Pups on Prozac? Something’s out of Whack

Pups on Prozac? Something’s out of Whack

Recently, a young couple came to class with their nine month old large mixed breed dog. He appeared to be a little fearful, unsure of himself, and in conflict with what he wanted and needed. I asked the couple a few questions about him and they expressed to me that he had just started Prozac. What? I was a little taken aback and I asked them why. “He is an anxious dog and he had a rough start as a pup”. Well, yes he is a little anxious, but he has never had an ounce of training. They had never had him evaluated by a trainer or behaviorist. He was simply put on Prozac.

When I grew up I had never heard of a dog on Prozac but then again none of my friends were on Prozac either. Dogs back then played with us outside all day. Yes, kids played outside not on I Pads. Dogs ate table scraps, bones, meat and sometimes we even snuck them our ice cream cones. They all lived very long lives.

We were vaccinated once when we were children. Why are we vaccinating our dogs every year? Why are we warned of bones, scraps, meat, canned food and the dreaded “human food”. Have you ever read the ingredients on a bag of kibble? The crappiest ones start with corn, wheat, soy etc. I would call that human food at its’ worst and yet we are told that is what is best for them.

Our dogs got flea baths every week and for some reason my grandmother swore on bacon grease between the paws for flea remedies. I am not sure how that worked without the dogs licking it off. My point is that we did not over vaccinate, inundate with toxic flea and tick medications or feed them expensive prescription diets. And they were never put on Prozac.

Perhaps it is time that we look at the causes for the behaviors and not look for a magic cure in the form of a pill. Do I believe that in an extreme case that medicine can be helpful? Yes. But not every dog who exhibits a little neurotic behavior needs medication.

Maybe they just need a little guidance and time with their humans: this does not include leash walks with you chatting on your cell phone, trips to the dog park with you on your cell phone and your latte’ or throwing a ball incessantly for half an hour to get the energy out.

It means being present, teaching, guiding and trying to love the dog for who she is. It means seeing that they get a species appropriate diet. It means that they are not over medicated, over vaccinated and undersocialized. And most important, it means that they are allowed to be a dog: dogs hunt, chew, dig, eat dead smelly things and hump pillows for fun. This does not mean they are crazy, they are a dog. Medications can have side effects that worsen behavior. See link below.




Big White Granny Panties

I love the stories that I hear from my clients. This is perhaps my favorite story. Moose, a ten month old GSD is a great combination of brains, brawn and blarney.

My wonderfully gracious and soft spoken client always looks me in the eye, with a sparkle in her own, trying very hard to convey her outrage at the latest antics. She must believe me to be the most insane of dog trainers as I laugh hysterically, wiping the tears from my eyes.

On this day Mom was trying to put on her “big white granny panties” she had one leg in when Moose stuck his head in the other leg. Startled he backed away taking the panties with him over his head. He of course thought this to be the most fun as he tore through the house. As luck would have it UPS decides to show up at which point Moose runs over to show off his new outfit much to the humiliation of his mother.

What I am so fortunate to witness on a weekly basis is a love affair between a woman and her dog. I witness the love and the loyalty as he watches his mom’s every move. He is her champion and savior and will care for her until the day he dies.

Of course she feels that his antics may be the death of her and threatens to sell him to the first person with $2.00. Then he will turn things quickly around and perform a drop and stay from 50 feet away at which point she looks at me smiling “Isn’t he so smart.”

I believe myself to be one of the most fortunate women on earth. I am able to teach such wonderful people that dogs will be dogs and we can love them for what they are. We do need to provide guidance and safety and place reasonable expectations on them. We must first teach them those expectations.

I wipe the tears of laughter from my face I stand up and say “let’s go to work.” Moose is ready to learn and I am ready to teach. All of his training has been done off leash without the use of any corrective devices. He loves to go to work, especially when I turn the tables and chase and stalk him through the bushes. This is the greatest fun and he is more than willing to do a stop and drop as he will be rewarded with more play.

Yes, Moose has mom’s panties, her rake, her prime rib (oops) from Christmas but he also has her back and her heart. I can only hope that all of us can learn to love everything about our dogs and truly have a once in a lifetime relationship with our dog.

Karen Quillen


What About Free Will?

These are the things that my dogs like to do: Roll in smelly things, run in the woods, sniff crotches, eat greasy yummy meat, chew bones and snuggle with mom and dad preferably on the couch.

Sometimes they like to do obedience work and go to trials or do a training demo. Only if they truly want to do these things do I ask it of them. I was working toward my Rally-O Championship with my dog Sage. I really, really wanted that Championship. In the ring next to us a man yelled at his dog and Sage melted down. She was trained for Homeland Security which means she was probably shocked, corrected with a collar and yelled at.

Our career was over. She would have continued to work for me but she was not having fun and I decided to retire her.

So often I see dogs who are asked to do things that stress them and sometimes even harm them physically. Dogs will do what is asked of them. My question is . .  Would they do this freely? I often hear, “I want my dog to be a Therapy Dog.” My question to them is, “Does your dog want to be a Therapy Dog?” It is hard stressful work in many cases and most dogs are not cut out for it.

I am a dog trainer but I am over my ego. I learned long ago that training my dogs was about building a relationship with them. In order to do that I had to watch them closely to see what they liked to do. It was within that context that I then trained them.

I ask that each and every one of us allow our dogs to be who they are. Getting a dog does not mean that you have to change them, love them for who they are. We know it is an epic failure to try and change a spouse or partner or even a child, yet it has become acceptable to make dogs perform like circus animals (don’t even get me started on that) and if the dog somehow has the audacity to decline to perform we punish.

So I say let’s give them back a little free will. Let them be a dog in the true sense of the word and you might just find that you have a pretty well trained dog.

Karen Quillen

Taming of The Crew

Statistics show that most dogs end up in the shelter between the age of nine and eleven months of age.  Any of us who have ever had a teenage dog might understand why.

Every month I teach an adolescent dis-obedience class. It is with a slight dread that I descend the stairs, put on my happy face and walk into the classroom. Dogs are flailing at the end of their leash, barking and acting as though they have never stepped foot into a classroom or the real world for that matter.

The humans are scowling and pleading with their teenage dogs in the hopes that they will somehow miraculously decide to behave themselves. Over and over I hear, sit, sit, sit.

My job is to quickly explain the teenage mind…the attitude that ensues and why our dog will not sit, sit, sit. BORING! How many of us remember being a teenager? Parents were dull and uninformed, demanding and not at all cool. I believe that our teenage dogs feel about the same about us. You can quickly make a teenager love you again by offering them the car keys, or a new cell phone. You can quickly gain the attention of your teenage dog by being fun. When we are nagging, threatening and coercing our teenage dog we get indifference and avoidance.

At this point in class I ask the adults to act like fools. I am adamant that my students become proficient in the art of jolly dog talk. You know; the voice that you use at home when nobody can hear you. It always amuses me that humans’ feel they need to act stern and serious in front of others, I guess it is to show that they have control of the dog…

Once the humans start acting the fool, the dog looks at that with a little more interest.  Throw in a couple of extra yummy goodies and all of a sudden your dog is looking at you like now you are cool again.

Sit is overused in my opinion and I think that many dogs would concur. There are many things you can teach your dog that will keep him interested and compliant. Change your mind and you can change the behavior. Play chase with your dog and switch roles on and off see how quickly you will get a sit if you continue this type of fun training. I for one do not want a robotic dog that performs out of fear or submission. I want to see my dog with shining eyes, lolling tongue and a wagging body that is anticipating my next request with glee.

Let us try and understand the motivation behind behavior and leave the blame out of it. They are doing the best they can and our job is to continually teach them until we get it right.

Welcome to the New AllThingsPawssible.com!

Hi everybody!

With our new building comes a new website, and we’re happy to welcome you to the brand new AllThingsPawssible.com!

Feel free to click around and learn about our new space and all of our services, but please be patient while we continue to implement some features over the coming weeks (calendar, online store, etc).

Come stop by our new location at 1201 Stoney Ridge Road and come see what we’ve been up to! We look forward to seeing you there!

Aging Dogs

Time passes much more quickly than we are prepared for. Our once rambunctious, curious, athletic and graceful dog is old.

At first you notice a little cloudiness in the eye a little grey in the muzzle. They have gotten a little thinner and have lost some muscle mass. Sleep takes up a majority of their day.

One day you are out walking with your dog and you see some confusion. I was recently out on the trail with my dog Dana who will be thirteen years old in a few months. Dana is a beautiful, graceful and athletic dog who for years made me look much smarter and more skillful as a trainer than I really am. Dana has won several titles in competitive work, has been my demo dog in schools, camps and many other venues. Dana could leap over anything in her way at a fast and furious pace. She could find her way back to me no matter where I had gone. The world was hers and she spent every glorious moment sniffing, running and exploring free in nature as dogs’ are intended to be.

On this day she moved much more slowly walking behind me rather than in front. I walked on only to realize that she was no longer with me. I circled back to find her unsure, a little scared and unable to locate me as she had in the past. This is it, I thought to myself the time when I will need to be there for her.

From here on in there will be times she may fall. That dreadful moment when you see the fear in their eyes as they struggle to get up in those few seconds it takes for you to get to them; the frantic search for you in their eyes that no longer see as well; the relief when you let them know that you are there.

And this is the reality we all face as our dogs age. I will be there for Dana every step of the way. I will hold her back end as she navigates the stairs. I will clean up the urine that she could not control and never, ever shame her. I will hand feed her if she desires. I will cook her steak and potatoes and mush up her food if that is what she needs. I will hold her as she takes her last breath and I will promise to let her go if she tells me that it is time.

All of this I will do for Dana as I have done for Vivian and Sawyer. And it hurts but I am willing to feel the pain in exchange for all of the love and happiness they gave to me while they could.

Confronting a Vet

Palms sweating and heart beating I decide to confront a very well respected Vet. Yes, if you know me you know that I am opinionated and sometimes annoying as I cannot keep my mouth shut.

And I get ahead of myself… In my classes I try and educate my clients regarding the benefits of a healthy diet as well as the possibility that we are over vaccinating and poisoning our dogs with Frontline and other topical flea and tick remedies. I had begun to see healthy dogs getting tumors by six years of age, behavioral issues that appeared out of nowhere and obesity and diabetes. I knew from personal experience that food does affect our health and our mental wellbeing. Was it too far of a stretch to think that this might be the case for our dogs?

According to this one Vet, it is. He told one of my customers what I was teaching was ridiculous. Of course my client was a little put off and told me about the conversation. She also sought my advice regarding finding a new Vet.

So, I did it I confronted the God,the man with a Doctorate, the man who could make mincemeat out of me with his technical jargon. Yes I was stuttering a bit and probably did not make most of my points, but I did not back down nor concede to his beliefs.

I am not a Vet but I have a brain and opposable thumbs that allow me to google and find things out for myself. The information is out there and it is out there by other Vets who have Doctorates as well.

I encourage my customers to research for themselves. I stand by my beliefs and that is my right. I suppose that I will make some enemies along the way and may be viewed as a zealot or the crazy dog lady, but this is who I am, an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves.