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Solving Sebastian’s Snarkiness with Solgave Animal Solutions – Northwest Arkansas Dog Training


Disclosure: As of September 16, 2013, I am employed as a pet sitter with Solgave Animal Solutions, a provider of professional dog training in Northwest Arkansas. When this behavioral coaching session happened on 8/2/2013, I was not an employee,  nor intending to become one. Solgave Animal Solutions provided me with this session in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own unless indicated otherwise.

It’s true. I really do have the most adorable pumpkin in the world for a pet.


But beneath that cute facade is a face that means business that is really hiding a lot of anxiety. Here’s Sebastian, sitting in one of his favorite spots in the home – on top of the loveseat, looking out the front window with the blinds open. It allows him to get some sun, and also allows him to check out what’s going on in the neighborhood – when the neighbors walk by to get their mail, when the kids ride along on their bicycles, and moments that particularly excite him, such as when the Black Lab across the street comes out to do her business. Or when I return home from wherever I’ve been; Sebastian just knows I’ve been gone. Or when delivery drivers ring the doorbell.


Sebastian is a great dog. He’s very smart and intuitive, he’s great at listening to commands and even solves puzzles like the one above!  He went through three training classes and did well in all of them. But sometimes classes aren’t enough, and there are behavioral problems that still need to be corrected. We’ve had a lot of problems with Sebastian being a barker, a door-dasher and a jumper. The jumping and barking can typically be stopped, but the door-dashing is the scariest – especially because we live adjacent to one of the busiest streets in town. So while I’ve been concerned about his barking and anxiety at the window, I want to make sure he is safe.

Through a friend, I was connected with Sunniva and Jared Ritter, owners of Solgave Animal Solutions in Fayetteville, Ark., for the opportunity to experience a behavioral coaching session for Sebastian. I was so relieved, because I really needed these issues addressed.

Sunniva and Jared Ritter, playing with Sunniva's ex-boss's dogs back in Norway. They're very good with other people's animals.

Sunniva and Jared Ritter, playing with Sunniva’s ex-boss’s dogs back in Norway. They’re very good with other people’s animals.

I cannot find an English translation for the Norwegian word “Solgave.”  But as Jared describes it, “Solgave as a philosophy is about healing, understanding relationships, and connecting people back to the Earth through a variety of ways.” I asked Sunniva about her experience in animal behavioral training, and she said that she just grew up around dogs in Norway and has basically been caring for them since she was a young girl.

So I wanted to see if Sunniva’s experience in Norway could help Sebastian. As soon as the door was opened, of course, Sebastian ran toward the front to greet Sunniva, who ignored Sebastian as she walked in. As he attempted to jump on her, Sunniva simply snapped her fingers at him and he stopped.

It was then that I became pretty confident that Sunniva was going to help me and Sebastian. Sunniva explained that since Sebastian is part Schnauzer and part pug, he has two different personalities: The Schnauzer is a guardian and a hunter, while the pug is sweet and submissive. She also noticed that Sebastian is insecure – something I’ve known since I adopted him.

Sebastian revealing his mix of sweetness and guardianship in the backyard.

Sebastian revealing his mix of sweetness and guardianship in the backyard.

The Black Lab across the street instigates fear in Sebastian, and also brings out the sense in him that he needs to put up a protective front by barking at her. As the pack leader, it’s my job to keep Sebastian away from such distractions, and also to let him know when he starts barking out the window that I can handle whatever he’s afraid of; that his role is not to protect me. I’m the alpha – and it’s something I have to remind him of every day.

The next thing we worked on was Sebastian’s horrible habit of door-dashing. You have no idea how many times I have driven along my street, pretending to leave to try and convince Sebastian to get in the car with me; telling neighbors not to go after him because he will think you’re playing chase, and literally SQUEALING as I saw him on the edge of a busy road, checking out some roadkill as an enormous van flew past him. The thing is, Sebastian always knows to come back, because he knows he will be treated with love and good things to eat. We NEVER scold him, because why would a dog want to return to a place where someone’s going to be mean to him?! Also, dogs have very short attention spans.

So our goal was to get Sebastian to stop running toward the door in the first place. I decided that our tiled entryway was a boundary he could not cross as anyone walked in the door. He could stay on the carpet; that was it. Jared and Sunniva and I did a lot of exercises, including creating potential scenarios. If his paws were on the tile, I simply told him “no-no-no” nicely but firmly, and would reward him whenever he was where I wanted him to be. We worked on this for quite a while.

I am SO excited to report that since Jared and Sunniva came to visit me in early August, Sebastian has not run out the front door ONCE. This is SUCH a relief to me, because the thought of my little pooch being hit on the street absolutely horrifies me!

I actually made a video just to show you the progress Sebastian had made. I had been out of the house, running errands for approximately two hours. I had NO idea what he was going to do. This is what he did:

IS THAT NOT THE MOST AMAZING THING EVER?! He didn’t even run up to me! He ran straight to his spot on the couch, where he knows he will get pettin’s from his mom. And that’s how it’s been.

Solgave does not just do behavioral coaching; they offer a number of other services, including animal care,dog boarding, dog walking, pet-sitting, dog kennel, cat-sitting, dog day care and even pet photography! Compared to other similar services in the area, their prices are very competitive.

This is the end of my sponsored review. Read below about how I joined the team at Solgave Animal Solutions.

Jared and Sunniva knew how good I was with animals, as they’d seen how I worked with my own dog as well as other dogs in various dogsitting gigs. They have recently branched out their services to the Rogers/Bentonville area, and I have joined the team of two here! I will provide dog-walking, dogsitting, dog errands (such as taking your animal to the groomer), and lots of love. And if you are going to be gone for a few days, I’ll be sure to update you with photos and videos, because that’s my way, as well as Solgave’s way. Unfortunately, I am allergic to cats, so I will not provide services as a cat-sitter. But if you’re interested in hiring me or any others at Solgave to take care of your pets, click here to book now or call (479) 871-9013. Be sure and tell ’em Bellesouth sent you!! :)

If you want to meet the team at Solgave, come out to Gulley Park in Fayetteville for Solgave’s sixth Pack Walk at 2 p.m. Sept.29. Bring your dog; we’ll have ours, and there will be lots of activities for the whole family, followed by a good and healthy pack walk in some great weather. Hope to see you there.

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