Aversive Training Methods for Behavior Modification In Animals


I recently came across an article written by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.  Called the AVSAB Positiion Statement, it is based on scientific studies (not your neighbor or popular television shows)  and they present facts regarding the use of punishment for behavior modification in animals.  Yes, that E-collar or electric collar some trainers like to use is actually an electronic shock collar.  Prohibited from being used in many countries and with good reason.  The risk to your dog far outweighs any benefit you might attain. 

We allow all dogs to stay at DogWoods Retreat, regardless of breed, size or temperament.  Our dog friendly cabins with their large private fenced yards make it a joyous vacation for all!  If you have some issues with your pup you’d like some help with you can schedule an optional training session with our Now And Zen Dog Training.  We never use these old schools training methods and can get you the help you need during your stay with us.  Please call us today to discuss our positive reinforcement training options.


It’s All About The Dogs!


We fashioned our DogWoods Retreat vacation rentals around dogs. We think every dog should be able to have that perfect vacation with their people. Regardless of breed or temperament issues they are welcome here. Our private fenced yards are perfect for dogs that might not like other dogs or people. They totally surround each of our cabins so no one is escaping either. You can even schedule an optional behavioral consult with Nan thru our https://nowandzendogtraining.com/. Of course we didn’t forget about their people they’d be bringing with either. With our luxury cabins, memory foam mattresses, and hot tubs under the stars you’ll enjoy yourself too. Come and stay with us!


Devil’s Courthouse


We had a great day off this past Sunday! Cool temps made for great hiking. Hiked DuPont State Forest in the morning, had a nap in the afternoon, and climbed up to the Devils Courthouse in the evening to catch sunset. We sat amidst the clouds that opened up just in time for the sunset. Willow says “it was fun mom, but it’s a long ways up!” All within minutes (not hours) of our dog friendly vacation rentals at DogWoods Retreat. The last picture is of the Devils Courthouse summit that we were on when we took the rest of the pictures shown.

Enjoy these pictures of our trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway for our Devils Courthouse sunset experience.










DuPont State Forest, Our Favorite Place!


We love to spend our day off at DuPont State Forest. It’s only 10 minutes from our cabin with over 10,000 acres and 83 miles of multi-use trails. You can mountain bike, hike, horseback ride and swim in this dog friendly forest. There are some of the most spectacular falls anywhere and access is easy via the trail from Hooker Falls up to Triple Falls and High Falls. Please be careful to respect the falls and adhere to the rules posted regarding access points. So grab a leash and bring your best friend with on your vacation!

Hooker Falls

Triple Falls

High Falls


The Three Most Common Training Issues


There are typically three issues that most of my dog training clients are dealing with.  Maybe not always all three, but at least one of these is sure to be on their list.

  1. My Dog Pulls
  2. My Dog Doesn’t Come
  3. My Dog Jumps

The problems arise from a miscommunication between dog and owner and lack of practicing properly.   As a trainer it is my job to assess the “team” and come up with better solutions.  It’s important to teach the client as well as the dog and help bridge the gap between them.

A dog never pulled on a leash relentlessly until we attached a person on the other end.  If a dog is tied with a leash he gives in to it when he reaches the end.  We are guilty of teaching pulling by following our dogs on a tight leash.  We can use tools, training and education to help with pulling.

One reason dogs don’t come is we don’t spend a lot of time training it.  I ask my clients, “when do you ask your dog to come?” and they explain that every time he takes off they call him and he doesn’t come back.  It is the only time they practice calling him to come.  So, in fact, they have actually inadvertently taught their dog that come means to run off in the woods and not return.  We have to practice training what we want in situations that are easy for the dog at first.

Dogs love to jump because they are rewarded for it.  The dog jumps up, people pet him.  He might jump up, and we don’t like it, so we push him off.  He likes that too because he gets interaction.  What we reward our dogs get better at, so helping him not practice some things, is important too.

You can save yourself a lot of bad practice and headaches by scheduling a training session during a stay in one of our dog friendly cabin rentals.

By Nan Long, APDT

Owner DogWoods Retreat /Now And Zen Dog Training


A Day At DogWoods Retreat


Enjoy over 250 water falls in lovely Transylvania county. Dogs on leash are welcome to come with you on all trails, Transylvania county is all about friendly! Our cabins are located within just a few minutes of DuPont State Forest sight of the original Hunger Games film. You can take a dip at the bottom of Hooker Falls or hike to vantage points of Triple Falls and High Falls. Don’t forget to take you camera with you as you’ll have lots of great photo opportunities on your vacation. You can come back to your cabin for lunch and take a quick 10 minute drive later that evening and enjoy a wonderful dinner and some entertainment in the quaint mountain town of Brevard.




Spring In The Mountains


Come and enjoy a vast array of lovely wildflowers during a stay with us. Currently DogWoods Retreat property is full of wild blooming mountain laurels in their shades of pink to white. June will bring the wild azaleas with their blaze orange while rhododendrons show off in purple shades. You can also experience rare pink lady slippers, right on our dog friendly property! A plethora of wild flowers continue thru out the summer and fall in our wonderful mountain cabins. We are also host to lots of fireflies and the rarer blue ghost firefly, floating by you, as you enjoy your evening hot tub.

Willow gives it two paws up for our spacious fenced yards for pups to enjoy!


Does your dog growl?

Does your dog growl?

Growling is a communication from the dog that can mean several things.  It may mean “I can’t handle that!” (Fear),  “That’s mine!”  (resource guarding) or “I’m playing with you/them” (play mode).    

It’s important to understand what the communication is at the time the behavior is displayed.  We need to understand it, work with it and never silence it.  If it is caused by fear and we silence the growling because it makes us uneasy (and it should) we stop the dogs ability to communicate with a growl as a warning.  Taking the ability to communicate that they are stressed by something can result in communicating in a stronger way, such as snapping or even worse a bite.  

If you are experiencing growling, and are unsure of the cause or know it is due to stress or fear,  please seek help from a professional dog trainer to help work on modifying the behavior.

Prevention and Treating Thunderstorm Anxiety

Prevention and Treating Thunderstorm Anxiety

It’s that time of year that we don’t look forward to with our dogs.  Those noisy angels bowling up in heaven and the crashing of cymbals from above, can be scary and foreign to a lot of our dogs.  Imprinting young puppies with tapes of thunderstorms early on, can be very helpful in preventing this fear. Sometimes this fear can be caused by a previous bad experience with thunderstorms such as the lightning strike close to the house.  How can we help them during these times of stress?

My thunderstorm a kit includes many different things such as:

  • Thunder shirts
  • Essential oil of lavender
  • Bach’s Rescue Remedy
  • Homeopet Anxiety TFLN
  • Loud music 
  • Turning on all lights in the house
  • Toys that squeak to distract dogs during Storm
  • Chews such as bully sticks also used to distract
  • Running a loud box fan

If you can remain calm and soothing to the dog that is helpful.  Going into the bathroom with the dog shutting the window blinds or curtains and turning on all the lights and playing some louder music to distract from the noise.  This can also be a good plan if you are going to be gone for the day and you know your dog is fearful of storms and that they have been predicted.  If anxiety is severe you might want to check with your vet and consult a professional dog trainer for help.

Nan Long, APDT
Canine Connections Dog Training


What are you really teaching your dog??


First it’s important to remember to ask yourself, “what behaviors am I reinforcing with my dog?”

what_are_you_really_teaching_your_dog.jpgCommon examples of problem behaviors I see owners teach are scratching at doors, jumping up on people, or pulling while on leash walks.

Say your dog wants to go outside and lets you know this by scratching at your door.  You get up and open the door so he can go out.  You have just taught him that scratching at the door opens the door.  Now, anytime he wants in or out he scratches at your door.  After awhile you aren’t so sure you like all the scratches and paw prints on your door but, when you open it, he stops doing it.  Sometimes you might be busy and don’t respond to him quickly enough.  He decides to get your attention by jumping and barking at your door, which definitely gets your attention.  Now how to change the behavior you originally taught?

I advise clients to go to the door and ask the dog to sit before the door is opened.  If the dog doesn’t sit, the door doesn’t open.  A non-compliance consequence would result in walking away from the door.  Now, every time the dog wants in or out he must sit in order to get the door to open.  Pawing, jumping, or barking no longer is rewarded, only the polite behavior is.

We get the new puppy or dog. They enjoy being pet so they jump up to elicit attention.  When they jump up, we pet.  We have just reinforced that jumping gets you things you want.  Instead, we wait for the dog to sit by us, then we pet.  If he jumps up, we can ignore or turn and walk away.

With puppies and adolescent dogs, another popular trick is “high 5” or shake to shake their hand, that equates to a positive reaction from us for paw(ing).  Our not being clear is confusing to young dogs.  Why can I paw for a treat but not for attention?  

Our dog starts to pull when he is on a walk.  He just wants to say hi to the neighbors, we think once he gets to them he will stop pulling.  This might work until he sees the next neighbor, or dog, or squirrel etc.  We have rewarded the pulling by following the dog to where he wants to go.  Now we are actually going to have more of it!  A consequence could be stopping when he pulls or turning and going the opposite way of where he is insisting to go.  I always wait for the dog to let up on the pulling of the leash by backing up or turning their head to look back at me.  Then I would reward that behavior, loosening the leash by moving forward again.

So always ask yourself, what am I teaching my dog?  Remember that it’s always easier to shape the positive behaviors than go back and change already established behaviors.  Originally training dogs that “4 on the floor” gets you lots of things you want goes a long way on shaping those better behaviors.

Nan Long
Canine Connections Dog Training