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How to Buy a Puppy Responsibly


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Congratulations! You’ve made the big, meaningful decision to get a dog. You’re ready to experience all the love a puppy brings to a home and with your mind now made up, the excitement is building and you’re anxious to find “The One.”

Having placed tens of thousands of dogs into loving homes, we are proud of both our expertise in selecting the top breeders in the country (we accept less than 15% of applicants into our network) and our commitment to matching well-qualified puppy parents to be with the right dogs for them and their families.

Over the years, we’ve talked to countless dog owners, breeders and puppy parents-to-be, and our goal has always been to help make the process of finding a dog easy and safe, while making the transition for the puppies and new owners as seamless as possible. Through our experience, we’ve learned the keys to responsibly buying a dog and want to share them with you.

buy-responsibly-thumbnailTo empower you and start you off on the right foot as a puppy parent-to-be, we’ve broken down the top 10 questions to ask your puppy source. By doing your due diligence with the necessary research, you’ll be able to make an informed, educated choice, thereby ensuring your puppy’s optimal well-being, health and happiness.

1. Where did the puppy come from?
It’s crucial to fully know and understand your puppy’s history – birth place, parents, lineage, characteristics, any known health issues, current state of care, any former owners, etc.

2. If buying from a breeder, is the breeder USDA licensed or legally exempt from licensing?
Fortunately, the breeding industry is regulated by the Federal government, and licensed breeders are required to follow strict standards on cleanliness, protocol and humane treatment of all animals on the premises.

3. Does a veterinarian examine the puppies before they’re adopted out?
Because your puppy’s health is of utmost importance, it’s imperative to make sure a licensed veterinarian has done a nose-to-tail examination of the puppy and has written up a comprehensive report so you’re aware of and adequately prepared for any issues before purchasing.

4. Is the puppy up-to-date on all vaccinations?
Make sure to obtain records of vaccinations to ensure the puppy is current on all the necessary immunizations for his/her age. Vaccines are essential to protect against potentially life-threatening illnesses.

5. Has the puppy been socialized with other puppies, dogs and people?
You’ll want to make sure the puppy has had regular interaction with not just other puppies in its litter, but also other adult dogs and of course, people. You’ll want to have a full assessment of any socialization or behavioral issues before deciding whether the dog is right for you and/or your family.

6. Do you offer a guarantee on the dog’s health?
Unfortunately, even the most well taken care of dogs can sometimes get sick. Because life happens, it’s important to be realistic and ask if your puppy source offers any sort of health guarantee or reimbursement, should you discover your puppy has a genetic or hereditary illness or contracts a disease within a certain period of time.

7. Can I see photos and video of the puppies and/or litters available?
A reputable breeder will not only answer any and all questions you may have, but will also happily send photos and/or videos of the puppies you’re interested in so you can not only see what they look like, but also observe their behavior and temperament. Because geographical limitations often prevent the ability to visit a facility in person, photos and videos are great ways to learn more about the puppies, parents and breeder.

8. What paperwork has already been filed, and what documentation will I receive with the puppy?
Find out if the puppy has already been registered and has the required certification. Some breeders will handle, while others require the buyer to complete the process. You’ll want to be aware of what paperwork (if any) lies within your responsibility. In addition, many breeders will offer proof of genetic testing for the sire and dam (parents) of the puppy.

9. What is the breeder’s experience and background?
It is your right to learn about the breeder you’re purchasing from – not just how they run their operation, but also their expertise and history with dog breeding. Besides amount of years breeding, you may want to ask if the breeder belongs to any breed organizations or clubs, what criteria they require of their stock, and simply, why they breed dogs. The love and passion for what they do will come through in their responses. You should also ask who you should reach out to with any issues after the sale. A good breeder will check in periodically after puppy arrives home.

10. Is there a contract? If so, what are the terms and guarantees?
Similar to the health guarantee mentioned above, understand the inclusions and limitations of your purchase agreement, which can include anything and everything from spaying and neutering to re-homing provisions.

Introducing Puppy to Your Older Dog: The Secret to Successful Socialization


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Having a canine companion is one of the greatest blessings of friendship outside the human circle. While pooches grow even more lovable each day, there may come a time when a pup parent entertains the idea of doubling the fun and bonding by adding another dog to the household. If you were or are one of those people, you’ll understand how wonderful it can be to have two furry friends roaming the house.

Yet, it can take some time for that bond to form – just as an older child may experience adjustment issues when a sibling arrives, the same goes for pups. Dogs are inherently pack animals and thus territorial issues are not only normal, but to be expected. And since your older dog is likely to be larger than your puppy, the attempt to assert physical dominance is likely.

But don’t fret – with hard work, patience and understanding, establishing a healthy rapport between your two pooches is possible. And once they get used to each other, get the camera ready because there will be so many opportunities to capture adorable moments of the two playing, sleeping or eating together. Follow these tips to successfully socialize a new puppy with an older dog.

Let Your Older Dog Lead
introducing-older-thumbnailSince your older dog has been with you for quite some time, you will be in a good position to gauge if she has aggression issues that could make a two-dog household more trouble than harmonious. Assess how your dog behaves towards other dogs and animals in your area. Has your older dog gotten into brawls with other dogs? Another factor to consider is that puppies are extremely high energy and their desire to play may come as a bother to your older dog who has more of a mellow demeanor. An annoyed older dog may either walk away (best case scenario) or throw her weight around and retaliate by snapping or growling.

Remember The Pack Animal Mentality
Your older dog may be the tamest and most obedient canine you have encountered, but a pack animal will always want the group to know she’s boss. Therefore, when you first introduce your dogs, make sure they’re both held firmly on leashes by two different individuals and separated by sufficient space. Do not let the two dogs interact unsupervised until they’ve had adequate time to get to know each other and are comfortable with each other’s presence.

Crate or Confine Puppy to Designated Space
Since your older dog has rightfully established her territory long before your new puppy’s arrival, a key factor for their peaceful co-existence is to either crate train or confine your puppy to a gated-off area for the first few months. This will not only serve to prevent messes and destruction, but also teach your puppy to respect your older dog’s personal domain. By allocating different areas of your home to both dogs, they will grow accustomed to a safe and comfortable roommate situation, and eventually a loving canine relationship.

Leverage The Canine Sense of Smell
While you likely already know that a dog’s sense of smell is highly sensitive, you may not know there’s a unique way to use that adorable snout to your advantage when it comes to assimilating a new dog into a dominant dog residence. Before the dogs meet face-to-face, give your new puppy a blanket or toy to sleep with, ideally for a couple of nights, so the blanket or toy is saturated in his smell. Then give that blanket or toy to your adult dog to get her acquainted and familiar with the new puppy smell. This simple technique will facilitate easier bonding and friendship.

Rest assured, once your two pups are socialized, you’re in for a special treat. Your furry children will eventually love having each other’s company when home alone, playing together outside or snuggling up together for comfort.

Top 10 Values Your Child Can Learn From a Dog


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Families with kids are most likely to own a pet, so it may not come as surprising news that in addition to the built-in friendship and playtime that comes along with the child-dog relationship, there are a multitude of emotional and educational benefits as well.

Get ready for your furry child to teach your human child(ren) some invaluable life lessons, such as:

  1. Responsibility

Dogs require a lot of attention and on a frequent, regular schedule.  So, whether you involve your child(ren) in daily feeding, exercise, or even cleaning up after puppy goes potty, these chores will quickly teach your child the meaning of responsibility.  And with that responsibility, comes the unmatched feeling of accomplishment. By praising your child when they successfully complete a task, the importance of responsibility will be enforced.

  1. Compassion

Understanding and responding to a dog’s basic needs teaches kids both compassion and empathy. When the family dog is under the weather, take that trying time as an opportunity to teach your child the significance of being a caretaker. Explain that with the child’s help, the dog can be nursed back to health. This will reinforce the important lesson of nurturing and showing empathy for others who need comfort.

  1. Respect

Teaching a child to be respectful can be a difficult task, but through simple tasks such as petting a dog gently, acting as a caretaker or even giving a dog necessary space or time alone when sleeping or eating, your child will start to learn the meaning of respect.

  1. Loyalty

A dog is known to be fiercely loyal to his family and with explanation of what loyalty means – a strong feeling of support and allegiance – children will quickly begin to understand the significance and how to reciprocate that love and devotion.

  1. Trust

thumbnail-top-10-values-child-learnsDogs trust that their owners will take care of them and keep them healthy. This concept alone is a lesson in trust. Delving a bit deeper, dogs are often described as offering unconditional love. Whether their owner is sad, happy, scared or upset, dogs do not judge and do not withhold their devotion. This can be a step in helping your child learn to build trust in other relationships, too.

 

  1. Loss

Unfortunately, losing a pet is an inevitable and heartbreaking part of life. When a dog gets sick and passes away, it’s important to use the experience (depending on the appropriate age of the child) as an invaluable teaching moment. For example, learning coping skills as well as allowing time to mourn and cry are important pieces of the bereavement process.

  1. Physical Health

Playing a game of fetch with your dog is not only a fun bonding activity, but it’s also an opportunity to teach your child the importance of physical fitness, treating your body well and staying active for overall health and well-being.

  1. Patience

Bonding with a dog can be a process. While your child may want to pick up the puppy right away and snuggle her, puppy may not yet be comfortable with the child. This is prime time for a lesson in waiting for the good stuff. Similarly, training can be extremely frustrating for a child (and you for that matter). By explaining that with time and hard work, training will show results, the art of patience will be learned.

  1. Socialization

Anyone who has a dog can attest that these furry four-legged buddies are the best conversation starters! While walking the dog, you’re bound to run into other dog walkers who will ask you your dog’s breed, name, age and more. Having your child join you on the walk and answer these questions as well as reciprocate, will help teach the art of conversing and being polite. To this point, pets are known to be extremely beneficial to children with autism and other developmental issues, who may lack social skills such as sharing or making eye contact.

Living in the Moment
A dog sticks his head out the window of the car to enjoy a fresh breeze, jumps in puddles without fear of getting wet, chases balls tirelessly and shows excitement to express interest. Likewise, kids shouldn’t hold back when it comes to living life to its fullest each and every day. Following their dog’s lead, encourage them to take joy in even the smallest moments.

 

 

What to Expect at 8-12 Weeks of Age


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Congratulations! Between 8-12 weeks, your puppy has arrived home and the intense bonding process between puppy and family has already begun.

You’ve entered a crucial learning period which will provide the foundation for your puppy’s mental and physical development. Newly away from his biological mommy and litter siblings, your puppy is experiencing a high level of curiosity in his new environment. Anything within reach will be investigated, and likely chewed as a result of that curiosity. In fact, you’ll notice your puppy “mouthing” a lot which is how he grows familiar with the world around him. Basic personality characteristics will begin to emerge but a lot of your puppy’s traits will form based on how he is treated and cared for by the family.

Your puppy is starting to take an active interest in human beings and will look to you for direction on how to behave. So, imagine your puppy as a sponge, ready to absorb all of the information you can provide. This is your opportunity to not only teach him new things, but also to set the tone and dynamics of the relationship. It’s important to socialize your dog with other people outside of the family as well as other vaccinated dogs. Basically, however you’d like your puppy to interact with the world, start introducing it now. So, if you plan to transport him regularly, start taking him for car rides. If you want to make him comfortable with loud noises, don’t be afraid to vacuum the house or run the blender.

thumbnail-puppy-developmentAs far as physical growth, you may have noticed your puppy is a bit rambunctious and messy – clumsily running around and emptying his bladder and bowels often. At this stage, you should be taking puppy out every two hours – remember, frequent trips outside mean less accidents and clean up for you!  As far as appearance goes, puppies are heart melting for a reason – enjoy those big eyes, soft features and sleepiness; and snuggle/hold him often – if your puppy is meant to grow up to be a large dog, you won’t have that opportunity for much longer!

In this vulnerable age, keeping your puppy safe is key. The natural immunity passed on from his mother is starting to wear off, and will soon be taken over by rounds of vaccinations. To avoid the dangers of your puppy contracting illness, specifically Parvo, do not allow your puppy around other non-vaccinated dogs. This means: Stay away from dog parks, and even walking down the street if it’s a highly foot-trafficked area. About a week after the final vaccinations (around 17 weeks-old), you’ll be able to take your pup everywhere – so just be patient!

Just like with a new baby, you may be worried about your puppy’s health before the first vet visit. Here are the symptoms to keep an eye out for which may require a phone call to your vet:

  • Diarrhea – if it lasts more than a day, is extremely watery or discolored
  • Vomiting – if it persists more than a day, or is extreme
  • Unwillingness to Eat or Drink – if puppy is not interested in food or water

Remember, use your best instincts – if something seems off, don’t hesitate and reach out to a professional.

Finally, there is no better time to start training than now. The earlier your puppy begins basic training, the faster he will learn. There are many different methods and philosophies to training your pup, but a steadfast rule for all is to remain calm, be patient and reward good behavior. Good luck!

Finding Puppy’s Groomer: Consider These Factors


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Something as superficial as your dog’s hairstyle may seem silly and unimportant, but on the contrary, choosing a professional groomer should be prioritized. Depending on your dog’s breed and hygiene needs, they could be visiting the groomer as much as every 4-6 weeks, so deciding who will be responsible for keeping your pooch clean and primped requires some research and follow-up. Here’s a quick checklist to run through before getting your pup’s hair done:

  • Get a Referral – Begin by asking friends, family and neighbors for recommendations. Trusted reviews are invaluable. You can also contact the National Dog Groomers Association to find certified groomers in your local area.
  • thumbnail-dyi-grooming-cutCheck Prices – When you start calling down your list of local groomers, ask for a full rundown of their menu of services and corresponding prices. For example, some groomers include additional services such as nail clippings and expression of anal glands in their regular grooming packages and others do not, so it’s helpful to know exactly what’s offered so you can customize your pup’s visits accordingly. Many groomers’ prices depend on the size and breed of the dog so make sure to give them enough information in order to receive an accurate quote.
  • Take a Tour – Prior to booking your pup’s first appointment, you’ll want to visit the facility and observe the activity. Take mental notes of the setup, lighting and cleanliness level and make sure you’re comfortable with the environment. You’ll also want to check to see if the kennels are large enough and separated for dogs and cats. Watch to see if the groomers handle their pups in a caring and professional manner and ask the staff administrative questions such as what type of records they keep and how much advance notice is required for scheduling.
  • Bring Vaccination Records – Most groomers will require immunization records for rabies, kennel cough and other infectious diseases before accepting new dogs into their salon. It’s also worth noting that spayed and neutered dogs tend to be calmer, less hyperactive, and therefore more tolerant of grooming. You may want to consider getting this procedure done by your veterinarian before scheduling that first grooming session.
  • Speak Up about Any Special Circumstances – Before you drop your pooch off to get his/her hair did, make sure your groomer understands any health conditions to be aware of – whether it be dry/flaky skin or something more serious such as hip dysplasia that would require the groomer to be more gentle when maneuvering the dog.
  • Say Goodbyes Quickly – Most dogs, especially those who display anxious behavior, have a difficult time with grooming. A long, drawn-out goodbye can make the experience worse for a socially anxious pooch, so don’t make it a big deal. There are also a few preparatory things you can do at home to get your pup more comfortable with the experience. Brush your dog often and give a reward after each brushing session. Other tips to ease your dog into the grooming process? Give regular full body massages and turn on the vacuum to get a scared dog used to the sound of the dryers.

If this all seems to be a bit much, just know that when you pick up your best friend, he will look “pawfect” with a shiny coat, fresh smell and maybe even a bandana or bow in her hair to boot!

 

Puppy’s First Night Home: Tips for a Better Bedtime


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Your puppy is officially home! It’s an exciting day full of cuddles, playtime and adorable photo opportunities. And now…it’s time to go to bed.

You may be surprised to hear the welcome home party continue into the night. Shortly after putting puppy in his crate or bed, your little party animal doesn’t want to go to sleep, but rather makes his presence known with sounds of whining or even crying.  While the noise can sound heartbreaking, don’t panic. Consistent whining, howling or crying throughout your puppy’s first few nights at home is extremely common and to be expected. Puppy is experiencing separation anxiety from his biological family, which while upsetting, is a completely normal part of adjusting to his new home.

It helps to understand that these distressed sounds are a natural evolutionary expression. In the wild, a puppy separated from his family may get attacked or killed by predators. So, to discourage his mother from leaving him, the puppy cries to ensure survival.

thumbnail-surviving-first-nightSince night one in a brand new environment is a big transition for puppy (rest assured, he will get more and more comfortable in the coming days and weeks), it’s your job as his new parent to make him feel secure. To that end, do not put him in a room further away from you to drown out the noise – this could contribute further to the puppy’s anxiety and potentially cause behavioral problems at a later date. Instead, bring his crate or bed into your bedroom or just outside the door so he feels less isolated. You’ll also have the added benefit of being able to check on him regularly. Some sensitive new parents may be tempted to bring puppy into their own bed- but unless you want to make this a habit*, it’s important to resist the urge and keep puppy in his own sleeping space.  There is a difference between creating a sense of security and coddling.

Once creating a secure environment for puppy, it’s best to try and ignore puppy’s whines and cries as much as possible. Take a hot shower, turn on the TV, or play a game to try and take your mind off the noise. In these early nights, distractions are key to not only keeping yourself sane and patient, but also setting a healthy foundation and schedule for puppy. Plus, if puppy gets too much attention (or worse, is rewarded with food or treats) while exhibiting this behavior, he will quickly learn that barking or crying is the way to get what he wants.

If whining or crying seems excessive, it’s okay to gently take puppy by the scruff (back) of the neck and firmly say in a low tone without any frustration “NO. Go to sleep.” If repeated several times at night for many consecutive nights, he will learn to obey in the coming weeks.

Once you get through the night, pat yourself on the back….and then quickly take puppy outside for his much needed and well-deserved morning walk and bathroom break!

Remember to put yourself in puppy’s “paws” and have sympathy for how he must be feeling his first night in a new place. It’s most important for puppy to know that he’s loved and cared for – with this reassurance, he’ll attach to you, learn to trust you and become a loyal and affectionate dog.

It’s also important to embrace the hard first few days as all part of the exciting new adventure of raising a new puppy as your own. Before you know it, your puppy will be grown and you’ll long for the days of puppyhood – sleepless nights and all!

*PS places no judgement on families who want their dogs to sleep with them in the same bed. We recognize there are many benefits including but not limited to free snuggle sessions, extra warmth and emotional comfort.

Key House Training Principles to Implement Day One


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Simply thinking about house training your puppy could have you feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Take a deep breath and don’t fear! As long as you stay committed and consistent in whichever method you choose, the process doesn’t have to be difficult. It can even be fun! Remember, the goal is to instill positive habits in your pet while simultaneously building a loving bond. Understand and expect there to be a lot of setbacks and “mistakes.” Do your best to curb your frustration (it can take up to 6 months to a year to get your puppy fully house trained), get back on the horse and try again. Following these core training principles as soon as puppy comes home will set a healthy foundation for the rest of your training.

  1. Confine Puppy to Defined Space

Whether you decide to crate train or keep your puppy in a gated area, limiting his space is important during this crucial learning stage – not just to save your valuables from getting ruined, but also to teach puppy that he needs to go outside to do his business. Until he develops his “den instinct” i.e., not wanting to go soil his own living space, he’ll need boundaries. Once he starts to understand and make progress, gradually give him more freedom around the house.

  1. Take Puppy Out Frequently

thumbnail-puppy-developmentYou should take your puppy outside first thing in the morning and then once every 30 minutes to an hour. You should also take him out after every meal, when he wakes from a nap and before he goes to sleep. When in doubt, take him out!

  1. Stay Attached at the Hip

Consider “puppy sitting” your full time job for the next several months. Spotting and acknowledging your puppy’s signs that he needs to go are key to the process. Whining, circling, sniffing or barking are all clear signs that he needs to be taken out right away. And make sure that once he’s out, you watch puppy do his business each time to ensure he’s making progress.

  1. Stick to a Feeding Schedule

Feed your puppy according to your veterinarian and breeder’s recommendations and take away the food in between meals to prevent accidents and get puppy used to eating at consistent times. Remember, what goes in regularly, will come out regularly! Leave the water though. Puppy needs to stay hydrated. Just monitor how much he drinks so you know when to take him out.

  1. X Marks the Spot

Take puppy to the same spot each time he eliminates. He will start to associate his scent with the spot and it will encourage him to go.

  1. Give Praise and Reward

When puppy eliminates outside, praise verbally and give him a treat. Choose a simple word like “outside” or a key phrase such as “Go potty!” and use it every time you take puppy out. Repetition and consistency are key. Puppy will soon start to associate the word with the act. A nice walk is another great reward.

  1. Discipline Correctly

Accidents are completely normal and punishing your puppy will only teach him to fear you. Puppies are not intellectually capable of associating anger with wrongdoing. If you catch puppy in the act, clap loudly to alert him it’s not acceptable. Then quickly take him outside by calling him or pulling him gently by the collar. If you find evidence after the act, don’t react angrily by yelling or rubbing the puppy’s nose in it.

 

Naming a Pup More Difficult Than You May Think


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Choosing a moniker for your new pup can be one of the most fun and enjoyable parts of welcoming him into the family. But, before you sign that “birth certificate,” there are a few considerations you should take into account. Make sure to follow these tips prior to making that all-important final decision.

Practice Calling His Name…A Lot
As you’ll figure out quickly, especially in the training phase, you’ll be saying your pup’s name frequently and loudly over and over again. So, pick a name that not only will you not get sick of, but also that has a nice ring and sounds pleasant out loud.

Avoid Names that Mimic Simple Commands
By picking a name like “Joe” or “Kit,” your pup may be confused when hearing commands like “No” or “Sit.” It’s better to choose a name that sounds very different from other words you’ll be using frequently.

Consider Veering Away from The Most Popular Names
Imagine how many dogs are named Max, Buddy and Lucy at the park or even in your neighborhood. Your vet or groomer likely has several clients with these names. Avoid misunderstandings, scuffles and potential mistakes by choosing something unique to your pup that he will identify as his name quickly and consistently.

Stick To One or Two Syllables
thumbnail-naming
It’s best to choose a short name that’s easy to say and hear, so your dog understands and responds to it quickly. A long name can blend with ambient noise. Plus, with long names or a first and middle name, the owner tends to shorten it with a nickname when it’s convenient, causing potential confusion for your pooch.

If You’re Stumped, Draw from Visual Inspiration
Can’t decide on a name? Has everyone in your circle weighed in with different opinions? If so, a good place to start is to take a long, hard look at your pooch and think about what makes her uniquely her. Is she a Schnauzer with a salt and pepper colored coat? Call her Pepper! Is he white with black spots on his legs making him look like he’s always wearing shoes? Go with Boots!

Still Can’t Decide? Pay Homage to Family Tree
Perhaps there was a dog in your family who passed away and you want to honor him with a variation of that name. If your former pooch was Princess, why not go with Duchess? Or if your puppy’s sire was named Cooper, why not go with the initials “CJ” for Cooper, Junior?

What’s In a Name Anyway?
If all of these rules have you more confused than ever, don’t worry. Many experts say effective communication with your dog has little to do with their name, and everything to do with the owner’s tone, energy and consistency.

Top Three Training Methods: Which is Right For You?


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If you ask ten different people on the street their opinions on how to train a dog, you’ll surely receive ten different answers. How you approach dog training is a personal decision, but before you decide what method is best for you and your pup, understanding the thinking behind each is important.

Traditional Dominance Training

The most popular and widely used method employs the philosophy that dogs behave poorly because they are trying to obtain dominance or gain higher rank over their owner or trainer. Traditional trainers will use physical stimulus such as yanking a leash to get a dog to heel or firm verbal commands to grab the dog’s attention away from distractions. Popular dog trainer Cesar Millan’s “wolf pack” method draws on dominance theory and establishing “alpha influence” in the trainer in order to exert dominance over the dog. Good behavior is rewarded with praise and positive reinforcement while bad behavior is punished. While touted as successful by many, critics say the result of dominance training is that the dog’s behavior is suppressed and the dog’s personality becomes more subdued in order to avoid disciplinary action. It’s also important to note that the wolf pack theory has come under scrutiny in recent years based on the fact that dogs are an entirely different species than wolves and that most canine problems are a result of insecurity and/or a desire to seek and maintain safety and comfort – not from a desire to establish higher rank and dominance.

Scientific Training

Many veterinarians and animal behaviorists promote “science-based training,” which is guided by the philosophy that dogs are hardwired to want to “please” their owners. Therefore, science-based training first teaches the dog desired behaviors using rewards and then, when the dog behaves badly, the reward is taken away. For example, if you’re playing a game of fetch and your dog jumps to nip your hand before you toss the toy, the disciplinary action would be to clearly hold the toy away from him so he understands that he will not get the toy if he continues this behavior. Once the dog sits calmly and waits, you toss the toy back and continue the game. This method does not rely on force or coercion, but rather encourages the trainer to “work with” the dog by removing a perceived award so dog learns unwanted behavior is not tolerated.

Positive Reinforcement Training

thumbnail-top-training-methodsThis “humanistic approach” relies strictly on positive reinforcement. The dog is never reprimanded; rather only rewarded for good behavior. Bad behavior is ignored under the philosophy that while you your dog may behave badly at times, they require unconditional love and care. A good example of this method which you may have heard of is “clicker training,” is a method based on behavioral psychology that relies on marking desirable behavior and rewarding it. However, critics argue that only employing positive reinforcement is not effective because the dog doesn’t know which behaviors to avoid. Moreover, this method can often lead to even worse behavior because dogs are confused as to right and wrong. For example, if the dog is continuously barking and the trainer ignores the barking and instead pets or hugs the dog, the dog can easily misconstrue your distraction as encouragement or a sign that you want to play.

Whichever direction you choose, there are a few overarching concepts that apply to any/all successful training – strong communication, positive feedback, exercise, motivation and boundaries. It’s also important to have a plan and set expectations for yourself and family members up front. If any of these methods interest you, research the various proponents and equip yourself accordingly with the skills and knowledge necessary to move forward.