Doggy Behavior Problem Fix Introduction (part 1 of 7)

We take doggy behavior problems seriously

We at Sassypants Design are nutty for dogs, in case you hadn’t noticed. Dogs enrich our lives in so many ways, including making us laugh. But they are far more than entertainment. They are members of our family. And as such, we want – make that need – them to learn good doggy manners.

As much as we think Rover is the most adorable pooch to walk the planet, Aunt Bertha does not appreciate getting shoved against the wall while being goosed by his giant doggy nose.

We asked you for some of your biggest doggy behavior problems, and you delivered! Then we presented those challenges to Gabriella Ravani, elite San Diego dog trainer, for her expert opinion.

“Please tell us a bit about your background, Gabriella.”

“I’ve been crazy about dogs as long as I can remember.  Unfortunately, my parents were not animal people so I got my dog fix through friends and neighbors dogs, tons of doggie stuffed animals and figurines and every dog book I could get my hands on. 

“We did have a poodle puppy for a brief period of time (my dad’s cousin talked him into getting me one because I was totally in love with his dogs) but it did everything a normal puppy does – potty on the floor, chew everything and run down the block if she got out the front door.  My dad gave it away while I was at school one day and I’m sure that scarred me for life – on some subconscious level I’m sure I’m trying to save every GiGi out there by helping their owners understand dog behavior and to learn how to communicate with their dog so life is win-win for dog and owner.  

“My general philosophy of dog training is:

“Dogs are wonderful, brilliant creatures but they have lots of natural dog behaviors that don’t always work for our lifestyles;  so it is our job to gently help them learn to act in ways more desirable to humans. Teaching dogs what we want them to do using reward based methods and carefully managing their environment to set them up for success creates the best possible learning environment for the dog, and creates a wonderful, loving, trusting relationship between the owner and the dog.  I think that dogs love to learn interesting new stuff and that learning should be lots of fun for both the dog and the owner.”

You want me to do WHAT??

I swear it was the cat. (Photo by Chad Miller)


“What could you say to someone who believes in the “old style” of correction-based training to convince them that reinforcement-based training is better and ultimately more effective?”

“I’d explain that science has made great strides in studying how dogs learn and that the reward based approaches help dogs learn with far less physical and mental stress, more enthusiasm and more reliability. 

“I’d also suggest they check out the latest studies and read an editorial by veterinary behaviorist Karen Overall in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior July/August 2007 issue.”

Stay tuned for our next post where Gabriella discusses training and management for Wheaten Terriers that jump on company. (Not that any of us have that problem.)

Photo credit: Doug Hoffman

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