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Author Archives: Chantal Mills

What did your dog get for Christmas?

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Did you spoil your pets this Christmas?

In our house, Santa generally leaves a little gift for Everest.  Sometimes he doesn’t even wrap it, but Everest  doesn’t mind.

Each Christmas, I also go through the dog toys and decide what to keep, what to donate and what to toss.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

What was your dog’s favourite holiday gift or moment?

Losing a friend

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It’s something that I am dreading: losing my dog Everest. This picture of him running on the beach was taken this past summer. He is on the cusp of 13 and that number both makes me happy (wow! 13! and he looks so good!!), and filled with dread (13! Where did the time go? Please live forever!).

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has spent time thinking about their dog passing. How will it happen, when will it happen, will we have him cremated… oh taxidermy is a bit too out there for me… but what about a sprinkle of his ashes in a paperweight? I’ve had all of these thoughts.

I remember having similar thoughts when Hemingway, our Great Dane, was still alive. I would think about what I’d do if I came home and this 160 lb dog was lifeless in the living room. Or, I’d try to figure out how I would get him into the car by myself if ever there was an emergency. Some may call these thoughts morbid, and I can’t disagree. I concluded that these thoughts were my way  of mentally  preparing for the unbearable, inevitable loss. I felt that if I mentally prepared myself, then it wouldn’t be as unbearable.

For Hemi, that day came in August of 2016. It was a Truly Terrible Day. Leaving the animal hospital with a leash and collar was devastating. Matt and I turned to each other and hugged and cried for a long time. Then, we got into our car and drove home. When asked how many dogs we have, our son still says we have 2 dogs – 1 is in heaven. I miss Hemi, and all of the dogs with whom I’ve had the honour of sharing my life.

The deep sadness of those losses is gone and I can now focus on the joy they brought, the quirks they had, the bad habits they had and the things I’ve learned thanks to them. The biggest lesson learned was that those moments spent thinking those morbid thoughts to mentally preparing myself did not make it any easier when that Terrible Day came. All it really did was steal time I could have spent enjoying the present.

These day, I am trying to be more like a dog. Everest is enjoying the moment, enjoying his life, relishing the time spent with us. What a shame it would be if, instead of also basking in the present, I were going through a series of morbid scenarios in the name of preparation. Nope. Thanks to Hemi, I’ve learned that it’s going to be a Truly Terrible Day, but time is better spent  LIVING IN THE MOMENT.


KOLO 8 News Now’s Amanda Sanchez shared this image of her friend Ashley spreading her dog Wagner’s ashes over their favorite dog park. I love this picture. It makes me believe that the Rainbow Bridge is real and that losing a friend sometimes means setting them free to play for ever.blogashesdog

Keep your dogs safe during the howlidays

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It’s never too early to start thinking about preparing for a safe and happy holiday season, am I right?

Especially with the beautiful blanket of snow covering the ground, some Christmas lights already enlivening the streets, it is not easy to forget that Christmas is a mere 36 days away.

We start decorating December 1st, mainly because our son’s birthday is at the end of November and we focus on that before turning our thoughts to getting Holiday Ready. Whatever your tradition, please keep these tips in mind when getting ready for the holiday season.

Pet Safety For The Holidays Infographic


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At the Ottawa Canine School, WE LOVE DOGS and WE LOVE COFFEE! Not just any coffee, but freshly roasted coffee from beans that are organic and have been traded fairly. Barking Barista coffee is just that – Artisan coffee, hand roasted in small batches for ultimate freshness & your tasting pleasure. We offer only the best, fairly traded, beans.

What does this have to do with dogs you ask?

Quite a bit! We are passionate about helping dogs. While you are enjoying a very delicious cup of coffee, you are helping dogs too because part of proceeds goes to help dogs in need. Drink coffee. Help dogs.

A bit about us.

The Barking Barista coffee company is a husband & wife venture. Matt is an engineer by day and coffee roaster by night. He uses both his engineer brain and his creative/intuitive side when roasting. Chantal is a teacher and the owner of the Ottawa Canine School. It only made sense to roast great, fresh, organic, fairly and often directly traded coffee and have part of proceeds go to the dogs.

Some of the dogs the Barking Barista has helped so far.

Since its launch, in December of 2013, the Barking Barista has helped BREEZY, a dog who was severely beaten, received the treatment she deserved and was adopted (and even attended some classes at the Ottawa Canine School with her new owners!)   The Barking Barista has also helped GIBSON the Schnauzer, in early 2014 when he needed a bit of help with his medical bills. Gibson is well knows in the local rescue world and has done a lot to help rescue dogs. It was time to give back a little. Part of proceeds also went to help CAPTAIN and other dogs from the Sit With Me Rescue. Chantal had a chance to meet Captain  and he is a very sweet dog, though at the time, he was still very groggy from his most recent surgery. The vets do believe that he has suffered quite a bit of physical abuse, which may also be the reason he is blind in one eye.

You can read about our donation to the Ottawa Dog Rescue in this blog post .

Request support for a dog or rescue in need

If you would like the Barking Baristas to know about a dog in need, we’d love to hear from you.  Reach out and request our support, or request coffee for your fundraiser. Find out more about how we help.

Where to get Barking Barista coffee

Barking Barista coffee beans are available in person at the Ottawa Canine School at 401 B St. Laurent blvd.(same building as Full Cycle). You can also order online.

Visit our website to see where you can pick up a bag of beans: www.barkingbarista.com

like us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/Barkingbarista

Happy Howlidays

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From everyone at the Ottawa Canine School,

We wish you and yours a very happy holidays! May you enjoy some extra cuddle time with your animals, extra long walks with your canine friend and a few lazy mornings just taking in the beauty of the simple things.

We hope to see you in the new year!



Preparing for baby

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CONGRATULATIONS!!! You are expecting. Your life is about the change, baby. And for your dog ? Well, a lot is going to change too! The toys won’t all be his anymore. The noises will be odd and what about those smells ? The hardest change may just be not being the centre of attention anymore.belly_and_dog21



Dogs love routine, consistency, yada yada… you know this already. So of course they will notice,  that their life is changing.  They start noticing way before the baby arrives. Because dogs are so in tune with us, they can notice that our routine is changing. Perhaps you are sleeping more or maybe your work schedule has changed or perchance you are changing things in the home to get ready for baby. All these things can have an impact on rover.


I believe they notice the smell of pregnancy. Dogs have 250 million more scent receptors than we do (on average) so it only makes sense that they can smell the hormonal changes going on during pregnancy. Everest often came up to my belly to sniff me while I was pregnant.  There was a cute moment, when Dominik was just a few days old, where Everest came up to smell my belly, then went over to smell the baby, looked at me and then settled in his favourite spot. I like to think that it was a bit of an “ah ha” moment for him.


there is a lot that you can do to prepare your dog for baby.

You are the centre of your dog’s world. A new baby doesn’t have to upset your canine companion. With a bit of management and training, you can avoid the stress and anxiety a baby can bring into a dog’s life.

When I was pregnant for my son, I had 2 dogs and 1 cat. There were a lot of things that I did before Dominik was born that really made a difference. Practicing basic obedience in various areas in the house was hands down the best thing I did.  A sit/stay is really useful when you are changing a gross diaper! A solid “go to your bed” is handy when you are trying to feed a messy eater, or doing tummy time on the floor. I also spent some time teaching the dogs which toys were off limits. Everest is a toy shredder and I suspected that baby would be upset if he found all of his toys ripped and gutted. This was surprisingly easy and I didn’t need to buy TWO of Dominik’s favourite toys just in case 😉

Both dogs adjusted really well to this little furless creature. There was one scary moment, the day our Great Dane Hemingway met the new baby. I had Dominik on the floor and Hemi came by to sniff him. The sniff was very gentle, but then came the big old tennis racket sized paw. Yes, Hemi pawed the kid. Unfortunately, my mother was there and she was horrified… she thought I needed to rehome the dogs. Fortunately, Hemi was so sensitive that our reaction to his pawing was enough to make him never want to do that again. Had he been persistent, unpredictable, snappy and snarly I would not have been as encouraged.

Today, our son is 7 years old. Hemingway passed in August. Everest is now 11 years old. I have my son and Everest’s relationship grow and deepen. It’s moving to watch, and, I like to think, it all started when Dominik was in my womb.


Coprophagia… when poop is a delicacy

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crotteAccording to Wikipedia, Coprophagia  is the consumption of feces.  Coprophagy refers to many kinds of feces eating, including eating feces of other species (heterospecifics), of other individuals (allocoprophagy), or its own (autocoprophagy) Some animal species eat feces as a normal behavior; other species may not normally consume feces but do so under very unusual conditions.

Ok. That’s disgusting. Why do dogs do this?

Thcrottemonsieure reality is that from a dog’s point of view, dining on a Crotte Madame or a more traditional Crotte Monsieur just isn’t as revolting as it is to us. Not all dogs do it and I count myself quite lucky to have never owned a poop eating, face licking pooch. I have, however, worked with many dogs that do find it terribly appealing. One in particular would run up to any defecating dog and indulge in snurding (snacking on turds… yeah, I just made that word up) before the gooey goodness even hit the ground. This dog’s great pleasure was to go to the dog park and wait for snack time, to the horror of his doggy parent, as you can imagine

The theories abound as to why some canine companions, who are well fed at home, are dedicated to the poop diet.  Some say that dogs think it’s a valuable resource because humans rush to pick it up. Humans want to put a turd in a bag quickly and efficiently, therefore, said turd must be valuable. Apparently this would explain why a dog may want to eat it before we have time to claim it. I, on the other hand, am not so sure about this
whole resource guarding theory mainly because it assumes quite a high level of analysis from the dog’s perspective.

Others have theorized that dogs are drawn to it because something is missing in their diet (specifically Vitamin B).  Some dogs would, accorcrottesnackding to this theory, eat poop to compensate for a lack of certain minerals and vitamins? Seems like a crappy way to get your daily dose… but if it’s true, the fix would be pleasantly easy: just give the dog extra vitamins and minerals. It is also worth investigating if your dog is absorbing nutrients properly. If that is the case, simply adding them to his diet may not be the solution. Some folks have had luck adding enzymes that contain papain (think meat tenderizer) to their dog’s diet, to help with malabsorption issues.
pooppartySome dogs enjoy it as a frozen treat, otherwise known as Le Poopsicle. Others are cool with it at any temperature, as long as it’s not their own.  It stinks, I know, but is it dangerous? The answer, I’m afraid, is that it may be not only dangerous, but potentially fatal.  This is especially true when dogs prefer to dine on others’ dung. Dedicated poop eaters are at a higher risk of becoming infected with heartworms, hookworms, roundworms and tapeworms and of contracting parvovirus, giardia, salmonella and E. coli

If your dog is afflicted with coprophagia, you may want to visit your vet to make sure they haven’t been infected with anything and to also rule out the following health issues, which may also be motivating your dog to indulge:

  • cushing’s disease (increase of appetite)
  • thyroid disease (increase of appetite)
  • parasites
  • pica
  • malabsorption syndrome

If, like me, you have a dog who sticks to the regularly programmed dine-in option, please be mindful of others that are struggling with their coprophagic dog. The best thing we can do is pick up after our dogs. Not only is it part of being a responsible pet owner, but it helps in stopping the spread of disease. Doggy doo is not good for the environment. It’s not fertilizer – it kills grass and, if left alone, it can end up in our water supply. No one wants to step in it either. I like to consider doggy do pick up as a way to check in on my dog’s health. I know what I should be picking up and if it’s not what’s expected, it’s valuable information to have.


Try as we might, we still can’t remove all the poop from our dog’s environment. So what do we do to stop a dog from indulging? Management is always the first step in any training plan. This could mean keeping your dog on leash to prevent him from reaching the delicacy. It could also mean muzzle training your dog so that he can run around and play, but not eat anything that would be off limits. Training can also help.  A solid recall, for example, would be golden. Being able to call your dog away from a tempting snack… yes please! You could also teach your dog that turds are aversive, but that requires a lot of management and getting to the feces before (or at the same time as) your dog. If your dog has coprophagia, you are probably already scouting out the environment for brownies, but teaching your dog that they are evil, sounds like a strategy that is unrealistic and exhausting.

If you are struggling with this issue, we can help. We offer a Total Recall class, private lessons, and we also have a (free) lending library stocked up with great resources.



Giving cookies to dogs doesn’t work, right?

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When I was a so-called traditional trainer, when I first started training dogs, I really did not understand how using food in training could be as effective as what I was doing. I’ll be frank – I thought only the weak had to revert to using food.  Ah… how wrong I was!

I will NEVER say that punishment doesn’t work. I use it too. Ignoring a dog that wants your attention is punishment. Taking away an item your dog is guarding, is an example of punishment. Harsher punishment also works, and works awfully well. I know, I used it on my dog and taught others to do it with their dog. I also didn’t think I was hurting any dogs, nor did I ever consider it a problem if I made them uncomfortable in any way. In fact, I was untrained in recognizing the signs of discomfort and stress in a dog.

I continued to learn. That insatiable thirst to know more and more and more wouldn’t leave me. Though reluctant at first, I let my mind consider other ways to train a dog, and I allowed myself to consider training options that involved food. It was not easy to unlearn things I so fervently believed. It took a lot of time for me to let go of concepts and approaches that had made up the basis of how I operated. Even my dog was confused. But, I persevered. I really wanted to “get it”. My dog adapted and the changes I saw in him are what made me decide that I could not go back to what I was doing.

Today, I look for more than just compliance from my pets. That used to be the golden standard and what I used to get from my dog Everest. To get him to comply, I had to give a leash correction and I needed a prong. I don’t care about compliance any longer.  Nope. I strive for cooperation. I allow my dog to choose to engage with me and you know what? when you remove the threat of an aversive, that possibility of a correction no matter how light you make it, it is amazing how willing that animal becomes. That may be difficult for some to relate to. I expect that. Believe me, I would have scoffed at that notion 10 years ago. It may feel like you are relinquishing control. I get it. I would have thought so too a decade ago. However, today, I see that a relationship based on cooperation is not only kind and humane, but more powerful than a relationship based on avoidance.

My dog used to “talk back” to me a lot, but at least he did what I asked him to do. How is that success? I want more than a dog going through the motions just because I asked him to. Do I have all the answers? Nope. I wish. But I will never stop my quest for knowledge, I will continue learning from my mistakes, and I will strive to keep an open mind since that is what got me here in the first place.

Here is a blog entry from a fellow dog trainer that is well worth the read.

But We Don’t Give Our Kids a Cookie Every Time they Tie Their Shoes!

What Does a “Force-Free” Trainer Do Anyway?

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Don’t get the wrong idea! I’m a firm believer in humane and respectful training. You won’t see me giving the leash a good “pop” to get a dog’s attention, nor will you hear me tell folks that they should be the dominant one in their relationship with their dog. I used to do and say those things, but I’ve continued to attend seminars, workshops and read countless scientific based research and can no longer see the value in using intimidation and “I’m the boss” techniques in my practice. So this blog post entitled “Why I’m not a Force Free Trainer” caught my attention.  I wanted to see what the author, Sarah Reusche from Paws Abilities had to say about Force Free training and see if there was anything I could learn.
I found her entry very interesting and hope you will too.



What Every Pet Owner Needs To Know About Dog Trainers

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Here’s a great little list entitled ‘What Every Pet Owner Needs to Know About Dog Trainers

I really like #10 – “Just because dog training is an unregulated industry doesn’t mean that some of us are not preparing ourselves and learning to train as though it was”. That is definitely our approach at the Ottawa Canine School! I strongly believe in continued education. It was crucial to my former career, and still is now.


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