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So you are getting a puppy.....

Here's a few tips and tricks to help you build a better pup..... work that pays off for the life of the dog.

Potty Training

January 15, 2016

Housetraining your puppy

It requires patience, commitment and lots of consistency. Accidents are part of the process, but if you follow these basic housetraining guidelines, you can get the newest member of your family on the right track in a few weeks’ time.

Establish a routine

Like babies, puppies do best on a regular schedule. The schedule teaches them that there are times to eat, times to play and times to do their business. Generally speaking, a puppy can control their bladder one hour for every month of age. So if your puppy is two months old, they can hold it for about two hours. Don't go longer than this between bathroom breaks or they’re guaranteed to have an accident.

Take your puppy outside frequently—at least every two hours—and immediately after they wake up, during and after playing, and after eating or drinking.

Pick a bathroom spot outside, and always take your puppy (on a leash) to that spot. While your puppy is relieving themselves, use a specific word or phrase that you can eventually use before they go to remind them what to do. Take them out for a longer walk or some playtime only after they have eliminated.

Reward your puppy every time they eliminate outdoors. Praise or give treats—but remember to do so immediately after they’ve finished, not after they come back inside. This step is vital, because rewarding your dog for going outdoors is the only way to teach what's expected of them. Before rewarding, be sure they’re finished. Puppies are easily distracted and if you praise too soon, they may forget to finish until they’re back in the house.

Put your puppy on a regular feeding schedule. What goes into a puppy on a schedule comes out of a puppy on a schedule. Depending on their age, puppies usually need to be fed three or four times a day. Feeding your puppy at the same times each day will make it more likely that they'll eliminate at consistent times as well, making housetraining easier for both of you.

Pick up your puppy's water dish about two and a half hours before bedtime to reduce the likelihood that they'll need to relieve themselves during the night. Most puppies can sleep for approximately seven hours without needing a bathroom break. If your puppy does wake you up in the night, don't make a big deal of it; otherwise they will think it is time to play and won't want to go back to sleep. Turn on as few lights as possible, don't talk to or play with your puppy, take them out and then return them to bed.

Supervise your puppy

Don't give your puppy an opportunity to soil in the house; keep an eye on them whenever they’re indoors.

Tether your puppy to you or a nearby piece of furniture with a six-foot leash if you are not actively training or playing. Watch for signs that your puppy needs to go out. Some signs are obvious, such as barking or scratching at the door, squatting, restlessness, sniffing around or circling. When you see these signs, immediately grab the leash and take them outside to their bathroom spot. If they eliminate, praise them and reward with a treat.

Keep your puppy on leash in the yard. During the housetraining process, your yard should be treated like any other room in your house. Give your puppy some freedom in the house and yard only after they become reliably housetrained.

When you can't supervise, confine

When you're unable to watch your puppy at all times, restrict them to an area small enough that they won't want to eliminate there.

• The space should be just big enough to comfortably stand, lie down and turn around. You can use a portion of a bathroom or laundry room blocked off with baby gates.

• Or you may want to crate train your puppy. If your puppy has spent several hours in confinement, you'll need to take them directly to their bathroom spot as soon as you return.

Mistakes happen

Expect your puppy to have a few accidents in the house—it's a normal part of housetraining. Here's what to do when that happens:

• Interrupt your puppy when you catch them in the act.

• Make a startling noise (be careful not to scare them) or say "OUTSIDE!" and immediately take them to their bathroom spot. Praise your pup and give a treat if they finish there.

• Don't punish your puppy for eliminating in the house. If you find a soiled area, it's too late to administer a correction. Just clean it up. Rubbing your puppy's nose in it, taking them to the spot and scolding them or any other punishment will only make them afraid of you or afraid to eliminate in your presence. Punishment will often do more harm than good.

• Clean the soiled area thoroughly. Puppies are highly motivated to continue soiling in areas that smell like urine or feces. Find tips for cleaning up after your pet here.

It's extremely important that you use these supervision and confinement procedures to minimize the number of accidents. If you allow your puppy to eliminate frequently in the house, they'll get confused about where they’re supposed to go, which will prolong the housetraining process.

Make plans for when you're away

If you have to be away from home more than four or five hours a day, this may not be the best time for you to get a puppy. Instead, you may want to consider an older dog who can wait for your return. If you already have a puppy and must be away for long periods of time, you'll need to:

• Arrange for someone, such as a responsible neighbour or a professional pet sitter, to take them for bathroom breaks.

• Alternatively, train them to eliminate in a specific place indoors. Be aware, however, that doing this can prolong the process of housetraining. Teaching your puppy to eliminate on newspaper may create a life-long surface preference, meaning that even as an adult they may eliminate on any newspaper lying around the living room.

o If you plan to paper-train, confine them to an area with enough room for a sleeping space, a playing space and a separate place to eliminate. In the designated elimination area, use either newspapers (cover the area with several layers of newspaper) or a sod box. To make a sod box, place sod in a container such as a child's small, plastic swimming pool. You can also find dog-litter products at a pet supply store.

o If you have to clean up an accident outside the designated elimination area, put the soiled rags or paper towels inside it afterward to help your puppy recognize the scented area as the place where they are supposed to eliminate.

Bringing home your new Puppy...

February 14, 2016

The key to helping your new dog make a successful adjustment to your home is being prepared and being patient. It can take anywhere from two days to two months for you and your pet to adjust to each other. The following tips can help ensure a smooth transition.

First, gather your dog's supplies

You'll need a collar and leash, toy, blanket which we provide. Next is a crate, food and water bowls, food, and, of course, some bones. And don't forget to order an identification tag right away.

Establish house rules in advance

Work out your dog-care regimen in advance among the human members of your household. Who will walk the dog first thing in the morning? Who will feed him at night? Will Fido be allowed on the couch, or won't he? Where will he rest at night? Are there any rooms in the house that are off-limits?

Plan your dog's arrival

Try to arrange the arrival of your new dog for a weekend or when you can be home for a few days. Get to know each other and spend some quality time together. Don't forget the jealousy factor—make sure you don't neglect other pets and people in your household!

Be prepared for housetraining

Assume your new dog is not housetrained, and work from there. Be consistent, and maintain a routine. A little extra effort on your part to come home straight from work each day will pay off in easier, faster housetraining.

Make sure all your pets are healthy

Animal shelters take in animals with widely varying backgrounds, some of whom have not been previously vaccinated. Inevitably, despite the best efforts of shelter workers, viruses can be spread and may occasionally go home with adopted animals. If you already have dogs or cats at home, make sure they are up-to-date on their shots and in good general health before introducing your new pet dog.

Take your new dog to the veterinarian within a week after adoption. There, he will receive a health check and any needed vaccinations. If your dog has not been spayed or neutered, make that appointment! There are already far too many homeless puppies and dogs; don't let your new pet add to the problem. Most likely, the shelter will require that you have your pet spayed or neutered anyway. If you need more information about why it is so important to spay or neuter your dog speak to your vet.

Give your dog a crate

A crate may look to you like the canine equivalent of a jail cell, but to your dog, who instinctively likes to den, it's a room of his own. It makes housetraining and obedience-training easier and saves your dog from the headache of being yelled at unnecessarily for problem behavior. Of course, you won't want to crate your dog all day or all night, or he will consider it a jail cell. Just a few, regular hours a day should be sufficient.

The crate should not contain wire where his collar or paws can get caught, and should be roomy enough to allow your dog to stand up, turn around, and sit comfortably in normal posture.

If a crate isn't an option, consider some sort of confinement to a dog-proofed part of your home. A portion of the kitchen or family room can serve the purpose very well. (A baby gate works perfectly.)

Use training and discipline to create a happy home

Dogs need order. Let your pet know from the start who is the boss. When you catch him doing something he shouldn't, don't lose your cool. Stay calm, and let him know immediately, in a loud and disapproving voice, that he has misbehaved. Reward him with praise when he does well, too! Sign up for a local dog obedience class, and you'll learn what a joy it is to have a well-trained dog. Use positive reinforcement.

Let the games begin

Dogs need an active life. That means you should plan plenty of exercise and game time for your pet. Enjoy jogging or Frisbee? You can bet your dog will, too. If running around the park is too energetic for your taste, try throwing a ball or a stick, or just going for a long walk together. When you take a drive in the country or visit family and friends, bring your dog and a leash along.

Be patient and enjoy the results

Finally, be reasonable in your expectations. Life with you is a different experience for your new companion, so give him time to adjust. You'll soon find out that you've made a friend for life. No one will ever greet you with as much enthusiasm or provide you with as much unqualified love and loyalty as your dog will. Be patient, and you will be amply rewarded.

Ask for help....

March 15, 2016

Taking on a few one on one lessons, with a Pet Trainer can offer puppy training tips for success that will get you started on your way to a well trained dog.

Too many dogs are rehomed up after their normal, easily modifiable behaviors are allowed to become problems. But it doesn't have to be this way.

To prevent your dog from becoming a sad statistic, take your dog—and your family—to a professional dog training class. A good training class is a fun, social activity that helps your dog become a well-behaved, safe, and valued family member. This information will help you find the dog trainer and class environment that best fits your budget and needs.

Why training is a necessity

Whether you are intentionally teaching him or not, your canine friend is always learning—and this is true not just for puppies but also for older, adult dogs. If you do not teach your pet your rules, he will invent his own. Training allows caregivers to safely and humanely control their dog's behavior. Positive training enhances the bond between dog and owner, and helps ensure that your dog will respond happily to your instructions.

What to look for in a trainer

It's essential that the dog trainer you select uses humane training techniques that encourage appropriate behavior through such positive reinforcement as food, attention, play, or praise. Look for a trainer who ignores undesirable responses or withholds rewards until the dog behaves appropriately. Training techniques should never involve yelling, choking, shaking the scruff, tugging on the leash, alpha rolling (forcing the dog onto his back), or other actions that frighten or inflict pain. Ask pet owners you know who they recommend.

Where to find a trainer

A recommendation from a friend, neighbor, veterinarian, humane society, boarding kennel, or groomer is a good place to start. You can also search online or check the Yellow Pages under "Pet Training." Don't assume that a trainer's membership in a dog trainer association qualifies him as a suitable instructor: Not all associations' membership criteria will meet your expectations. Also, because no government agency regulates or licenses trainers, it's that much more important to investigate their qualifications before enrolling in a class. Find out how many years of experience they have, how they were educated, and what training methods they use. Ask prospective trainers for several references from clients who completed the classes.

Which class format is best?

In group classes, dogs learn to interact with other dogs, accept handling by other people, and respond to their owners despite distractions. Owners learn by observing other people interacting with their dogs and benefit from the camaraderie. Self-help training, private lessons, and dog-only lessons that exclude the owner do not provide these important advantages. Another disadvantage of dog-only lessons is that the dog may respond well for the trainer but may not transfer what she has learned to you and your family. When possible, all family members should participate in the dog's training. By learning to communicate humanely and effectively with their canine friend, they will develop bonds that will form the basis of the entire relationship.

Group classes

Ask the trainer whether you can observe a class in session before signing up. Watch for the following:

• Is class size limited to allow for individual attention?

• Are there separate classes for puppies and adult dogs?

• Are there different class levels (for example, beginner, intermediate, and advanced)?

• Are training equipment and methods humane?

• Does the trainer use a variety of methods to meet dogs' individual needs?

• Is proof of vaccination required?

• Are the students, both human and canine, enjoying themselves?

• Are dogs and owners actively encouraged?

• Is praise given frequently?

• Are voice commands given in upbeat tones?

• Are lesson handouts available?

• Is information available on how dogs learn, basic grooming, problem solving, and related topics?

The cost of a trainer

Training costs vary, depending on where you live and the type of instruction you want. Private lessons are usually priced per session; many group lessons are priced for several weeks of sessions. Some animal shelters offer subsidized training programs; the price of several weeks of sessions may depend on whether you adopted your dog from that shelter and the number of class sessions it provides.

The best age for training

Although "puppyhood" is the best time to train and socialize dogs, older dogs can learn new tricks, too. In fact, dogs of all ages can benefit from training. Dogs between 8 and 16 weeks of age should be enrolled in puppy classes. Regular classes are appropriate for dogs 6 months or older.

Before you go

When you have selected a training program:

• Have your dog examined by your veterinarian to ensure your pet is healthy, free from parasites, and up-to-date on vaccinations.

• Don't feed your dog a large meal before class because many trainers rely on food treats to encourage or reward desired behavior.

• Bring the training equipment recommended by the trainer.

• Practice between classes with brief lessons that end on a positive note.

By enrolling and actively participating in a dog training class, you will help your dog become not just a well-behaved member of your family, but also a safer member of your community. 

Crate Training....

March 15, 2016

Crating philosophy

Crate training uses a dog’s natural instincts as a den animal. A wild dog’s den is his home, a place to sleep, hide from danger, and raise a family. The crate becomes your dog’s den, an ideal spot to snooze or take refuge during a thunderstorm.

The primary use for a crate is housetraining. Dogs don’t like to soil their dens.

The crate can limit access to the rest of the house while he learns other rules, like not to chew on furniture.

Crates are a safe way to transport your dog in the car.


Crating caution!

A crate isn’t a magical solution. If not used correctly, a dog can feel trapped and frustrated.

Never use the crate as a punishment. Your dog will come to fear it and refuse to enter it.

Don’t leave your dog in the crate too long. A dog that’s crated day and night doesn’t get enough exercise or human interaction and can become depressed or anxious. You may have to change your schedule, hire a pet sitter, or take your dog to a doggie daycare facility to reduce the amount of time he must spend in his crate every day.

Puppies under six months of age shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than three or four hours at a time. They can’t control their bladders and bowels for that long. The same goes for adult dogs that are being housetrained. Physically, they can hold it, but they don’t know they’re supposed to.

Crate your dog only until you can trust him not to destroy the house. After that, it should be a place he goes voluntarily.


Selecting a crate

Several types of crates are available:

Plastic (often called “flight kennels”)

Fabric on a collapsible, rigid frame

Collapsible, metal pens

Crates come in different sizes and can be purchased at most pet supply stores or pet supply catalogs.

Your dog’s crate should be just large enough for him to stand up and turn around in. If your dog is still growing, choose a crate size that will accommodate his adult size. Block off the excess crate space so your dog can’t eliminate at one end and retreat to the other. Your local animal shelter may rent out crates. By renting, you can trade up to the appropriate size for your puppy until he’s reached his adult size, when you can invest in a permanent crate.


The crate training process

Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog’s age, temperament and past experiences. It’s important to keep two things in mind while crate training:

The crate should always be associated with something pleasant.

Training should take place in a series of small steps. Don’t go too fast.


Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate

Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at his leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn’t one of them:

Bring him over to the crate, and talk to him in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won’t hit your dog and frighten him.

Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If he refuses to go all the way in at first, that’s okay; don’t force him to enter.

Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If he isn’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days.


Step 2: Feed your dog his meals in the crate

After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding him his regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate.

If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate.

If he remains reluctant to enter the crate, put the dish only as far inside as he will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed him, place the dish a little further back in the crate.

Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat his meal, you can close the door while he’s eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as he finishes his meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until he’s staying in the crate for ten minutes or so after eating.

If he begins to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving him in the crate for a shorter time period. If he does whine or cry in the crate, don’t let him out until he stops. Otherwise, he’ll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so he’ll keep doing it.


Step 3: Lengthen the crating periods

After your dog is eating his regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine him there for short time periods while you’re home

Call him over to the crate and give him a treat.

Give him a command to enter, such as “kennel.” Encourage him by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand.

After your dog enters the crate, praise him, give him the treat, and close the door.

Sit quietly near the crate for five to ten minutes, and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time, and then let him out of the crate.

Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave him in the crate and the length of time you’re out of his sight.

Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving him crated when you’re gone for short time periods and/or letting him sleep there at night. This may take several days or several weeks.


Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave

After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving him crated for short periods when you leave the house.

Put him in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave him with a few safe toys in the crate.

Vary at what point in your “getting ready to leave” routine you put your dog in the crate. Although he shouldn’t be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate him anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving.

Don’t make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give him a treat for entering the crate, and then leave quietly.

When you return home, don’t reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to him in an excited, enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low key to avoid increasing his anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you’re home so he doesn’t associate crating with being left alone.


Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night

Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night, and you’ll want to be able to hear your puppy when he whines to be let outside.

Older dogs, too, should initially be kept nearby so they don’t associate the crate with social isolation.

Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with his crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet.


Potential problems

Whining. If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether he’s whining to be let out of the crate, or whether he needs to be let outside to eliminate. If you’ve followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn’t been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from his crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, he’ll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at him or pounding on the crate will only make things worse.

If the whining continues after you’ve ignored him for several minutes, use the phrase he associates with going outside to eliminate. If he responds and becomes excited, take him outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you’re convinced that your dog doesn’t need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore him until he stops whining. Don’t give in; if you do, you’ll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what he wants. If you’ve progressed gradually through the training steps and haven’t done too much too fast, you’ll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again.


Separation Anxiety. Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won’t solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but he may injure himself in an attempt to escape from the crate. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counter-conditioning and desensitization procedures. You may want to consult a professional animal-behavior specialist for help.

Leaving your dog at home.....

March 15, 2016

Leaving your dog at home

Helping dogs deal with separation anxiety

With practice and patience, you can teach your dog to be comfortable being left alone

It's a busy Saturday morning. You rush through breakfast, feed and walk the dog, then run out the door to get to soccer practice on time.

A few hours later, the family returns home, only to find that your dog has trashed the living room. The curtains are on the floor, stuffing from pillows is scattered around the room---and your favorite pair of sneakers is chewed beyond recognition.

Before you overreact, stop and think. Your sweet pup wasn't misbehaving just for the fun of it. And she wasn't punishing you for leaving. Some dogs just panic when left alone. It's called separation anxiety. They chew, dig or scratch to escape the house, all in an effort to be reunited with their family.

Dogs' Point of View

Think of it this way: Dogs can't ask where you're going or when you'll be back. They get bored. Or worse. They panic. They can't call you on the phone. All they know is that they want to be with you and you're not there. They need to find you.

If it’s boredom, be sure to leave toys; a bone and comfy bed to keep your pup happy.

Some dogs have separation anxiety because they're naturally nervous. In other cases, normally calm dogs suddenly develop separation anxiety from being alone TOO MUCH. It can be triggered by changes in the family's routine or a recent event that upset the dog---like the loss of a person or other animal member of the family.

With practice and patience, you can teach your dog to be comfortable being left alone.

Start by putting on your jacket, then sit back down. Open and close the door, then sit down. After a while, walk out the door for 10 seconds, then 20, then a minute and so on. Little by little your dog will learn that when you leave, you will return.

Teach your dog a word or action that you use every time you leave that tells your dog you'll be back.

Help comfort your dog while you're gone by leaving a piece of clothing that smells like you---like an old T-shirt that you've slept in recently.

Before you leave, give your dog a toy stuffed with a treat. It will keep her busy while you're away and she'll enjoy the treat!

Don't make a big deal out of coming and going. When you arrive home, ignore your dog for the first few minutes and then calmly pet her.

If your dog continues to become unusually upset when you leave, seek help.

Don't let separation anxiety ruin a good relationship. Your veterinarian may recommend giving your dog medicine to keep her calm.

Chewing and Destruction

March 15, 2016

Sooner or later every dog lover returns home to find some unexpected damage inflicted by their or their dog; or, more specifically, that dog's teeth. Although dogs make great use of their vision and sense of smell to explore the world, one of their favorite ways to take in new information is to put their mouths to work. Fortunately, chewing can be directed onto appropriate items so your dog isn't destroying things you value or jeopardizing their own safety. Until they've learned what they can and can't chew, however, it's your responsibility to manage the situation as much as possible, so they doesn't have the opportunity to chew on unacceptable objects.

Understand why dogs chew

Puppies, like infants and toddlers, explore their world by putting objects in their mouths. And, like babies, they teethe for about six months, which usually creates some discomfort. Chewing not only facilitates teething but also makes sore gums feel better. Adult dogs may engage in destructive chewing for any number of reasons. In order to deal with the behavior, you must first determine why your dog is chewing—and remember, they are not doing it to spite you. Possible reasons for destructive chewing include:

• As a puppy, they wasn't taught what to chew and what not to chew.

• He's bored.

• He suffers from separation anxiety.

• His behavior is fear-related.

• He wants attention.

Be aware: You may need to consult a behavior professional for help with both separation anxiety and fear-related behaviors.

Teach your dog what can be chewed and what can't

Take responsibility for your own belongings. If you don't want it in your dog's mouth, don't make it available. Keep clothing, shoes, books, trash, eyeglasses and remote controls out of your dog's reach.

Give your dog toys that are clearly distinguishable from household goods. Don't confuse them by offering shoes and socks as toys and then expecting them to distinguish between their shoe and yours.

Supervise your dog until they learn the house rules. Keep them with you on their leash in the house so they can't make a mistake out of your sight. Confine them when you're unable to keep an eye on them. Choose a "safe place" that's dog-proof, and provide fresh water and "safe" toys. If your dog is crate trained, you may also place them in their crate for short periods of time.

Give your dog plenty of people-time. Your dog won't know how to behave if you don't teach them alternatives to inappropriate behavior, and they can't learn these when they are in the yard by themself.

Give your dog plenty of physical and mental exercise. If your dog is bored, he'll find something to do to amuse themself and you probably won't like the choices they make. On the other hand, a tired dog is a good dog, so make sure they get lots of physical and mental activity. The amount of exercise should be based on their age, health and breed characteristics.

If you catch your dog chewing on something they shouldn't, interrupt the behavior with a loud noise. Offer them an acceptable chew toy instead, and praise them lavishly when they take the toy in their mouth.

Build a toy obsession in your dog. Use their toys to feed them. At mealtimes, fill a Kong-type toy with their kibble.

If your puppy is teething, try freezing a wet washcloth for them to chew on. The cold cloth will soothe their gums. Supervise your puppy so they doesn't chew and swallow any pieces of the washcloth.

Make items unpleasant to your dog. Furniture and other items can be coated with a taste deterrent (such as Bitter Apple®) to make them unappealing.

Caution: Supervise your dog when you first try one of these deterrents. Some dogs will chew an object even if it's coated with a taste deterrent. Also be aware that you must reapply some of these deterrents to maintain their effectiveness.

Offer your dog a treat in exchange for the item in their mouth. As your dog catches on to this idea, you can add the command "Give" as their cue to release the object in exchange for the yummy treat.

Don't chase your dog if they grab an object and runs. If you chase them, you are only giving your dog what they want. Being chased by their human is fun! Instead call them to you or offer them a treat.

Have realistic expectations. At some point your dog will inevitably chew up something you value; this is often part of the transition to a new home. Your dog needs time to learn the house rules and you need to remember to take precautions and keep things out of their reach.

Never discipline or punish your dog after the fact

If you discover a chewed item even minutes after they've chewed it, you're too late.

Animals associate punishment with what they're doing at the time they're being corrected. Your dog can't reason that, "I tore up those shoes an hour ago and that's why I'm being scolded now." Some people believe this is what a dog is thinking because they run and hides or because they "looks guilty."

In reality, "guilty looks" are actually canine submissive postures that dogs show when they're threatened. When you're angry and upset, your dog feels threatened by your tone of voice, body postures and/or facial expressions, so they may hide or show submissive postures. Punishment after the fact will not only fail to eliminate the undesirable behavior, but it could also provoke other undesirable behaviors.

Positive, positive, positive... rewarding

March 15, 2016

Dogs: Positive Reinforcement Training

Just say yes to training your dog with treats and praise

The Humane Society

Remember how happy you were if your parents gave you a dollar for every A on your report card? They made you want to do it again, right? That's positive reinforcement.

Dogs don't care about money. They care about praise … and food. Positive reinforcement training uses praise and/or treats to reward your dog for doing something you want him to do. Because the reward makes him more likely to repeat the behavior, positive reinforcement is one of your most powerful tools for shaping or changing your dog's behavior.

Rewarding your dog for good behavior sounds pretty simple, and it is! But to practice the technique effectively, you need to follow some basic guidelines.

Timing is everything

Correct timing is essential when using positive reinforcement.

• The reward must occur immediately—within seconds—or your pet may not associate it with the proper action. For example, if you have your dog sit but reward him after he's stood back up, he'll think he's being rewarded for standing up.

• Using a clicker to mark the correct behavior can improve your timing and also help your dog understand the connection between the correct behavior and the treat.

Keep it short

Dogs don't understand sentences. "Daisy, I want you to be a good girl and sit for me now" will likely earn you a blank stare.

Keep commands short and uncomplicated. The most commonly used dog commands are:

• watch me

• sit

• stay

• down (which means "lie down")

• off (which means "get off of me" or "get off the furniture")

• stand

• come

• heel (which means "walk close to my side")

• leave it

Consistency is key

Everyone in the family should use the same commands; otherwise, your dog may be confused. It might help to post a list of commands where everyone can become familiar with them.

Consistency also means always rewarding the desired behavior and never rewarding undesired behavior.

When to use positive reinforcement

The good: Positive reinforcement is great for teaching your dog commands, and it's also a good way of reinforcing good behavior. You may have your dog sit

• before letting him out the door (which helps prevent door-darting)

• before petting him (which helps prevent jumping on people)

• before feeding him (which helps teach him good meal-time manners).

Give him a pat or a "Good dog" for lying quietly by your feet, or slip a treat into a Kong®-type toy when he's chewing it instead of your shoe.

The bad: Be careful that you don't inadvertently use positive reinforcement to reward unwanted behaviors. For example, if you let your dog outside every time he barks at a noise in the neighborhood, you're giving him a reward (access to the yard) for behavior you want to discourage.

Shaping behavior

It can take time for your dog to learn certain behaviors. You may need to use a technique called "shaping," which means reinforcing something close to the desired response and then gradually requiring more from your dog before he gets the treat.

For example, if you're teaching your dog to "shake hands," you may initially reward him for lifting his paw off the ground, then for lifting it higher, then for touching your hand, then for letting you hold his paw, and finally, for actually "shaking hands" with you.

Types of rewards

Positive reinforcement can include food treats, praise, petting, or a favorite toy or game. Since most dogs are highly food-motivated, food treats work especially well for training.

• A treat should be enticing and irresistible to your pet. Experiment a bit to see which treats work best for your pet.

• It should be a very small (pea-size or even smaller for little dogs), soft piece of food, so that he will immediately gulp it down and look to you for more. Don't give your dog something he has to chew or that breaks into bits and falls on the floor.

• Keep a variety of treats handy so your dog won't become bored getting the same treat every time. You can carry the treats in a pocket or fanny pack.

• Each time you use a food reward, you should couple it with a verbal reward (praise). Say something like, "Yes!" or "Good dog," in a positive, happy tone of voice. Then give your dog a treat.

If your dog isn't as motivated by food treats, a toy, petting, or brief play can be very effective rewards.

When to give treats

When your pet is learning a new behavior, reward him every time he does the behavior. This is called continuous reinforcement.

Once your pet has reliably learned the behavior, you want to switch to intermittent reinforcement, in which you continue with praise, but gradually reduce the number of times he receives a treat for doing the desired behavior.

• At first, reward him with the treat four out of every five times he does the behavior. Over time, reward him three out of five times, then two out of five times, and so on, until you're only rewarding him occasionally.

• Continue to praise him every time—although once your dog has learned the behavior, your praise can be less effusive, such as a quiet but positive, "Good dog."

• Use a variable schedule of reinforcement so that he doesn't catch on that he only has to respond every other time. Your pet will soon learn that if he keeps responding, eventually he'll get what he wants—your praise and an occasional treat.

Caution! Don't decrease the rewards too quickly. You don't want your dog to become frustrated.

By understanding positive reinforcement, you'll see that you're not forever bound to carry a pocketful of goodies. Your dog will soon be working for your verbal praise, because he wants to please you and knows that, occasionally, he'll get a treat, too.

Dog Training: “Nothing in Life is Free” Method

Advise from the Humane Society. You're relaxing on the sofa reading the paper when your dog bumps your leg to get your attention. You ignore him so he plops his ball in your lap. You ignore him again so, being a persistent pup, he sticks his head under the newspaper, making it impossible for you to read that story about what your neighbour was caught doing. Exasperated, you toss the ball for your dog. Boy, has he got you trained! Do you wish the roles were reversed?

If so, a training technique called "Nothing in Life is Free" may be just the solution you're looking for. "Nothing in Life is Free" isn't a magic pill that will solve a specific behavior problem. Instead, it's a way of living with your dog that will help him behave better because he trusts and accepts you as his leader and is confident knowing his place in the family.

What is "Nothing in Life is Free"?

You have resources—food, treats, toys, and attention. Your dog wants those resources. Make him earn them. That's the basis of "Nothing in Life is Free." When your dog does what you want, he gets rewarded with the thing he wants.

You may also hear this aspect of training called "No Free Lunch" or "Say Please." Those are just other names for "Nothing in Life is Free."

How to practice "Nothing in Life is Free"

1. First, use positive reinforcement methods to teach your dog a few commands and/or tricks. "Sit," "Down," "Come," and "Stay" are useful commands. "Shake," "Speak," and "Roll over" are fun tricks to teach your dog.

2. Stop giving away resources. Do you mindlessly pet your dog for no reason? Stop. Your attention is a valuable resource to your dog. Don't give it away. Make him earn it.

3. Once your dog has mastered a few commands, you can begin to practice "Nothing In Life Is Free."

Before you give your dog anything (food, a treat, a walk, etc.) he must first perform one of the commands he has learned. For example:

• In order for you to put your dog's leash on to go for a walk, he must sit until you've put the leash on.

• When you feed your dog, he must sit and stay until you've put the bowl on the floor.

• Play a game of fetch after work and make your dog sit and "shake hands" each time you throw the toy.

• Rub your dog's belly while watching TV, but make him lie down and roll over before being petted.

4. Once you've given the command, don't give your dog what he wants until he does what you want. If he refuses to perform the command, don't give in. Be patient and remember that eventually he will have to obey your command to get what he wants.

5. Make sure your dog knows the command well and understands what you want before you begin practicing "Nothing in Life is Free."

The benefits of this technique

Requiring your dog to work for everything he wants is a safe, positive, non-confrontational way to establish your leadership position.

Even if your dog never displays aggressive behavior such as growling, snarling, or snapping, he can still manipulate you. He may be affectionate to the point of being "pushy," such as nudging your hand to be petted or "worming" his way onto the furniture to be close to you. This technique gently reminds the dog that he must abide by your rules.

Fearful dogs may become more confident by obeying commands. As they succeed in learning more tricks, their continued success will increase confidence and ultimately lead them to feeling more comfortable and less stressed.

Why this technique works

Dogs want good stuff. If the only way to get it is to do what you ask, they'll do it. Good leadership encourages good behavior by providing the guidance and boundaries dogs need. Practicing "Nothing in Life is Free" gently and effectively communicates to your dog that you are the leader because you control all the resources. 

Nipping Nipping in the bud

December 2010

By Jon Bastian (Ceasars way)

It’s natural behavior for puppies to bite. As they begin to teethe, they naturally need things to chew on. Also, dogs generally prefer to use their mouths over their paws for manipulating objects, and this behavior begins in puppyhood as young pooches start to explore their world.

It can be cute at the beginning, but a puppy’s teeth are very sharp and they don’t know how hard they’re biting, so the puppy raising experience will generally include that one moment when Fido playfully bites down on a finger and draws blood.

Needless to say, this is not a behavior we humans want to have continue, especially not into adulthood. Here are the steps to take to nip the nipping in the bud.


Inhibit the biting

When puppies play, they mouth each other, which is totally normal. However, the mouthing can turn into a bite. When it does, the puppy on the receiving end will yelp, and this sound startles the puppy doing the biting, making them release.


Humans can exploit this behavior to teach a puppy to inhibit the bite and learn how much is too much. When a puppy latches onto your hand or finger too hard, let your hand go limp and imitate that yelping sound. When the puppy releases, ignore her for ten to twenty seconds, then resume play.

It’s important to remember, though, not to pull away from the bite. This can trigger your puppy’s chase instinct and make the problem worse. And if the yelp doesn’t work or you’d prefer not to make that sound, you can substitute a loud, “Ow!” or other verbal deterrent.


Don’t repeat the limp and yelp process more than three times in fifteen minutes — when you get to that point, it’s time for a puppy time out.

The goal here is to teach the puppy that gentle play continues; rough play stops. Once you’ve inhibited the hard bites, repeat this teaching process with more moderate bites. Eventually, you should be able to teach her that mouthing without biting down is okay, but anything more than that is not.


Redirect

To teach your puppy that his mouth on human skin is not okay at all, use redirection. When the puppy tries to mouth you, pull your hand away before contact, then provide a treat or wave around a chewy toy until he bites that.


You can also satisfy your puppy’s urge to mouth things with non-contact games, like fetch or tug-of-war. However, remember to never let the tugging become too aggressive, and teach your puppy “let go” or “leave it” command, so that you can always remove something from his mouth without an aggressive response.


Distraction

In addition to mouthing people, puppies will also mouth things in their environment, mostly out of curiosity. In addition to puppy-proofing your home, provide an assortment of interesting and safe chew toys, chosen for your pup’s level of chewing and destructiveness — for example, if she shreds that plush toy in two minutes, you may want to stick with rubber or hard plastic.

“Hide the treat” toys are also great for distracting puppies from nibbling on other things, and these provide mental stimulation as well, since she has to figure out how to get to the reward.

Finally, arrange for playtime with your dog and other puppies or vaccinated adult dogs. This will help to socialize her, and those dogs will also assist in the process of teaching your puppy when a bite is too hard.


Deterrence

There are various products, like Bitter Apple, Bitter Cherry, and YUCK No Chew Spray, that are designed to prevent a dog from licking or chewing by putting an unpleasant taste in their mouth, but there are two important steps involved in using them for training.

The first is to associate the smell and the taste in your dog’s mind so that the scent alone will keep him away from unacceptable chewing targets. To do this, put a little bit of the product on a tissue or cotton ball, then put it in your pup’s mouth. He should spit it out right away. When he does spit it out, let him smell it so he makes the association.


The second step comes in when you’re actively using the product for training — make sure your dog doesn’t have access to water for up to an hour (but not longer) after contact with the product. This may sound cruel, but if your dog learns that he can just run to his bowl and get rid of the taste, the deterrent will become ineffective.

When training, place the product on any objects you don’t want him to lick or bite once a day for two to four weeks.


Ankle biters

Many dogs become fascinated with nipping at people’s feet or ankles when they walk. This is particularly true of herding breeds. To stop your puppy from nipping at your heels, keep a favorite toy in your pocket. When she does bite, stop moving, then wave the toy around to distract her until she latches onto it.

If you don’t happen to have the toy handy, stop moving when she bites and then, when she releases on her own, offer her the toy or a treat, and praise. The idea is to teach your dog that good things happen when bad behavior stops.


Mouthing and nipping are natural behaviors for puppies but unwanted in dogs. Remember, a large majority of dogs surrendered to shelters by their owners are between eighteen months and two years of age — the point at which “cute” puppy behavior becomes frustrating to the owner. Taking these few simple steps now will help prevent that bad behavior down the line, and help you to have a stress-free, life-long relationship when that little bundle of fur grows up.

Ready or not....

December 2016

Are you ready to own a dog?

Learn how to keep your dog safe, healthy and happy

Your dog gives you a lifetime of unconditional love, loyalty and friendship. In return, she counts on you to provide her with the basics, such as food, water, shelter, regular veterinary care, exercise, safety and companionship. Read on to find out the 10 things your dog absolutely needs.Take care of these 10 essentials, and you'll be assured to have a rewarding and long-lasting relationship with your canine companion.

1. Identify your dog

External Identification: Outfit your dog with a collar and ID tag that includes your name, address and telephone number. No matter how careful you are, there's a chance your companion may become lost—an ID tag greatly increases the chance that your pet will be returned home safely. The dog’s collar should not be tight; it should fit so two fingers can slip easily under his collar.

2. Follow local laws for licensing your dog and vaccinating him for rabies

Check with your local animal shelter or humane society for information regarding legal requirements, where to obtain tags and where to have your pet vaccinated.

3. When you're off your property, keep your dog on leash

Even a dog with a valid license, rabies tag and ID tag should not be allowed to roam outside of your home or fenced yard. It is best for you, your community and your dog to keep her on a leash and under your control at all times.

4. Give your dog companionship

A fenced yard with a doghouse is a bonus, especially for large and active dogs; however, dogs should never be left outside alone or for extended periods of time. Dogs need and crave companionship; they should spend most of their time with their family, not alone outside.

5. Take your dog to the veterinarian for regular check-ups

If you do not have a veterinarian, ask your local animal shelter or a pet-owning friend for a referral and check out our information on choosing a veterinarian. Interview vets to be sure they are about the animals and not just about selling you extras and making you feel guilty for saying no. More and more clinics are overcharging for services and pushing extra products and tests to increase their bottom line. Be careful.

6. Spay or neuter your dog

Dogs who have this routine surgery tend to live longer, be healthier and have fewer behavior problems (e.g., biting or running away). By spaying or neutering your dog, you are also doing your part to reduce the problem of pet overpopulation. If you feel you can't afford to have your pet spayed or neutered, your local humane society can help you find low-cost options.

7. Give your dog a nutritionally balanced diet and constant access to fresh water

Ask your veterinarian for advice on what and how often to feed your dog. Dietary requirements change as dogs get older, and a dog’s teeth need to be cleaned and monitored regularly to ensure she can eat properly. Also keep an eye out for pet-food recalls and foods and plants that can be toxic to you dog.

8. Enroll your dog in a training class

Positive training will allow you to control your companion's behavior safely and humanely, and the experience offers a terrific opportunity to enhance the bond you share with your dog. Check out our information on choosing a dog trainer.

9. Give your dog enough exercise to keep him physically fit (but not exhausted)

Most dog owners find that playing with their canine companion, along with walking him twice a day, provides sufficient exercise. Walking benefits people as much as it benefits dogs, and the time spent together will improve your dog’s sense of well-being. If you have questions about the level of exercise appropriate for your dog, consult your veterinarian.

10. Be loyal to and patient with your faithful companion

Make sure the expectations you have of your dog are reasonable and remember that the vast majority of behavior problems can be solved. Remember, not all "behavior" problems are just that; many can be indicators of health problems. For example, a dog who is suddenly growling or snapping when you touch his ears may have an ear infection. If you are struggling with your pet's behavior, contact your veterinarian or local animal shelter for advice.