Apr 13

Adopt an active approach to your dog’s well-being

Posted by Bark to Basics

As a society we have learned to become passive spectators in many ways, looking to others for answers and guidance instead of doing research and asking the right questions ourselves. In order to truly do the best we can by our pets we have to develop a new way of thinking. It’s important to take a more involved, active approach to ensure your dog is as healthy and happy as they can be.

This applies to all aspects of your pet’s care from the medical attention they receive to the food they eat and the training methods you use to teach them. The next time you take your dog in to the vet ask yourself if your dog really needs a Lyme vaccine when he is never in an area with ticks or if another steroid shot is really the best solution for her itching. Talk with the doctor about your concerns and ask about the risks and benefits for treatments and preventatives before agreeing to them. If your dog has a chronic issue or illness that is always treated the same just to come back in a week or month ask yourself (and your vet) what you can do to address the underlying issue instead of just putting a band aid on the symptoms.You should respect the fact that your vet went through extensive medical schooling but also value your role as your pet’s guardian and decision maker. If your vet doesn’t like you asking questions or raising concerns it might be time to find one who is willing to be a partner in your pet’s care rather than a dictator.

This applies to other aspects of your pet’s well-being too. If you find yourself wondering if the trainer insisting on choke chains and alpha rolls (read: call Bark to Basics) really has your dog’s best interest in mind make your concerns heard or find another trainer. When the person at the gym tells you any “people food” is terrible for your dog pick up a book on canine nutrition and find out for yourself.

Our dogs rely on us to make the best decisions we can when it comes to their health and happiness. We are their advocates and with that comes responsibility and many times, questioning the status quo. Ask the questions your dog’s would ask if they could talk. Do I really need another vaccine? Why is “people” food bad for me? While you’re at it, you should start applying this approach to your own health and wellness too!


Apr 4

The results are in

Posted by Bark to Basics

Well, after weeks of voting and waiting for the OC Hotlist to announce the top businesses in the dog training category the results are finally in. I’m happy to announce Bark to Basics took second place!

You can check out the results here:

Thanks to everyone who showed their support and voted.

Apr 1

Discounted follow ups and in home boarding services offered

Posted by Bark to Basics

Discounted Prices on Follow-Up Sessions

For all of you who have completed a training package of 3, 6 or 8 lessons Bark to Basics is now offering follow-up sessions for a discounted rate of $85. Follow-ups are great if your pooch could use some freshening up on commands or you have new problems to solve.


In Home Boarding

Need a place for your dog to stay during your upcoming vacation? Bark to Basics is now offering in home boarding. Dogs stay in my home and live like they’re part of the family while you’re away. I stick with your routine and rules so your dog settles in smoothly. Dogs are supervised while mingling and daily 45-60 minute walks are provided. You can add training time to the stay as well.

Mar 10

Treats are for Fleas

Posted by Bark to Basics

I know for some of you spring seems far off but here in Southern California it’s right around the corner. While many of us look forward to spring, the warmer weather brings one of our dog’s biggest pests, fleas.

Fleas can create a variety of problems for our dogs ranging from itchy skin to flea allergy dermatitis and even to tapeworms. While many people use the traditional topical flea treatments, like Frontline, or the newer pill form of flea control, Comfortis, many are unaware of a more natural option available to them and their dogs.

The traditional flea preventatives contain insecticides and toxins and dogs can experience a range of side effects including irritation or redness where a topical product was placed, hair loss, vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea. In severe cases I have even seen dogs who have suffered from seizures and death after using these products. Certainly these cases aren’t the norm but like all medications these preventatives carry risks. Read a package of your favorite flea preventative and notice how it recommends you not allow it to come in to contact with your skin and instructs you to wash thoroughly if it does. If it’s not safe for our skin why would we want to put this on our pets?

One of my bassets, Dharma, has a range of allergies, including flea allergy dermatitis. When she gets fleas she turns in to a chewed up, red, bloody mess so we absolutely must keep them off her. So I set out searching for natural ways to prevent fleas. One that I came across was feeding small amounts of garlic, too much can be harmful to your dog, and gave it a try. It seemed to work for a while but eventually I found fleas on my dogs.

I expressed my concerns to my holistic vet at an appointment one day and he told me about Flea Treats. After doing some research I decided to give them a whirl. Flea Treats are a chewable tablet that guards against fleas and ticks using a vitamin B complex, which is known to reply bugs by creating a smell that they (not us) can detect. I even know of people who were given vitamin B shots to keep mosquitos away. One thing to keep in mind is that you will need to give them for around 10-20 days before you see their effectiveness.

There are a lot of pros to using this alternative. They’re not only natural and harmless, but they repel pests before they land on your pet, a major difference compared to traditional methods that kill fleas only after contact. Because vitamin B is water-soluble, your pet would not become ill even from eating an entire bottle. They’re also inexpensive, costing around $3 per month for a small dog and $6 for a 70 pounder. They’re safe for puppies, pregnant dogs and cats too. Best of all the company offers a money back guarantee.

But do they work?

Months later I’m happy to report that we are flea free using Flea Treats.



Aug 13

People Need Training Too!

Posted by Bark to Basics

One of the things I love most about my job is that every day is different. Each owner/dog pair I work with is unique and I play a variety of roles – dog trainer, coach, cheerleader – to be most effective. Most of my clients realize at some point during the training process that I’m not only training their dog, I’m really training them! Luckily for the humans I work with I believe in positive reinforcement for training people too.

Most owners are very hard on themselves when they first take control of the leash and treats after watching me demonstrate the particular command or technique we’re working on during our session. They often feel awkward with the tools and struggle at first with getting the timing right. Many times the dogs aren’t the only ones working on breaking old habits like repeating commands – a big no-no with me!

This is where I go from dog trainer to coach and cheerleader. Training is a skill that develops with time and practice. Just like you don’t expect your dog to get something new on the first try (at least you shouldn’t) I know you need time to hone your new role as trainer. I don’t expect you to get it all right away and luckily, neither does your dog. I start by breaking your task into small and manageable steps – getting your coordination and timing right, communicating clearly with your dog and patience while he or she learns to work you. Clients are often frustrated with their rate of progress and focus on the steps they haven’t yet mastered rather than their successes. I coach you one step at a time, letting you know when you are doing things right and allowing you to be successful at one step before asking you to incorporate something new. Just like when I’m working with your dog, I gradually increase the criteria until you have perfected your training techniques. It doesn’t take long before both pet and owner are making progress and gaining confidence.

One of the most common questions I’m asked is, do you train husbands and kids? I always respond with same techniques, different treats. And I’ve heard some favorable reviews on my idea for freeze-dried beer treats for the husbands!