Learning Center

Sit. Smile. Wag.

We want dog owners to enjoy every moment with their dog.  Education is paramount in understanding our dogs and improving our relationship with them.  That is why we have created this Learning Center page, to link dog owners to the very best information, resources and services out there!

Here at The Sophisticated Dog, we are passionate about providing quality and knowledgeable care for your dogs.  The best way for dog owners to know that the quality of care their dogs are receiving is to ask questions of their hired care takers and to feel comfortable with the answers you are given.

We also occasionally take the time to write about what we know about our beloved canines.  These writings can be found here.

All dog owners should be educated about the canine world but it can be a bit overwhelming to a dog owner to see the difference between good dog advice that is modern and backed by science, and what is bad dog advice that is out-dated and disproven.

Consider these Ten Questions to Ask a “dog professional” before you hire them as set out by the Pet Professional Guild.

  • What training equipment do you use and what do you recommend I use?
  • What happens when the dog responds the way you want him/her too?
  • What happens when the dog does not respond the way you want him/her too?
  • How do you punish or advise I punish my dog when he exhibits a behaviour I don’t like?
  • How do you ensure that my dog is not inadvertently being punished?
  • How do you know that the type of reinforcement you have selected to train my dog is appropriate?
  • How will you know or how will I know if my dog is stressed?
  • Which professional dog associations are you a member of?
  • Will you guarantee your training results?
  • How do you think a dog’s behavior should be addressed if the dog is growling or snapping at people or other dogs?

Keep these questions in mind when you hire any dog care professional to tend to your dog in your absence. A knowledgeable professional will give you clear, easy to understand and logical answers to these questions.  You should be comfortable with the answers your hired care taker gives you.  If not, find someone else.

Tracy is always engaged in learning more about the canine science world by reading books, blogs and articles written by dog training professionals and networking with other dog professionals.  She hopes to share her most valued sources of information on the canine world with those who want to learn more.  Below you will find a list of her recommended books, sites and articles she feels all dog owners should take a look at.  Check back frequently as this list is updated and grows!

Books for Every Dog Owner

Decoding Your Dog by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
This book should be read by any and all who own a dog. Dog owners are bombarded with conflicting information about how to raise, train and deal with unwanted behaviors in dogs. Experience alone does not make you an expert on dogs. Advice should always come from certified and educated professionals. Veterinary behaviorists have the experience, education and the active studies to know how our dogs feel and think and what is the best course when dealing with unwanted behaviors.

Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz
This is one of the first books that I read which changed how I was looking at my relationship with my dog.  It also motivated me to look into the science side of things.

Do Dogs Dream? by Stanley Coren
I think this book should be read by every dog owner.  Coren covers a lot of topics quickly and effectively in this book.  All the decades of research Coren has done with dogs can be found in this book and used as a reference to most questions you’ve ever had about your dog.

The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell
This book helped me to start looking at things from my dog’s perspective. When training isn’t working, it isn’t the dog that is the problem, it is the selected training method being used. When you start to view things from the dog’s perspective, tackling training issues becomes so much easier.

Dog Sense by John Bradshaw
I consider this book essential reading for all dog owners. Bradshaw writes from his hard science background of years of research into the domestication of dogs but in a way that any dog owner can understand. Everything we need to know about our dogs is here in this book.

The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson
Donaldson is the found of the Academy of Dog Trainers and shares in this book what dogs are all about when interacting with the human world. This book will help you understand your dog better and help you to better bond with your dog.

Food for Thought Articles

Choosing the right collar or harness for your dog
When it comes to finding the right collar or harness for your dog, it can be difficult to determine which one is truly going to help the most. I share this article frequently with dog owners because it was well written and really covers all the options out there.

The truth about positive reinforcement
There are arguments happening right now in the dog training world over what training methods should be used and what methods work best. This shouldn’t be a debate any more. Reward-based training is hard science and used by all animal trainers, not just dogs.

Roverchase’s A-How-To Guide for Doggy Daycare
Like dog walkers, not all dog daycares are created equally. When you are trusting someone to care for your beloved pet without your supervision, make sure you know they are being taken care of with their needs first. Remember, physical exhaustion is not a good indication that your dog had a good time at daycare. Emotional and mental health is.

Research into the best dog food brands
I take dog food as seriously as I take dog training. What we choose to feed our dogs becomes their daily food for most of their entire life. Shouldn’t we ensure that what they eat every single day is the best possible quality so they live long, healthy lives? This article highlights the research done into almost all dog food brands and found just how little high-quality dog food is actually on the market right now.

Dominance and dog training
This article by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers highlights everything dog owners need to know about dominance and dog training. Just because it is popularized on TV and by some trainers, does not make it right. We owe it to our dogs to really know the difference between ‘what peer-reviewed science says’ and ‘what a celebrity says.’

In Defense of Education
A blog article wrote by the founder of the Fearfuldogs website in regards to the importance of education when it comes to dog trainers.  Some days, it almost seems like there is an aversion towards education in this field.  We expect and require education and credentials in all other fields, so why not when it comes to those we pay to work with our dogs?

Truth About Pet Food
This website is dedicated to informing pet owners about the pet food industry and what is really going on.  It is our responsibility as dog (and cat) guardians to know what is really in our pets food and to understand how the labeling and regulations really work so that we can make the best choices on how to nourish our pets.
Also check out a documentary titled Pet Fooled (on Netflix), or contact me about borrowing a copy.

Local Pet Care Businesses We Recommend

Geofarm Pet Resort
There are times when our pets just can’t come with us when we go away. Finding a place to board your dog or cat can be a gamble with trust. Although there are a number of boarding facilities in Sarnia, none are run by people more knowledgeable about the needs of our dogs than the Kusters family. When I go away, I trust my two dogs to Gerdi’s care.

Tender Touch Training
Dog training shouldn’t feel like work, it should feel fun and engaging.  If you are looking to learn how to LOVE training your dog, than please look to Tender Touch Training.  Us here in Sarnia-Lambton have the great privilege of having access to a visionary dog trainer, Karen Childs.  Karen understands that obedience training is more than just getting a dog to obey, it is about the human-dog bond and learning important Life Skills.  In Karen’s classes you will learn all the basics but you will also learn how much FUN dog training and the learning process can be!  Karen also teaches agility, as well as canine fitness.

Jumping Borders Canine Massage Therapy
Jumping Borders Canine Massage Therapy serves Sarnia-Lambton and surrounding area.  Certified Canine Massage Therapist, Megan Ravensberg, provides convenient in home visits for her clients.  Canine massage isn’t just for rehabilitation and preventing dog injuries for those dogs competing in dog sports as some may think.  Canine massage has its place in routine canine care.  Just like how humans benefit from massage to work out knots in our muscles and help support a properly align spine, our beloved dogs benefit as well!  Visit Megan’s website to learn more about how she and the great work she does for dogs can greatly benefit you and yours!
Does your dog suffer from excessive paw licking?  Where we are inclined to blame allergies, recent research into the neurological side of our dogs suggests it could be something more.  Learn more from this article and consider massage as a possible way to help relieve your dogs itchy paws.