10 Tips for Enjoying July 4th with Your Dog!

As a dog trainer at Charlotte’s premiere dog training facility, The Dog Knowledge, I am shocked by the number of families that bring a dog to the 4th of July fireworks. The poor things try to get away from the loud bangs, but they can’t. Some of them look terrified. As a dog trainer, and a therapy dog and service dog trainer, when I see the panic on a dog’s face, it is really sad. With the 4th of July holiday on Friday, we would like to address what we feel as professional dog trainers might be helpful to dog owners to understand how likely their dog perceives this favorite American holiday. All of us at The Dog Knowledge have personal dogs. While we have tried to expose our personal dogs to every noise and situation, as dog training professionals we know the signs to look for to determine our personal dog’s stress level. Fireworks, thunderstorms, cars backfiring, even the crash of a dropped pot are torture to some dogs. A dog that is “sound sensitive” reacts in a fearful manner to loud noises. Some sound sensitive dogs try to hide, others want to climb into their owner’s lap, and still others try to flee, to escape. If you have a sound sensitive dog, you know the agony of his fear. Sound sensitivity is also called being `noise shy’ or `gun shy’. It can be either congenital or environmental. Some noise shy dogs are born that way, while others may undergo a frightening experience connected to a loud noise that thereafter causes them to associate the noise with the fear-producing event. A dog that is less than a year old might be going through their second fear period which happens around 8-10 months of age. While a dog of any age who has never shown signs of being noise sensitive can suddenly develop thunder phobia or fear of loud noises, dogs less than a year old are even more susceptible. As Charlotte’s most knowledgeable dog trainers we agree that the best thing you can do for your dog is to avoid having your dog join in Charlotte’s annual celebration. Regardless of whether a dog is born with sensitivity to loud noises, or experiences something upsetting that he or she then associates with noise, there are some do’s and don’ts to make your dog more comfortable during a noisy event....
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The Billion Dollar Fraud In The Therapy/Service Dog Industry… and it’s not what you think!

In the last year, The Dog Knowledge and our non-profit subsidiary The Dog Knowledge Service Dog Foundation have been contacted by local newspapers, magazines, reporters, the Wounded Warrior Project and the Green Beret Foundation and in December, 2013 NBC’s America Now filmed at our facility for over 5 hours.  The segment aired on Tuesday, February 25th at 9:00am, and is available online here. Recently there have been stories written about the fact that you can buy an “online service vest” for your dog and take your dog into public places posing your dog as a “service dog.” As trainers of service dogs, we had to laugh at this discovery — this practice has been known to us for years and years! The reasons are many that this practice needs regulation. Reasons such as: Business owners are afraid to question even the most obvious “fake” service dogs for fear of being sued. These “fake” service dogs have been known to bite people as often they are untrained. These “fake” service dogs have been known to visit restaurants, department stores, etc. and have been seen urine marking items or having a potty accident. Owners of the “fake” service dogs are well versed in the law and know that business owners have their hands tied to complain about even disruptive behavior from a service animal. While this story may have people aghast at the people taking advantage of the hard fought laws that the Americans with Disabilities have worked to gain over the years, we as service dog trainers feel that there is a far deeper, far more sinister, far more heinous fraud that is being committed in the name of the Service Dog/Therapy Dog or Assistance Dog industry. That fraud is regarding the dog trainers who are preying on people with disabilities and raking in billions of dollars from the unknowing seeking a service dog as well as from donors thinking they are giving to a good cause.  These trainers and agencies promise to train a dog for a variety of disabilities.  We recently received a phone call from a desperate father of an 11 year old child with severe autism who has never spoken.  The father attended a forum for families who are dealing with autism. Present were a number of vendors including a noted “shock collar trainer” who promised the families of autistic children that he would sell them a...
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The Dog Knowledge featured on America Now!

Despite appearances, not all service dogs are legit. America Now reached out The Dog Knowledge to learn more about “fake” service dogs. Check out the video that aired this morning! Read the transcript below:   About 50 million people live with at least one disability, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports most of us will need one at some point in our life. Service dogs come in all shapes, sizes and breeds. They help the disabled live an independent life. Most of us have seen one wearing a special vest, collar or harness. What you may not realize is that some of these dogs are actually wearing a bogus badge and are not service dogs at all. Fake service dogs are an unfortunate trend that continues to rise, and they’re not doing a service to those who really need them because the fake ones create safety, health and legal problems for businesses and communities. Greater awareness will help stop the trend and here’s how you can spot one. Trained to signal, Brio helps her handler spot the smallest trace of peanut to prevent an emergency. Scarlett can save the life of her diabetic human by scent detection of high and low blood sugar. Ivy is trained to do the everyday tasks that someone with a mobility disability couldn‘t do alone. Improving someone’s livelihood or saving their life is every service dog’s job. But it’s one easily impersonated by household pets because of unethical owners trying to reap special privileges by duping the public. “I’ve seen a service pig, I’ve seen a service cat, I’ve actually seen a service parrot,” said Debbie Lange who is with The Dog Knowledge, a members only fitness, training and social club for dogs. Chances are, you’ve seen a fake service animal, too. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) considers the use of a fake service dog a federal crime and in some states the offense is punishable with fines. Even though it may be regarded as a crime, it’s hard to enforce because a phony dog, or any other animal, is hard to detect. “Technically, they don’t even need to wear a vest,” Lange pointed out. Many fake service dogs wear fake vests which appear legitimate because it’s easy to purchase authentic-looking insignia collars, badges, identification cards and jackets online. They can be put on nearly any household pet to help...
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Throw Your Dog a Bone — Literally!

What if I told you that some of your dog’s most onerous behaviors could be corrected by simply “throwing your dog a bone?” That’s right, THROW YOUR DOG A BONE. Understanding Your Dog’s Need to Chew, and how Chewing can Resolve Unwanted Behaviors     As one of four senior dog trainers and behaviorists at The Dog Knowledge, Charlotte’s only People/Pup training and social club, I specialize in service and therapy dog training as well as dog assessments. In other words, when I am not training a service dog, much of my week is spent sitting down with Charlotte families and their dog to help them understand what’s really going on in that canine mind. I see everything from dogs that simply need obedience training to dogs with serious behavioral issues such as aggression and a wide range of compulsive and destructive behaviors. And while all issues can’t be resolved in our 1+ hour sessions, there are some basic things that I repeatedly tell people that are simple things they can do at home to improve their dog’s behavior. One of those simple things is to meet your dog’s inherent need to chew. One of my first questions that I ask a family as I am reading through their written dog behavioral evaluation is: “Do you supply your dog with appropriate, varied and interesting things to satiate his desire to chew as well as providing needed teeth cleaning?” The answer is almost always the same. “Oh yes, my dog has a basket full of toys that he has access to all of the time.” Sometimes, they mention that they provide a hard rubber toy such as a Kong stuffed with peanut butter for their dog to enjoy in his crate. But normally once their puppy is through the teething stage, very little thought, if any is given to his chewing needs. You can search the web and you will find hundreds of articles about things we humans can do to relieve stress. Everything from taking a leisurely evening walk, working in the garden to running a marathon or working out at the gym. A dog’s need to chew goes back since the beginning. In nature, a dog’s life depended on having strong jaws and clean healthy teeth. A dog pack might typically Live out the winter with an elk carcus chewing each day on the meat and frozen bones....
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Russell, meet Truman: Your New Companion and Service Dog!

This past year The Dog Knowledge located in Charlotte, NC has received more and more phone calls to train service dogs and therapy dogs and much of our energy has gone toward helping out families that desperately need a service dog but can’t afford the high price or the lengthy wait to obtain one of these amazing dogs. We have a waiting list for individuals needing a service dog due to the fact that we first must find the right kind of dog with the right kind of temperament before we even begin training.  Once we find a young dog with potential, it can take months for training obedience as well as the skills that are needed to work with the disabled. Lately, we have been contacted by the commanding officers for several soldiers and veterans who are in need of service dogs.  We feel these brave young men deserve to be put at the top of The Dog Knowledge waiting list for all they have done and sacrificed to keep our country safe.  Shown here is Russell who is being introduced to Truman, his active service dog.  Russell’s deployment in Afghanistan was not a pleasant job.  Russell was in charge of dealing with mortuary remains and over time this gruesome job took its toll on Russell.  Russell is suffering from PTSD and periodically goes into states of depression over all that he experienced and saw while in Afghanistan. The Dog Knowledge was contacted by Russell’s Recovery Care Coordinator who asked us if we could help out.  “Gladly!” we told him.  The dog trainers at The Dog Knowledge volunteered their service dog training skills and donated their time and energy to train one year old Truman to be a wonderful service dog with excellent obedience.  Truman was also trained to “interrupt” Russell with a nudge of his nose anytime Russell exhibited moodiness, etc.  Also in the event that Russell had a panic attack, Truman has been trained to press a life alert button to call 911. Word spreads quickly and we received several additional calls from Fort Bragg.  Last week, The Dog Knowledge trainers met with another soldier, Billy who was one of the brave Green Berets stationed in Afghanistan who came home as an amputee.  Billy has requested a service dog  to     assist him in a variety of mobility functions when Billy is not wearing his prosthesis. Good...
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