Category Archives: At AniEd

Barking (driving you) Mad

Dogs bark for all sorts of reasons, and not one of those is to drive you mad, although that’s often the result. Barking, like all behaviour, functions for the behaver.

Your dog is barking for a reason and lots of barking (often considered “excessive”) or changes to barking behaviour (increases or decreases, for example) may indicate an underlying medical cause so a vet visit is a good idea.

When modifying behaviour, we need to know what the behaviour is, when the behaviour happens and why the dog does it. Here, we are talking specifically about barking that’s considered “attention-seeking” or “demanding”:


“Demand” or “Attention Seeking” Barking

We commonly refer to barking as ‘problem’ behaviour, but just who’s problem is it? Usually, it’s a human problem.

Of course, increased or out of context barking may indicate or lead to problems for the dog, but generally, help is sought when behaviour causes human problems.

Let’s consider the terms we use to describe this type of behaviour; we use terms like “demanding” and “attention seeking“, terms with connotations about how we view the dog’s behaviour and their motivations.

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It’s odd because all behaviour is demanding, it’s functional, the behaver uses behaviour to gets things. And of course sometimes, behaviour is used to get attention. Attention being a reinforcer of many behaviours for many dogs.
There’s nothing wrong with any of this; this is what you and I use behaviour for too.

Your dog is using his or her behaviour all the time, to change the outcome of interactions. To get things he or she needs and wants.
Indeed, we actively teach dogs to perform behaviours to get stuff all the time and we teach them, often unintentionally, to bark for stuff too.

What is your dog doing?

This type of barking is usually directed at you or the thing the dog wants e.g. the ball that’s rolled under the sofa; sometimes, they don’t appear to be directing their behaviour toward anything in particular and are just shouting!

The dog may make direct eye contact with you, may bounce toward you, may throw their head back and may even follow you to get their point across.

Balto shows how it’s done:


This clip shows a not very nice demonstration (on my part); we were coming to the end of our session and he had been working hard, doing his best to calm himself.
We had just started to work on some handling work, which has caused some conflicted responding.
All this, on top of everything else, and then a break in opportunities to earn food rewards, is all too much leading to frustration related behaviour.

When does your dog do it?

Consider the context in which Balto is barking, above.
The picture we set up, tells the dog how they might expect to feel and to anticipate what behaviour they will need.
How do you think Balto will anticipate feeling and behaving in a similar picture again?

Look carefully at what’s happening just before and while your dog barks at you.

Whens often include:

  • you have food, whether you are eating or it’s food for the dog
  • you have a dog toy
  • there is a toy available or the dog knows where it is
  • you are preparing food, for you or your dog
  • you are on the phone or having a conversation
  • you are busy and otherwise engaged
  • you are relaxing

What do these pictures cause your dog to anticipate? How can they expect to feel and behave when they see this picture?

The clues are in what your dog is doing.
For example, you beginning to prepare food becomes a cue telling your dog that food will become available. If you have made that food available contingent on their barking, well, they’re going to bark!

It’s also valuable to make a list of whens for quiet too.

  • when is your dog not barking?
  • what are they doing when not barking?
  • what are you doing when they are not barking?
  • when can your dog just be?
  • what does that picture look like?


Why does your dog do it?

Dogs do what works – they are very efficient at learning how to get things they like, and avoid things they don’t like.

When we call this barking ‘demand barking’ or ‘attention-seeking barking’, we are describing the function of this behaviour, the whys.

Your dog has trained you – they bark and you give them what they want. Don’t take it personally – dogs do what works and there’s no more significance than that.


For lots of dogs, good or bad attention will quickly establish and strengthen behaviour.

Whys might include:

  • eye contact
  • smiling
  • talking to the dog, even telling them off
  • giving the dog the food or toy they want
  • allowing the dog gain access to the thing they want


Why does your dog still do it?

Even though you might have tried ignoring your barking dog, they continue to shout.

When there has been inconsistent reinforcing and ignoring, off and on over time, barking behaviour will often appear very resistant to efforts at withdrawing the reward. This is likely because this behaviour works best in extinction burst.


Extinction is not just for dinosaurs

Extinction happens when we break the associations between the when and why and barking behaviour.
When extinguishing barking the dog learns that there is no point barking at the when, because the why is no longer available.

So this sounds easy, right? Just ignore the barking, don’t give in, extinguish that behaviour…

But, and this is what’s driving you crazy, before we get extinction we get extinction bursts.

Extinction bursts are not just for dogs; this clip shows some examples of behaviours you might recognise:


Problems with extinction: extinction bursts

If you have been rewarding barking behaviour and one day decide, no more, your dog may bark a little more persistently to gain your attention (hey, what’s wrong?! this usually works!) and when this doesn’t work, he barks a little more, maybe louder, maybe he jumps a little bit more too.
All in all, the behaviour gets bigger, just in case you missed it…

The problem is, that you are only human and this burst of activity may push you to the edge, and you give in. Now your dog has a whole new bigger and better barking behaviour to get those whys.


Problems with extinction: intermittent reinforcement

If you have been rewarding barking now and then your dog may not notice at first that you have decided that today is the day for ending this behaviour.

This dog will try even harder and be a more persistent extinction burst-er.

Problems with extinction: spontaneous recovery 

Extinction bursts may lead to eventual reduction of barking behaviour but before that the behaviour will go through cycles of bursts and recovery…yep, the behaviour comes back before going through another burst and another recovery, over and over.

This is really difficult to maintain and live with, so we give in and we get even bigger bursts of demand barking.


Problems with extinction bursts: frustration

Not getting the reward he expects may cause your dog to experience high levels of frustration. This can be especially relevant when we are talking about behaviour that is often arousing (exciting) so your dog may be too wound up and lose some control.

Frustration is experienced as an aversive, so may cause the dog distress. This can be associated with other things happening in that picture too, like the people or animals present, further damaging relationships.

And frustration can drive aggressive responding, causing the dog to redirect his frustration onto you, other people or animals present or even other things around him.


Extinction doesn’t sound so hot anymore, huh..? 

Just ignoring unwanted behaviour (as is often recommended) is not good enough, easy, safe or effective.
Just ignoring unwanted behaviour isn’t very kind for dogs either, particularly as we are often not terribly consistent or clear with signals to our dogs.

For peace and quiet we need to develop a better program.

Achieving Peace & Quiet

Once we know the whens and the whys, we can begin to build a program to reduce barking behaviour and bring back some peace and quiet.


1. An ounce of prevention…

List the whens in which barking is likely. What are the pictures in which barking happens?

Prevent your dog practicing barking; practice makes perfect and your dog is already pretty good at barking!

Before this picture even starts, give your dog something else to do; something that might make barking at you difficult, something that changes the way they can feel about that picture (instead of frustration, calming, for example).

Ideas might include:

  • move to another room
  • set the dog up with a yummy stuffed, frozen food dispensing toy
  • park your dog with a yummy Kong toy
  • throw the ball before they bark
  • use two balls so he almost always has one ball in his mouth
  • set up some sniffing challenges in another room or in the garden
  • move toys to areas that dogs don’t have access e.g. the bathroom
  • don’t give the dog toys at source, where you store them

What else works for the whens you have listed?

2. Remove rewards

List the whys that drives your dog’s demand barking behaviour.

Prevention might not work every time, especially early on when you are trying to establish the program.

No more eye contact, no more talking to him, no more giving him the ball…turn your back, step away, sing a little song to yourself, put the ball away.


A little bit of extinction can be applied, only where we are working hard on all the other areas too.

3. Redirection

Barking is still going to happen. You are human. Your dog is a dog. Even when you have been doing your best with numbers 1. and 2., barking will still happen.

Don’t get disheartened. You can decide whether this is one you want to go for, or sit out and just let the dog bark. Get back on track the next time.

Redirect just functions to redirect your dog’s focus away from barking or whatever triggered the barking. It’s a bit of a quick fix to get some peace in the moment.

Redirection might include:

  • when your dog barks, move away from them and pretend to engage in some very interesting activity, with lots of ooohs and aaaahs. Continue this silly charade until your dog follows you to see what you’re up to.
    When they join you, interact with your dog, ask them for some behaviours or provide them with a sniffing activity, for example.
    Snuffling is my favourite point of redirection: it’s hard to bark when sniffing, and sniffing and snuffling can be calming and all-engrossing for dogs. Also, your dog already knows how to do this alternate behaviour – you don’t need to teach a new behaviour, just stick this established behaviour into existing situations.
    Lots of snuffling ideas below:

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  • when your dog barks, stop the interaction, go still and don’t reward. Step or turn away if you need to. Wait for the silence -this might be momentary. When they stop, verbally praise and make eye contact, smiling. Count to three before asking them to perform some behaviours or before engaging in some activity with them.

A delay is important so the dog is less likely to form further associations between barking and your interaction and cueing.


4. MORE reinforcement

When people think barking, or ‘problem’ behaviour, their first go-to is usually, stopping it. But, that’s really the least efficient approach, and can even bring about some worrying side-effects.

Instead think reinforcement!
To reinforce behaviour means to strengthen it and when modifying behaviour, we set the environment up so that alternative or incompatible desired behaviours are more likely to be chosen as they provide the same outlets as barking.

Because we are working through the entire program, barking behaviour becomes irrelevant, inefficient and ineffective (Susan Friedman).

First, make a training mix using your dog’s regular food plus some yummies.


Using the dog’s regular food as much as possible helps to reduce the addition of extra calories when working with food reinforcers.

Have small bowls or containers of your dog’s training mix or food rewards in suitable places; in situations that barking occurs and in situations that quiet occurs.
This will make sure you are ready to reward and catch your dog being quiet.

Food is not the only reinforcer suitable for this work, it’s just fast and is great for snuffling.
We have to remember the whys of your dog’s barking behaviour too. The new behaviours we put in place should function for the animal, in the same way as barking did in those contexts.

4.1 Non-Contingent Reinforcement (NCR)

NCR means that reinforcement happens, regardless of what behaviour the dog is doing.

This can be an effective approach for dogs who bark when you come into the house or room, for example. Step inside the door and immediately scatter food rewards.

What we really want to do here is to do the thing that triggers the barking, and immediately make food rewards, snuffling, the toy or a fuss and attention available immediately.

You are changing the meaning of that when; instead of it cueing barking, it means that you make the good stuff available, which cues other behaviours such as eating, sniffing, playing or interacting.

Protopopova & Wynne, 2015, found that this approach was effective in reducing unwanted kennel behaviour in a group of shelter dogs.

And Zurlinden & Spanos presented their work applying their quiet kennel exercise to hospitalised dogs at VBS 2020. I love this work; when a person showed up in the kennel area/ward are, they gave treats to the dogs regardless of their behaviour. Rather than concentrating on what the dogs were doing, the aim was to improve how the dogs were feeling, to reduce their motivation to bark.

4.2 Respondent Conditioning: barking interrupted 

Respondent conditioning is a way of learning about associations allowing animals to predict when something relevant is about to happen.

Adding a signal that tells your dog that something good is about to happen can be used to interrupt barking behaviour so that the dog engages in some other more desirable and incompatible activity.

We don’t really want to stop our dogs barking altogether but do want to be able to redirect their behaviour to stop barking if needed.

This signal, a kissy noise, is paired with a treat. The dog orients to you when they hear this signal, because it makes yummies happen, so that you can bring your dog away from barking.

Once your dog can orient to you, you can redirect them to another activity.

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Or we can teach a Shush! cue that means, search the floor for yummies.

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Payen & Assemi, 2017, applied a respondent approach to reducing barking in groups of shelter dogs.

4.3 Differential Reinforcement (DR)

DR means to reinforce another behaviour, that isn’t barking. The more we reinforce (strengthen) quiet behaviour, the less barking there will be.

There are several types of differential reinforcement. Differential Reinforcement of Incompatible behaviour (DRI) is probably the most useful. Pick a behaviour during which your dog is quiet and reinforce that.

That’s why I like snuffling so much; it’s incompatible with barking, your dog is really good at it, and snuffling is reinforced by more snuffling.

Look at your list of whens, now turn those into snuffle parties instead of bark-fests!

This works well for door-bell-barkers:

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Some really intense barkers might require a more gradual approach to reducing barking behaviour. Instead of aiming for quiet, we might reinforce fewer barks, quieter barks, smaller barking behaviour (barking without jumping, for example).

Quiet or quieter behaviour make treat chases and snuffle parties happen.  Aim for at least ten reward-parties each day in relation to quiet behaviour.

Protopopova & Wynne, 2015, found that DR schedules may help to reduce unwanted kennel behaviour in a group of shelter dogs. And Protopopova, Kisten & Wynne, 2016, found that the use of an automated feeder may be effective in reducing barking by differentially reinforcing quiet behaviour in home-alone dogs.

5. Change the picture

Go back to your list of whens:

  • when does your dog bark?
  • when is your dog quiet?

5.1 When does your dog bark? 

Keep a log.

Record when your dog barks and what is happening just before and in the barking picture.

The things that make up the barking picture, or context, tell the dog how they are about to feel (perhaps frustrated at losing access to your attention, interaction reinforcers…all the whys) and what behaviours they will need (barking).

Let’s start changing that picture. Change your dog’s anticipation. Change how they expect to feel and behave.

The first clue to this picture is now going to predict some other, quieter activity.

For example, you just starting to prepare dinner or a snack, makes a fun sniffing game happen in the garden. Set up a sniffing course, find it with toys, or simple scatter feeding.

For example, you setting up to work on your computer, makes a delicious stuffed toy happen in their bed.

For example, you about to engage in some activity that does not involve your dog, makes a snuffle-party happen.

Make the trigger for so-called ‘demand’ or ‘attention-seeking’ barking a cue for something else that’s much quieter.

5.2 When is your dog quiet? 

Keep a log.

Being quiet is just like barking behaviour in that it happens in particular contexts; what do quiet pictures look like for your dog?

There are two things to do here; first, reinforce the hell out of quiet behaviour. Quietness is the most reinforcing behaviour there is.

Second, set up a settle context.

Make sure all your dog’s needs are met; they’ve been fed, had a drink, toileted, mental and physical exercise provided, they have had social interaction and company with you.

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Practice lots. Maybe you only get a few seconds of settling the first time, but keep practicing. The more you do it, in a similar context to how your dog would settle themselves any way, the more successful you will be.

6. Change the motivation

The clue is in the name; this barking dog is seeking attention, interaction, connection. Even when the dog’s barking behaviour appears to function to get other things like food or toys, that they are applying such big behaviour, often suggests to me that they want more than just that.

Despite how annoying their chosen method of communicating that need is, the dog’s behaviour is information and they need you!

Throughout our training program, as we have been working to establish quieter responses and extinguish barking, we have been applying lots of food and other reinforcers. That’s fine, especially for teaching.

Go back to your list of whys; the functions of “attention seeking” barking behaviour (again, the clue is in the name).
The new behaviours, instead of barking, must eventually fulfill the same functions as barking behaviour did.

Examine those whys. Now, begin to add them to the reinforcement strategies you have in place during training.
We are not removing the other reinforcers (e.g. food); we are adding in those other functions, i.e. your attention, interaction, connection. New behaviour must be at least as, if not more, worth your dog’s while. If we are replacing well established behaviour, we have a BIG reinforcement history to match.


Teach your dog other behaviours, that are quieter, that get them your attention, interaction, connection.

Most likely, those quiet behaviours exist, or certainly did. We humans tend not to observe the subtleties of canine behaviour, and when we do, we often don’t think them relevant or misinterpret them.
Your dog was asking for you, before the barking escalated.


Film your dog. Set up the camera and leave it running, rather than you holding it, in barking contexts. Review your footage and watch your dog closely. What were they doing before the barking started?

Because this behaviour wasn’t reinforced and barking was required, it might not happen any more. That behaviour didn’t work, and dogs do what works, disregarding the rest.

Film your dog regularly. Become more attuned with their movements, subtleties and nuances. Just watch them. Their behaviour is information.


Teach your dog that simple, soft eye contact works. No words from you, don’t add a cue. No words are needed.

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Come do our engagement course, with your dog, and open up a whole new way of communicating and interacting with one another. More here. 

Reinforce eye contact by capturing it – this means to just catch your dog gazing at you. Make goods things happen when you catch them quietly finding your face!

7. Provide appropriate enrichment & entertainment

This type of barking may be telling you that your dog needs more appropriate stuff to do.

Unfortunately, enrichment, in the dog world, has become associated with elaborate puzzles and dramatic challenge that appropriate entertainment has been lost.

Before developing an enrichment program for your dog, or introducing entertainment, make sure you have a good understanding of what they need. Is it really more high octane activities? Is it really another tricky brain-game?

You’re in luck. We’ve done the work for you with #100daysofenrichment. All the background info you need to understand what your dog might really need, and hundreds of challenges for you to adjust for your individual dog. Start today!

Appropriate challenge helps provide dogs outlets for good stress, helps them build frustration tolerance and let them be a dog. Your dog would choose this for you both, if he or she could!

In summary

This has become much longer than intended, and certainly more in-depth. But you made it this far.

There are lots of categories of barking behaviour, that may be defined differently, but, barking, like all behaviour, functions for your dog. The program outlined here is specific to “attention-seeking” type barking, but this approach can be applied to lots of types of barking and other behaviours too.

Not all barking is “attention seeking”, a lot of barking functions as distance increasing behaviour too.

Consider the function of barking (the whys) and examine the pictures/contexts in which barking happens (the whens).

  • collect the data: the whens, the whats and the whys
  • don’t just ignore unwanted behaviour
  • prevent
  • remove access to reinforcers
  • redirect
  • add more reinforcement: non-contingent reinforcement, respondent conditioning, differential reinforcement
  • change the picture (and consider the quiet pictures too)
  • change the motivation (your dog wants you)
  • add appropriate enrichment



This piece is a re-write from one I posted about four and a half years ago. I pulled it about a year ago, maybe a little more. I came across it, quite by accident, and decided that the tone no longer sat comfortably with me. It was a really popular piece, well-shared but there’s nothing like time to give you perspective. We are all learning and growing, me included.

If you want to read it, you can access it here. Use this password: transparency2020

It’s password protected so it’s not available generally, that’s all. I would prefer this be the Barking Mad piece I stand behind. You might be able to spot the tone and content that I don’t really like, or certainly, have moved on from.

Today’s piece sort of got away from me and is really a full dog-nerds program, but was inspired by some pretty funky “demand barking” advice being shared so I thought an update was needed. If I am calling out others’ advice, I may as well highlight that I too am not always happy looking back at what I may have done in times gone by (*cringe*). Fair is fair.


He’s not really barking…he’s catching kibble. 

How Long?! Building Duration

Online, self-paced, mechanics course for trainers and training enthusiasts!

If you want to teach behaviour, get results and keep you learner happy and engaged, no matter the species,, mechanical skills are the keys. Just like sports or dancing, teaching involves technique and skill, that are honed over hours and hours of practice.

Building duration in behaviour during teaching is just one challenge to your teaching mechanics. Doing this course will help you develop a range of approaches to building duration, minimising the use of punishers (yes, even P-) and working with your learner’s behaviours, rather than against them.
You will fill your toolbox with learner-friendly tools so that you will have options to suit a range of learners and requirements.

This course will introduce you to advanced concepts in reinforcement and sequencing, as well as challenge training approaches entrenched in “this is just how we have always done this”. All of it is presented within an evidence based framework relating to the science of how animals learn.


At a glance: 

When? You can start any time!
Apply here and let us know about your teaching and training experience.

Where? From the comfort of your own home, anywhere, any time!

Who? This course is for professional and student animal trainers, and enthusiasts. A basic level of knowledge and skill is presumed and will be required to complete this course; you must have foundations level mechanics. This is not a beginners course.

How long? This is a self-paced course, usually taking 6-10 weeks to complete. You will have access to the online course area, materials and supplementary resources for four months from your enrollment.

How much? Course fees are €40 payable via PayPal or bank transfer.
Assessment submission is optional and costs a further €10, payable at submission.

To participate, you will need:

  • access to a suitable learner of any species
  • teaching equipment such as clickers, reinforcers and so on
  • a device and internet access
  • you need to be able to use the internet, blogs, Facebook groups and if you wish to participate to the fullest, be able to record and upload your short training clips
  • means to film your work for guidance and feedback when it’s posted to our Facebook group; it’s best that you can set up the camera or have someone else hold it so that we can see you and your dog.

You get: 

  • 24/7 access to the course online area, from anywhere, for four months
  • optional assessment submission and self-paced learning
  • multiple media learning resources for viewing or downloading
  • course manual and assessment portfolio
  • five explanatory lectures (clips)
  • over 20 demonstration clips
  • comment facility at the online course area for participation, enquiries, interactions
  • access to a Facebook group to post videos for feedback and to interact with participants

Teaching duration presents challenges to the teacher and the learner, often resulting in frustration and confusion to both parties.

Clear cueing and excellent mechanics helps to reduce this, improving efficacy and learner experience. This is especially important when it comes to reducing the stress associated with learning and that which may be particularly involved in building duration in teaching behaviours or in life.

Your mechanical skills are the foundation for your teaching success and something that AniEd prioritises in all our trainers. Join us on this journey to building mechanical skill in relation to duration, and lots of skills, ideas and knowledge applicable to all areas of animal teaching.

This is how we do it

In an attempt to differentiate and demarcate, it’s common for trainers, their businesses and training organisations, to invest a lot of effort into discussing what they won’t do, what training tools they won’t use, and how they won’t treat or handle your pet.

And while transparency is good, and historically, in this industry, it has been valuable, we aim to emphasise standards, rather than limitations or restrictions, and what we do, rather than what we don’t.


Here’s the thing, we don’t really do training. There isn’t some established definition of ‘dog training’ but the term certainly carries with it many connotations, synonymous with discipline, obedience and control.

We have come a long way in teaching others, and in our role, we have students of different species, each with needs, abilities and expectations.
But, the dogs are the vulnerable parties, whose humans want help to understand the needs of their pets.

It’s all education. And both species require a safe learning environment, free from intimidation, with copious amounts of support and guidance.


The modern dog

Dogs live with humans, which has provided them with many advantages. But, this arrangement also deprives them of so much, largely because our expectations of them and their behaviour are unrealistic.

As humans continue to live both busier and more sedentary lives, dogs spend longer in virtual social isolation, confined in under stimulating environments, with little consideration for their behavioural needs, to the detriment of their welfare.

Dogs are expected to and must inhibit their tendencies, their behaviour, their very dogginess just to live with us and when they don’t, their lives are at risk.

We put a lot of effort into management; setting up the dog’s environment so they are less likely to make mistakes. Unwanted behaviours, those mistakes, are usually normal dog behaviours. Management alone, suppresses dog behaviour even further, so we don’t do management alone.

What a dog needs

So far, we are talking a lot of what we don’t do. Instead of “training”, our programs help identify and provide for the dog’s needs, while supporting the human owner and making sure everyone’s welfare is maintained.

Foundations, we guide you in establishing, will always lie in helping the dog live an appropriately enriched life and the relationship between both learners, human and canine, being enhanced through engagement.
We work on engagement, and everything else follows – this makes “obedience” just not an important thing.


We concentrate on teaching behaviours that benefit the dog in their life with their human, and that help the dog and their human live together.
That’s what enrichment is supposed to do; provide dogs outlets for their natural behaviours, providing them with coping skills for the world we keep them in.

Be aware that ‘training’ and learning, for your dog (and for you), is happening all the time, whether you are involved directly, indirectly or not at all.

That’s why we use naturally occurring cues, rather than barking out “commands”. All behaviour is cued by something, even behaviours that we don’t like. Those cues prepare the dog to anticipate outcomes that may relate to them feeling accordingly.

We analyse those cues, or triggers, for behaviour, and teach the dog to carry out some other healthier behaviour in response. This allows us to take a reinforcement based approach and minimise the use of aversives.

“Obedience” is not prioritised as, in our experience, we don’t think that’s what you and your dog needs at all (more here on the whys).

Our species is obsessed with obedience, discipline, control, dominance. Instead of emphasising training exercises, let’s provide our dogs with experiences.

Allow them to navigate our world, as dogs, using their senses, their cognitive approaches, letting them find their joy, allowing them to work it out. We can be their guides (it can be  appropriate and acceptable to both species), jumping in when asked, sharing their joy, basking in their silliness.

This provides dogs with important life skills – stuff you can’t teach through “obedience” or control. Their humans learn how to shape their dogs’ experiences and together they navigate their world.


An enrichment based approach

Enrichment is about providing captive animals, including companion dogs, with outlets for normal, natural, necessary behaviours. Many people don’t seem to know what constitutes species-typical behaviour and requirements for dogs or about breed/type specific requirements – dogs are just expected to conform.

And, it seems, that the term ‘enrichment’ and its application, have been somewhat co-opted and apparently are thought to be about puzzles of ever increasing complexity.

That’s not it at all. And that’s why I wrote and developed #100daysofenrichment – it’s essentially a complete “training” program, providing both canines and humans with skills and knowledge required to live together happily and healthily.


No woo here

While all this might sound a little bit out there, we assure you that everything we do is grounded in evidence and sciences relating to animal learning, animal behaviour, human teaching and animal care.

We take a systematic approach to carefully analysing the dog’s environment, lifestyle and behaviour. And then we translate that for their human so that they’re not hit with too much jargon or technicality.

Human centric

Our entire conversation about dogs is from our point of view; how much they love us, how they were sent here to help us; I mean, we say that a dog loves us more than he loves himself.
We talk about the wonders of dogs, but this is largely acceptable only on our terms, via our Disney-version of dogs.

Dogs are wonderful as dogs, just being dogs. Real dogs, uninhibited by human burdens and expectations, doing things that are so often perplexing, and even disgusting, to us, being dogs living their best dog-lives.



Corona Virus Policy & Pets

We have added some updates in relation to business and self-employment supports at the end. At this time, our policies in relation to client contact and sessions remain the same – we have not been exposed and will notify all appointments if that happens with alternatives or rescheduling arrangements.


Our priority is, of course, the health and safety of our staff and clients. The COVID-19 pandemic is pretty scary, and we certainly don’t want to alarm anyone or appear to over-react. We have qualifications and training in animal healthcare, including biology and biochemistry, and are doing our best to take an evidence-based approach.

We also have staff and colleagues who are in regular contact with vulnerable persons so it’s important we bear that in mind too, in terms of transmission.

Straight forward information here:

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First, there is no evidence, at this time, that dogs or other pets can become infected and spread this Coronavirus.

You might have heard of a dog in Hong Kong that has been quarantined after testing a ‘weak positive’. It is likely that this is a result of environmental transmission, given that the dog’s owner is infected. The dog is not infected or showing signs of illness.


But, pets and their belongings may be a source of transmission, if they have come into contact with an infected person, e.g. spread via touching their coat or bedding.

Lots of in-depth information here:

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For Human Courses

To avoid disappointment and disruption, we have moved all our (human) courses (for March and April) to online delivery and given our students a break from deadlines and course starts so as not to add to the pressure. This may be extended as required.
All students have been informed well in advance; last month, as we foresaw this development.

We have also suspended all assessment deadlines and course starts to further relieve learners’ pressure. Students can choose how they wish to proceed and we will revise again at the end of April.



For training and behaviour clients

  • we ask that if you are ill, have been in contact with an infected person and/or have been in a relevant country or area within the last month, that you let us know before our session
    We will, of course, do the same and arrange alternatives for you.
  • you can let us know right up to the time of your session and we will discuss this with you – we are relaxing our cancellation policy during this time
  • if you must postpone your session, are ill and/or under self-isolation, that doesn’t mean we can’t train! There are so many things that we can do remotely via Skype or other tech and we use it regularly. Your session can still go ahead and we will still be able to provide you with top-notch service, instruction and support.
  • we recognise that lots of people may have to give up work (and salary) to care for children off school or due to restrictions in their business/place of work, for example, and/or invest in child care or pet care outside their normal budget, for example, and as such welcome you to discuss payment plans for any services
  • we tend not to handle your dog a whole lot during training and don’t often take your dog’s lead or equipment, for example, and from now on, we won’t do that at all during sessions unless absolutely necessary (for safety).
    Disinfectant wipes can be used on equipment after handling, for example. We will be using disinfectant wipes on any equipment we share with you too.
  • we will wash our hands regularly throughout the day, whenever possible, and will apply appropriate hand sanitiser before entering your home.
    Hand sanitiser can pose a health risk (alcohol poisoning) to pets so we will not apply it during our work with you and your pet.
    We will not be booking consecutive sessions at this time, so will not be moving from one house to another. This allows us to change and clean up before attending a session.
  • We won’t shake hands when meeting with you, as we so often do, and will follow social distancing guidelines during sessions too.
    To aid this, we request that only a small number of family members participate, ideally just the primary care giver/s. Don’t worry, we will send you your report/handbook with lots of videos and resources so everyone can practice.

Our Corona Virus Policy can be downloaded here.



Given this ongoing shut down affecting normal life, we also want to make sure you feel that you have continued support for you and your pet. Isolation, and indeed panic, can affect mental health too. Advice here for dealing with concerns, anxiety and maintaining your mental health; from the NY Times, A Brain Hack to Break the Coronoavirus Anxiety Cycle, and I think this from AFSP is particularly helpful and practical: Taking Care of your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty.

We are, as dog trainers, limited in what we can do but certainly want to do what we can!


To help, we will be running another REBOOT of #100daysofenrichment again next week. Subscribe to this blog and each day’s challenges will be sent to your email inbox every morning.

Join our Facebook group to share your experiences, interact with other participating pet owners, have some fun and bask in the loveliness of this group of devoted enrichers. More on this to come!


General Guidelines

The keys to limiting spread (and ‘flattening the curve’) include:

  • wash your hands properly and regularly (sing “Happy Birthday!” twice while hand washing)
    We are particularly interested in behavioural science; here is more on this new hand washing trend from a behavioural sciences point of view.


  • use hand sanitiser (at least 60% alcohol) when you can’t wash your hands and keep it away from pets; let it dry into your hands before touching your pet or their belongings
  • maintain social distancing (at least 2m)


  • avoid hand-to-face actions
oatmeal hands
Download a printable PDF of this comic from The Oatmeal here.

Check out this instruction on teaching yourself, using behaviour science, to reduce face touching:

Clip link

  • comply with guidelines in relation to social gatherings, self-isolation and so on
  • there is no need to wear a mask unless you are concerned you might spread disease
  • look out for and help vulnerable individuals while maintaining caution
  • use appropriate cleaners to clean and disinfect surfaces you touch and handle regularly


Caring for your pets:

  • make sure you have enough of any specific food or medications for your pet for two weeks, in case you can’t get to a shop, the vet, or order online
  • construct an emergency plan for your pets, just in case you are taken ill or must go to hospital, e.g. who will care for them, how will they be exercised. Discuss their care with a trusted person and make sure your pet has some time to become familiar with them, especially them entering your home
  • if you become ill, you are advised to reduce contact with pets, as with other family members. If you must care for your pet while ill, wear a mask during contact and close-up interaction, and wash your hands before and after contact.
    Clean pet equipment carefully and regularly.


This is an evolving policy as things are changing fast, but we will keep you all updated with changes as we go.

Business procedures and concerns

Aside from illness, economical concerns are also running high and it’s likely that small businesses and the self-employed will be hardest hit.

First, play safe!

You are welcome to pull from our policy and resources for your own needs. Different pet businesses will require different procedures, however, that aren’t relevant to our policy.

For example, you might need to add some variation of the following:

  • organise electronic payments so that you don’t have to handle cash
  • go to the client’s car to take the dog in or drop off
  • use your own lead on the dog
  • ask pet owners not to leave belongings with their pets, but if it’s required, e.g. bedding, wash it in a 60C wash before use and advise they do the same when taking it back

What other procedures work for your set-up and safety?

Consult the HSE, WHO, CDC, ECDC and Department of Health for updates and information.


Business supports

Ireland, just today, has been shut down, to some extent, until 29th March. Small businesses, like ours, struggle in the face of even slight down-turns in trade, so this is likely to be very impactful.

We won’t know how much our businesses are affected by these closures, but it’s clear that we will have plenty of catching up to do out the other side of this. This means it may be important to examine your business planning and perhaps not invest in anything too hefty at the moment.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has announced all sorts of packages that may be made available to businesses affected – Minister’s announcement here. Summary here.

The Department is providing resources for businesses in responding to this pandemic here.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection also provides supports (summary here) and Corona Virus specific advice here.

How available these will be to individual businesses is going to be the responsibility of each business owner to investigate their eligibility.

More on Jobseeker’s Benefit for the self-employed here from Citizens Information and a summary of how to apply, in these extraordinary circumstances here.

In order to access information about eligibility and payments, I recommend that you apply for a PSC, if you haven’t done so yet. This will allow you to access everything you need online so may be important as this rolls on.
There is a bit of rigmarole in the application, with an in-person interview required in low-risk circumstances, but once that’s done, it’s all much easier.
More on this here: Public Services Card.

There’s detail and links with the Minister’s announcement including lower cost loans, expanded loaning, increased loan brackets; see SCBI and MFI. Discuss allowances your personal and business banking may afford you, should you and your business be affected.

I highly recommend you seek advice and help via your Local Enterprise Office; I have always found them enormously helpful. Enterprise Ireland also offer excellent supports and advice.

As scary as all this seems, it’s important to channel your concern into proactively looking into what might be available to your business, what you might need and the extent to which you may be affected.


Take care of yourself. 

Being self-employed and working for yourself, can be very lonely. This is compounded even further when social isolation is recommended, on top of extra stresses surrounding work and fincances.

Having to take all this on, while also interacting less, travelling less, just having less freedom and being concerned about our health and that of our loved ones, is very likely to add to your normal level of day-to-day stress.

You are certainly not alone in all that.


We have written about self care for dog trainers and related fields before here, and the unique challenges we often face in our chosen profession here.
Please take some time to consider how you are going to care for yourself during these testing times.
Reach out and create a community, or nurture the one in which you already participate – we will all need help and support through out…just via remote means rather than face to face contact!


Big plans!

This year has been a very busy year and 2019 is shaping up to be a very exciting year for AniEd.


The A Dog’s Life and AniEd collaboration is a long standing relationship that has allowed us to provide the best education, support and guidance for pets and their people, at all levels. As we move into the New Year, we will be taking this partnership even further…

Our Vision

A Dog’s Life and AniEd are teaming up even more to develop a unique shelter based Canine Enrichment & Education centre for dogs, pet lovers and professionals. We will continue to play to our strengths, taking pound dogs and giving them the best chance of finding a new and better life, while providing pet owners, students and professionals with an outstanding education in canine training, science, care and behaviour.

Our centre will provide kennel space for a small number of dogs who need new homes and a better life. But, this will be offered in a unique environment where education will play the starring role, preparing these dogs for their new life through structured education, experience and enrichment. Our tutors and students will provide the care and education for these dogs, developing their own skills and monitoring the behaviour health and welfare of our dogs. Win-win!

We want rescue to be the place that people come to get a great dog; to come to get a dog who will adjust well to family life, who will demonstrate appropriate and acceptable behaviour and who will become an asset to the community, representing rescue dogs.

This move will allow us to facilitate the development of knowledge and skill among pet owners, local community members, budding and established professionals and the wider public in a true understanding of canine welfare. Education is key to improving the welfare of people and pets, after all!

Next steps…

To allow us to plan and realise our vision, we are moving from our Glasnevin base and going mobile!

This will allow us to bring training into your homes and continue to move our educational courses more online. This maximises convenience meaning more people and pets will benefit from AniEd’s growing accessibility.

2018-12-23 (5)

You can help!

The AniEd and A Dog’s Life model doesn’t exist – we are the first ones to develop this type of education centre.

But, we need help to do this:

  • help us find the perfect location
    We are looking for a suitable premises in the Greater Dublin, West Meath, East Kildare regions and surrounds. We will need space and buildings suitable for kennel accommodation, office space, classroom space, storage and exercise areas. An old kennels, stable yard, farm or commercial property would be perfect.
  • legal and corporate advisors
    We know dogs but we need help with the scary legal, accounting and incorporation stuff.
  • fundraising teams, ideas and coordinators
    Pioneering all this ain’t going to be easy or cheap, so we will need ongoing fundraising and financial help.

If you think you can help, please get in touch by commenting here, emailing or

Dogs on Sniffari

Last weekend we had a Scent & Sniffing workshop for our trainers. We hold workshops about every month to provide continuing education for our trainers, and where there is space, for other trainers and dog lovers too.


Certainly my favourite part of this is the application of scent and sniffing to improving the welfare of pet dogs. But, we covered lots on related sports and training, the biology of scent and learning about airflow and the ‘behaviour’ of odour.

It was a great day, with lots of engaged trainers and willing dogs – after all this is their thing!

By far the favourite part of the day, for humans and canines alike, was the Sniffari we set up, at the front of the training centre.

What’s a Sniffari?

I would love to say that I originated the term, but I think the credit goes to dog trainer Kristi Benson. And I would also love to claim that I came up with this idea, but I saw some similar version of this on a training company’s Facebook page and I can’t find it now – if anyone knows, please share so I can give credit.
(UPDATE:  found it, tucked away in resources folder! This comes from the mobile Snuffle Park by Dog Solutions, an Australian company!)

AniEd’s version of this is possibly a little different and I am hoping to develop it more and more.

Sniffari is an olfactory adventure for your dog. It can be as elaborate or as basic, as large or small, and as complex or simple as you like. You are limited only by your imagination, and how far you want to take this.

We went all-out-elaborate for our workshop. Attendees from around the country brought lots of bits and pieces to build the Sniffari. AniEd is already filled with “rubbish” that we use for puzzling and enrichment, so we contributed lots too.

Here’s a quick tour of the set-up:


AniEd Sniffari

Our Sniffari is not just an olfactory journey, but a multi-sensory one. The dogs are drawn in and around many substrates, obstacles, sights AND smells. Many layers of cognition are engaged, meaning that so much brain power is involved.

That it was outside, to give us lots of space, also provided extra challenges in the way the breeze moved through the obstacles.

There were five dogs at the workshop and each had a different experience but all were enthralled. Afterwards they were tired, but chilled out rather than exhausted from exertion.

If you would prefer just to watch little snippets from each dog’s adventure see the next clip, but if you would like to watch an edited clip of each dog’s journey, that follows too (in alphabetical order!).


Cooper on Sniffari

Cooper is an adolescent Cocker, a pretty high-arousal fella who is always moving and whirling. I particularly enjoyed watching him do this and felt that he may benefit the most from this sort of slower-paced activity. I don’t think I have seen him as calm, engaged, and moving as slowly and controlled as he did through the items of interest.


He systematically sniffs every item and methodically moves around the course, ensuring he doesn’t miss anything. What a wonderful experience for this guy; really taking time to think and sniff, take his time, relax and take in information without worry or arousal. Good job Cooper!

Decker on Sniffari

Decker is a mature entire male and although he is a serious sniffer, this was probably a little less enriching for him. Most of the items are from AniEd and he’s here almost every day, and many are from the beach he goes to most days too, so lots of these things are just not as interesting to him – he’s sniffed it all before!


Decker also believes that all people who come to AniEd are here to see him, so he feels obliged to greet everyone and make sure he shows his gratitude to his fanbase.

He spent lots of time on feathers and does a great double-take passing the duck feathers, going back to give them some intense attention. He’s a pretty methodical sniffer too, but this is how he is when sniffing in general and during specific trained sniffing related activities.

Eric on Sniffari

Eric is a mature neutered male and is a cautious fella. He finds new things, new environments and change a little concerning so would rather keep his distance. However, Eric was able to engage with this activity and was certainly keen to investigate and explore.


You can see Eric’s worry and apprehension but his senses took over and led him in and around obstacles he wouldn’t normally approach, helping him cope and allowing him to gather information about the world around him. Such an awesome experience for him.

He worked for a shorter period than the other dogs – they all got to decide when they had enough and wanted to move on but, he certainly immersed himself in Sniffari-ing. We left it up for the rest of the day, so each time the dogs went out for a break, they could choose to engage in the course at any stage.

Well done Eric – Sniffari’s are excellent for soft, sensitive dogs too!

Ivy on Sniffari

Ivy is a mature ex-racing Greyhound, spayed female, and is a slightly cautious and very dainty lady. She also sniffed methodically and seemed to be particularly interested in animal related items.

She shows a little apprehension when passing between items so a more sparsely populated Sniffari might be preferred by her.


She spends lots of time sniffing every inch of the snufflemat that one of our trainers had made for her pet rats. Ivy is pretty interested in small-furries and chasing, so this intense interest makes sense.
What a great way to provide her some outlets for her interests, without causing the high high high arousal associated with chasing and hunting.

Sniffaris work as an outlet for chasers – go Ivy!

It’s interesting to note that Ivy marked, with urine, twice; once after sniffing the rat snufflemat and a second time, after sniffing a mound of seaweed. Both times she showed marking behaviour with leg lifting.

It is to be expected that dogs will urinate after sniffing, especially lengthy sniffing sessions. Shafik, 1994, demonstrates a link between sniffing and urinating so the dogs were given lots of toilet breaks throughout the day between olfactory adventures.

It might also be interesting to note that the two girls marked in the Sniffari and the boys didn’t, even though two of them followed the girls’ rounds.

Lottie on Sniffari

Lottie is a mature Boerboel spayed female. She is a pretty social girl but did show a little concern at some of our attendees, who sat across the road to watch, and, also at some patrons from another business up the road a bit. Regardless, she methodically sniffs her way around, not missing a thing with her nose!


Upon reviewing her footage I note that she spends a lot of time sniffing and studying other dogs’ bedding and items. To dogs, this is social interaction, even though there’s no contact.

This may be an important outlet for dogs who prefer not to hang out with other dogs, for dogs who are worried by other dogs, and for dogs who are not going to be able to be exposed to other dogs due to their age, health and so on.

Gathering that information may also be important in developing comfort with other dogs, assessing the potential level of threat or determining that the dog hasn’t been in the area for a while (as in, it’s an old or weak smell).

Sniffaris might be a great way of giving dogs who don’t hang out with other dogs access to social interaction. Way to go Lottie!

Along with Ivy the other bitch, Lottie also marked, at the side of the tent. This may have been overmarking as it’s possible that another dog had marked there previously (but not for a while as this was the first time this tent had been used in a long time).

Puppy1 on Sniffari

We are continuing to develop our Sniffaris so we added some to Puppy1 class this week. Puppy class includes different cognitive, physical and environmental challenges each week, and this week’s was puzzle feeding. We combined this with some Sniffari ideas.


There are lots of differences in the puppies’ experience and that of the workshop dogs. First you will notice the level of activity is higher and their ability to sniff and explore methodologically is lower.

Although the fact that they’re puppies has a little to do with this, it’s also affected by the group dynamics and the presence of food in some of the puzzles.
This increases activity relating to competition between the dogs and it increases the intensity of their searching.

Also, it’s Galaxy’s (Pug) first class so he’s likely pretty overwhelmed by the entire sensory explosion that evening. It’s also likely that these puppies haven’t had a ton of experience with other dogs, outside of class, and that the world is relatively new to all of them. Puppies, of course, approach most interactions with exuberance and enthusiasm, and that’s certainly evident here.

Sniffari’s, providing multi-sensory experience and multi-level challenges are good for puppies, helping to grow puppy brains!

Take Your Dog On Sniffari!

We will be continuing to develop this idea as we feel it, like many of the sniffing applications we use regularly, has the potential to provide many benefits to lots of dogs.

Dogs live in the human world and as such must inhibit a lot of their most dogginess. Providing sniffing outlets is essential for making sure pet dogs are healthy in both body and mind.

Sniffaris may be ideal for:

  • young dogs
  • kenneled dogs
  • dogs living in less enriched environments
  • dogs on rest or exercise restriction
  • dogs who will benefit from some confidence building
  • dogs who are excitable and easily aroused
  • dogs who find the outside world a little overwhelming
  • dogs who might be very interested in hunting
  • dogs who might not want to be around other dogs a whole lot, or don’t get the opportunity to meet other dogs a lot
  • dogs new to the home – everything is a Sniffari to them as they settle into their new world
  • older dogs who may not be able to get about as well as they once did

But really, all dogs will benefit and enjoy the opportunity to get lost in their olfactory world.

In our Sniffari we had a tent, chairs and tables to add different dimensions. We used a wooden frame, pool noodles, streamers, mats of different substrates, tubs of water, platforms and hula-hoops to add in physical and tactile challenge. We used seaweed, plants, old shoes, fur, feathers, toys, boxes, old food and cosmetic containers, vegetation, twigs and branches, sweeping brush, different containers, and lots of bits and pieces to add real olfactory interest.

Make sure the item/s aren’t dangerous and safe to be sniffed, that they don’t contain or have never contained substances toxic to dogs, and make sure they’re appropriate for your dog. For example, it’s not a good idea to bring back vegetation that strange dogs may have peed on to unvaccinated puppies.

Display the items in as wide a space as possible so that odour can circulate and leave space for your dog to move between items.

Start today by promising to take your dog on Sniffari as often as possible. When you go somewhere, without your dog, bring back at least one item and allow your dog to sniff, sniff, sniff. This might simply be allowing them to go to town on your shoes, tracing your steps in olfaction.

Take your dog on a SNIFF, rather than a walk, make dog walks more dog, and add some snuffling puzzles to every day life.

Share with us your Sniffari ideas!



Off-leash puppy play…yay or nay

Off-leash play in puppy classes is considered the norm by some and abhorrent to others. This is likely because it can go well or horribly, horribly wrong.


First thing to understand is what socialisation is really all about. Socialisation doesn’t equal playing with everything or greeting everyone. Socialisation should produce social neutrality; your dog should be able to see another dog and think “there’s another dog…so what?!”, “there’s a new person…whatever!”.
Being so comfortable with other dogs or humans (or other goings on), that they are not cause to go bonkers, is the goal. They can be friendly and appropriate, but they don’t NEED to watch, interact with, pull toward, run up to, sniff or bark at dogs as they pass. 

Dogs who have lots of uncontrolled, high-octane play with other dogs, especially as puppies or adolescents, may have difficulty with this. They learn to associate other dogs with HIGH levels of arousal (stress), frustration and even distress; the effects of which can be addictive which is why they can appear to enjoy such contact.


Yes, learning appropriate social skills is important for young dogs, especially as we have only a short period during which we can do this really effectively, but we don’t want to magnetise our puppies to other dogs…the key here is learning APPROPRIATE social skills.

Emphasis needs to be on teaching puppies and dogs that focusing on their owners is super-rewarding, even in the presence of other dogs. Other dogs are part of the background, and that’s cool…but their owner is AMAZING!

As usual, this isn’t a YES/NO answer. Off leash play can be done well and provide benefits to puppies and young dogs, but unfortunately, it very easily leads to damage to social development and behaviour.

For it to benefit, puppies must be chosen and matched carefully and play supervised directly. All puppies should have some basic skills so they are not learning that the presence of other dogs means immediate crazy arousal levels, with lots of interruptions, opportunities to escape and plenty of breaks for relaxation. And throughout, owner education and participation should be emphasised.

We don’t always do off-leash play in class, it is not the sole focus of our puppy classes. Developing comfort, promoting owner engagement, and helping puppy-people build skills is far more important.

This is from our Puppy1 class a couple of weeks ago. Puppies, learning to chill on their mats with other puppies and activity all around. Their owners are learning how to use a high rate of reinforcement so that their puppies learn about owner focus. Everybody engaged with one another in a cool and calm manner, despite being in an exciting environment.

But, puppy class is just one hour per week. Organising little play dates with puppies and appropriate friends, in a more controlled environment with direct supervision is important too.

We can help with our PlayDates service, which is designed to provide young dogs with appropriate social outlets so that owners can work on focus, engagement and training exercises from class.


When we do off-leash play, this clips shows how we do it. But, it’s not the be-all and end-all – it forms part of an educational process, not just in the curriculum to entertain or tire puppies.

Crazy2Calm class – STARTING SOON!

Crazy dogs are often misjudged, much maligned and blamed for their crazy ways but that very crazy behaviour is more than likely associated with high arousal (emotional excitement), difficulty to cope with frustration and poor stress-control skills.


How might you identify a crazy dog?

The crazy dog comes in many forms, but in general these dogs have trouble with bringing themselves down after getting wound up; they might :

  • show reactive behaviour on lead or in confinement – barking, lunging, growling toward triggers such as other dogs, cyclists, other people
  • show attention seeking behaviour and/or bark excessively
  • have difficulty settling
  • have difficulty focusing
  • jump up
  • pull on lead
  • be excitable
  • be destructive
  • show frustration related behaviour such as pulling on lead, grabbing, vocalising when they want something
  • dislike confinement or being left alone

The crazy behaviour itself isn’t really the full issue, it’s more that the dog has trouble bringing themselves down from this high and often this manifests in over the top behaviour.

These are my favourite dogs to work with (and live with…ahem…Decker…) because they offer lots of behaviour (lots of crazy behaviour) and  are just begging to be shown which ones are more appropriate.


Crazy to Calm Training Class

This training course is perfect for those crazy dogs, and their humans but also for dogs:

  • who are expected to cope with pretty exciting environments such as dogs who attend shows and competitions, dogs who assist their humans or dogs who attend work with their humans
  • who have spent time in a kennel environment such as a shelter
  • who are working through a training or behaviour modification program to help with reactive or stress-related behaviour

Crazy to Calm class will help you to:

  • prevent crazy behaviour by giving the humans a better understanding of their dog’s behaviour
  • manage crazy behaviour by helping your dog develop better focus skills and improved on-leash behaviour
  • tackle the underlying causes of crazy behaviour by working on self-calming skills

We will do this through lots of games, using a high rate of reward with food rewards, interaction with their human,  toys & play.
We will not be suppressing crazy behaviour, as is so often the approach, but instead building more appropriate behaviour, while helping your dog learn to cope with excitement better – giving you both tools to harness that crazy into focus, fun and engagement.


  • 10 class course starting soon, Thursday evenings 7-8.30pm
  • 4 dog/handler teams
  • each class is 90 minutes
  • costs €250

You will have access to course online area where videos and homework exercises, along with comprehensive course manual, will be available so that you and your dog can practice at home and where you really need these developing skills.

You will need:

  • your dog!
  • your dog’s flat collar and regular lead
  • a range of food rewards of different values to your dog
  • tug toys – a longer one and a shorter hand-held one
  • specific mat or blanket (just for classwork)
  • a jacket or top with pockets to hold rewards (rather than a treat pouch)
  • optional: flirt pole
  • optional: a crate, at home

Course content includes:

  • human training
  • tools for managing your dog in class and crazy situations
  • settling & self-calming
  • mindfulness
  • focus & engagement
  • release cues
  • patience & frustration control
  • targeting and applications
  • handling comfort & restraint
  • on-leash responsiveness & behaviour
  • focus points
  • body awareness
  • confinement training & Crate Games
  • escape & emergency cues
  • play & rollercoaster games
  • appropriate application of enrichment
  • counterconditioning & trigger work

Register for class here, or email, comment here or on our Facebook page!

To know more about our training, check out our YouTube channel for lots of clips or our Facebook page for more information.

Watch our seminar for FREE!

Our Got Puppy. Now What? puppy troubleshooting seminar was a great success today, with lots of puppy owners attending, bring great questions and excellent observations.

Not only did we offer this seminar FREE, but we also recorded the event, broadcasting it via Facebook Live.

You can watch the recording here:


Here’s a link to the presentation used as it’s tricky to see it on screen.
We didn’t really stick to a structure and were led by the questions and topics brought up.

Lots of free goodies to help keep happy puppies in forever homes 

Please share!