Tag Archives: training

Reining in Dogs with Wanderlust

We’ve all seen the infamous “Lost Dog” posters from distraught owners longing to see their furry loved one again. Unfortunately, having a dog run away is a reality many dog-owners face at one point or another. But if your dog bolts from the home, then it might take some extra training to keep him from getting hurt, stolen or worse. Your pup belongs home and safe in your loving arms.

Understanding the Behavior
We all know that dogs like to run. But, why? Is your warm, loving home not good enough? On the contrary, the problem typically has nothing to do with the owner, but rather with the dog’s own natural instincts. Dogs may run away for a number of reasons including boredom, predatory drive or distraction. For example, a dog left alone in the yard for hours without anyone to play with might escape out of boredom, curious of what the outside world has to offer. Like humans, dogs are creatures with social needs, and thus might seek out social stimulation if that need cannot be fulfilled at home. A dog ready to mate, especially a male, un-neutered dog, is prone to roaming as well. After all, he’s got to spread those doggy genes somehow! Lastly, another common reason dogs run away is they have too much energy to contain. Oftentimes owners leave their dogs alone in the yard thinking that they’re doing them a favor, but really, without a companion, dogs will soon grow bored. Especially for dogs who require exercise, being alone in the yard can be frustrating and therefore, a jog around the block can be a much more attractive option. Keep a watchful eye on breeds that are especially prone to wanderlust, including the Siberian Husky, Afghan Hound, terriers, Basset Hound, Great Pyrenees, Puggle, Weimaraner, Schnauzer, Vizsla, shepherds, Alaskan Malamute, Dachshund, Samoyed and Beagle.

Corrective Training
For the owners whose dogs have a taste for wanderlust, there is hope and help. One of the easiest ways to stop your dog from running away is to identify the cause of the behavior. Is he bored or lonely? Then, schedule plenty of playtime every day (the duration depends on the breed, individual personality and physical needs of the dog) and give him tasks to keep mentally and physically alert. Hormonal? Have him neutered to reduce the urge to roam for mating. Or, if your dog is female, have her spayed so that she doesn’t attract male dogs while in heat. Too much energy? Make sure your dog gets the appropriate amount of daily exercise for his type. The following tips can further help your dog stay safe:

• Train your dog to not leave without permission by holding him on a leash and repeatedly giving him the “sit-stay” command when you open the gate or door.
• Take your dog on visits to a local dog park to give him the socialization he needs, both with dogs and other humans.
• Secure your yard with a high fence or gate (ensure the fence extends a few feet underground if you have a digger such as a Husky).
• Make home an ideal place for your dog to be, with his own designated comfort spots and a bowl of clean water throughout the day.
• If you must leave him alone, give your dog a few toys to keep him busy, rotating them periodically to give the impression of something new and exciting every time. Or even better, drop him off at a trusted friend’s house or doggy daycare if you’re away from the house for extended periods of time.
• Finally, do not punish your dog once he returns from his excursion. This will only teach him to dread rather than look forward to his return home.

Having a dog that constantly runs away can be a real cause for anxiety in owners, and it’s not something that can be changed overnight. But, rest assured that with consistent training and positive reinforcement, your dog will see you as a loving parent and his home as a comfort zone, from whom he wouldn’t want to stray.

Your Puppy’s Development: 6-12 months

Congratulations, your puppy is now reaching adolescence! During these “teenage years” you can expect your pup to be a bit of a handful, but she’ll emerge as a full-grown doggy adult before you know it and you will miss these silly puppy days. She may be a bit awkward physically as well, as she reaches her adult height well before reaching her adult weight. Her appetite is likely to fluctuate along with her changes in height and weight. Both physically and behaviorally, this can be an age of inconsistency, but with the proper guidance and training, your puppy will settle into her adult body and temperament.

Much like human teenagers, adolescent pups use their newfound sense of independence to test their limits, which sometimes means acting out. While there may be occasional lapses in your puppy’s behavior, your reactions should remain consistent, firm and most of all patient. You may see further tests of dominance and ranking in the home around this time. Some misbehavior is normal as your dog explores her dominance in the pack, but it is important to continue to be firm about where she ranks in the hierarchy.

Physical Changes
By now, your puppy should have lost all her baby teeth and grown a full set of adult teeth. Her last teeth to fall out will be her upper canines, or “fangs.” You will need to continue to provide approved chew toys at least until all of her adult teeth have come in, although many dogs enjoy chewing on toys well into their adult years.

A puppy that has not been neutered will reach sexual maturity around this time and begin exhibiting sexual behaviors, such as mounting in male dogs. This is normal behavior, but can be minimized by spaying or neutering your dog before they reach maturity.

During the last stage of puppyhood, a puppy’s energy level skyrockets, and her need for activity goes up along with it. Keep her mind and mouth busy with sturdy toys and plenty of play. This can be a demanding time for puppy parents, especially if they did not establish boundaries with their puppy earlier. Try not to let your puppy get bored or leave her alone for too long, as this could lead to unwanted behaviors like chewing up the furniture or investigating the trash, especially at this age. Though it can be exhausting, this can be a very fun age with your pup and you should be sure to enjoy every minute!

Patience is key during this last stage of your puppy’s development, and so is practice, practice, practice! It may take a while to see results in your puppy’s training, but if you stay persistent, you will have a very well-behaved adult dog before you know it. Soon your furry friend won’t be a puppy anymore—but she will always be your baby.

Your Puppy’s Development: 3-6 months

Between three and six months old, your puppy is starting to find his place in the “pack” that is your family. It is important to provide leadership that establishes a healthy balance of power between you and your furry member of the family, while also making him feel loved and welcomed. This is an exciting time in your puppy’s life and marks the transition from puppyhood to adolescence.

Since dogs are evolutionarily pack animals, they will have a tendency to “rank,” or form a hierarchy in their perception of the household. This hierarchy will encompass other dogs as well as the humans in the household. If your puppy thinks he can, he may try to become the leader of your family pack and demonstrate unwanted behaviors or aggression. That’s why, during this period of growing confidence and independence in your puppy, it is necessary to enforce the desired household hierarchy.

Your puppy should continue to receive exposure to other dogs and people throughout this time, which will be influential in shaping his behavior. Practice obedience and any desired working commands with your puppy, and enroll him in puppy obedience classes if available. Your puppy needs a firm set of rules, but also plenty of love and attention to prepare him for the potential turbulence of adolescence.

At four months old, your puppy may alternate between feelings of bold invincibility and cowering anxiousness. Support your fragile puppy with gentle direction and continued positive reinforcement. While your puppy may test out his dominance in the pack, he is also learning and may be overly skittish when reprimanded. It is important to be firm but gentle with him when correcting unwanted behavior to show that you are the leader, but clearly demonstrate that he doesn’t need to be afraid of you.

Physical Changes
Your puppy is now starting to act more like a dog, and look like one, too. He will soon be reaching his adult height and will be developing his adult coat. Small-breed puppy growth tends to slow around now, and they start to settle into their adult appetites. Larger breeds are still maturing and may continue to grow and maintain their puppy appetites until they are over a year old.

Around three months old, your puppy’s baby teeth fall out and his grown-up teeth begin to grow in. Your pup may be a little restless from the discomfort that comes with his new teeth growing in, so be sure to have plenty of chew toys available for him. To prevent your favorite shoes from becoming a favorite chew toy, you will need to communicate to your puppy what is OK to chew on and what is not. Having plenty of approved chew toys available will help with this process.

If you have a male puppy, he will be reaching sexual maturity between five and six months old. Females will experience their first heat a bit later, between 6 months and a year for small dogs and possibly as late as 18 months for large dogs. We recommend spaying or neutering your pooch at six months to prevent unwanted litters and any behavioral issues or unwanted attention from other dogs that may arise when your puppy reaches sexual maturity.

This is a period of physical as well as mental transformation for your puppy. Some people refer to this as “elementary school age” because of the social and physical growth that happens during this time. By the end of this stage, your puppy should find a healthy place in his “pack” and recognize you as the leader.

Your Puppy’s Development: 9-12 Weeks

The period between nine and twelve weeks is the time during which a puppy really hones her social skills, is open to learning and starts acting more and more like a full-fledged canine. She’ll begin chasing things, and this is a prime time to begin basic obedience training.

At nine weeks old, your puppy should receive her booster shots (remember to book your vet appointment!). If your pup is a small breed and is still with her breeder, she will receive follow-up vaccines for distemper, parvo, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and corona as well as deworming medication. This is a normal part of a puppy’s health care and will help keep her healthy for many years to come.

This is the ideal age for your puppy to begin obedience training. Your pup is becoming more social and responsive to your voice. She is paying active attention to both people and other dogs, and learning all the while. This is the perfect time to teach your puppy basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” “down,” how to come when called, and how to walk on a leash. However, not all training methods will work with a puppy of this age. Your puppy may still be adjusting to her new home, so you should try to provide as many positive with her as you can. Your puppy does not understand the concept of punishment, so scolding her for failure to obey a command will only teach her to be afraid of you. Training during this stage should occur with abundant praise and lightheartedness, and should focus on positive reinforcement rather than punishment.


Your puppy is at the age where social interactions with others really matters. She continues to investigate her surroundings, enhances her responses to stimuli, and advances her social skills; therefore, it is important to expose your puppy to many different types of people and situations in order to prevent later fear or inappropriate reactions to her everyday world as an adult dog. It is a critical time for your puppy to develop the social skills that will benefit her relationships with both dogs and people. Arrange for her to meet other dogs while she’s still young, but make sure the dogs she meets are fully vaccinated until your puppy has received all of her own vaccines, typically by about 6 months old. The more positive, new experiences she has now, the more well-rounded and sociable she will be in the long run!

A Typical Day
Your puppy will require extra patience and understanding when she first comes home. She is still getting used to the sounds and sights and new everyday experiences, and some of the things that startle her might come as a surprise to you. As much as you can, avoid exposing her to painful or frightening experiences. For unpleasant experiences that cannot be avoided, such as the necessary booster shots, turn the experience into a positive one by smiling and cooing at your puppy and having plenty of treats ready. Don’t dwell on bad experiences or show that you are stressed about the event, because your puppy will pick up on these emotions. Instead, treat it as a game that your puppy should look forward to.

This is a special time when your puppy starts to recognize you as her trusted caretaker and learns to follow your directions. She’s also beginning to form a deep attachment with you as her loving owner and puppy parent.

Dog Walking Etiquette

Have you ever considered there is a certain way you, as a pup parent, should behave when walking your furry child? Often, a heavy focus is placed on the way a pooch behaves (or should behave when properly trained). However, with something like dog-walking which requires two to tango, there is a certain etiquette that the puppy parent should follow as well. Here’s a helpful list of do’s and don’ts to help you master dog-walking, prevent potential problems with other dogs and people you encounter on your walks, and make it an overall enjoyable experience for both you and your pup!


Always make sure you have bags with you to pick up after your dog. It’s impolite to leave your dog’s waste somewhere that others might step in it, not to mention it’s unsightly and doesn’t exactly smell pleasant! Always pick up after your dog and dispose of his poop in a public trash can or your own. Every time.

  • Use a leash. Even if you believe your dog will listen to you and immediately return to your side when you call, you can’t always predict what you might encounter on your walks. A squirrel, cat or another dog might catch your dog’s attention and distract him from your commands, a car could come around the corner suddenly, or your dog might startle someone else as he bounds up to greet them. Keep your dog safely by your side so you can control his movements, and potentially remove him from any dangers that come his way.
  • Respect other pedestrians. And remember, not everyone loves your dog as much as you do! Although you might be used to certain behaviors of your pooch at home, everyone raises their puppies differently, and may not approve of your dog’s behavior. For example, even if you allow jumping up at home, others you encounter may not want your dog jumping on them. Even the biggest dog lover may take issue with your pup charging, jumping or slobbering all over them. The strangers you encounter probably have no idea what your dog is like, so respect them by keeping your pup on a close leash.
  • Change course when necessary. Keep an eye on other dog walkers and assess if they have control of their dogs. Is that dog walking politely beside his owner, or is he dragging his owner down the street, ignoring all commands? Or, do you see another potential source of trouble up ahead? Sometimes you might see something you’d rather avoid. Use your best judgment and remove yourself and your dog from a potentially dangerous situation when you feel it’s necessary by crossing the street or making a turn. It’s also a good idea to explain yourself if you get close enough to another person you’re trying to avoid. Simply smile and say “He’s jumpy with other dogs,” or, “She gets loud when she meets new pups.” With open communication, the other party should understand kindly.


  •  Escalate a situation if one arises. Dogs will naturally sense your mood and anxiety level, so stay calm and lead by example. If an encounter with another person or dog starts to go south, the best idea is to pull your dog away and walk in the opposite direction. Getting involved in a heated argument with someone will only serve to rile up your dog and make things worse.
  • Be careless when holding your dog’s leash. Simply having your dog on a leash isn’t always enough; controlling the leash and using it to lead the way can prove to be crucial. Take a break from texting or being glued to your phone as awareness of your surroundings, including people, dogs, cars and anything else in your vicinity is paramount to you and your dog’s safety. The last thing you want is for your dog to wrap his leash around someone’s legs, or for him to get tangled up with another dog’s leash (especially if that other dog isn’t very keen on sharing his personal space). Keep your dog’s leash short when in a busy area to give you more control and to keep him out of trouble.
  • Punish your dog. Stay in control of your dog and you likely won’t have to discipline him. Even when you are changing course or preventing your dog from doing something wrong, a simple firm grip on the leash will do. By staying calm with a firm tone, you will communicate successfully with your dog and lead him in another direction.

Remember, being consistent is the best way to master any training-required skill, including dog walking. Start leash training your dog at a young age so that they have these skills down pat by the time they are ready to go on adventures with you! Following these tips will ensure that you and your pooch stay safe and have fun.

SERIES: When The Bite’s Bigger Than The Bark: Aggression in Dogs Part 3

Dogs are complicated animals with distinct personalities and therefore temperaments based on their individual genetic makeup, environmental factors and breed history. Just like humans, dogs have faults and behaviors that need correcting. And one of those common issues is aggression. While we’ve established in Part One of this series that training an aggressive dog takes time, patience and consistency, before choosing and committing to a training plan, the first step is identifying the various types of aggression and the respective motives and triggers for each. In this final part to our special series, we hold a microscope to four additional classifications of aggression.

Redirected Aggression

Consider this situation: In the midst of a scuffle between two dogs, one of the owners jumps into the middle attempting to stop the fight. Instead, the dog suddenly turns and bites the owner. This scenario describes a dog redirecting aggression towards an interfering party. Or, if two dogs are standing behind a fence together and one becomes aroused by something or someone on the other side of the fence, he may have no other way to take out his aggression than by turning to his furry companion and biting him.

Training approach: The remedy for redirected aggression is often to remove the dog from volatile situations which may trigger these feelings. For example, in the fence scenario, a responsible owner should not allow the dog to be outside unsupervised. Reward-based obedience training is also always a good idea.

Pain-Elicited Aggression

When a dog is in pain, a common reaction is aggression. Therefore, it’s crucial to handle an injured dog with care or to defer to a professional in order to prevent a pain-related attack. Even the most gentle, friendly dogs can react aggressively when they feel pain. And remember, while serious injuries are obviously quite painful, a dog can also react aggressively from something as minor as a pinched neck from a collar, stepping on a sharp object or getting stung by a bee.

Training approach: This particular case of aggression may be the easiest to treat and remedy, simply by making sure your pup receives proper veterinary attention. By getting to the root of the pain, once you obtain a diagnosis and medically treat the problem, your pup’s pain-related aggression may simply go away.

Sex-Related Aggression

Dogs who are not neutered or spayed will demonstrate aggression in order to attract the attention of the opposite sex dog for breeding purposes. Fighting can also occur between two male dogs (even if no female dogs are present) in an effort to compete for female attention. In the wild, the strongest dogs are the first to gain access to the female they’re vying for – so this is a natural, evolutionary practice. While it’s possible for females to also fight amongst each other as well, it’s less common. If a dog is fixed later in life, he may still demonstrate aggressive tendencies until the sexual urges wear off.

Training approach: Dog-on-dog aggression is typically remedied with behavior modification programs designed to de-sensitize and counter-condition. Basic dog training commands such as “stay” and “sit” will be reinforced to encourage self-control. After all, a dog who is passively standing still in one position cannot act out on aggressive tendencies.

Predatory Aggression

Classic predatory behavior includes chasing after fast-moving prey. And oftentimes, domesticated pups will chase other pets, wildlife (such as rabbits or squirrels), or even running people, bikers or skaters. Sometimes, a dog will bite his “prey” if they manage to catch the object of desire. While predatory aggression towards people or even human babies is possible, it is rare in pet dogs. That said, this type of aggression can be especially worrisome as there is often no warning before the attack.

Training approach: Those most effective treatment for predatory aggression will be intensive obedience training with a focus on the recall and “and down” commands. If a dog is chasing something, the owner must demonstrate control to retrieve the object. Developing control is a process, but can be practiced with repetitive fetch play and exercises.

In conclusion, while aggressive behavior in canines can be difficult to break, positive change is certainly possible and the behavior should be addressed immediately for optimal results. Through regimented training and therapy, aggressive dogs can recover to become the sweet and loving furry friends they’re meant to be.

SERIES: When The Bite’s Bigger Than The Bark: Aggression in Dogs Part 2

Dog aggression is a serious problem that can cause high anxiety, anger and heartbreak for owners, ultimately result in dangerous injuries (for both dogs and humans) and end in potentially fatal consequences, not to mention lead to cases of homeless and abandoned dogs. To better equip you with information and tools for how to rehabilitate an aggressive dog, in the second part of our three part series, we explore four additional types of aggression, the respective motives and recommended training approaches.

Fearful Aggression

You may have heard the saying “fight or flight” in relation to an evolutionary reaction to fear. In relation to dogs, while flight response is the most common reaction to fear; in situations where dogs cannot run away (on a leash, in close quarters in a home), they will switch to a fight response. Snapping, biting, and lunging are all symptoms of fear in this case, and show themselves as the ultimate defense mechanisms when unable to escape. Dissimilar to other forms of aggression, when a dog is afraid, signs may show (such as cowering in a corner or retreating before attack), but often do not. Common in both puppies and adult dogs, this behavior affects males and females equally.

Training approach: Training sessions will focus on building feelings of confidence and security. Methods could include coaxing the dog to take food from strangers, or socializing the dog within a controlled environment. The most timid dogs will require both obedience training and heavy socialization.

Defensive Aggression

Not unlike fear-related aggression, defensively aggressive dogs are afraid, but instead of retreating or showing timid behavior prior to attack, they simply go on the offense and take the first strike on the victim, whether that shows itself by charging, biting, barking or growling. Defensive aggression is more common in adult dogs than puppies as this attack strategy requires more confidence built over time.

Training approach: Defensive aggressive dogs would benefit strongly from heavy socialization training. The key is for the owner to continuously provide positive experiences to thereby encourage positive associations with other dogs.

Social Aggression

Socially aggressive dogs are typically happy-go-lucky and friendly, until someone in their “pack,” be it a human family member, or another dog, oversteps their boundaries, thereby becoming a threat. These dogs consider themselves high in the hierarchal order and want to remind everyone else that they are for lack of better words, “king of the castle.” Also often described as “dominance aggression,” socially aggressive dogs may be triggered by simple social interactions such as grooming, unwanted displays of affection, lifting or picking up the dog or even entering a doorway at the same time as the dog.

Training approach: A dominant dog requires not only obedience training, but also overarching control by his owner. An animal behaviorist would likely recommend that the owner start controlling every aspect of the dog’s life and establishing strict and consistent ground rules. Prime examples include breaking the habit of the dog sleeping in bed with the owner, not allowing the dog to interact with other dogs at the park, or keeping a leash on the dog at all times if worried about them charging ahead without permission.

Frustration-Elicited Aggression

Dogs who become frustrated often can’t contain their emotions and lash out with aggression. Feelings of frustration might arise when a dog is excited by an object which then gets taken away or when the dog is restrained with a leash when he wants to run free or approach something or someone at his own pace. This type of aggression occurs in both puppies and adult dogs and doesn’t favor one gender over the other.

Training approach: Frustrated dogs may benefit from a “reactive socialization class,” where the dog is introduced to other dogs in a highly supervised setting. Through systematic interaction, the dog will be exposed to friendly, confident adult dogs under the watchful eye of a trainer. A focus will also be placed on redirecting the dog’s focus onto something that doesn’t elicit frustration, such as a game of fetch or obedience training with treat rewards.

To read about additional types of dog aggression, go to Part Three of our three-part series.

SERIES: When The Bite’s Bigger Than The Bark: Aggression in Dogs Part 1

Aggression in dogs is a scary, yet complex behavioral pattern, but is common and treatable with an intensive training plan. It’s important to accept at the onset of dog ownership that most dogs will exhibit some form of aggression at some point, typically when guarding their territories or protecting themselves or their puppies. Dogs also often demonstrate aggression to keep the peace or exchange social interaction with other dogs and humans. Thus, if you watch for the signs early on and address them, aggression issues can be overcome.

Visible signs of aggression include but are not limited to a threatening bark, charging forward at another person or dog, “muzzle punching” also known as a punch with the dog’s snout, growling, showing teeth, snapping, nipping, biting, snarling or mouthing. These behaviors could occur simultaneously, individually or in sequence. The intensity of the behavior does not necessarily define aggression. For example, even a quick nip that leaves no mark is still a form of aggressive conduct that needs immediate attention.

Before beginning a tailored training program to combat your dog’s specific type of aggression, it’s crucial to understand the root of why it’s happening, motives and signs associated with your dog’s aggression classification. By reviewing the breakdown below, you’ll come to learn how to address each type individually.

Territorial Aggression-What is it?: This type of aggression is a result of the desire to protect an area from intruders. If another dog or animal encroaches on a territorial dog’s turf, he will attack or bite in retaliation. Dogs who charge human guests or visitors in the home would also be classified as territorial aggressors. Territorial aggression is mostly experienced by adult dogs or adolescent dogs from 1-3 years of age, rather than puppies.

Training approach: The appropriate training plan should focus on establishing the owner as the “pack leader” in order to teach the dog where their territory is. The owner will then set ground rules of engagement such as that the backyard is not the dog’s territory, but rather a shared family space.

Protective Aggression: Some dogs show aggressive tendencies when they believe one of their own puppies, their owner or someone they love is in danger. Protective aggression is likely to show when the so-called “victim” is particularly vulnerable, such as a new baby brought into the home. If a dog believes a stranger is a threat to the newborn baby’s safety for example, he may attack. This is another type of aggression normally displayed by adult or maturing dogs. Puppies rarely become protective aggressors.

Training approach: Dogs who suffer from protective aggression would benefit from socialization training (controlled exposure to other dogs and humans) as well as desensitization, which essentially is introducing the aggression triggers in extremely small, controlled doses so as to manage the dog’s reaction.

Possessive Aggression: Possessive aggressive dogs demonstrate aggression when a human or other dog is in control of something highly desirable, or when fiercely guarding their own possessions such as food or toys. Protecting territory and possessions is a natural, instinctual behavior that was necessary for survival in the wild; however it’s a behavior that must be broken in domestic animals. Resource guarding is especially common in puppies, who recently had to compete with litter-mates for food.

Training approach: Teaching the dog to tolerate the presence of people and other animals around his possessions is key. Sample techniques may include trading good things for better things, removing potential triggers such as a favorite toy or implementing an earned rewards program, where the dog doesn’t receive any food or treats until good behavior is shown.

To learn about the other types of dog aggression, read Part Two of our dedicated series.

5 Basic Commands to Teach Your Dog

We marvel at show dogs who show off their fancy tricks and agility skills, but before you can teach your pup how to jump through an obstacle course, it’s important to teach the basics. Many dog owners like to start with the following five obedience commands: sit, stay, come, lay down and leave it. These simple commands will be helpful in everyday interactions with your pup, and will serve as the foundation for training later on. Let’s get to work!

There’s more than one method for teaching your dog commands such as “sit,” so keep in mind that our suggestions are just that, and you’re free to use whatever method works best for you and your pup. The “sit” command is especially useful when combined with “stay” for times when you want your puppy to keep still.

1. Lure your pup with a tasty treat (or one of her favorite toys, if she’s not very food motivated).
2. Hold the lure above your pup’s head, causing her to lower into a sitting position. If necessary, guide her down by placing soft pressure on her rump.
3. As soon as she is sitting, say “sit!” while offering the treat and praise.
4. Repeat the practice a few times a day with breaks in between. Begin to reward her for sitting on the first attempt, and make rewards less and less frequent until she sits consistently on command.

Once your pup is an expert sitter, you can teach her “stay.” This command might be a challenge at first for a jumpy young puppy, but it’s a valuable tool in teaching obedience.

1. With treat in hand, have your pup sit in a familiar area with few distractions.
2. Hold out your palm towards her and back up, saying “stay!”
3. This next step involves a bit of luck. If she stays when you move back, then reward her with a *treat, even if the stay only lasted half a second. If she does not stay, repeat the process until she stays, and then give her the treat.
4. Repeat this exercise, moving a couple steps farther back every time your pup obeys consistently at a certain distance. Eventually, she’ll be able to stay at a distance with your voice command alone!

The “come” command is helpful for retrieving your pup and making sure she doesn’t get far from your sight or grasp. It can also help keep your pup from getting into a dangerous situation, such as if an aggressive dog approaches her on the street. Practice this command indoors or in a fenced area where your pup can’t escape.

1. While holding a treat, squat down in front of your pup, making eye contact and holding your arms outstretched before her.
2. Waving the treat in front of you, say “Come!” in a happy tone of voice. (Optional: If your dog is wearing a leash or collar, give her a gentle tug towards you.)
3. This position will most likely draw your pup towards you. When she approaches you, reward her with the treat and lots of praise, then let her get back to what she was doing before.
4. Repeat until your pup responds to the command without a treat, gradually increasing the distance every few times.

Lay Down
The “lay down” or “down” command is a common choice for dog owners to utilize, but it can also be difficult to accomplish since your dog may see laying down as a sign of submissiveness. Like all new tricks, this command will take some patience.

1. With a treat enclosed in your hand, start your pup in a sitting position.
2. Let your pup sniff the treat in your fist while using your other hand to gently hold down her shoulders.
3. Keeping your hand on her shoulders, quickly lower the treat to the ground while saying “Lay down,” and your pup’s body should follow.
4. This might be an uncomfortable position for your pup at first. As soon as her belly hits the floor, reward her with the treat and offer her soothing praises while slowly stroking her back.
5. Practice this command every day until your pup gets the hang of laying down without you making direct contact with her.

Leave It

Last on our list, the “leave it” command is not only useful when training your pup, but it can also be lifesaving. For example, if your dog gets her nose into a bag of chocolates or something contaminated by bacteria, you can use the “leave it” command to make your pup drop the object, sparing her from potential harm. This command will hopefully teach your pup that if she drops whatever interesting object she finds on the ground, she’ll get something even better in return!

1. For this command, you will need a “boring” treat and a tasty, more enticing treat. Hold the boring treat tightly in your fist while having the tasty treat nearby, but out of your pup’s reach.
2. Put your fist with the hidden treat near your pup’s nose and ignore her attempts to get at the treat.
3. Once she stops trying to get the treat, praise her and offer her the tasty treat instead.
4. Repeat steps 1-3 until your puppy ignores the first treat on her own. Next time you hold the boring treat out in front of her, say “Leave it,” then pause a second before handing her the tasty treat.
5. Once you feel your pup is ready for this next step, place the boring treat on the floor while keeping your hand hovering above it, then practice the “leave it” command, quickly covering the treat before she can snatch it.
6. Keep practicing until your pup can ignore a treat that is out of your reach!

The Argument: Cats vs. Dogs

It is sometimes said that there are two types of people: cat people and dog people. Each will try to argue why their pet is best, yet a consensus is never reached. Here’s what we have to say about the two furry creatures—and by the end of this article, you can reach a conclusion on your own.

While felines have the cute and cuddly appeal of dogs, the similarities between the two domesticated animals pretty much stop there. Cats and dogs are said to have almost opposite personalities. For cats, the stereotype is that of an aloof, amusingly self-centered creature who offers limited affection. However, depending on the individual cat, felines can be very affectionate creatures who will show their love when and with whom they trust.

While cats are cool, dogs are our favorite for many reasons. Their loyalty, humanlike gazes and unconditional love towards their owners make them irresistible companions, while their playfulness and energy give them an apparent zest for life. Though personality varies between breeds and individual dogs, canines tend to express enthusiasm towards being around their owners, while a cat’s relationship with humans looks more like indifference.

When it comes to housetraining, cats require almost no prompting to use the litterbox; the act is purely instinctual. Yet whether out of lack of skill or just mere disinterest, cats won’t do tricks or follow the commands that dogs do, nor can they be trained for service jobs. Despite this, cats are very intelligent and are believed to have much longer memories than dogs. Cats also have extraordinary night vision, and their speed rivals that of dogs.

A dog’s famous sense of smell not only makes for a curious creature, but a dog’s nose has also proven useful for important tasks such as detecting bombs, drugs, missing people and even cancer. Dogs will do almost anything to please their humans. On the other hand, training them comes at a cost. The time and energy needed to housetrain, socialize and teach dogs obedience, especially to become “working dogs,” is intensive.

Because of their generally clean nature, cats do not require as much grooming as dogs. They like to lick themselves clean and typically do not need a bath unless they have gotten themselves especially dirty. Grooming and maintaining a dog’s health, on the other hand, can vary in price and time commitment, depending on the breed. However, both cats and dogs will need regular nail trims.

Statistics on cat aggression are quite slim, though because of their retractable claws which always stay sharp, a cat’s scratch can be comparable to a dog’s bite. However, instances of aggression in both cats and dogs often result from lack of training or poor parental supervision.

For better or for worse, cats are solitary creatures. They can thrive both indoors and outdoors, and are independent enough to survive without their owner for long periods of time, as long as there is food and water left for them. Dogs are largely pro-social creatures, which may make them more dependent on their owners, but it is just a result of their boundless love for our company.

Cats and dogs may be at opposite ends of the spectrum, but there are pros and cons for owning each. Our pet of choice is the loyal and fun-loving dog, but who says you can’t have both?

Who do you think wins the cat vs. dog contest? Comment below!

A Step by Step Tutorial to Leash Training

We’ve all seen those dogs. The ones who zigzag every which way on their walks. The ones who mark on every tree. The ones who drag their owners down the street. It begs the question: Who is walking who anyway?

Prevent these unfortunately common situations from becoming your situation by leash training as soon as you’re able to take your puppy for walks. While it may seem simple (hook leash to collar and walk, right?), you’ll soon find that walking in a straight line at a normal pace is not a natural habit for your active puppy.

By following these steps, you’ll be on your way to walking your pawfect pooch down the street with ease and confidence.

1. Choose the Right Leash and Collar
Make sure the collar is the perfect fit by asking for professional help with sizing. It’s important that it’s not too tight nor too loose. A good guideline is to be able to fit two fingers between the collar and your pup’s skin. You may want to consider a harness instead of a collar to avoid neck strain from leash pulling. A harness is a good option for dogs with short snouts like Pugs or breeds with elongated, slender necks like Greyhounds.

As far as leashes go, there are a variety of materials and lengths available, so to make the right decision, you’ll want to test them out at the pet store with your dog present. A few things to consider – nylon leashes (which are the most common) may cause “leash burn” if you have a strong dog that pulls suddenly. Leather leashes are stronger, provide a natural give, and will soften with time. Chain leashes, which are an inexpensive choice, can be dangerous if a strong dog pulls and the leash is wrapped around your finger. Retractable or “flexi” leashes are designed to give dogs more freedom, but can be dangerous for a puppy as they provide the owner with much less control. “Reeling in” your pooch fast enough in an emergency is a challenge. Plus, the instinct of pulling the leash when your dog does something wrong could give you a severe rope burn if you were to grab that thin cord. We strongly advise against a retractable leash for a puppy in leash training.

The length of the lead is also a factor to consider when choosing the right leash for you. If you live in the city, a 4-foot might be long enough to allow your dog to do his business while keeping him close to your side. If you live in a suburban setting and have a bit more space to walk, you may want to choose a 6-foot lead.

2. Introduce The Collar and Leash
Slip the collar and leash on your pup while he’s doing something positive such as feeding, playing or getting pet. This way, the puppy associates the collar and leash with positive activity. If the dog resists, use treats or toys as incentive to getting him to feel more comfortable.

3. Take Your First Walk…Inside
Guide your puppy around your home so he gets used to you leading him around without all of the new smells and distractions of the outdoors. If you have a backyard, use that space as an opportunity to walk your pup outside to the spot where you want him to do, as opposed to letting him have run of the yard.

4. Teach to Follow
Getting your dog to heel is a gradual process so don’t expect it to happen quickly. Technically, the “heel” position is for your pup to walk along your left side at knee level. This is a bit ambitious and unnecessary for rudimentary leash training, so don’t worry so much about positioning as keeping your pup at a safe, comfortable distance. Hold the leash with a firm grip and double up any extra slack so it doesn’t drag on the ground. Make sure you have treats at the ready in your pocket to reward whenever your pup listens to you.

Once puppy is focused on the reward, say a simple command like “Let’s go!” – make sure it’s something you’ll remember to use consistently. Once he follows, give him a treat. You could bring it as close to right under his nose to get his attention. Continue to repeat this process in order to lure him into the pace and direction you want to him to go in.Once he’s performed this exercise several times well, offer the treats less and more intermittently.

If your dog pulls, quickly turn and walk in the opposite direction. You’ll do some stop-and-start at first, but eventually he’ll become accustomed to the rules. Reinforce the distance and pace you want him to keep by continuing to reward with praise and treats when he does follow. Some dogs may decide to sit or lay down rather than move. If this happens, call your pup and offer him a reward once he comes over. Never yank the leash toward you. Once he decides to walk next to you, offer him a treat.

5. Slowly Add More Depth to Your Training
Once your dog is walking well on a leash alongside you, you can work on other techniques such as “sit” whenever you stop, introducing the “heel” command, and increasing the number of distractions in the surrounding area. If you’ve been practicing on a quiet cul-de-sac, try taking him to a park or busy street.

How to Crate Train a Puppy

The philosophy behind crate training your furry companion is to create a familiar and safe location where your dog will want to enter of her own will and enjoy relaxing and sleeping inside her very own comfy and cozy spot. Because dogs don’t like to soil their sleeping areas, they are then more likely to eliminate (do their potty business) once taken outside. Crate training also makes for an easier way to supervise the puppy and prevent full access to the home, which will result in much less opportunity for your new pal to get into any mischief. Added bonuses include a convenient carrier for traveling and a way to easily confine your dog if non-dog-friendly guests visit your home.

While crating can be beneficial in many ways, it is important to not over-use crate time or use it improperly. If a puppy is kept in a crate for more than a few hours at a time during the day, the puppy could learn that crate time is a punishment, which would ultimately be counterproductive during training. If you plan to crate train, it’s imperative that the dog is taken out to play and exercise every few hours. The crate is not a place to leave your pup for 8-10 hours while you leave for the day.

Here are 5 simple tips to successfully crate train your dog:

1. Meet and Greet
Be patient. Introducing your pet to her crate could take anywhere from a couple minutes to a few days. Make the crate as comfortable as possible by adding padding, blankets or pillows. The crate should be located in a highly trafficked area of the home, such as next to the couch in the family room or near the table in the kitchen, so your dog considers it a safe place, amongst her family. Start by ensuring that the door remains open and won’t accidentally close in your puppy’s face or lock behind her. Show your dog the crate with enthusiasm and make sure your voice is positive and happy. Decide on a specific command you will use consistently for telling your dog to go inside the crate. Make sure everyone in the family is on board with the command and use it 100% of the time when telling the dog to go inside. Place a treat at the entrance of the crate and gradually move the next few treats further and further back inside the crate until your dog has to go all the way to the back to get the treat. Never ever push or force her into the crate; always allow her to go in at her own pace. Once she is comfortable going all the way to the back of the crate to get her treat, feed her next meal while she is still in the crate. Ensuring the door is open, place her bowl of food at the very front of the crate. This will teach her that this is a safe, happy territory for her to eat and sleep.

2. Eat a Meal in Privacy
Once your dog is comfortable going in and out of the crate at her own will, place her bowl of food all the way in the back of the crate. If she still seems to be a bit reluctant or anxious, you may start with the food at the front of the crate and gradually move it to the back the way you did with the treats. Once she is able to finish an entire meal while inside the crate, begin closing the door. Let her sit inside the crate with the door closed for about 10 minutes after finishing her meal before opening the door. If she starts whining, you may be moving a little too fast. Be sure to use tons of positive reinforcement when opening the door to show your pup that her behavior is being rewarded.

3. Stay a While
After your dog is comfortable eating inside the crate, you are ready to condition her for longer stays. Start by getting her favorite food or treat, holding it in your hand and pointing to the crate while using your special command. Once she is inside, give the treat and close the door. Hang around the crate for a few minutes and then move away from the crate so that you are completely out of sight. Remain out of sight for about 10 minutes. When you return, let her see you but don’t let her out for another few minutes. Repeat this exercise until your dog is comfortable alone in the crate with the door closed for 30 minutes. At this point, you should be able to leave her alone in the crate for short periods of time and in the evenings to sleep.

4. Transition to Alone Time
Once your dog is comfortable staying in the crate for 30 minutes while you are out of sight, she is ready to be left alone in the crate while you leave the home. It is important to remember that you shouldn’t leave her alone for too long. A good rule of thumb is to gradually increase the length of intervals. Start with an hour long outing and gradually increase to a few hours at a time. To ease the transition, you should try putting your dog in the crate 10-20 minutes before you leave the house so that crate time doesn’t become associated with you leaving. Use your command word or phrase to put him in the crate and use lots of positive reinforcement. Make sure not to make the goodbye too long or emotional.

5. Good Night, Sleep Tight
Night crating is the last step in your training. Start by moving the crate next to your bed in your bedroom, especially if the dog is a puppy and in the process of potty training. That way, she’ll know you’re close by, but you’ll also hear her whine in the middle of the night if she needs to be taken outside. As time goes on, it is okay to move the crate further away from your bed.

A Special Note on Whining:
Whining can mean one of two things, either your dog needs to be taken outside to go to the bathroom or she is testing you. Similar to a young toddler who will cry until they get what they want, a puppy can be smart and learn quickly how to manipulate her owner. If you find out your puppy doesn’t have to go and is whining for attention, it’s imperative that you not give in. Once the whining begins, ask the dog if she needs to go potty, with the phrase you would normally use when taking her outside. Middle of the night trips outside must be used for potty. If the dog doesn’t go, put her immediately back inside the crate so as not to allow the dog to associate the trip out of the crate with playtime. As painful as it may be to listen to ongoing whining, put on headphones or try to block out the noise. By ignoring it, the dog will quickly come to understand whining doesn’t mean attention. No matter how frustrating, never bang on the crate or yell at the dog. Simply ignore. If the whining lasts longer than a few minutes, you may need to go back to earlier steps in crate training.

Remember: Patience, consistency and positive reinforcement are key to successful crate training!

The Bark Side: How to Stop Incessant Barking

The reality of the matter is that dogs bark. Dogs bark for a variety of reasons such as separation anxiety, attention or boredom, but as a general note, dog owners should understand that occasional barking is not only normal and to be expected, it’s the only way canines know how to communicate vocally. Similar to a newborn baby who cries for anything and everything he wants, puppies can do the same, especially prior to being trained.

However, there are certain dogs who are prone to excessive barking throughout the day and night, which can be annoying, disruptive and frustrating for not only pup parents, but also neighbors and guests. This type of continuous barking should not be ignored, as it can develop into a bad habit which only worsens over time.

Training a dog to curb barking can be a difficult task, but with consistency, practice and patience, you will definitely see progress. By following the following do’s and don’ts, you’ll be steps closer to keeping your dog quiet and getting the barking under control.

1. Do make sure to exercise your dog frequently. A tired dog is a quiet dog. Oftentimes, dogs bark out of boredom or loneliness. To combat these common causes, offer up regular activities and playtime for your dog – a game of fetch, a trip to the dog park, a walk around the block, or if needed, an investment in agility training or cage-free doggie daycare, are all options to keep your dog active and busy. If your dog is alone for long stretches of the day, provide toys or long-lasting chew bones to keep his attention span focused.

2. Do teach your dog the command, “Quiet!” When your dog is barking, say “Quiet,” in a firm, yet calm voice. Once he stops barking, even if it’s just to pause, praise and reward him with a treat. Just be very careful not to give treats while he’s barking. It’s imperative that he associates good behavior with a reward, and that bad behavior is ignored. You can pair “Quiet” with holding a finger to your lips mimicking the “shhh” sound, as some dogs pick up sign language faster than vocal commands. Above all else, it is important not to yell or scream at your dog in anger. Besides being an unhealthy way to reprimand, shouting is counter-productive as it simulates the barking noise and many dogs will think you’re just joining in with them, rather than scolding them.

3. Do bring a barking outdoor dog indoors. For somewhat obvious reasons, dogs that bark all night should be brought inside the house. A dog barking outside in the yard can easily bother the neighbors and potentially rile up other dogs in the vicinity. When a dog is brought inside a quiet, peaceful, comfortable home with his family members, he will quickly learn to settle down and sleep. Plus, a dog sleeping close by is added protection and security for the family!

4. Do remove barking triggers from your dog’s living environment. If you notice that your dog barks out of alarm or fear, and at particular objects or environmental factors, adjust or remove those triggers. For example, if your dog continues to bark at other animals or people through a fence, consider switching to an enclosure without slats. If your dog barks whenever your doorbell rings, you may want to ask guests to knock on the door instead.

While it’s unreasonable to change life dramatically to accommodate barking, there is nothing wrong with making minor adjustments that pose little inconvenience, if they’ll bring you some peace and quiet.

5. Don’t allow the problem to continue. The longer bad behavior goes on and on, the more ingrained the conduct can become in the dog’s personality. Barking can be a pleasant form of release for dogs who bark to seek attention, communicate anxiety or fear, or even to express a desire to play. If at home training is proving ineffective, take your dog to a behavioral specialist who specializes in barking issues. Nip the problem in the bud, before it’s too late.

6. Don’t give up when your training method isn’t working. Because barking occurs for a multitude of reasons, it’s important to address the issue even when at-home or professional training methods fail. There is the rare potential that your dog is barking for a medical reason that needs veterinary attention. A health issue as minor as pain from a bee sting to something as serious as brain disease can cause excessive barking. So, if you’re ever at a complete loss, it doesn’t hurt to do your due diligence and get a thorough checkup for Fido.

7. Don’t use a shock collar, muzzle or “debark” your dog! Shock collars, which deliver painful currents to jolt your pet whenever he barks, cause harm and can make dogs aggressive if they begin to associate the person, dog or object they’re barking at with pain. Similarly, a muzzle, which is used as a means of constraint to keep a dog quiet, is a dangerous device, especially if used when the dog is unsupervised. Debarking, which is often considered an inhumane and antiquated procedure, is a surgery designed to leave dogs with a raspy bark, instead of a full bark. Complications are common and “debarking” can be life threatening. Other “bark prevention tools” such as water sprayers or noise makers to deter your dog from barking can reinforce traditional training, but should not be used as standalone training mechanisms. Rewarding your dog for good behavior is still the most effective and humane training method.