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

5 Awesome Ideas For Dog Friendly Vacations in NC



Copy this code to embed this on your website:

 <span data-embed="dogwoods-dog-freindly-vacations-infographic-xl.jpg"><a href=""><img alt="dogwoods-dog-freindly-vacations-infographic-xl.jpg" src="" />Dog Friendly Vacations</a> at Dogwoods Retreat</span> 

New Puppy Training Essentials

Yep, we did it.  We got a Boxer puppy and her name is Willow.  I’ve been a Boxer person for 35 years now, I know my breed.

After having 3 rescued dogs in a row, we decided to get a new puppy from a conscientious breeder.  One who health tests, temperament tests and breeds only to improve the breed we love.  I wanted to take all the knowledge I had acquired over the last 10 years, since my last puppy Talia, to see what I could do better to help Willow become the best dog she could be for our family and to further help my clients with training their puppies.

Over the years the biggest mistakes I see my clients make is that they don’t teach dogs to accept separation, teach self calming and imprint (socialize) their puppies enough from the beginning.  The latest studies show that the prime period for puppy imprinting ends somewhere between 12-16 weeks. Yikes!  We had always thought we had more time than that!  

Coinciding with that prime period is the risk of parvovirus, even with vaccination during that period, due to the mothers antibodies potential to override them creating a window of susceptibility in the puppies.  As dog trainers we were told that the puppy should be kept away from other dogs and places, basically kept at home, until at least 4 months of age.  Now, looking at that, we realize we are potentially missing out on our prime period for imprinting, what should we do?  


I believe that the imprinting is very important to the emotional health of the dog and should take precedence.  Using lower risk environments and dogs we know or that are immunized and meeting the puppy in low risk places such as at the other dog(s) house and not the vet or dog park.  

Take that puppy everywhere!  Carry him around town, in a cart at Home Depot, let him see the world.  Lots of different dogs, people, bicycles, skate boards, little kids, fire trucks, tractors, umbrellas and walk on different surfaces.  How many things can you expose him to safely and without overwhelming or scaring him?  This lays the foundation for his life.

Puppies also need to learn that separation in okay and not a scary thing.  That you are indeed coming back, and won’t be gone long.  I started Willow on this practice with use of the crate and also exercise pen, immediately. I did not let her follow me, or the other dogs, everywhere in the house.  This very quickly helped her learn that our being out of sight wasn’t a scary event and also helped with housebreaking.  She has become a very independent puppy in a very short time!  She plays well by herself, without being overly needy or busy.  She has learned to self calm by the use of crate at night and nap time and the exercise pen during the day.  She has slept thru the night within two weeks of getting her.

For car rides she is crated so she has learned how to be still and lie quietly during our curvy mountain road rides without getting motion sickness.

So if you want a puppy, go for it!  Pick a reputable breeder if you want a purebred or rescue.  Avoid puppy mills or backyard breeders who breed unhealthy and emotionally troubled dogs.  In other words, know your breeder by researching them thoroughly.  Please do not adopt litter mates, there are many problems associated with that as well.  Do the leg work up front and you’ll have a great family member for life!

Nan Long

Canine Connections Dog Training and owner of DogWoods Retreat

Bear Sightings

DogWoods Retreat is located right in the middle of the forest. Recent morning sightings include a momma bear with her three yearling cubs. They will stay with their mother until they are about 2 years of age, when she gets ready to mate again. It takes 45-60 days after mating before the cubs are born. They are usually born during the winter months and are less than one pound at birth.

Adult females weigh between 100 to 300 pounds. Males are much bigger tipping the scales from 200 to 700 pounds!

Bears in the mountains of North Carolina typically eat acorns, berries, fruits, grubs, honey, insects, grass and leaves.

Come stay with us and you might be lucky enough to spot a bear from your porch in the morning!

Training a good recall (come command)

The most common complaint I hear as a trainer is, my dog doesn’t come when I call him. The biggest problem I see regarding this, is that people don’t train the recall properly. It needs to be practiced over and over so that it becomes automatic. 

Proper practice begins with setting your dog up for success.
Calling “come” when your dog takes off into the woods is counterproductive. Instead, start with him in the house or yard where he isn’t distracted. Call “dog come!” in an excited voice and add some clapping with it. When he returns to you and sits reward him with a treat. Training this command with the use of food gives a high reliability. 

It’s a fun command to practice as it involves action, praise and food!

Nan Long
Canine Connections

Join us for Christmas!

Though we can’t promise snow, we can certainly promise you’ll enjoy your stay at DogWoods Retreat!  We still have an opening for the week of Christmas so contact us soon if you want to be the lucky one who spends the holiday with us.  We don’t discriminate so your best friend, regardless of breed, size or temperament is welcome to come with you.  They can enjoy our huge fenced yards, hikes in the forest and a cozy fireplace together with you. You can enjoy a hot tub under the stars and sweet dreams in our luxury beds.

Firefly cabin in the peaceful snow.
A nice rest in front of a warm fire after a long days hike!
Snow nose!
Sunlight makes me happy!
Can you find the dog in the snow?
I miss you and these days sweet Mateo.

Fall Glory at DogWoods Retreat!

Come stay with us at DogWoods Retreat we are the dog friendliest place on the planet!  Large private fenced yards surround each of our cabins in the woods.  We don’t care if your best friend is a Pit Bull or a Shitzu or even if he doesn’t like other dogs and people.  All dogs are welcome here! Our cabin, Dragonfly, sporting it’s fall colors. Tree Frog all bejeweled up with autumn!

Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 10/6/15


What a glorious time up on the Blue Ridge Parkway today with beautiful Carolina blue skies and the start of fall color.  We went to Graveyard Fields and ran into a nice couple from Massachusetts and their two lovely boxers.  Thank you for posing for us!  The color is just starting at the high altitudes and has a long way to go.  We are in for a long, slow, beautiful color season.  Join us for a stay at DogWoods Retreat, we have no breed, size or obedience restrictions, all are welcome here. Huge fenced private yards surround your own private cabin in the woods where you can hot tub under the stars or enjoy a crackling wood burning fire with your best friend! 


The view of Graveyard Fields Lower Falls from up on the Parkway.  Long hike down!


Taking a walk at the river before it becomes the lower falls.


Parkway looking back towards Asheville area,