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Downward Facing Joanie

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Okay, okay, you caught us. We aren’t actually doing yoga with our dogs here. Though it may be fun! Joanie and I are attending Canine Good Citizen (CGC) classes every Sunday morning with Canine Lifestyle Academy so she can be CGC certified! There are a lot of pitties that have a hard time with the greeting other dogs and the greeting people portion because they are just. so. excited! Not Joanie, she is very nonreactive on her walks and greets people with all four on the floor. So passing her CGC is a piece of cake right? Well…

Joanie has a confession to make. She doesn’t know how to go down, how to stay, or how to come. So we are working on the basics!

Teaching a solid down is easier for some dogs than others. The trainers in Basic Manners 101 tell you have your dog sit, then put the treat between their front legs and slowly bring it out. For Joanie, as soon as the treat was near the floor her butt would pop up and she would start sniffing to find it. We really weren’t getting anywhere. Last Sunday I asked Meghan another way I could teach her.


I LOVE shaping. Shaping creates a very strong foundation for the behavior that you want. I started out with a clicker and a handful of treats. As soon as Joanie’s butt hit the floor I clicked and gave her a treat, then I brought a fist full of  food down in front of her, making her work and figure out how to get them out.

She gets a treat for a sit

She gets a treat for a sit

As soon as her butt came off the ground, treats went away. It took about two 15 training sessions of this routine. Eventually she understood,”picking up my butt doesn’t get me anywhere, lets try something else”

Treats go away when her butt is off the ground

Treats go away when her butt comes up

The next step is the important part, ANY movement of her legs forward or shift of her body that goes forward gets a click and a treat. We want her to do more of that behavior. As Joanie starts sliding down, I bring my hand further out. If she picks up her butt, treats go away, but if she keeps moving forward, click and treat.

Click and treat

yoga Joanie 3

Making good progress!

Then when Joanie was all the way down, she got the whole fist full of treats, lots of sing songy “good girls” and chin rubs. Then we go and try it again!

yoga Joanie 6

Notice that I never say the word “down”. Dogs don’t know English and Joanie doesn’t know what “down” means. If I start saying it without her doing it, the word becomes meaningless and if  I said it  enough without the behavior I would need to come up with a new word! So when do I add saying down? When I’d bet $10 that when I put my fist of food on the floor, she would go down.

Yoga Joanie 7

Joanie is well on her way to becoming CGC certified!

Joanie is available for adoption through Jasmine’s House, you can fill out an application here if you want to meet her!

Joanie’s Boyfriend

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Joanie and Kobe are soul mates. They must have known each other in a previous life, because they took to each other right away. I have not seen Joanie this comfortable around another dog or enjoy another dog’s company like she does Kobe’s.

Kobe comes to play with Joanie during the day as he works on his separation anxiety, he has come a very long way in just a week! We are very proud of him. His foster parents are wonderful to take him on, separation anxiety is not easy.

When Joanie sees Kobe in the morning, she does play bows and zoomies all around him.

Joanie and Kobe BFF 3

They share things very nicely too.

Joanie and Kobe BFF 1

Hop on over to our Facebook page, Between Trains, to watch a video of them playing together. They love a good mouth game challenge.

After playing, they go to sleep for a few hours.

Warning: you will die from cuteness overload.

Joanie and Kobe BFF 4

I couldn’t resist the close up.

Joanie and Kobe BFF 5

My Christmas wish is for these two to get a home together with someone that is home with them during the day. Hey, if we don’t think the impossible, nothing would be accomplished!

Kobe and Joanie are available for adoption through Jasmine’s House, you can fill out an application here if you are interested.

Joanie goes on a Date

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You might have read over at Peace, Love, and Fostering about Kobe. He is with us for the week.  He is a very sweet dog and I have enjoyed having him. He and Joanie had a great day! They played this morning, enjoyed a big turkey bone, and went on a hike on the C and O Canal.

Don’t they just look adorable in their Sirius Republic snoods! We just love this company and everything they do for Jasmine’s House.
Joanie was pretty excited to be going on a hike. She loves a good sniff, walks, and the car!

Kobe was a little unsure of the car, but once he got there, he really enjoyed himself!

Joanie had so much fun, she laid down in protest of turning around to go eat some turkey!One thing can be said for both, they were tired on the way home!

They both hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend!

If you are interested in learning more about Joanie or Kobe email me at

Relax Poppy, Relax

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For those who have met Poppy Rose or followed her on this blog know that she is a little pistol. She is high energy and can get herself worked up in a frenzy a times that it is hard for her to calm herself down. I call her my little cyclone. Poppy started Rally a couple weeks ago and we have been enjoying ourselves. She is learning fast! After the first class though, I needed to go back to basics with her and that meant the Relaxation Protocol.

In class Poppy starting tugging at her leash again and I couldn’t get her to stop. (How embarrassing).

Kim from Canine Character told me about a program called the Relaxation Protocol that helps anxious, nervous, and high energy dogs settle. The relaxation protocol is a 15 day series of teaching a dog to settle down and look to you for what to do next. Or as I like to call it: an emotional reset button. It could take a week to get through Day 1 and that is ok. Going through each day before moving on to the next day is what is important. This is a solid foundation to any behavior modification work.

While Poppy is in a down, she isn’t relaxed. Her back legs are ready to spring up at any moment I ask for a sit or to release her. Or just to go back to doing what she was doing!

The protocol asks for a sit, I put Poppy in a down because I thought it was easier for her and more comfortable. After each task, I treat. They must stay sitting or laying down through the entire day’s assignment, it they get up in the middle, start back over and give them a break before you get to where they got up.

Here are excerpts of Days 1 and 13:

Day 1

Sit for 5 seconds [treat]
Sit for 10 seconds
Sit while you take 1 step back and return
Sit while you take 2 steps back and return
Sit for 10 seconds
Sit while you take 1 step to the right and return
Sit while you take 1 step to the left and return
Sit for 10 seconds
Sit while you take 2 steps back and return
Sit while you take 2 steps

Day 13:

Sit for 5 seconds
Sit for 15 seconds while you hum
Sit for 15 seconds while you clap your hands and hum
Sit while you disappear from view for 20 seconds and return
Sit while you disappear from view for 25 seconds and return
Sit for 5 seconds while you sit in a chair near the dog
Sit while you disappear from view for 10 seconds, sit in a chair for 5 seconds, and return

As you see it gets harder for the dogs as you go through the work. As Poppy and I were going through it, I started seeing better results when I asked her to lay down, to stay, to stop doing what she was doing, and a lot more check ins.

Poppy is more relaxed as we go through each step. Her back weight has shifted to the side and she is settling down.

I sprinkled this through our training sessions at home and it transferred well to class work. At our second class, Poppy grabbed the leash twice, instantly let go when I asked for a down and we went right in to the Relaxation Protocol. I love when dogs get choices! and it is even better when they choose the right one.

Googling Relaxation Protocol will get you the results, but if you can’t find it online, let me know and I will send you a PDF. I like to put the youtube videos on to walk me through it, so I don’t have to keep checking back on paper. Sometimes, my amazing husband will read the steps out to me too! 

Time to Hibernate

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Joanie loves her sleep. Sure, she enjoys walks, a good sniff in the backyard, digging for underground moles, playing a good game of chase the stuffed animal, and of course helping make dinner. She does enjoy those things, but once those things are done, Joanie sleeps.

While we are watching TV or reading a book, there is Joanie right beside us on the couch

Or in my personal favorite position:

If you are working on house projects? Bring in a dog bed, and you have a companion!

She will even inspect your flooring job afterwards, for just a bit of kibble.

And after all that hard work is done, she will happily take a nap in the sun.

Nothing like having a hibernating bear in your house for the winter to make you smile!

If you are interested in learning more about Joanie, please fill out an application at 






Joanie the Bear

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Every dog gets a nickname or two, often earned by some endearing (or not so endearing) personality trait or behavior. Poppy gets crazy when she is excited and pops around, so we call her “Popponuts”

Tilly had terrible gas when we transitioned her to the raw diet, so she occasionally gets called “Tilly Beans” or “Beanzie”.

Copper is a bit squishy, like you would imagine a seal or walrus with a layer of winter fat, so he is known as “Mr. Squishy Pants”.

We call Ernie “Little Man” because he is always patrolling the yard and the house in a serious way, unlike his usual playful personality.

Joanie has a very strong personality. She is relaxed and mellow, but when she wants something, particularly food, she will knock down baby gates, boxes, and even people (if you happen to stand in her way). She has the softest eyes, and is generally slow moving and solidly built. All together, her nickname was quickly apparent: the Bear!

If you are interested in learning more about Joanie, fill out an application at

Joanie vs Sandy

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Joanie was ready for the hurricane! She had her kongs in the freezer, her bones ready to eat, and her crate nice and cozy. She was ready to face the high wind gusts, pouring rain, and possible power outages like she does any of life problems.


Other ways she passed the night?

Peanut butter kongs

Begging for belly rubs

Spending relaxing time in her kennel

Joanie’s nose is a little more red than usual. When foster dad and I left to help BARCS evacuate the shelter before the storm, we came home to find that Joanie broke out of her kennel, for the first time. We made sure that she was with us for the rest of the storm, as it may have been anxiety. No worries, she is fine!

Overall she did really well, she braved the elements to do her business outside and came running in and relaxed the rest of the night as we watched CNN and made sure the other rescue pups were safe.

I am not sure if Joanie even knew there was a hurricane!

If interested in learning more about Joanie, please fill out an application at