Pokémon Go With Your Dog – Five Essential Gaming Tips

Xander, snuggling with new buddy, Goldeen.
Xander, snuggling with new buddy, Goldeen.

OMG it’s everywhere! Herds roam parks and streets hunting the elusive Vaporeon, snapping up common Pidgeys and Wheedles, hoping for a Pikachu. These Poke-Zombies stare at their phones and bump into strangers as they stagger about.

It doesn’t have to be like that! If you’ve been living under a rock you haven’t heard, Pokémon Go is a free game app that is played by getting out and walking around. A refreshing change from huddling in dark basements chewing Cheetos, gamers now have to get some fresh air and exercise to play this game.

Your objective is to catch as many Pokémon as possible. As you walk around in the real world, Pokémon – little critters that like to fight – pop up on the game’s map, generated using GPS and your phone’s camera. Aim your camera and the game superimposes an image of the little monster in the display. You catch it by throwing a Pokeball at it, swiping the ball on the screen with your finger at the animated creature bouncing at you.

I am not a video gamer, but this app has me hooked. It’s easy and fun. I walk twice as far now when I’m out and about because I’m hunting Pokémon. Because I walk with my dog, this means we’re both getting more exercise. Yay! Right?

If you need just a little more incentive to get you and your dog outside and exercising, give Pokémon Go a try. But please, for everyone’s sake, be careful! People have walked off cliffs for crying out loud! If it’s you and your dog, you’ll have to be doubly aware, for both your sakes.

No! Tentacool shall not have my Xander!
Tentacool! Get away from Xander!

Keep these five tips in mind when you and your furry BFF are out on the Poke-hunt.

Safety. Safety. Safety. Always stay aware of where you are, and who is around you. Be aware of where your dog is and what he’s doing, as well as what people are doing to your dog. I’ve had people swat at, and startle, my dog when they thought I wasn’t looking. Then they found out my bark was worse than my dog’s.

Pay attention to your dog, not just your phone. These are public, sometimes busy places. Is your dog okay with this? Make sure it’s fun for him too, not an exercise in anxiety. If your dog isn’t used to being in crowds, start by taking him to less busy places first and gradually build to longer times and more crowded spaces.

How’s the weather? A beautiful sunny day is a great day for a walk, but Pokémon flourish in well-populated places that are often paved. Sunny days mean hot walkways, which can be uncomfortable or dangerous for your dog. Provide lots of breaks in the shade and water on hot days.

Can your dog walk that far? Confession time – more than once I’ve spent 2-3 hours out playing Pokémon Go with my dog. Xander is a young, healthy Great Pyrenees mix that regularly goes on long, strenuous hikes with me. A slow amble along the waterfront is a pleasant day out with Mom. This exact same activity would be torture for my 9-year-old Lab, Golly who has hip dysplasia. Be mindful of how much activity your dog can do. Golly loves short walks on even ground, exactly what my local shopping center – a Pokémon rich environment – can provide. This helps keep her in shape while not putting too much stress on her body. Plan your Pokémon Go sessions with your dog around their physical abilities, not yours.

Keep it clean. Encourage your dog to eliminate away from the most heavily traveled areas by taking them to grassy areas or curb strips frequently. Try to avoid letting your dog urinate where people would sit or linger like benches or low walls. Pick up solid waste and dispose of in trashcans. You could face a fine if you don’t pick up after your dog.

Want to double the fun? Make it a game for your dog and training time too! This extra time with your dog provides ample opportunity to train. Don’t be a Poke-Zombie; give your dog a fair division of your attention too. Wondering what to do besides hunt Pokémon?

  • Practice behaviors like Sit, Down and Stay by posing your dog, like I did with Xander. Then take pictures of your dog and the Pokemon together to brag about on Facebook.
  • Teach her something new.
  • Practice with distractions to teach her to focus and pay attention to you.

It’s no fun for her if you just drag her along at the end of the leash while you play on your phone. Make sure you’re paying at least as much attention to your dog as your game to help build the bond between you.

Want to learn more about how to train your dog? Check out my book Dog Care and Training for the GENIUS. I teach you how to understand and communicate with your dog, so you really can be best friends forever. Follow this link and use the coupon code dct-ftg at checkout for 15% off!

Talking About Dogs on Pet Radio Show!

Good Dogs!
Good Dogs!

I was interviewed on Pet Radio last week! We had a lovely conversation about dog care, understanding dog behavior and how to train your dog. Give a listen by clicking here.

I’m in the second half of the program, starting 22 minutes in. A big thank you to Robert Hudson for the opportunity to talk with all his listeners. Check out his Oregon Dog Life, and Pet Radio Show  websites and give his Facebook pages a like here and here.

For more about how to understand your dog, establish clear communication and develop a lasting bond, check out my book, Dog Care and Training for the GENIUS. Click on that link and use the coupon code ‘dct-ftg’ (all lower case!) at check out for 15% off!


Find Your New Dog!

I Love You Sooooo Much!
I Love You Sooooo Much!


In my book, Dog Care and Training for the GENIUS, I talk in detail about the process of finding your dog. I cannot deny that there are times when a dog just magically shows up and it ends up being a beautiful match. It’s on YouTube, it makes you cry. Me too!

In general though, if you’re thinking about adding a dog to your life, you should really take the time and consider some critical factors – your lifestyle, your living situation, how much hair you can tolerate – will all affect your relationship with your dog. Maybe you hadn’t considered how to get your new bestie from your 20th level condo to street level to do her business? Or … do you really want a puppy when you come home from work and just want to lay on the couch watching Shameless or Walking Dead?

If you haven’t thought through those and other questions, like:

  • Do I have a securely fenced yard, or do I need to walk my dog on a leash every time he needs to go?
  • Will the new dog be good with my kids?
  • How much grooming will she need?
  • How much exercise?

Then you need my book! But, once you’ve taken the time and read my recommendations, you’re ready to start looking. So where do you start?

Check out this website! PawsLikeMe.com uses a detailed personality quiz to match adopters to available dogs in the Paws Like Me database. Their quiz assesses “core personality traits” that influence how you bond with your dog such as energy and focus. The idea is to keep the perpetual-motion dogs that need lots of training and exercise from going home with the person who just wants to take a nice evening stroll every now and then.

No judgement! We like what we like and that is absolutely okay. This website will recommend dogs that match what you are looking for in your new best friend.

Which is totally awesome! It is so important to focus your pet finding efforts on the rescue/adoption systems. There are so many adoptable dogs that would be your ideal companion, but finding one that suits you can be a terrific challenge. It’s so hard to base a life long decision on just a few minutes looking through chain link. You can and should use all the resources available to you to find a dog that will match your lifestyle.

Because we all want that dog. The one that gets you, that bonds with you, that becomes more than just a pet but is rather a much-loved and trusted friend.

According to Paws Like Me:

“This intelligent matching system has an algorithm that is proven to be over 90% accurate.”

Wow! Naturally you would want to meet the dog, and ideally have it spend a day or two with you to get a complete picture of the dog’s personality and needs. But I was so excited by this that I just had look into it further.

I took their quiz and found that the dogs selected for me were indeed dogs that I would consider a good match. Surprisingly so. Frankly, I was skeptical when I first saw this website. But then I got the results; it made me wish I could bring some of them home! Most were within 10 miles, and the descriptions went well beyond a simple “This is a really sweet dog.” The dog’s personality and behavior were given in a brief description that hit critical elements. They clearly stated if the dog was good with other dogs, cats or kids. If the dog would do better as an only dog, or if it would thrive in a pack situation was typically addressed.

Could Paws Like Me help you find your new BFF? They’re absolutely worth a look.

Dog Parenting Done Right – Train With Baby Steps


The phrase ‘take baby steps’ describes finishing a task or working through a problem in small increments. Rather than trying to tackle a large issue in one big gulp, you work at in in small, manageable bites.

In animal training ‘successive approximations’ are the ‘baby steps’ that make up training a complex, multi-step behavior. I describe this concept in detail in my book Dog Care and Training for the GENIUS. But there is a related training concept that complements successive approximations: systematic desensitization.

This is used in humans to treat things like anxiety and phobias. In dogs, it can help with these as well as other training situations.

And you can combine the two to teach your dog some really cool stuff. We’ve all seen those cute memes and cards that have dogs posing with props; sunglasses, clothes, bottles or well, anything really. To catch that perfect pic though is a combination of photographic and training skill.

What? You didn’t think they just slapped those glasses on the dog and took the pic, did you?

Ok, sure, some dogs are extremely tolerant from the start and can be dressed up without any fuss. Most dogs though, need some familiarity with whatever it is that is being put on or near their body. Training your dog to take those super cute pics requires that you systematically desensitize the dog to the object being on or near the dog, and approximate the dog into the desired position. I also talk about this in my post about dogs and Halloween.

While decorating for the holidays I wanted to take some fun  pictures of Xander and came up with the idea of draping lights around him and getting him to pose. But I knew he wasn’t going to just sit there and let those crazy blinky wires wrap around him unless he got to know them first.

So the first thing I asked him to do was just come up and be close to the light string.


The Blinky Stringy Thing just lays there and does nothing, and Xander has no problem being right next to it. While this might not be a very big deal to some dogs, for others anything new in their environment is a Great Big Scary.

He’s looking at me with that big, goofy smile because he knows I’ve got yummy treats. I’ve asked him to Sit and Stay next to the new Blinky Stringy Thing, which means he has to remain in that position while I walk away. While Xander is just fine with this, for some dogs, being far away from Mama or Daddy while next to something potentially dangerous (at least in their eyes) is very stressful. Teach them to be less fearful by rewarding calm behavior as you slowly approximate them closer to a scary object while you move farther away. Baby steps!

Progressing to the next level involves Blinky Stringy Thing touching Xander.


First, I have it just barely touching his legs and side.





Then I drape it over his legs.




And finally, lay it over his back.




At each step of the way I gave Xander treats and verbal encouragement. In between each step I released Xander so he could get up, move around and relax. This is important! Allowing Xander to relax away from Blinky String, even for a few moments can be just as rewarding as a treat. I used those moments to give Xander a good scratch and some ear rubs.

Each little step was treated as a fun, quick interaction. For Xander it wasn’t scary, it was playtime with Mama.


Xander was fine when the BST was only loosely placed on him, but when I wrapped it a little tighter, look what happens to his attitude.


But just a few more sessions of wrapping and unwrapping, and I had this.


Until finally, I had him looking like this.


All this took me maybe an hour. I did use a clicker, although in this particular instance a clicker is not a critical tool. It went quickly with Xander because he’s used to working with novel items in his environment. This was the first time I asked him to let me wrap something around him, but he handled it like a pro. He’s such a good dog!

Can you think of ways to adapt this technique to help your dog? Does your dog need to learn how to manage stressful situations? Or do you want to teach your dog how to be the next Doggie Supermodel? Tell me about it down below!

Dog Parenting Done Right – Dog Sports!

I’ve spent a decent amount of time in the dog show world. Even though I don’t compete right now, well, I never say never. I’ve got a young dog that is begging for something more to do than just walk and hike. There are a lot of ways to get out and have fun with your dog than there were when I was showing in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

Have you thought about playing in the world of dog sports? Agility and dock diving have been featured on cable stations like ESPN and Animal Planet but those aren’t the only ways to get out and play with your dog.

Training your dog in a sport is a fantastic way to bond with your dog. I am a huge advocate of getting out there and seeing what you and your furry buddy can do together. It does all kinds of cool things too, like:

  • Exercise! For you and your dog!
  • Socializing! Your dog learns good public manners.
  • Training! More training makes your dog more reliable.
  • Bonding! Advanced training develops a deeper relationship.

If you’re looking to do more with your dog, explore your options! There is a dog sport to suit almost any dog-human pair. Big, little, fast, slow, mixed breed or purebred. Don’t let anyone tell you “Your dog can’t do that!” I once knew a person that trained their standard poodle to herd.

Think agility is only for border collies? Check out this dog-handler team.


How sweet is that? You can tell he’s having a good time, and this pair have obviously spent a lot of time together. I love how he just walks through the weave poles!

I tell you about dog sports and give some helpful tips to get started in my book, Dog Care and Training for the GENIUS. Check out the My Book tab at the top for more information and a special discount coupon!

Need Help Training Your Dog? You Need This Book!


My first book! Not my last I’m sure but there’s something special about your first. It’s been two years in the making and I am so very pleased to share Dog Care and Training for the GENIUS with you.

Training your dog, or any animal, depends upon communication. There must be a clear and open channel between you and your dog or you will both end up frustrated. And here’s a secret:  your dog already is an expert on you. He knows what it means when you pick up your keys and put on your coat. She knows it’s bedtime when you turn off the TV and get up off the couch late at night. Your dog knows everything about you because your dog excels at reading body language and facial expressions.

Here’s another secret:  Your dog is going to act and react based on what your body and face are doing. This may or may not be the same as what you tell him to do. If you don’t understand and use this secret when you train and interact with your dog you will have problems. Knowing how to read your dog and communicate with her is the key to successfully training your dog.

That is why you need this book. I’ll teach you how to open and maintain a clear communication channel between you and your dog.

You can order Dog Care and Training for the GENIUS by following this link. If you use the following coupon code:


The publisher will give you 15% off the price! How cool is that?

I know you will love this book! I thoroughly enjoyed writing it and I am excited to share with you the secrets of dog training success.

Dog Parenting Done Right – Is Halloween Scary For Your Dog?


Have you ever seen a dog freak out at something new in it’s environment? Sometimes introducing new items can be stressful. While we want to minimize stress in our animals, it’s unrealistic to expect to eliminate it all the time. It’s important to teach them to handle stress – so they don’t freak out at the least little thing. Teach a dog to handle stress and you’ll have a dog that will learn to be calm and resilient and look to you for guidance and support.

“Sure, easier said than done!” I hear you…believe me. It’s not like we can tell our dogs “Relax, it’s okay. See? It’s nothing to worry about.”

Except, you can. In fact, you should if you want to have a happy, well-adjusted furry companion. As a good, responsible dog parent you should know your dog well enough to anticipate something that might scare him and take steps to help him.

I decided to decorate my house this year for the holidays. I’ve felt a bit Scroog-y the last couple years and haven’t done anything. Well, this year, I’m changing that! Scrooginess just doesn’t feel good. So off to the store I went for some Halloween fun to make my living room a little more festive…


But this guy has never seen Halloween decorations. And knowing Xander’s temperament I knew he’d need some help to not fear the Grim Reaper-ish baubles I brought home.

The new Halloween decoration elements included draping a table and some boxes with a black sheet, pumpkins, skeletal props, tinsel garland and lights. Oh yeah, and a giant, pose-able spider.


You can see he looks less than thrilled to be there. When he first saw just the draped table he growled at it. From his perspective, a giant black blob was suddenly sitting next to the bed he likes to sleep on. I might feel a little growly too. He paced back and forth eyeing it suspiciously.

Have you ever seen your dog do this? With or without the growling?

I called Xander to me, away from what was scaring him. He has a soft temperament, and is the least confident dog I’ve ever owned. But, he knows that I will take care of him, and will not ask him to do anything that is dangerous to him. He also knows I will ask him to face his fears and work through them. Together we are slowly building his confidence. But it does take work, and a certain amount of forethought on my part.

I first had to get him to realize the big black form was not going to morph into a table demon and eat us. So I went and sat next to it. I didn’t call him, I didn’t require he come over to me, I just sat there and talked to him in a soft voice. I specifically avoided the words “Good dog” and “It’s okay”. Instead I just sort of babbled: “You’re not afraid of this are you? It’s just the table. It’s nothing.”

He quickly got up the courage to approach me, although at first he carefully did not look at the table and positioned so my body was between him and it. I suppose he figured a table demon would take me first and give him time to make his escape. I reassured him by gently rubbing his face and ears, and when he actually relaxed and looked at the table normally – without giving it the side eye, or growling – I told him he was good and popped a treat in his mouth.

With some verbal encouragement and a few more treats he was soon sniffing the draped table like it was an old friend. He wandered away and came back later when I had added things! Oh no!


Teaching Xander that the table and it’s goodies won’t hurt him took me less than a day, but I did it in tiny little bits, like maybe a minute at the most each time. I’d use treats to encourage him to sniff the different items, ask him to sit or lay down and release him before he had a chance to feel too uncomfortable. Yes, I asked him to push past his comfort barriers as you can see in the pictures, but I didn’t ask him to stay there very long. Instead, he learned that small amounts of stress are manageable.

How do you know Xander is not entirely happy in these pictures? Look at his face – tight, tense lips, folded back ears, and his muscles and body are tense and poised to spring up as soon as I say he can.



I used “successive approximations” to teach Xander the confidence that he could see new things that made him uneasy and learn that just because it’s scary at first doesn’t mean it has to stay scary forever. By the time I was done decorating he was calm and relaxed around everything. Even meeting my centerpiece was no big deal, check it out:

Now look at how calm he is:


In my book Dog Care And Training For The GENIUS I teach you how to devise a training plan to help your dog through tense or stressful situations. Look for it to be published next month!

Thank you for stopping by! Be sure to say hi in the comments below!