularly in relation to fireworks, but other activities too.

For a full, in-depth program see: Dying of Fright.


A safe bunker

Time for the BEST treats & toys

Fireworks = Party-time

Turn the volume UP!

Have a plan for outings

Talk to the vet!

Dogs + Kids + Halloween

Dogs & Dress-up

Comfort your dog!

Halloween Hangover

The distress and stress associated with Halloween don’t end once the night itself is over. Not only might fireworks continue, the stress response elicited on the night might continue to impact your dog’s physical and behaviour health.

Check out our guidance for the morning-after too: Halloween Hangover.


Happy Howl-o-ween everyone, stay safe!