How to create success for your rescued dog.

Miss Wiley represents a large portion of our client population; adolescent rescue pups, recently added to awesomely committed families, who just want to be able to share all the fun times together. Except Wiley is lucky, she’s at school to undo any lost time as a second-hand dog, and to set her up for success in her now forever home. Training, and leadership are pure gold for the Wiley’s of the world, and it all begins the moment they hitch a ride to your home.

Unfortunately, most of these spunky kiddos are struggling with both a history of instability (which leads to cumulative stress), AND developmental processing/energy drain needs, so the movement from shelter or rescue to adoptive home, can be a bit chaotic at best. Most of these dogs don’t ever receive the clear guidance or training required to heal from past stresses, or develop healthy, respectful, confidence-boosting bonds to move forward with. Many begin to unravel with too much freedom and affection that contains no expectation of manners or mindfulness in their new home, an intentional mapping out of what they can/should do vs what they can’t/shouldn’t do is required.

In a perfect world, the adopted dog’s first experience with his/her new family would include heaps of structure, plenty of clear education about the house rules/boundaries, and consistent accountability – with fair access to fulfilling resources (exercise, play, mental challenge). That’s a tall order for most adopters who just want to have fun.

Some of these pups navigate the discrepancies between ideal and actual with minimal fall out, but others only become more concerned, anxious, insecure, or rebellious, as their new home amounts to MORE instability, lack of clarity, boredom (or even more unbelievable leadership than the shelter or rescue life provided).

If you’ve adopted a pup and want to really save their life, while also opening up the best possible version of your own, then formulating a plan to love by leading is essential. Take stock of whether you’ve laid out clear rules, boundaries and structure, so you can gradually (and with respect to your dog’s maturity level) roll out bits of freedom they have both earned, and know how to process. Seek training if the language you endeavor to share is not clearly interpreted by you, otherwise you’ll struggle to teach it to your new dog.

Be fair in your expectations, and remember that our dogs are not living in accordance with their most natural/preferred state, so our odd world and way of being is often confusing, stressful, or unsupportive. Deputize your tools; let the crate and leash offer consistent guidance and connection between you, your dog, and your ultimate freedom-filled life together. And if you’re ready to really take flight as a team, remote collar training awaits you.

We love working with the Wiley’s of the world as they are gaining access to the formula for success, and their families truly recognize the importance of process. Heaps of gratitude for allowing us to be your interpreters, and team supporters, on your journey to an ultimate enjoyment of your dog, as well as peace of mind.

How the structured walk can give you a better dog overall.

Q: Should I let my dog sniff and pee whenever he wants on the walk? He gets pretty distracted, and sometimes refuses to keep going when he finds something he’s pretty interested in. I also have a problem with him lunging and barking when we pass other dogs.

One of the most common misconceptions among dog owners is that dogs are happier if they have more freedom on the walk to sniff, pee, and explore. In reality, being out in front – or otherwise directionless on the walk – puts a lot of undue stress on our dogs. An unstructured walk makes a dog feel allowed to, or even responsible for, scanning the environment for potential issues. It empowers them to address/react to perceived problems, and enables a constant state of arousal that is actually quite uncomfortable for dogs. Imagine being constantly on alert, or perpetually jacked up on caffeine; that edginess is uncomfortable, right? This dynamic is made worse by the fact that the leash has limits; like a seat belt that becomes tight, a tense leash will evoke more frustration and tension in an already uncomfortable situation.

Dogs who do not receive direction and leadership on the walk often represent far more anxious and insecure dogs than those who learn to partner with, and default to, their handler. We like to think of the walk as a military convoy, an opportunity for you to be the lead “rig,” handling all the stressful work of scanning, processing, and executing in accordance with the world around you. Your dog, however, should be a traveling teammate in a rig *behind* you, looking to you for information, and trusting your lead so he/she can relax and enjoy the true freedom of a clarified objective.

Cruise like a convoy, and be the leader who takes on the most work for your “team.” You, after all, will know better how to process this human environment and not feel stressed in the way that your dog does. With your dog in the back of the line, he/she can truly relax, and the benefits of this dynamic can spill over into your relationship as a whole. Our dogs are foreigners in our land, they do not have the certainty we do about the multitude of stresses we encounter throughout each day. It’s our job to interpret, guide, advocate, and empower them to be themselves in the face of so many unnatural experiences. Lead on the walk, and you’ll see respect, trust, calm, and connection grow.

Cameron Thompsen Home2K9 Dog Training

The thing I need you to know more than dog tips or tools today…

It’s 6:10am on Monday morning, I roll over and reach for the 3×5 plastic baby monitor intended to give me a bird’s eye view into the kennel room. With the press of a button, I should have a pretty good idea of how bad the mess will be when I head out to start the day’s chores. I brace my sleepy self, and try to stave off the emblazoned scent memory that floods my nostrils (every time I have to clean up one of those messes, I cannot shake the smell no matter how much fragrance, sanitizer, or detergent we use). Some foul things just hunker down in the nose hairs, and refuse to budge.

Today, however, the monitor isn’t on the table beside me. I have no clue what’s going on out there, and it’s literally my job to NOT KNOW this morning. *insert control freak growth moment*

As my fuzzy morning brain clears, and I remember that I’m off duty today, I sigh a deep sigh of relief. I don’t have to go face that two-weeks-strong, daily, daunting, doodie mess, because some other beautiful soul has volunteered to wade through the muck and mire of canine excrement in my stead today. Someone else is on monitor management, so I can find my voice for the benefit of our community, and recharge my batteries from the prior nights on the front lines of Operation Shit Siege. You see, we’ve had a long stretch of tortured days here at the rescue for some reason. Things just happen like that sometimes, and we are weary with washing, wiping, and wishing the soiling spell would move along and torture some other humble enterprise, not ours. (Of course I don’t really mean that ‘torturing someone else’ part, I couldn’t possibly wish a 2016 Shit Siege on anyone.)

Moving on in my morning clarity, I say a blessing for my hero helper, and invite a torrential downpour on her of all the delightful karmic rewards imaginable. Her name is Kate; names are important, and karma needs to know her name. It’s extraordinary how much you can support someone by simply offering to give them one. night. off. Just one little break from the horrors of cleaning up crap, and I’m reborn. With more than five hours of uninterrupted sleep, I can “leap tall buildings in a single bound,” and run “faster than a speeding bullet.” Pretty much. Definitely do not underestimate your ability to sustain one of these weary individuals like myself, even if just with a few hours of your time. Truly, in moments like these, I experience regular flashbacks of growing up with an incontinent special needs sibling – my own mom reaching the weariest weariness on the regular, due to too little sleep, and too much mess – I am smacked upside the head with how crucial a community of givers is/was to her survival. It is to mine. You just can’t do it alone, friends,  helpers are SO IMPORTANT.

So, as I previously mentioned, my night off was intended to make space for me to write to you. It says on my schedule to share about dog stuff and follow a predetermined editorial calendar full of delightfully organized themes. But I just couldn’t. I was too delighted, too thankful, so I had to exercise this gratitude muscle for a moment instead. Honoring my story, something I have committed to doing this year, forces me to bring you in to my world for a bit. I hope you don’t mind. I do plan for us to talk regularly like we used to, here in this space, but not just about dog things. I plan for us to talk about the truths behind this little life too. The rescue life, the business building life, the getting to know myself and others life. If you’re good with that, then we’ll tackle fun facts later, I promise. For today, I’m just so thankful I didn’t have to clean up shit first thing in the morning. I’m thankful for all the generous giving we have experienced here in our little corner, the giving which has empowered us to take good care of each other and tap out when the nights get too long, or the days get too messy. For today, instead of dog facts, lets just take our hats off to all the moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, fiends and neighbors, grandmas and grandpas, fosters, rescuers, and ALL those helpers who sustain each other. I think that’s even more important today than any fun facts I can share about dog training, raising, adopting, or rehabilitating. Because the truth is, neither you or I can do any of that good stuff – without starting with gratitude, and the support of a tried and true tribe.

And if you don’t know what I’m talking about when I mention “the rescue,” you need to hop on over and check out Where we rescue, rehab, rehome… and clean up plenty of shit.


With gratitude,


Crate training your dog… your greatest asset in cultivating balance, for life.

It’s such a shame when we humanize another species, the damage we do is frequently as serious as life and death. When we impose our limited, emotional, or even self-serving views on another species, we disrespect their rights, and the gift that they are to the planet. Think of the recent dolphin death due to a swarm of selfish humans clambering for ‘selfies’ and deadly physical contact. Such a violation of that gorgeous creature. Such a waste. What does this have to do with a crate nap? The invaluable nature of this tool cannot be overstated, and yet so many refuse to see it for what it actually is, because they don’t respect that dogs are not human. With respect for the species, I invite you to actually stand in the paws of your dog when it comes to how they not only function, but actually thrive.

Too often the crate is judged like a style of shoe, a choice of sports team, religious position, dietary preference, or brand of car you could drive. All of those ought to be up to the individual to determine personal taste or relevance, but do not have a universal or global truth that is embraced among every person equally. Viewed as utterly wrong, ugly, optional or unnecessary, the rejection of a crate is a rejection of science, a universal truth among an entire species. They’re den animals. Period. Even if they have a traumatic experience around crating, then they have a “bad association” with that tool, they are not suddenly any less a dog, or any less a den animal. You may have a bad experience with a church, or gluten free pancakes, but you’re still a human and you’ll still have human needs to connect with others and eat delicious carbs. Right? It will be optional HOW or where you find your faith, or what you have for breakfast, but you will still need to eat and answer to your innermost self. Even the crate resistant dog will still need resources to cultivate what the crate represents; structure, stability, clarity, comfort.

So often the decision to stop using a crate is the beginning of cumulative stress and attitudinal anarchy in our young dogs. After weeks or months of structure, clarity, accountability and leadership for your puppy, suddenly the world becomes flexible, uncertain, over stimulating, and overwhelming – as they’re left loose to spin their wheels, and guess at what’s coming next. Because you didn’t want to look at it in your bedroom anymore? Because you thought human logic could trump canine behavior? It can’t.

For puppies who never have the opportunity to see a crate in their tool box, an unnecessary struggle to potty train, self-soothe, build confident independence, and respect boundaries ensues. These struggles can end up landing them in terrible states, and often mean rejection by the family who set them up to fail in the first place. I don’t say this to be mean, I say it because it’s true. I see these rejected dogs every single day in shelters, rescues, and rehab training programs.

Let’s go ahead and humanize a little more, for the benefit of self awareness. Just because YOU became potty trained, your need for massive continued learning and stability did NOT diminish, yes? In this way, potty training for humans and canines alike, is only a TINY step towards independence and self management. Had someone left you to your own devices at a toilet trained three years of age, then went to work for eight hours, you might not have lived to tell! It would certainly have been unreasonable for them to be angry if they returned to find you had destroyed something, injured yourself, or fallen apart emotionally. It is as unproductive to open up the excessive freedom and uncertainty we often heap onto our dogs when we go away, only to come home and be offended at the destruction or mental instability they display due to a lack of our consistency, and boundaries appropriate for their age and/or disposition while we were gone.

The same faulty logic of crating only for the purpose of potty training applies to removing naps for little ones, time outs, reasonable and consistent bed times… all tools to cultivate self management, and provide calming structure to OUR species as we grow. So why are we removing those comparable resource from our dogs? Dogs are even more desperate for their sanctuary and the structure that a cozy crate can provide, as they do not have the multitude of alternate resources you and I reach for every day to cultivate our continued learning, and calming internal space. They are transplants to our world, working hard to fit in among foreigners. Not learning to potty train properly is a HUGE stress for your dog too, it’s not just hard on you, so that’s absolutely a number one reason to implement crating to begin with. Keep it going though!

All of this a very long way of saying that I want you to see the crate as your partner in crime. Your right hand woman, and the key to unlocking greatness in your puppy or dog. Don’t let your human-ness invalidate your dog’s canine-ness. We are a different species, both desiring to be related to as such, and respected for the unique avenues needed to achieve peace.

Special note (because this post isn’t long enough already…):

This post isn’t about those few dogs who have extreme anxiety and absolutely cannot be crated due to the physical harm they have learned to inflict from their traumatized state. There are definitely those dogs. Truly though, those dogs are exceptional, and often CAN be helped. Don’t give up too easily. Yes, you may have inherited an exception to the rule, but 9/10 times your dog is just begging you to see that the whole of their life is out of whack, so much so that they can’t even be the den animal they’re genetically designed to be. That’s a big fat opportunity to be a hero right there, and I’ve seen that done a everyday too.

For more practical information about how to crate train your dog, here’s a step by step tutorial video.