Michelle Douglas

Michelle Douglas is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC).   Michelle has published several articles on various aspects of owning and training dogs, and is featured in the books Top Tips from Top Trainers (©2010 TFH Publications) and The Dog Trainer's Resource, The APDT Chronicle of the Dog Collection (©2006 Dogwise).   Michelle is a certified member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a member of the Association of Animal Behavior Professionals, a member of the Association of Professional Humane Educators, a licensed Family Paws Parent Educator for the Dogs & Storks™ and the Dogs And Toddlers™ programs, an approved AKC STAR PUPPY & Canine Good Citizen Evaluator, and a Mentor Trainer for Animal Behavior College.  Michelle is also a past president of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), the largest professional organization for pet dog trainers worldwide.  Michelle currently serves as Humane Education Coordinator for A Hand For A Paw, Inc.

Blog posts by Michelle Douglas

I love my pibble

Open Letter to Rescue Groups

Earlier this year, I had a table at a 'Pet Awareness and Adoption' event that changed the way I feel about these events, and some of the rescue groups who participate in them. I have spent many hours, and sleepless nights, thinking about the events of this day, and what we can all learn from it. 
I am not going to name the location because I do not wish to focus on the hosts, nor on the individual rescue group personally. This could have happened at any public adoption event, and to any of the countless rescue groups or animal shelters that showcase adoptable dogs at these events.
I was...

Dear Santa...

If you’re planning to get a little something for your dog this holiday season, here are some suggestions on popular toys, trends, where to shop, and what to avoid.  First, What rates high on the dog-favorite list these days?  At the top of the list, are interactive toys that don’t simply offer your pet something to chew on, but that make your pet solve a puzzle, or offer rewards for playing.  Interactive games and toys, can be as simple as a Kong®, which offers hours of fun and combats behavior problems when filled with food or treats (and FROZEN).  More complex toys are also increasingly popular as well.

iStock Image


Today I posted a link to a video entitled “Dogs Don’t Like Hugs” on my facebook page.  The first few comments have compelled me to elaborate on my position, and since today is HUG-YOUR-DOG Day, now is as good a time as any.  Dogs don't hug each other. I do admit, if we socialize them early on with our quirky human behaviors, then they can learn what we do and that it means good.  However, far too many dogs are not sufficiently socialized. I have personally worked with many dogs that are constantly stressed by things that make us feel good. HUGS are not understood to mean affection by your average dog.

Neveah Angel Bryant

Lessons to Learn from Tragedy

Lessons to Learn from Tragedy

On Friday, September 30, 2011, my home-town of West Haven CT experienced a horrible tragedy. Erica Hobdy was babysitting her 20-month old niece Neveah Angel Bryant. "I gave her lunch, gave her a bath, I layed with her when she fell asleep," said Hobdy. "When I went to get my son something from the store I told him just to listen for her because the only thing I was worried about was her waking up and seeing no one upstairs with her and start crying.” While she was out, her three pit bulls mauled her niece to death.

Story: http://www.wtnh.com/dpp/news/new_haven_cty/no-arrests-made-after-toddle-mauled


He's just scared...but he would NEVER bite...

“He’s Just scared, but he would never bite.”

Hand feeding time, 4 dogs

A Thousand Words

As a behavior consultant, I am often asked to assess the behavior of a client’s dog based on their interpretation of what they think their dog is doing and what his motives are. For example, some recent comments include:
“She is very dominant of her toys and things she thinks are hers.”
“Even with someone holding her, she still wanted to continue attacking.”
“He really wants to be a part of his owner’s life. He really wants to please – you can just see it in his face...the way he turns his head up when he does something right with almost a smile of excitement.”
“After this incident...Buddy remained angry at our friends.”


APDT 2010 - Atlanta GA - The BEST EVER!

I tried to express my thanks to everyone in my closing remarks, but was overcome by emotion.



Thanksgiving...Holiday Hazards

With the holidays rapidly approaching, keep in mind that your stress and changes in routine can have an impact on your dog's behavior.  They may "act out" if they sense our frustrations and the typical attempts to get our attention fail. This can be avoided by maintaining some of your daily routines, like mealtime and a long walk.  In addition to keeping things “normal” for Fido, also try to make sure he has a quiet retreat, like a bedroom or his crate, just in case he wants to get away from your niece who wants to play dress up or Uncle Fred’s cigars.


Invisible Containment + Dog Door = BAD IDEA

I recently had a client contact me to ask for some “refresher-training” suggestions for her aging dog.  Initially, she stated that her 11 year old dog, “Jenna” was experiencing some vision and hearing loss, and had bitten the behind of a worker who had come to the home.  I offered several alternative behaviors to teach and reinforce.  If Jenna can go to her “place,” or “touch” a visitors hand, she isn’t likely to butt-bite.  I also suggested that she teach the dog to gravitate to “heel” position so the owner can always be managing the interactions.

The client thanked me and said she would work on the suggestions, and then proceeded to mention that the bite happened when she was not home.  She explained that her dogs have a dog door, which gives them access to the yard, where they have an Invisible Fence containment system.


Nemo's Great Day

I didn’t think it was possible to introduce Nemo to a new dog.  However, the opportunity arose this weekend to see how far our training had come.  You see, Nemo is my “problem dog.”  He has had a habit of barking and jumping around in a frenzied flurry of anxiety when he meets new people or sees other dogs.  I have been slowly making progress, and he had been doing very well with visitors to my home.  So when my veterinarian called to ask for my help in placing a dog who had been dropped of by animal control (her time was up), I decided to evaluate Nemo, while checking out this “too-sweet” 6-year-old shar pei girl, who we’ve decided to call Emma. 



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