In that first meeting I felt instantly at ease. I didn’t feel judged because Nora was slightly out of control, and I didn’t feel embarrassed that Nora had little to no manners. All I felt was supported. Maggie calmly evaluated Nora for her temperament to see if being a therapy dog was possible, and helped lay the groundwork for her training.Read More
If your puppy jumps up and receives attention, whether it’s good or bad, it will learn that jumping works too. For good manners, your puppy should sit to earns treats, its food bowl, toys and access through doors. Now we will add greeting people to that list. Your puppy should be offering lots of sits now to earn the good things in life.If your puppy jumps up and receives attention, whether it’s good or bad, it will learn that jumping works too. For good manners, your puppy should sit to earns treats, its food bowl, toys and access through doors. Now we will add greeting people to that list. Your puppy should be offering lots of sits now to earn the good things in life.Read More
Lots of dominance displays arise when an owner brings home a new dog and neglects to demonstrate proper leadership. When dogs are given privileges freely, they can get the wrong idea. They don’t view free treats and sleeping next to you in bed as love. They view this as very weak leadership and an open invitation to demand things. Spoiling a dog can lead to big behavior problems.Read More
Training a dog is like learning to dance. First you must learn the steps. Then you lead your dog to the steps, and then you dance the Tango together.Read More
Use toys to entertain your dog, to prevent problem behaviors and to reinforce the behaviors you like.Read More
I'm tired of listening to excuses. Shut up and train your dog!Read More
The owner and therapy dog are a team and must work well together. The handler must want to be a part of the therapy too. Being part of a therapy team takes time and commitment. Things one should ask: Do I have time to train my dog for this job? Do I have time for visiting (there are time requirements)? In what kind of setting would I like to volunteer (hospitals and nursing homes can be a downer –kids in libraries could be fun)? Is my dog also suited for that environment (does my dog like people and attention)? Would my dog sincerely enjoy this kind of activity?Read More
Walking your dog around the streets of your home is one of the best things you can do to keep him physically and mentally healthy and well socialized and well adapted to normal things like strangers, vehicles and other dogs. But sometimes, an owner can’t get out there for various reasons. Here are some alternative ways to exercise your dog’s body and mind.
1. Hide toys, food stuffed toys or chewies in your house or yard and allow your dog to find it and enjoy it. This can be done very simply while the dog is watching or can become a whole other level of challenge for the dog to sniff it out.
2. Hide yourself and call your dog to find you. This can easily become a great way to practice coming when called. Put your dog in a crate or on a leash in the hands of another person while you hide. When ready, call your dog to you! Reward with food or play when your dog finds you to reinforce the command.
3. Build your dog a digging pit. My dogs have one and all their dog friends love it too. We dug up a space that gets some shade, removed about a foot of grass and dirt, created an edge with spongy things that look like bricks and dumped in some fine sand to fill it up. We later added a palm tree for more shade and aesthetics. It keeps the dogs cool when they lay in it and digging provides exercise and enjoyment in a location that I don’t mind holes! You could even spice this pit up by burying bones and toys in it once in awhile to keep the dogs interested.
4. Try a Tether Tug if your dog loves tug-of-war. This toy entertains your dog without being present.
5. A Tail Teaser is a great toy for all ages and all types of dogs.
6. For about $10, a kiddie pool can be a great addition to your dog’s exercise and enrichment, especially here in Florida.
7. Find an enclosed space that is rarely used and let your dog run free while you sit and watch, walk alongside or use a chuck-it or tail teaser in the open space. Tennis courts, baseball fields, even playgrounds are often empty if it’s during school hours or drizzling.
8. Invite a friend with a friendly dog over to play.
9. Put your dog’s bowl away and feed him only from toys like a Kong, Kibble Nibble, Squirrel Dude or anything that food can be put in.
10. Toss your dog’s food all over your backyard and let him go. Free, simple and your dog will take a long time to find each piece.
11. Sit on a park bench or in your car and play a simple, but profoundly effective training game with your dog. Let you dog sniff the air, watch things pass by and generally ignore you for as long as he wants. When your dog looks at you, feed him a treat. Repeat each time he looks at you. This teaches the dog to focus his attention on you, that you are highly valuable, and gets the two of you out and about.
Here are my favorite toys and chewies as well as some videos to help you further.
Get out there and exercise your dog! You will both be healthy and happy.
I am a dog owner before a trainer. I stress about leaving my dogs in the care of someone else. I have never boarded my dogs. I have invested many hours into their care and training and I simply don't trust anyone to care for them where they will be just one of many dogs. There are dogs that do well in boarding and there are others that come home with stress induced, bloody diarrhea. If you choose to board, here are some things to look for:
You should ask for a tour of the facility and be given one. It should smell clean, but not with an overwhelming odor of bleach.
Dogs that are let out in yards should be in small groups that make sense. Small dogs with small dogs; large with large; old dogs and dogs with special needs should be separated from others. Groups should be supervised by a trained person. This person should be able to read dog body language, know how to prevent fights, how to properly intervene and how to play with the dogs to encourage good behavior. This person should not do anything to negatively affect your dog. No spraying your dog in the face, no air horns, no throwing things at your dog, no hitting or kicking and absolutely no use of a shock collar. You must ask about these things -they will not voluntarily tell you how they discipline your dog. The person supervising should have a slip lead attached to him -on his belt, around his neck or at least within reach. The yards and kennels should be kept clean and fresh water and shelter/shade should be available at all times. Dogs should not be free to play for hours at a time. An ideal schedule is 30-60 minutes three times a day. Puppies and seniors should be let out for short period of times more frequently; 15 minutes every two hours.
If your dog gets hurt or sick, you should be notified immediately and be told what is going on. If you are unable to return, your dog should receive medical care with your permission. If your dog is injured, the staff should know how it happened.
Most kennels close at 6 and the staff goes home for the night. Ask how many hours your dog is unsupervised. Ask what the emergency plan is -what if there is a fire in the night? Ask if the staff knows the signs of heat stroke, kennel cough, stress.....there is so much to ask to be sure your dog is in good care.
When I find a facility in my area that meets this criteria -I will shout it out to all my clients, but the search continues.
This is a sample day that hopefully you can adjust to meet your schedule and your puppy's needs. You can change the time frames, but try to keep the daily stats the same as below for the best outcome. When puppies needs are met, they are be happy, thrive and grow and to turn into dogs that you love to be around. Each day includes the following: (1) Food -2 meals and hand-fed as rewards throughout the day. (2) Sleep. (3) House training. (4)Training, manners, learning to live in house with people. (5) Mental Exercise. (6) Physical exercise. The following schedule will meet puppy's needs within a schedule for a working person with a 9-5 job Monday thru Friday. Evenings and weekends are time to step up puppy's socialization and training time. Take your puppy in the car at least twice a week. Find a training class or a safe place for puppy to meet other dogs (Invite friends with social dogs to your house, take your pup to friends with dogs' yards). Take your pup somewhere new -a park, another walking route, a store that welcomes dogs, etc.) I recommend having the following things on hand: an appropriately sized crate, an ex-pen or gated area; 2 Kongs, a Kibble Nibble or other treat dispensing toy (s); bully sticks, cow hooves, safe dental chews, plush toys that squeak, a tug-toy, something to chase -tennis balls, Jolly Ball, frisbee, Tail Teaser; a dog bed; a water bowl which is always accessible; a collar, harness and leash; poop bags; high-quality puppy food; and some various healthy treats -boiled chicken, freeze-dried liver, etc.
6am - Wake up and take puppy outside to toilet. Deliver treat within one second of puppy eliminating. (3, 4)
6:10am - 7am Feed puppy in a gated area from a Kibble Nibble filled with dry, loose kibble and a Kong stuffed and frozen (which you prepared the night before) while you shower and prepare for work. Don't forget to wait for puppy to sit before giving him his food. (1, 4, 5)
7am- Take puppy out to toilet again. Treat when he goes. (3)
7:10-8am -Puppy is loose in house under your supervision. Spend time tossing a toy for puppy while you have coffee. Ask your puppy to come, sit and down 10 times each and reward with a treat. Ignore puppy intermittently (while still watching him!) during this time and answer emails, check phone, do dishes, etc. (4, 5)
8-8:30 -Walk puppy. Treat within one second when he eliminates. (5, 6, 3)
8:30am -12:30pm -In crate for nap and confinement when you are at work. Leave puppy with a safe chewy toy (Kong with a liver treat stuck deep inside, a bully stick, a nylabone). (2)
12:30-12-50pm -You are on lunch break or have arranged for someone to tend to your puppy. Puppy is taken outside for a 20 minute walk. Treat within one second when he eliminates. (5, 6, 3)
12:50-1:15pm: Play with puppy free in the house. Tug-of-war, Tail Teaser, toss a ball, and/or play and train with treats when puppy responds correctly. Eat your lunch while puppy if free. Take pup out one more time to toilet before you head back to work. Treat him if he goes. (6, 4, 3, 5)
1:15pm-5:15pm: In crate with a safe chew toy. (2)
5:15pm -5:30pm: Take puppy out to toilet and reward him when he goes. (3)
5:30 -6pm: In gated area with a food stuffed Kong and a Kibble Nibble. Good time for you to wind down, check in with family, and cook dinner. (1, 5)
6pm-6:30pm-free in house -play, train or love your puppy. Watch puppy for signs of needed to go out! Eat dinner. (4, 5)
6:30-7:15 - Evening exercise time: Play in the backyard, walk pup around neighborhood, take him to a local park, find empty tennis courts and let him run free, walk on the beach, etc. (3, 5, 6)
7:15 -9:30 -free in house with supervision. Watch pup for sign of needing to go out. Respond to any cues you see. Good time for a chewy like a bully stick or other safe chew. Spend 5-10 minutes training whatever pup needs -come, sit, down, on and off couch, etc. (4, 3, 5)
9:30-9:45 -short walk outside or time in yard to toilet before bed. Treat if he goes. (3, 5. 6)
9:45-10pm: Snuggle your puppy. Measure tomorrow's daily food portion and use it to load Kibble Nibble, 2 Kongs and leave the rest in a Tupperware on the counter for toileting treats and training. There should be no food remaining from the day after 9:30 pm. Prepare Kongs and pop them in the freezer for the next day.
10-6pm -In crate for the night. No chewy, no big fuss. Only attend to pup in the night if he cries out to toilet. (2)
8 scheduled opportunities to toilet outside as well as appropriate supervision and confinement to assist house training.
16 hours to sleep in crate
2 scheduled feeding times and treats throughout the day for toileting and training. The feedings are completely from toys to encourage acceptable chewing, to decrease mouthiness and to provide mental stimulation and keep pup busy for longer than eating from a bowl.
Training and manners is happening all day with several specific opportunities to practice in 5-10 minute periods. Walking, sitting for toys and food, rewarding proper toileting and proper supervision and confinement all teach pup how to behave.
6 opportunities for mental exercise -eating from toys, playing with you and training time. There are also other chances to chew with also count as mental stimulation.
Three scheduled walks totally 95 minutes as well as anything else you add during pup's free time in the house with you.
8 hours a day pup is free in house, semi-confined in a gated area or is outside.
5 specific opportunities to chew appropriate items.
This is a vigorous schedule, but you have a puppy! This won't last forever. The more you rotate toys and exercise your pup physically and mentally, the easier it will be. Some of your personal goals may have to be put on hold while you raise your puppy. You may need to hire a neighbor or a dog sitter/walker to help you. Make friends with dogs and trade off sitting time. Hire a trainer for more help with anything that isn't working for you...sooner than later!
Between 4 and 6 months your pup should be able to sleep freely in your house, which will eliminate 8 hours in his crate! Between 8 months and 14 months he can be transitioned out of his crate and into the house without supervision, eliminating another 8 hours in a crate. By the time your puppy is a year, he will only need one or two good walks a day to maintain him physically. Mental exercise and training should continue throughout your dog's lifetime.
A crate can be very useful if you own a dog. It is very helpful for house-training, home alone training, to prevent destructiveness and may serve as a dog’s safe area. It’s good to train a dog to be comfortable while confined in a crate to help it at the vet, groomer, during travel and if the dog needs to be confined for any other reason. A crate should not be where the dog spends most of its time.
A crate should be purchased to fit your dog when it is fully grown. It should be big enough for the dog to stand upright, turn around and sleep in comfortably. If the crate is housing a puppy, a portion can be blocked off to suit the size of the puppy and more space can be given as it grows. Some crates come with a divider, or a cardboard box can fill up the space nicely for dogs that don’t chew. If a puppy or dog eliminates in a crate, it has most likely been left in the crate longer than it could hold its bladder. The crate only encourages puppies to hold “it.” It’s not a magic teacher. Many dog owners make the mistake of leaving the puppy too long in the crate when no one is home, causing the puppy to have a negative experience in the crate.
A puppy should only be left in a crate for as many hours as its age in months plus one. If you have a three month old puppy, it shouldn’t be confined to a crate longer than four hours without being given the freedom to eliminate and get some mental and physical exercise. The crate is a tool and its use should be adjusted with the age and progress of the puppy. It’s proper to use the crate to teach a puppy to hold it bladder while indoors. As the puppy learns this, it should be in the crate less and less over time. By six months, most puppies should have earned their freedom in the house and going in the crate should be a choice, not a necessity.
When puppies are crated for too many hours and for too many months they, as well as their owners, become reliant on the crate to control the puppy’s behavior. This is very detrimental. Dogs are not meant to be caged. Crating a dog for a workday of 8-10 hours often results in an under exercised, mentally and physically under stimulated dog. This can lead to hyperactivity, destructiveness, mouthing, barking and jumping as a means to get the attention and stimulation dogs crave. It becomes a vicious cycle. Owners crate the dog to prevent such things, but crating the dog also causes these behaviors to develop. As soon as a puppy is crate trained, there needs to be a plan to give the puppy more freedom and teach it how to behave in the house.
If you are interested in more information on crate training or need more information on raising a puppy, you may call me or read Before and After Getting Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar or Perfect Puppy in 7 Days by Dr. Sophia Yin.
For dogs that do not like to go in the crate, here is a video of me helping one dog re-learn to like his crate.
Petting: Most dogs do not enjoy being pet on the head. When you reach to pet the head, you often block the dog’s vision. The dog will move away from your hand. This is a signal to pet in another way or to leave the dog alone. Dogs prefer a lowered hand and a slow approach to be pet under the chin or on the chest, then you may move around to the top of the dog’s head and shoulders. Always ask a dog to pet him by approaching slowly, offering the back of your hand and reading his body language. Pet for a few seconds, then stop. If the dog moves away or shakes, he disliked the petting. If the dog moves in with a soft, wagging body, he would like more.
Tail: A wagging tail rarely means the dog is “happy.” The tail communicates many things. The most important things to pay attention to are the position and the amount of stiffness. A tucked tail conveys fear or stress. A tail that is somewhat low is relaxed. A tail that is raised above the spine is alert, aroused, and interested. A tail that is straight up is saying “watch out.” Knowing each dog’s normal tail carriage is important. A Husky has an upright tail to begin with, so its straight up will be even higher and his relaxed tail will still be over his back. In addition to where the tail is, it is important to pay attention to its stiffness versus softness. Soft is relaxed, stiff is not.
Licking: Licking can mean many things. If you touch a dog in a way he dislikes, he may lick you as a way to say stop. This kind of licking is often followed by mouthing or biting if ignored. Licking the mouth area of a human or a dog is a friendly greeting behavior and may also indicate respect, affection or groveling. Dogs lick surfaces to relieve stress. Constant licking may indicate a compulsive disorder.
Labels: It is important to refrain from labeling a dog. Labels are misleading and don’t convey useful information. Behaviors come and go and are the dog’s way of communicating. No dog is “aggressive.” He may use aggression at times. No dog is “submissive.” He may behave submissively in certain situations. These behaviors are not seen when the dog is alone. Dogs communicate with aggressive or submissive behaviors. An aggressive display is not the same as aggression. Aggression using one’s body is meant to inflict harm. An aggressive display is used to prevent conflict. Submissive behaviors are also used to prevent being harmed. Submissive behaviors are often seen as the dog “knowing” he was wrong or as “guilt.” Neither is true. Guilt, remorse, revenge, spite and the like are human emotions that dogs do not feel. Dogs use postures and behaviors to convey messages to avoid being harmed. Humans live in a moral world of right and wrong. Dogs live in the animal world of safe or dangerous. Keeping themselves safe from harm is their primary concern