My name is Mary Thompson, I'm a positive dog trainer, and I said "no" today

I did it. It happened today. I was cooking something in the kitchen, and Phoebe threw herself at the door. She had just been out. I KNEW she didn't have to go potty, and was most likely trying to get out to go say hi to the neighbor dog. I needed to keep an eye on the food on the stove, and didn't have the time to let her out. She jumped at the door again. I took a deep breath and tried to ignore it. One last time she threw herself at the door and I yelled "PHOEBE NO!". Does this mean I should throw in the towel on "force-free" training and start using shock, prong, and choke collars? Does this mean I should no longer call myself a positive trainer, or that I'm lying about trying my best to

My Walking Rules for YOU

"How do I make my dog stay next to me?" "Should I allow my dog to walk ahead of me? Or will he think he's in charge?" "How do I make my dog listen to me around other dogs?!" I spend a LOT of time fielding questions like these, and I totally get it! Loose leash walking is one of those elusive behaviors that most people really struggle to teach; with the added complication of myths around this particular behavior (i.e. your dog can't walk ahead of you or they'll think they're the alpha, your dog shouldn't be allowed to sniff, etc. etc.) it makes it even tougher to teach! But have you ever spent any time thinking about the rules YOU should abide by? I like to say that polite leash walking is

"Walking with a Reactive Dog: Will it ever get easier?!"

It's no great secret that living with a reactive dog can be a lot of work. You might be constantly managing their environment, making sure that your dog isn't facing his triggers and reacting daily. You probably change your walking route, or only walk at certain times of the day. You always make sure to bring treats on walks with you, but not just treats, the good stuff, the salmon, the tripe, the stuff your dog goes batty for. You spend more time smelling like dehydrated whitefish than you'd like to admit. And you do this all for the dog you share your life with and love. I love working with reactive dogs, but it is an emotionally challenging and patience trying endeavor. I often get asked

"Treat training? Won't my dogs get fat?"

One question that I frequently get from clients is about their dog putting on weight when I discuss using food to train. Many people are concerned that by giving their dog lots of treats they'll contribute to a possible weight problem. I've heard this from both pet owners and veterinary professionals. It is very true that many of our pet dogs are overweight or obese, and that this can contribute to shorter lifespans and other health issues, but truthfully most of the overweight dogs I meet are simply overfed, under-exercised, and simply getting too many calories. Just like with humans, if a dog is taking in more calories than they are spending they will start to accumulate weight, This does

Should I sign up for group classes, or private lessons?

There are a TON of training services being offered by various training businesses right now. Board and train seems to be all the rage, day training is one option (my personal favorite!), walk and train, etc. etc. but the two mainstays that I think will always be offered will be private lessons and group classes. These services are easily by biggest sellers, and both have their pros and cons. Private lessons can accelerate a dog's learning because they can learn in their own home with few distractions, and the dog won't need to generalize the new behaviors they learned in class to the home environment. They can also make scheduling more flexible, since it isn't a set class at a set time every

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Mary Thompson, CPDT-KA, PMCT
Phone: 312-307-6481

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In Home Dog Training serving Elk Grove Village, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Palatine, Buffalo Grove, Itasca, Des Plaines, Mt. Prospect, Roselle, Wooddale, Bensenville, Hoffman Estates, Park Ridge, Niles, Prospect Heights, Wheeling,  and more.
Group classes in Des Plaines.