Name: Caryl Wolff
Puppy and Dog Potty Training
Puppy Socialization book
Puppy Potty Training book
Teacup Puppies and Dogs – Choosing a Breeder and Choosing a Dog
Teacup Puppies and Dogs – Supplies, Pre-Puppy Prep and First Week Home
Teacup Puppies and Dogs – Feeding, Care, Safety, Health and Grooming
Teacup Puppies and Dogs – Obedience Training, Games and Play
Teacup Puppies and Dogs – Potty Training and Behavior Issues
What is your book about?
All my books are about dog training, behavior, and care.
What inspired you to write your book?
All the books came from my need to research a topic for a client and discovering there was very little information about the topic and/or the information was outdated and in some cases even harmful – or that the info was so scattered that there was no one single reliable source. For example, with the teacup books, I had several clients with teacup puppies. Training a teacup is different than training small dogs simply because of their size and their being so fragile. One source said it was going to be very difficult to find a shock collar small enough for a teacup! I found that appalling.
Regarding the potty training books, again, there was one source that said to clean up the urine by using your foot to put pressure on a paper towel. Makes sense; right? Umm, no – because now you have urine on the bottom of your shoe and you’re tracking it all over the house. Since dogs like to pee where there is already a smell there, you’re telling your dog that it’s okay to pee with every step you take! And I wanted to write something that was informational as well as humorous. The title of one chapter is “Peter Piper Picks a Perfect Pee Spot.” I must have done something right because Puppy Potty Training won the 2015 Golden Global eBook award (Dan Poynter’s group).
And finally with the socialization book, early socialization is critical for a dog’s mental and emotional development, but there is a dilemma because veterinarians caution puppy parents not to take puppies into the “real world” until all their puppy vaccines have been completed. The problem is there is a critical developmental window, similar to the developmental window with children, that closes at or about the time the final shot is given. If the puppy has not been familiarized with the real world by that time, he will not live up to his full potential – and even worse, he may become either aggressive or fearful for the rest of his life. My book gives hundreds of tips to breeders, puppy parents, and rescue organizations on how to socialize puppies safely. Incidentally, in doing research, I discovered that there were many, many articles on puppy socialization but not a single book. Mine is the only one.
Can you describe your writing process?
I’ve been taking notes on all aspects of dog behavior and training for years. When it’s time to write a book, I make a rough outline of the specific topics to cover and then review those notes as well as adding notes from books and the most current articles on the Internet. I plug the info into the outline and then start culling. Then I write and edit. Next the manuscript is sent to other trainers for feedback, correction, and editing. And finally I put everything together and then publish.
How did you come to do what you’re doing today?
I had no plans to become either a trainer or author. I was doing very well as a court reporter and at the same time belonged to the West Los Angeles Obedience Training Club. One of the members announced that her daughter’s school was putting on a production of “Annie,” and the school needed a Sandy. My dog got the part.
Through an interesting turn of events, the prop master at the Los Angeles Opera got my name and wanted one of my other dogs for “The Girl of the Golden West” starring Placido Domingo, and that turned out to be my first paying job as a dog trainer! There were commercials and movies that followed, which were fun to do but which were not paying the bills.
I had been a court reporter for 17 years, was tired of sitting, and wanted to do something where I could walk and talk. Other dog owners asked me for advice about issues their dogs were having. I slowly transitioned into becoming a dog trainer and behavior consultant. I was the first person to be certified by five dog trainer organizations. The books followed.
Now with writing, I’m sitting and not talking again, so I guess it’s come full circle…
Can you describe a typical day in your life?
It’s not really that exciting. I research or write in the mornings and do chores, errands, or see clients in the afternoon. The evenings are to let my brain rest either by watching TV, seeing friends, or going out.
What do you most enjoy about what you do?
I enjoy helping people solve their “dog problems,” whether it is through in-person training or by reading their emails. Solving a problem can keep a dog from having a forever home or being surrendered to a shelter.
Are there any people and/or books that have inspired you along your journey?
I have taken hundreds of seminars and have a personal library of over 1,000 books, videos, and DVDs and glean nuggets of information from every one of them.
When I began dog training, there were very few books that gave substantive information, and those that did generally used punitive methods. Bill Campbell was one of the first dog trainers to use reward-based training based on scientific principles. His books discussed how to train dogs and work with owners so they both understand what to do rather than force dogs to comply. I was fortunate enough both to correspond and speak with him personally on many occasions.
Patricia McConnell is an animal behaviorist. Her book The Other End of the Leash discusses the differences between how people and dogs perceive the world around us, i.e., between what we intend and how our dogs interpret our actions. That book changed the way I trained.
I’ve attended many seminars and read books by John Rogerson, who has unique ways of training.
But the person who influenced me most was not a trainer at all. His name was Ed Lieser, and we used to see each other at the park. Ed had led an interesting life, including being a body guard for Walter Winchell. He had bred several breeds of dogs and took me to my first dog show. He asked me what dog I thought would win for a particular breed. I told him. I asked him what dog he thought would win. He told me. His pick won. After the third time of picking a winner, I asked him how he knew so much about the standards of different breeds, and he said he knew nothing about them. Well, how did he keep picking the winners? He wasn’t looking at the dogs; he was looking at the judges and could tell even from their very stoic appearances which dog they would pick. That was a huge lesson – don’t look for the obvious.
Can you share something that people may be surprised to learn about you?
I have always wanted to learn to draw. I took a drawing class 30 years ago, and drawing just fell by the wayside. I began taking classes again last year and have been drawing ever since. Totally separate from that, I make killer brownies…
What’s next for you?
Continuing to train, write, and draw. Right now, I’m 69 but don’t know if I will ever retire.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think NFAA is a terrific resource with the teleconferences, articles, and other amenities. Thank you for letting me be a part of it. And I crossing my fingers I’ve not made glaring faux paus in this interview…
My website is www.DoggieManners.com.