Over Threshold

What does it mean when we say a dog is “over threshold?”

It means the dog is over the optimal level of arousal to learn or perform.

As with all terminology, the exact meaning will vary according to the culture you are speaking within. A person in the protection sports talking about over threshold may have a different tolerance level than a person who specializes in changing dog behavior.   But at the end of the day, we say a dog is over threshold when it is no longer able to perform or learn.

It would probably be more accurate to say no longer able to perform or learn at an “optimal level”, because even dogs who are extremely over threshold sometimes manage to perform or learn, especially if their life Continue Reading →


Learning. Teaching. Doing


Republished courtesy of  | Jan 21, 2020

I have a story (it gets to dogs in the end):

My husband was a patient in a teaching hospital this past week. That means doctors at various stages of training spend time learning on him – with varying degrees of competence and success.

One set of particularly inexperienced doctors came in to remove a tube in his chest. They asked him to roll on his side. Not happening – he has nine broken ribs.

They said that’s how it’s done.

Now my husband isn’t about to be mishandled by a group of young doctors who lack for imagination so he told them they’d better do some thinking or go back to their teacher, because there was zero chance he was going to roll on his side. He can do that because he’s strong and capable of advocating for himself – a human capacity!

Consternation followed. Consultation. Finally, the nurse came in and it got worked out. The tube was pulled out some other way which was maybe less than ideal – but husband was happy and the doctors got their practice.

Afterwards, my husband chatted with the nurse about it – he was sort of Continue Reading →


Making Time


Republished courtesy of  | Jan 17, 2020

Life is busy right now. That happens – life being busy. It’s hard to keep up. Priorities have to be made and then one goes from there.

This blog? I can put it aside. This post? Short and sweet! – Time….time is the issue.

Once upon a time, dogs did their own thing. Roamed the neighborhood, hung out with each other, did…dog things. Whatever that was. And now? If you live in the United States, Canada, Europe or many other places, your dogs may well be dependent on you 100% for their quality of life. You feed them, provide them with a place to live, exercise them, and in short, are responsible for, and control, everything that makes Continue Reading →




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 →

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