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Are you struggling with a reactive dog?

Are you struggling with a reactive dog?

Turn reactivity to calm confidence with our new program. 

Crockett’s Critter Care is now offering reactive dog training.  As I have been working with several pets and their owners, I’ve created an eight week program to take reactive dogs to calm confident companions.

During this pilot program, your feedback will be invaluable to refining this new specialized training. As part of the first session you’ll have input on determining handout effectiveness, communication between sessions, and confirmation of the success of your practice sessions.  In appreciation for your contribution this eight-week individualized course is being offered at introductory rate of $600.

The pre-launch session has just a few more spots available for this summer. If you have a reactive dog that you’d like to train to be calm and confident, contact me to learn more and reserve your spot.

It is uncomfortable when you have a reactive dog. I know what it’s like: you peek out the window to see if it is a good time to venture out.  Then holding the leash very tightly in your hand, in case your dog pulls, lunges, or barks, you head out the door. You dread it when a bicycle rider approaches, children ask if they can pet your dog, or the mail truck passes you on the street. And worst of all is the cat or squirrel that magically appears and sends you pet into full alert.

Having a reactive dog can be worrisome, isolating, and physically wearing.  Walks are a challenge, going to the vets is a nightmare, and you stopped inviting visitors over a long time ago.  You love your dog, but sometimes you don’t like him.

I’ve been there.  In fact, that is why I am so excited about helping you and your dog cope with reactivity, calm your anxieties, and develop a better partnership. 

The program I offer is science-based, positive, fun, and a game changer.  My formerly reactive German shepherd Davy and I can now walk in the neighborhood, meet other dogs for a walk in the park, and remain calm when faced with challenges that used to be seen as threats.  Take advantage of the pre-launch introductory rate package of $600 for the full eight week program and transform your relationship with your dog.

Did you Know…?  Cool Ideas for Hot Dogs

Did you Know…? Cool Ideas for Hot Dogs

You and your dog don’t have to swelter in the heat and humidity on hot summer days.  There are awesome alternatives to walking your dog that can be done inside the comfortable temperature of your home.  After all, why do we walk our dogs?  We want them to have exercise, mental stimulation, a chance to rummage around a bit, and have a special time with us. But, when the weather too hot, there are other options.

Exercise can be high or low impact.  For an active experience – take them to a secure field, a friend’s large yard, a tennis court, or a dog park.  For low impact exercises, ACE (Animal Centered Education) Free Work such as distributing food on different surfaces and at different levels instead of filling a bowl, provides opportunities to seek, find, chew, and eat. 

Swimming is a fun activity that dogs love.  Games are awesome activities – try a flirt pole, urban agility (rudimentary course on your property – Parkour can even be done in your living room), tug games, playing pattern games (left to right, up and down, circle, figure 8’s), tossing a Frisbee or a ball are all great forms of exercise in place of a walk.  

Mental stimulation can be satisfied through games and smell.  Consider sniffing games, scent work, sniffaris, hide and seek around the house, snuffle mats, licky mats, food puzzles, and trick training.

Scavenging – snuffle mats, snuffle boxes, ACE Free Work, and peanut better filled Kong toys can delight your dog for longer than it takes to catch a treat!

Companionship – play games, give your dog a brushing or a massage, talk to them or just relax with them.

Davy, my German shepherd, loves attention, being brushed, brainwork activities, and exploring.  Ginger, my hound dog, likes sniffing and eating.  Both are easy to please without taking them for a walk on a hot summer day.  You can keep your dogs safe, comfortable, happy, and content with some new exciting choices.   What would your dog choose if they could?   I challenge you to include three things besides a walk that you can do with your dog this week.  Share your experience with a post and a picture.

Pet Tips for Spring

Pet Tips for Spring

Spring has arrived! Here are some tips to keep your pets safe and happy as the weather warms up.

  • Use pet-friendly products for spring cleaning; follow the directions for cleaning and storage.
  • Hide the antifreeze. If you suspect your pet may have come in contact with or ingested a poisonous substance – call the Animal Poison Control Center immediately at (888) 426-4435.
  • Clean up the yard. Pick up sticks and acorns that you pet could chew on. These can cause harm to your dog’s mouth and throat. Remove leaf litter where ticks and fleas could hide. Make your yard and garden unattractive to snakes by keeping them tidy.
  • Cats and screens: Be careful to use strong and sturdy screens in your windows and have them fit snugly. Curious cats can pry screens off their hinges and storms can blow screens off their frames.
  • Never leave your pet in a parked car. Travel with pets inside the car (not in the back of a pickup) and in a secure crate or seat belt harness to keep them safe, unable to stick their head out the window, or interfere with your driving.
  • Watch your pet for signs of seasonal allergies. Pets can be allergic to pollen, dust, grasses, and plants. For many pets, this reaction shows up in skin issues. You may notice itching, minor sniffling and sneezing or life-threatening anaphylactic shock from insect bites and stings. If your pet suffers each spring, see the vet to ease their suffering.
  • Flea and tick control. Check your pet for these pesky critters regularly – especially after they have been in tall grass.
  • ID tags will help your pet be returned to you, if they go astray.
  • Xylitol poisoning: there is a significant increase in pets being poisoned by ingesting this artificial sweetener. A tiny amount can be fatal. It can be found in some sugar-free gum, candies, breath mints, baked goods, pudding snacks, cough syrup, children’s chewable or gummy vitamins and supplements, mouthwash, and toothpaste. Xylitol is also showing up in over-the-counter nasal sprays, laxatives, digestive aids, allergy medicines, and prescription human medications, especially those formulated as disintegrating drug tablets (sleep aids, pain relievers, anti-psychotics, etc.) or liquids.
  • Prep for storms. Gather your hurricane kit together, teach your pet to go into a crate or carrier, and have important papers handy. If your dog is frightened of thunderstorms, ask your vet about medications that can ease your dog’s fears.
  • Standing water can cause health concerns (Leptospirosis) so don’t let your pet drink from puddles. Steer clear of communal water bowls.
  • Blue-green algae – keep your dog out of water sources that have been known to be contaminated with this toxin. Always wash your dog after swimming outside. Last August three pets died hours after swimming in a pond in Wilmington, NC.
  • Sign up for alerts from Dog Food Advisor regarding pet food recalls.
  • Take your dog out for a special treat to any of our beautiful parks.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!

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TRUE TALES: Willow: A Budding Blossom

TRUE TALES: Willow: A Budding Blossom

Willow is a shy golden mix learns to warm up to the world.

I was delighted to hear from a returning client that she had adopted a rescue and wanted to schedule regular dog walks. I met Willow, an adult Golden Retriever mix, in December. Little is known about her past. She was raised as a farm dog, owners lost the farm, and she ended up in a rescue. She is an adult dog with good house manners. She likes food, brushing, cats, and her new owner. She dislikes car rides, noise, and nail trims. She is anxious around strangers. The only one she will go for a walk with is her owner. She has a lot of boundaries and won’t cross them unless she wants to.

At first, she remained in the closet on my visits. I lured her out with food – mostly string cheese. She would eat kibble in her bowl and retreat to the closet immediately after. A walk was not happening. This was our routine for about one month. Then I started distributing her kibble and a few treats around the house instead of in her bowl. At least she would have to sniff and move to eat. I started getting creative and placing food at different levels, surfaces, and hiding places. She’s a good hunter and sought out every morsel. Still no walk, but she would let me attach her leash. If I tried to get her to walk with me, she sat and put on the brakes.

She was getting used to me and would sit next to me for petting and brushing after her hunting expedition instead of retreating to her quiet spot. I always held back something yummy so she would associate me with things she liked. She didn’t mind dragging the leash around, but still sat when I picked up my end. Not going to walk outside for me yet. By now I am visiting Willow four times a week for four months. Our progress is measured in baby steps and wanes from time to time. I decided it was time for her to meet one of my employees. David is kind and gentle with animals and was able to entice Willow into the backyard first. Little breakthroughs finally led to a big win.

I’m glad that Willow has a wonderful home with a doting owner. Willow has come a long way from our first meeting. We still dream of taking her for a walk, but we will let her decide when that will happen. For now, we take pleasure that has accepted us enough to venture out of the closet to spend time with us and will go outside for a midday potty break. Our patience and kindness paid off.


Tips for Walking a Reactive Dog

Tips for Walking a Reactive Dog

Does your dog pull excessively on the leash and yank you off balance when he sees a squirrel, cat, or dog? 
Does he go berserk when he hears or sees the mail truck?
Does his hyper vigilance at the window turn nuclear when he sees anything moving past your house? 
Is he always in motion seemingly unable to relax?
Is he too noisy (whining, barking, or howling)?

These are some of the common responses presented by reactive dogs.  It’s a challenge to take them for a walk, have visitors, take them to the vet or enroll them in a dog class. 

Misha getting Reactive Dog Training

This is not the dog you imagined when you brought him home.  You may even be an experienced pet owner and find yourself baffled/embarrassed as to what to do next. If your pup’s fearfulness or anxieties are getting in the way of your quality of life – I want to reassure you that it is not your fault and that there is hope.  I know what it’s like to own a reactive dog, the disappointment of being asked to leave dog school, and the frustration of finding a solution.  I set out on a quest to learn about them and how to help them.  What I discovered was game changing!

I found the solutions from world-class trainers who have made it their niche to focus specifically on reactivity.  I applied their wisdom first to Davy, my German Shepherd, and then trialed it with several pet owners who sought my help with their dogs.  I am so encouraged by the results that followed that I am offering a Reactive Dog Training program as my signature service.  From my own experience, I will tell you that I always loved Davy, but now I like him better.  At five-years-old, he is easier to be around.  We have a stronger bond and a better partnership.  I can show you how to obtain this with your dog too!

We will look at your situation, the needs of you and your dog, and the results that you want.  Our progress will include lowering your dog’s arousal and teaching him to relax, identifying and practicing essential skills (recall, walking on a loose lead) that will help you the most, and bringing joy back into your relationship (games, scent work, maybe a trick or two). We will begin in quiet places to build up our foundations before venturing out into more challenging environments.  We will set you and your dog up for success through consistency, practice, and using the right tools. 

Conventional training did not provide the solution to Davy’s reactivity.  In fact, I did not even know where to go or what to do until embarking on a personal quest for the answers.  I am ready to share them with you.  If you find yourself in a similar situation – contact me, Jeanne, the owner of Crockett’s Critter Care for a discovery call. Learn more about our Reactive Dog Training program here.


Happy Pet! Happy Home!

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TRUE TALES: Loki, a new dog

A charming pup is convinced the world is against him! It takes patience and positive training to teach him how to relax.

Loki, the Portuguese Water Dog

This February, my friend, Thressa, asked if I could help her dog, Loki, a ten-year-old Portuguese Water Dog who is extremely well trained at all the basic commands but has been plagued by lifelong anxieties. He is fiercely afraid of other dogs and hypervigilant about anything coming near him, his humans, home, or car, reacting with loud barking, growling, and lunging at the perceived danger. None of their three previous trainers had been able to help Loki be more comfortable in the world. Thressa wanted Loki to enjoy walks around their neighborhood and hikes through parks with her, not pulling at his leash, scrambling to return to the safety of his home or car. She also had plans to meet up with friends, family, and their dogs later this summer but was anxious herself about how that could even be possible. After reading my newsletters and other socials, she became hopeful that I might be the missing link in their training. I immediately recognized that Loki is a “reactive dog,” and I agreed to offer my advice to help lower his anxiety.

We got together once or twice a week for two months. We made some seemingly minor adjustments to Loki’s world, such as not feeding him in a bowl and preventing his access to a window view, that had major positive effects. We identified his triggers and then modified his reactive behavior by using fun focus games, lots of Loki’s favorite treats, and calming activities, building positive associations with all of Loki’s triggers and teaching him how to relax. This process not only helped Loki but gave Thressa the tools to feel more in control of situations at home and out on walks. She reframed her mindset from “Oh no, here comes a dog!” to “Oh good! Here’s an opportunity for Loki to reframe his mindset.” We kept track of Loki and Thressa’s “wins” and “areas that weren’t quite there yet” and narrowed the gap between them every week. By the end of two months, we had changed threats into challenges and then successes, counting daily wins instead of disappointments.

Working with Thressa and Loki turned into a power-up experience for all of us. I was delighted when Thressa said, “Working with you has been the best thing that ever happened to me and Loki!”