Contact Us
1161 E. Clark Rd
Suite 262
Dewitt, MI 48820
Sign up for our newsletter email:

Instilling A Love of Training: Rory and Gator

October 13th, 2015

There is nothing more satisfying as a dog trainer than when a student learns to LOVE training their dogs.  Carol Hein-Creger of the Canine Training Center shares a letter she recently received from a student who has discovered this joy.

Hi Carol,

I talked to my Mom last night and she was very excited after taking Gator to his Calm & Confident class. I am so happy that she is doing classes with him and I know that she enjoys it.

I am so thankful for all that you taught me about dog training. There was a time where I was very concerned about Gator’s reactivity and wasn’t sure that it would get better. Considering how much he loves going with me everywhere, I knew that this would not be a good fate for him (or me). After Calm & Confident and Agility 1&2 we were able to learn the skills that would help him increase his confidence and increase his threshold. He even was able to go on a date with me at the end of the summer in a busy pedestrian mall in an outdoor restaurant (did I mention he likes going everywhere with me?). Despite many life changes in the past 12 months, the groundwork you instilled in us help give Gator stability that would help him grow into adulthood.

It is also so fun to see how easy it is to train Rory using the same methodology. I felt confident going into puppy training after my experience with Gator’s reactivity – but I hadn’t quite realized that puppies don’t know anything at all. For example, climbing up stairs? No clue! “Good boy!” No reaction. “No!” and Rory would continue his destructive behavior. After my initial moment of panic when I realized what I had gotten myself into, we were able to fall back on the basics I had learned and progress forward. In the first week I had him, he learned to “Sit,” “Down,” “Wait,” “Touch,” and “High-Five.” By the second week, he learned “Kennel,” and “Leave it.” Now, he knows leave it so well that he can be playing with a leaf across the yard and I can say “Leave it” and he will come running. Though it isn’t perfect, I feel confident moving forward and know that Rory has a foundation that will help him grow into a confident adult dog.

Rory and Gator are half brothers – so it will be fun to see how Rory develops. I have seen a slight reactivity in the puppy that we will need to work on, but so far he has done incredibly well in his new home.

Thank you for all that you have taught me. Though my dogs might not be perfect, they are absolutely perfect for me and you have helped us all realize our full potential.

Wish I was back in East Lansing so I could continue training Rory with you! Thank you again!

Take care, Charlsey

Carol Hein-Creger, the director of the Canine Training Center, has been training dogs and their owners since 1979. She has trained thousands of people, including many local dog trainers. Carol is the lead trainer at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station in downtown Lansing. Check out her upcoming class schedule. Do you have a training or behavior question for Carol?  Send an email to with “Carol’s Corner” in the subject line or use the “Contact Us” form.

Carol’s Corner: Dog Training Q&A

April 13th, 2014

Carol’s Corner: Dog Training Q&A

Hi Carol!

First off, I wanted to thank you for a great class! This was Captain’s and my first class together, and it has really helped us both! He’s much more responsive off-leash, and we have an even better connection! We’re continuing to work on building the skills we learned, and both enjoy the training times. I’m also wondering if I might get some advice from you on one or two issues.

Issue 1 (the biggest): Pottying in the yard. We’ve been together 1 year, and it’s taken this long to establish at least a just before bed pee in the yard (he pooped there twice, even, in Feb). We potty on walks first thing in the morning, and while at work. So, it took him awhile to get the yard (and many, many trials of approaches) – he kept holding out for walks. I eventually got him to pee in the yard in the early evening, and just before bed. But now that the snow is gone, we’ve played in the yard a couple times (after he peed) and he is now being stubborn about using it to pee. He mostly will continue to do it just before bed, but early evening or any other time, he just barks and wants to play, now. He’ll lift the leg – but then decide not to go. Once he knows there’s a better option, oh-oh! He usually only poops a couple blocks away. Very particular! I’d also like to be able to offer him the yard OR a walk in the early evening when it’s nice, but fear if I do the walk once, it may make the early evening potty even more of an issue. I’m truly grateful for his progress of at least doing it before bed, AND that he does it outside!!

Issue 2 – Barking at home. We’re making progress! Captain likes to let me know when anyone on the street gets in their car, walks by, etc. He’s getting better about just alerting to door arrivals. But it’s hard to get him to settle once the person comes in and I say it’s okay. I’m not sure of approach or commands, so I know that’s part of it. His breeder/trainer said he responds to “Quit!”, which is true sometimes, but not always. I’ve tried having him sit, and reward him for that, which changes focus, at least. And then reward him for “quiet”, but I’m not sure this is being most effective. I will try with higher-quality treats and see if that helps… So, any thoughts you might have would be great, or setting up a consult would be fine, too. Hope you’re enjoying this beautiful weather, today! Gracie.

Pilot, the handsome Collie
Captain, the handsome Collie

Hi Gracie,

Thanks for your kind words. Captain is such a sweet boy! Here are some ideas for the issues you raised.

1. For at least a couple of weeks, I suggest that you do not give Captain the option of pottying outside of the yard. That does not necessarily mean you can’t walk him, but if you do, keep him moving right along. Don’t let him stop to sniff or engage in any of the precursor behaviors to eliminating. When you take him out in the yard, use a specific cue (I say “Get busy”) when you see him start to sniff or do anything he typically does before he poops or pees. Do not engage in any play until he goes. If he barks, either TOTALLY ignore him (to the point of even turning away) or take him back into the house. If you are concerned about him eliminating in the house, either crate him until you’re ready to take him outside again or tether him to you. Your attitude should be very matter of fact during this time, not punishing. When he DOES go potty in the yard, make a big deal about it; praise him enthusiastically, give him a treat and play with him. In short, teach him the “party starts” as soon as he does his business in the yard, not before.

2. Congratulations on the progress you’re making! As you know, collies can be rather vocal at times. To teach Captain to stop barking when people come over, use a specific command (“Quit” is as good as any) and then say something like “Let’s go get a cookie” as you take him away from the person into the kitchen where you’ll give him several very high value treats. You may have to initially have Captain on leash if he’s reluctant to follow you out of the room, but I have a feeling that won’t be an issue, especially after he’s been rewarded in the kitchen a few times. After a time, you should be able to reward him in the same room as the visitor, and then progress to having the visitor deliver the treats. I encourage you to consider enrolling Captain in an Agility class. Agility is a great confidence builder and I think you would both really enjoy it.

ctc yellow logoSincerely, Carol

Carol Hein-Creger
Director of Training
Canine Training Center

Carol Hein-Creger has been training dogs and their owners since 1979. She has trained thousands of people, including many local dog trainers. Carol is the lead trainer at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station in downtown Lansing. Check out her upcoming class schedule. Do you have a training or behavior question for Carol? Send an email to with “Carol’s Corner” in the subject line or use the “Contact Us” form.

Dear ICACS Volunteers and Staff: Thank You.

March 28th, 2014

icacs ha 4 Recently, the Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter (ICACS) bestowed an amazing honor on AnnaBelle’s Pet Station: Corporate Humanitarian of the Year for 2013. We are honored, proud, and humbled. There are many amazing people, businesses, and organizations who contribute so much to animal welfare in our community in countless ways.

icacs trisha dylanWe support events, promote the animals available for adoption, help raise money for the shelter, and offer free and discounted training services. But, each and every day, there are dozens of people at the shelter walking dogs, caring for puppies, kittens, bunnies and more, cleaning up after the animals, and giving their love to all the animals in the shelter and foster care. Every day, they are on the roller coaster of amazing success stories and heartbreaking cases of abuse and neglect. These are the people who give not just their time; they give their blood, sweat, tears, hearts and so much more to animals in need in our community.

icacs HAYes, we have made contributions to ICACS in many ways and love to do so. But, the honor of this award was even being included in the same room with all of those who are working in the trenches, saving lives, and making our community safer every day. We want the shelter staff and volunteers know how much we honor and respect their work. And without them, our small contributions would be meaningless.

Thank you shelter friends, for all you do. Much love, from the Team at AnnaBelle’s.

Pet Safety in the Garage

November 13th, 2013

Author: Stephanie Hyde

Dogs are known for being fearless explorers of the  unknown. Unfortunately for us, that “unknown” sometimes means our garage. When strapped for space, many homeowners turn to their garage to store off-season items, tools, and chemicals for the car. Storing these items in the garage can produce a tempting threat and unsafe area for dogs. However, by following the few simple steps, your garage can be a serve the purpose of a storage and safe play area for your furry friends.

cabinets and shelving copyGet it off the floor: Nothing is more tempting to a dog than items at eye level. Shelving and cabinets are a simple solutions to this problem. Cabinets provide a safe way to store harsh chemicals out of the sight and reach of dogs. This also reduces the risk bottles and cans forming puddles for curious animals to drink from. Shelving with hooks is a great way to customize your area, create space, and get sports equipment, gardening tools, sharp items off of the floor, and keeping paws safe.

Look for heavy objects: Stacking is a great way to maximize space in a small area. However, rambunctious dogs running around can bump these piles and make them fall. Overhead storage allows you to store boxes and tubs safely out of the way. This storage method is great for less frequently used items and off season item. When looking at overhead storage, make sure there is at least an one inch lip to prevent items from falling.

Organization is key: Perhaps the easiest way to prevent accidents is by being organized. By knowing where things are and keeping them out of the way of small paws, it almost completely eliminates the risk. Of course, this is easier said than done. By utilizing shelving, overhead storage, and cabinets, this task can become much simpler.

Creating a safe and fun area for your pets in the garage doesn’t have to be hard. Just remember the three simple steps: get it off the floor, look for heavy objects, and organization is key. You’ll be on your way to a happy and healthy dog.

About the author: Stephanie Hyde works for George’s Gorgeous Garages, a garage storage and organization company serving homeowners in the Lansing area. For more tips on home organization, visit our blog at

Observations and Reflections: the Andrew Ramsey Method of Training Nose Work

November 11th, 2013

Author: Dawn Archer Pizzoferrato, ABCDT

nosedreamstime_11906739I recently had the opportunity to attend an Andrew Ramsey Nose Work seminar.  Andrew Ramsey is a dog trainer who is one of the primary developers of the UKC Nose Work program.  I audited the first day of a two-day seminar in the Detroit area. With the growing popularity of the Nose Work sport, the United Kennel Club has jumped on board in developing a program of their own and who could blame them. Since the UKC is headquartered in Kalamazoo, Michigan, we are seeing many of their Nose Work programs popping up all over the state.  So I took this opportunity to find out what it was all about.  I came away from the seminar with quite a few opinions of this program, some good, some not so good.

First of all, I would like to tell you what I found out about Andrew Ramsey.  Andrew is young (33-years-old) and I found him to be engaging, funny, and quirky (and I like quirky!).  Most of Andrew’s training experience is with the US military where he started in the detection dog puppy-breeding program and moved on to actually training detection dogs. The breed of dog he grew up with and still owns today is the Dachshund. He also owns a Belgian Malinois, and thus has a lot of personal and professional experience with high-drive working dogs. In addition to offering group classes in the San Francisco area, he now travels around the country giving Nose Work seminars and working with UKC to develop their Nose Work program.  There are already some significant differences between the NACSW and the UKC title trials, including the addition of two more odors, Vetiver and Myrrh along with 5 title levels.

Box searching in my K9 Nose Work class

Box searching in my K9 Nose Work class

Now, on to more specifics of the seminar! As I mentioned earlier, while I only audited the class, I was also able to observe several working teams.  Most of the dogs in these teams were high drive working dog breeds. There were several shepherds (Dutch, Belgian, German and Australian), a Rottweiler, a Toller, a Jack Russell and even a Beauceron.  And many of the handlers were professional trainers or highly experienced sport dog handlers.  There were maybe a couple of casual pet owner-handlers.

The room was set-up with a line of various container type objects.  These were of three types, plastic “office organization” dresser drawers, cardboard boxes (all the same size and shape) standing on end with a round hole, and plastic bins with lids. These containers were in a line, up against a wall alternating between the three types. Andrew explained to us that he doesn’t use boxes because they elicit too much play and pawing behavior from the dogs. And he doesn’t introduce box searches until the dog is on odor and giving a trained final response.

There was a screen in place, which blocked the view of the container line from the dog waiting to search.  Andrew used a treat tube to put the dog’s primary reward in, which he shook to get the dog’s attention. Andrew immediately started with a pattern search. He placed the primary reward on a plate/shallow bowl inside the bottom drawer of the first dresser. The drawer was left open.  This was the only open drawer in the line.  The dog and handler come out from behind the screen and waited a short distance from the open drawer. Andrew asks the handler to “hold” there as he shakes the tube containing the treats. This peaks the dogs attention and they try to move towards Andrew.  The dog is held there on a taut line as Andrew pretends to drop the treat tube in the drawer (he really places it under his arm) and taps the drawer with his hand. This tap is the signal to the handler to allow the dog to move forward, investigate the drawer, and reap the reward.  The dog is then pulled off the drawer, brought behind the screen and this hide is repeated.

The third hide is then placed in the second plastic dresser drawer, which is right beside the first. The first drawer is left open.  When the dog is in place, Andrew again shakes the treat tube, pretends to drop it in the first drawer, and then taps the drawer.  The handler then releases the dog, allowing it to investigate the first drawer. When no treat is found, it immediately checks out the drawer next door and finds the treat there.  This is repeated all along down the row of boxes and bins and dresser drawers.  Also, as the dog leaves each empty drawer and moves on to the next, Andrew walks along with it, never moving in front of the dog.

Working an elevated hide in my K9 Nose Work class.

Working an elevated hide in my K9 Nose Work class.

All the dogs did very nicely finding the hides during these searches. They all followed the pattern, each one sticking his head into each new open drawer until eventually finding the food, except one dog. This was the dog I knew had already had NACSW Nose Work training. When the hide had been place down the row a little ways, this particular dog bypassed many of the open drawers and went right for that drawer where the food was hidden.  In contrast, there was a handler (a very experienced handler), who, when his dog bypassed a drawer, would bring his dog all the way back to the beginning to search all the drawers again, each one in order.

In the afternoon, searching for odor began.  The searches were with paired odor and went pretty much the same as the morning searches, except about half way through, Andrew started closing the drawers where the paired odor was hidden just as the dog reached it and he brought out the clicker. Being a clicker trainer in the obedience world, I was especially curious on how he would use the clicker in this venue. When the dogs found the drawer where the pair odor was located, Andrew took hold of the lead making it taut. When the dog stopped sniffing and just focused on the crack of opening in the drawer, he clicked and opened the drawer, letting the dog eat. There didn’t seemed to be any ill effects from having the drawer closed on the noses of these very high drive dogs. But if any of the dogs pawed at a drawer the next hide was elevated in an attempt to stop any pawing. Eventually, as the afternoon progressed the drawers started out closed and the dog was clicked for the behavior of focus at the crack in the drawer. Andrew said he required both behavior and position from the dog to earn a click and an open drawer.

Andrew finished with a short lecture explaining why he opposes boxes, waiting to introduce odor, a lengthy process of pairing hides, and why he trains final responses so soon.  His support for his opposition to all of these practices was essentially that if it’s something that you need eventually, why not train it from the start? He spoke a short while about “pet” dogs, saying that they are typically too well fed to have much drive for Nose Work and they may take more time and work.

Working the room with lots of distractions!

Working the room in my K9 Nose Work class with lots of distractions!

As I indicated earlier, I came away liking some things, so let me start with those.  I liked Andrew. Like I said, he is quirky. His nerdy intelligence was fun to watch.  I also like the little treat tube he used and will try to find one for my own clicker training use.  In my view, the plastic drawers could be quite useful in “inaccessible hide” exercises.  And, I like the suet cages he used. He placed odor in plastic cups then placed them in the suet cages. This way, the dogs were able to get a great whiff of odor, without being able to actually come in contact with the q-tip.  That was really it. That’s all I liked.

Now I can let you in on what I didn’t care for. I did not like pattern searches.  Isn’t the goal of Nose Work to find the odor?  Of course it is.  So why care about how the dog gets to it? I understand that eventually in the training process, the handler is going have be aware of areas that may not have been covered, and “clear the room,” but in the beginning, it should be about the hunting game.

This brings me to my primary disagreement with this training technique. This training method is very focused on the dog alerting on the odor, not the dog “seeking” the hide.  In the book Animals Make Us Human, Dr. Temple Grandin writes about “seeking” in animals.  In “The Blue-Ribbon Emotions” chapter, Dr. Grandin quotes Dr. Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist at Washington State University. Dr. Panksepp calls SEEKING “the basic impulse to search, investigate, and make sense of the environment.”  Dr. Grandin goes on to say, “SEEKING is a very pleasurable emotion.”  And the pleasure felt when SEEKING is the pleasure of “looking forward” to something good, not the pleasure of “having” something good. Think about the beagle who has gotten lost while on a really hot rabbit track … but who never catches the rabbit.  Does that Beagle have any less fun during the hunt than the Beagle that actually catches its quarry? I think not.  Obviously “finding” food after hunting is a huge reward for the search. But, in my view, the love of the “hunt” is not diminished with the lack of a “kill.” Obviously hunger will build drive. After all, when it comes to dogs, their work ethic, as well as their entire relationship with humans, it is and always has been about the food.  It’s what brought us together in the first place and it’s what keeps us together.  But something other than hunger drives dogs to hunt. Pleasure.

WATCH Chip learn to hunt, build drive, and trust his nose in just a few short sessions of his K9 Nose Work® Class!

So when a Nose Work training method reduces the “seeking” portion of the hunt, only to concentrate on the end result (final response), I have to wonder if really about the dogs, or is this method more about the handlers?

I started to wonder about this as I thought about WHO was attending this particular seminar, mostly very experienced dog sport handlers and trainers, with already high drive working dogs.  These are exactly the types of students I’ve had in my classes who were the most difficult to get to sit back and let the dog work.  They constantly wanted to interject themselves into the searches in one way or the other.  During this seminar, this type of handler LOVED it when Andrew closed the drawers on their dog’s heads, held their dogs back until they gave a focused stare at the drawer and forced the dogs into a trained final response within a few searches. I’m sure many of these dogs will go on to get quite a few Nose Work titles. But I wonder how the “pet” dogs who are trained under this method will react? How are all those over-fed Poodles and Shit Tzus we see in our classes every week going to like this training? And, what about reactive dogs? Will this type of training increase a dog’s stress instead of reduce stress as we have found with NACSW-style Nose Work? With this method so focused on the “final response,” I wonder how many of these dogs will start alerting on things other than odor. When the search becomes about behavior instead of searching, this is a big, and unfortunate, possibility.

I found this UKC training method is more about “getting” a dog to search and find odor instead of “letting” or “allowing” a dog search and find odor.  This is where I believe the NASCW K9 Nose Work® training method is superior to the UKC/Ramsey method.  From start to finish, the NACSW method is more about the dog than the handler.  From where I, my dogs, and my student’s dogs stand, that’s just fine. Because in the end, I think we will not only have happier dogs, but also more successful dogs. Only time will tell.

Learn more about Dawn and let her help you get  your dog on target!

Dawn is an Animal Behavior College Certified Dog Trainer, an experienced Nose Work Instructor, an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator, a certified Therapy Dog International® Evaluator, and the owner of Arrow Dog Training.  Dawn is AnnaBelle’s resident clicker training specialist and she can help you Get Your Dog on Target!

Dawn uses scientifically proven “clicker training” and “free shaping” to teach your dog all the basics plus other fun, useful behaviors. She uses operant conditioning and positive reinforcement, without correction, to help you and your dog build a bond of trust and respect.

In addition to presenting Doggie Do Good clicker classes, Dawn also offers Nose Work and TDI® classes. Dawn’s group classes are taught at AnnaBelle’s on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings. Click here to see her complete class schedule!

Training with “Shaping”: A True Story of Trust, Respect and Love

November 10th, 2013

Author: Dawn Archer Pizzoferrato, ABCDT

clicker3Training using the training methods of “Capturing” and “Shaping” are by far my favorite ways to train most behaviors. After all, I’m a clicker trainer. It’s my specialty. Using a clicker is the best way to get fast results because it’s quick and accurate. Speed and accuracy are key to success when using these methods.

Before I get to my story, let me first explain just what “Capturing” and “Shaping” are. They are different, yet related and are often used in unison with one another. “Shaping” is using a marker, like a clicker, to mark and reinforce (with a food reward) tiny increments or approximations of behavior towards an ultimate goal behavior.  A “click” means the dog is moving in the right direction and no click means he is not and he needs to try something else. Using this training method, you can create complex behaviors like closing a door or putting away toys.

“Capturing” occurs when your dog just does something you like (for instance, he flops on his side as if dead) and you click and reward that full behavior. You then just wait for the behavior to occur again so that you can repeat the click and reward. What happens next is truly amazing. The dog soon figures out that a particular behavior is causing YOU to click and the dog repeats it, over and over. Trainers call that “offering behavior.”  From this point, you can simply add a cue or command when the dog is “offering behavior” and in just a few minutes, you will have a behavior on command.

So now, on to my story. This story is about MacKinley, the most beautiful (and big) Greyhound I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I first saw MacKinley when he was walking down the stairs of the facility where I teach training classes. He was there for his first training class, my Canine Good Citizen: Clicker Style class.  As I  mentioned, MacKinley is BIG; as large as an average sized Great Dane.  His head comes up to my chest and he is thin, yet muscular and sleek, and elegant and light on his feet like most Greyhounds.  But, unlike many Greyhounds, MacKinley was friendly, VERY friendly. Don’t get me wrong, Greyhounds are not generally unfriendly, they just aren’t  typically exuberant, especially if they have just retired from the Greyhound racing circuit as MacKinley had.

leah 1At MacKinley’s side was his owner, Leah.  Herself thin and elegant. And, also a real beauty. They matched.

After interviewing Leah, I learned that she had tried to register for my Therapy Dog class but it was full and she was counseled to take the CGC class to help towards their goal of becoming a Therapy Dog team. What at first was disappointing for Leah, actually turned out to be fortuitous because in this smaller class, I was going to be able to give them more one-on-one instruction. At this time, I also found out more about MacKinley’s personal history. He retired in the Spring of 2012, was relinquished to a Greyhound rescue.  Leah came along very soon after and adopted him.  He literally went from the track into her home, his first home. As of January 2013, they had only been doing obedience work for about a month. Before that, for the previous 6 months, they had just bonded, nothing else. That is where the “Trust” part of this story began. And, that would prove critically important as this pair worked at the formal obedience training phase of their relationship.

I always start this class with an explanation of what the AKC CGC test entails along with a quick evaluation of where each dog stands on the test behaviors. Leah and MacKinley did very well on almost all the requirements. But where they needed work, to put it bluntly, those behaviors were going to be a challenge. You see, retired racing Greyhounds generally don’t know how to sit. Why Greyhounds don’t sit is a matter of debate. Some say it’s because they are aren’t allowed to sit or are punished for sitting so that they don’t sit down in the starting gates. Some say, with their super long legs and highly muscled thighs, they just aren’t comfortable doing it. I suspect it’s a little of both. But the fact remains, the AKC CGC test REQUIRES all dogs to “sit.” Therapy Dog International does not require dogs to “sit,” but the CGC test does. And we knew that getting an adult Greyhound to sit on command when he has NEVER done it before was not going to be easy. So this was not a behavior we could simply “capture” because MacKinley had NEVER sat down before. He also didn’t know “down” on command and his “stay” was not reliable.

Mackinley sitting prettyWhen coming up with a plan to get MacKinley to “sit” on command, I ask Leah if he ever did anything similar to a sit; come to find out, he did. He “leaned.” He often leaned against the sofa or even sometimes, a pile of pillows. That was important because when using the “shaping” method of training, we need to mark (with a clicker, of course) and reward any approximation of behavior towards our final goal. AND, (this is really important) I was NOT going to allow Leah (not that she would anyway) do anything remotely negative with MacKinley that could jeopardize the trust he already had and the mutual respect they were currently working on creating. I asked Leah keep her clicker attached to her and treats squirreled away somewhere close to carefully watch MacKinley when they were at home. She needed to be ready to reinforce ANY leaning he did. I also noticed that MacKinley pretty easily backed-up when she moved into him. We would also use this to reach the first week goal: Get Mackinley to “sit” on the sofa.

And you know what, she did! When they came back to class the next week, MacKinley was easily sitting on the sofa (his back legs sticking straight out in front of him) with just a little forward pressure of Leah walking up to him. He had started offering the behavior and she had started attaching the cue/command to “sit” every time he did it. Leah was well on her way to teaching her dog to sit by “shaping.” Over the next few weeks, we worked on downs (both capturing it at home and luring it while in class) and “release” as a precursor to a good, strong stay. All of which were progressing very nicely. Then one night they came into class and Leah had something to show me. Sure enough, MacKinley sat! While he wasn’t doing it on command yet, he was randomly offering the behavior. And, he was DOING it, over and over. He was doing it just because he knew Leah liked it and when he did it she clicked and he got a treat. That is the power of clicker training. A few days later Leah posted this picture on her Facebook page…Enough said!

Last week Leah and MacKinley took the CGC test. Yes, they PASSED! I couldn’t have been more proud of MacKinley and Leah! And when you see the two of them together, there is no doubt that this human/dog relationship is based strongly on Trust, Respect and so much Love….with help from a little “shaping”and “clicking.”

Originally published on the Arrow Dog Training Blog: Chew On This on 2/21/13.

Learn More About Dawn & How to Get Your Dog On Target!

Dawn is an Animal Behavior College Certified Dog Trainer, an experience Nose Work Instructor, an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator, a certified Therapy Dog International® Evaluator, and the owner of Arrow Dog Training.  Dawn is AnnaBelle’s resident clicker training specialist and she can help you Get Your Dog on Target!

Dawn uses scientifically proven “clicker training” and “free shaping” to teach your dog all the basics plus other fun, useful behaviors. She uses operant conditioning and positive reinforcement, without correction, to help you and your dog build a bond of trust and respect.

In addition to presenting Doggie Do Good clicker classes, Dawn also offers Nose Work and TDI® classes. Dawn’s group classes are taught at AnnaBelle’s on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Click here to see her complete class schedule!

Adventures In Nail Trimming!

August 2nd, 2013
Buddy - the former finger biter.

Buddy: the former finger biter
and forever the drama queen.

The bane of a dog’s existence (and their pet parent’s) is often the dreaded TRIMMING OF THE NAILS. I have two rottweilers, Buddy and Martini. Buddy used to let me trim his nails with no trouble, but then, I clipped a little too close once and BOOM – it was the end of Buddy’s cooperative personality and he turned into THE BITER. Martini, on the other hand, would rather die than put her teeth on a person, no matter what. Trimming her nails was, however, like wrestling a greased up alligator, who thankfully, doesn’t bite. Neither experience was pleasant or productive. No nails got trimmed and we all ended up frustrated and cranky.

The next option is to abandon all efforts to trim the dogs’ nails at home and just let their nails get too long. This is uncomfortable for the dogs and I always end up being scratched somewhere.  And, the longer you wait between nail trims, there is less nail length that can be trimmed without harming the dog because the nail quick does not get pushed back regularly, as it does with regular trimming. When you finally go back to regular nail trims, the nails have to be gradually clipped shorter each time so that the dog is not injured. So avoiding the problem just makes it worse in so many ways.

Martini: the 90 lb greased-up alligator

Martini: the 90 lb
greased-up alligator

The best option – take this job to the pros! You would think, as co-owner of AnnaBelle’s Pet Station, this would have occurred to me sooner.  While I brought the dogs in for a bath and nail trim occasionally, I never brought them in on a regular, monthly basis. One day, as I vacuumed up gobs of dog hair in my house for the millionth time, I thought … mmmmm, regular de-shedding is definitely in order! But, do I really want to torture our lovely groomers with doing my dogs’ nails? Meh. So, with a little guilt and a lot of relief, I made their appointments.

At the first appointment, Buddy had to be muzzled and Martini was still like wrestling a greased up alligator, except Yeon (our senior groomer) was actually able to get her nails trimmed AND dremeled! WOW! I took my two shiny rottweilers home after leaving Yeon a BIG FAT tip for her hard work.

The second trip one month later was a little easier. Buddy still needed to be muzzled, but was far less dramatic. Yeon’s experienced and patient, yet quick, technique, along with the positive reinforcement of yummy cheese and Natural Balance during the grooming process was really starting to make headway for both of them. Buddy grumbled less and Martini more easily let Yeon touch her front feet.

And the third trip was the charm! Well, almost. Both dogs were far more cooperative, Buddy learned that he LOVES the hairdryer (yes, he is a princess), and Martini figured out that Yeon was not going to hurt her. At the fourth trip, I couldn’t stay for their grooming and had to run some errands. Low and behold, while Mom is away, the Rotties’ behavior was vastly improved! (I’m sure every parent of a pet or human child has experienced this phenomenon). I came back to the shop in the middle of the process and Yeon gently explained, “they were so good while you were gone.”  And then there was a long pause. “Ohhhhhhhhhhh, would you like me to leave again?” I said, as the light bulb went on. “Yes, please,” Yeon said ever so sweetly.  So I found more stuff to do. And the dogs both behaved beautifully and lived happily ever after.

At AnnaBelle’s, we want the grooming experience to be as positive as possible, especially those pesky nail trims. So, in addition to sharing my own personal adventures in nail trimming, we have created this fun and informative video — all about the nails — featuring our Team Leader, Erinn Hadley, Dr. Joyce Heideman from Southside Animal Hospital, trainer Dawn Pizzoferrato, ABCDT, and groomer Sam Waterbury. Please enjoy! Angela B.

Learn more about AnnaBelle’s Pampered Pooch Salon and our awesome grooming team. Or, call (517.599.0995) or email ( us if you have any questions or would like to make an appointment.

Carol’s Corner: How to Discourage Poop-Eating Behavior

February 1st, 2013

linksDear Carol: Do you have any advice to prevent my dog from eating poop outside? Thanks, Jennifer

Dear Jennifer:

Poop eating or coprophagia is a relatively common behavior, especially in younger dogs.  Many dogs outgrow the problem.  As disgusting as the behavior seems to us, it falls under the category of being self-reinforcing to dogs.  There are many solutions that can be tried and the owner is encouraged to try more than one, as what works for one dog may not work for another.

Adding 2 – 4 tablespoons of canned pumpkin or canned pineapple to the dog’s meals each day can be an effective cure for many dogs.  Unfortunately, if the pumpkin or pineapple is stopped the dog will often go back to eating its own feces.

There are products on the market designed to be added to the dog’s food that can also be effective; these include Deter, Dis-Taste and For-Bid.  Sometimes adding meat tenderizer or MSG to the dog’s diet will also produce the desired results.  A veterinarian friend of mine said she’d had the most success having clients add a human natural food enzyme, found at any health food store to their dog’s food.

Another tactic that many have found successful is to switch their dogs current diet to a B.A.R.F. diet.  B.A.R.F. is an acronym that stands for  Bones And Raw Food.  There are many books and on-line advice regarding “feeding raw” and those that support it often claim many other benefits to their dog’s health as well.

Hope this helps you get on the right track!

Sincerely, Carol

Carol Hein-Creger
Director of Training
Canine Training Center

Carol Hein-Creger has been training dogs and their owners since 1979. She has trained thousands of people, including many local dog trainers. Carol is the lead trainer at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station in downtown Lansing. Check out her upcoming class schedule. Do you have a training or behavior question for Carol? Send an email to with “Carol’s Corner” in the subject line or use the “Contact Us” form.

The Vet’s Perspective: Holiday Hazards

December 14th, 2012

Author: Joyce Heideman, DVM


Christmas-DogWithSantaCapThe holidays are a special time of year for most of us and can be a very joyous time. Unfortunately, they also bring their own set up hazards and risks for your pet. These include foreign body ingestion, accidental poisonings and feeding problems. This is a list of some “Holiday Hazards” and how to avoid them.

Start by looking at the decorations in your home. Anything that is “new and shiny” can look inviting to your pet to play with and unfortunately, ingest. The Christmas tree is beautiful, but full of hazards for both dogs and cats. Avoid tinsel! Many cats love to play with tinsel, string, yarn, or ribbon but, if ingested it can cause twisting and rupture of the intestines, which can be fatal. Glass ornaments can also be very dangerous in the mouths and stomachs of our pets. Place them out of reach, or use only plastic ornaments. Even the water in the base of the tree can contain secretions from the tree that can cause the pet to become ill. And, of course, the string of lights is very appealing as a chew toy to kittens, cats, and puppies alike. Also, realize that fresh cut trees can result in a break in the rules of house training for some dogs. Why else would you have brought the outdoors inside for them?

Accidental poisonings often result from plants or edible gifts we receive or make at this time of year. Poinsettia, mistletoe and the root of the amaryllis plant are very pretty and a true sign of the holidays, but all can be very toxic. Keep these plants and decorations well out of reach of your pets, or don’t bring them into the home at all. Most people are aware that chocolate is toxic to dogs, and candy dishes should be kept out of reach, but, how about that box of candy under the tree for the newspaper person, or mail carrier? Don’t believe that just because it is wrapped, your pet won’t be able to smell it and open it! Dark chocolate is more dangerous that milk chocolate and many of us bake with baker’s chocolate, which is the most toxic to our pets. Be careful to keep these, and the finished products, away from our pets. For a small dog, even a small piece of milk chocolate can result in toxicity. Macadamia nuts are another important toxin that we often bake with this time of year. Macadamia nuts are extremely toxic to dogs, even in small amounts and can cause ataxia, weakness, coma and even death.

dreamstime_15859626While we are on the topic of edibles, be careful with too many “tastes” from the table. A small portion on a rare occasion may be a nice treat, but too much, too often or inappropriate items can mean trouble. Stay away from fatty meats, poultry skin, bacon, or gravy. All of these are very high in fat and can cause digestive upset or deadly pancreatitis. Poultry bones, no matter how big, should be avoided as they have a tendency to splinter and can lacerate or puncture the intestinal tract. Along the same lines, it is tempting to get your pet the largest rawhide you can find, or a stocking filled with all sorts of edible treats. Remember not to give them all the treats at once or let them consume the rawhide in one sitting. Even if they’re used to rawhides and other treats, too much at once can cause digestive upset that can be serious.

Happy Holidays! I hope this helps you relax and enjoy the holidays without the dangers they can pose to our pets.

Dr. Joyce Heideman DVM
Southside Animal Hospital
5134 S Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Lansing, Mich. 48891

A Day in the Life of a Therapy Dog: My Beloved Therapy Dog Team Partner, Arrow

July 23rd, 2012

Author: Dawn Archer Pizzoferrato, ABCDT

It’s Thursday morning and it starts off the same as any other morning. I feel my 58 lb fur-kid, Arrow, jump up on the end of the bed and wedge himself between my hubby, David and me. I don’t move as I relish these last moments of blissful sleep. But it doesn’t last long. I then hear a long, mournful sigh from Arrow indicating he’s waited long enough and it’s time to get up.  I reach over to my nightstand; grab my iPhone to check the time. Sure enough, It’s 6:30 sharp … as usual!

Thursday morning starts off the same as any other morning, except on this morning Arrow and I will visit a senior assisted living facility in our hometown just like we have almost every Thursday morning for the past year.

After potty time, morning walk and breakfast we begin our Therapy Dog routine. It starts with a nail trim. This is not Arrow’s favorite activity, but just like with most things, he tolerates it with a resolute calm. Then teeth brushing, which he likes even less, followed by his favorite thing: I get out the brush. I gently mist him all over (except his face) with a homemade concoction of water, lavender oil, and peppermint oil and then I brush him. I brush him forward and back, topside and underneath. He moves and sways in an attempt to get the brush to his favorite, itchy spot at the base of his tail. Once there, his right leg comes up and air-scratches with delight. Then the special “I am a Therapy Dog” tags are placed on the collar. And I put the “Therapy Dog International” I.D. with my name, Arrow’s name, picture of his beautiful face and #114583 around my neck and out the door we go!

The facility is only about a mile away, so if it’s nice outside, we walk there. As we approach the building, I let Arrow sniff around and relieve himself…now we are ready to begin!

As we enter the building, I make Arrow “sit” and  “wait” at each of the two doors we have to go through to get to the lobby.  This helps him get “calm” and focused.  You see, Arrow hasn’t always been the best-behaved dog in public. Some might say he was absolutely naughty. When I first got him, he was VERY leash reactive and would bark loudly and lunge at any new person or dog he saw. He was never aggressive, just very excited. But I never gave up on him. And I continued to take him out to public places, even though I knew he would embarrass me. I worked on his reactivity everywhere we went and eventually he learned if he could be quiet and calm, he would get both treats and the opportunity to greet the person or dog that was making him so excited.

When we enter the lobby, I wash Arrow’s feet with a wipe (this is to help keep him from tracking any “nasties” into the building) give him a drink of water (senior citizen facilities tend to be very warm, so I keep Arrow very hydrated while we are there), have him lie down and stay while I ready myself for the job ahead. I put a bottle of hand sanitizer in my pocket, silence my phone, put Arrow’s brush in my back pocket, release him from his stay and off we go.

Our first stop is usually to the program director’s office. We check in, let her know we’re here, and have her sign our “Record of Visitation” to document our visit that day. It can sometimes take us quite a while to reach our destination:  if any staff or visitors are in the lobby, they immediately acknowledge Arrow and want to great him. And he happily complies. He stands there while they pet his head, his face, and his back.  He often will whip his hind end around to them hoping beyond hope to get a scratch in his favorite spot (yep, the base of his tail) and funny thing is, it usually works.

Once we have checked in, we are free to go through the facility and see our regular favorite residents. We always stop along the way to greet staff or any wanting visitors. We occasionally come across someone not really interested in greeting Arrow. That’s why I ALWAYS ask if someone wants to meet my “therapy dog” and only approach those people who want to pet Arrow.

At each resident’s apartment, I knock on the door and slowly enter, introducing Arrow and myself. Everyone is always happy to see us. Each resident must sanitize their hands before and after petting Arrow so I pull out the hand sanitizer, they reach their hands out and I give them a little squirt. This is done to not only protect the residents, but also to protect Arrow and keep him from bringing any staph infections home with him.

We visit with all our regulars for about 10-15 minutes each. Mostly they pet him on the head as they sit in their lounge chairs. Some like to brush him and some want him to come into bed with them. In those cases, we put a clean sheet down on top of the bed and invite him to “come on up.” He jumps up and snuggles in beside them and lets them pet his head. They really like it when he does his little moan thing as he lies beside them. Sometimes he will lie on the carpeted floors and take a little snooze while we visit, but he is always at the ready to come over for a scratch if he hears his name called. We travel from room to room bringing joy with us and then leaving a little bit of happiness behind. After a little more than an hour we are back in the lobby where I offer Arrow another drink of water as I wipe off his feet one more time before we leave.

We are done and Arrow is tired, but content. We leave knowing that today was NOT like every other day. Today, this Thursday, we are leaving behind us many smiles and warm hearts.

Learn More About Dawn & How to Get Your Dog On Target!

Dawn is an Animal Behavior College Certified Dog Trainer, an experienced Nose Work Instructor, an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator, and the owner of Arrow Dog Training.  Dawn is AnnaBelle’s resident clicker training specialist and she can help you Get Your Dog on Target!

Dawn uses scientifically proven “clicker training” and “free shaping” to teach your dog all the basics plus other fun, useful behaviors. She uses operant conditioning and positive reinforcement, without correction, to help you and your dog build a bond of trust and respect.

In addition to presenting Doggie Do Good clicker classes, Dawn also offers Nose Work and TDI® classes. Dawn’s group classes are taught at AnnaBelle’s on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Click here to see her complete class schedule!