The Relationship Between Owner and Dog Anxiety


One of the more intriguing impressions is the apparent correlation between anxious owners and dogs exhibiting anxious behavior, aggressive behavior, or both. 

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Safe Dog Training Options During COVID-19


Group dog training classes typically provide a fun and inexpensive option for improving a pet’s obedience performance.  However, during times of social distancing the human proximity of group class may pose an unacceptable infection risk.  Furthermore, municipal, county, or state government edict may restrict CPT’s ability to legally conduct group class.  Therefore, with the onset […]

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The Multifarious Benefits of Dog Agility- Nikos: A Case Example

dog agility

Nikos’s Obedience and Agility History with CPT: Nikos, a 4.25-year old English Cream Retriever, first came to CPT in July 2015 to resolve leash walking and recall problems.  CPT’s in-home private lesson and board train programs promptly achieved lesson plan obedience goals both on and off-leash.  However, his owner still sought a way to improve […]

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Service Dog News

Service Dog News- Seizure Alert Dog-Seizure Response Dog

Research in France Finds that Dogs Can Smell Seizures- Plus Tax Strategies for Service Dog Owners Can Dogs Smell a Seizure?  Yes They Can: In a journal article published in Scientific Reports entitled, “Dogs Demonstrate the Existence of an Epileptic Seizure Odour in Humans,” researchers from the University Rennes in Normandy, France produced a potentially […]

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The Top 5 Dog Trainers in Atlanta

Mark Spivak- CPT Dog Trainer Atlanta

Nobody else in Atlanta matches Mark’s background of competition training, pet dog training, behavior modification experience, education, and canine neuroscience research.  

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10 Reasons to Train Your Dog with CPT

1) CPT has been in business since 1992.

Unlike many fly by night operations in the pet industry, we have stood the test of time.

2) CPT has trained over 50,000 dogs and over 100 cats.

Not only have we been around, we have been successful. We have experience in both years and numbers.

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Early Socialization

Be sure to socialize your puppy early and often. Early socialization to people, puppies, dogs, cats, multiple floor and ground substrates, novel objects, noises, and various environments will maximize the probability that your future adult dog will become a happy and welcome member of the community.

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Considerations When Hiring an Expert Witness in Dog Behavior

CPT Expert Witness Services

A Case Example of a Man in Need of an Expert Witness: Bennett Anderson walked into the Cobb County jailhouse.  However, he did not enter under his own accord.  Law enforcement officers surrounded his body and controlled his every movement. His hands were cuffed behind his back.  The tightness of the metal braces constricting his […]

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The Importance of Dog and Litter Evaluations

Evaluations for Service Dog Programs When CPT designs a client’s service dog program the first step is a Phase I- Introductory Meeting. During the Meeting, we: a) obtain medical details regarding the recipient’s disability, b) discuss the limitations and effects posed by the disability, c) outline the overall goals and objectives of the program, d) […]

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Canine Play Styles

CPT Trainers often get asked, “Is my dog playing or fighting?” Similarly, our Head Trainers conduct behavioral analyses of dogs removed from dog day care because the day care operator and dog owner are uncertain regarding the intent of a dog’s behavior or because the operator says that a dog plays “too rough.”

Therefore, the natural segue leads to several questions:

How can I tell if my dog is playing or fighting?
How rough is too rough?
What criteria should I evaluate when selecting playmates for my dog?
When and how should I intervene when my dog plays with another dog?

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Recent Research Raises Concerns Regarding Early Spaying/Neutering

Whereas in the early part of the 20th century pet ownership was common only to rural American households, after World War 2 the country experienced the baby boom, an increased urbanization and suburbanization of society, and an expansion of pet ownership within non-rural households. Subsequently, with the advent of a significant increase in pet ownership in high-density population areas, concomitant problems developed. The number of stray and unwanted pets increased in regions where the issue received more political attention and posed greater public health and safety concerns than when stray pets remained principally a rural issue. Moreover, without strategic fertility control measures, given the frequency of stray dog and cat copulations and the size of resultant litters, the pet population grew prolifically.

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CPT and Emory Want You- And Your Dog- To Tryout for Our fMRI Research Team

CPT and the Emory Canine Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory are enrolling a new team of dogs for our safe, noninvasive, fun, and exciting fMRI and behavioral research projects. The projects, which are funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) examine canine cognition, emotions, sensory perception, receptive communication, and inhibitory control. In addition, the team plans upcoming studies on reward systems and jealousy relevant to improving the training protocols for pet owners and studies on olfaction relevant to the performance of police narcotics detection dogs and military explosive detection dogs.

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Canine Influenza Questions and Answers- Updated- July 24

Canine influenza

Recently, the media, certain veterinarians, and some clients have expressed concern about the spread of Canine Influenza. According to multiple sources (, WXIA-TV,, since May 15, 2015, the date of the first confirmed Georgia case, there has been only the lone occurrence of H3N2 canine influenza in the state of Georgia. Media research has not shown any additional confirmed cases of canine flu in Georgia as of the date of this article (June 1, 2015).

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Preventing Cold Weather Calamities

Does your dog like cold weather? To many dogs, Georgia winter conditions are far more hospitable than are the supposed “dog days” of summer. Nevertheless, many dogs are poorly suited for the drop in outdoor temperatures that accompany the winter season. Such dogs may experience hypothermia, frostbite, cracked pads, and stress when left outdoors for an extended period.

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Evaluate a Dog for Suitability Before Bringing it Home

Meghan Markham- Dog Trainer Alpharetta

As discussed within the Dog Training Articles section in the composition “Selecting the Right Dog,” the decision regarding adding a dog to your household is in many ways tantamount in significance and perspective to your decision when selecting a mate. You hope that each will successfully reside in your home for an extended period of time. Therefore, compatibility is essential.

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Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke (Full Version)

Panting Dog

The summer is a great time for you and your family to play and exercise outdoors with your dog. However, dogs do not thermoregulate as well as humans. Therefore, to reduce the possibility of heat exhaustion or potentially life threatening heat stroke, you will need to monitor your dog when playing or exercising outdoors on hot days.

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Know The Signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke (Abstract)

Panting Dog

Symptoms of canine heat stroke include: 1. Excessive and/or seemingly uncontrollable panting, 2. Inordinately viscous saliva, 3. Stupor, 4. Ataxia- loss of coordination, 5. Bright red tongue or gums, 6. Uncommonly pale gums, 7. Loss of skin elasticity, 8. Dry mucous membranes, 9. Diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, 10. Tachycardia, 11. Weak pulse- from hypotension, 12. […]

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Behavior Modification Q & A

Typically, we can construct counterconditioning and systematic desensitization drills that remain beneath the dog’s stress threshold. We design the drills with two primary goals. Our first goal is building the subject dog’s relaxation, confidence, security, and trust amidst the stimulus. Our second goal is teaching the dog a passive replacement behavior that the dog will perform in lieu of the previous reactive behavior (barking, lunging, snarling, biting, et al.). We wish to modify the emotional state of the animal from an aroused emotional state to a calm, composed emotional state. Consequently, during the behavior modification process, the subject dog will gradually accept increasing levels of exposure to the stimulus without becoming reactive.

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Breed Specific Legislation

In summary, although the number of annual domestic fatalities due to dog bites is relatively small, according to various news organizations an average of approximately 20 per year and a high of 34 in any one year for fatalities combining where the breed is known and unknown, the number of total non-fatal dog bites and the total of non-fatal injurious dog bites is high and the resultant financial loss, pain, and human suffering is significant. Moreover, at least in the case of fatal dog bites, specific breeds (Pit Bull and Rottweiler) are notably and consistently represented.

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Estate Planning Considerations For Our Pets (Abstract)

For those desiring more detailed information about estate planning considerations for pets, including the use of wills, gifting, inter vivos pet trusts, testamentary pet trusts, durable medical powers of attorney, financial powers of attorney, and emergency plans, please read the full-length version of the CPT article “Estate Planning Considerations for Pets.”

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Estate Planning Considerations For Our Pets (Full Version)

In the past, most Americans kept their pets as solely or primarily outdoor companions that were only peripherally part of the family. However, nowadays pets frequently enjoy full indoor privileges, including sleeping on the bed, and are often more pampered than the family’s children. Nevertheless, even though Americans have evolved regarding the emotional attachment and comforts they provide their pets, the American legislative and legal system, with the exception of criminal cruelty laws, still generally regards pets as chattel. Thus, the privileges and stipulations provided pets in the law are often limited in consideration, tantamount to the privileges and stipulations provided non-real property, such as furniture, bank accounts, old photographs, or other inanimate possessions. Yet, with proper planning, in the area of probate law, our pets can receive the treatment they deserve as sentient beings, rather than remain treated in a manner equivalent to our furniture.

The average lifespan for a domestic dog generally ranges between 10 – 16 years, depending on the breed, and the average lifespan for a domestic cat maintained indoors ranges between 12 to 17 years. In contrast, the average human lifespan in the United States is 73.6 years for males, 79.4 years for females, and approximately 77 years overall. Moreover, since the preceding statistics take into account infant mortality and early death, the average life expectancy for a person who already has reached adulthood is much higher. For instance, actuarial tables show that a 40-year old is likely to live to the age of 79 and a 66-year old is likely to live to the age of 84. Therefore, the vast majority of CPT clients will outlive their pets.

Nevertheless, not everyone will experience a long, healthy lifespan. Unfortunately, regardless of their stage of life, some CPT clients will suffer accidents, unexpected illness, or debilitating physical conditions that will cause premature death or disable their physical or mental capacity to properly care for their beloved pet(s). Consequently, expressing true love and care for our pets should extend beyond regular feeding, playtime, health maintenance, or even CPT training. We also should author an estate plan that strategizes and pre-arranges the care of our animals should unfortunate contingencies occur that cause death, permanent or temporary disability, or emergencies that suddenly take us away from home for extended periods, whereby we are unable to properly care for our pets.

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Loose-Leash Walking (Abstract)

Loose Leash Walking

To most effectively and most humanely address any dog training or behavioral problem, we wish first to diagnose the origin of the behavior. Pulling on leash is most commonly caused by:
1) General excitability,
2) General under-stimulation,
3) Excitability or arousal directed toward or emanating from a specific stimulus,
4) Dominance,
5) Lack of knowledge regarding walking protocol, or
6) A thigmotactic (opposition) reflex.

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Loose-Leash Walking (Full Version)

Loose Leash Walking

If all goes according to plan, your dog will calmly and cooperatively walk on a loose leash. Subsequently, both you and your dog will receive more pleasure and bonding from your neighborhood walks. Moreover, when you begin to receive more enjoyment from your walks, you will probably walk your dog more, which increases your dog’s quality of life.

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Motion-Car Sickness

Most dogs love riding in the car. When the rear door is open they eagerly leap onto the back seat to join their owners for an excursion.

However, a significant minority of dogs despise automobile travel. Due to enduring motion sickness or an imprint from a prior episode(s) of motion sickness, the dogs may stubbornly refuse to enter a vehicle. In severe cases, they may even become fear aggressive toward the owner if the owner forcefully insists that the noncompliant dog come along for a ride. In anticipation of entering a vehicle or during travel, dogs who are experiencing or who have experienced motion sickness may exhibit full-blown panic attacks that include accelerated respiration, rapid pulse, drooling, and trembling. They may become catatonic or stuporous from fear. In addition or alternatively, dogs that experience the physical and/or psychological effects of motion sickness may become physiologically nauseous and vomit, which makes for an unpleasant cleanup at the completion of a journey. Certainly, when a dog routinely exhibits motion/car-sickness, a joint human-canine vehicle expedition is an odious travail for both the human and the pet.

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Psychopharmaceutical Options for Canine Thunderstorm Phobia, State Anxiety, and General Anxiety

When thunderstorm phobia, state anxiety, and/or general anxiety are highly vexing, highly problematic, or particularly severe, a CPT behavior modification program may become further potentiated when implemented in conjunction with appropriately selected psychopharmaceutical medication. Although in less severe cases of canine phobia or anxiety, a properly designed and diligently implemented behavior modification program will result in successful goal outcomes without the inclusion of medication, circumstances occur where behavior modification alone is insufficient and the client pet’s progress plateaus far short of goal. Therefore, without an adjunct to the behavior modification program the phobic or anxious pet may continue destroying property, injure himself/herself, or suffer deleterious acute or chronic physiological effects. Adjuncts to behavior modification may include nutraceuticals, relaxation garments, pheromones, homeopathic remedies, and prescription medication. This article will function on prescription medications that may help to alleviate canine phobias and anxiety when administered in combination with a structured behavior modification program that teaches the dog cognitive coping mechanisms.

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Selecting the Right Dog- Part 1: The Importance of Compatibility

The decision process regarding adding a dog to your household is in many ways tantamount in significance and perspective to your decision process when selecting a mate. Ideally, a spousal relationship expands the quality of life for both you and your partner. Similarly, pet ownership should generate a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship that enhances the quality of life for both you and your pet. Therefore, compatibility is a key issue in determining whether the process realizes optimal outcomes.

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Selecting the Right Dog- Part 2: Selecting the Right Breed

Before selecting the most appropriate individual dog, you should narrow your search by breed. In general, members within a breed will exhibit many common tendencies and characteristics. Many of these behavioral tendencies are advantageous when performing the work assignments for which the dog was originally bred. The AKC categorizes the 170 plus breeds into 7 major groups: Herding, Hounds, Non-Sporting, Sporting, Terriers, Toys, and Working Dogs. The breeds classified within each group will exhibit many common preferences, traits, and abilities. Below is a synopsis of the working traits manifested by each group.

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Selecting the Right Dog- Part 3: Evaluating Breeder and Shelter Facilities

If you feel comfortable that the breeder is professional, honest, and passionate, that the sire and dam are high quality animals, and that the sales contract is equitable, then proceed by setting an appointment to visit the breeder facility. While there, you will investigate the environment, the parents, and the litter.
Similarly, before you visit a shelter or rescue agency you wish to know something of their reputation, policies, mission, and customer service and you wish to review their sales/adoption contract. Your community will likely contain a number of shelters and rescue agencies that have dogs available for adoption. Therefore, exercise due diligence to ensure that you are comfortable with a specific organization before you visit. Moreover, when you visit complete a similar inspection to that described below for a breeder facility.

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Selecting the Right Dog- Part 4A: Evaluating Individual Adult Animals

Whereas, in many ways a puppy is a malleable blank slate whose genetics are predetermined, but whose temperament and corresponding behavior is mostly impressionable to the environment, an adult dog possesses a more cemented temperament and more solidified behaviors. Consequently, the evaluation process is imperative when successfully purchasing or adopting the correct dog for your household. Since a firsthand observation at the breeder’s site, animal shelter, or rescue agency only allows you a temporary microscopic observation of the dog’s temperament and behavior, you should also request a more protracted macroscopic overview before formally committing to the animal.

A macroscopic overview includes a thorough chronological history of the dog that includes information regarding the animal’s temperament, socialization experiences, residences, lifestyle, health, training, household manners, and pertinent behaviors. You should obtain the history by interviewing the seller or agency representative. In addition, you will need to personally observe the dog in multiple environments and in multiple situations, including at your home integrating with your family and existing pets. The preceding takes time. Therefore, we strongly recommend demanding a minimum seven-day trial period in the purchase or adoption contract, whereby within the stated amount of time you can return the dog without penalty for any reason you deem appropriate.

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Selecting the Right Dog- Part 4B: Evaluating Individual Puppies

The examination procedures for puppies are somewhat different than those used with adults. Adults have clearly defined temperaments. Consequently, adult tests strive to evaluate present temperament; whereas, puppy tests aim to predict future temperament. The following puppy tests can be modified for use with adult dogs. However, exercise caution when a specific test may elicit an aggressive response. A bite from an adult dog is potentially far more injurious than a nip from a puppy. You will probably obtain a more thorough and accurate analysis and present less risk of injury by following the more conservative adult evaluation protocols described in Part 4A.

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Treating Separation Anxiety (Abstract)

Since separation anxiety is often a complex condition that is difficult to resolve, significantly lowers the quality of life of both the human and pet, causes notable financial damages, dramatically reduces the joy of pet ownership, has owners often feeling shackled to the house, and prompts owners to abandon dogs to animal control or a humane society where there is a high probability of euthanasia, we highly recommend the services of a skilled CPT trainer/behaviorist when diagnosing the condition and implementing a customized solution plan. To schedule a CPT behavior modification session, please contact the CPT office by phone at 404-236-2150 or contact us by email via the Contact link at the top right of this web page.

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Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Separation distress can severely reduce the quality of life for both you and your dog and is a common rationale for owners abandoning dogs at shelters.

Ethologists believe separation anxiety is caused or exacerbated by congenital factors, excessive isolation from the dam or littermates during early developmental periods, a lack of preparatory isolation from the dam or littermates during early developmental periods, and traumatic experiences that occur when a predisposed dog is isolated and/or confined, or any combination of the preceding. In addition, rescue dogs, dogs exhibiting other forms of anxious or phobic behavior, and excessively “clingy” dogs are more predisposed toward developing separation distress behavior. To a lesser degree, dogs owned by clingy or cloying owners and dogs that lack training or structure are also more predisposed toward developing separation distress behavior.

II. Solutions

Separation anxiety/distress can be a difficult behavior to resolve. Nevertheless, there are solutions that often provide significant improvement. To maximize effectiveness, the solutions need to be implemented conjunctively, which provides synergies that raise the probability of successful behavior modification. The goal of the solutions is to increase predictability where a lack of predictability creates an anxious emotional state, to create unpredictability where predictability creates an anxious emotional state, to create diversionary and displacement behaviors that reduce the severity of the anxious behavior and/or the dog’s focus on the owner’s departure, and to psychologically, physically, and physiologically create a state of relaxation.

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Summer Exercise Tips

You should not neglect your dog’s exercise needs. A tired dog is a happy dog and a better-behaved dog and belongs to a happy owner. Moreover, well-exercised dogs are more likely to experience superior physical and psychological health. Optimally, owners should provide their pets a formal, structured exercise program that considers the following:

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Extinguishing Inappropriate Chewing Behavior (Abstract)

Optimally, to best modify your dog’s inappropriate chewing behavior, we need to consider the preceding causal factors as the primary behavioral problem while concurrently addressing the inappropriate chewing behavior as a secondary symptom. In addition, until the behavior is modified, we need to prevent the continuation of the behavior by establishing management procedures that may include supervision and/or confinement. We may also need to develop a system of active, semi-active, and/or passive punishment that consistently and immediately disciplines inappropriate chewing if the preceding management system is not sufficient in preventing recurrence of the behavior. Lastly, using positive reinforcement we need to prompt the adoption of acceptable replacement behaviors, which in simple terms means chewing intended chew and play toys, rather than the windowsill, furniture, or TV remote control. By taking a properly designed four-pronged approach (origins, prevention, punishment, and encouraging replacement chewing activity), we should effectively modify the behavior.

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Extinguishing Inappropriate Chewing Behavior (Full Version)

If all goes according to plan, by addressing the cause of your dog’s chewing behavior, preventing the continuation of undesirable behavior via active supervision and passive confinement, punishing or diverting inappropriate behavior actively, semi-actively, and/or passively, and prompting him to chew appropriate items, he should permanently replace undesirable chewing behavior with desirable chewing activities that satisfy your objectives while concurrently satisfying his needs for oral stimulation. Nevertheless, destructive chewing is often a complex behavior that is difficult to resolve without the services of a professional trainer or behaviorist. Therefore, we recommend the inclusion of a CPT in-home private lesson to raise the probability of a proper diagnosis of the origin of your dog’s behavior and to more effectively instruct solution techniques. To schedule a CPT in-home private lesson, please contact the CPT office by phone at 404-236-2150 or contact us by e-mail via the Contact link at the top right of this web page.

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CPT’s Perspective on the Cesar Millan Controversy

In summary, although there are occasions where we believe Cesar should vary his training style, many of his critics are ridiculously over the top. Although CPT’s philosophy more often concurs with the training methodologies employed by Cesar’s detractors, we decline to join their mob. Objectively, there is often more than one way to successfully train a dog. Therefore, the antagonists’ vitriol and almost libelous ad hominem attacks on a divergent practitioner are inappropriate and specious. We refuse to censure Cesar or his methods when he is accomplishing his primary job of attracting viewers to the previously insignificant National Geographic Channel and there is irrefutable video evidence that his methods frequently accomplish his clients’ key training objectives. In conjunction with CPT’s eclectic philosophy, we prefer to observe and learn from all practitioners and refuse to besmirch those that express different views- provided the persons can back up their views with a record of success, which Cesar can. Polar methodologies can each be successful, given the condition that they are selected appropriately for the specific dog and rendered by personnel proficient in the technique.

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Pet Training Tips from CPT

Mark Spivak- Off Leash Heeling

In summary, reward consistently, reward positively, and reward promptly to create a well trained dog. If you desire professional assistance, please contact CPT either by phone (404-236-2150) or by e-mail via the Contact link at the top right of this web page. A trained dog is a happy dog and belongs to a happy owner. CPT’s elite professionals have trained the pets of over 50,000 Atlanta families. We would love to add you and your dog to our list of satisfied clients.

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Preparing Your Dog For the Winter

The stereotypical “outdoor dog” is a vanishing cultural preference. In today’s society, an increasing number of pet owners desire to integrate their dogs indoors within the household, especially during the colder winter months. However, many pet owners remain apprehensive when bringing their dog indoors or leaving their dog indoors unsupervised outside of a crate, due to their dog’s insubordinate or destructive behaviors. Fortunately, a well-designed training program combined with a little time and patience will evolve almost all dogs into model household companions.

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