Four Reasons Dogs Chase Their Tail, That You May Not Know

We all giggle when we watch a dog chase their tail. Have you ever wondered why they do it?

Jessica provides the reasons in the below video.

While tail chasing may be a genetic trait and entertaining for the dog, there are ways to stop tail chasing if it becomes an obsessive or bothersome behavior.

Exercise your dog physically by walking your dog. Many owners believe that running in the backyard is sufficient exercise for a dog. Walking circles around the same area grows tiresome. Walking your dog allows them to experience different sights and smells along the way. This form of canine enrichment is exciting for a dog.

Play fetch with your dog. Adding rules to the game prevents play from getting too rough or out of control, thereby preventing injuries, such as dog nips and being knocked down.

Canine enrichment is a fantastic way to tire your dog mentally. Many of the enrichment ideas allow your dog to partake in canine behaviors. Some ideas include: bubble play, feeding food in a treat releasing toy so they have to work for the food. Play with a flirt pole. Train your dog using obedience training, trick training or agility training.

Rather than laughing when the tail chase begins, teach your dog the “leave it” command so he stops when told. Then redirect them with another activity.

Dogs who chew on their paws, tail or other body parts may have an allergy or injury. Inspect your dog and visit the vet if you suspect either of these issues are causing the chase.

Our 18 week online program is a hands-on program where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos submitted to the school. We also offer a 2-week and 4-month in-person internship. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit ISCDT.com

Stop Your Dog from Eating POOP

Sometimes we catch our dogs in the act, and other times a whiff of their breath alerts us to the behavior. Then, there’s the dog who pukes it up in the house — usually on our rugs.  What behavior are we writing about today? Coprophagia a/k/a Poop Eating!

If your dog eats poop, you’re not alone.  It’s a delicacy for my dog too. As a matter of fact, this protein-filled snack is  a common problem for many dog owners.

Your first step in solving this issue is to alert your vet to the behavior.  While there are several non-medical-related reasons dogs eat poop, it is best to rule out medical problems first. According to an article written on the Dogs Naturally website, medical reasons associated with poop eating could include an enzyme deficiency, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, parasites, diabetes and thyroid issues or other deficiencies caused by age or a poor diet.  

Once medical conditions are ruled out, we focus on lifestyle and behavior.  What are some reasons dogs eat poop?

Dogs locked in a crate for long hours may need to relieve themselves.  Since most dogs do not like to soil where they eat and sleep, accidents leave them with no choice but to clean up by eating it. 

How can you solve this problem?  Hire a dog walker to exercise your dog during the day and to give them bathroom breaks.

Boredom leads them to search for something to do. While some dogs will become destructive, others entertain themselves with their waste.

How can you solve this problem?  Plan a daily exercise routine for your dog. This can be a walk, training or game of ball play. Rather than feeding your dog in a bowl, use treat releasing balls or puzzles that require them to work for their food.  Stuff kongs with tasty spreads or wet food and freeze it to increase the amount of effort it takes the dog to consume the food.

A hungry dog will search for something to eat. Sadly, most dogs are okay with the taste of poop. Their acquired taste is not limited to their own species. They will also dine on cat, geese and rabbit poop.

How can you solve this problem? Ask your vet for the proper amount of food your dog should eat each day.

Some dogs just like the taste and will gobble it up whenever they have access to it.   

How can you solve this problem? Walk your dog on leash or keep a close eye on them in the yard.  Be sure to clean up the yard, litter boxes and wee wee pads immediately after animals defecate. For dogs who eliminate and then immediately turn to eat their waste, keep your dog on leash and teach the “leave it” command. 

Our 18 week online program is a hands-on program where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos submitted to the school. We also offer a 2-week and 4-month in-person internship. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit ISCDT.com


Written by Katie McKnight

SCENT ROLLING

Have you ever witnessed your dog slide along your bed sheets with his face and neck on the mattress and his butt in the air, rear paws pushing him along?  If so, you’ve witnessed your dog scent rolling. In this scenario, it is a benign behavior that may cause amusement.

Scent rolling on a new toy

Should you be the owner of a dog who returns home reeking of putrid odors, you likely don’t find humor in the behavior and are desperate to stop it.

We’re going to explain this phenomenon by briefly discussing research performed on the canine’s distant relative: wolves. This information will help us hypothesize what is going on in our dog’s head.  

Background: Pat Goldmann, a research associate and curator of Wolf Park in Indiana, spent years studying scent rolling with wolves on the reserve.  Since domestic dogs and wolves share a common ancestor, her research helps explain the likely reasons dogs scent roll.

In her study, she noted that after the wolves rolled their head and neck in a scent, they returned home to the pack.  In response, the pack investigated by sniffing the wolf. One wolf took this information and tracked the scent back to the original location. Scents that attracted the wolves were not limited to foul-smelling substances, the wolves were also attracted to mint and some perfumes.  Anyone interested in learning more about Pat Goldmann’s research can google her information. For now, we are going to return to canine behavior. 

Dogs who rub their bodies over new dog treats, toys and beds are likely marking the item as their own.  This practice lets dogs know who the items belong to.

When dogs roll on worms, bugs, dead animals, poo, oil, garbage or anything else they find, it is likely for two reasons:  Earlier species of dogs attempted to mask their scent by rolling on carcasses of other animals and waste so prey couldn’t find them.  According to Ms. Goldmann’s study, her wolves used scent rolling to bring information back to the pack. Dogs could possibly mimic this same practice.

Scent Rolling on dead animals, poop or other smelly items

How about those dogs who roll around their owners’ bed or on dirty clothing?  They quite possibly want to cover their coat in your scent. Rolling his body over your bed sheets will redistribute your scent to his fur.

Are dogs scent rolling when they run their faces on rugs or  furniture? Possibly, but it’s more likely that they are cleaning their faces, scratching an itch or enjoying a scent left behind.  Sometimes dogs roll around in the grass in an attempt to scratch an itch too.

How do we stop scent rolling when the behavior leads to unpleasant odors and substances on your dog’s coat?

Teach the “leave it” command so they walk away when instructed.

Perfect your dog’s recall.  This way, when you see him sniffing (usually a precursor to scent rolling) you can call him to come before he plops his body onto the ground and is covered in the horrible substance.    

Keep your dogs on leash so you can lead them away from the substance before they have the opportunity to bathe in it. 

Our 18 week online program is a hands-on program where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos submitted to the school. We also offer a 2-week and 4-month in-person internship. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit ISCDT.com

Written by Katie McKnight



Protect Dog Paws on Hot-Summer Days

Did you know dogs’ paws can burn on asphalt, artificial grass, pavement and other outdoor surfaces when the weather is hot? 

Follow the Seven Second Rule Before walking your dog or working outdoors.

Place your hand or bare foot on the ground. If you cannot keep it on the ground for up to seven seconds without feeling discomfort or burning,then your dog should not walk on that surface.

According to an article published by Vets-now, On a 77 degree day with low humidity and low wind, asphalt can reach 125 degrees.

An egg can fry in five minutes at 131 degrees.

Before training all dogs outdoors, we perform the seven-second test to ensure their paws won’t burn. We hope this reminder will get everyone practicing the SEVEN-SECOND RULE!

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Start your career as a dog trainer by learning the trade from ISCDT. Click on the link below to enroll for our online course.

5 Ways Dog Owners Can Achieve Training Success

We’ve all admired dogs with impeccable listening skills. You know, the ones who obey their owner’s command, without the owner having to repeat the command twice, three times or five times. The dog responds the first time. The reason dog training works so well for these dogs and their owners is because they follow these five rules of dog training:

1. Dedicate time each day to train your dog. When your dog first learns a command, practice several times a day for short periods. Once your dog fully understands the command, use “real life” opportunities to enhance your dog’s training.  An example: When leaving the house for a walk, ask your dog to sit by the front door and wait until you invite him to exit the house. You may also make your dog remain in his place during family meals.  Failing to practice regularly will prevent you from advancing from early-stage learning to applying commands in real-life situations.

2. Get everyone on the same page.  Due to busy family schedules, it is difficult to arrange training sessions with the entire family present.  While it is not mandatory that everyone shows up to the lesson, it is important that attendees relay training information to family members who were not present.  Dogs will struggle to understand what is expected of them if handlers use different training words or techniques (example: Come vs. here). People hire trainers to help them effectively communicate with their dog or to solve a behavioral problem.

3. Follow through with Commands.  How often do you give your dog a command and give up when the dog doesn’t comply?  We witness this every day. It could be sit, come, leave it, down, it doesn’t matter.  Commands are given, the dog fails to comply, and in response the person walks away from the dog.  There are even some who pet the dog before walking away, even though the dog did not listen. Most offenders don’t even realize they’re doing it.  Others write off the behavior as their dog being too stubborn to follow command. Honestly, the dog does respond. He responds in a manner in which he learned:  1. Owner says something, 2. I don’t follow 3. Owner walks away. 4. I am a good dog. The rule every dog owner should follow is: when you issue a command, follow through until the dog complies.  If you do not have time to follow through, do not give a command. Inconsistent expectations send the wrong message to your dog.

4. Understand that reaching your training goals takes time.  In order to succeed in training your dog, you need to have goals. One of the first questions we ask a perspective training client is what they wish to accomplish through training.  Some clients want a dog with perfect recall while others want the dog to stop counter surfing. Knowing the client’s goals help us formulate an effective training plan. Problems arise when the client rushes the process and expect too much too soon.  A recent client was disappointed that his dog followed commands at home, yet when he went to a party, the dog failed to respond to those commands. The problem: only three days had passed between our first training session and the party. There are four stages of dog training.  Each stage takes time to master. You wouldn’t expect your kindergarten student to read Moby Dick a year after they learn to read, would you? Of course not. Likewise, don’t release your untrained dog in a large field and expect him to come when called. Before removing the leash, you must spend time teaching recall and ensure your dog understands the command in different surroundings and levels of distraction.

5. Don’t hold off training until a problem arises.  Before welcoming a dog into your home, decide on house rules.  After the dog arrives, address any negative behaviors you notice.  Without delay, train your new dog so he learns to follow each of the house rules.  Owners tend to ignore a behavior until it becomes a problem. “He’s just a puppy,” they say.  “We’ll stop him from jumping on guests when he is full-grown.” Others will tolerate their dog pulling, lunging and barking while on walks because they are lightweight and easy to handle.  Once the dog is full-grown and harder to manage, it becomes an issue. Change is difficult and often unpleasant. Now consider this from the dog’s point of view. You learn a behavior from your owner and it is accepted for months or years.  Then one day they change the rules and you are now reprimanded instead of rewarded for that learned behavior. It takes a great deal of patience and time to change a behavior. Many dogs are surrendered to shelters when they do not comply with sudden life changes.  Do yourself and your new dog a favor and set rules and boundaries right from the start.

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Our 18 week online program is a hands-on program where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos submitted to the school. We also offer a 2-week and 4-month in-person internship. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit ISCDT.com

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Article written by: Katie McKnight

A Dog’s Ability to Show Remorse – Myth or Truth?

undefinedCanine parents often describe their dog’s response to naughty infractions as remorse.  Scientists acknowledge that dogs experience different feelings, however regret and remorse are not within a dog’s range of emotion.  Rather, whenever a dog lowers his head, flashes sad eyes, pulls his ears back, lowers his body or hides, it is strictly in response to your emotion or body language.  Below we’ll discuss canine remorse vs. discomfort.

Verbal communication is not a dog’s first tool. They use their bodies (nose to tail) to communicate.  Since canines are experts at reading body language and feeling human emotion, your stance, facial expression and tone signals to your dog that you are unhappy.  Their response is discomfort caused by your mood.

Think back to the last time there was discord among the humans in your home (not relating to the dog).  You’ll likely notice your pup’s attempt to make himself appear smaller, leave the room, bark or even get in between family members to stop the conflict.   If this is not something you can recall, pay attention to the dog the next time human conflict arises.

I’ve listened to people argue that their dog will avoid certain rooms after he’s destroyed something in there. The dog owner thereby maintains that their dog is capable of showing remorse.  That is not the case.

Often, dogs find certain behaviors that they can’t resist, whether it is chewing shoes in the closet, tearing pillows off the couch,  eliminating on your bed, messing with the bathroom garbage or chewing on kitchen chairs. Every time the owner finds damage in a particular room, they yell at the dog.  The repeated negative behavior that takes place in that particular room, causes the dog to hesitate entering or to avoid the room it when their human comes home. Not because they engaged in the negative behavior, rather their trepidation is due to the pattern of human behavior.  

Person enters the room,

person yells at me,

I now have slight anxiety entering the room with person around

There are also dogs who cower the moment their owners walk through the door. The owner doesn’t even have to utter a word and the dog’s ears are back and eyes wide.  Again, this is due to human behavior. To prove my point, I am going to share the mistake I made with my first dog.

Madison joined my family long before I studied dog training and canine behavior. Long before I understood how dogs learn.   In our absence, she’d occasionally defecate in the house.  Each time I returned home and found the mess, I’d yell, “what did you do?”  I’d slam closet doors while removing cleaning supplies and shoot dirty looks her way while cleaning up the mess.  

One day, when I walked in the door, she dropped to the ground and avoided eye contact.  In response, I asked what she did and raced through the house looking for an accident. There wasn’t a smell or an accident.  There was nothing. I returned to her with a happy voice and asked why she was acting so funny. She snapped out of the suspect behavior, her tail wagged and she raced over to greet me.   

This wasn’t a one-time occurrence, it happened several times.  It wasn’t until I began studying canine behavior that I learned my mistake. Madison was  not feeling guilt over anything. She was stressed. Stress triggered by MY past behavior.

Even though the housebreaking issues resolved once I learned how to deal with them properly, I continue to carry regret from my past actions. Dogs live in the moment, therefore, reprimanding them, even a minute later, does not teach the dog right from wrong. It simply causes stress for your dog. Fear and stress is not a motivator when teaching your dog proper behavior.  If we want to solve negative behavior, including destruction and bathroom issues, it is important that we understand the canine’s point of view and teach them in a manner in which they understand.

Our 18 week online program is a hands-on program where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos submitted to the school. We also offer a 2-week and 4-month in-person internship. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit ISCDT.com

Article written by: Katie McKnight


How to Teach your Dog a New Command 10x Better Than the Average Dog Owner

Owners grow frustrated when their dogs struggle to learn a command or exhibit a behavior. Often times, humans mistakenly believe the word ‘stay’, along with supporting hand gestures, are sufficient enough to prevent the dog from moving.  Each time the dog breaks command, the owner reprimands the dog and repeats the sit command. Had they shaped the behavior, not only would they accomplish their end result quicker (dog sits and stays until released from command), the learning process would eliminate stress and frustration for the dog and the handler.

What is shaping?
Shaping is a process used to teach dogs new commands/behaviors by breaking the command down into small, rewardable steps. When the dog learns one step, another is added, until the full behavior is understood.  This method engages the dog because rewards are given throughout the learning process.

Think back to your education.  If teachers assigned 20 pages of information to study and gave a unit exam two days later, most of us would likely fail miserably. Our stress level would skyrocket.    That is why teachers break units of study down into smaller parts. After teaching each section, they quizz students to assess their knowledge of the material. By the time the unit is finished, students are better equipped to pass the larger exam.

Teachers use the shaping process to teach their students. Dog Trainers use the same process to teach dogs.  Let’s discuss the down command.

You can teach your dog almost anything using the process of shaping.  The first thing you must know is that shaping a command takes patience, time and a well-developed training plan.  Before you teach any command to a dog, you must prepare your lesson ahead of time. A simple lesson can go off the rails quickly if you aren’t prepared.

How do you begin your training plan?  

  1. You start with the final result.

What is the final goal you are looking to achieve?  This goal could be teaching a dog to shake hands or teaching a puppy to sit on command.  It could be getting your dog to roll over or remain on her bed during mealtime. You just need to know exactly what you want to accomplish.  

2.  Find your starting point.

What part of the command does the dog know?   When teaching the down command, it is easiest for the dog to begin in a sit.  If the dog fully understands the sit command, then that is your starting point.  If not, then you need to begin by teaching sit. The starting point is equally as important as the end result.

3. Rewarding small achievements along the way.

What small achievements will you reward while teaching the command? You could begin by rewarding the dog anytime he lowers his head and keeps his butt on the ground.  The second goal could be lowering his nose to the ground while keeping the butt on the floor. The third, lowering his nose to the ground (butt down) and moving one paw slightly forward.  Continue to add small, rewarding goals until he lowers himself into a down.

In this step-by-step instructional video, Jessica teaches a puppy the down command using the shaping technique.

How to shape the down command

Our 18 week online program is a hands-on program where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos submitted to the school. We also offer a 2-week and 4-month in-person internship. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit ISCDT.com

Katie McKnight

Mastering the Walk with a Reactive Dog

You take your dog for a walk, and another dog passes by.  Your dog begins to pull you toward the other dog. He is also barking and lunging and making a lot of noise.  You try to hide behind a car or shove treats in your dog’s mouth to no avail. All you want is to be able to take your dog for a walk! 

This dog is reactive toward young men

The benefits of walking your dog are great.  A walk gives your dog exercise and mental stimulation.  Many dogs are home all day while their owner is at work.  A long walk will help tire your dog out both mentally and physically.  Dogs are meant to walk. Back in the day, in the wild, dogs spent much of their day in packs walking to hunt for food.  

You should also be training your dog during walks.  It’s the perfect time to work your dog. Having your dog heel (walk at your heel) while you walk takes a lot of concentration from your dog.  He has to be sure to watch you and follow your lead. You should also work on sit, down, come, etc. while taking your dog for a walk. Keep your dog on his toes so that you are the main focus.

Teach your dog proper walking skills

Heel is the most important command for dealing with reactivity.  If your dog is focused on you how can he react wildly to a passerby?  Practice heel indoors with low distraction first and then build up to higher distractions.  Make sure your dog knows this command and listens to it.

There are a few tools needed to help fix this issue.  You need to have a quality prong collar (you may want to hire a trainer to learn how to use properly), and a Pet Corrector.  Use the prong collar on walks to assist you in mastering the heel. You will have more control over your dog with a prong collar and you will be able to have nice walks.  

When a distraction passes, make sure you move fast to get past it.  Do not stop and ask your dog to sit. This is too difficult for the dog whose mind is already over stimulated.  Put your dog in a heel and walk past the distraction. Try to figure out what distance your dog doesn’t react to the distraction and begin to work at that distance.  Slowly, over time, work to get closer and closer to the distraction.

Reactive Dog after Training

Your dog knows heel and implements it well.  If you still are having issues with your dog reacting, a simple spray of the Pet Corrector will likely snap your dog out of it.  Do not spray it at the dog, spray it into the air. Try to spray it before a complete over reaction so your dog still has some focus on you.

With the right tools and good training, anything is possible. It should not take long for these techniques to work.  If you are still struggling after trying these methods, reach out to a local, balanced trainer for help.

Our 18 week online program is a hands-on program where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos submitted to the school. We also offer a 2-week and 4-month in-person internship. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit ISCDT.com

Jessica Freedman

How Dogs Learn

The number one misconception that dog owners have when it comes to training their dog is that canines learn the same way we learn.  That is not true. Dogs do not think or learn the same way humans do. It is important to help your client understand that:

Dogs are not human.  

Dogs are a different species

They act and think differently

Dogs use their eyes and nose to learn (social learning).  They learn a lot of information about other dogs just by smelling butts.  They also pick up on our mood by observing our body language. Their senses help them learn.  As a matter of fact, dogs learn hand signals quicker than verbal commands, which is why most trainers use sign language in their training.  

In addition to social learning, dogs learn through behavioural conditional methods discovered through extensive studies performed by Russian Psychologists Pavlov and B.F. Skinner. Their methods, known as classical and operant conditioning, are still used to train dogs today.

What is Classical Conditioning (Pavlovian conditioning)?A process that occurs when two stimuli are repeatedly paired. The cartoon below demonstrates how classical conditioning teaches dogs to associate things (photo credit: very well).

Basically, classical conditioning helps dogs predict what is about to happen.  Example: grabbing a leash means they are going for a walk (makes dogs happy). Opening a particular cabinet means treat time (makes dogs happy). The jingling of keys means the humans are leaving (makes some dogs sad or anxious). The sound of a coffee pot signifies that it is a work day for humans (causing sadness or anxiety)

Classical conditioning can help dogs overcome fear (providing treats while grooming), but it can also cause fear (car rides always end in vet visits).  

Animals, like people, must learn that consequence matters, which brings us to Operant Conditioning (a theory of Psychologist B.F. Skinner). This theory teaches us that a behavior can be changed by adding or taking a stimulus away from the dog.  A stimulus can be food or toy rewards. It can also be an unpleasant sound or leash/collar correction. See the cartoon below for an example. (Photo credit: very well)

The principal behind operant conditioning is that a behavior positively reinforced will reoccur.  A behavior negatively reinforced will lessen.

Discover how dogs learn through different forms of conditioning, including the stages of learning with ISCDT’s online or in-person programs.

ISCDT offers an 18-lesson course for those wishing to train dogs professionally. In Lesson One students learn about Classical and Operant Conditioning. The course delves deeper into canine behavior, how they learn and how we can communicate with this wonderful species. The course is offered online, which allows you to learn anywhere, and in person.  Students evidence understanding of each lesson through written and video assignments. Students must have access to a dog(s) throughout this learning process in order for them to translate written work to hands-on training.

Katie McKnight


A Day in the Life of a Dog Trainer

Your day begins with a review of the appointments you have scheduled for the day.  Review each case individually.  It is important to know what you did with the dog at prior lessons and what the main goals of the client are. 

If you are just starting out you may feel you don’t need to keep files, but as you get more and more business (you will!), you will not be able to keep track in your head.

To keep track of our schedules, we use a software program called 123pet.  This software stores each client’s info and allows you to attach notes to the file.  It also allows you to keep track of how many lessons you’ve done with the client and what program they have purchased.

On average, we see five clients per day, six days a week.  Each lesson is approximately 50 minutes.  The lessons are conducted in the client’s home.  Since we are driving to the client’s house, be sure to leave travel time in between your scheduled appointments.  We give ourselves 30 minutes of travel time on Long Island.

Now that you have reviewed your cases for the day, it’s time to go to your first lesson.  At the lesson you need to go over a lot of information to transfer your knowledge to the pet owner.  Therefore, if you are nervous to speak in front of people or just don’t like the company of others, this may not be the right career for you.  Thinking this job is working just with dogs is a misconception.  You are working with people too. 
Your lesson went well and you feel great.  Off to the next house! 

As a trainer you will most likely have to work nights and weekends, so you can accommodate people’s schedules.  You will not mind this schedule if you are doing what you love. 

In between your lessons you may have to take time to work with your board-and-train client.  A board and train can last anywhere from days to months, depending on your offerings.  You need to feed, walk and train the dog in a certain amount of time promised to the client.  When we have a board and train, we often decrease the amount of lessons we do in a day.

As a trainer you will be on the road a lot.  Be prepared for a lot of mileage use and gas.  You will definitely get to know your area very well and where the local fast food places are.

You have finished your last in-home training client and now you get to work with your board and train a bit before going to bed for the night.

Your day moves quickly and is extremely fun and enjoyable.  You get to work with people as well as dogs and teach your knowledge to others.  You get to make your own schedule and work as much or as little as you’d like.  It’s a great gig!  If you’d like to get started in a rewarding, fun career in dog training, sign up at ISCDT.com to get trained and certified.

Jessica Freedman