What is F.R.A.P!?!?

Frenetic Random Activity Period!

Sometimes your puppy will appear to lose their ever loving mind and run around like a little demon. There might be barking and bouncing about, a generally wild behavior. This is a normal developmental behavior and it has a name, FRAP!

FRAP can be fun but sometimes this playful behavior can be destructive and even dangerous. Here are a couple of rules to keep to when you see your pup going into a frenetic period.

1. Don’t worry, relax and enjoy

This is a normal developmental behavior and sometimes is seen in dogs that are past their puppyhood, sometimes as late as two or three years of age, but more typically in dogs between the age of two months to one year. If the behavior is reinforced, then it may become a regular part of their routine. In order to avoid that, it is important to not participate in the behavior. Just sit back and smile. If your dog is destructive and potentially going to be a large dog, try not to laugh, as this may encourage them to go even crazier and potentially carry this behavior into adulthood. Maybe you could film it and laugh about it later;)

2. An ounce of prevention…

If your pup has had all of their shots then you’re in luck! Find a puppy kindergarten class and sign up. Don’t worry if you’re not seeing your pup learning a lot of what you may think is important, like walking on a leash or even sitting. Wrestling, or if you have a shy dog, watching other dogs wrestle, can be an amazing drain on their energy and can limit or even eliminate the occurrence of these FRAP sessions. If your dog just goes to puppy kindergarten and hides the entire time under your seat, then comes home and loses their mind, don’t worry. This means the best thing you can do is return to the class again and again, until they engage. Once they do, and they will if you are consistent, they will have learned a very essential lesson about relating to other dogs and that will give you a way to get your dog tired when they get older.

Below is a video of Nora the Shitzu and my dog Rowdy playing in the back yard. Nora’s mom called me concerned that her puppy Nora was biting, barking and generally exhibiting some FRAPish tendencies. She attended some puppy kindergarten classes and came with me for some training sessions. Needless to say she did not show any of those FRAPish tendencies when she got home after this!

3. All things in their right place

Is your pup making a right mess of your home as they FRAP the heck out? The best thing for a young pup is to have the space they need in order be the pup they are. Limit the amount of space the puppy has in your house to the confines of one or maybe two small rooms. This allows them to not have to comprehend a potentially “too large” space. If you live in an apartment, this has the added benefit of keeping them from tearing up your stuff.

4. Knowing when the storm will hit

Common times for Frenetic Random Activity Periods are mornings upon waking and evenings before bedtime. This is because dogs have extra energy to burn and they are ready to rock! So these might be good times to engage with a little structured training in anticipation of this extra energy out burst. I also find though that dogs that have been doing vigorous training exercises for extended periods of time will occasionally go into a FRAP state. It’s important to know what your dog can handle and not try to combat them on this. Also, bath time will quite often result in a FRAP session. If this is the case for your pup know that this is because the body is attempting to raise the body temperature of the dog in order to compensate for the loss of heat due to being wet. Again this is totally normal and should not be scolded or cheered as either might reinforce the behavior. Simply dry your dog as much as you can and wrap them in as many towels or blankets as you can and place them in a crate. This can reduce the bodies autonomic response of injecting the adrenaline that brings about the FRAP state. Make sure to change the towels and blankets every thirty minutes or so in order to prevent the skin from becoming closed in with dampness for too long as this can result in hotspots. Hairdryers can also help but often dogs need to be taught to trust such a noisy and obtrusive tool, so take your time introducing it and it will pay off in the long run.

5. When the storm has passed

The worst thing you can do during a FRAP session is repeat the dogs name. They are in another dimension of reality and repeating their name will only result in them ignoring your voice in the future, so refrain from using their name at all. However, once the crazies have been exorcized from the little beastie, feel free to re-engage them. If you see them shake off the wildness, you can say “good (insert name here)”. If they lie down and lounge out, go over and join them and say “Good Girl” or “Good Boy” softly so as to reinforce this state of relaxedness. If, however, your pup jumps up and resumes their wild ways, return to the more aloof state of watching but not participating in this behavior. This eventually will teach your dog to return to a relaxed state more quickly, until the behavior is extinguished.


In Conclusion

Plenty of exercise is not always enough for every dog when it comes to extinguishing this phenomenon, but it can’t hurt. Doing a structured walk or puzzle, visiting the dog park, doing agility routines, drafting a cart,  engaging in zoomies in the yard or all of these things in one day might still result in a dog with extra energy that results in FRAP. These instances are very rare and if your full grown dog is having trouble with finding a peaceful nights rest, or seems to be driven to a more destructive place, you should get in touch with a vet-recommended trainer or a behaviorist, as this is a problem that has solutions.

Should Dogs Wear Clothes? An Ethical Quandary

Well it’s Halloween again and the age old argument is out there. Is it cruel to dress your dog in a Halloween costume? My dog Rowdy recently participated in the Annual Narrows Botanical Garden Harvest Festival Doggy Costume Contest and The Dodo was there to film the event. The next morning they streamed the event as a FaceBook Live event and I watched as the comments flowed in. Most of the commenters were positive and encouraging in there responses but others, maybe because they were coming from a place of concern for the animals, were opposed to the event. I want to take a moment to respond to some of these concerns.


Oh Toze, what can I say to you? Though I do appreciate that you are concerned for the animals welfare, I think your definition of torture may be a bit out of focus. There are plenty of places online to find examples of animal torture, this most assuredly, is not one. If you or anyone who shares your opinion would like to help animals who have been tortured, I encourage you to volunteer at your local pound, no-kill shelter or rescue and you will get to see what the result of torture looks like.


I always give my dog a choice as to what he wears and whether or not he puts it on. I hold out the open neck hole and Rowdy puts his head through. Then he lifts his legs to put them through the leg holes. If at any time he puts up a fuss and he has, I will pull back and reassess the situation maybe the fit is wrong, in which case, I don’t attempt to make him wear whatever that article of clothing is. However, I have been walking with him on a cold day while carrying his hoodie in my hand. When, unprompted, he started nudging my hand and the hoodie in it, indicating that he wanted the hoodie on. So I always consider Rowdy’s input on this.

BTW: I don’t think Greg watched the video if you look at the timestamp on his comment. If he had, I think he would have seen a lot of dogs having a great time.



Well it’s not illegal or demeaning to put clothes on a dog. If it were you would see K-9 dogs without bullet-proof vests or search and rescue dogs without their high visibility or flotation vests. The notion that dogs are not smart enough to understand wearing clothes I think is more demeaning to dogs than the notion that what they are wearing might not fit into your opinion of good taste.


I absolutely agree with Barbel, Divya and sad snoopy, they are not dolls. I like to do lots of things with my dog and this is just one of them. We go hiking, we do nosework, we go to the dog park and we do recreational carting. These are all fun dog things to do. Running around in the ring to the cheers of an adoring crowd, is just one of the ways Rowdy likes to enjoy his life. If you watch the video I think you’ll see what I mean.


Wha?!?! Some people need to learn how to form a reasonable argument, before they learn how to operate a keyboard.


This might be the only argument against doggy costumes except for the fact that this contest was held with the express purpose of raising awareness and yes funding for a local no-kill shelter. People donated to Sean Casey in order to participate. Those who were attending, that didn’t have pets, were exposed to the magic of the rescue dog world, breaking down the assumptions of many, that a dog is something to be purchased from a store. There was a lot of good done by this event.

Here are some other working dogs, wearing clothes.

There are 1.1 thousand comments and over 122 thousand views of this video as of the time I post this article. The overwhelming majority of comments are in support of the event. I want people out there that enjoy dressing up their dog to be aware that they should make sure that they keep it fun for their dog. If your dog is willing and ready to dress up than go for it! Make sure it’s not all you do with them, but sure why not have fun with this harmless and silly little hobby. Please be sure to support your local no kill shelter and if you want to donate to Sean Casey here is their link.

Why Positive Works: Bumper Cars and Shopping Carts, An Analogy

beagle-puppy-mini-shopping-cart-10051360There are a lot of trainers talking about the benefits of positive training. From Ian Dunbar to Karen Pryor, most modern dog trainers are espousing the benefits of this new way of engaging your canid friends. Why does it work?

When I was in High school I had a job at a grocery store. One of my duties was to retrieve the shopping carts from the parking lot. I’d walk around shoving the carts back into a corral. Sometimes I’d push one across the lot from an especially long distance. The cart would go part of the way towards the corral. Then the caster would sputter, catch and the cart would turn off in another direction. It wasn’t very effective.

Let’s imagine I had a bumper car to help me with this job. Would it have helped?  I would drive around bumping the carts here and there. Eventually I might get one in the corral but it wouldn’t be very efficient and it might even get frustrating. I might even slap into one of these carts at the wrong angle and it might turn and knock back into me injuring me in some way. Also, the more carts I would have to corral, the exponentially more difficult the solution would be to achieve.

So what could I do? It seemed like I had tried everything! I’d even yelled at the carts and they just kept on being naughty! Well, I guess I might try engaging the shopping cart to my bumper car in some way, by pulling it along beside or behind me, until I could drive it right into the corral. Not only would this work, but the more carts I’d have, the easier and the more quickly the job would be done. I’d hook them all up and drive them right across the lot and right into the corral, without any trouble at all!

This is how positive response training works. If we engage our dog and bring them to the behavior we want them to display, they learn the value of behaving in that way. If, however, we try to bump them into the corral of the desired behavior by saying “No” to every behavior they display, they have no focus for where they should go with their enthusiasm. As a result they sputter off in some other undesired direction.

Positive Reinforcement has been written about in much more technical detail than this, and I will include some links to pages you might find interesting, but I’m warning you now it can get pretty wonky. All you need to know is that if you are tired of constantly saying the word “No” all the time, if you are done with being ignored by your dog, then maybe it’s time to consider trying something new.

Six Myths About Positive Reinforcement

Kids, Cookies, Tied Shoes

Ian Dunbar on TedTalks Youtube 

So you’ve brought home a puppy… now what?

rowdys-cuteOnce you’ve figured out a good puppy formulated food and you’ve seen the veterinarian for a health check up, what are the most important purchases to get for your new pooch? Here’s a list of the top things you should get at the pet supply store…

1. A buckled collar


Plastic “easy clip” collars are what you will find most of the time when you go to your average pet supply store, but they have more than a few flaws that can range from frustrating to downright dangerous.

First of all, the easy clip apparatus doesn’t allow the dog to put the collar on themselves. And a dog should feel ownership over everything they’re required to wear. Often when I’m teaching a dog how to put on a collar, I’ll hold it out and invite them towards it via the use of food. A buckled collar allows you to do this. You can hold the collar out and invite the dog to move their head through the loop, praising them when they achieve this feat of bravery. The easy clip collar is to small for this method, and usually results in a wrestling match, unwittingly teaching a dog that apparel is to be resisted.

Easy clips are also often made from plastic, that becomes brittle over time. You won’t know that your dogs collar is about to break until a squirrel darts out in front of you and into the street with your pooch in hot pursuit. This is especially true during extreme weather. So whether its very hot or very cold you’re always safer with a buckled collar.

I sell these for ten dollars each if you have a hard time finding them at a pet store. They are sturdy, come in a variety of colors and you can easily cut them to fit your dogs neck.

2. A Six Foot Leash


The leash is the most powerful communication tool in a dog trainers toolkit. Often misunderstood, the leash should not be thought of as a means of restriction, but rather as a way to develop rapport between dog and handler. There have been many attempts to improve the leash like putting a bungee in between the loop and the link, or adding a second loop closer to the link in order to have a closer grip on the dog. By far the worst reiteration of the leash is the retractable leash.

We’ve all seen them. A big box with a handle that spools in and out, with a cable or flat leash that locks or retracts at the push of a button. First of all, these things are dangerous. Just like the clip on the collar, the brakes on these mechanisms will fail at the worst times. The way these things work is that the dog is encouraged to pull in order to get the leash to spool out, and as a result, the dog learns that pulling is the best way to get what they want. This often results in a frantic animal that has very little self control.

Another way they can be harmful is that the thin, cable-like leash is exceedingly sharp. And if it ends up getting wrapped around a person’s exposed skin, or god forbid, your pet, well, I won’t post pictures here because they turn my stomach. But you can do a google image search of retractable leash injuries and see what I mean, and why I refuse to work with them.

I will go into this in more detail when I post about the heel command and how to best achieve a good side by side walk with your pooch. But it’s important to remember that we have our dog walk alongside and somewhat behind us not because we’re in control of them, but because they’re in control of themselves. There is no better tool to teach this than the six foot leash.

3. Training Treats!


As proper fee for service, treats can become a powerful tool for engaging your dog early on in the training process. I am not going to say what “The Best Dog Treat” is as that should be left to your dog to decide. That being stated here are a few guidelines…

Good is good

Don’t keep using a dog treat your dog doesn’t like or is tired of. Change it up try new stuff all the time and don’t be afraid to use whatever it takes to engage your dogs attention. If that means using deli meats because your dog won’t eat Pupperoni, go get some ham.

Challenge tastes better

Don’t just hand out treats without getting something in return. Use these treat only during training when you have specific goals to achieve and reward only that progress.

Smaller is better

When looking for training treats look for something that you can easily break up and dole out in pieces. For this reason I usually recommend against milk bones as they are cumbersome in this regard.

Be creative and observant

Not all dogs have the same palate. I bought some primo roast beef and brought it to a training with a particularly picky pooch. He couldn’t care less. His owner said “Yeah the only thing he gets excited about is old bananas.” and that’s what they use to this day for his training sessions.

4. Puppy Pads


Yes, I realize that this is not a photo of puppy pads. I’m sure you know what those look like though. This is a picture of painters tape. You can find it at any hardware store or paint shop. It’s cheap and works great to keep your wee wee pads in place. The best reason to use painters tape from the beginning is that puppy never gets the chance to see the pad as a play thing. If you have a particularly playful pup it may be a good idea to tape the entire edge all the way around the outside of the pad so as to prevent the edge of the pad becoming an invitation to scrappy puppy mouths. It also may be a good idea to spray the tape with Bitter Apple.  Bitter Apple is a chewing and biting preventative. It’s totally non-toxic and safe for dogs to have near or even on their bodies but it doesn’t taste good to them. Bitter apple is also good to put on wires and furniture that might otherwise become targets of your pups mouthy ways.