by May 3, 2013 at 11:00 am 0

From Mathew Harkins. Email him at mharkins[AT]


How did Joey do that? (Rachel Jones)

We’ve all heard the stories of dogs that find their way home after being separated from their owners. Now Borderstan has it’s own variation on the theme, but with a twist.

On April 30, Joey, a resident Chihuahua, went out for an afternoon walk with his dog walker. According to the MPD, the dog walker was then the victim of a robbery near the intersection of 11th and V Streets NW — she was not assaulted though she did fall and hit her head.

During the course of this robbery, Joey managed to slip out of his collar and run away from the scene. This was at 4:12 pm.

At 4:27 pm, just 15 minutes later, Rachel Jones, the owner and head trainer at K-9 Divine (and also a Borderstan contributor), happened to look out her window to see Joey at her doorstep. Joey and his owner are clients of K-9 Divine. Moreover, K-9 Divine is not conveniently located just a block or two away from the scene of the crime. It’s all the way over at 11th Street NW and several blocks south — a full nine blocks away from where the robbery happened.

For Joey to have run that distance in such a short period of time, he must have known where he was going and wasn’t confused or lost. Amazingly, Joey has barely ever been walked from his home to K-9 Divine; he usually travels stylishly by car. He has seen the route from a passing window but nobody would have imagined he knew how to get there on his own. And yet, his survival instinct kicked in during the robbery and led him to what he knew would be a safe place, even at such a distance.

This isn’t a skill you’re necessarily going to want to test out with your dog, but it is an interesting look at the intelligence of dogs. At the same time, let’s all be sure to keep the collars securely fastened on our canine companions.

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by April 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm 0

From Rachel Jones. Email her at rjones[AT] She is the owner of K-9 Divine and a professional dog trainer.


Beagles are always hunting. (Rachel Jones)

The beagle is one of the most common breeds found in our local private rescue organizations.

This is because local rescues get dogs from West Virginia, Virginia and the Carolinas, which tend to be hunting or herding breeds.

City dwellers think that the beagle is the perfect size for an apartment. It is important to know what you are getting into before choosing any breed of dog.

Beagles are hunting dogs. They have been bred for hundreds of years to chase foxes and other small animals. This is work they do independently from humans. This means that they are not naturally inclined to take direction from humans or be “team players.”

So expect them to be lower on the trainability scale than breeds that do work together with people, like retrievers or herding dogs. This doesn’t mean they are not intelligent, just that it will take more time and patience to train them. Beagles are also not very reliable off the leash, as they tend to follow their noses and get lost.

Beagles are very sweet tempered and love affection and company. They are good with children and other dogs. Beagles that are raised as hunting dogs live in huge packs in kennels. When they get rescued and brought to the city, they can have a hard time being alone while owners are at work.

Beagles have a very loud bark, and if they feel anxious and express it vocally, it can mean tension with neighbors. Before choosing to adopt a beagle, make sure you have understanding neighbors and a training program in place. As a trainer, 95% of the separation anxiety cases I see are beagles, and all of them are in apartments.

If you are willing to devote some extra time to training and your neighbors can tolerate some noise, a beagle can be a wonderful addition to your family.

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by March 4, 2013 at 10:00 am 0

From Rachel Jones. Email her at rjones[AT] She is  she is the owner of K-9 Divine and a professional dog trainer. 


Why is your dog barking? (Rachel Jones)

Barking is one of the most frustrating behavior problems that dog owners experience. It can be very difficult, if not impossible, to silence a barking dog. It is also embarrassing and problematic to have a noisy dog in an apartment building or on a busy street.

The best way to deal with an overly vocal dog is to first examine the cause of the barking and try to eliminate it. Dogs bark for a variety of reasons and each one has its own solution.

Why is Your Dog Barking?

  • Fear: Many dogs vocalize when they are fearful or nervous. This is especially true for toy breeds. The dog is sleeping quietly and then the doorbell rings, immediately sending the dog into a frenzy. She may continue to bark the entire time the visitor is in the house.
  • Scolding or punishing her for barking is not only ineffective, it probably increases her nervousness. The solution to fear-related barking is to eliminate or reduce the dog’s level of anxiety through training and desensitization exercises.
  • Frustration: A dog that is frustrated may resort to barking when he can’t find a solution to his problem. Solution: examine the source of the frustration. Does he have a legitimate reason to be frustrated? No dog should be tied up or closely confined for long periods of time. Similarly, a reactive dog should not be allowed to stare out the window and bark at everyone who passes. He is not enjoying himself! A relaxed dog would be sleeping in a corner, ignoring the window. Find a quiet, windowless spot for your reactive dog.
  • Attention-seeking: Some sources of doggie frustration are not legitimate. Your dog should not feel the need to bark at you when you are eating dinner or engaged in an activity that does not involve her. Don’t give in to a dog that vocalizes to get attention. She needs to learn to wait patiently until you are ready to interact with her. The only way to eliminate this type of barking is to ignore it completely.
  • Breed-specific barking: Always research your breed before you get a dog! Some dogs, such as Lhasa Apsos and Chihuahuas, have been bred for centuries to bark at the slightest noise. They may not make good apartment dogs for this reason. Small-breed dogs, hounds and herding dogs tend to be barkers. Training is not very effective against years of genetic selection for barking.

The best solution to problem barking is to attack the reason behind the barking instead of the barking itself. Eliminating the source of the problem will result in long-term success and a much happier dog.

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