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Dear discouraged dog owner

Are you feeling like your dogs behavior will never improve?

You are not alone!

I have trained hundreds of dogs, with great success but I feel like a normal dog owner when it comes to my own dogs sometimes! You take for granted how easy past dogs were when you are faced with a new and in my case young bundle of trouble!

Sunny who we lost recently had his own set of challenges. He was extremely fearful.  Poor guy would tremble if you approached him too quickly in his early years. He would pee if you tried to touch him and the list goes on.  He could also be dog aggressive, which we managed and trained through but it was a lot of work. When he left us last year at 10 years old he was a confident, happy dog.  I took for granted all the training he had under his belt and blissfully enjoyed how well mannered and responsive he was. Tiva who is now 10 and thriving has also had her set of challenges. She had some serious separation anxiety when she was young.  After years, I repeat years we are finally at a place where she can handle being alone.  She has her quirks still, if you have ever crated by us at an agility trial you know how vocal she can be! But overall I am blissfully enjoying how responsive and eager to engage with me she is.

Which leads me to our newest addition Waylon. Waylon came to us at 8 weeks old, is now 1 year old and this fire cracker has been keeping us on our toes ever since.  Adolescent dogs are A LOT of work, I mean a lot! Ive spend several hours each day on his socialization and training. Yet sometimes it feels like he has never had any training at all! Like today for instance, when I asked him to sit and in frustration he let out an ear piercing cry to attract the attention of several people around us. (In his defense we did name him Waylon after Waylon Jennings the famous singer) I joke that he isn’t very good advertising. I could go on for several paragraphs with stories of Waylon embarrassing me in public. Instead I want to tell you about a few things that Waylon does really well. Agility is an outlet that Waylon is thriving in, his confidence and eagerness to learn is a lot of fun! He is also really great with other dogs and people which is so amazing and makes my job a lot easier!

Some things to consider the next time you feel like your dog will be a terror forever.

I said it once and I will say it again. Adolescent dogs are a lot of work. They hit their “teenager” years quick and it takes a lot of management, training and patience to get through them! Hang in there! Stick with your training plan and celebrate every single small victory. I challenge myself to talk about one good thing Waylon did every single day.  Yes sometimes it’s one good thing and one hundred bad things but I laugh a lot. A sense of humor is crucial to getting through the teenager years!

Self care is also important. I was buying wine by the box during Waylon’s early days! Make an effort to do something relaxing that you enjoy after a frustrating day with your dog.

Use all the tools at your disposal. We use a lot of management at our house. Doors closed to prevent clothes and shoes from becoming dog toys. Crates, baby gates and ex-pens to limit access. Interactive food toys are a LIFE SAVER. Just when I feel like I’m on the verge of losing it, I give Waylon a stuffed kong and get 20 minutes to myself! Chiropractic adjustments have been extremely beneficial for Waylon. If he is feeling comfortable it’s much easier for him to relax and not be into something he shouldn’t every 5 seconds!

Appreciate what your dog enjoys and be willing to change old routines to adapt to your dogs needs. Waylon loves to sniff for a really, really long time. This is a hard for me, I want to get out and walk and cover lots of ground but I am doing my best to meet him half way. We do a lot of off leash walks so that I can walk at my own pace and he can sniff for as long as his heart desires. Waylon also loves to swim, so much so that I sometimes can’t get him out of the water! Talk about embarrassing! This I am also trying to meet him half way with. Weather permitting we go swimming at least once a week. I put him on a long leash and let him swim and swim. He does wear his life vest so he doesn’t sink. When he is done swimming, I reward him with high value treats for coming out of the water. There is a give and take with every relationship and that includes your relationship with your dog. Waylon also loves to play with other dogs so I make an effort to schedule regular play dates so he has an outlet for his desire. Tiva is a huge help with this as well!

So bottom line, keep up with reinforcing desirable behavior, use management and humor and you too will survive your dogs bad behavior!

If you need training help reach out, if I can’t help I am happy to connect you with someone that can!

Happy Training!

-Rachel Harris CPDT-KA, owner/trainer

For your amusement! Waylon found an already dead fish and proceeded to swim around with it for several minutes then take it to shore to eat. I had a lot of fun picking it up and carrying it to the trash, not!

If you’d like to follow along on Waylon’s training journey check out his Facebook page!

Raw Feeding

I am not here to convince you to start feeding your dog a raw diet. There are plenty of great books written by qualified veterinarians that you should read to convince you. My favorite is Raw and Natural Nutrition by Lew Olson.  I highly recommend you read up before you start feeding raw to assure your dog is getting a complete and balanced meal. I am going to tell you how I feed full time raw at my house. There are so many ways to do it, this is just mine.


The only way that raw feeding is possible at my house is with the help of a stand up freezer. It is much more cost effective to buy in bulk and you’ll need a freezer to store all that meat in.


It is time intensive, but worth it in the long run. I spend 2-3 hours, once every other month prepping food for my dogs. I have a ton of tupperware designated for raw meals that helps keep me organized.


I make my own supplements that I feed in addition to a complete raw meal.


There are plenty of Facebook groups that place orders for meat for raw fed dogs. There is also a great company called Raw Dog Food and Co that offers complete meals and they also offer drop off through out the Denver metro area. I am lucky to have friends who work in restaurants who hook us up with meat scraps that would other wise be thrown away. This greatly helps with keeping the cost down. If you have friends that hunt, talk to them about organs and other parts they won’t consume. My husband and his friends recently purchased a whole cow, so the dogs and I were lucky enough to get a ton of scraps and organs. I don’t eat meat myself but I was happy to take in unwanted cow parts to feed to the dogs! If you have a friend who keeps chickens, raw eggs are also great in their diet. A lot of the time I just shop at the grocery store for meat. The grocery store by us sells, chicken feet and pork necks that are a great addition to their meals. As a general rule I never spend more than $3/pound when I buy meat for the dogs. Raw feeding can get really pricey if you aren’t careful.

Green Mush




Coconut Oil

Apple Cider Vinegar


Chia Seeds


Get creative, this is just what I happen to have at home. As a basic rule, no onions, grapes or chocolate. Its essentially a green smoothie so if you have other fruits or vegetables add them in! I use a stick blender and then portion and freeze. I give 1 tablespoon each meal.

Raw Meal

Chicken breast

Chicken Feet

Cow Organs

Cow meat

Pork neck bones




In my own experience I have seen a tremendous improvement in my dogs overall health on a raw diet. Tiva ate kibble for a lot of years before we knew better. Waylon is lucky enough to come into our lives when we know better so he has been eating raw his whole life. I truly believe that a diet with more real whole food is better than a diet of processed food.

-Rachel Harris CPDT-KA

owner/trainer at A Good Feeling Dog Training

Raising Waylon, Part 1

Well, Waylon has been here for almost 2 weeks and he is approaching 10 weeks old!

We have been taking full advantage of his socialization window! Waylon has been to my husband Corey’s job. Corey works at a plant nursery that is 130 acres. He got to explore outside as well as inside the greenhouse. Stinky the greenhouse cat was very kind and let Waylon sniff her! Waylon also got to meet almost 20 of Corey’s co workers! Waylon has also been to puppy class at two different locations. My dad and brother work at a car dealership so Waylon go to explore the dealership and meet tons of people there. My grandma was staying at a rehab facility that allowed dogs so Waylon got to meet lots of people and ride in an elevator. Waylon has also been to several other peoples houses where he got to play with and learn from adult dogs! This week he will go to our favorite pet shop, another training facility, the vet and also the mountains!

My husband and I have been reinforcing tons of desirable behaviors! Potty outside, coming when called and automatic sits to name a few. Waylon has been working on walking on a leash, going into the crate on his own as well as a hand touch! This week we will work on recalls more and down.

We have been working to prevent resource guarding. When Waylon is eating his meal, I will approach and toss a few treats in his bowl. Then I will pick up his bowl, give him a treat and then set it back down. We have also been working this exercise when he is eating a bone. We have been working on body handling, touching all of his feet, ears, tail and teeth.

Sunny and Tiva are adjusting nicely to Waylon! Tiva has been a saint at keeping him occupied as well as teaching him tons! Sunny has been acclimating nicely as well. We have been using ex-pens and crates for introductions with Sunny and Waylon for now. But Sunny has shown really nice relaxed behaviors around Waylon and he even play bowed at him!

Well that is the update for now! Ill continue to blog about Waylon’s life with us! I post daily updates and cuteness on Facebook and Instagram!


-Rachel Harris CPDT-KA

Rescue vs Breeder

There are a multitude of opinions on the matter, I am just here to tell you my story.

There are some really great rescues here in Colorado that I have had the privilege of working with. They work tremendously hard to make sure that the dogs in their care get the best chance at a forever home. Underdog Rescue, Hobo Care Boxer Rescue, Outpaws are among many great rescues. There are also some not so great rescues that mean well but are not always holding the dogs needs above all else. The same can be said for breeders. There are fantastic breeders that do everything in their power to raise their pups with their dogs futures in mind. They work very hard to interview people and match people and pups to give them the best chance at forever homes. There are also some TERRIBLE “breeders” that do disgrace to the term and should never be allowed to raise dogs. Whichever route you go, you should always do your homework, read up and ask for references before working with a rescue or breeder.

Sunny is a rescue. He came from a high kill shelter where he was set to be euthanized the next day for space. Tiva is a sort of rescue, a friend at the time had a littler of accidental puppies. Our newest addition, who is yet to be named will however come from a breeder.

Before deciding to buy a dog from a breeder, I constantly thought about the pros and cons of rescue vs buying from a breeder. When we decided that we were going to add another dog to our family it was with the intention of getting a performance dog. Demo dog for the business as well as an agility competitor. We need a dog to do a few specific tasks, not just a pet dog.

Last year I was made aware of a BRILLIANT program called “Puppy Culture“. Puppy Culture is a how to guide on raising puppies. Jane Killion takes her years of experience breeding and training and teaches how to give the puppies the best chance at a healthy life both physically and behaviorally. If you haven’t been to the website, GO! Share far and wide, the more puppies that are raised with Puppy Culture the better our world gets!

Knowing that Puppy Culture existed, I started to seek out breeders that used it to raise their puppies. We are weak for blocky headed, muscly dogs and American Staffordshire Terrier was the breed we wanted. After months of searching I found a breeder in the US that was using PC to raise her pups and she had a litter about to be born!

I contacted the breeder with a ton of questions:

How does the Father do with other dogs, humans and animals?

How does the Mother dog with other dogs, humans and animals?

Have you ever seen aggression from the Mother or Father?

What is the Fathers personality like?

What is the Mothers personality like?

After the breeder answered all of my questions I thought about it for almost a month. What really stuck out in my mind was the information I received about the Mother and Fathers personalities. The breeder told me about the Mothers nice laid back personality and that the mother was used as a demo dog at her vet clinic. She also informed me that the Father had more drive and eagerness to perform. There are no guarantees but the temperament and physical health of the parents was exactly what I was looking for.

I can not stress enough how important it is to ask A LOT of questions. Any reputable breeder will be happy to answer any questions you have about the Mother and Father of the litter. It is a vital resource into the potential outcome of your puppy. It is also very important to ask the rescues as many questions as you can think of about the dog in their care. The more you know about the dog the better you can decide whether or not it is a good fit for your family.

Our new puppy who is a he, but has no name yet will be here next week and we are beyond excited!

Rachel Harris CPDT-KA

A Good Feeling Dog Training

Bug repellent on your dogs collar!

With all the rain here in Colorado, poor Sunny and Tiva have been suffering from many itchy mosquito bites. So in an effort to help protect the dogs, I opted to use my trusted essential oils to save the day.

I soaked two collars in

1/2 cup of water

10 drops Eucalyptus

15 drops Terra Shield

For 20 minutes.

Let dry, repeat every two weeks.

What should I be feeding for?

IMG_1027A very wide spread misconception about using food in training, is that you mindlessly dull it out and will never be able to get the dog to perform reliably without it. I see many well meaning people feeding dogs treats just to feed treats without thinking through what message this conveys to the dog. If you feed your dog when they jump up on you, then you have told them that you’d like them to jump more. It is crucial, I will say that again, crucial, that you mindfully feed for actual behavior that you want to see more of. If you continually reach for you treats and feed for slow performance you are going to get more slow performances.


When you begin training a new behavior it is important that your dog gets a food reinforcement  every time they get it right. In the beginning it is a guessing game for the dog. So, by using food you are making it extremely clear to your dog what behaviors work and that you’d like to see more of them. After your dog understands the behavior and can perform it reliably in a number of locations with a variety of distractions, then you can start to be clear about the level of performance that will earn a food reinforcement.

If you have ever trained with me, you have heard me ask the question, “Did the dog do the work for the behavior, or did you?” If you ask your dog to sit and then have to follow them around for 30 seconds before you actually get a sit, you did the work for the final behavior and a verbal “good dog” is an adequate reinforcement for the level of performance you received. On the other hand, if you prompt your dog to sit and within a second, they have planted their booty on the ground, that is a performance worth a food reinforcement. We are making it really clear to the dog how relevant timely performance is.

A frequent challenge my clients face is a dog who won’t perform in a timely manner without seeing the treat first. You should always ask for a behavior and receive it in a timely manner before you reach for the treat. While treat pouches can be a handy tool, dogs can quickly learn that they only have to perform when the treat pouch is attached to your waist. So make a habit out of sneaking  a few treats in your pocket when the dog is outside, or stash a few treats around the house or yard  for use when your dog is least expecting it. I keep a treat jar in the cabinet, I will cue my dogs to perform several behaviors without any food on me, all over the house and yard. If their performance is outstanding then I will walk to the cabinet and grab a few treats for them. It very quickly creates a motivated dog that is willing to perform for the chance at a wonderful reinforcement.


While for some dogs, a food reinforcement is top of the line, toys and games are also wonderful reinforcements. Sunny’s top of the line reinforcement is chasing a squeaky tennis ball. So I make a habit out of getting a number of stellar performances from him and then he gets to chase the ball. Sunny doesn’t have free access to the squeaky ball so that it doesn’t lose its appeal. Tiva loves to play tug. So we have a sacred tug toy, that is pulled out for… you guessed it, stellar performances! So really look at what motivates your dog and use it!


Rachel Laurie CPDT-KA



A crucial part of training is looking at whether or not what you want your dog to do is actually clear from their perspective.

Does my dog know when certain behavior is and is not appropriate?

Does my dog actually know the physical behavior that goes with the verbal cue?

Did I take the time to teach the difference?

Is my dog’s understanding the same as my understanding?

Dogs do what works and more times than not we humans are confusing our dogs. A common example is jumping up. The dog jumps up we tell them “No!”, “Off”, “Down”. Most dogs have no idea what “No” means, no one ever taught them what “Off” means and normally “Down” means all four elbows on the ground. Meanwhile all they hear and see is a person speaking a foreign language. So the next time you are frustrated with your dog, honestly decide, is the expectation clear to the dog? Most times it isn’t. So spend time teaching the actual behavior that you want to see. It takes a short amount of time and saves both dog and person a ton of frustration.  It also solves a lot of unwanted behavior. In most cases if you give a dog a better option, they will cease unwanted behavior. Wish your puppy would stop jumping? Always withhold eye contact and verbal communication when jumped on. Lay on the treats and praise when the dog keeps all four feet on the ground.

Along with training and management, making sure your dog is clear on what to do, is a recipe for a wonderful relationship with your dog.



Happy Training
Rachel Laurie CPDT-KA

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DIY Dog Enrichment

IMG_3548Instead of throwing away your empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls, save them for cheap enrichment for your dogs.

Mental stimulation is so important for your dog. There are tons of interactive food toys on the market. Check out our “Products We Use” page to see which toys we like the best.  As much as my dogs enjoy their toys they also love to tear apart the stuffed rolls just as much!

Fold the ends of one side until the opening is closed off. Fill with kibble and treats and then fold the other end. Easy as that!

I like to stuff several and hide them throughout the house. After 30 minutes of foraging and shredding the dogs are wiped out. Only a few minutes of clean up for the human and you’re good to go!

DIY Snuffle Mat!

I bought an outdoor mat off of amazon. Like this one

Then cut about 40, 6 inch strips of fleece and alternated tying them in the mat.

Add kibble and tada!


Stuffed Kongs

stuffed kongs Today I stuffed 3 different sizes of kongs. The medium size usually takes Sunny and Tiva 10-15 minutes to finish after the kongs have been frozen, large 15-30 minutes and the extra large 30-60 minutes.

I used canned pumpkin, canned lamb tripe (that’s smells terrible but is a super food for dogs), canned bison, freeze dried dog treat crumbs and string cheese.

I cut the cheese into 1/2 inch pieces and put them into the kong  first as a stopper.

Then I added the pumpkin,tripe, dog treat crumbs and bison alternating spoonfuls and topped with pieces of cheese.

Kongs are extremely handy to have for when the dogs are bothering you and you are knee deep doing something else!

Set yourself up for success and have stuffed kongs in the freezer!


Living with a dog reactive dog

Anyone who knows me has heard several if not hundreds of stories about Sunny. Sunny is my warm hearted, kind and gentle pitty mix. Sunny came to us with serious fear challenges. It took near a year for him to slowly come out of his shell. As he gained more confidence in his everyday life we began to see how truly uncomfortable he was when approached by other dogs while on leash. He felt so trapped that he resorted to snapping at other dogs, which in hindsight is my fault for putting him in such compromising situations.

What is a dog reactive dog you ask? Reactivity is a normal trait in dogs, in fact a lot of breeds were bred for their reactive nature specifically. A dog reacts to normal stimulus like it should, noticing other dogs, people, squirrels and so on. When I say reactive I mean “over reactive”. Giving too much attention to other dogs, people and squirrels. In Sunny’s case he was over reacting to other dogs, while on leash mainly.

At first I was so mad at other dog owners for not giving us the space we needed to be successful. After lots of frustration on walks I began to check myself. It’s not any other dog owner’s fault that Sunny doesn’t like other dogs right in his face. While I feel over all society could really improve in its awareness of other dogs while on leash, all that I can control is myself and Sunny. So our journey began. I needed to teach Sunny that instead of feeling frustrated, over whelmed, and nervous around other dogs, he could feel good and relaxed about seeing other dogs on leash. Greeting dogs on leash was not a priority. All I wanted was to be able to do is walk by another dog, on leash, on the same side of the street and not have Sunny lunge, bark, growl or try and nip at the other dog. So we started with leash manners.

I had to teach him how to walk nicely on a leash and then tackle his insecurity around other dogs. We worked on walking nicely on a leash in lots of easy places. The backyard, the drive way, streets at off hours. Once we got good in easy situations we started walking during more peak hours, but not on the same side of the street as other dogs. Before my heart would sink when we saw another dog. “Oh god, here we go again.” Now I was viewing every dog we saw on walks as an awesome training opportunity. We worked up to walking during busy hours, and then slowly but surely walking on the same side of the street. It was not a quick process we worked over a year on it and we are always maintaining.

We still have struggles but they never seem so bad because I love Sunny for who he is, even if sometimes it’s a little awkward when your pitty mix is growling at a friendly puppy. Sunny is entitled to space, and respect. Some dog owner’s let there out of control dogs jump and harass dogs who are too nice to say anything about it. Sunny is not a dog who will stand for over the top or rude behavior from any dog and I have to say I respect that.

I never would have imagined 7 years ago how far Sunny would come. We compete in dog agility which is an off leash sports with a wealth of fired up barking dogs as distractions. Sunny is so calm at competitions, a dog can bark at him and he calmly checks in with me to see what he should do. The feeling I get when he looks to me for guidance is close to the most joy I have ever felt. It’s not to say that Sunny is good with every single dog but what dog is. I am the trainer I am today because of Sunny and for that I will always be eternally grateful. Our possibilities are endless and I can’t wait for the future! I hope this inspires you to spend more time teaching your dog what you do want instead of focusing on what you don’t want.