Friday, November 28, 2008

Barking Buddha Doga of the Week...Andy!

Andy was rescued from:
Grays Harbor Pug and Boston Terrier Rescue in Aberdeen, Washington

Andy is a sweet and smart poodle. He's been taking care of his retired human's Barbara and John for a few years now. He loves to run wild in his back yard after dinner as demonstrated above.

Andy get's daily massage from Barbara and will now be doing some daily doga since I spent some time with Andy and his human's a few days ago teaching them some doga to do at home. (shameless plug: my book is about developing a home doga practice)

Andy brings much joy and love to John and Barbara and that's why he is the Barking Buddha Dog of the Week.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

TLC and Thanksgiving

Gus and Honey enjoy sitting with me in the big chair in my office.

I'm dog-sitting this week. A rescue named Macie. Found as a stray on an indian reservation, she has a perfect bite mark out of one ear (I say it's because she's so sweet and delicious, but who knows what really happened!).
Macie is smart and sweet, but very protective of her space and needy of attention. It's such a contrast between my dogs, they have never had to fight for anything so they don't mind sharing space and attention. They have a whole different attitude. I find I have to treat Macie with a stronger set of rules, I have to establish boundaries with her or she gets a little aggressive. I certainly establish boundaries with Gus and Honey, but those boundaries were set so long ago, it takes little effort to keep them in place.
With Macie, it's leash training again, it's establishing pack order, it's making sure she's not bullying. And it's all because somewhere along the way she learned she has to fight for everything, at least that's her perspective (or mine about her). Don't get me wrong, she's actually very sweet once she understands the house rules and she wants to please.
Guess I'm grateful she has a good home now, and that my dogs have always had a good home because before me, they were living in a home shelter and a great foster home.
Knowing you always have what you need really changes your attitude whether you're canine or human.
So people or dogs that may seem a little selfish or controlling are maybe just afraid that even though they have what they need right now, it hasn't always been that way, and the deep fear is that it could be taken away. What they really need is reassurance. Structure for Macie reassures her. I guess every situation could be different, but let's find a way to reassure those people (or dogs) we come across, that are just afraid and need a little extra TLC. This advice could be helpful in dealing with difficult relatives over the holidays, think of them as a rescue dog that needs a little extra TLC (but please don't TELL them that you're thinking of them as a rescue dog :)). Happy Thanksgiving!!

Brenda, Honey, Gus and Macie

Monday, November 24, 2008

Barking Buddha Doga Interview with Neil Sattin

Pictures above are of Neil with his dog, Nola.

Neil Sattin is a dog trainer from Maine. He works with The Natural Dog Training philosophy, which sounds really cool. It's similar to my philosophy because it's benevolent and works with the way a dog thinks and reacts. Neil has a DVD that will be available from his website in December or January (holiday gift idea!).

What kind of dog do you have and where did you get your dog?
My dog Nola is a who-knows-what mutt, though she definitely has a look all her own (you can see her at the top of my website). Some think she looks like an overgrown basenji, though the only thing I know reasonably for certain is that her mother was a lab-beagle mix. Her father – anybody’s guess. Probably a marauding bull terrier spreading his genes throughout the mountains of western Maine. Another relevant question based on the kind of work I do is: what is Nola’s temperament? She’s high-drive (and, in the past, very high-anxiety) – both of those qualities led me to the kind of training that I do (Natural Dog Training), which we’ll be talking about later.

She was actually initially adopted by an acquaintance of mine, who decided at some point that Nola’s high-energy nature was a little too much to handle. I had been a puppy-sitter for Nola once or twice, and she and I just clicked, so when I heard that she needed a new home I offered mine, no questions asked. I had plenty of questions afterwards, though, as I tried to figure out what to do with the little spitfire! Now Nola is about 50 lbs of mostly lean muscle, and 11.5 years old – with a lot more capacity for relaxation and direction when she’s highly energized than she did when she first came into my life.

Tell me a little about your dog training philosophy?
My philosophy can be summed up fairly simply: Be the moose in your dog’s life! What that really means is that you want to learn to be the most attractive thing in your dog’s universe. The idea is that our dogs, who are naturally hunters, are also at their most SOCIAL when their hunting drive is engaged. By becoming “the moose” you are learning how to engage your dog’s prey drive, and use their attraction to you to elicit obedience behaviors (which are all actually hunting behaviors, but in a “human” context). You also teach your dog that YOU are uniquely capable of resolving the energy that gets stirred up through their interactions with the environment, as well as any stress that they might have stored within.

Here’s a practical example. You’re walking down the street with your dog, and there’s another dog approaching you. That other dog’s presence stirs up some energy within your dog, energy which makes your dog attracted to that other dog (and likewise that other dog is attracted to your dog). For most people, the way that particular energy gets resolved is by letting the dogs interact with each other (often pulling their owners along until they can sniff nose-to-nose) – which can obviously be a problem if either dog has aggressive tendencies. However, with Natural Dog Training, you would see your dog’s energized state as an opportunity for you to interact with your dog, and, using some specialized techniques, you teach your dog that the natural resolution to that feeling is through giving you 100% of that energy. Over time, your dog would actually start responding to other dogs by being more attracted to you. And the more attracted your dog is to you, especially in high energy situations, the more you’ll be able to communicate with your dog and achieve obedience, not only when the world is calm and distraction-free, but also when the world is a bit more distraction-filled. You know, the times when it really counts.

Why/how did you get into dog training?
I have always loved dogs and been interested in training. The dog that we had in my family (when I was growing up) was a spastic cairn terrier named “Sparky” (of course) – and my parents were pretty focused on using dominance-style training to get the results that they wanted. And which, I might add, they never really got. When Nola came into my life that was all that I had to go on – though experiencing mixed success led me to the “positive-only” school of dog training. Everything I did worked, up to a point, but never seemed to work well in high energy situations – and never did ANYTHING to help with Nola’s aggression towards other dogs. It was through looking online for something different and effective that I stumbled upon Kevin Behan and Natural Dog Training. A weekend with Nola spent in Vermont (where he lives) was enough to convince me that I wanted to really learn what Natural Dog Training was all about. It obviously offers a lot of insight into dog behavior, but I also found it offering insight overall into the emotional/energy dynamics of our lives. So later on that year I took a sabbatical from work, spent a month living in a little apartment on Kevin’s farm, and the rest is…well, continuing to evolve, of course.

That was a little over four years ago. Not only did Natural Dog Training help Nola (and other dogs with whom I’ve worked), but it also reinforces a personal emotional centeredness that translates into the rest of my life as well. My website ( started simply as a resource for my clients (so they’d have something to refer back to between lessons), but it has taken on a life of its own. It seems that within the dog training community, while there are certainly a lot of people who are completely convinced that their way is the “one and only right way” to train a dog, there are plenty of other people who are looking for a different approach. I think Natural Dog Training fits the bill – and my goal is to simply make its techniques accessible and understandable to anyone who has an interest – and an open mind. The results speak for themselves.

How do you think Barking Buddha Doga philosophy is similar/different from your own dog philosophy?
There are actually several ways that I can see a symbiotic relationship between the Barking Buddha Doga philosophy and the work that I do with dogs. While I talk about prey/predator energy, and how that helps create our dogs’ behavior, at its root I believe that what we see in our dogs is a manifestation of raw emotional energy in its purest form. Dogs experience the world, have a visceral (emotional) response in their bodies, and respond to that feeling. It just so happens that this dynamic translates directly into prey vs. predator in our dogs – “prey” simply being “things that attract your dog, and “predator” being “things that repel your dog”.

So in the Natural Dog Training world, opening up your heart connection (which seems like a central Doga theme) is all about getting into that centered, in-the-moment space in order to understand how your dog experiences the world…and then to view the results with a non-judgmental eye. You see the whole thing as just a circuit of energy (energy in, energy out) taking place between you, your dog, and the environment. And once you see that you can respond more effectively to it. After all, often our dogs’ behavior is simply an expression of the emotional energy that we are holding within ourselves. They’re responding whether or not we’re in tune to it – so doesn’t it make sense to pay attention?

You also mention that dogs are pack animals and that “packs are about union”. I would posit that what unifies a pack is not a sense of relationship between the dogs, but actually their common purpose. That’s why the pack dynamic is full of somewhat dysfunctional behavior – such as the disputed struggle to be the “alpha” dog – while the pack’s behavior, when their hunting drive is engaged (imagine them chasing a deer through the woods), is perfectly coordinated, social behavior. So it’s the deer (or the moose) that unites the pack, around which their behavior is oriented. If we, as people, are simply a “pack member” – then perhaps that’s like trying to have two yins – and in order to experience “union” you actually need the “yang”, to complete the circuit. In my experience, the more moose-like you become, the more you start to experience breakthroughs in achieving that kind of yin-yang union in your relationship with your dog.

Finally, relaxation. Much of what I do in Natural Dog Training not only teaches people how to work with dogs in a highly energized state, but also the importance of maintaining a state of relaxation no matter how charged up the situation gets. Relaxation being important for human AND dog. Your dog is like a physical conduit for the emotional energy that the world is throwing at them. A relaxed dog is like a big, wide open pipe – all kinds of energy can flow through without suffering from the detriments of constriction. On the other hand, the more physically tense a dog is, the less intensity they can handle. Like a smaller pipe, they start to experience symptoms of being “under pressure” as the emotional energy builds. This is when you start seeing things like aggression (or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, submissive urination) – too much energy for the pipe to take, and the pipe bursts with an overload behavior.

I think that physical relaxation and awareness is KEY to being able to be in the moment. And, I suppose, not only being in the moment, but responding in the moment in a way that works well for everyone involved. So developing a bond THROUGH relaxation, as I imagine you do with Doga, puts both you and your dog in the best position to respond most effectively to whatever emotional energy the world throws your way.

When is your DVD to be released?
Thanks for asking! I am currently in post-production for two DVDs. The first one is an introduction to Natural Dog Training, and will demonstrate fundamental exercises that allow you to be more moose-like in your dog’s eyes. On a practical level you learn how to develop your dog’s attraction to YOU (and relaxation) at higher and higher levels of energy – and the basics of how Natural Dog Training works. The second DVD is devoted to obedience using Natural Dog Training methods. Through this approach to obedience your dog learns that things like sit/down/stay/come can all happen in the context of a high intensity situation. This is what I meant earlier when I mentioned obedience “when it really counts”. For instance, I want to know that my dog will come when called not only during those moments when there’s nothing better to do, but also when they’re chasing a ball that I accidentally threw too close to the road. The second DVD is a natural progression from basic obedience through to some of those more challenging situations.

At this point, it looks like the DVDs will officially be ready in either December of 2008 or January of 2009. You can pre-order them on my website, or wait for the glorious day when they’re finally here! In the meantime, I actually describe many of the Natural Dog Training techniques in detail on the website. Plenty of information there to keep your readers busy!
Neil is right, plenty of info on his website. Check it out! Thanks Neil for the first Barking Buddha Doga interview!

Barking Buddha Doga in The Herald Tribune!

Check it out! The photo was taken by Bev Sparks. I'll be posting an interview with Bev in the near future. Later today, I'll post an interview with Natural Dog Trainer Neil Sattin. In meantime:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Barking Buddha Dog(s) of the Week: The Shiba Inu Puppies!

(image from via ustream)

This week's Barking Buddha Dog of the Week is actually a pile of pups. These puppies have been on a puppy cam that according to The Guardian has had well over 2 million views!

The live stream of the pups growing day by day, minute by minute, second by second seems to be an unlikely source of comfort to a stressed out world. Although us dog folks completely understand how a pile of pups can lower our heart rates and give us hope.

Why do you think the puppy cam is such a hit? Is it:

a. Just because they're so darn cute?

b. Because after an intense political election we need some reprieve?

c. We want to think about soft fur and soulful eyes instead of the financial crisis?

d. We're pup crazy because of Obama's acceptance speech promise of a puppy to his girls?

f. All of the above.

My theory is (you knew this was coming) that we continue to consciously and unconsciously use dogs to comfort and heal and all they have to do is just be dogs (or in this case puppies).
The Shiba Inu's are doing nothing but everything with just their simple existence in their dogdom. That's why they are The Barking Buddha Dogs of the Week.

Go here to see for yourself if haven't already been one of the over 2 million viewers:

Barking Buddha Doga December Schedule

December 6, Saturday 1:00 pm The Downtown Dog Lounge, Seattle, Capital Hill

December 14, Sunday 5:00 pm The Twilight Artist Collective Gallery, West Seattle Junction

All classes are 20.00 unless they are part of a series (the next series will be in Jan at The Seattle Humane Society)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Beloved is a word that holds sweetness, a softness, a strength, a completeness. To be beloved is not the same as unconditional love because it holds a precious appreciation for the recipient. Unconditional love is beautiful because it is that; unconditional. We can love something or someone without appreciation or even liking them. Being beloved is being loved unconditionally but also being held close to the heart in a precious way. I love all dogs uncondtionally. I love my own dogs unconditionally, but they are also beloved to me. They encompass all that is complete in a feeling of love for another being.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Barking Buddha Doga Tip of The Week

Flying Dog (tm). This pose is good for the core and your arms. Be mindful of your shoulder joint by squeezing the shoulder blades together before entering the pose. Also tuck your tailbone before going into the pose. This is also a good pose to develop trust between you and your dogi. Your little dogi may jump off at first, but will soon learn that he is safe when you move up into the pose. Your large dogi will learn to rest under your legs.

Floating Dog (tm). Gus always presses on the front of my legs during this pose, making it an extra work out and a good core strengthener. You can also rest your hands on your large dogi, so you maintain a physical and energetic connection to her during the pose. Lift your feet off the ground for an even tougher tummy toner.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Barking Buddha Dogis in Oregon

This is Buddy (a.k.a. Mr. Ears) He lives in Portland, Oregon. His sister, Bella is pictured below. Buddy and Bella's humans were in the San Fran Doga teacher training and own the largest doggie day care in Portland called, Dogs Dig It. I've been meaning to post their pics forever and since I'm still in Amsterdam and don't have any new dutch dog pictures, now seemed like a good time.
Anyway, Janene and Ellie are really cool, so if you're in the Portland area you should find out about upcoming doga classes.
Stay tuned for Barking Buddha Doga tip of the week hopefully posted within the next day or so....since I'm on vacashe, it will probably be the "or so".

Until then, give your dogis an extra hug and kiss from me, because I miss Honey and Gus sooo much, maybe knowing a little extra love is being spread around will make me feel better.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Barking Buddha Dog of the Week...Snickers!

I'm still in Amsterdam and got a little behind on my Dog of the week post due to travel related stuff like long plane ride, jet lag, spending time with my dutch peeps,ect. So here is last weeks dog of the week...Snickers (or Snicks as some of her friends like to call her).
Snickers is a regular in Doga class. And as you can tell by her cheerleading uniform (halloween costume, last year, a ballerina) she is on Team Dog.

Snickers bio- 135 lbs Apricot English Mastiff, 7 years old. She is a rescue from Auburn Humane Society, originally adopted by a family in Redmond. The family was relocated to Arkansas and Snickers was 10 months old when Jen took her home.
She is a therapy dog for the sick, elderly, children, and everyday people. She is a role model to other dogs at the dog parks when she plays "park monitor", making sure all the dogs play "fairly" with one another.
She loves ALL other animals that cross her path......including cats, ferrets, fish, deer, and horses. She is also the mascot for all international dogs. Every year Jen and Snickers raise $$ to send to "Soi Dog Rescue" a dog shelter in Bangkok Thailand that rescues street dogs (soi in Thai meaning street) from inhumane treatment and finds good homes for them.
She has more patience than any human, Jen has taught her to be flexible, adaptable in any situation, and has the loyalty & love to fill the world twice over.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dutch Dogs in Shops

This girl is 14 years old and was waiting for a bite of chicken from her human's lunch .

This furry black dog was hard to capture because he really wanted to play with his tennis ball.

Front door security at the jewelry store.

Many small shops in Amsterdam have dogs that hang out during business hours. I suppose this is also the case in the U.S. but I really notice them here. Maybe because I miss my own dogs so much.
I love seeing dogs in the stores because I think it creates a welcoming atmosphere. It makes me feel comfortable right away. I think the owner must really love their dog to bring him/her to work with them, and the love we have for our pets transcends cultures and language and is something we all have in common.
I don't think doga has arrived in The Netherlands yet, but maybe someday I can teach a class while I'm here visiting. I would probably have to borrow a dog since it would be a very long flight for Gus and would take a lot of planning to bring him. Maybe someday. In the meantime here are some photos of dutch dogs in shops.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Jet Lag

I'm in Amsterdam! Tomorrow I' ll post the Barking Buddha Dog of the week. And hoping to get pics of cute dutch dogis.

Until then!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Monday, November 3, 2008

Current Barking Buddha Doga Schedule

November 19, Wednesday 7:00 pm The Seattle Humane Society, Bellevue

December 6, Saturday 1:00 pm The Downtown Dog Lounge, Seattle, Capital Hill

December 14, Sunday 5:00 pm The Twilight Artist Collective Gallery, West Seattle Junction

Barking Buddha Doga Retreat in Pacific City Oregon! The first ever! Stay tuned for details!

Barking Buddha Doga Teacher Training Level 1 in Chicago, April. Details and registration are now posted on my website

Doga,Snakes and Pugs

Here I am at The Twilight Gallery (where Barking Buddha Doga Classes will be held monthly) on Halloween night, posing with Stella the Pug. She was the only dog at the party, but was the belle of the ball.
I found my snake costume at a thrift store and cut off the bottom so it would fit me, Stella looks delicious dressed as a hot dog with sauerkraut.
I hope everyone had a fabulous Halloween weekend. I attended a Halloween party on Friday, but ended up leaving early because I wasn't feeling well. I also had to cancel Saturday's Doga class (sorry!). I taught Sunday at The Twilight, but didn't feel quite up to par and continued to feel worse until the end of the day, so I went ahead and canceled a private Doga session this morning with a little poodle I was so looking forward to meeting. I would rather cancel a class or session if I can't do my best. Anyway...looking forward to getting rid of this cold before flying off to Amsterdam to visit my Dutch friends on Wednesday.

I'll continue to post from there and I've set up some time with some locals who work with dogs to get the scoop on dutch doggy culture. I've been to Europe many times, but never explored it from this perspective so I look forward to sharing my experiences with everyone. I'll post the end of Nov. and Dec. schedule later today. In the meantime I'll be drinking lots of juice,tea and taking vitamins in between packing.
The only drawback about traveling is not being with my dogs. My friend and I have joked about starting a completely dog friendly airline called Air of the Dog. Which would include the big doggies getting to ride in the cabin with us. Anyway...more later this afternoon.

Tot Ziens!