Jennifer Merritt

Jenn Merritt, CPDT-KA has been a science based, professional dog trainer for over 15 years, is owner of Blue Dog Creature Coaching in Hamilton, Ontario and co-founder of Good Dog in a Box

Through Blue Dog, Jenn offers in-home private training and behavior problem solving for families in the Halton Region of Ontario. She specializes in the Tellington TTouch Method and parent education and support for families preparing for life with a dog and a baby. 

Good Dog in a Box promotes positive reinforcement dog training to families with children. The innovative programs, techniques and resources help families with children build a stronger bond with their dog, while teaching children to be safe around all dogs.

Jenn also founded K9Kindness, a community based, humane education organization that promoted the use of positive reinforcement dog training methods and equipment.  A main facet of K9Kindess became the development of Kids4Kindness, a 7 week humane education and pet responsibility program for 4th graders based on the highly successful Moore County Pet Responsibility Program.

Jenn is certified by the Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers, a professional member of the Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers, a Guild certified Tellington Touch Companion Animal Practitioner, a Family Paws Parent Educator, a Licensed Presenter of the Dogs & Storks™ educational program. and is Vice President of the Burlington Humane Society board of directors in Burlington, Ontario.

In her spare time, Jenn contributes to dog training journals, magazines, and blogs including the Association of Pet Dog Trainer Chronicle of the Dog, DogFancy and The Good Dog Blog. In 2011, Jenn was nominated for the prestigious Maxwell Medallion for excellence by the Dog Writer’s Association of America for her series on the TTouch Method. Jenn also has produced a DVD on dog park safety/play behaviors and a set of DVDs for TTouch, documenting the 30th anniversary “Cellebration” with Linda Tellington-Jones. The TTouch DVDs are available at www.ttouch.com

 

Blog posts by Jennifer Merritt

Dog Bite Prevention

The SAFE Program Promotes Practical Dog Bite Prevention

One of the most frustrating aspects of being a dog trainer is not being able to get information across to the people that really need it the most, especially when it comes to dog bite prevention. Or, seeing solid information about dog emotion,stress signals, and body language go in one ear and out the other of the general public. Just five minutes on Facebook speaks volumes. The range of inappropriate and sometimes dangerous videos and pictures of children interacting with dogs being shared by our own friends and relatives tells us that our messages about bite prevention are not reaching the

A Year of Magic and Loss

2010 was quite an emotional roller coaster for our family.  We not only added a new puppy to our household but also said goodbye to our 17 year-old canine matriarch.  The latter being our one certainty at the beginning of 2010, limited time with our “heart dog” and senior citizen Big Sandy. 

To say that Big Sandy was a special, life changing dog was an understatement.  She was the first dog that I trained and managed entirely with reward-based methods.  We started out as the dog/handler team that most needed extra help in training classes, we became the team that excelled at everything. Big Sandy was the first dog that I felt that magical connection to that only positive training allows which ushered me into a career as a dog trainer and later a Tellington TTouch Practitioner.  

 

Why I Want To Be Michael Vick's Dog Trainer

I am, first and foremost, a person that loves dogs.  And like every animal lover, I was absolutely horrified by the events that led to NFL quarterback Michael Vick serving 18 months at Leavenworth Penitentiary for conspiracy related to his dogfighting ring.  What he did to those dogs was cruel and unthinkable and nothing can make that go away.  Recently, Michael Vick made news when he mentioned that he would someday like to get a dog for his children and I’ve been inundated with opinions from all sides.

 

Does Electric Fencing Condition Aggression/Fear?

 A 10 week old terrier mix puppy that refuses to go outside. A year old hound that bites three visitors on their faces within a two week period. A 10 year old, happy-go-lucky Golden Retriever who mauls the mailperson. What do all of these dogs have in common? They were all contained within electric fencing systems, a subject that I’ve blogged about previously in both personal and professional capacities. Something new and alarming has been happening within the past few months. I have seen a dramatic spike in the number and severity of behavior cases, all linked to dogs contained within electric fence systems. They were all seemingly sound, well-tempered dogs that began demonstrating profound behavioral issues after being introduced to electric fencing systems. The behaviors ranging from stranger anxiety, fear of the environment, all the way to multiple bites.

 

Ticks and Dog Training: My Life with Lyme Disease, Part 2

Being diagnosed with Lyme Disease this past August certainly explained the mysterious range of physical and neurological problems that plagued me for months: the unrelenting fatigue, why I kept forgetting my client’s names, why my hands started to become arthritic, and why I started to lose interest in my business and everything else in my life.  

My treatment began immediately, with heavy doses of antibiotics.  The antibiotics would bring down the bacterial load in my system so that my immune system could do the rest.  But as the bacteria die, they release a toxin causing what is called a Herxheimer reaction.  This means that before you feel better, you feel a whole lot worse.  

 

Ticks and Dog Training: My Life with Lyme Disease, Part 1

If there was one factor that I never considered as a dog trainer, it was my chances of contracting Lyme Disease, a bacterial infection spread by ticks. Lyme is transmitted to people and animals while being bitten by an infected tick. Up until a few months ago, I didn’t know much else about Lyme, other than it came from ticks in the Northeast.  

Here in North Carolina, ticks are just part of life, particularly during April-October.  During these months, I frequently check my dogs for ticks and if I find one crawling on myself, after being creeped out, I carefully remove it without much thought. In the 14 years I’ve lived here, I can’t ever remember finding ticks on my body that were attached for any length of time, or so I thought.  

 

Paws 'N Pals-a Model 4-H Program

I've spent to past several years indoctrinating my sister on the merits of reward based training.  Her family has raised a lovely Newfoundland using a very positive approach.  Although they have been quite frustrated that more positive group classes weren’t being offered in their area (in Western Maryland) and that her children could not get involved in dog sports with their dog.  4-H is very popular in her area and she was very surprised to learn that the national 4-H program lists a choke chain as the first piece of equipment needed to train a dog.  

So, she started a 4-H specialty club called Paws 'N Pals to offer a variety of activities for kids (and their parents) who love dogs and want to learn family friendly training. She found a reward based trainer that lived close enough to drive into their town to teach basic training classes for the club and they were off and running.

 

Sleeping with Dogs?

I know how much people like to sleep with their dogs. The cuddling and the closeness of your canine companions can be especially comforting while you sleep. Many years ago, I enjoyed my dog Elvis sleeping at the bottom of my bed, until my husband moved into my life.

Over 10 years ago, he imposed a "no dogs in the bedroom" rule at the very beginning of our relationship. I hammered and hawed, but figured if he could live with me and my dog, I could live without Elvis in the bedroom. As time has gone by and more dogs have come into our lives, I've not only become OK with this rule, but I

 

craigslist puppies?

Within the past few months, I've had a boon of clients with puppies and dogs adopted through the online networking site craigslist. People list everything on craigslist from job listings to personal ads to items for sale including the kitchen sink (literally). There is little regulation of the millions of self-published ads on the site, other than ads being removed if fraud is reported.

Some dogs from craigslist were "free to good homes" while others were purchased or include a mysterious "rehoming fee" from private individuals. Many pups younger than 8 weeks old, in critical socialization periods and have already had a least one "owner" with ads that include similar phrases such as "moving and can't keep" or "son/daughter allergic".

 

The illusions of "invisible" fencing

Safe containment is an important issue for any pet owner. Keeping your pet on your property and decreasing their ability to roam or chase are some of the reasons for installing a fence, particularly for hunting breeds or herding breeds which are stimulated by sights, scents, and sounds. Electronic or so called "invisible" fencing is one of the options that many pet owners choose. Over the years, both my personal and professional experiences with electric fencing systems have demonstrated that the cons far outweigh the pros. The illusions of "freedom" and "safety" that the systems provide set people and their pets up for failure.

 

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