The top 3 ways you can be a responsible dog owner in Teton Valley:

  1. Clean up after your pet.
  2. Obey all local ordinances, including leash requirements. 
  3. Spay/neuter all your animals and advocate for others to spay/neuter their pets!
  4. Don’t allow your pet to wander, especially in populated areas.

This 4th point – don’t allow your pet to wander, especially in populated areas – is a hot topic in Teton Valley. Roaming dogs in downtown Driggs have been reported to scare children from playing outside and prevent people from gardening in their yards. This is not the kind of community we want to live in! Nor do we want non-dog owners to despise dog owners. 

Together, we can work together to become a community of better dog owners.

Here’s how:

Everyone should spay/neuter their pets, and if you’re going to let your dog off leash, spay/neuter is mandatory.

  • Consider Mickey, a female dog that wasn’t spayed, roaming and interacting with a male dog that wasn’t neutered. Earlier this year, we got a phone call about a local dog named Mickey, a beautiful golden retriever well-loved by her family. One day, while unattended, an unknown male dog impregnated Mickey. The pregnancy wasn’t wanted, but the owners weren’t comfortable giving Mickey an abortion so 8 puppies were brought into the world, unwanted and homeless. Unfortunately, Mickey’s family couldn’t care for the puppies so they were surrendered to a local shelter which eats up vital resources. To give these puppies the best chance at life, they were brought to Aska’s Animals. In an ideal world, no more puppies or kittens are born without thoughtful and intentional breeding, but if a mom has already given birth, the best we can do is provide her a calm quiet place to raise her kids until everyone is spayed/neutered and ready to be adopted. For many animals, a safe supportive place to grow up prevents them from ending up in the shelter system in the future.

If you’re going to let your dog off leash, you need to practice and master voice and sight control with your dog.

  • Voice and Sight control means you can adequately control your dog by using voice commands and sight commands such as hand gestures. If you’re going to have your dog off leash, you must:
    • Have your dog in sight and be able to see the dog’s actions.
    • Be able to prevent your dog from charging, chasing, or displaying aggression towards any person or animal. Most, importantly, your voice and sight commands need to override difficult circumstances and distractions.
    • Make sure your dog has proper identification – a collar with tags as well as a microchip – in case they get away from you. This takes the burden of locating or housing lost dogs off local shelters’ to do lists by returning the missing dog to their owner as quickly as possible.
    • Remember that just because your dog is friendly does not mean other dogs are friendly or social. Perhaps, the neighbor dog your dog keeps trying to play with is feeling weak from kennel cough or they’re recovering from surgery. No matter what, you can’t assume that all dogs want to have interactions with other dogs. 

What do you do if you see a stray or unattended dog in Teton Valley?

  • Teton Valley does not have an Animal Control Officer (ACO), but we would greatly benefit from having an ACO because more and more dogs are moving into town. It’s important that the city has an understanding of why our community would benefit from an ACO so if you see a stray or unattended dog, please call the Teton County Sheriff’s Office in Driggs. The non-emergency phone number is (208) 776 – 8200. Currently, residents have been forced to resolve these issues on their own and dog owners are not being held responsible for animal mismanagement.

Do you or someone you know need 1:1 dog behavior support? 

Because of generous funding from donors, Aska’s Animals offers free or subsidized dog behavior services. We aim to keep pets in their homes and out of the shelter system through a variety of methods. Behavioral issues are a common reason that animals are surrendered to shelters, but we work to address these issues while the dog is still in their familiar home environment and with their family in the hopes of creating a more harmonious existence in the existing home. Aska’s Animals Canine Behavior Specialists Sam, Ramsey and Krissi only use positive reinforcement methods and science-backed reward based training methods. If you or someone you know needs 1:1 dog behavior support, please contact our team or learn more here.

Other important aspects of being a dog owner:

When you commit to being a dog owner, you need to:

  • Be extremely thoughtful when selecting a pet.
  • Only choose a pet that suits your home and lifestyle and follows the rules of your HOA or community ordinances.
  • Keep only the type and number of pets for which you can provide appropriate food, water, shelter, health care, companionship, etc.
  • Plan to have these pets in your home for the entire length of their life.
  • Provide appropriate exercise and mental stimulation such as enrichment.
  • Properly socialize, train, and manage your pet.
  • Make sure your pet receives proper vaccinations.
  • Spay/neuter your pet.
  • Budget for potential emergencies and enroll in pet insurance.
  • Properly identify your dog with a collar and tags and microchips.
  • Making alternate arrangements if you can no longer provide care for your pet.

Thank you for being a part of the animal rescue journey with Aska’s Animals. The farm is bustling, the team is motivated and growing, and we’re witnessing firsthand how far every donor dollar goes. We’re thankful for your financial support that makes this lifesaving work a possibility. Because of you, we can continue to advance our mission to provide rescue, sanctuary, and canine behavior training to our community. If you’ve been thinking about supporting our mission, Tin Cup Challenge season is a great opportunity to double your donation.


Aska’s Animals is known for the Puppy Palaces, Stewie the pig, and Hei Hei the chicken, but we’re also the leading resource for dog behavior support and training in Teton Valley. Thanks to our generous donors, we offer free 1:1 private dog training, community workshops, and shelter behavior support. These efforts have a common goal: free up space in local shelters and prevent animals from entering the shelter system at all. 

The Tin Cup Giving Season officially begins Tuesday, June 14th. Your contribution to Aska’s Animals will be matched by the Tin Cup Challengers through the Community Foundation of Teton Valley. Please consider giving to Aska’s Animals before July 26th to maximize your donation!

One of the most innovative charitable fundraisers in the nation, the Tin Cup Challenge is also one of the most successful. In 2023, the event raised $2,826,791 from 1,412 donors. Since 2008, Tin Cup has raised $23.6 million, directly benefiting Teton Valley’s nonprofits working tirelessly to enhance our quality of life. This is the 17th Tin Cup and there are 61 nonprofits participating. For the 17th year, their goal is to have 1,700 donations. Can you help us help them meet their goal?

In 2023, Tin Cup donations helped Aska’s Animals: 

  • Maintain The Puppy Palaces. Since June 2021, we’ve housed nearly 400 puppies. In 2024 alone, we’ve already housed 100 puppies. The Puppy Palaces are safe havens for homeless and unwanted puppies (and their moms when possible) that’ll become available for adoption at our regional shelters. While in the Palaces, the puppies receive early puppyhood education to ensure they’re ready for their new homes once they’re adopted. Our Canine Behavior Specialists work with the puppies to teach appropriate sleep schedules, proper socialization, and to develop trust and safety. A safe, supportive early puppyhood environment prevents dogs from ending up in the shelter system later in life and sets both the dog and their future family up for success.
    • The first mama dog of 2024 was Aurora, a medium-sized mixed breed found at the dump on the Wind River Reservation. With our staff and volunteers’ help and your donations, she raised 7 beautiful puppies and found her home with a family in Jackson, Wyoming.

  • Host 12 free in-person Canine Behavior Workshops. We provide free once-a-month Canine Behavior Workshops with our resident Canine Behavior Specialists Ramsey and Krissi. These workshops touch on whatever topics attendees need help with. Whether a family just got a dog, has a specific behavior question, or just wants to expand their knowledge on training, these workshops are a great tool to keep families happy with the animals in their homes. At the end of every day, our goal is to keep animals in their homes and out of the shelter system.
  • Provide canine training and support services to local shelters. We consult with regional shelters that lack behavior teams in hopes of increasing their resident dogs’ adoptability. Our Canine Behavior Specialist Ramsey goes to the Animal Adoption Center in Jackson, Wyoming once a week to train the staff, to train foster families, and to train dogs adopted into local families. Topics covered include how to properly fit an easy-walk harness, how to properly get a dog out of their kennel, impulse control for dogs such as waiting to open doors, waiting for them to be calm/not jump before leashing, waiting for treats/food, etc., how to capture good dog behavior while a dog is at the AAC facility, and the many influences on dog behavior including stress levels, physical/emotional well-being, sleep, exercise, genetics/breed, age/development, health/physical pain, learning history, etc.
  • Offer free dog training resources on our website. The Resources page on the Aska’s Animals website has 14 free dog training videos. From ‘Understanding Canine Behavior’ to ‘Bringing Home a New Dog,’ we cover every topic needed to welcome a rescue dog into your home.
  • Fuel our incubator to help orphaned kittens and puppies in their early fight for life by keeping them warm and healthy while Aska bottle feeds them around the clock. The first incubator resident this year was Banksy. He found himself an orphan at one week old after his mom and ten siblings crossed the rainbow bridge on the Wind River Reservation. Thank goodness the Lander Pet Connection team found him before the winter weather got to him. Banksy is now thriving with his new family in Teton Valley!
  • Administer vaccinations. Vaccines are the best tool we have to protect puppies and kittens from Parvovirus and Kennel Cough. Your donations allow us to administer the first round of vaccinations to every animal that moves through our program.

So, what’s next?  

Here’s how your Tin Cup donations will be used at Aska’s Animals in 2024.

  • House another 100 homeless puppies and dogs
  • Free in-person Canine Behavior Workshops
  • Training at regional shelters
  • Free Resources online
  • Continue to vaccinate puppies and kittens against Parvovirus
  • Launch our own spay/neuter program to increase the number of animals we can send to our partners already spayed/neutered. The shelter systems are overwhelmed, and spay/neuter is the only way to get to the root of the problem.
  • Preparations for a new facility. We don’t know what this facility looks like yet, but we’re ready for a new barn to expand our program’s capacity.

With your donation during Tin Cup Giving Season June 14th to July 26th, Aska’s Animals will continue to grow, and we’ll be able to say ‘yes’ to more animals in the critical gap between shelter and permanent rescue. We’ll utilize every dollar you donate to house homeless animals, save the lives of neonatal puppies and kittens, and educate the community about spay/neuter and animal behavior, which sets the animals and their new families up for success.

Meet us in person on Tin Cup Event Day! Saturday, July 20th, we’ll be at Driggs City Park. Event Day includes a 5k and 10k as well as nonprofit booths with information, family friendly activities, snacks, and drinks. Our team will make enrichment activities for you to bring home to your own pooches. And you’ll be able to make enrichment activities for the AAF residents! You might even get to meet puppies at our booth!

Thank you for being a part of the animal rescue journey with us. The farm is bustling, the team is motivated and growing, and we’re witnessing firsthand how far every donor dollar goes. We’re thankful for your financial support that makes this lifesaving work a possibility. Because of you, we can continue to advance our mission to provide rescue, sanctuary, and canine behavior training to our community. If you’ve been thinking about supporting our mission, Tin Cup Challenge season is a great opportunity to double your donation.

We are so excited to announce Jenna Martin is Aska’s Animals new Advancement Director.

Jenna Martin, a native of Jackson, WY, developed a profound love for animals and the great outdoors while growing up in the beautiful surroundings of her hometown. It wasn’t until later in life that she realized the uniqueness of her upbringing, where not everyone had the privilege of having buffalo roam their elementary school playgrounds, as was the case in Kelly, WY.

Seeking a change of scenery, Jenna pursued a different environment and graduated from the University of Hawai’i with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology. Despite her academic and scientific training, Jenna’s true passion lies in marketing, branding, and nonprofit development. After completing her education, she immersed herself in volunteering for various animal rescue nonprofits, which led to employment for over six years at an Aska’s Animal’s partnering organization. This experience laid the foundation for her current position.

Currently residing in Victor, ID, just a short distance from Aska’s Animals, Jenna, and her husband George share their home with four rescues – three dogs and one FIV+ kitty. Jenna’s journey from the picturesque landscapes of Wyoming to the vibrant biodiversity of Hawai’i has shaped her passion for animal welfare and the environment, and her commitment to making a positive impact in the lives of furry companions.

Thank you to everyone who has donated, volunteered, liked and shared AAF…we can provide the community this much-needed level of support because of your generosity.

Welcome to the team Jenna!

Just like walking on a leash and crate training, teaching a dog to be comfortable wearing a muzzle is a good idea. Some people automatically think a dog is wearing a muzzle because they bite, but muzzles have many uses.

When trained properly with a well-fitting basket muzzle, dogs can eat, drink, and pant normally. To a dog, a muzzle isn’t very different than a leash or a collar unless humans act like it is.

Here’s a few uses for muzzles that we love:

Muzzles can prevent your dog from ingesting undesirable things. Goose poop, cow manure, trash…muzzles are a useful tool for dogs who eat everything and anything.

Muzzles can decrease a dog owner’s stress. Social stigma aside, muzzles increase safety and decrease unwanted incidents that put a dog owner on edge.

Muzzles for emergency vet care. When a dog is in a lot of pain and needs medical intervention, they’re more likely to bite. Muzzles prevent damage to both dog owners and veterinarians. That being said, for dogs who have issues with routine vet care, it’s important for dog owners to teach their dog to feel safe when being handled my strangers.

Muzzles can prevent undesirable interactions. Although the stigma around muzzles itself is undesirable, it can be used to a dog owner’s advantage. A muzzle is an unspoken signal to others that your dog may not be interested in being touched by strangers or interacting with unknown dogs. Therefore, a muzzle is a great tool for under confident dogs who want to go to a public place, but don’t want to meet new people or dogs.

Muzzles can prevent damage. Muzzles are the best tool for dogs who have a bite risk. With that in mind, muzzles shouldn’t just be strapped onto a dog who may bite. It’s very important to remember that a muzzle is a backup safety measure, not a solution. Muzzles aren’t a replacement for supervision, guidance, and training. Instead, they’re a tool used to decrease damage in case something happens that you and your dog trainer didn’t foresee.

In local neighborhoods and in vet clinics, stop thinking of muzzles as a threat and start thinking of muzzles as a lifesaving tool. You might not see a lot of muzzles in Jackson Hole and that’s not necessarily a good thing!

How To Be Your Dog’s Advocate This Holiday Season

With the holiday season comes visitors to your home. Here’s how to be your dog’s advocate when friends and family arrive. Unfamiliar people arriving at your home can be an upsetting situation for your dog, especially if your dog is sensitive or fearful. While you may know folks are coming, your dog very likely does not. Visitors are followed by a tsunami of sensory input – smell, sound, and sights, along with the excitement on the part of the humans when they rush to answer the door. All of this can make even the best-behaved dog an over aroused mess.

Exposure therapy does not work for dogs. For dogs who are unsure, fearful, or just not excited to meet and be touched by unfamiliar people, ‘making’ them meet or be touched by a stranger to help them ‘get over their fears’ is not recommended. It’ll likely only increase their discomfort and concern around strangers.

In all situations, your top two priorities as a dog owner are 1) keep your dog feeling safe (whatever that looks like for your dog) and 2) build your dog’s trust in you to keep them safe. It’s important that you carefully manage circumstances and experiences so that your dog enjoys the experience and learns that visitors can be great.

Many dogs find it far less worrying to enter a room where visitors are already present; it’s a different context to dogs than already being in a room that someone enters. This 3-step way to slowly introduce your dog to visitors begins with sound and smell and then moves on to sight.

1. Have visitors give you a heads up a few minutes before arriving so you can set the stage. You can also keep your door locked with a note that reads, ‘We hear you but need a moment to set our dog up for success.’

a. Set your dog up in the car in the garage (where he can’t see visitors pull into the driveway), so he isn’t present when the person arrives. Once your visitor has entered and settled in, move your dog from the car into a space he finds safe in the house. Maybe a crate in a peripheral area, or a hallway with a baby gate that prevents his access to the main area of the house, or an exercise pen. This way, he can hear and smell but not see the visitor. Be sure to give him a relaxing long- term project like a raw bone or new bully stick when he comes into the house and loads into the crate or hallway. Another option is to utilize a bedroom to give your dog a bone or something similar with the bedroom door closed.

  • It’s important to note the amount of time the dog will be confined will greatly vary dog to dog. Some dogs will be ready to meet your visitors after 10 minutes, some will need a couple hours and others will need multiple visits.
  • For visitors who are unfamiliar, depending on the dog and their fear levels, you may want to leave them confined with a bone for the entirety of the visit.

2. For dogs who are less fearful, after some time, provided the dog is calm and relaxed, you can then add the next sense: sight. On a leash, bring the dog from the out-of-sight confinement into an area within sight of the visitors but still some distance away. Perhaps to a peripheral exercise pen or a cozy crate in the room your visitors are in. Bring his soothing lick or chew project with him.

3. If your dog is ready, give your dog access to the visitors, but first, be sure to educate your visitors about human versus dog body language. Often the best way to help the dog feel comfortable once out of confinement is to instruct your visitors to ignore him. Dogs innately find many human gestures and body language threatening – especially human greetings, which include 3 major scary things for dogs who are sensitive or who have not been well socialized (or both!) – direct eye contact, leaning/reaching and facing them head on. Unfortunately, most people exhibit all these behaviors when greeting a dog, so it’ll benefit the dog – and help them to feel more at ease – if you coach new people to greet him in a more ‘dog like’ manner.

  • For some dogs, fear manifests as nipping at the heels of unfamiliar people especially when they get up or move between rooms. If this is how your dog reacts, the best route may be to keep your dog confined to the space in which they feel safe.

Remember, you’re creating habits here, so don’t push your luck! You’re better safe than sorry. If you decide to leave your dog crated in your bedroom chewing merrily away for the duration of someone’s visit, your dog is having a start to finish relaxing, safe-feeling experience – and that’s the goal.

Some folks believe a dog who goes over the top when someone comes to the door is being ‘protective.’ More likely, the dog is just over aroused or afraid. Either way, we don’t want to allow or encourage our dogs to get this stressed out when someone comes to the door; allowing your dog to practice barking at visitors to the house when they arrive is asking for trouble. Why?

1. It elevates stress levels, and these will take time (days or even weeks) to recover. This is undesirable because it can affect behavior across the board.

2. It’s not your dog’s job to worry about who is coming to the house – it’s yours. Allowing him to believe it is can lead to undesirable habits and unneeded stress in his life.

3. It’s dangerous! If a medic needs to enter because you passed out in your bathtub, but your dog has been allowed to believe it’s their job to decide who comes in the house…uh oh. Think of it this way: every experience a dog has in which he feels safe and comfortable interacting with people is a deposit in the bank account…the more deposits he has the more wiggle room you’ll have when it’s time for an unexpected withdrawal (overwhelming experience) down the road. And so, while creating good experiences is key, so is avoiding fewer ideal ones.

If your dog shows signs of nervousness, anxiety or fear when visitors are in your home, your job is to be your dog’s advocate and to ensure safe, fun experiences. This holiday season, when visitors enter your home, a good goal is to set up experiences in which you can be sure that your dog will feel calm and safe from start to finish.

Questions? Check out our virtual and in-person Behavior Workshops as well as the Resources page of our website!

4 Best Practices: Supervision, Intervention, Management and Guidelines

Dogs and kids can be a great combination, but it takes parental awareness, a certain dog personality and lots of supervision to run a safe and happy household. Many dogs don’t instinctually love kids. In fact, many dogs find kids unpredictable and annoying. This is why most dog bites victims are children bitten by their own dog or a dog they know. Here are 4 best practices to protect both your child and your dog.

These 4 best practices are meant for dogs and children currently living together and for dogs with no bite history.

1. Supervision: Be sure all dog and kid interactions are supervised. A parent should be available to step in and give the dog or the child a break when needed. If the dog is constantly pestered or made to feel uncomfortable (sat on, hugged, pinched or pulled), they’ll develop a negative association with children which increases risk of poor behavior in the future. Unsupervised children are most at risk for severe dog bites.

2. Intervention: Know your dog’s stress signs. Stress signs are subtle behaviors dogs use to communicate. Dogs have a spectrum of discomfort and stress signs to communicate with you when they aren’t feeling great about something that’s about to happen or is already happening. Some stress signs include sniffing the ground, licking their lips, yawning, turning away, showing a lot of white in the eye, shaking off, and freezing. Many of these are ‘normal’ behaviors for a relaxed and happy dog, but when seen out of context, these behaviors indicate anxiety. For example, a dog licking their lips after a tasty treat wouldn’t indicate nervousness, but a dog licking their lips at the sight of a stroller is concerning. Your job, as their advocate, is to ease the dog’s nerves by intervening and removing them from the stress-inducing situation. Remember that growling is a common precursor to snarling which is a common precursor to biting.

3. Management: Baby gates, crates and exercise pens are great tools to separate dogs and kids. If a kid is playing with a dog, make sure the dog always has an escape route. Dogs need a safe, kid-free area for quiet time. Just like parents need breaks, dogs need breaks.

4. Guidelines: Teach your child what is appropriate. Hugging, squeezing, riding on, sitting on, pinching and pulling are never appropriate ways for children to interact with dogs. This behavior creates stress and if your dog has no escape route, they’ll communicate how they feel through growling, snarling, biting or scratching. Keep in mind that crates should always be off limits to kids! In her book Living with Kids and Dogs, Colleen Pelar offers alternative ways for kids and dogs to bond such as going for walks, baking dog treats and reading stories together.

Adults need to protect both the canine and human members of the family. It can be tough to reach a balance, especially when kids are too young to understand the guidelines. Colleen Pelar’s book, Living With Kids and Dogs, is a great resource. It offers expectation for kids based on their age and how best they can interact with their pets. Don’t forget that as kids grow and mature, the guidelines will change!

Questions? Check out our virtual and in-person Behavior Workshops as well as the Resources page of our website!

The 8 Most Important Things to Teach Your Puppy

Puppy parents are eager to teach their new family member skills that will set everyone up for success long term, but ‘sit,’ ‘stay’ and ‘come’ aren’t the most important lessons to focus on. This list of what puppies really need to learn builds a foundation for the confidence and trust puppies need to learn before voice control commands.

The world is a safe place:

Teaching your puppy to socialize safely builds the puppy’s confidence in themself and the puppy’s trust in you. Facilitate enjoyable, worry-free experiences for your puppy by first paying close attention to their physical cues for stress and fear. While playing with another puppy, walking in a busy place or meeting new people at a barbecue, don’t rush, force or coerce your puppy to interact with things they are tentative around. It is your job to protect your pup from well-meaning but overwhelming folks or from too-intense experiences.

My human will protect me:

Dogs protect themselves with fight or flight, so if your puppy does not feel safe, he might bite or run away. To build trust with your dog, you must try to understand, listen to, and respect how your dog feels. This includes preventing your puppy from getting into situations in which the puppy will feel stressed or overwhelmed.

Alone time is okay:

Before you came along, your puppy was likely with their littermates and never experienced alone time. Because dogs are not allowed everywhere, it is important to teach puppies that alone time is okay. Start with crate or confinement training. For more information, read our blog post  ‘Confinement Training and Why It’s So Important.’

Riding in the car is fun:

No matter how much time your dog will spend in the car in the future, it is important your puppy learns the car is not a scary place. For many puppies, they are afraid of the car because it makes them feel motion sick and they have associated the car with leaving their littermates or going to the vet. Without force, before even turning the engine on, train your puppy to feel comfortable in the car by creating a safe place with a crate or a dog bed and a high reward delicious treat.

House training:

Teaching a puppy where they are allowed to go to the bathroom is essential for everyone’s health and happiness. Crates, puppy pads, consistency, attention, understanding and patience are keys to house training your new puppy.

What is appropriate to chew on:

Puppies explore the world with their mouths and adult dogs chew to relieve stress so teaching your puppy about what is appropriate to chew on will set everyone up for success in the future. Just like house training, good management is important to teaching this lesson. Provide your puppy enjoyable chew toys and keep the chew toys exciting and interesting by mixing them up throughout the week. For more enrichment ideas, read our blog post ‘Indoor Enrichment Activities.’ 

Resource guarding prevention:

It is natural for dogs to protect their food, toys and safe place so it is important for puppy owners to teach dogs positive association with humans approaching their food bowl, taking a toy out of their mouth or entering and exiting their safe space. There is no telling which puppies will be guarders. Even if your puppy shows no signs of guarding, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure with resource guarding.

Health and wellness tasks:

Grooming, baths, toenail clipping, ear drops, eye drops and taking medicine are all tasks you can help your puppy get comfortable with when they are young. High reward treats, saying ‘yes!’ and belly rubs are great ways to build positive association with everyday activities.

This is a long list, we know, but once you have helped your puppy grow to be a confident and happy youngster, you will have a foundation for a happy life together.

Questions? Check out our virtual and in-person Behavior Workshops as well as the Resources Page of our website!

Read more

Reliable recall is essential to a trustworthy dog human relationship. If you plan to have your dog off leash outside of a fenced in yard or park, try this two-part method to teaching your dog to come when called.

Part 1: Name Recognition

This is one of the most important of all skills that we ask of our dogs and the first step to coming when called. To teach your dog to immediately respond to her name, practice the Name Game. This simply involves saying her name when she’s not looking at you and when she turns around to look at you, mark (say YES) and reward! You will start this when you are right next to your dog. Her name just means “pay attention” so you will reward just for her turning and looking at you. (Remember, if you teach your dog their name means “Come”, it makes for a less versatile dog, because you have no way of getting their attention if it’s safest they stay where they are.) If your dog is unable to respond, don’t say their name again! Your dog is telling you it’s too hard. Before you say their name again, change something so it’s more likely your dog can succeed. You can get closer to her (sometimes, right down next to her ear, especially if she is focused on looking at or smelling something) or move her a little further from the distraction. In the meantime, also be sure not to use your pup’s name too often or it will become unimportant to her. We suggest you make up nicknames instead.

Part 2: Asking a Dog to Move To You

Once a dog is reliably responding to their name in a variety of circumstances, start asking them to move towards you. Again, start with easy, controlled situations. When teaching any behavior, first teach your dog the behavior is valuable. So, only say the cue ‘COME’ when you are almost 100% sure she will! What if you aren’t sure your dog will come? First and foremost, set your dog up for success as much as possible. If you aren’t sure your dog will listen and move towards you, adjust the situation so they can succeed. If that’s not possible, go and get your dog instead. Use inviting ‘prompts’ such as short, staccato noises, crouching down to make yourself more appealing, or moving in the opposite direction, all which dogs often find instinctually inviting. Don’t hesitate to be silly and make it a game! You want moving towards you to be fun and rewarding!  Over the next few months, gradually increase the distance you call your dog from. Then increase the level of distraction. Don’t push the process. and don’t ask for recalls beyond your dog’s skill level. That will only be frustrating for you, and it teach your pup the cue is irrelevant. Take this training slow and steady.

Now it’s time to practice both!

Depending on the situation when out on walks, you can practice the Name Game as well as coming when called. You will have to adjust your standard to what your dog is ready for based on how distracting the situation is. Work on just the Name Game if it’s a highly distracting situation such as seeing a deer or another dog. Practice recall if it’s a moderately distracting situation such as smelling another dog’s pee. Once your dog can reliably respond to her name around big distractions, you can work on calling. her away from them. To start, get close to her to make it easier on both of you. Once your dog can reliably move towards you in a particularly difficult situation, start using the cue ‘COME.’

Questions? Check out our virtual and in-person Behavior Workshops!

A Karen Pryor Certified Training Partner

We are so excited to announced Aska’s Animals new resident dog trainer, Ramsey Schatz.

There are several ways to help homeless animals in Teton Valley, but the addition of Ramsey’s expertise to the AAF team adds an unprecedented level of support to pets and pet owners. Part of our mission is to provide compassionate support for animals and pet owners so that people are happy with the animals in their homes. Ramsey will support animals and their new families before and after adoption to ensure everyone feels set up for success which keeps animals out of the shelter system.

Thank you to everyone who has donated, volunteered, liked and shared AAF…we can provide the community this much-needed level of support because of your generosity.

Ramsey’s love of animals became evident when, as a little kid, she spent hours moving worms off the Portland, Oregon sidewalks after rainstorms because she didn’t want the worms to get squished. She brought the love inside by training her family cats, dogs and mice to do tricks. At just ten years old, she adopted her first dog named Gismo.

Her professional training began in horse stables when she interned at a farm sanctuary and participated in the Parelli Natural Horsemanship Program. Then, she spent two years at the Arabian Horse Rescue and Education in Oregon City, Oregon.

After experiencing chronic pain from working with such large animals, Ramsey switched species from horses to dogs. For four and half years at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, she worked as a canine caregiver overseeing the daily training maintenance and care of dogs in their program. She specialized in working with dogs who had significant bite histories and behavioral issues. A lot of dogs she worked with came from the Navajo Reservation. These dogs were extremely shy or had never been inside a house before. The relationships she developed with dogs at Best Friends inspired Ramsey to study dog training at the Karen Pryor Academy. After six months at the fear-free, positive reinforcement training program, she became a certified trainer.

At Aska’s Animals, Ramsey looks forward to working with the human and the canine communities of Victor, Driggs and Jackson Hole. She’s especially excited for the opportunity to work with puppies because like us, she believes giving puppies the best start to life with appropriate training and socialization will keep dogs in loving homes and out of the shelter system. In collaboration with the Animal Adoption Center, she’ll host weekly Puppy Play for dogs under sixteen weeks old that have recently graduated from the AAF Puppy Palaces. She’s most curious about the psychology of animals and how dogs are more similar to humans than we think. Like creating a new habit for humans, it’s important to focus on what you do want your dog to do versus focusing on what you don’t want them to do.

Ramsey has three dogs of her own – Pixel (5), Bucket (3) and Olive (2).

Welcome to the team Ramsey!

It’s the time of year that dog owners head to the parks, trails and friend’s houses for barbecues. But what does this mean for your furry friend who you may not want to leave at home? Here’s a list of guidelines to ensure your dog and your dog’s friends are in safe and appropriate playgroups.

Let’s start with a conversation about choice. Ask your dog, ‘what game do you want to play?’ Obviously, your dog won’t be able to use words to tell you his/her wishes so it’s important to pay attention to their body language. If your dog is excited to see their friend(s) (wagging tag, dancing feet, etc.) that indicates they want to engage in group play. If your dog hides, pulls their ears back or bulges their eyes at the sight of other dogs, group play might not be their preferred form of enrichment. Visit our blog post about other enrichment activities if this is the case!

If your dog is excited to join the playgroup, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Always have a supervisor. Never leave dogs unattended. The supervisor’s job is to keep the arousal level low. If you notice one dog getting over-agitated, competitive or aggressive, step in to distract the animals so the elevated behavior stops until they’re calmed down and can re-engage in more optimal styles of play.
    • Watch out for one dog getting their jaw caught in another dog’s collar. If this happens, both dogs might panic causing one dog to be choked and the other to break their jaw. You can remove collars to eliminate this risk. If collars are on, supervise closely to ensure safe play.
  • Make sure the dogs have enough space to play. For big dogs, it’s recommended to have at least 100 square feet per dog. For small dogs, 40 square feet per dog will be enough. Never enclose the dogs in a small space like the trunk of a car or a bathroom.
  • Group dogs together by size and play style. Just like you wouldn’t expect a toddler who just learned to talk to have fun with a group of teenagers playing charades, a twenty-pound dog won’t have as much fun keeping up with a pack of huskies.
    •  No matter how well they play, there’s always the risk of a smaller dog getting hurt accidentally. In addition, the high-pitched noises small dogs make while being chased can activate predatory instinct in large dogs.
    • Puppies shouldn’t be in large dog play groups either, but a puppy paired with a single socially appropriate adult who enjoys puppies can be a great experience.
  • There are four standard play styles to be aware of:
    • Neck biting or mouthing – this style of play is when dogs gently mouth other dog’s necks or chins. Usually, it looks like wrestling or rolling around on the ground making playful noises. Dogs who enjoy this style of play don’t bite, they mostly slobber.
    • Chasing – this style of play is exactly what it sounds like. Hide and seek, tag you’re it, running hot laps around the yard, etc.
    • Body slamming – dogs who enjoy this style play hard and they get physical. Every seen a dog play so hard they fall into a pool or run off a deck? Dogs who like ‘body slam’ play have high pain tolerances and bounce back quickly
    •  Cat-like – a calm and quiet type of play that involves pawing, rubbing up against the other animals, and running in circles around the dogs doing any of the other three styles.
  • Things to watch out for:
    • If one dog repeatedly pins another dog down, it’s probably because the pinned dog doesn’t like the body slamming play style. The pinned dog is most likely not having fun so it’s time to intervene.
    • If one dog won’t stop playing while the other needs to take a break, separate the dogs every few minutes to give the slower dog a break. Uninterrupted play can become a source of aggression if one dog becomes excessively annoyed with their play partner.

These tips are especially important if you bring your dog to a dog park where many different play styles are represented. If your dog is consistently becoming frustrated with the way other dogs play, consider setting up a playgroup with dogs who have similar play styles.

Like we said at the beginning of this post, it’s important to recognize that not all dogs enjoy playing with other dogs. Many people expect their dog to love playing with other dogs and if their dog doesn’t, the dog is a lemon. This is far from the truth. In puppy classes, dog trainers teach puppies to be comfortable in the presence of other dogs, but playing isn’t required. Often, dogs lose interest in playing with other dogs as they grow up and that’s normal too. Have questions or concerns? Contact Aska’s Animals Dog Behavior Specialist to learn specific tips for your dog and their style of play! If you’re interested in learning more on your own time, check out which highlights best practices for managing inter-dog play.