Republished courtesy of  | Jan 13, 2020

Imagine this: You’re walking your leashed dog on a trail and you see a leashed dog approaching.  The owner tenses, pulls the dog to their side, and starts a string of random phrases aimed at their dog along the lines of “Leave it.  No.  Uh huh!” etc.

You’ve seen it before.  Their dog has a problem.  They know it and you know it (or should know it) because the human body language is clear – a worried handler getting ready for…something.

When a random person starts tightening up their dog’s leash – pay attention. That is a human cue!  It means they don’t trust their dog.  I know this because 90% of the pet dog world wants their dog to meet other dogs and if they don’t?  They bring their dog Continue Reading →


Dogs Have Issues Too: Helping Dogs Cope with Stress.


Our psychiatric service dogs all begin as shelter dogs. In meeting and assessing these dogs, we are acutely aware of the need to help dogs cope with stress. Even the best shelters are still not loving homes or the jobs many working dogs need to live satisfying lives.

On March 9th, Healing Companions held an afternoon of stress reduction/relaxation techniques for over twenty inmates and the shelter dogs they train in their basic skills. The training provided to shelter dogs by these inmates helps even those dogs that do not go on to become psychiatric service dogs be more adoptable. Those that do go on to be qualified to enter our program can Continue Reading →


The half-click


Republished courtesy of | Dec 31, 2019

What do you do when you predict a successful repetition in a shaping session and then, just as you are pushing down on the clicker, something happens? The anticipated behavior is not successfully completed? Uh oh.  Your brain told you not to do it but your finger didn’t listen!  Or at least, your finger didn’t listen fast enough.  So now you’ve got a half click – holding down the metal thing (what’s that called?) and trying to decide how to get out of it.  Which, of course, you can’t. Your finger has to come up eventually and…your dog is waiting you know.

In general, if I promise a cookie or toy or whatever, then I give it since a click sound is followed by a reinforcer in my training repertoire.  But I don’t give a cookie for a half click.  I know many people who do – a promise is a promise and they fill it.  Not me – I just try really really really hard not to do that again.  Of course, the dog heard that sound and Continue Reading →




Republished courtesy of | Nov 26, 2019

A friend of mine went to see an in person trainer – an excellent trainer; I know her well. That trainer then recommended a specific exercise to my friend – an exercise that I never do. Indeed, an exercise that I had advised our mutual client not to do when she asked me about it.

My confused friend came back to me – should I do the exercise or not?

DO IT!!!!!

Hey, I’m just a trainer with a set of ideas. I think I’m a good trainer and there is logic behind what I say and do but right now I’m not sitting there with you and your dog. I don’t know what the other trainer saw, but I know that she’s an excellent trainer and

Continue Reading →


Grant Awarded!


Healing Companions is grateful this for the many generous donations from charitable funds.


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