Separation Anxiety and Covid 19

We are slowly starting to resume our daily activities. Which means for a lot of us, we will have to go back to work in places that are not our home office. Our pets, particularly our dogs, have gotten used to having us home and giving them a lot more attention.

Do take your dog for a walk or play in the yard 30 minutes before you go though, he will be a little tired and if you exercise him before you go, he won’t associate a game of fetch with you leaving.

We are creatures of habit but some dogs get seriously upset when they see you pick up your car keys because they know that keys mean you will be walking out the door for a day at work. Since dogs can’t tell time, they might think you are leaving forever. Some can get so upset, they start chewing and destroying their surroundings. Vary your pattern of what you do just before you leave.

You might want to turn on the radio to sooth your dog.  Now we have a huge choice of dog music CDs and videos, television channel for dogs, and dog music apps. Ask Alexa to play dog music. It is classical music specially designed to sooth dog’s jaggled nerves.

You might also offer your dog his meal closest to your leaving in a Kong or interactive food puzzle. He will have it to work on for a while after you leave. You do have to train your dog to know how to use interactive toys.  It’s something to think about ahead of time. 

If you have a dog that you are worried about leaving loose in your house, look into crate training.  I don’t recommend leaving a dog in a crate for longer than 4-5 hours in the daytime.  Another choice, if you want to have your dog outside while you are at work, plan ahead where that space will be.  I recommend limiting the dog’s access to the fence that separates him from public sidewalks or neighbors.  It can cause barrier aggression.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been walking down the sidewalk and I see the boards of a backyard fence pushed outward.  I know a barky, big dog will be on the other side.

Hiring a dog walker is a perfect choice, even for a while, to ease your dog into being left alone for long periods of time. I recommend finding someone who is certified, has liability insurance and is bonded.

Remember that your dog does pick up on your emotions.  When you leave or come home be as neutral as possible.  When you walk in to your home, take off your coat, put your things away and take a few breathes before you greet your dog.

While you are still working at home the best thing to do to ready your dog is keep an approximate work schedule with short breaks from your dog. Leave your house for short periods of time, leaving your dog at home.  Take a walk around the block, go pick up coffee from the coffee booth or go do your weekly grocery shopping.  Your dog doesn’t need to sit in your car while you shop. That hour away from each other will be good for you both.

These are a few ideas to ease both of you back into a routine of long absences from each other.  If you need more explanation or more ideas, you are welcome to contact Rock Nest Training & Pet Care LCC.

Rock Nest Training & Pet Care, LCC  541-895-3162 or

Welcoming A New Dog Into Your Home

Many of you have adopted or are fostering a dog from a shelter or rescue. The experience can be overwhelming for you and the dog.  Where do you start?

There is a saying about welcoming a new dog into the house, “The rule of 3’s.” In the first three days, your new dog may be overwhelmed with his new surroundings. After three weeks, he’s starting to settle in, feeling more comfortable, and he’s letting his guard down and may start showing his real personality for good or not so good. After three months your dog has become comfortable in his home. These are guidelines; it can take longer!

I treat any new dog who is coming into my home as if they were a puppy. For older dogs, I use a short period of house training protocol. For a few days I escort them out to the potty area after: they wake, eat or play. There will be lots of space management, limiting where they are allowed to roam in the house and yard. After all, they don’t know my house rules, and their past is a blank slate to me.  This is their “Do Over” time.

For training, I test them to see what they know. I ask for sit, down, shake, hand target, recall, spin, anything that comes to my mind. I only give a verbal cue once and usually will use a hand signal. If they do it, I give a heavy reward, anything I think they might like, usually human type food such as pieces of hot dog. I heavily reward any good behavior they offer. I also like to take the new dog on lots of leashed walks.

I was curious what my friends, both pet owners and professional trainers, thought were the most important training exercises to start with a new dog.

So I asked the question: What training exercises do you find most useful in building a connection with your new dog?

Celeb Andrews first thing to work on is house training.

Nina Peter Feltmann A new dog coming to your home may also have a new name! Or they may need to have their name re-taught if they ignore it. Teach the name by having treats in your pocket. When the dog is near, say the name, and feed a yummy treat. When the dog is responding well to the name and not showing any concern or fear being near you, add in a collar touch. It would look like: name, dog looks, bring out treat, as you feed, move your empty hand toward dog’s neck but not necessarily touching yet, and feed. Build this up slowly so the dog is comfortable having you reach for and hold their collar.

Barbara Holler Name recognition! With a head snap back to you for a treat. Builds to reward for checking in with you.

Jill Breitner Nothing for the first 3 days. Just observe. Who is this dog and how does she navigate her world? They need time to learn the lay of the land, people in the home, other dogs, routine, environment etc. then If all goes well I like teaching touch, sit for the rest of the week building on these so I can see what kind of learners they are.

Lisa Barrett IMO, each new dog teaches you what to do. My new dog loves physical connection with me, especially my hand under his chin (go figure!) more than even food.

Kiddy Christie Whatever training style or tips you choose to use, be consistent and positive every day. Work one lesson per day. No overload for the dog. Be happy! Repeat..repeat..repeat..end!

Liz Carter Initially I let them explore, make little direct eye contact until/unless they initiate it, and give them some space to settle for maybe a week. Establish a routine with them regarding walks, work time, rest time (establishing expectations). Also I talk to them a lot, and like I would a person (not always using the higher-pitched “dog voice”). Let them know what we’re doing, where we’re going, ask their opinion, etc.

Catherine Comden . . . feed the dog by hand for good choices they can build a great relationship  . . .

Ann W. Firestone Everything your dog does that you like, mark it and reward!

Lisa G White The way to a dog’s heart is through their stomach. LOL

Janis Piper keeping the dog with me 24/7 for at least 2 weeks, having them sleeping by my bed, or me by the crate…imprinting myself on them, and using their name constantly. When in the house I tie a lead line to me and dog when they are not resting,

Jamie Przybysz Eye contact (focus for direction and interaction/relationship)) “Up Up” -into the car, onto the veterinary scale, etc.”

Nancy Anderson Come when called fun treat fun

Danielle Beck It’s important they understand how to self-settle and learn to switch off to relax both with & without you. There’s a huge list but self-management is high on my list 🙂

Karen Rinald Mast  I especially like the advice for teaching off-switch whether in your company, or when separated from you (includes crate confinement or behind a gate) which I find teaching go to mat / place and lay down a very useful behavior to shape. . . .in a multi-dog home, I only allow my new adoptee (or foster pup) exposure to the existing resident dogs with my direct supervision for quite some time. The length of time depends upon the temperaments of the residents in my home (ie. if I have a dog that is not appropriate with other dogs, the period and procedure to introduce may be prolonged), if I have a dog who is good and appropriate with other dogs, then that length of time may be shorter.

Laurel Martin Horton I like the hand target. I think it makes physically interacting with the human more rewarding, is so easy to teach, and so useful.

Joanne O’Brien  I thought “sit” had to come with “stay”. On walks, I started practicing “stay” at street corners (without sit), and it a worked very well! My main concern isn’t whether or not they sit. The concern is that they don’t run out into the street or out the door, for example.

Marilyn Marks Honeymoon period isn’t an activity but it’s important for them to know . . .

Randi Barrett The dogs needs come first, trust building exercises, good nutrition, exercise, mental stimulation, healthy environment. Learn to read your dogs emotional needs. Read lots of great books about how to teach your dog to live in your life… cooperation, lots of love and don’t skimp on reinforcements.

Cathy Hughes First few days I am capturing behaviors…puppies come with good baggage too…, acclimating him to his diet and house training regime, doing walk abouts and other enrichment activities, and getting to know other family members. On about the third or fourth day I initiate targeting as my foundation and build from there with games that include the basics. Socialization is started with the pup’s personality in mind. A combo of impulse control and confidence and fun are what I am working toward

Laurey Weiner If it is a new dog to a home with another dog especially a puppy, I take a really long time allowing them to make friends either through a puppy pen or gate. I never just throw a puppy into a new situation, for the sake of either dog. To many times people assume a new puppy will be happily accepted by an older dog because the older dog is dog friendly..but bringing a new pup into the home can be a big stressor for the older dog.

Lenore Paquette Smith Normally I would say to limit visitors for the first week or two to let them get settled in, but that’s really not a problem right now, is it? 

Sherry Al-Mufti When the dog is an adolescent or adult I have found that it is really helpful to go on a long walk with the dog within the first week.

Mike and Joann McCabe Our dog was two or so, when she came from a shelter to live with us. What we quickly learned is that she loves to run.  Not away.  But once loose, she will run until she decides to come home.  So we keep her on a leash whenever we’re out with her; and we frequently call her name and give her a treat when she responds.  When we let her swim, we ply her with treats every time she comes back to shore; that way we can grasp her leash when she comes for the final treat of the swim day.

Rock Nest Training & Pet Care, LCC  541-895-3162 or

Training your Dog

You get a new puppy or dog. Do you think that training will be a fun time? I do, with every dog I train.  The truth is, good training is like watching paint dry.  Nothing exciting happens until one day you realize you have taught your dog something.  That is a huge reward. I look back on all those little moments, disappointments, mistakes, some accomplishment, ho hum, huge leaps in understanding, and reassessment of training plan with wonderment and laughter.

When I’m formally training and I have a deadline, I write out a training plan. All the parts to teaching the behavior I want the dog to learn. It doesn’t look like a chart with a straight line running diagonally up to the goal.  The line dips, jumps and sometimes lays flat.  Sometimes the dog gets it and goes from step 4 to step 10, other days the dog doesn’t seem to understand how to sit, let alone perform the complicated spin I’m trying to teach.

This is what I keep in mind during those training sessions:

Make training sessions short, 1 to 5 minutes. Leave while your dog and you want more. The value of reward is important. Your dog may be happy to show off the newly learned sit at home for a bit of kibble. When he is in a stressful situation such as class or at a crosswalk, you want to use something of higher value to your dog for that sit. Try cut up hot dog, roasted chicken breast, tiny bits of string cheese. Each piece should be no bigger that your pinky fingernail.

To train one behavior such as “sit”, start in a distraction free location, maybe your Living room. Once your dog is consistently sitting when you give the command ONE time, have a training session in the backyard. Once your dog sits every time you ask ONE time for a sit, move the training sessions to the front yard. Do you see a pattern?  You want to slowly challenge your dog with each step of training.

Dogs have off days like humans.  If your dog doesn’t seem interested during the training session, stop. It’s not worth the frustration you might have or the stress to your dog. Your dog might be sleepy, hungry, not feeling well. You can come back later for another 5 minutes of training.

IF your dog still seems to be struggling, maybe the environment is not set up correctly, too much distraction, or you are trying to teach too much at one time.

Environment should be distraction free for your dog, just as when you’re studying for an exam, you want a quiet and clutter free area.  You don’t want to ask for too much from your dog while he’s learning. When you call your dog to come to you, you only ask for your dog to come close enough to for you to give him a reward. Focus on the one thing, “Come, Rover” don’t add requirements of sits, downs, stay, roll over after your dog has come to you. The next time you ask, your dog is probably going to decide it’s not worth it because there will be a lot of confusing cues with little reward.

There is something called latency, when all animals experience something and then walk away, there can be a chance it will be transferred to long term memory. By keeping the training sessions short and working on tiny sections of the target behavior. There is a better chance your dog will come back to the next session performing better. There have been antidotal incidents and scientific studies stating that a dog may remember a single training session or event several months later.  I have certainly seen evidence of it in my dogs.

I hope these tips help you help your dog to learn.  They can also be applied to learning new activities in your life. If you want to learn more about how to teach dogs to learn, you might want to check out “Don’t Shoot The Dog!” by Karen Pryor.

Rock Nest Training & Pet Care, LCC  541-895-3162 or

Puppy in Fall Leaves - Rock Nest Training and Pet Care

Autumn Training Tips

Fall is here, the weather is crisp and cool.  There are so many fun things to do with your dog.  Take your dog with you on a nature walk to enjoy the last days of dry, warm weather while enjoying the changing colors. This is a good time to work on your puppy or dog’s socialization. Take them to pumpkin patches, small farmer’s markets or Willamette Valley’s many parks.  I recently took Geo to our local hardware center, then for a short hike and visit to Northern Lights Pumpkin Patch. It was a fun couple of hours. If your dog is ready­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­-loose leash walking, has a good sit/stay, doesn’t bark or jump, and is well socialized-then take him with you while the kids trick or treat in your neighborhood.

When you walk your dog in the park to enjoy Willamette Valley’s changing season, work on leash skills for a few minutes at a time.  Keep it fun by letting your dog sniff the damp earth and falling leaves.  An enjoyable hour spent together will result in a canine snooze when you get home and you have completed your training session for the day.

If you take Rover to the pumpkin patch or public event, check the rules and size of event first.  Are leashed dogs allowed?  Is your dog ready for a large crowd?  Do you have Plan B if your dog lets you know he is frightened and needs space?  I moved Geo away from the crowd at Northern Lights when his ears went back and he started yawning.  He was not sleepy. Yawning is a sign of stress for dogs.

If your dog can accompany you while you take your little super hero out to celebrate Halloween, find a bright colored bandanna or reflective vest for Rover’s costume.   This might not be the best time for Rover to meet new little goblins up close, but Rover can spend quality time with your family members while cruising around the neighborhood.

You can work on training while giving out treats, when the doorbell rings, Rover gets a treat for being quiet.  It helps to have two people, one to hand out the people treats and one to reward Rover.  I have a friend who uses her porch window to deliver treats through while rewarding Rover for practicing not jumping or sits/down stays.  Her dogs love to hear another “customer” approach her window because they know their good manners will get those rewards.

If staying indoors is your thing and Rover’s manners could be improved, I offer open enrollment good manners class which means you can start any time. I offer classes on several different days and times.  My training room is temperature controlled and safety is my #1 concern while coaching you and your dog.

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Cheri Spaulding - Rock Nest Training and Pet Care in Creswell, Eugene, and Springfield

Crate Training

September is off to a fiery start in Oregon.  Many residents have been on evacuation alert or evacuated. You want to make sure your emergency plan is in place and every member of your family is calm and safe.  Your pets don’t understand why they have to suddenly travel and be kept in crowded conditions of a hotel or shelter. This is one reason why having a crate trained pet is so important.

The following crate training methods can work for your cat, bunny, and even your chickens, but I am referring to “dog” in my directions:

To start training, move the crate into an area near you such as a living area or home office.  In the beginning, leave the door open during training, tempt your dog to freely go into the crate using toys, chewies or food treats as rewards.  The key is whatever you use must be rewarding to your dog.  Pretty soon your dog will look in the crate for those rewards.  When you see that happening, reward your dog after he has entered the crate.  Then start closing the door for a couple seconds and treat your dog through the door.  The trick is to not go too fast with training or your dog will think the crate is a punishment. You want them to be comfortable with the process every step. Keep your training sessions short, 5 minutes at most.

Crate Training may take some time though, especially for a pet that has unpleasant associations with the crate. My dog, Geo, was very frightened of the crate.  With a little training and positive associations with the crate, he now naps in his crate.   It’s lovely to have a dog who will happily chew on a stuffed Kong while relaxed in his crate.  As I’m typing Geo is sleeping in his crate. I can be assured that if Geo needs to be crated at the Veterinarian’s or in an emergency situation, he will have crate experience.

Having a crate trained pet is a load off your mind when you need to get together essentials for your evacuation kit.    A crated pet is a joy to travel with, is calmer at the Veterinary Hospital, and they are ready for anything. I know many dogs that use their crate as a “bomb shelter” during fireworks or thunder.

To help you with the evacuation list, the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) has a supply list on their website,

You can find Rock Nest Training & Pet Care LLC at

Cheri Spaulding - Rock Nest Training and Pet Care in Creswell, Eugene, and Springfield

Back To School

School is right around the corner, the after school sports and lessons will start and it will get dark earlier.  It doesn’t leave much time for the dog to be walked, played with, and trained.  You might come home to find a shoe chewed or the neighbor complaining about your dog barking.  Your dog is not being spiteful, angry or jealous—he’s lonely and confused by the sudden schedule change.

You can do things to help your dog with the transition.  Take your dog for a walk or play fetch with him before everyone rushes off to school and work. Feed your dog in a snuffle mat or puzzle food bowl so he is entertained for longer. A well stuffed Kong can give your dog hours of entertainment—Kongs are a boredom buster staple here. The pet stores are full of interactive toys but you can make some of them yourself.  Poke holes in a used water bottle or box and fill it partially with kibble or dry treats small enough to fall out of the holes as pup rolls it around. Use an old muffin tin, fill some of the cups with kibble then place balls in the cups.  Your dog has to lift the ball off to get the treat.

If you didn’t get around to that needed training during summer, no problem, take a training class with your dog.  Rock Nest Training & Pet Care offers an open enrollment class, that means you pick a day and time that fits your schedule, start right away, you pay for 5 sessions but have 10 chances to complete the course.  You can fit home training sessions into your daily routine.  You only need a few minutes and a few treats to teach your dog to lie on his bed.

If you are gone so many hours that if feels like the only time you see your dog is the weekend, let Rock Nest Training & Pet Care take care of the walking and training.  We offer a variety dog walking, pet visit and training options. We just finished up with two young corgis in our walk and train package.  They are good citizens now that they don’t feel the need to bark at every noise.  This is a good value for these young dogs— they will have good manners for life.

Summer Pet Tips

The dog days of summer are here!  It’s a great time to get out and do fun activities with your dog-hiking, swimming, walking, play fetch, sit in the park, take a dog training class.  There are a few helpful tips to get you and your pup through the lazy days of summer.

Dogs don’t handle the sun’s brutal heat well.  Their cooling system isn’t the best and then there is the fur coat they wear.  Make sure whatever you are doing with your dog, you have fresh water available for both of you. When I took my dogs to dog shows every weekend, I kept frozen bottles of water in the freezer, ready to pack in the dog supplies.  As they thawed my dogs had cold water to drink. I also wetted and froze rolled up bandanas for my dogs to wear around their necks.  It also felt good to hold one of those frozen bottles on the back of my hot neck or tie a frozen bandana around my neck after running at top speed to keep up with my speed demon dog.

If you are not into running around like a crazy person midday, take walks with your dog early in the morning while you both can enjoy the cool morning air and feel the pleasant morning sun.  If you are not a morning person, an evening walk after dinner can’t be beat.  I love walking my dog while reviewing the day, listening to the crickets and frogs in the twilight.  Walks are a great way to work on your dog’s leash skills.

In midday, make sure your dog has access to shade-trees, reflective shade tarp strung up in a frame, pop up canopy.  You can share a moment in the shade to work on sit or down stays, then as a reward you can read a summer novel while drinking an icy beverage and your dog chewing on a frozen treat.

Kongs, the red beehive looking rubber toys are great for a special treat-wet kibble with water or low sodium broth, stuff Kongs with mixture and freeze.  I have 3 for my dog, one in the freezer, one in the dishwasher, and one in use. If you don’t want to invest in Kongs, here’s a recipe for pupsicles made with cheese:

What you need (makes eight servings)

  • 16 oz. low-sodium chicken broth
  •  8 2.4-oz. kitchen containers with lids (pet bowls or ice cube trays also work)
  • 3 oz. kibble & hard cheese, cubed

Its lovely to be outdoors in the summer, but our dogs can pick up fleas and ticks, talk to your Veterinarian about parasite solutions so you both don’t end up playing winter host to the next generation of fleas.  A simple first aid kit is a good thing to have on. I’m sure your Vet will be happy to give you suggestions for a kit for your dog or you can find them in stores or on line.

Whatever summer activity you plan with your dog-physical activity or staying home and enjoying the summer in your yard-a little planning ahead will keep both you and your dog healthy and cool.

A Trained Dog is a Good Dog

You have welcomed a dog into your life and you want the very best for him. You fulfill his needs with food, toys and attention. Training is also an important need for your dog. It helps him know how to be a good companion and family member.  A well behaved, trained dog is a joy to be around.

It doesn’t matter what your dog’s age is when you start training, it’s time well spent.  A foundation of basic behaviors-sit, down, stay, come when called- can be taught easily with consistency and practice. A practice session should be kept short-5 minutes, 2-3 times a day. A total of 15 minutes! Your dog will start to understand what you want in one or two sessions.Those behaviors can lead to having your dog lie down on his bed quietly while you eat dinner or automatically sitting when a visitor arrives at your home.

The first thing I worked on with my young dog, Geo, was lying down when a person approached him.  The point is if he’s laying down when a person is near, he won’t be jumping on them. I also routinely work on his recall, coming when called.  This is for safety reasons-if he slips out of his collar, calling him away from an oncoming car or an approaching stray dog. Because I spend so much time practicing come when called, I was able to call him off while he was chasing a deer! Training your dog to come to you when called could save his life.

Since you are going to have your dog for many years, a few months of consistent daily training will pay off for a happy home. Taking a group class with your dog is an inexpensive way to learn the skills you need to train your dog and will help him learn to pay attention to you while in a distracting environment. You and your dog might be better suited for private lessons.  The benefit of private lessons is you and the trainer customizes a training plan that works best for you and your dog.

Think about what would be enjoyable for you and your dog. Do you want Spot to take a walk with you without pulling you down the sidewalk and then lie on his bed quietly in the evening? Maybe your dog is naturally calm and enjoys people-you might want to volunteer as a therapy dog team.  Maybe you and your dog like staying busy, there are many dog sports you both can compete it-agility, dancing with your dog, rally obedience, tracking, nosework – to name a few.

Training is a partnership, you both will learn and it will strengthen your relationship. You need only to commit a few months of consistent practice teaching your dog skills he needs to be a good friend.  He’s part of your family so why not give your dog a good education. Think of training your dog as a road trip with exciting twists and turns. There is no telling where it might lead.

Dog Bite Prevention – “Be a Tree”

We’ve all visited a friend’s home that has a pet dog. We’ve all had a stray dog approach us when we are out and about.  Sometimes the dog is a bit too rambunctious or you get the feeling the dog isn’t friendly. The last things you want to do are scream or yell, wave your arms or legs, and run.  That will only entice the dog to jump, bite, and follow you. If you use the Be A Tree method developed by Doggone Safe, you best avoid injury until help can come or the dog gets bored and goes away.

Be A Tree is a catchy reminder developed to teach children dog safety, but anyone can use it. If a dog approaches you that you don’t want contact with, you stand tall like a tree, look down at your feet (roots), fold in your arms (branches) and clasp your hands in front of you. Count in your head until the dog goes away or help comes. For children, they can count as far as they know, then start over.

There is another component to this safety lesson, Be A Rock.  If a dog knocks you down, you curl up into a ball with folded legs under you and your forehead resting on the ground.  Put your hands on the back of your neck and lace your fingers together.  Count in your head until help comes or the dog goes away.

The Be A Tree Presentation is designed for children ages 7 to 12, though my 4 year old niece attended the presentation a year ago and she still remembers what to do. The interactive 30 minute talk has kids practicing Be A Tree/Be A Rock several times to make sure they understand what to do when encountering a strange dog. There is also a section of the program telling children how to ask to pet a dog: ask permission from a parent first, and then the dog’s owner. Also it covers stranger danger, never help a stranger look for their dog.

The Be A Tree Presentation covers a lot in a short time and gives good information in an entertaining way. I am a member of Doggone Safe and I am a Be A Tree Presenter. I am listed as Cheri Spaulding, Rock Nest Training and Pet Care, LLC. Doggone Safe also offers help and support to dog bite victims. You can find out more at  I will be presenting Be A Tree at the Creswell Library throughout the spring and summer. Please contact me to present for your classroom or group.