S1.E5: Helping Former Research Dogs Find Happiness

with guest Tamara Tokash

About this Episode

How can we help former research dogs leave the past behind and find happiness…perhaps for the first time in their lives? Dog trainer and nutritionist Tamara Tokash shares decades of wisdom and cool tips to help dogs who’ve left the confinement of a research laboratory by promoting their healing from the inside out.

Guest: Tamara Tokash

Tamara Tokash is the owner and head trainer at Courteous Canines which she founded over 30 years ago.  Her extensive classroom and field experience is in canine behavior, nutrition and obedience. Surpassing 20,000 hours of education, her teaching, research and studies have yielded vibrant dogs along this time. She traveled extensively learning from highly respected and world-renowned experts in every field from behavior to nutrition. Tamara’s continued education courses reflect her passion and drive to do what’s right for dogs with the hope that they will be happier and much healthier. She is also the author of the book Blessed-A Laboratory Research Dog which she wrote about her adopted beagle Sammy.  Some of Tamara’s other accomplishments include:

  • Cornell Canine Behavior Program
  • Certified Pet Food Nutrition Specialist
  • Certified Raw Dog Food Nutrition Specialist
  • Certified in Traditional Chinese Medicine / Food Therapy
  • Certified in Flower Essences
  • Certified in Reiki
  • Assistant Dog Trainer St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare
  • Association of Pet Dog Trainers
  • 40 + Years Canine & Equine Husbandry
  • 30 + Years Veterinarian Recommended
  • Homeopathy & Conventional First Aide
  • Mentored under Pia Silvani
  • Dunbar, Overall, London, Reid, Hetts & McConnell – APDT
  • Founder/Owner The Happy Hound – Raw Market


Ellie Hansen, host:

Sammy was your first laboratory research beagle. How did you find out about Sammy and what condition was he in when you adopted him?

Tamara Tokash:

So it was one of those situations where a colleague of mine was a co-director of a beagle rescue…at the time it was Cascade Beagle Rescue. My labrador retriever Chloe had passed away. She was fourteen and several months later I reached out to this woman Patty and she was at Cascade and I said I’m looking for beagle. She showed me a couple of her beagles that were available and I scheduled time to go and she said you know I know you’re coming up, but I’d like you to look at this lab beagle. And I said, “Oh my gosh what a combination…lab and beagle. And she said, “Oh no, no. It’s a former laboratory research beagle.” And I just got physically ill. I couldn’t believe that being in the dog business for so many decades I thought I had heard and was familiar with so many different niches and what have you and she said, “I have six dogs. It’s the first six that are legally released in New Jersey through a research facility and I think you’d be a perfect match because they really need a special person and you have a background in behavior et cetera et cetera.

So long story short I went there and I did meet the first dog. It just wasn’t the right match. And I said, “Let’s meet this dog,” and I met him and it was love at first sight. I mean I know it sounds kind of corny but he just was magnificent in so many ways and I was awestruck that this dog had only been out of the lab for I think at the time five days and he was just so endearing and we connected and then that’s how I got him. I brought my son back with my husband a couple of days later and I was really, really impressed by for a dog that had been shut off from the world for six and a half years, had never touched grass, had never got up and downstairs, had never seen anything other than the four walls and the confines of a sterile laboratory, he and our son–who at the time was five–frolicked and trailed our son for a good thirty minutes outside this this woman’s house in her fenced in back yard and so that was it.

So that’s how I came to discover this just horrible, heart-wrenching situation of laboratory dogs, but at the same token, I just felt as if he came into my life for a reason because I believe every animal comes into your life for a reason. And I just wanted to make sure that for all the years he gave in the lab that he was afforded that many more years tacked on to his life. And you know ironically in the end that is what happened. He lived to be eighteen and so he was given almost twelve years here with a very loving, relaxing, happy, healthy life.

He was in excellent condition I will say. I know that not all of these dogs are in excellent condition. A lot of them are malnourished, their dentition is terrible of course, their constitution is broken, and all of that, and the list goes on and on and it’s terrible, but I can only speak for Sammy and I have another laboratory research dog, a second adopted one now. I can only speak for them and the ones that I have worked with as a professional, but Sammy he had great muscle tone, his dentition was terrific, but he was really scared and rightfully so, and so I just worked at his pace and I didn’t want to give him too much too soon because that’s just how I operate in general with clients’ dogs and my dogs, but I also immediately recognized that he had a very unusual sense of curiosity considering he had been in a cage in a laboratory for all those years. So I really tried to capitalize on that.

I saw that while he was cautious, he was cautiously curious and so I took his lead. I know there are a lot of trainers and dog people out there that say you know you have to be alpha and I don’t think that way. I don’t like that mentality. It’s too dominating. It’s not a competition here. It’s okay…there’s two hearts beating next to each other. How can we really make this relationship work and have a synergistic relationship? And so I just took his lead. I was not trying to control any of the situations when it came to learning. I controlled situations if they were stressful for him.


 You already knew a lot about dog training and nutrition animal nutrition at the time you adopted Sammy because of your profession. What did Sammy teach you that was different?


I really embraced his curiosity because I think so many times people go into having dog and they think okay, I need to teach this dog to sit, to lie down, to come when called, to x y n z, and I took it from a different standpoint. I took it from okay, I’m going to see what he’s curious about and build on that. As long as it was a safe environment for him to be in, him exploring, whatever it was, it might have been grass, it might have been a bag of groceries, whatever it was, as long as it was a positive experience it boosted his confidence. And if you’re boosting one’s confidence you’re reducing or at least diminishing the stress.  And even if you take a bigger step back and you look at that, if you’re reducing the stress and increasing the confidence, with that the ancillary impact is you’re increasing happiness, right? And if you’re increasing happiness, the body and the mind and the emotions–on a quantum physics level without getting all scientifically deep here–it helps the body heal from trauma.

The other side of it though is the body right, because these dogs are given subpar food. Just being in a lab takes a toll on the emotions and then therefore on the body, and because I also specialize in canine nutrition um I always tell people use ten days. If you’re going a transition a dog from one diet to another use ten days.

Just to tell you what I did with Sammy, because I assessed his situation and I said you know what this dog is in good condition, he’s healthy, he’s very food motivated—I mean well what beagle’s not food motivated for the most part, right?

And so he came home and I started him on raw food the day he came home. It was slowly you know, I didn’t just immediately transition him on day one, but on day one I gave him a teaspoon of raw food and then day two I gave him two teaspoons of raw food and that in and of itself was giving his body what it needed.

Every dog is an individual. You have to really assess each individual dog, and then your willingness and what your comfort level is and build some kind of a plan and work from there.


 Sammy passed away at the golden age of eighteen. Honestly not many dogs get to live that long but Sammy lived a quality life for that long. So what were your secrets helping him live such a long happy life, especially considering where he came from?


I’m a huge advocate for a biologically correct appropriate raw food diet, but that’s not for every person, that might not be for every dog. You have to do what’s best for your dog and what you’re also comfortable with but if I had to sum up what other things really contributed to his happiness and his good quality of life…free will. You know the best way to sum that up is I let him be a dog.

The way I work with people is I do in-home private behavior and nutrition and so what I find a lot of times when I go into someone’s home is even though these are not laboratory research dogs, a lot of dogs are suppressed. Every natural canine behavior is typically suppressed The people are saying, “No, stop you can’t sniff that. No, don’t do that. Don’t Bark.  Stop barking. Be quiet.” And the list goes on and on. So having and allowing a dog to be a dog and that includes you know let them dig. It might be you create a little dig spot on your property or you bring them for a hike and you let them dig there. You can bury little toys and treasures in your property in a dig spot if you’d like to do that.

Some dogs are not diggers so then that’s not that’s not for them, but the basic behavior of sniffing is such a stress buster. And then you factor in you’ve got a scent hound here that is able to deduce and to decode so many different scent particles that it’s so overlooked. How do you destress a dog? One of the ways is you let them sniff. You let them do dog things.

You have to have to know your dog and that comes with time. It’s impossible for anyone, no matter where the dog comes from, to just get a dog and say, “Okay I understand…I know this dog. It’s a Doberman, it’s a Labrador, it’s a beagle, this what they’re like.” You can’t base it on breed or you can’t base it on where they came from. You have to base it off of that particular living being. So free will, a lot of sniffing…it’s a dopamine release when they sniff so that’s another good thing.

And I think the final point on that is so many dogs don’t have a purpose. They don’t feel as if they’re needed and I’ve always believed in that right from the beginning. I’ve applied it with my clients and my dogs, but in particular with Sammy. I wanted him to know he’s part of the family. He has a purpose. For any being, if you have a sense of purpose you have a reason to get up and get through your day, and there’s enrichment that’s involved with that right? And so then that enrichment carries over to cognition which carries over to neuroplasticity which is you know you’re essentially basically able to learn new things.

My overarching belief system particularly with Sammy is I assumed confidence. I just looked at him on that day at the rescue and I said, “You can do this. You lived in this laboratory for God knows how many years and God knows what happened to you. Anything after that…it’s easy right?”

That’s an obstacle for many people and many dogs I find is that they’ll say, “No my dog can’t do that now.” Or they’ll say, “I’m shocked I can’t believe they did that!” And I think, “Why are you shocked?” You should just really just go into this and say, “I know I believe in my dog and I also believe in myself that I can help my dog through x y and z.”


Yeah, I agree. There’s an energy when you have confidence in yourself and what you believe the outcome can be for your dog instead of bringing a victim mentality to your dog’s past situation–in this case a terrible life in a laboratory. If you keep focusing on that past…that energy from the past…feelings like fear and lack of confidence and like you said “oh he can’t do that because of all everything he went through.” That energy is different than, “here’s your new life, you’re loved, you’re safe, and we’re going to give this a shot and I know you’re going to do great.” It’s like an energy within yourself and it’s hard to describe what “energy” is, but dogs can pick up on that.


Oh absolutely, a thousand percent, and I’ve seen the shift. I’ve seen it with clients that they’re  very doubtful, they’re very pessimistic, they’re very cynical, and they’ll say to me, “Why is my dog doing it for you (whatever it is) or why is my dog not doing x, y, and z around you, but they do that with me?” And I always give them the same answer: “You know I don’t have any magic tricks up my sleeve, it’s I believe in their dog.” I have full confidence that the dog is going to do whatever situation we’re putting them in or we’re asking of them, but there are two camps. And I see it again i know

I know this podcast is geared around laboratory research dogs–retired ones–but this goes for most people that have dogs, but particularly for retired laboratory research dogs. There are two camps. There are the people that suppress dogs, and they isolate them, right, and then there are the other people that overindulge and over-stimulate the dogs. You know there are people that they adopt the dogs wherever the dogs are from and they’re at a baseball game the next day. You can’t do that. It’s too much. You have to always be putting yourself in the dog’s position.

And then there are the other people that say, “Oh no, the dog never leaves the house.”  Well, that’s essentially just a large cage then for the dog if your dog is never leaving the house. But what’s comfortable for your dog is what you have to do, and again it goes back to connecting with your dog and even as silly as it might sound, just asking your dog, “What do you need?” And that evolves with time. That changes.


An important point is having realistic expectations when working with former research dogs.  When we adopt a dog, we may imagine this dog being so happy to finally have a home. Wagging his or her tail looking joyfully at us. However, many laboratory dogs have had such a horrible painful experience with humans, or perhaps just very limited human interaction, that they are the opposite of joyful and happy. Some dogs may be totally terrified of their owners (which is how my beagle Marty was when we first adopted him), or shut down for a period of time and this can be very discouraging. We may underestimate the amount of time it takes for a dog to overcome severe trauma or a negative association with people. So, what specific methods would you use for a dog that fits this description?


Every lab is different right? There are different classes of labs. There’s an A class lab which is very benign testing and then B and C and D and  the higher down in the alphabet you go the more invasive, and the tests are borderline cruel and just torturous for lack of a better word. But these dogs emotionally, behaviorally, and physically everything… their overall health, their mind, their body, their spirit…it’s all amplified. And one of the biggest overlooked training tools if we’re going to look at this from a training perspective is distance and time. And I think humans are just inherently, I don’t know why, we’re just all in a rush to do everything.

I think of it in terms of threes. There’s three days, the three days after you adopt a dog; there’s three weeks and there’s three months. Now within that, the minimum amount of time for transition or acclamation when you bring a dog into your home is nine months.

You want to embrace everything that your dog is. You want to embrace all the different traits that your dog has and work out from there. So these expectations that a lot of people impose on dogs all that’s doing is it’s counterproductive. It’s creating more stress on the dogs and then the dogs are getting stressed and then that has this vicious cycle and it’s this terrible feedback loop of it makes the people stressed and annoyed and then the dog feed feeds off of that energy and then the dog gets more stressed. So, knowing that everything is amplified with them, you’re just going to give them the gift of…okay, I’m going to take this slowly and I’m also going to just give them the time that they need.

It might mean instead of you putting the grocery bag right in your kitchen when you come in on the floor that might scare your dog, maybe you leave it down the hall, and then you just do a bread crumb trail of food, real food–I’m not talking about dog treats but real food. A great tip is when you bring a dog into your house before you get that dog go to the market and get rotisserie chicken and dismantle that baby until there is nothing left, and put it into a million different zip lock bags, pyres box containers, whatever and that is your go to every day. And it’s all about desensitization. Desensitization to things in your house, desensitization of things outside of your house. So, the expectations—if you can keep them in check—it makes it easier for the dog to learn and come out of their shell.


A common scenario with newly adopted research dogs is that the dogs might warm up to the female in the household right away or soon after adoption but they remain fearful of the males in the household for a longer period of time and I’ve always thought well maybe it was that more men worked in the research laboratory and handled the dog, but what do you think this is about and what approaches would you use to help a dog in this situation?


I’ve thought about that too. I do think you know perhaps most of the researchers are men, but I don’t know. I mean we’ll really never know that but just in general dogs are more apprehensive around men and it’s not that men are bad and women are good; it has nothing to do with that. It’s that men have a different body language. It’s much more intimidating. They’re generally bigger. Men have a different vocal intonation. So you combine all of that  and it goes back to these animals, these particular animals from a laboratory, they’re hyper- sensitive.

If they’re scared of a man, normally someone would think well maybe the man should be feeding the dog. Well maybe, but maybe not, because if a dog…let’s just say…a dog is eating two meals a day and a dog is terrified of the man in the house well that’s going to make that meal extremely, extremely difficult for that dog which is not you’re not you’re not really getting anywhere. So, you want to keep in mind like how can I look at things from my dog’s perspective? And so if we’re looking at it in this particular case as dogs are fearful of men then you want to you want to dismantle it and you’re almost looking at it as if you’re building a house of cards, or a Lego set even better…which is, isolate different things and use high value food.

I’m not a fan of dog treats because they’re generally not healthy. A lot of people say, “Oh well I don’t give my dog people food.” I just want to clarify something. There’s no such thing as people food. It’s food. There’s food on this planet and the food is meant for living beings. You’re not going to harm your dog if you give them people food. Now you don’t want to be feeding your dog from the kitchen table because then you’re actually teaching them perhaps to beg from the table, but when it comes to behavior modification and trying to desensitize a dog to something that they’re either terrified of, or not comfortable with, or anywhere in between, you need to find something that is motivating to them and that you can do the desensitization with, and generally the best bang for your buck that makes the learning process easy is high value food. And that might be the chicken or it might be a couple of pieces of steak or it might be—I use a lot of goat cheese.

So, the gentleman would take the food and even putting it in his hand that might be too much for that dog to take at that time, but I mentioned the bread crumb trail before with the dog food or with the grocery food bag. You could just have like a ten-foot bread crumb trail of real food that lead up or around the guy and just keep it at that so that the dog just gets familiar with…oh, alright, you know what? Every time I around this person all of these good things happen. The gentleman could even be walking around the house dropping little bits and pieces of food so that it’s kind of like you know…Oh wow! All these goodies are raining from the sky whenever he’s around.

Depending on the severity of the fear of the gentlemen, if the dog is that scared, reaching and petting and all of that needs to take a back seat and you have to just wait until the dog is comfortable enough for that. It’s better for a dog to come up to a person than a person to go up to a dog. Always remember that, because if they’re coming up to you then they’re willing and able and they’re in a better mind set to accept it.

The other things that a man can do though is just from an optics point of view, standing straight on and facing a dog is really intimidating, particularly if they’re staring or looking at a dog. So, if the dog is terrified or uncomfortable, the gentlemen should stand sideways because no matter how thin we are, we’re that much thinner generally and less intimidating looking if we stand sideways. So that’s always a great tip that that that’s helpful.

The other thing is they could squat down to the ground, averting eye contact, because again eye contact can be intimidating.  So that’s something else that they can do. But, really being open to using high value food, you’d be surprised how rapid the training and the learning is with that.


Dogs used for research have never really known love and kindness, they have often been abused and neglected, they are forced to obey and not fight against the procedures they have endured, they live in cages in basements under florescent lights–a life that is so unnatural for a dog. So, it’s not surprising that many dogs rescued from research have what I will call a broken “spirit.” Can a dog’s spirit be healed and how would you define a dog’s spirit?


Yes, I do. I’m an optimist so I believe that a dog’s spirit can be healed at least to a degree. My interpretation and my definition of a spirit…it’s really a constellation of energy and I think we were talking about that before. We’re all a constellation of energies and that goes back to when I was mentioning quantum physics. That’s really what it is… it’s the study of energy.

The body houses the spirit and so that’s why in my work I’m always blending the three–the mind, the body, and the spirit–because while they’re interdependent they have to have the synergistic relationship. So if the body is broken or diseased, the mind cannot be fully at peace, or the spirit cannot be fully at ease, and visa versa, right? If the mind has so much trauma or anxiety, that has a direct impact on the body and you’re going to see inflammation, you’re going to see chronic disease, et cetera et cetera.

So to say, okay, I’m only going to feed my dogs healthy food, but then you don’t address the dog’s emotional state or their spirit, it’s really doing them a disservice. So trying to make sure that you’re always touching upon and balancing the three. It can seem like a juggling act and it is a juggling act. But their spirits can be healed. I’ve seen them transform themselves over and over again. And you know, we’re what they need, because they don’t have a voice. We are who they need to help them, to help facilitate things, whether it’s finding a playmate for them when you’re at the park or having them exposed to different people of all different ages and different locations and bringing them to different places. I know one of Sammy’s favorite things to do was (when I was saying they have a purpose, give them a sense of purpose) was he loved car rides. Now not every dog likes the car, but he loved to be in the car, so for him that was a healing part for his spirit.


I believe that there is an energy in the what we put into our bodies, so that is the energy of food. In healing the research dog’s body, nutrition plays an instrumental part. Dogs in research laboratories are fed a food called “lab chow” that is low quality and designed to make the dogs produce less waste and many lab dogs have rotted teeth as a result when they’re rescued, which is one sign of poor diet. What are some things a research dog adopter can do to start healing the dog’s body, and how does wholesome nutrition facilitate healing of the mind and spirit as well.


Yes, I completely concur. Well, you know there are quite a few things that adopters can do to help their dog’s body heal and then in turn help the mind heal and the spirit. But then there’s also this conundrum that I believe and I see what happens with every person, even if they get a dog from a breeder. They get so overwhelmed or they just kind of I call it “kitchen sinking” the dog. They just throw everything that they’ve heard and possibly wanted to try at the dog all at once and that generally doesn’t really work out too well for the dog because their digestive tract is really sensitive. They’re already in a stressful situation from going from wherever they were to the new home.

So, because the gut houses the digestive track, the gut houses at least eighty per cent of the immune system, that’s where I start. There’s a lot of data out there, a lot of empirical evidence out there, about it’s called the gut brain access and there’s this connection between the microbiome that’s in the gut. And if it’s just not healthy because there’s been an onslaught of vaccines and onslaught of medication, subpar food, stress, right, all of those bad conditions they build up and over a very short period of time what it does is it weakens the junctures inside the dog’s gut. This happens to any animal you know including us. I see a lot of people with leaky gut, too. And then the particles that should be contained within the gut they start to seep into the blood stream and that’s where you get inflammation and you get the allergies or sensitivities or intolerances and then chronic disease.

So the gut is where I generally start because there are fairly easy things that you can do that aren’t going to disrupt your dog’s day to day routine. So dogs are probably coming into people’s homes on a bag of kibble, and so how I look at it as rather than just swapping out the kibble immediately on day one with a healthy food, first transition your dog and use bone broth to just pour over. Warm it up. It doesn’t have to be boiled, just warm it up and drizzle that over the dog’s food and even the fact that it’s warmed up you’re replenishing a dog’s entire body system and all of their organs with some warm nourishing food. And bone broth has a lot of beneficial properties to it. I actually have a bone broth recipe that’s my favorite on my website if you want to direct your listeners to that, but the bone broth is really going to help seal those junctures and there’s collagen in it and it’s going help support the gut. So that’s the easiest and one of the best things to just start with.

After that then I go with a digestive enzyme and a pre and probiotic. That’s just a simple powder that you can add to their food whatever their food might be. The other thing I do is, you know  their immune system is more than likely weakened with everything that they’ve been through and what their body has dealt with, and so I like to add colostrum into their food. And I just do that for a good month.

After that then I will start to re-analyze okay what exactly does this dog need and every single dog—it doesn’t matter where they come from–they do need a detox and it should be a liver detox. It could be a heavy metal detox. How do you do that? There are a variety of different supplements out there, but again you don’t want to over-supplement. Then you also don’t want to destroy the two main happiest parts of their day which are their meals, so if you take the greatest meal organic raw food and if you dump a bunch of supplements on there, you’ve just ruined the best part of their day.

So, if you’re going supplement, which I do encourage you to do it, but just keep it to a minimum and keep it specific to your dog. You could even make a little cocktail up of taking two or three of the supplements and blending it in with the bone broth and then drizzling it over the food. That way it’s kind of surreptitiously inserted into maybe not their meal, but as a snack in the middle of the day, or after they eat, so their actual dinner and breakfast is not altered.


People who adopt research dogs describe this experience as life changing. As their dog slowly becomes a part of their family and the outside world, every small accomplishment or brave new step the dog makes is the best feeling in the world. There is no greater joy in that moment. I know this because I’ve been there with my own research dogs. Can you share why you think these moments are so special with laboratory dogs and how have your laboratory dogs changed your own life?


Yeah, I love your question because I don’t know if everyone does this but I’m always thinking, “Why are my animals in my life? What lessons are they here for me to learn?” You know because I do truly believe that they’re here as a spirit a guide to teach us many things, not just one thing.

I believe because these dogs were just looked at as a number, I think the greatest lesson that they’ve all given me, but especially my laboratory dogs is: there’s nothing you can’t overcome, and you really have to be optimistic in life to get the most out of life, because once there’s that pessimism, that cynical thread, that can seep into anybody’s life or their mind. Then it shuts off all these other opportunities.

And I think about Sammy in particular. It ended up being a running joke because people would say me, “There’s no way that this dog was a laboratory research dog. He is insanely social and happy-go-lucky.” And he didn’t have any so-called scars from where he came from, but it took a lot of work on his part, and that goes for anybody, Finn too, and Marty and all of these dogs. It doesn’t just happen. We have to put ourselves out there to help them put themselves out there. But I mean I think the lesson, to answer your question, that they’ve given is you just always keep going and you never ever give up, and you just keep believing that there’s a lot of good out there.

So I’m on this new mission and I’ve labeled it the “art of living with a dog.” And I started thinking about this, I guess it was a combination of just thirty years of people coming to me saying, “I need your help. I want my dog to stop doing this, and I need my dog to do that.” And I had an epiphany that is you know, it’s not about teaching your dog to sit and lie down and to stay and to be statuesque, because it’s just not real life.

So teaching these research laboratory dogs life skills and giving them a skill set to work from…that again reduces their anxiety and it embellishes every day routines. Again it goes back to desensitization. Pairing everything with high value food. If you just think about okay…what are the things that go on in my dog’s life on a day-to-day basis or on a yearly basis, it would generally be, you know, teaching them to relinquish something that they might have—so that would be doing an exchange with another high-value food. It would be teaching them what to expect in a car. You could maybe even feed them dinner in the car so that they associate the car with something good, or give them treats in a car. You want to make sure your dog knows what to expect at the vet, and not the day that they have to go to the vet for something. So pop your dog in the car, or walk to the vet and get to the veterinarian and don’t go in, but just have a little bag of that rotisserie chicken and hang out in the parking lot for five minutes. And then the following week go back and then just walk into the waiting room and give your dog some chicken.

You know you just do those types of things to help your dog get really acclimated to every day occurrences so that they have the ability to just flow through life without being stressed and they can feel confident and happy because we want our dog to be happy. I think that it’s really easy to be distracted nowadays to say well my dog is on the best food and I have this great trainer and they do tricks and they do agility. But the question is, “Is your dog happy?”


You keep mentioning a dog’s “happiness.” How do you know if your dog is happy?


I think you can tell. I know if I look at a dog. I can tell if that dog is happy or not. Their body is relaxed and every dog demonstrates happiness in a different way, but I can surely tell just like I can tell from a person. If they seem tense and uptight, I don’t think they’re really too happy.

One of the other things, and this sounds really corny, but I love what it does. I actually have a foster dog right now (that you hear hacking in the background) and one thing that I do with every single dog that’s in my house or my client’s dogs is find a tune…music…a song–that I absolutely love and I’ll put it up and I’ll dance. And I don’t dance like a maniac to the point of scaring a dog, but what that does is that is another oxytocin burst and it relaxes the dogs all the time. They look at me and they say, “Oh she’s happy, she’s giddy, my gosh what’s going on…I’m going to run around…I’m going to chase her.” And you know as adults I think far too often we don’t get on the floor. We don’t play with dogs like kids do. Men are great at that. Men they get on the ground, they get down and dirty with the dogs, but a lot of times women we just…I don’t know…we just don’t do it. So try to get on the floor, play with your dog.

And the last thing I just want to say is don’t ever underestimate the power of a smile, because a dog knows that a smile is a good thing and a positive thing and it really it makes their heart happy. I know when I smile at a dog, I can see them relax and my hope is that that’s the one thing that you try to do. That you’ll be making your dog happy.


I dance with my dogs. I know the positive aspects of doing that, so I’m not shy to tell the world about that!


That will be a video maybe one time between you and me.


 Yes, maybe it will.

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