Blog– the ramblings of a dog trainer

Info on Fecal Tests from a Vet

Fecal tests are designed to detect the presence of intestinal parasites in a pet. Many of these parasites, if left untreated, can be dangerous not only to your pet, but also to humans coming into contact with this animal or its feces. Symptoms can range from being completely asymptomatic (no outward signs) to having severe GI disease. Because many pets are asymptomatic, fecal tests are an important way to diagnose your pet and allow for treatment as early as possible. Here in Utah, certain intestinal parasites can be very difficult to kill once introduced to an environment. Therefore, many facilities require a recent negative fecal test for all pets on the premise – to protect both you and your furry family members.

Kathleen Muckenhirn, DVM
Associate Veterinarian
VCA Mountain View Animal Hospital

Why does my puppy/dog need a fecal test?

Before attending a class or private session at Side By Side, we require age appropriate veterinary care and vaccinations/titers and a negative fecal test within 6 months. Why? It is our way of trying to keep ALL puppies and dogs who come to our training center safe and healthy. We have a variety of dogs who come to classes and private sessions — baby puppies, senior dogs, dogs recovering from surgeries, cancer survivors, etc. — and we want them all to be able to come without fear of getting sick.

The fecal test is one step we can take to ensure the level of health and safety we want for both our client dogs and our own dogs. It is an easy, relatively inexpensive test that can be completed in a few days. You take a fecal sample to your vet office and they test it. Quick, easy, and completely non-invasive for your dog. You’re picking up their poop anyway!!!

“But my puppy/dog is not showing any symptoms!” Many dogs have parasites or giardia and are asymptomatic. And as in many issues, some puppies/dogs may show symptoms, some may not — symptoms or no, a negative test is still required for puppies/dogs coming to Side By Side.

Side note — if you are looking to do therapy dog work, this test is required annually. If you want to travel with your dog — we recommend having the test done regularly as different parasites are present in different parts of the country.

Please make a fecal test part of your puppy/dog’s regular veterinary care. It is an easy addition and goes a long way in keeping your canine family safe and healthy.

The End Of An Era…

Seven years ago, an adorable fuzzy puppy found his way into our hearts and into our home.  It was my first puppy in a while and I was excited to get into a puppy class with him.  But, my search for that class was unsuccessful.  We muddled through with an online class or two and did what we could with what we found.

During this time the idea was born to offer a high quality, rolling enrollment, free puppy class.  I had three goals — to get puppies into a developmentally appropriate low cost (in this case — free) class as soon as possible.  I pitched the idea to my vet, she supported it, allowed me to use her available space, and Puppy Great Start classes began.

Classes were so much fun and I always loved teaching them and knowing we were making a difference for so many puppies.  We had a lot of growing pains, but we always figured it out and were able to make classes better and more accessible.

Fast forward to 2020.  Ugh.  What a year it’s been for everyone.  But, so many of us decided it was a great time to bring a new puppy/dog into our lives and that is a very good thing.  We’ve been crazy busy with all our classes…except Puppy Great Start.  (Please know how very much we appreciate your support during these crazy times!!!  We love helping all of you with your puppies and dogs!!!)

Puppy Great Start classes fill within hours of being posted on the website.  Super exciting! However, when we get to class, we have one, maybe two, puppies with their families there. (Over the last two months, most classes had one or two puppies attend.  The COVID class limit is 6.)  Those four or five puppy families who didn’t show up?  No idea.  But what I do know is that they took a space away from someone else who might have used it.  I know life happens.  But we make it very easy for you to cancel your spot so that someone else can take it — it’s one button in the reminder email and then that open space shows up in real time on the website.  You can always call, text, or email to let us know you can’t come and we can open that spot.  But people are not doing that.  They are apparently ignoring the reminder email and just not coming to class.  That is not a good use of our instructors’ time, knowledge, and expertise nor of our training space.  It’s also not all that helpful to the families who wanted to be in a group class with other puppies!

Puppy Great Start classes are taking a break.  Maybe temporarily, maybe permanently.  I will evaluate in a few months.  But for now, they are going away.  This has been a difficult decision and one I don’t really want to make, but the lack of attendance once puppy families have registered has forced it.

WE HAVE OTHER PUPPY CLASS OPTIONS!!!  We actually always have! They just aren’t free and are not rolling enrollment.  We have Smart Puppy Foundations (younger puppies) and Puppy Rising Stars (older puppies). We also have Dog Stars which is also a great class for the little bit older puppy.  We also have private sessions available (typically these book up about 2 — 3 weeks in advance).

Thank you for reading.  Thank you for your understanding and your support.  We hope to see you soon in class or a private session!

NOTE:  Thank you to all of you who have attended classes you registered for — we appreciate you so much!!!  And my apologies to those of you who have signed up for future classes, but never got the chance to attend.  I hope you will consider registering for one of our other classes. Thank you all for your support and your efforts to have the absolute best puppy for your family!!!



Taking Care of Our Dogs by Taking Care of Ourselves

Taking Care of Our Dogs by Taking Care of Ourselves

by Amy Henderson, LCSW

The genius of dogs is reading humans. Dogs pay keen attention to our every move. Our facial expressions, our voice tone and our body language all give our dogs constant cues and communicate a great deal to them. During times of stress for humans, dogs see and hear the tension and pressure written all over us! An essential part of caring effectively for our beloved canines is caring effectively for ourselves. During this global pandemic (and local earthquakes!), I can’t think of a more needed time to employ some healthy coping skills. Here are a few of my favorite tips for helping dogs by helping humans during this difficult time:

  1. Grieve. We are accustomed to speaking of grief when we lose someone to death. The truth is, grief is a natural and normal response to any kind of loss, not only death. And wherever there is change, there is also loss. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a far-reaching impact and has resulted in multiple losses for most of us. . . the loss of work and/or work away from home, the loss of safety, the loss of activities, the loss of income, the loss of freedom, the loss of abundant supplies, the loss of stability, the loss of structure, the loss of spending time with family and friends . . . While I could spend hours talking about healthy grieving, I will focus here on one of the first, most important aspects of grieving – acknowledge it! As grief expert Dr. Alan Wolfelt says, “We must say goodbye before we can say hello.” Allow yourself the opportunity to first say goodbye by acknowledging your losses. I invite you to feel all the feelings of loss fully – anger, sadness, bewilderment, pain, confusion, fear, irritation, relief, uncertainty, resistance, despair, loneliness, helplessness . . . Because it is only through acknowleding the pain of loss that we can begin to say hello to our new normal.
  1. Self-Acceptance. Meet yourself right where you are. If we want to usher in adaptation and change, it is necessary to first accept ourselves. Let the “shoulds” and the “should nots” that we speak out loud and quietly (albeit repeatedly!) to ourselves be a signal to us that we have room to practice compassionate acceptance. My favorite way to teach this concept to my clients is to identify the “should” or “should not” statement that is on obsessive repeat in our minds (“I shouldn’t be so upset about this” or “Why can’t I get myself motivated? I really should be doing more.”), then agree with the “should” or “should not” statement, just for the sake of argument, and offer compassion and self-acceptance (“What if it is true that I am excessively upset about this? Can I love and accept myself even if it is true?” or “What if I am particularly unmotivated right now? Can I love and accept myself even if this is true?”). My clients’ greatest fear in offering self-acceptance is complacency – “If I just accept myself, I’ll never be motivated to do anything differently.” I first remind that self-acceptance does not mean agreement or resignation. Then, I offer this quote by Carl Rogers that is always hanging on the cork board in my office: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
  1. Building Positive Beliefs.

Please watch the video!

Amy Henderson, LCSW is an EMDR Psychotherapist in the Salt Lake City area who specializes in working with adults and older adults to heal trauma, grief & loss and anxiety. For more information on Amy’s therapy practice, please visit

Dino — His Mom Tells Their Story

We adopted our 3 year old mini poodle mix, Dino, a year ago as our foster failure. All we knew about his past was that he was transferred from an overcrowded shelter in Arizona. We love him dearly—we treat him like our first child—so it was hard for us to know so little about his past. He has a big personality, which is one of the reasons we love him so much. His personality is so immediately apparent that many people comment that he must be a human trapped in a dog’s body when they first meet him.

Dino has a chronic cough, and because we assumed it was kennel cough when we first fostered him, we made an effort to keep him away from other dogs. So although we fostered him for 2 months before adopting him, it still came as a surprise when we first watched him bark frantically at other dogs. This became a huge stressor for us, living in an apartment building where we regularly run into giant dogs in tight, enclosed spaces like the stairwell and elevator. During our first group training class, I remember being sure that he would be kicked out for disrupting the class with his barking—but he wasn’t and we started our journey with dog training.

So far, we’ve done 3 group classes and 8 private training sessions with Dino. We try to take him to the park a couple times a week to practice staying calm with other dogs in the vicinity. Dino is lucky—he’s probably had more string cheese in the past year than most dogs get in their whole lives.

A huge turning point for us was when Laurie helped us decipher the nature of Dino’s different barks. When we first started, we assumed that every time he barked at another dog, he was being “aggressive”. Since then we’ve realized that most of the time, Dino is simply talking, and we’ve come to love him more for being so outspoken. After accepting that we have a barky but generally happy dog, we’re able to better understand whether he’s playful, bored, frustrated, or scared, and we can react accordingly. We still frequently find ourselves telling strangers that “he‘s kind of rude, let us know if you think your dog is uncomfortable”, “he’s not very good with big dogs—we’re working on it”, or “he’s easily overwhelmed by new people”. But we’re also better at letting him be himself while keeping him safe.

It’s easy to wish that Dino could have magically been the perfect dog from day one, but our experience with training has led us to form such a strong connection with him. Now, we understand each other so well that we swear he can read our minds!

Puppy Socializing/Familiarizing During Quarantine 2020

How to socialize/familiarize your young puppy during COVID-19…a few ideas:
make a list of things you want to do with your puppy/dog — then make a second list of things that are associated with those activities. How many of those things can you still do with puppy during this isolation time?

For example — we do a lot of traveling with our dogs. Some things associated with that: riding in a crate in the car (check — we can do that right now), pottying in a variety of environments on a variety of surfaces (check — we can do that right now), hanging out on their mats while we eat a meal (check — we can do that right now), staying in hotels (no — we cannot do that right now), eating their own meals in their crates and in unfamiliar places (check — we can do that right now), drinking water out of a variety of containers (check — we can do that right now), and using different leashes for different activities — long line for pottying/exercising, short leash for moving around in hotels, etc.(check — we can do that right now). So, I can work within our circle of social responsibility and still provide quality socialization/familiarization for my puppy!

As for people and other dogs — encourage healthy family and friends that you see anyway to interact with your puppy. Don’t worry about strangers or casual acquaintances during this time. If you are providing other good experiences for your puppy and helping puppy learn how to learn, this hopefully will be a non-issue. Same for other dogs — I believe it’s more important to foster good relations within the canine circle of friends your dog is going to have long-term anyway, so focus on those dogs and don’t worry about dogs you don’t know.

And work on training of course!!! We’ll be putting ideas on social media, you can still come to our Puppy Great Start classes (as of right now we are still having them with low numbers to stay safe and healthy — this could change at any time, but we’ll keep you posted on our website and social media), and we have remote sessions available where we can work one-on-one via Skype, FaceTime, or Facebook Messenger on any/all of your puppy questions.

Stay safe and healthy and enjoy this time with your puppy!!!

Choosing A Dog Behavior Consultant

It’s difficult enough to wade through all the dog trainers and to choose one that works for you and your dog; but when you need a little more in-depth training and behavior modification, it gets even more gray and blurry!

First of all, in Utah, there are only a handful of certified dog behavior consultants. Many people will SAY they are behavior consultants and even behaviorists, but they are not certified.

What does “certified” even mean? Certified in this case means the person had the experience to qualify to take the test and/or write the case studies and then they successfully passed the psychometric, comprehensive test and/or wrote acceptable case studies. It also means that they are required to maintain their certification through regular continuing education. Bottom line, they have, and are, putting in the time and energy required to be a documented, credentialed, and educated cutting edge professional.

There are three certifying organizations in the United States for dog behavior consultants: the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (, the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (, and the Pet Professional Guild ( All three of these organizations have online directories to help guide you to a certified professional in your area.

A quick note about Dog Behaviorists — a behaviorist is either a veterinarian with a behavior specialty or a PhD. Period. The advanced degree is what makes these professionals behaviorists. If the person cannot be called “doctor,” they are not a behaviorist.  We have one Dog Behaviorist in Utah.

So, do your homework. Certified professional dog behavior consultants certainly have!

(Laurie is a certified canine behavior consultant with CCPDT and has been since 2011.)

New Classes

We have added a couple new classes at Side By Side Dog Training and I am super excited about them – Agility Foundations I and Puppy Gym!!!

Agility Foundations I is taught by Elizabethanne Stevens, a certified dog trainer and long-time agility trainer and competitor.  I love to watch dogs doing agility – they always look so happy and excited to be doing all the “stuff!”  This class is great for any team that wants to know more about agility!  You’ll work on agility foundation pieces as well as teamwork.  It’s a great chance to learn some new things while dabbling in the exciting dog sport of agility.

(Check out this great video with Elizabethanne and her young Poodle:

Puppy Gym is taught by Stayce Jensen, Utah’s only certified Canine Fitness Trainer.  This class is a great supplemental class to any of our foundation classes.  So many physical, mental, and orthopedic issues can be prevented with an appropriate exercise program based on your puppy/dog’s age, weight, and ability, but it’s tough to know what that program looks like.  This is the class for you and your young puppy/dog!  Starting your young dog with a good physical exercise program sets both you and your dog up for long-term success.

Registration for both of these classes is still open and available, along with our other classes, just click on this link and find the class:

Blogging Slacker!

I am not a good blogger.  I’m just not.  Life gets going and before I know it, months have gone by and I haven’t even thought about a blog post!  But here I am and here is a post.

Life is crazy.  Next month our oldest daughter gets married.  Business is good.  Dog training is not too bad (I have a great personal support system that helps to keep me on track!).  We have lots of new classes and I always love it when I actually get to take a class!!!

A couple years ago my friend Tena had nerdy dog portraits done of our dogs we took to ClickerExpo.  This year Monica continued the tradition and had another set done.  So, I decided to have all of the dogs/granddogs done this summer.  And dang!  If they aren’t the cutest drawings ever!!!  These will soon be printed and hung up at the training building (and also maybe on some shirts, bags, etc. for me and the kids).  Thanks to Jamie Ohman at Pet Portraits for these amazing dog nerd portraits!!!

Road Trip!

by Laurie Schlossnagle on 11/03/18

Two of my dogs, Dolly and Emme, and I just got home from an epic two-week girls’ road trip.  It was amazing and exhausting and just what I needed to do.  I had lots of time to think and to listen to podcasts and audiobooks and to think some more.

In reflection, I learned I can totally do this on my own!  And I learned that no matter how much more I *COULD* be teaching my dogs, they have a pretty darn good foundation.  Oh, please understand, there is a lot more I should be teaching and want to teach my dogs!!!  But I feel good the foundation is there.

Foundation is key.  It’s why we offer a free puppy class.  Start with a great, solid foundation and you won’t be sorry!  We know your puppy is brilliant!!! We want to help you take that brilliant puppy and create a foundation for life-long learning. We all zoom right to Google when we want to know something and we draw upon the Google collective mind to get that information. That’s what our puppy class is — a collective mind of varied experiences that can support you, your family and your puppy.

And if your dog is beyond the puppy stage, we can still help you build that foundation!!!  Since we know how important it is, it’s what all of our classes and private sessions are built on — we know we can’t build a house from the roof down.
Come to class.  Schedule a private session.  You won’t be sorry.  Maybe you’ll take an epic road trip someday with your dogs…

Happy Training!

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