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Teaching your Puppy his name

1. The foundation of everything you need to teach your puppy starts with him responding to his name.  When your puppy hears his name, no matter where he is or what he’s doing, we want him to turn and look at you as if to ask, ‘what do you want’?  If you teach your puppy nothing else, no matter where he is or what he’s doing or how far away you are, if you can say his name and he’ll turn to look at you, you’ll always be able to call him away from trouble or prevent from doing something you don’t want him to do.

2. Start by sitting on the floor next to your puppy in a quiet room with no distractions.  Say his name in a happy voice.  If there are no distractions, the sound of your voice should get him to turn his head.  The second he does, say “Yes” and give him a treat.  Repeat this a few times. Then say his name again.  Praise him when he turns his head but put the treat near his nose and move it slowly up to your face to get eye contact.  Say YES and give him the treat.

3. Make sure you say his name only once.  Don’t repeat his name over and over if he’s not looking at you.  If he doesn’t look at you, say his name, then immediately put the treat to his nose, wiggle it to get his attention, and then move it slowly up to your face so he does looks at you. Then say YES and give him the treat.  Make sure to say YES the moment he looks at you.  This helps him understand exactly what he did to earn the treat and it’s faster and easier than saying good boy or good girl.

4. Practice often so your puppy starts turning his head to you whenever you say his name.  Then slowly start to add difficulty. Work in different rooms.  Put a toy on the floor as a distraction.  Have one person petting your puppy while you call his name.  Then add some distance – say his name when you’re standing 3-4 feet away.  Then add longer eye contact.  Praise him as he’s looking at you and delay giving him the treat for a few seconds. 

5. Next, start working outside. This is a lot harder for your puppy. You’ll probably need to use a food treat at his nose when you first try this outside.  That’s ok.  The key is to help your puppy understand what you want from him.  Adding difficulty as you practice is like teaching the behavior from kindergarten to college. Add difficulty slowly while keeping your puppy successful.

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Socializing Your Dog or Puppy

Ongoing socialization is extremely important to prevent behavior problems.  Socialization is especially important before the age of 3 months, but should also be done throughout your dog’s lifetime. Gentle socialization plays a huge role in preventing aggression and fearful behavior.  

Lack of socialization can lead to hyperactive behavior, barking, shyness and aggression.  The younger you begin socializing your dog, the better, but all dogs can be gradually brought into new and even initially fearful situations and learn to enjoy them.  

Socialization is a lifelong process.  For example, if your dog does not see any dogs for months or years at a time, you would expect his behavior to change around them when he does finally see them again.

How to expose your dog to something new or something he is wary of:

  • Make sure that you remain calm, and up-beat and keep his leash loose, if he is wearing one.
  • Expose him gradually to what he is fearful of, never forcing him.  Allow him to retreat if he wants to.
  • Reward him for being calm or for exploring the new situation.

Try to expose your dog regularly to all of the things and situations you would like him to able to cope with calmly in the future.  Progress slowly enough so that it is easy for your dog to enjoy the sessions.  It will seem like a lot of time to spend at first but it will pay off with a well-behaved dog.  

Below are some examples, but this is just a start:

  • Meeting new people of all types, including children, men, crowds, people wearing hats, in wheelchairs, etc.
  • Meeting new dogs (do not bring your pup to areas with lots of dogs until after 4 months)
  • Exposure to other pets such as cats, horse, birds
  • Teach him to enjoy his crate
  • Riding in the car (be sure to restrain him using a crate or seatbelt for safety)
  • Being held, touched all over and in different ways, being bathed and groomed
  • Visiting the Vet’s office, groomer, daycare, boarding kennel
  • Exposure to loud noises and strange objects (example – umbrella opening)
  • Exposure to traffic, motorcycles, bicycles, skateboards, joggers
  • Getting him used to being left alone for a few hours at a time
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Treating Canine Anxiety and Aggression


If you’re a pet owner, you probably know that animals sometimes experience anxiety and stress. Although the symptoms look somewhat different than in humans, they’re real issues any dog can face.

It helps to know what anxiety looks like in your canine because just like humans it varies. It’s also important to be aware of the sources of your pet’s anxiety to rule out any physical illness.

The same applies to pet aggression. Animals are usually not aggressive unless they feel threatened in some way. If your canine is acting out and starts to nip at people, figuring out the triggers are important for helping your pet overcome their aggressive behaviors.

Canine Anxiety

There are various things that can cause your dog to feel anxious. Experts seem to indicate that the main sources are separation, aging, and fear. Fear is the most common source of anxiety in pets.

When your pet is afraid, they get anxious, much like humans do, although the triggers are different. If there are unfamiliar people or animals in your home, it might cause your pet stress. Loud noises are also a main source of anxiety for pets.

Many pets don’t do well in unfamiliar environments. That’s one reason pets tend to get anxious when travelling. Some dogs also don’t do well when it comes to flying or driving in cars.

Every pup is different and different pets will have their own unique response to stressful situations. Once you have been able to identify the cause of your pet’s anxiety you can help to reduce or eliminate it. Talking with your vet is a great place to start and they’ll be able to offer solutions for helping put your pet at ease.

Canine Aggression

The sources for canine aggression can vary, but typically the reasons involve feeling threatened. When your pet feels like they’re in danger they may become aggressive. The most important thing you can do is to figure out their triggers.

Some pets may not be aggressive towards humans and only are aggressive with other animals. Other pets can feel threatened by household objects, like the vacuum. Understanding why your pet feels threatened is important in helping them become less afraid.

When you adopt a dog, it’s important to consider its temperament. While every pet has their own unique personality, there are certain traits that are more common in each breed. Some breeds are bred to be more aggressive. This will require the owner to make sure the pet is properly trained so their pup isn’t aggressive in inappropriate situations.

There are also different forms of pet aggression. This can range from protective, fear, or pain induced aggression. Many times, when pets feel they need to protect their owner they will act out in an aggressive way. You’ll want to make sure that you have a good handle on your pet’s aggressive tendencies because you don’t want your pet hurting another person or animal when it’s unwarranted.

Canine Anxiety and Aggression

When dealing with your pet’s anxiety and aggression, it’s important to know and understand the source. When your dog’s in pain its behaviors can change dramatically, since animals tend to act out when they’re hurt. Make sure your pet is healthy before you begin training.

If your normally docile pet suddenly starts to act aggressive, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit with your vet. They will be able to help determine if your animal is dealing with any health issues. It’s important to not ignore signs like this so your dog isn’t in pain.

Visiting your vet is a great place to start and, in many cases, they will be able to help remedy the problem. This may be by identifying the health issue that is causing their anxiety and aggression or providing medication to help lower their stress. Your vet may even be able to suggest trainers to help teach you how to manage your pet’s triggers.

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16 Things NOT to Feed Your Dog

No matter how hard your dog begs and pleads, there are simply some people foods you should never fork over. And of course, you also need to make sure potentially toxic foods aren’t left out where your dog could get at them. Read on to find out what foods dogs should not eat.

Bad Food for Dogs

You may already know not to offer chocolate to your pooch, but did you know that avocados can be bad for dogs too? Look over this list of 16 foods you should absolutely never feed your dog to see how many you knew about.

  • Chocolate
  • Gum and candy
  • Xylitol
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Avocados
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Tea leaves
  • Raw yeast dough
  • Spoiled foods
  • Fatty foods
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol

You’ll find this list at our 101 Things You Didn’t Know Could Harm Your Pet, which names a bunch more (101 to be exact!) of common household items that can cause problems for your dog. Be sure to check it out later, but for now, let’s break it down with more about why these foods are bad for dogs.

why dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate

1. Chocolate

While melt in your mouth chocolate makes humans happy (and if it doesn’t, I can honestly say I don’t understand you at all!), it can be very harmful to your dog. It contains caffeine and theobromine, two stimulants that can make your dog’s heart race, blood pressure skyrocket, and even cause seizures and death.

The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it can be for your pup because it contains even more of these substances. So baker’s chocolate and semi-sweet nibs are big no no’s. Smaller breeds can also be affected by a lesser amount of chocolate than larger breeds. You can see just how much is too much in our Dogs and Chocolate Infographic.


why dogs shouldn’t eat gum or candy

2. Gum and candy

Thinking about a dog chewing on a piece of gum might elicit a chuckle or two, but it’s really not a laughing matter. A dog wouldn’t have a clue what to do with this strange, chewy substance and may be likely to swallow it, which can cause choking or blockages in the digestive system. Candy can result in the same issues, especially if it’s super chewy, like caramel or taffy. Hard candies can also fracture your dog’s teeth.

Plus, if that gum or candy is sweetened with Xylitol, it can cause some serious problems for your dog. Xylitol is such a dangerous substance it has it’s own spot on the list.


why the substitute sweetener Xylitol is dangerous for pets

3. Xylitol

Xylitol is a substitute sweetener used in many different foods, including gum, candy, desserts, yogurt, and peanut butter. Ingesting Xylitol can result in low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), seizure, and liver failure in dogs. So please check the ingredients of anything that might contain Xylitol before giving it to your dog.


why dogs shouldn’t eat grapes

4. Grapes

Grapes are highly toxic to dogs and can result in severe complications, including sudden kidney failure. Even just a single one can cause a very bad reaction in your dog, so keep those bowlfuls of grapes and fruit salads out of paws reach. If you happen to come home and find a straggly, empty grape vine on the floor near your dog, contact your veterinarian or animal poison control immediately (more on that at the end of this list).


why dogs shouldn’t eat raisins

5. Raisins

You know what raisins are, right? They’re dried and shriveled up grapes, of course! That means they’re just as harmful to your dog as their round and juicy friends. Raisins are also tricky, since they can hide in cookies and other goodies that your dog might try to gobble up.


why dogs shouldn’t eat macadamia nuts

6. Macadamia nuts

These nuts originated in Madagascar and Australia, but were brought over to Hawaii and California many years ago. They can now be found in plenty of local grocery stores and are sometimes baked into cookies. It’s not known what in these nuts causes a bad reaction in dogs, but symptoms can include a severely upset tummy, vomiting, hyperthermia, and tremors.


why dogs shouldn’t eat avocados

7. Avocados

These fruits (yes, they are a fruit!) contain a substance called persin, which can be harmful to dogs. There is more persin in the leaves and skin of avocados, and different varieties can contain more or less of this toxic substance. In any case, it’s better to be safe than sorry and keep your dog’s nose out of the guacamole bowl on game day.


why dogs shouldn’t eat onions

8. Onions

Onions contain a harmful substance that can damage your dog’s red blood cells, making them unable to carry oxygen through the body. This is as dangerous as it sounds and can be fatal. Now you might wonder what dog would eat an onion, but they’ve been known to gobble up slices dropped on the floor, snack on breaded onion rings, or nosh on sweeter tasting pearl onions. Onion powder is also a problem for dogs, so keep it safely stored away in the spice cabinet.


why dogs shouldn’t eat garlic

9. Garlic

Like onions, garlic can damage a dog’s red blood cells. Also like onions, you may be wondering what dog would want to eat garlic. But dogs don’t always shy away from strong tasting foods. They might eat up garlic cloves that fell while you were cooking or get into a jar of chopped garlic left open on the counter. Garlic powder can also be an issue, so be sure to store it safely.


why dogs shouldn’t eat salt

10. Salt

Too much salt, whether it’s poured directly out of the shaker or on potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, or other snacks, can cause health issues for your dog. It can lead to sodium ion or salt poisoning, which can damage the kidneys. Signs include excessive thirst and urination, vomiting, and diarrhea.


why dogs shouldn’t eat tea leaves

11. Tea leaves

While sitting down with a nice cup of tea can be one of the most relaxing points of your day, you should certainly avoid inviting your dog for teatime. Tea leaves contain caffeine, like I mentioned in our chat about chocolate, and can be quite troublesome for dogs. Although your dog may seem uninterested in tea bags, you should store cartons of them safely and avoid leaving mugs with used tea bags around where your dog could take a taste.


why dogs shouldn’t eat raw yeast dough

12.  Raw yeast dough

If you’re baking bread or other items with raw yeast, like homemade soft pretzels, be sure to let it rise somewhere safe from curious noses. The yeast in that dough can expand in your dog’s belly and cause painful gas and bloating. Bloat can cause a dog’s stomach to twist, which can turn into a medical emergency. There is also a risk of alcohol intoxication since yeast produces alcohol during the fermenting process.


why dogs shouldn’t eat spoiled food

13.  Spoiled foods

There can be all sorts of harmful things lurking in your garbage, such as spoiled or moldy foods, that can upset your dog’s tummy or worse. Some molds contain mycotoxins that cause serious muscle tremors. Be sure to throw old or rotten foods out where your dog can’t get at them, like a securely closed outdoor garbage bin.


why dogs shouldn’t eat fatty food

14. Fatty foods

Feeding your dog fatty foods, like hot dogs, bacon, ribs, or fried chicken, can upset your dog’s stomach and cause vomiting and diarrhea. It can also lead to pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas. Some breeds, like Miniature Schnauzers and Yorkshire Terriers, may be more prone to pancreatitis. If you notice your dog is hunched over with tummy pain, contact your vet.


why dogs shouldn’t have coffee

15. Coffee

Like tea leaves and chocolate, coffee is harmful to dogs because of the caffeine content. This goes for brewed, ground, and whole bean coffee. It’s also true of used coffee grounds, so be careful how you dispose of them.


why dogs shouldn’t have alcohol

16. Alcohol

Just like people, dogs can get buzzed from drinks or foods containing alcohol. This effect can be amplified for dogs, especially for those of smaller breeds. Alcohol can also affect your dog’s nervous system and even lead to a coma or death. There’s simply no reason to ever offer your dog an alcoholic beverage. You should also keep an eye on your dog during parties where drinks may be left around.


What Dogs are at Risk?

Dogs of any breed, shape, or size are at risk for ingesting something harmful. However, some dogs may be more prone to eating things they shouldn’t based on their personalities. While all dogs need to be protected from bad foods and toxic substances, dogs who are super curious or love to put things in their mouths may need closer supervision.

dog poison emergency tips

Dog Poison Emergency Tips

It’s good to know the list of bad food for dogs, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to protect your dog from getting into trouble all of the time. If you suspect your dog has ingested a harmful food or substance, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) immediately. The APCC is available 24/7 at 888-426-4435. A $65 consultation may apply.

Also, be sure to stay calm and never try to treat your dog without professional advice. You could injure your dog or get hurt yourself. Even the most loving dog can act out when in pain, scared, or upset. Depending on the situation, your vet may need to perform diagnostic tests, induce vomiting, administer fluids through an IV, or prescribe medications. Hospitalization may also be necessary in more severe cases.

While these treatments can get expensive, you can get help managing the costs with an ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. Get a quote for your dog now. This way, if you ever come home to find a ripped open box of raisins and a dog with an upset tummy, you can at least rest easy knowing that you’ll have help covering the medical bills.


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A Guide to Responsible Pet Ownership

Time management and your pet's well-being are just two factors in relation to responsible pet ownership.

Time management

Time management is an important factor to consider when bringing home a new pet. Essentially, it takes a lot of time, care, and patience to have a pet in your home. For example, if you have a puppy, you have to consider the time it takes to train a puppy, potty train, socialize, as well as puppy-proof your entire home. Rather if you have a senior cat or dog, they might come with additional responsibilities, such as diabetes which requires medication daily. Consider the extra time you have in your day to dedicate to a furry friend and how that can impact you and your furry friend.

Pet’s well-being

A pet’s positive well-being is absolutely essential. In order for a pet to be balanced, they must be receiving necessary care regularly. For instance, care in what food they’re eating to the quality of physical exercise. Certainly, when you take the time, attention, and care to focus on your pet, you benefit the short and long-term quality of your furry friend’s life.

Consider these opportunities for your pet’s well-being:

Emotional

The human pet-bond is one of the most remarkable aspects of the relationship between us and our pets. Certainly, the emotional connection is not just beneficial for us, but for our pets as well.

Mental

Our experience shows, it is important for your pet to be mentally stimulated throughout their day. Consider various types of enrichment toys and the amount of interactive play time they will need to be fulfilled incorporating that into your day. For instance, a game of tug, a round of ball, or laser light on the wall can be a fun way to incorporate play and get the whole family involved.

Physical

Physical activity and exercise are a great benefit for your dogs and cats. Also, physical activity can help keep you and your furry friend in top shape, which can be especially beneficial for pets exhibiting stress and anxiety and behavioral issues. Without question, investing in the emotional, physical, and mental well-being of your pet, is essential to responsible pet ownership.

Match pet to lifestyle

A necessary factor to consider is the need to match your new pet to your lifestyle. For instance, consider your home life, work life, and family life and how it will be impacted by the arrival of a new petFor example:

  • How flexible are your work hours? Do you work extended shifts or have an alternative work schedule?
  • Do you have kids, additional pets, or a baby on the way?
  • Additionally, your new furry friend should have ample room to sleep and play, as well as a personal space to retreat to if they need to get away.

Also, in order to make sure your pet is a good fit for your family –

Make sure all introductions are done prior to a permanent move-in. While it may not be perfect, you want to make sure all parties get along, at the on-set of the relationship. Certainly, no one wants to experience having to return a furry friend, if the home life is not a good match for all parties.

Pets are family members

Pets are family members and have become an essential part of the family dynamic. With that being said, responsible pet ownership means often looking to other family members to assist with the joys of pet ownership.

For example, plan ahead on who will be responsible for pet duties, and divvy up the various tasks between different family members. Consider a rotating schedule that way one person won’t get stuck doing the same task every day.

 At first, a change to our routines and schedules accompanies the arrival of our new furry friends. Give yourself extra time to accomplish a task. For instance, the first dog walk or change of the cat litter might take longer than anticipated, and that is ok. Likewise, every party involved is learning a new activity or routine together, which strengthens your bond as a family.

Financial responsibility of pet ownership

One of the bigger challenges many pet owners face is the financial responsibility of pet ownership and what that entails. Similarly, when you are planning your monthly budget, it is important to take into consideration the cost of food, bedding, and wellness/preventative care.

Consider, in a multi-pet household, this cost could be more significant depending on the breed, age, and amount of pets. When planning your monthly budget, consider your planned costs, as well as above and beyond expenses.

For instance, you can financially plan for your yearly vaccine check of if your pup needs flea preventative medication. It is more difficult to plan for the unexpected, like an accident, and that is where a Trupanion policy, can help lend a paw with the unforeseen. An important factor of responsible pet ownership is having the financial resources to properly care for your pets. To illustrate, every family wants to have the ability to seek a necessary treatment for their furry family members, no matter the cost.

Responsible pet ownership: changing the look of the family dynamic

Responsible pet ownership means having the ability to take the necessary time to play and care for our pets. Additionally, it means having a schedule that allows time to be there for those first moments. As well as working together as a family to adjust to new life moments and adapting to schedules and routines. Certainly, by looking at what it means to be financially responsible as a pet owner, you can better take care of your pets for the lifetime.

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Choosing the Right Pet to Fit Your Lifestyle

man with cat, dogs

Nothing is more exciting than searching for the perfect pet. Getting to know and fall in love with a new, lovable companion and welcoming him or her into your life can be an extremely rewarding experience — one that will go smoother if you put some forethought into it. Adopting a pet is a lifetime commitment that requires us to seriously consider our needs, lifestyle, and resources.

When looking to adopt a pet, one of the first things we notice is their appearance. We might take into account their size, coat, and any obvious physical characteristics, but there are many other factors beneath the surface that can determine whether the pet will be a good match for us.

How do I know which pet is right for me?

When it comes to choosing the right pet for your lifestyle, it’s important to consider factors such as energy level, dietary needs, required training, common medical issues, and proper environment. These can all have an impact on your pet’s health and happiness, as well as your ability to properly care for them.

Energy level

A cat or dog’s energy level can be a critical determinant of whether or not your lifestyles will be compatible. Higher energy dogs are usually best suited for someone who lives an active lifestyle, or is able to take frequent walks. Lower energy dogs, however, typically do well under the care of a person who enjoys a lot of downtime, or a working professional who spends daytime hours away from home. Most dogs require 30 minutes to two hours of exercise per day, though this depends on the breed, age, and overall health of the dog. While cats can spend as much as 14 hours a day sleeping, engaging them in moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes per day is usually recommended.

Temperament

Like people, all animals have unique personalities and temperaments that are displayed in their habits or behavior. While some dogs are more outgoing, social, and crave attention, others can be more laid back, calm, or even shy. It’s important that the pet feels comfortable in their new home, so consider what your needs are and what type of environment the pet will be living in. For example, dogs or cats that are more low maintenance, patient, friendly, and gentle will usually make good family pets. On the other hand, more active, sensitive or protective dogs usually do best living with one individual who understands and accepts their needs.

Special Needs: Dietary or Training Requirements

Also, consider special dietary requirements based on age, size, and breed, as well as any formal training requirements. While many common breeds of dogs and cats require minimal or basic training, some may require more advanced or specialized training. This is particularly true with hunting dogs, service dogs, or high-maintenance breeds that have an intrinsic desire to work.

Common Medical Issues

While there is no guarantee, certain breeds of dogs and cats tend to share a propensity for developing particular medical issues. When looking to adopt a pet, it will be important to research the types of medical problems, if any, that are common among the breed of dog you’re considering. You’ll also want to consider things like lifespan, cost of any related surgeries, ongoing care or preventative maintenance, or other unforeseen events that could arise as a result of medical troubles. Don’t just assume you can deal with a medical issue if and when it arrives—be prepared and proactive.

Be Honest

Ask yourself honestly how much time, money and energy you are ready to devote to your pet.

Being a responsible pet owner goes beyond love. It sometimes involves sacrifices or changes in lifestyle, and it is a lifetime commitment. Of course, sometimes there are factors beyond our control that may necessitate finding our pet a new home. In that case, organizations like Get Your Pet can help to find the perfect new home for your pet.

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Calling Your Dog

Getting your dog to come to you on cue is one of the nicest things you can do for your dog.  Knowing that your dog will return whenever you want her to allows you to give her freedom to play and go where she wants to — within reason.  The recall, along with a solid “emergency down” may save her life one day, so it’s worth putting some time into training her to respond quickly.

So how to build this solid recall?  First, choose a word for the cue.  If your dog is a puppy, you can choose whatever you want, just stick to it.  If your dog is a rescue, you might want to pick something out-of-the-ordinary as your cue.  She might have bad associations with “come” from her previous guardian.  Just test it out, and she’ll tell you.  If she ignores you, that’s okay.  If she runs away, that’s a sign you should use a different word.

Let’s assume that your recall cue is “come.”  You want this to be one of the best words your dog knows.  It means, “run to me, there’s a party over here!”  The idea is to never let your dog know that there is something better than coming to you.  So never say “come” when you think your dog may not do it.  The second thing to be sure that you do not do is doing something scary after your dog comes to you.  When your dog comes when you call her, do not do anything that she does not like.  That includes nail-clipping, putting the leash to leave the park, or yelling at her for pouncing on the neighbor’s cat.  The last thing she did was come to you — you don’t want to punish that, you should reward it!  You’ll have to be satisfied with telling her, in a nice, upbeat voice, what a rotten dog she is.  Finally, the last bit of negative advice is to never chase after your dog.  You do not want her to think that running away from you is a fun game.  Whether she has a sock, you need to take her out of the park, or you just think its fun, chasing is not the answer.

The major steps in teaching the recall are to introduce the cue and then practice in a huge number of different circumstances.  Vary how far away you are from the dog and how many distractions there are.  When you make one aspect harder, make the other one easier.  You might use a long line for safety or as a gentle reminder of your existence, but don’t use it to tug your dog to you.  If you need the line very often, you are pushing her too fast. Set your dog up for success.

  1. Introduce the cue to your dog.  Do this somewhere where you know the dog will come to you.  Have a treat handy, behind your back, for example. Have your dog about two or three feet away.  In a friendly voice (not a command or a question, but an invitation), say “Puppy, come” (the dog’s name here is Puppy). Then show her the treat and take a step backward.  Lean away from her, not into her.  Leaning in is doggish for “stop.”  Puppy runs over, gets clicked for showing up, and gets her treat.  Not just one treat, but several, one at a time (only one click).  Make it a real party. If she likes to be petted, now is a good time.  But be careful — she may often like petting, but maybe not all the time.  Watch what she does.  If she ducks away from your hand, now is not a good time. 
  2. Practice from further away. Do the same activity from 6 feet away. You say “Puppy, come,” then get her to come to you somehow.  She doesn’t fully know the cue yet, so you want to make sure that she comes to you. Legal moves on your part are: waving the food in front of her face and running away; making kissy noises; clucking with your tongue; clapping your hands, etc.  Illegal moves: walking over and grabbing her by the scruff of the neck or in some other way making “come” a scary word.
    You don’t have to have a party every time now, but at least twice a day, take a full 30 seconds to reward her for coming to you. Continue that procedure for a long time, at least a few months.  On times when you just give one treat, you can practice a few times in a row.  To get her to go away from you, throw a treat and make sure she sees it fly.  Then you can call her again. 
  3. Practice not luring her to you.  When your dog has a clue about what “come” means, start calling her without waving food around or making smoochy noises, from the same distance as before, or closer.  If she doesn’t start coming to you in a few seconds, make noise or get her attention and run away.  Toss the treat to make her leave you, then call her as soon as she’s gulped it down.
  4.  Practice as part of living.  Call her to you whenever you are about to do something good to her or for her.  Feeding time is a great example.  If you want to take her for a walk or let her out into the yard, those are good times, too.  If she knows sit, then call her to you, ask for a sit, then give her dinner, let her out, or clip on the leash.  Remember, only call her for the fun stuff, so don’t call her to give her a bath!
  5. Practice from even further away. Work up to ten feet, or fifteen, if she’ll do it.  All indoors, with low distractions.  Reward generously.
  6. Practice with distractions, closer in. Now make it harder for her by increasing the distraction level.  We don’t want to make it too hard, so have her closer to you, say 5 feet away.    

Keep increasing the level of distraction and the distance until you have the recall you want.   Make sure that any time you call her, you are willing to do what it takes to get her to come to you.  This may mean running away (one of my favorites) or running up to her, showing the treat, and then running away (safer method).  It may mean waiting her out, if she’s not entertaining herself by not coming.  When she doesn’t come when you call her, you are simply moving beyond what she is ready for.  Simply make it easier for her in some way and build reliability slowly.  

Here are a few examples of recall games that you can play with your dog:


(LOW distraction) Have a friend make noise to attract your dog over to him.  After she runs over, call your dog: “Puppy, come.”  The friend then shuts down and becomes the most boring human that Puppy knows, so she will eventually run over to you, the interesting one.

(HIGHER distraction) Have a friend make noise with a squeaky toy to attract your dog over to him.  After she runs over, call your dog: “Puppy, come.”  The friend then shuts down and holds the toy to his chest, again becoming the most boring human that Puppy knows, so she will eventually run over to you, the interesting one.  Then you give him a treat and run back over to the friend, who presents him with the toy and a fun game.

(possibly HIGHER distraction) Have a friend hold a container of extra-good treats and attract your dog over to him in some way.  After she runs over, call your dog: “Puppy, come.”  The friend then shuts down and holds the treats above dog level, yet again becoming the most boring human that Puppy knows, so she will eventually run over to you, the interesting one.  Then you give him a treat and run back over to the friend, who presents him with the even better treats.  Puppy learns that coming to you is the way to get what she wants.

(EVEN HIGHER distraction) When Puppy is playing with dogs, look for a break in the game and call her over to you.  Give her a yummy treat and send her back into the fray.

(WAY HIGHER distraction) When Puppy is playing with dogs, call her over to you (the difference here is that she is actively playing). Give her a yummy treat and send her back into the fray.  Be careful not to go past what she is ready for.  You don’t want her learning that she can say “in a minute” and go back to playing.

(SUPER distraction) Squirrels.  You may never get to the level where Puppy will come running to you if you call her during a squirrel chase.  There is a possibility that you can teach her to drop on cue so well that she will do that during a chase.  Then you can get her to calm down and, after a minute, call her to you.  Consult a professional.

Chase — chase is fine, as long as you are the one running away.  Call your dog, then sprint away as fast as you can.  She will catch you.  Turn and run a different direction.  She’ll catch you again.  Ask for a sit and give her a treat.  You don’t necessarily have to treat this one — chase is rewarding in and of itself.

Hide-and-seek.  Hide in a closet in the house and call your dog.  You may have to make a noise so she can find you, but don’t make it too easy for her.  Give her a nice reward when she finds you, maybe even a 30-second party.  You can play this at the park, too, when she’s ready for it.

Two-dog recall.  If you have multiple dogs, give a treat to the first one who shows up.  This also helps speed up responses to other cues.  Treat the first one to sit, lie down, etc.
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Patient is Key when Training

You know most of us nowadays have WAY too much to do in life in general. I don’t know about you but it seems like if I get to sit down and do nothing for even just a little while it’s a luxury!

You have a job and/or a family or maybe you have another business or volunteer work or you are active in your community or church. Or maybe you just have an active social life.

Anyway sometimes you can be so busy that you wish the dog was just EASIER to deal with!  “I don’t have time for all of this right now!”

Have you ever said this? Maybe your dog is starting to “act up” or misbehave and you feel like, “I don’t need this right now!”

Once you start feeling or thinking this you need to go on high alert! You may be about to lose your patience!

A couple of things to remember: First, if your patience is thin, don’t even think about training your dog or trying to fix any behavior problems. Now is not the time to train!

Take a deep breath and get through the situation, whatever it is, without “losing it” and remember: Whatever is going on with your dog you can begin to make changes almost immediately but not if you’re pushed for time or impatient. Your dog will feel your tension and will also feel tense. This will make the situation worse!

Second, remember that one of the keys to getting your dog to behave is for you to be the leader. In the dog world the leader doesn’t “lose it”. The leader is calm and composed. 

When you get tired or impatient or pushed for time by your circumstances it’s easy to be frustrated when your dog doesn’t respond like you want.

So if you are having one of those frustrating moments or days when your dog is just not behaving well, don’t lose your patience. When you lose that then you’re not acting like a leader!

Get through the situation by reminding yourself that it can be fixed, but today is not the day. Wait until you have more time or your situation is more convenient to begin the training.

Be patient and be the leader!

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General Training Tips

Easy ways to teach your pooch some doggone manners

Few things will land you on your neighbor’s bad list faster than poor dog etiquette. The good news is that being a respectful dog owner boils down to two major things: Be conscientious and don’t be lazy. Proper dog etiquette can mean the difference between living peacefully amongst your neighbors and living a life fraught with conflict and turmoil. Here’s how to make sure you’re doing what you can to be on the right path.

Make sure your dog knows basic public etiquette

As a dog owner, you don’t have to teach your dog dozens of tricks. They don’t have to be able to balance a ball on their nose or be able to bark the numbers one through 10. All your dog has to do is be able to exhibit basic public etiquette, otherwise known as not being rude around other people.

First, this means they will need to know the basic commands. These are fairly easy to teach. If your dog knows how to sit, stay, come, and get down, you’re well on your way to having a dog that behaves well in public. Etiquette around dining situations is also crucial (think neighborhood BBQs!). Your dog should learn not to beg for food and to never be aggressive with any food item.

Avoid the temptation to forgo the leash

If you have a well-behaved dog whom you feel comfortable with, it’s tempting to just leave the leash inside when playing in the front yard or going on a quick walk around the block. Try to resist this urge. It’s okay to have your dog unleashed in a fenced-in area like your backyard or the dog park, but in all other scenarios it’s just good etiquette to keep them leashed up. A dog that’s simply being friendly can frighten or injure kids, for example. A leash just gives you ultimate control, and you’re better safe than sorry.  There are different leashes and collars that work better for certain dogs and situations. Another way to keep your dog safe is to invest in a GPS dog tracker. A high-quality GPS dog tracker can help you find your dog if he escapes your property.

Limit the Barking

Dogs bark. It’s just a fact of life. But there is a point in which the occasional bark turns into a full-fledged barking crisis – one that will make neighbors enemies really quickly. You can’t be a conscientious dog-owning neighbor if your dog is outside in the backyard incessantly barking. If your dog is alert barking at things outside, its best to keep him indoors. You can’t change this behavior if you’re not there to provide immediate feedback.

It’s fairly simple to curb a dog’s barking if he is barking for attention. Dogs bark to get attention and when you give them attention, they learn that barking works to get them what they want. If you don’t give them the attention they want, they will eventually stop trying that method. The moment your dog looks at you and starts barking for attention, simply say ‘bye’ and walk away. Your dog will learn that his barking makes you go away, which is the opposite of what he wants, and this should eliminate attention barking.

Finally, you should teach your dog to stop barking on command. This is done with positive reinforcement including giving out treats when they are nice and quiet.

Clean up

Does it need to be said? Well, you’ve stepped in a big pile before – so you answer that. Some (rude) dog owners must think that dog poop degrades quickly or something, because many owners fail to clean up their dog’s mess. This is dog-owner etiquette rule No. 1 – be a proactive pooper-scooper.

The overarching goal of being a good dog owner is to always remember that nobody loves your dog as much as you do. Your dog may not bother you when it does A, B, or C, but it bothers others. Think about ways to make you and your pet leave the smallest footprint on your neighborhood as possible and you’ll be well on your way to developing good ties (or mending broken ones) with your neighbors.

Photo by Samantha Scholl on Unsplash

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Why Your Pet Is So Important To Your Mental Health

Many people consider their pets an extension of their family. The love that owners have for their animals isn’t something that should be underestimated, and neither should the benefits of that bond. From better moods to lowered anxiety, pets can be absolutely vital to your mental health.

Lowered Stress

Stress can wreak havoc upon your mental health and sense of well-being. It can make everything seem much more dire than it really is, and leave you at an increased risk for things like depression and anxiety. It’s a serious issue to combat – and it turns out that pets can help lead the charge. According to the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, in a study conducted in conjunction with other similar associations, owning a pet can actually help diminish symptoms of stress on a long-term basis.

Relieves Anxiety

There are many different ways that a dog can serve as a great companion animal. For many, just petting or cuddling with a dog can help to fight anxiety disorders. Keith Humphreys, a professor of Psychology and Behavior Studies, admits, “Holding and stroking a dog is calming for many people, even those without anxiety problems.” No matter what the issue is that is keeping you down, cuddling with your pet is sure to help!

Better Sleep

Sleep is important to both physical and mental health, and it can be particularly difficult to achieve quality sleep when you’re not in the right headspace. Did you know that sleeping with your pet could help? Many people find that they feel more comforted and secure with their pet in room than they do without them. If you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, consider sharing some space with your pet to see if it helps. While it doesn’t prove effective for everyone, especially if you have a particularly rambunctious pup, owners are often surprised at how much their pet’s presence can help.

More Exercise

Living a healthy life is important to your physical health as well as your mental health, however it’s a particularly difficult goal to achieve sometimes. Pet owners are more likely than other people to get some form of exercise daily, especially walking, and generally live healthier lives that are less sedentary as a result. This, in turn, helps boost mental health and offer coping mechanisms to handle stress.

Owning a dog is a rewarding experience, but the confirmation that owning one can help with your mental health is relatively new. Make sure to give your pup a treat the next time you see them!

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