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Do You Have A Shy or Fearful Dog?

Help Them Gain More Confidence

It’s easy to assume that all dogs love everyone and everything. Why wouldn’t they? They’re dogs! But many dogs are actually shy or frightened of some people, things like loud noises, and certain situations.

Recognizing a Shy or Fearful Dog

There are different ways to identify shy or fearful dogs because they often express specific behaviors in response to their triggers, including:

  • Urinating involuntarily
  • Trying to move away or hide
  • Trembling
  • Panting or drooling
  • Shedding excessively
  • Refusing to make eye contact

Unfortunately, shy or fearful dogs can also react in more aggressive ways too, like barking, growling, and snapping. In fact, most dog behaviors that seem aggressive are usually a sign of fear, not aggression problems.

What Makes a Dog Shy or Fearful

In some cases, it’s easy to understand why a dog is shy or afraid. Maybe your dog was abused at one point or experienced a traumatic event. Sometimes you can trace fearful reactions to limited socialization as a puppy. There are also dogs who have a genetic predisposition that makes them more wary – this doesn’t mean some breeds are more fearful or shy. Instead, it means that traits in dogs can be passed from parents to children. So, if you have a shy parent, you can also have a shy puppy.

And, just as often, some dogs can develop fears for reasons we’ll never know.

Helping Shy or Fearful Dogs

If you have a shy or fearful dog, it’s essential to recognize their fears and try to help them become more confident. Remember, this can take a lot of time and patience, but these steps can help.


Fear puts dogs in a heightened state of emotion. The first step should involve managing your dog’s environment so they can avoid things that trigger their fear response. For example, if your dog is afraid of strangers, avoid crowded areas filled with people because they can overwhelm your dog. When your dog is in an environment where they feel safe and relaxed, you can start working on training, desensitization, and counter-conditioning.


Training is an essential aspect of building a strong relationship with your dog and helping them grow more confident. This doesn’t mean you have to have a certified service dog by the time you’re done, but having reliable training foundation like sit, down, and stay paves the way towards having a dog who relies on you for guidance on how they should react when they feel afraid or uncertain. We offer group and one-on-one training classes in our Obedience Academy, so let us know if you would like suggestions on how to work with your shy or fearful dog.

Desensitization and Counter-Conditioning

In an ideal world, all we’d have to do is say, “You don’t have to be scared, Fifi, that’s just thunder.” Unfortunately, communicating with a dog takes a little more work, especially if they’re in a heightened emotional state because they’re afraid.

To help your dog overcome their fears, slowly expose them to their triggers a little at a time while simultaneously giving them pleasant things to enjoy, like super tasty treats. The idea behind this is to change your dog’s emotional and physiological response to the things that scare them by helping them associate their fears with something positive.

Be Patient

Remember, if you have a shy or fearful dog, it’s crucial to take things slow. It can be a long, slow process to help them grow more confident, especially if you have an extremely fearful dog. Let them set the pace as you work with them; never try to rush them or force them into situations that make them uncomfortable. It’s also important to discuss your concerns with your veterinarian.

Do you have a shy or fearful dog? What helped them gain confidence? Tell us in the comments below!

By |July 15th, 2019|blog|0 Comments|

Your Dog’s Health: Heart Disease Alert

Understanding the Risks & Identifying the Signs

Heart disease has been making local and national headlines lately. But this time, it’s because of concern over the sharp increase of dogs with a particular form of heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

puppy sitting in food bowlSome dog breeds have higher rates of heart disease. However, recent findings from the FDA reveal a potential link between DCM and dogs eating certain foods. While continued research is still needed, there is significant concern with recipes containing sweet potatoes, legumes – like peas, lentils, and chickpeas – and some foods containing regular potatoes in various forms, whether whole, flour, or protein.

The FDA first alerted the public to their rising concerns over dog food and DCM in July 2018. But what is cardiomyopathy, and why should we be worried?

Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy

DCM in dogs is just as scary as heart disease is in people. When a dog has DCM, their heart muscle weakens, which affects its ability to pump and contract properly. As the disease progresses, their heart chambers become enlarged, and their valves can start leaking. All these changes pose serious risks for your dog, including congestive heart failure and death.

The Signs of Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Dogs with cardiomyopathy can display a variety of symptoms, depending on the extent of their condition. Common signs of DCM include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Inability to exercise
  • Weakness or collapse
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Coughing
  • Breathing problems, including shortness of breath
  • Abdominal swelling

Unfortunately, just like humans with heart disease, dogs can have DCM without displaying any symptoms. This means a dog can suffer sudden death from dilated cardiomyopathy without showing any signs of illness.

To learn more about DCM and the FDA’s findings, we encourage you to read this coverage from the American Kennel Club. For more information on your dog’s health and whether they’re at risk of heart disease, contact your veterinarian.

By |July 8th, 2019|blog|0 Comments|

It’s Your Party!

June Birthday Roundup

dog wearing birthday hat

Carter Roo

Carter Roo can’t stop smiling because he celebrated his birthday at WTPR last month!

Members of our free Birthday Club spend their special day enjoying a complimentary Playday, bandana, and birthday paw-ty!

See all the dogs that celebrated with Carter Roo by visiting our photo gallery! Not a member yet? Sign up today!

By |July 1st, 2019|blog|0 Comments|

Tail Waggers of the Month

Meet Midas and Allie!

Bloomington Tail Wagger

Midas has been coming to WTPR since he was six months old. As a baby, he was a member of our Eagan pack. But, after moving to Bloomington, this sweet golden retriever was able to call our second location his home away from home too!

One of the things 6-1/2-year-old Midas likes most about his doggy daycare visits is Pool Days. When the weather permits, he claims a kiddie pool for himself and spends the whole day lounging in it! Midas also loves his routine almost as much as hanging out in the pool, but the recent home remodel has thrown him off. His owner Eric says they’re expecting their first child, so they can only imagine how big of a change it will be for Midas having a new baby in the family!

Eric tells us that Midas doesn’t have a very good nose. That means that when he loses sight of a treat, he can’t sniff them out very well. One time, however, Midas surprised Eric and Carrie by stopping and sniffing a snowbank intently. All of a sudden, he plunged his head deep in the snow, resurfacing moments later with a mouthful of McDonald’s French fries. Apparently, Midas doesn’t have a problem sniffing those out!

While Midas doesn’t mind digging for French fries in the snow, he hates getting his paws wet. This quirk has earned him the nickname “Princess Paws” at home. As long as the pavement is dry, you can find Midas prancing like a horse on his walks and really hamming it up if he thinks someone is watching.

Midas is a special dog with a charming personality. Eric says Midas loves pushing his face into small spaces. This trait tends to throw off strangers who meet him for the first time because Midas ends up shoving his face between their legs and leaving it there!

Eagan Tail Wagger

Allie has been coming to our Eagan location since November 2018 when her owner Christy first rescued her. It’s taken a little while for Allie to come out of her shell, but she’s found some good friends to play with — especially Mallow the Siberian Husky and Boss the Pitbull — and she enjoys following the play coaches around during her Playday visits.

This 3-1/2-year-old Australian Shepherd is very sweet, loving, and always ready for a cuddle. Allie uses her nose to nudge you for pets and even wants you to hold her paw while she’s curled up beside you. She’s also eager to please and a quick learner who really loves her routine, especially her long morning walks. Consistent training and her love of treats have helped Allie become more confident, and Christy has loved seeing Allie’s true personality emerge as her fears subside. In fact, Christy says that Allie’s gentle disposition, affectionate demeanor, and ability to learn quickly are her top assets. Christy hopes that with ongoing training, Allie could become a certified therapy dog.

What’s the best part of having Allie in her life? “I feel incredibly grateful we found each other,” Christy told us. “From the first day I met Allie at the Border Collie Rescue of Minnesota, she pulled on my heartstrings. I learned she came from a Reservation in North Dakota, and she already knew some basic commands. I believe someone must have loved her but could not financially take care of her. Her joy and affectionate personality were what drew me to her. After losing my cairn terrier in July, Allie came along at the right time and has once again filled my home with so much love. I’m proud to have been able to provide her with a forever home.”

Congratulations Midas and Allie!

By |June 24th, 2019|blog|0 Comments|

Your Dog’s Health: Cataracts

What to Look For and How to Help

Most of us have known someone with cataracts at some point in our lives, but did you know dogs can have cataracts too? Cataracts affect the lens of the eye, causing it to thicken and lose its transparency. When cataracts develop, they can impair your vision and, in some cases, even cause blindness.

Most people associate cataracts with old age, but the most common cause of this issue in dogs is inherited conditions or underlying diseases like diabetes. Some dogs even have cataracts at birth, or that develop within one and three years of age.

Symptoms of Cataracts in Dogs

The most obvious indication of cataracts are eyes that look cloudy or bluish-gray. Additional signs that your dog might have cataracts include:

  • Frequent eye rubbing
  • Eye redness, discharge, or excessive blinking
  • A sudden hesitation or reluctance to jump on furniture or climb stairs
  • Increased clumsiness

Some of these changes in your dog’s behavior can be a natural part of the aging process or indicate other issues, like arthritis, so it’s important to schedule an appointment with your vet so they can make a diagnosis.

Treating Cataracts in Dogs

Your vet might recommend a variety of treatments to address your dog’s cataracts. For example, if there’s an underlying condition like diabetes, your vet will work to manage that issue. They might also recommend eyedrops to prevent inflammation from developing or other problems, like an infection. If your dog is healthy aside from having cataracts, your vet might suggest cataract surgery with a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Dogs with progressive cataracts causing severe vision loss can still live a full and rich life thanks to their remarkable ability to adjust to new situations. Talk to your vet about how you can help your dog and family cope with vision loss.

To reduce your dog’s chances of developing cataracts, you should schedule yearly physicals that include a routine eye exam. These appointments help your vet monitor your dog’s health for underlying issues and treat any conditions that can cause cataracts before they become serious.

By |June 17th, 2019|blog|0 Comments|

Tech to the Rescue!

The Modern Dog

Whether you like it or not, technology is here to stay. And we couldn’t be happier because of all the ways it’s made things better for dogs! We’ve already written about how smartphones can do more than take pictures of your dogs and highlighted five of our favorite apps for dog lovers. But, there are even more ways technology can help keep our dogs safer, healthier, and happier.


Microchipping your dog is a valuable step in helping them find their way home again if they ever get lost. But, now, you can also add a built-in GPS collar that sends updates to your smartphone about your dog’s activity and whereabouts! With a wide range of GPS collars to choose from, it’s easy to keep track of your dog so they’ll never get lost again.


Wearable technology isn’t just for humans anymore. If you’re trying to keep track of your dog’s daily exercise or get insight into their general health and behavior, FitBark could be right for you. This wearable device tracks your dog’s sleep quality, daily activity, distance covered by running or walking, and the number of calories they burn.


No one likes leaving their dog at home alone. But now, you can check on them while you’re away with devices like the Petcube Camera! This camera is far more than a basic webcam. Not only does it sync to your smartphone, but it also lets you talk to your dog and play fetch with them with a built-in laser pointer!

Smart Toys

Looking for ways to banish boredom or reduce anxiety in your dog? Smart toys like the CleverPet Hub and PupPod provide interactive, high-tech puzzle games that stream to your phone! These exciting toys can keep dogs of all ages and abilities challenged while they learn.

Has technology changed your relationship with your dog? Tell us in the comments below!

By |June 10th, 2019|blog|0 Comments|

It’s Your Party!

May Birthday Roundup


April showers bring May… birthdays? It does at Wagging Tails! Can you believe that we celebrated over 30 birthdays in May? Was your dog’s one of them?

Our Birthday Club is free and comes with a bandana, Playday, and a birthday party!

Visit our Photo Gallery to see all of the happy dogs in our Birthday Club!

By |June 3rd, 2019|blog|0 Comments|

Pool Days Are Back!

Plunging into Summer

We’re happy to announce that POOL DAYS are back!

This year from May 16 through August (weather permitting), all dogs attending “Playday” doggy daycare sessions are welcome to join us for POOL DAYS on Tuesdays and Thursdays!

We offer POOL DAYS at both of our locations from at 8am until 2pm to make sure there’s plenty of time for your dog to dry off before heading home for the night. We also fill each of our kiddie pools in the outside play areas so there’s plenty of space for splishing and splashing. Still, POOL DAYS are popular, so we recommend reserving your dog’s spot in advance. And, even if you’re stuck at work all day, you can still join in on the POOL DAY fun! Our outdoor camera feeds provide a bird’s eye view of the pups while they play.

Contact us or reserve your dog’s spot in the pool online today!

By |May 27th, 2019|blog|0 Comments|

Tail Waggers of the Month

Meet Kemper and Ozzie!

Bloomington Tail Wagger

Kemper is a playful terrier mix who’s nearly four years old and has been part of our Bloomington pack for over two years. During the summer months, Kemper loves sunbathing outside during his visits. But when the weather doesn’t cooperate, you can usually find him supervising the action in the play areas from one of our ramps.

After a good doggy daycare “Playday” session, Kemper likes to ride shotgun with his dad while they pick up his mom on their way home. Bruce says that Kemper is usually so tired, though, that he doesn’t realize that Jenny has gotten in the car until she’s already climbed in the backseat! It doesn’t take long before Kemper joins her for some pets, however, and Bruce plays chauffeur on the drive home while they snuggle in the backseat.

Kemper is a sweet and loving boy who knows what he wants. When he’s ready for a walk or to go outside, Kemper disappears into the living room and waits for Bruce or Jenny to find him. At night, he likes to sleep in bed with his people, unless they disturb him by moving even the tiniest bit. Kemper’s also happy to go into the bedroom and tuck himself in for the night when he’s done for the day. And this smart boy knows that if Bruce or Jenny is on the phone, he should go look out the window because one of them is coming home any minute! But, if you really want to know how Kemper feels, you need to watch how he moves his ears or listen to his sighs. Unfortunately, Bruce says Kemper’s sighs can mean he’s bored and wants to go for a walk or that he’s tired, but they all sound the same!

What’s the best part of having Kemper in their lives? “We rescued Kemper at six months old. We don’t know what happened in his life beforehand, but it left him a little scared of the world,” Bruce said. “The best part of owning him is showing him every day that it’s not a scary place and watching him become just a little more confident.”

Eagan Tail Wagger

Two-year-old Ozzie has been coming to our Eagan location since he was a puppy. During his visits, this happy golden retriever loves to bark at his friends — especially the other Goldens! — until they play with him. Once they do, he’s quick to give up and roll over on his back while they romp. Ozzie also loves spending time with his human coaches, getting lots of cuddles and pets.

If he can’t play at Wagging Tails, Ozzie likes to wrestle with his dad, Tim, instead. To get Dad to play, Ozzie will play bite Tim’s toes while he relaxes in the recliner! While Ozzie loves to wrestle, he isn’t the most athletic of dogs. Tim and Kelsey also describe him as “being a bit on the husky side.” But these minor details didn’t stop Ozzie from surprising them once by jumping up on the dining room table from a standstill during a big family dinner!

When he’s not dancing on tables, this lovable pooch makes friends everywhere he goes. On walks, Ozzie is often surrounded by a group of neighborhood kids. When this happens, he likes to sit in the middle of the circle with his head thrown back, smiling up at them with a happy grin. Ozzie’s also a kind and gentle little lover who seems offended when squirrels and rabbits run away from him.

While he’s a people and animal lover, Tim and Kelsey told us that Ozzie is also a lazy boy who likes to sleep in late. In fact, the only time he really gets cranky with them is if they wake him up too early! Ozzie will also glare at them when he’s ready for bed and they aren’t there yet. They also say that he sways his hips when he walks like he’s got swagger and squeals like a pig when he’s really excited.

When we asked Tim and Kelsey what made Ozzie extra special, they said, “Ozzie makes everyone who sees him smile. He has the type of demeanor that makes you feel calm and happy, just by being in his presence.” They also said that Ozzie has made their family feel complete.

Congratulations Kemper and Ozzie!

By |May 20th, 2019|blog|0 Comments|

It’s Your Party!

April Birthday Roundup



Rowdy LOVED celebrating with us at Wagging Tails in April. Has your dog had a birthday party yet? Our Birthday Club is FREE and comes with a party, “doggy daycare” Playday session, and a bandana!

See all of our April party pups in our Photo Gallery!


By |May 13th, 2019|blog|0 Comments|