Sarah Wilson

Dog Expert


Dog training for dog loversLove to learn about dogs? This website exists for you; to provide the very best advice on caring for, training and living with your dog.

My credentials include earning a masters degree in the human-animal bond, appearing on PBSABC and CBS, being quoted in O, Parade,  PreventionForbes, CNNBoston Globe and having nine  books published that have sold hundreds of thousands of copies and been translated into several languages. (Read more on my wikipedia page.)

Dogs have been my profession for over 25 years.  I have cared for, and taught thousands of dogs from tiny toy breed pups to massive giant breed dogs. I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, what helps and what might harm.

You get it all! I also write blogs helping you select the right dog beds, crates, carrierstoys, and treats.

Supporting you and your dog is my delight. Enjoy!

PS: This is me with my dog, Pip, on vacation in Maine. She’s a rescue dog and my heart’s delight.

Like these blogs? Check out some of my books:
How to Train Your Dog to ComeMy Smart PuppyChildproofing Your Dog,


  1. I love your My Smart Puppy training games. Will we see an app in the future that would allow me to reference these training games while I’m out at the park training my pup? Descriptions and videos of the training games in an easily accessible app would be awesome. I’d be willing to pay as much for the app as I did for the book! Maybe even more 😉

  2. Hi Sarah,

    My girlfriend suggested you so here goes. I took home, well, yes, bought a dog for my daughter. I took her because I was in the store for something else and she was much older (7 months) and the guy said he would give me a really cheap deal. I am a sucker, she was a cute cairn terrier from Kansas, hence her name is Ruby. No one wanted her and she did not look happy. Anyway, fast forward one year, dog boot camp (3 weeks), the LI Dog Whisperer (who stopped taking my calls and replying to me after I paid him and his initial visit, many rugs and tons of carpet cleaner. Ruby is now an integral part of our family. Has adjusted in every way but one. SHE WILL NOT HOUSEBREAK. Help. I am at the part where I must adopt her out, don’t want to but I can’t do this to her or me anymore. I keep giving her more and more chances, less and less freedom, I feel so badly. My husband died and I wanted to give my daughter something to ease the pain, I CAN’T DO THIS TO HER TOO. Please help, I will do anything to keep our family together.


    • Hi Meredith –

      I’m e-mailing you a few more questions so I know where we are and where to start.

      Hang on –


    • Breathe Meredith❤ We’ve all been there at one point or another❤ Bringing a dog into your family is such a special addition! However, just like children, it won’t always be easy – but it is worth it! Please believe me when I tell you that Ruby isn’t being mean or trying to hurt or frustrate you.

      The best thing you have done is to reach out to Sarah! Your post is a week or so old, so
      I am praying that you and Sarah already have a plan in place to show you how to help Ruby (or you’re already having success!?) Maybe there is a medical issue behind this and a trip to your vet couldn’t hurt. Ruby has no one else in the world to help her-please don’t give up, or worse, teach your children that it is OK to give up on family.

      Learning how to teach your dog yourself is so rewarding. To have her look to you for the stimulation of learning new things and having your dog feel loved, instead of tolerated is something necessary for any animal brought into a human family.

      Please always remember that Ruby (or any animal) isn’t a child and most likely won’t have other animals around your home to model behavior from. However, just like your own child, they deserve your patience, care, support and love

  3. Great pic and love the site!

  4. Sarah, I keep sharing your articles because they’re insightful and sensible — which are important components in dog/puppy/people training! Love this site!

  5. Dear Sarah, I just recently found this page and I have a question for you. We have a 1 1/2 year old male Sheltie, we have had him since he was 8 weeks old- he refuses to use the bathroom in our own yard, we have tried everything and he just won’t do it. He has no problem using our neighbors yard and that’s not a good thing! Do you have any imput or suggestions for us? Thank you

  6. Hey Sarah,

    Terrific site! I will send everybody I know here. You always give excellent and very helpful advice.

  7. Sarah, Thank you for your advice through your forum and books. With your help, my Bouvier Rider and mutt Jazz are well behaved puppers. When ever I meet people with new dogs in their family, I recommend your books.

    • Thank you, Mark. Your words (and actions) mean a great deal and help a great deal. Pats to Rider and Jazz, for me. Ever since my Kesl, Bouv, I have a major soft spot for those dirty beards. And mutts, well, Pip is Pip. 😀

  8. Thank you for your advice through books.

  9. Thank you Sarah for the joy and seriousness you bring to you vocation! I wouldn’t hesitate to put my precious ones in your care.

  10. Can you write something on managing sibling training (other than to rehome one), if you have experience with that? I need specific suggestions on how to work with them (totally separate them so they focus on me, dealing with resultant separation anxiety, etc.) or what you would do if different? I can never achieve calm, because they immediately want to interact if both released from confinement. I cease to exist. They are 20 mos. old Cockers.

  11. Long time no-see Sarah! I have talked about you often and am searching out good materials for a friend of mine to read. I love your site. I hope all is well with you and keep up the fantastic work.

  12. Thanks for your response. I’ll give it a try! Any other suggestions on dealing with siblings are appreciated as well!

  13. HI Sarah…
    I just posted to my blog expounding on another aspect of these ridiculous leashes. As part of my post, I linked to your blog for further info. Please let me know if this is okay with you and if not, I’ll lose the link. You can read my post here:

    Thank you… Hal

    • Hi Hal –

      You are so nice to ask. My answer? Go, Hal, Go! I’m in full support and delighted to aid in your efforts.

      (Oh and when you post about being jailed for having your dog off leash, nudge me. I want to read that saga!)

      Again, I appreciate your ethics in checking.

      Best –


  14. Hello,

    I am torn with a decision to take my dog back from my Father. She is a 1 1/2 year old Cavapoo that went to stay with my father in another state for two and a half months. Her lifestyle at my Fathers home is very different (less structured) compared to our home and I fear that she will not be happy and will not adjust well if she returns. Help!

    • Hi Courteney –

      The good news is dog’s adjust extremely well, so no worries. When dogs visit me, my home is generally more structured than they are used to but they adjust and are very happy while here. When the time comes, I can help her (and you) make the transition.

      You are clearly a good dog momma to ask.

  15. Hi Sarah, i’m hoping you have some tips that will help me! We recently purchased a house on an acreage and with our new house & acreage came Jovi ( a 5 year old female black lab). The previous owners moved to a city & didn’t think it would be fare to take her, so they left her with us. She is a wonderful dog, listens, stays home, loves the kids… But she poops everywhere!!!!! All over the lawn, on the walkway, on the gravel in front of the doors. I just don’t understand why they would have trained her to poop in the bush. She could do it any where, she has 13 acres to choose from and she chooses to do it all around the house :( How do we train her not poop by the house??? Please Help!

    • Hi Kim – how nice of you to take in this lucky Lab. :)

      Labs being well, Labs, I would take her away from the house and toss a treat or two in the general area (not the exact potty zone) that you want her to end up in. Let her find them.

      Do that for a few days. Then put a treat out away from the house before you let her out. Go to the area and let her find it.

      Then start hanging back. Then start randomly leaving out a treat. She should start heading out in that direction on her own “just to double check”. That is the best way I know to get her independently going away from the house to potty. Take a little time but is simple and is easy (two lovely things).

  16. It’s been 23 years so I doubt you’d remember me. I attended your puppy class with my Scottie taboo. I was starting a company making things for dog lovers. But that’s not why I’m writing. I have wonderful neighbors in the city with a new maltes. 3 kids the oldest 12 and parents that have never had a dog. Who do you recommend in the city that would be as close to you as possible to help in training etc? Check out the site. We could barter

    • Hi Lisa – 23 years ago? That would have been at the training center on the Westside, yes? Was Taboo a brindley pup when young? If yes, then I remember him (and I tend to remember the dogs more clearly – kinda of a professional hazard of this work).

      Anyway – I live in St Louis, MO now. But a dear friend of mine, whom I trained as a trainer, does a lot of puppy work in NYC: Noelle Fischer: I’d try her.

      Thanks so much to your note. Love hearing from past clients. How long did you have Taboo’s company?


  17. How do I get my male Lab/Great Pyrenees mix puppy to stop jumping on people?

  18. Is it possible to loose the trust of your dog just by letting a stranger approach??? George has always been scared of strangers but we had made great strides in the last year. Unfortunately last week a friend of the wifes approached him while I was closing the gate & he wet himself which has not happened for ages. Since then he has reverted back to his old self going mental at strangers as they pass the house & snapping at me if I try & interveen. On his walks he just sits down & refuses to go at times which I thought we had got past a long time ago. It seems all our good work has gone & I’m back to square one :(

    • Hi Joe –

      You can’t quite be back to square one but it sure can feel like that. He should progress faster this time since you both have walked that road together already.

      What have your tried so far? What do you walk him on (collar, head halter, harness)? What does he know and respond to when all is calm?

      • Basically I have walked him on his collar in the early hours when there was no one about but slowly went out later & laterwith more people & dogs around. I did buy a harness but he wouldn’t let me put it on. When all is quiet he will sit, stay & come to me but that all goes out the window if there are any distractions. The problem I have now is that we are getting to the summer season & we will be flooded with tourists so it will be a nightmare to get him out :( in the winter I had him out on the beach & he loved racing up & down & even made a friend with a local dog but that is not possible now as he refuses to walk down the road to the beach :(

  19. We spoke on phone last summer. I need more help with my Cody and seems I’ve lost your number. Could you please contact me?

  20. Hi Sarah,
    I hope you can give me some advice. I’ve got a 4 year old female mutt (plott hound mix) and an 8 month old female lab. Now that winter is over, we are out all together more. Dogs that my 4 year old mutt used to LOVE have now become a target for her aggression. It’s almost like she is protecting the puppy? This dog has not history of aggression toward other dogs. The first time I heard her growl at another dog was a relatives untrained male (who outweighs her by about 20lbs wouldn’t stop jumping on her. We were all shocked that she did it, but he has no ‘dog manners’ and most dogs who meet him wind up snarling at him.

    There are two dogs in my neighborhood that were the 4-year old’s buddies. Now, even when the puppy is inside, she snarls and lunges when she sees them. I havent been able to let her play with either of them since we got the puppy. I don’t understand why this is happening and I’d love some advice as to how to handle it. I don’t want the puppy to pick up this bad habit and I don’t want our sweet mutt to turn into a dog-aggressive animal. She is amazing with people, and loves my children like crazy. I am scared that she may become possessive of the children if she is indeed acting possessive of the puppy.

    The puppy gets more attention than she does right now, we are training her and work with her daily. Would this factor into the older pup’s actions? The 4 year old is also a very nervous dog, she has separation anxiety and is very fearful of cars. She also doesn’t enjoy going for walks much, she usually pulls toward home and whines quite a bit.

    Thank you in advance for any advice and suggestions you may have. I am happy to provide any additions information you may need.

  21. congrats – congrats …

  22. Hi there! Really need some expert advice off you!
    Me and my partner (with 3 children between us: 7,9,12) really want a dog.. Hopefully to stud. We all love dogs, though the 9 year old is scared of big dogs, which we hope will diminish with bonding from pup.
    We have put off ownership as we are responsible people who don’t take dog ownership lightly. We ideally want a breed that lives a long life, that is fairly large, ideally doesn’t shed and is ok with some, but not a lot, of solitude. This dog will be loved and well looked after!! We have thought about a Black Russian terrier? Any thoughts would be appreciated

    • Hi Claire –

      I’m glad to see you’re doing your research!

      Wanting a low-shed breed does limit your selection. Are you all dog experienced? The Black Russian Terrier is a LOT of dog, requiring a great deal of time for both socialization and training. Not a beginner dog.

      If you are looking for a nice family dog of a similar size, look at the Standard Poodle. Both breeds are active but the standard generally has less tiger-in-the-tank than a Black Russian.

      Studding a dog is a different matter. Anyone breeding responsibly will only breed to male dogs with show or performance titles with all health clearances from known lines. Getting those things in place is time-consuming and expensive, if it is possible at all. Breeding can, as one can imagine, change the focus on male dogs quite a lot. If you want a companion for your children, neuter your dog. Good luck!

  23. Sarah, I just stumbled upon your website and it is awesome! I have a few questions and was wondering if you wouldn’t mind giving me your expert advice. I am a Police K9 handler and have been for a few years now. I recently brought home a new working dog that needs to learn how to attack on command and chase suspects as well as substance detection. She has an extremely high prey drive which is wonderful for this type of work..however…I have 3 other dogs that are pets. When they play or run she chases and attacks them, I correct this behavior but I am afraid of stifling her prey drive and preventing her from being toy obsessive like I need. How can I encourage the need to chase and bite but exclude certain things? I need her to chase, bite, and obsess but only when I want her to…any suggestions?

    • Hi Julie –

      Congrats on your new partner!

      Suggestions? Absolutely! Short answer? She is not a pet. She does not play with pets. For many reasons but the most important is that you are the sun and the moon in her life. You play with her and your play builds her mental focus and compliance. You do not want her developing other hobbies like…random dog assault. Which is, by the way, a TON of fun for her. You don’t want her developing any habit her finds FUN that does not directly involve you.

      As you already know, “correcting her” isn’t working and can cause other issues, as you state. So, your pets hang out together and she hangs out with you. That’s your world. That’s her world. And your 3 beloved home buddies would thank you, too. Hope that helps. Sarah

  24. Hi Sarah, Love your work and sharing!

    We adopted our 1st dog in 20 years so it’s like we’re brand new all over again. She’s a 3-yr-old Lab-German Shorthair Pointer who was a stray and then sat in the shelter for months because she “couldn’t” get along with other dogs. Apparently their behaviorist didn’t really spend any time with her. The “couldn’t get along” was because she’d growl and bark like crazy, serious style, when she saw another dog. Turns out that was her excited greeting. She LOVES other dogs and lives for the dog park. But our problem that we haven’t a clue how to fix is that she greeted new people the same way. It’s taken us months to convince her humans don’t like that kind of Greeting. She’s much better now, but there are still occasions when she’ll nip new people in the back of their legs. I’ve seen dogs at the park do the same thing with each other so I know it’s a friendly gesture?, but what does it really mean and how do we get her to stop?

  25. Hi, Sarah

    I’m in desperate need of your help. I’m nine months pregnant with our first child. My husband and I couldn’t be more excited except for one thing. We have a serious dog problem! We’re the proud owners of two dogs. One is nothing but a pleasure but the other not so much. We own a three year old Bull Mastiff/Pit Bull mix that can be very aggressive. (I’m an avid Pit Bull advocate and have been the owner of many wonderful Pitties.)
    Our family is afraid of our dog as he’s tried to bite a few of them. He’s very aggressive with strangers and even children. We rescued him from a neglectful home when he was six months old and on the most part he’s very loving towards my husband and I. Just nobody else. I’m terrified he’ll be aggressive to our baby. Everyone tells us to “get rid of him” but that’s not an option for us. Due to his aggression problems, we don’t know anyone that will take him and know that any shelter we take him to will put him down. We don’t want him to die. We love him. It’s either with us or death. He can’t live outside because we live in Georgia and it’s 100 degrees almost daily. I also don’t believe in having dogs live outside. I don’t know what to do about our dog, Rosco. We can’t afford a professional trainer at this time. Is our only option really putting him to sleep?? Please help.

    • Hi Katrice –

      So sorry you are in the situation with a dog you love so much. You are an experienced dog person so I respect the words “terrified he’ll be aggressive to our baby” a great deal.

      I also note the phrase “for the most part” he’s loving toward you and your husband. I fear that means that you both, as adults,

  26. My daughter and her family is living “in the bush in Nigeria” as missionaries. They have adopted and domesticated two dogs. They live in a hospital compound and can’t allow the dogs to run free to hunt for their food. She is in desperate need of a dog food recipe. They currently create a “mush” with ground corn and dried fish but it isn’t hearty enough to satisfy the dogs’ appetite. One is an 8 month old mix – medium to large size and the other about 3 months old – a German shepherd mix. Obviously the contents for the recipe must be readily available as supplies from the US are shipped 1-3 times a year or hand carried by short term missionaries so she can’t rely on product from the outside. Any suggestions on how she can help feed their much loved dogs?

    • Hi Jolene –

      Are the dog’s ravenous? Or too skinny? Or both?

      My guess is that our first stop is worming. When a pup is overloaded with worms then can be really hungry all the time. Could that be part of the issue?

      No clue how to get wormer over there or what wormer would be appropriate for the parasites that much be endemic.


  27. Not undernourished and they have dealt with the parasites. I believe she is hoping for a nourishing and easy dog food recipe since she is unable to purchase dog food. This is from her note. “we had to take corn, ground nut (small peanut) and dried fish to a grinder to grind it into a powder. Then about every 3 days we take a big pot and cook this powder with water then we cube and cut up yam and add to it until it makes an oatmeal like chunky mush. It’s really disgusting and smells. It swells up sometime and comes out of the container and all over my fridge. When feeding the dogs the kids normally gag as they take the food out to them. Lately this mush still seems to leave the dogs hungry so I have been trying different variations. No matter what I try it isn’t easy and every few days we are making dog food again and again and again. I would love to find something more hearty as our bush dog Bingo still tries to escape our yard daily to find food.”

    • Hmmm… don’t know what the options are but that sounds pretty good. I am assuming protein is at a premium.

      What sort of “fish powder”? The entire fish?

      What sort of fats does she have access to? Oils or butters? Any dairy?

      I’m not a vet diet expert by any stretch but if these were my guys, I’d be trying to figure out a small amount of fat and the right protein combo/level.

      Is yam common?

      At the very least, I would think the fish powder could be added to each meal and stirred in last. That would fix the stink of it in the fridge. Then grind the grains and store them ground. Mix up and cook, as needed.

  28. Hello Sarah,

    I really need some advice regarding two dogs (Bernese) that attacked me at the home of a breeder last weekend, and I’m not sure who to approach with it. Can you help?

    We drove up to the breeders house to look an adopting a puppy. The pups were 5 weeks old, she warned us they may be a bit protective but the pups should be old enough by this stage. We met the mum dog and two other adult dogs with her. They barked at first, but then settled down and were let out – we were petting them and everything was initially fine. However, after a couple of minutes the mum jumped up playfully and I fell back on the ground, and suddenly she just snapped and started biting me – and a second joined in. The breeder could not get them off me for some time, I’ve ended up with a few puncture wounds on my arms, back, and leg. I went to the hospital for treatment. The breeder asked us to tell them it was a random attack to avoid rangers coming up to her house (felt a bit like blackmail, really, whether intentional or not).

    Anyway, my partner and I are still considering a puppy. We met the puppies afterwards and they seemed fine. What I really want to know is, does this sound like a normal occurrence? Can the protectiveness of a mum lead to an attack this vicious? Should we be concerned with the genetics of the pups, or the environment she is raising her dogs in? The breed itself is not generally considered an aggressive breed in the least.

    I’d appreciate any advice/help.

    Thank you,


    • Oh, Jennifer, that is HORRIBLE. I’m relieved you will be okay and horrified you were so viciously attacked.

      My thoughts:

      * GET A PUPPY SOMEWHERE ELSE! I would not take a pup from this person if they paid me to do so. Temperament is absolutely genetic.
      * That was NOT “protectiveness” of any sort. You were not near the pups, from what I can tell. And even if the bitch was protective of her pups, such an attack is not a normal or excusable event. (Had a protective-of-baby-pups bitch years ago, she lead a visitor away from her pups by the wrist, leaving not a mark on the woman.)
      * That is WILDLY unacceptable for any dog and esp. for Bernese! From the AKC Standard: Temperament: The temperament is self-confident, alert and good-natured, never sharp or shy. The Bernese Mountain Dog should stand steady, though may remain aloof to the attentions of strangers. There is no excuse and I am horrified that the producer (she is no “breeder”) advised you to lie. Maybe others have lied before you for the same reason. No idea. But those dogs are dangerous and they will hurt others.
      * Go back and amend the bite report.
      * Get ALL medical bills covered by her.

      You did NOTHING wrong. You were viciously attacked.

      A good Berner is a wonderful companion. You deserve a wonderful companion.


  29. I have a mother dog and her two pups a boy and a girl they are both 6-7 weeks and I’d really like to keep both of them but I can only keep one. I just wanted 2 know if I sell one in the next week or so will there be a negative effect on her and her mom and sibling and if I leave one with the mom will there be a negative effect from losing the other puppy and from them staying together?

    • Hi Skye – Placement into their new home anytime after 7 weeks is normal. I would not do it sooner.

      At this age, they each should be getting individual time with you – away from each other and their Mom – to build their bond to people and their individual confidence in the world. That will help them both.

      Introducing them to a crate, walking on leash, sit, down, coming when call, handling and socialization can all be in full swing!

      Keeping one can be done but you’ll want to work on separation and bonding with you to allow the pup to grow up as a normal, confident adult dog.

      Your risk is more negative effects from staying too long with the Momma and each other than separation, but you’re not at that point yet.

      Hope that is helpful to you – Sarah

      • Sarah I need your help :'(

        my mom suggested I give one of two of my puppies to my dad, my parents are seperated so I go there there every second weekend. I’m scared that if I do have to give her to my dad she’ll be sad because it will be two weeks without seeing her and then another two days with seeing her after me being her former owner. My dad also has a few other dogs and their all grow up. I don’t know if that would be the best for her because obviously I’d love to see her but at the same time I want the best home for her and I don’t know if that is. Please help me.

  30. Hi Sarah
    When im at the point of the pup being too long with the mother how can i help them?

  31. Hi, Sarah – you’ve helped me immensely in the past, hoping you can share some guidance now. I’m helping a local rescue with a 9 mo. old hound-of-some-kind (in the past I’ve done a little training for them, a little rehabilitation). “Jonesy” is the biggest train wreck I’ve ever encountered. He is reactive to everything – dogs, people at a distance, cats, any movement. His anxiety is off the chart. I thought at first he was urinating in his crate – it was drool. On leash he’s like a bucking bronco. He is in no way ready to be homed. I’ve had him about a week & am keeping him crated, taking him out every 2 hrs to hit the bushes, and once daily for a long, loooong walk. I’m thinking he needs to learn to trust and to respect, what do you say? He is willing to sit in order to be fed (I’m hand feeding as part of the trust plan), sits in order to go out, and is learning not to pull. But if he sees anything that hits one of his reactive buttons, he starts bucking and pulling again. He is definitely putting out weak energy – my 5 dogs, normally curious about other dogs, attacked his crate in a very ferocious manner. He’s in a quiet room – I feel he needs as little stimulation as possible. I did shine a full spectrum lamp on him (the kind used for depression, at low voltage) on him, and he seems to like it alot, fell asleep at once. Am I on the right track? Am I making any big mistakes? Any suggestions? Thanks!

  32. Hi there i have a 17 month old shitzu/lhasa cross since he was 10 weeks old and he has never licked my face but licks everywhere else!! plus he will not look at me face to face and the closer i get the more he turns away and stiffens but he is such a loveable and playful dog?? He lives with a bitch Lhasa Apso who is one year older than him and they get on very well. The older dog doesn’t have any issues. Both dogs are neutered. Any ideas? Thanx in advance :)

  33. My 41/2 month old golden will have cataract surgery on both eyes soon. I understand that this requires 4-6 week crate restriction with a cone to keep him from scratching or bumping his eyes. Will he lose his play drive? I read your article on confinement and will employ these activities but he loves to play and I don’t want to see that lost. Thanks for your helpful articles.

    • Oh. So sorry. But let me give you a smile: He will NOT forget how to play (or who to play with). He will play even more because he will see even better. Of this I am sure.

  34. Hi Sarah, I need help and advice with a situation between my dog and my boyfriend. I have a 2 1/2 year old St Bernard/Australian Shephard mix that I’ve had since she was 5 weeks old (got her from a questionable man downtown). Zoula is such a love, friendly, but a little timid with loud noises. On walks she is more excited about seeing the other dog walkers than the dogs! I started dating my boyfriend 2 years ago, when Zoula was about 6 months old. There were no issues then, except he always said “girl dogs don’t like him”. He had an American bulldog and has grown up around dogs in the house. He never took to Zoula and thus she never took to him, but their relationship seemed that they could “stand” each other. I moved into a new place with girlfriends and Zoula got bigger than we had anticipated. My parents took her for the year, no questions asked. Now, a year later Zoula is back living with me and I’m living with my boyfriend. Zoula is terrified of him. She hears him coming up the stairs and goes running, he says he can’t get her to come to take her for walks while I’m at work. But Zoula is still so loving toward me and everyone else. She even loves my boyfriends friends when they come over. My boyfriend now says the dog has to change becuase it gives him anxiety and makes him uncomfortable or the dog has to go. I cannot and will not get rid of Zoula but I just am unsure what to do to help the two of them get along! (We even watched a Cesar Milan episode this morning with a similar situation and my boyfriend comments that there is no need to act like a pansy for a dog, because “it’s just a dog.”). So here I am asking for help, and wondering what to do.


    • First, I wonder about any social dog who is “terrified” of a particular person. That doesn’t just happen, something causes it to happen. And I wonder about anyone who poses ultimatums rather than dives in with full effort to bond with a dog who is important to you. Your post worries me. If I were a close friend, I’d be encouraging you to seek counseling – separately if you need to and my guess is he will refuse to go framing it as “your problem” or “ridiculous” or “silly” or something else demeaning of you. GO… immediately.

      The more you and the dog and everything else are blamed for his feelings the more worried I am.

      I do not believe this is a dog problem and, even if it was, it could not be solved without his active, willing and positive desire to change it.

      • Hi Sarah,

        I posted back in February about my at Bernard/shepherd mix. Thank you for your reply. I sought help and counseling and Zoula and I are much better off now.

        Is there any way you could delete my posting as I put my email address in the message (bad idea) and I keep receiving spam mail.

        Thank you again!!

        • Hi Ashley –

          I’ve removed your email from the previous comment and will remove this one after I send this.

          Best –


  35. We found a stray golden-doodle about 2 years ago. At the time we already had 2 dogs. Both my husband and I had dogs when we got together. I can hardly stand my husband’s dog. He ignores you. He is a professionally trained yellow lab bird dog. But he can’t walk on a leash, he rushing the door, he barks and whines when he wants to go out on walks buy he doesn’t walk he only wants you to throw the ball, he can’t go along because he just whines in the car because he just wants to chase the ball. My husband refuses to stop feeding them people food OR FROM THE TABLE which drives me nuts and not thus sweet rescue we got has picked up all the annoying habits and my life is so crazy and I am starting to dislike them that I am considering rehoming our rescue doodle. I just feel like a terrible person, but it isn’t like I went out searching for him. I want him to have a good life and my husband creates these annoying dogs then doesn’t want them around him, but won’t listen to me about training so that they are pleasant to be with. I realize that my husband is my own problem lol but life had gotten so crazy with me working full time, a new baby, I’m planning on going back to school this summer I just don’t know how I am going to do it all and make time for this wonderful dog who deserves a good life. Is it unreasonable of me to think that rehoming him may be the right thing for him? I appreciate your advice.


    • Hi Erica – Wow, you have a lot on your plate. Big, big hug. Now, new baby? What I’ve found through the years is that a new baby, especially the first baby, can change how how people view their partner’s dog care/training habits. After all, you’re looking at him as a Dad now and sometimes habits are extra annoying/concerning with those glasses on. I don’t know if that could be going on so FWIW.

      You are just one woman—one clearly hard-working woman—so I think considering anything about simplifying your life so you have time for all that is in it is reasonable to consider. And there are times when someone else’s home is potentially better home with more time and less stress than our own. Anytime THAT is true then a careful rehoming can be a reasonable thing to ponder.

      But this also sounds like a decision for the two of you to make together. If you haven’t read my blog on Living with a Anti-Trainer, you might find it useful: Very, VERY, few couples take the same approach to dog training/care so you are not unusual in your frustrations. Not that knowing that necessarily helps.

      If your husband bought a pro-trained Lab, then he’s a dog-lover, too. I hope you can find some common ground together. One compromise to suggest is yes to appropriate human food but only from their bowl in the kitchen.

      I hope you can find some ways to work together on this. And good luck going back to school! I’m impressed from afar!


  36. Hi Sarah, I congratulate you on this treasure you have here for all of us who love dogs but sometimes find ourselves lost or confused. Sarah where can I find information such as yours but in Spanish. My sister in law got a lovely 7 week old shit zu for her kids but this poor baby spends most of the time one in the garage and she wants to give the puppy a bath with a hose in the back yard!!! I offered to bathe him in the bathroom tub or the kitchen sink and she looked at me as if I was crazy and said that such thing was gross, that the puppy was going to leave bacteria and bla bla I have a 3 year old poodle and I have never gotten sick from giving a bath in my tub. She stated that I treat my dog as a “human” baby only because I let my dog sleep in our room, groom him, take them to the vet, buy him high quality food and not hose him down. How can I educate her? What can I do for this poor baby? Any advice will be greatly appreciate it (:

    • Hi Marline –

      Many cultures consider dogs “dirty” and, when they lived outside on garbage as they did in many places for a long time, that opinion can linger even though times have changed.

      My experience is that people who aren’t ready and don’t see a problem have no reason to change.

      My other experience is that as attachment grows, dogs have a way of ending up inside.

      My suggestion is to have fun with her pup when you can. Maybe teach the pup a few things. Sometimes seeing how smart and loving a dog is can soften someone’s stance.

      Lastly, I’m sorry but I don’t know a good Spanish dog care site to refer you to.

      Best –

      Sarah Wilson

  37. Hi Sarah:
    Not sure if this is the best way to reach you, but here goes.
    Just met one of your clients (Oliver) who lives by Tilles Park.
    His owner mentioned your name, and thought we should
    see if we can help each other grow our businesses.
    I own Fetch Pet Care here in St. Louis… a dog-walking/pet-sitting service.

    Can you call me at 314-550-1393 and we can chat and decide
    if we would like to meet each other.

    Thanks so much and looking forward to speaking with you!

    Randy Ring

  38. Hi Sarah! I am a high school student in Montgomery county Maryland doing a physics project, where I study the mechanics of a dogs mind. How do they think? What is their deductive reasoning? What feelings do they posses? And so on. My topic leans more towards the physiological field of a dogs brain, but I was wondering being the dog expert you are if you could give me some insight. Thanks!

  39. Hi Sarah,
    A good friend of mine, Ray Capelovich, recommended you and said you went to school together. I have a fabulous 10 year old Shiatsu named Zsa Zsa who is my little 9 pound bundle of love. I have recently been asked to take my neighbors dog as she is terminally ill. Her dog Eleanor is a 10 year old Corgi who is afraid of her own shadow. Ellie has been with us for about three weeks and loves me dearly but barks constantly and out of fear (I believe) lunges at all dogs Zsa Zsa wants to say hello to while we are out walking. On top of having no social skills with other dogs she is the alpha of the house and is possibly hurting my dog during the day when I am gone. She does not like me to pet Zsa Zsa or show her any attention. I have enough love for both of them but cannot let her bark all day and bother my neighbors as I live in a condo. My dog is starting to bark more and change for the worse as well. I have purchased a sonic egg which has stopped Ellie’s barking but now she is totally different. If my dog barks by accident Ellie will shake and try to hide in another room, there is no happy personality anymore, no going for a toy to show me when I arrive home or sassy talking to me as she used to do. Zsa Zsa was freaked out over the high pitched noise of the egg when I first put it out but is getting better with it. She is still not totally herself either. Any opinions on the egg and ideas of how to socialize Ellie? Thanks in advance for your help to stop the barking in St. Louis.

    Jacki Jasperson

    • Hi Jacki – You are a good soul to take Ellie on and it sounds like you need pro help ASAP. I’d start by crating Ellie when you are gone, I would not leave them alone together, and I would use a head halter on Ellie to help manage that barking.

      Not a huge fan of noise corrections with multiple dogs as all dogs get corrected no matter what. Again, crating Ellie should help.

      Hope this us helpful – Sarah

  40. Please can you give me some information on what’s best for my 20month old Spribger Spaniel, Daisy? She suffers fromnan autoimmune disease and was spayed last week to help rid her of her terrible false pregnancy she had a couple of months ago. She is suffering badly at the moment and will have to start taking prednisone after being off it for four months. She wss on it for 6 months previously. What can I do to best support her health?

  41. Hey Sarah! I need to ask you a favor. What do you know about dogs? You see, I’m doing a persuasive essay and speech about why kids should own dogs. However, I need one expert opinion. Please help me out.

  42. Hi Ms.Sarah
    I’m doing a project on training puppies for school and I need some advice.
    I was wondering I could Give you a call or email you with my questions?
    ~Isabel Masone

  43. Hi Sarah, I am looking for advice and would appreciate it if you could email me.
    I love my 5 y old neutered male mixed bred. my neibor does not like him and he had an encounter with my neighbor that did not go well. I am seeking help from a behaviorist. Could you give my any direction?
    Thank you!

  44. My name is Gina and I help run a company called Source Sleuth ( Our service helps journalists, bloggers find experts for their stories.

    We just got an inquiry from a reporter looking for experts on doggie day care.

    Let me know if you are interested and your best point of contact – and we will make the connection. If you do not wish to participate, we would very much appreciate any referrals. There is no catch, obligation or other nonsense.

    I appreciate you taking the time! If you have any questions feel free to email us.



    • Hi Gina – Usually I am delighted to help but unfortunately, I believe I’ve already been in contact with this reporter and she is looking for more information than I can deliver with my schedule. Keep me on your list for future stories, please and have a great day. Sarah

  45. Hi Sarah –

    We have a 3-year-old mini Aussie who is sweet as can be 95% of the time. We have been working with him on border aggression (fences) and resource guarding (toys). Yesterday our friend visited him and our other two dogs in our big back yard for the first time for about 10 minutes. He greeted her and appeared relaxed and comfortable. He interacted with her very nicely until we turned and were walking from the yard into our garage. Neither my husband nor I saw his behavior as this began to play out, but he suddenly sprang up from behind her and nipped her arm right below the shoulder. It immediately began to bruise. We were mortified. We called him and he came right away, so there was no discipline that seemed appropriate for him coming to our call. Can you add any insight or suggestions for us dealing with prevention and correction of this extremely unwelcome and disturbing behavior?


    • Hi Michelle – Find a local trainer who has and understands herding breeds.

      Your short answer is your aussie enters the house on leash with you (at your side or behind you, not in front) and behind your guests. I don’t know the layout of your house but my guess would be this happened at a doorway or in a narrow hall. The smaller the space, the more pressure it puts on a herding dog which is why outside, in the open, all is well. Inside, in a narrow area, he’s urges can get the better of him. Work your basics and your My Smart Puppy space games a LOT. You need complete mental control of your dog. Good luck! Sarah

  46. Hi Sarah, I just realized that I may have tried to contact you through an old website. I bought a phone consult, but it was through the My Smart Puppy site. I hope it still gets to you. If it doesn’t, can you let me know what to do? Thanks!!

  47. Hi Sarah,

    I’m a freelance writer working on an article with fun facts about dogs for a national website with over 13 million members. I’d love your expert input (or a few fun facts) to share with my readers. You can reach me via email noted above for more details.

    Thanks for any help you can give and also for the great tips and advice you offer dog lovers everywhere.

    Sandy Wallacce

  48. Hello Sarah,

    I am in some dire need of help. I have a 7 month old teddy bear mix puppy. I live on the third floor in a apartment building so we decided to train our dog using a pee pad. We thought it would be easier this way because he will not walk outside by himself and hes small enough to use the pee pad. Anyways, he is a very smart dog and knows the go on the pee pad but along with going to the bathroom on it he also go to the bathroom on the carpet. I don’t know how to make him stop peeing on the carpet and start just doing it on the pee pad. If you could please try and help me I would be so greatly appreciated! Living in an apartment building I just cant have him going on the ground.


    • Hi Josephine – Sounds like your pup needs to know how to run back to the papers when he needs to go. That is a process of crating him then taking him to the papers. When he goes – praise and supervised play time. If he doesn’t, back in the crate and try again in a bit. It’s a slog at first but once the pup catches on, you’ll be ready for the next step. Good luck! Sarah

  49. Hi Sarah,

    I was hoping I could consult with you on finding a breed that fits my lifestyle. My situation is unique in that I am a quadrapalegic and live in a condo. I’m hoping to find something that is affectionate, smart, relatively small (20-30 lbs) and would be happy living in a city setting. I would like to discuss this in greater detail if you have any time available.

    Thank you for your time and consideration,

    Ned Church

    • Hi Ned –

      My first thought is how much reliable help do you have? And is there a local dog pro you can work with? I’d think both of those pieces need to be in place to make it work. That said, I’d suggest an adult dog. An adult lacks the cuteness factor but makes up for it in the self-control arena. Where are you located? Sarah

  50. Hi Sarah,

    I am an author of historical mysteries (19th century) and my current WIP relies on a dog to help “unearth” several clues. I’m looking for a breed that would be, without any training, consistently getting to garbage, stealing socks/shoes, etc. but who also brings the “treasures” to his owner. I was thinking of a beagle (specifically a less than year old puppy) for its otherwise friendly behavior and unique baying vocalizations. I also considered a Labrador Retriever puppy. Am I on the right track or is there another breed you would recommend. I’ll be happy to acknowledge you in my book for your help. Thank you in advance!

    • Oh what a FUN question, Anna. A beagle is a great pick for the “getting into it” category but less likely to bring it to the owner than to enjoy it under the privacy of a table somewhere.

      Your second pick, a Lab, is bred to bring things to their person. So a Lab has that, plus can have a “bull-in-the-china” shop quality is a pup. A Golden or Flat-Coat are clownish with, often, a sensitive side as well and a Chessie could have a protective aspect layered in. Think Lab in a leather-jacket.

      If you want smaller, a Boykin or Welsh Springer could fit the bill, too.

      Want rarer? Look at the Irish Water Spaniel, American Water Spaniel or Curly-coated Retriever.

      Oh, and right now, everything is Doodle. Golden X Poodle or Lab X Poodle.

      Hope that is helpful to you and thank you for giving me this little romp in the middle of my Friday. 😀 Sarah

      • Thank you so much! Now I have lots of choices!. I truly appreciate your input. FYI, the book is entitled “A March to Remember” (Hattie Davish Mystery #5) and will be released most likely July, 2016. I’ll be sure to acknowledge you. Thanks again! Anna

  51. I hope that this question is not too off-topic. It is in a sense health related and I am just hoping for a quick opinion. I am in the beginning stages of researching how to open a small refuge center for dogs. I’ve noticed that many dogs housed in an indoor facility often end up with upper respiratory infections. I volunteered at a center that had the dogs housed outdoors, each with a small yard of their own with large dog houses with the capability for both AC and heat. I am located in Florida, and was wondering what your suggestion would be in regards to indoor vs outdoor sheltering, assuming the AC/heat capable houses were in place.

    • Good ventilation is key, you are correct. That can be done in an inside facility if it is understood and planned for. Keeping outside pens truly clean and truly easy to clean is also a priority in minimizing disease in a colony and that is tough to do on plain earth. There are many pieces to this puzzle. I’d go and talk to many people housing dogs to get a sense of all the variables you have to juggle. Good luck!

  52. Hello SARAH
    I need ur help regarding the fingers of dog. I bought a pomerian pup and he has 20 fingers ppl are argue in that dogs with 20 fingers are dangerous than ordinary. What is ur advice in this case?

    • Hi Neha – All dogs have 4 toes that touch the ground as they walk and most have one more a bit higher up each leg called a “dewclaw.” The dewclaws on the front leg can help the dog land after jumping or turn sharply. Some dogs are born with all four dewclaws and some aren’t. Some breeds, like Great Pyreness and Briards, have “double dewclaws” meaning two on each leg (or 24 fingers.) Some dogs are born without a dewclaw or two and some people cut dewclaws off puppies when they are young.

      Now, to your question, are dogs with all their dewclaws (or 20 fingers) more dangerous, in anyway, than dogs without them. No, they are not. Dogs with dewclaws are not better or worse than dogs without them; they are just 100% normal dogs.

      I hope that is helpful to you and your puppy. – Sarah Wilson

  53. Thankyou sarah. :)

  54. Hi Sarah
    I have a 10 week old shichon. I’m feeding him kibbles and a small amount of wet food morning and evening, I followed the breeders routine.
    I the wet food necessary? Something is not agreeing with him. Just wondering if there are rules to feeding a teddy bear pup.
    Thank you

    • Hi Lisa –

      Here are the three rules of feeding a puppy in the age of the Internet:

      1) Everyone has an opinion.
      2) Everyone is sure they are right.
      3) Plenty of people will tell you (vigorously) how wrong you are.

      Pups do well with wet food and without it. Do what works for you and your pup.

      Is wet food “necessary?” No.
      Do people enjoy giving it? Yes.

      So, relax, enjoy your pup, and do what works for your pup.


  55. Hi Sarah,

    I have a huge problem. We (husband, son and I), bought a yellow lab from a lady, whom we later found out was his third owner. He was one when we got him. I understand in the beginning him trying to adjust. I must admit, I was upset that he destroyed my brand new couch, scratched up the livingroom wall, and tore one of the base boards from the wall in the livingroom. Not only that, he peed and pooped twice in the house, and that was his second night in our home. I determined he had separation anxiety. But now, in December he will be four, and he’s still doing the same thing. We had to get a kennel, amd if it’s not tied shut with zip ties when we leave, he gets out, pees, poops, and destroys stuff. I don’t want to get rid of him, because it’s unfair to him. We love him, put a house that’s only 3.5 years old looks like it was built in the 80’s instead of 2012. I don’t know what to do. Our lives are coming to a halt, because we have a pet we can’t leave at home. How do we fix this problem?

    • Hi Barbara – Poor you and poor dog. On the upside, you are very lucky that, when he is crated, he is clean. So, zip tie that crate thoroughly and use it consistently while you are working to up his understanding and lower his stress levels (and yours.) But, for now, do what works while you head toward a calmer time for all. – Sarah

  56. Hi
    I have a 2 1/2 year old male black lab, who’s name is Kovu. Kovu is a very smart, well trained and active family loved dog. Kovu has been having problems releasing urine while he sleeps. We feed him Earthborn dry food that has been soaked in water prior to giving it to him. He seems to be thirsty all the time. I have tried a lot of different ideas, but the problem seems to be getting worse. I could use some help trying to help my dog.

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