5 Ways to Love Your K9 Valentine

Americans are known for being obsessed with their pets.  Today, especially, we tend to pamper our dogs more than we did 20 years ago.  While some of the changes in how we treat dogs in today’s society are for the better, sometimes we can literally love them to death! In fact, we may not even realize we are doing more harm than good.  Here are 5 healthy ways you can show your canine how much you love him.  He will love you more for it!

  1.  Healthy diet.  A dog’s diet is more important than some dog owners might realize.  A diet, like in humans, can have a huge effect on the dog’s overall health, activity level, and behavior.  Some of the cheaper dog foods on the market are full of fillers, such as corn and wheat.  These ingredients can cause itchy flaky skin.  They can also cause the dog to carry more weight on its body than it normally would.  When a dog is uncomfortable it is less likely to make wise decisions about its behavior.  Similarly, humans might tend to be a bit grumpy when they are sick or not feeling well.  Thus, a human might say something he/she may not have said when healthy.  The healthier dog foods on the market can be expensive, but they will save you in vet bills later.  It will also save your dog from the discomfort of itchy skin and/or being overweight.
  2. Exercise.  Dogs are born to walk, run, and be active.  Some might be more active than others.  Regardless, they need time to stretch their legs and get some fresh air.  While physical exercise is important, mental exercise is also important.  Basic obedience training is a great mental exercise for dogs.  Make it fun!  Turn it into a game!  Physical and mental exercise should be interactive games with you.  These games will ultimately strengthen your bond with your dog, while teaching the good behaviors you expect from the dog in various situations. A tired dog is a happy, well behaved dog.
  3. Avoid table scraps.  So you buy your dog the best dog food there is on the market.  You have researched it.  You feed your dog the suggested amounts of food and you exercise your dog daily.  But, your dog is still carrying some extra pounds and you cannot figure out how to get your dog to shed them.  The next question I would ask is do you feed your dog table scraps?  Does your dog sit at your side at the dinner table each day and give you those sad eyes?  You feel bad so you let a few scraps slip off your plate onto the floor.  You let the dog eat the dropped food in the name of keeping your dining area clean.  Even though, this seems like a harmless habit, this very habit has a sneaky way of packing on the pounds.  Before you know it, you are in the Vet’s office for your dog’s yearly check up, and the vet is telling you your dog could lose a few pounds.  Scrap the table scraps!!!
  4. Train your dog with it’s food instead of treats.  You bought good wholesome dog food, check.  You exercise your dog daily, check.  You scrapped the table scraps, check.  You even went the extra mile and started taking training classes with your dog.  Fido dropped a few pounds, but he could still stand to shed a few more.  How many cups of those little tiny training treats do you feed your  dog per day?  How does that factor in to your dog’s meals?  Instead of spending the extra bucks on training treats, measure out your dog’s daily portion of food and use it to reward your dog for training and your dog will soon lose those few extra pounds.
  5. Rules and boundaries.  Imagine a world with out traffic laws.  Imagine how hectic it would be to get anywhere, especially high traffic areas.  No right-of-way rules, no stop lights or stop signs.  Society would be a mess with out traffic laws, even if we do not always like them.  Traffic laws give us a universal framework to work within when driving any type of vehicle or just being a pedestrian on the street.  Everybody knows what the rules are, and everybody is expected to follow them.  As a society we know what is right and what is wrong.  It keeps civilization running a bit smoother and safer than if we had none.  Dogs need the same framework to work with in.  Rules and Boundaries need to be black and white for dogs.  There is no grey area!  When dogs clearly understand the difference between good behavior (behaviors you allow) and bad behavior (behaviors you say no to), you will find that living with your dog will be much more symbiotic.  A dog that clearly understands the rules and what is expected of him is a much calmer dog.  A dog with out clearly defined rules and boundaries is probably going to become more excitable and more stressed out over time.  It will never clearly understand how it is supposed to behave causing stress and ultimately bad decisions.  Dogs are social and want to fit in.  But, they also need guidance on what is expected in order to fit in.  Basic obedience training can help set these boundaries and teach your dog the good behaviors in multiple situations.


The Greatest Gift

How many of you dog owners out there have encountered that stranger or friend with the perfectly behaved dog?  It is walking nicely on a loose leash; not dragging her owner down the street.  She sits and waits patiently while her owner has a conversation with a friend they bumped into, or lays there calmly while Dad enjoys a cup of coffee and reads the newspaper at the local cafe.  The dog seems to not care about the dog barking at it from the car window or the rambunctious puppy that romps by with owner in tow.  How many of you have seen that dog and thought, “I wish my dog were like that.  That dog is perfect”?  I will be the first to raise my hand and say that, that has been me on multiple occasions.

Well, NEWSFLASH!  That dog you are dreaming about is NOT perfect.  The perfect dog does NOT EXIST!  And chances are that the dog you are looking at through the window of perfection did not always behave that way.  Chances are the owner did invest time and effort into training and building a relationship of trust and understanding with the dog.  Additionally, I can guarantee that if you had the opportunity to observe this “Perfect dog/human relationship” over weeks maybe even months you would find that they are NOT perfect!  In fact they are far from it!

Personally, I have been at both ends of the spectrum.  I have been the admired and the admirer.  One thing I know about myself is that I am a perfectionist.  I will spend hours perfecting a project.  Thank goodness for deadlines, otherwise nothing would ever be considered “complete” on my checklist.  In my adult life I have learned to say when enough is enough, what is done now is going to have to be good enough.  But, I still fall into that viscious cycle of perfection, especially when it comes to dog training.  While being on the “admired” side of the spectrum is a nice boost to my ego and validates the work I have done with my dog, I very quickly swing back to the “admirer”.  There is always something I want to improve.

I vividly remember a conversation I had with a couple admiring Popeye’s good behavior.  They went on and on about how well behaved he is.  This couple had just welcomed a puppy into their home.  I responded with a thank you and he was not always like this.  I gave them a brief summary of Popeye’s story and the struggles we had.  The couple’s response was “No way! He’s so good though!”  I was thrilled and surprised at the same time.  On another occasion I had just started training with a new search and rescue group.  One of the members of the group said something to the effect of “Your dog seems to be mister A+ student.  Was he always like this?”  I chuckled to myself and said, “No, we had to seek outside help.  We had our fair share of problems.”

When I started training Popeye for Search and Rescue, I found myself constantly looking at the other search dogs and handlers around me wishing we could be like them.  I was wishing for the perfect dog.  I wanted to be the perfect handler.  There were certian flaws in mine and Popeye’s relationship that I was feeling overwhelmed/exhausted trying to deal with/work out.  Eventhough Popeye and I have worked through the bulk of the problems we had in the beginning, I still fall into this trap, especially when weakness after weakness is exposed.  The more I observe other handlers and dogs, the more I realize that the appearance of perfection is just that, an appearance.  When you dig down to the core, every K9/handler team has its flaws/weaknesses.  What differentiates the good teams from the rest is the ability of the handler to accept and adapt, especially when shit hits the fan.  By accepting and adapting, I mean rolling with the punches, learning from your mistakes, and moving on.  I think one thing many of us, especially in the working dog world, have a hard time swallowing is having our weaknesses exposed, especially when someone is there to witness it.  BUT thats the POINT OF TRAINING!!!  EXPOSE and KNOW your weaknesses, so when it comes to the real world you are better equipped to deal with it.

This concept applies accross the board, yes, even to pet dog owners.  Train for real world, use the real world to train (with-in reason, be safe), expose and know your weaknesses, accept and manage what you cannot change. The point is that you CAN have that well behaved dog that people admire.  You do NOT have to be stuck at the admirer end of the spectrum.  You CAN be the admired!  Change what you can through training, and accept and manage what you can NOT change.  Give yourself and your dog the gift of training.  Allow yourself to learn to roll with the punches of dog ownership, teach your dog the good behaviors, live in peace with your dog, become the admired!  Training will enhance and grow the relationship you have with your dog to levels you never imagined possible!

Is training easy?  Well, let’s put this in perspective.  With Ella I spent 7 months training and working with her on the consistent basis.  At the end of that seven months I had a dog that I could live with peacefully and could take her anywhere without fear of bad behavior.  With Popeye I spent a solid year working with him EVERYDAY!  After about 1 year of training with Popeye I gained enough confidence that I could take him places without fear, or wondering what “bad behavior” he was going to display that would publicly embarrass me.  Some of you might be thinking 7 months to 1 year…AAAHHHH that’s ALOT!  I don’t know if I can do that!  First of all, dogs and people learn at different speeds and the time it takes to get to that point where you are “comfortable” with your dog’s behavior will depend on your consistency.  Some dogs may take shorter than 7 months to get to that “comfortable” space, and some may take longer.  Second, what does the 7 months that I spent training Ella amount to when compared to the 8 years I have been living with her in peace?  What does the 1 year spent training Popeye amount to when compared to the last 2 years of peace in my household and the next 10+ years we have together?

The short answer is no. Training is not always easy, but it is easier than exhausting yourself by putting up with 15+ years of bad behavior.  Will training end all misbehavior? No, but it will make it more manageable, and it will occur less often.  Imagine what it will feel like when you find yourself and your dog on the “admired” end of the spectrum.  Worried about using the real world to train because of that embarrassing display of bad behavior?  Well, in my experience, people either forget about the bad behavior when good behavior becomes the new norm or respect you more for putting in the time and effort to change it. Then you have the people you meet on the street that don’t believe your horror stories of the struggles you had with your dog.  If you ask me, all of those mortifying moments I had with Popeye, were just moments in time, moments that only I remember, and the further away we move from those moments the less I remember.  I am going to embrace the positive place I am at with my dog.  I am just happy we got there and I promise you will be happy when you get there too!

Go out there, train your dog, make mistakes, learn, and move-on!  Love yourself and love your dog this holiday season! Happy Holidays to all and your canine companions!

Crate Train Your Dog in 5 Easy Steps

How does crate training benefit me and my dog? Click here to find out.

Start crate training on a day when you know you are going to be home. It is best to do when you are going to be home for a few days at a time. This will give your dog plenty of time to adjust. Dogs learn and adapt at different speeds. Some may adjust to the crate within a couple of hours and some may take a couple of days. Most importantly, make the crate a positive safe place for the dog. When your dog is in the crate it should be left alone; it is a place where the dog should be allowed to enjoy some personal space and “self” time. When the dog learns that it is a safe, positive place to be, you may find that he/she chooses to go in for a snooze or just to relax.

  1. Choosing a crate to fit your dog. The crate should be just big enough for the dog to stand up and turn a FULL circle. Crates come in many different styles and made of different materials. The most common crates are plastic, metal wire, or fabric with metal frame. The plastic ones work wonderfully. They are sturdy and tend to be escape proof. They can be bulky and aesthetically invasive, when using them indoors. I prefer them for travel in the car. When put in the back of the pick up truck they aid in protection from the wind, rain, and cold. Also if you are in a car accident they roll, but the dog is generally safe inside. The wire crates are more aesthetically pleasing for use indoors and are less invasive. As far as travel is concerned they are not as safe as the plastic crates. In a car accident they may collapse. In the back of a pick-up truck there is no protection from the wind and rain but you can buy water resistant and waterproof covers for them. Rust can also be an issue. In my experience the wire crates do not last as long as the plastic crates. One advantage to them is that they fold up nicely and fit in the trunk of a car, or slide into flat crevices in the house easily. I would not recommend using wire crates for dogs that tend to be escape artists. You can make them more escape-proof by zip-tying the corners. Fabric crates are great for travelling because they fold up nicely, they are light weight, and they fit in the trunk of a car. I would not recommend them for keeping your dog safe in the car. They can be aesthetically pleasing in a house, but they are NOT recommended for escape artists or dogs that like to chew! Also they are NOT weather resistant.
  2. Teaching the “Crate” or “Kennel” Command. Choose a Command (“Crate” or “Kennel” are traditionally used) for sending your dog to the crate. Say the Dog’s name and then the command and toss some treats into the crate as you give your command. When the dog goes into the crate give lots of praise (verbal, tactile, and more treats). After a few seconds let the dog out of the crate. Repeat this exercise multiple times until the dog goes in without hesitation. Make it fun! Teach the dog that being in the crate is rewarding and safe. The next time you give the dog your “crate” or “kennel” command, shut the crate door, but do NOT latch it. Immediately open the door and praise the dog. Repeat this process over and over again until the dog appears to be comfortable with the door being shut. When it is clear the dog understands what “crate” or “kennel” means phase the treats out by only offering a treat after the dog goes in.
  3. Duration.  Gradually increase the amount of time the dog remains in the crate with the door shut. As the time increases to several minutes you can latch the crate shut. Remain in the room with the dog at first. Be sure to praise the dog for being calm and quiet in the crate. As the dog grows more comfortable with being in the crate you can practice going in and out of the room while the dog is in the crate. At first you only want to leave the room for a few seconds at a time and then return. This is to teach the dog that when you leave it is ok, because you are coming back. Gradually increase the amount of time you are out of the room.  Each time you leave the room and come back reward the dog with a treat and verbal praise.  Remember, reward only comes when the dog has been calm and quiet.
  4. Adjustment.  When the dog appears to be comfortable in the crate and you going in and out of a room for variable amounts of time, start introducing the crate in new evironments/scenarios. For example put the dog in the crate for travelling short distances in the car. Put the dog in the crate when you are home and cooking dinner and or busy with other tasks that are not dog oriented. Pretty soon the dog will learn that the crate is a positive safe place and being in the crate could resemble a variety of situations: its bed time, time to go for a ride, mom and dad are going out , but they will be back, etc.
  5. Additional tips for a well-adjusted, crate-trained dog.
  • When you know your dog is going to be in the crate for an extended period of time give him a special toy or treat to work/chew on. I recommend a stuffed kong or an antler. Whatever it is save it, for crate time ONLY! NEVER use the toy or treat to bribe the dog into the crate. Talk to your veterinarian or dog trainer about appropriate amounts of time for leaving your dog in the crate. It will vary based on age.
  • ONLY let the dog out when he/she is calm and quiet. If the dog whines or barks, calmly cover the crate with a sheet or blanket, do NOT acknowledge the dog. As soon as the dog is quiet you can let him/her out.
  • Outside of crate training, teach your dog “sit” and “focus” or eye-contact. Once your dog knows these commands and behaviors you can ask the dog to sit and give you eye-contact before letting him/her out of the crate. Think of it as your dog asking you for permission to come out, just like a child would ask for permission to go outside and play.

Please share your success stories with crate training in the comments below. If you have any other tips and tricks to crate training please share! I want to hear from you!

7 Benefits to Crate Training Your Dog

  1.  Dogs are naturally den animals.  When a dog is looking for a place to snooze, you will find that he rarely chooses a place out in the open.  He will usually choose a place where he feels sheltered, next to a tree or a wall in your house, under some sort of awning, in a corner, etcetera.  This is an innate survival instinct.  If he chooses to sleep in the open, he is exposing himself to potential danger including predators and/or the elements (cold, heat, rain, wind, etc).  A crate mimics the shelter or den a dog would choose to sleep in.  If the crate is introduced to a dog as a positive safe place to be (NOT associated with being in trouble) you might find that the crate becomes your dog’s choice location for a nap.
  2. Crate training goes “paw in paw” with potty training.  Dogs naturally do not want to potty where they sleep.  Just like humans they enjoy having a clean bed to sleep in.  The crate should be just big enough so the dog can stand up and turn around 360 degrees comfortably.  If the dog is let out frequently enough for its age and crated after each potty break it will quickly learn that outside is the place to potty.  The concept of not going potty in the crate will eventually translate to not going potty in the house.  A good reason to start potty training with a crate is because the crate is just big enough to sleep in, but not big enough defecate in and sleep comfortably in.  Your house, on the other paw, is big enough, in the dog’s mind, to have a designated potty area and a designated sleep area.  In other words the dog can potty in one room or area of the house and still sleep comfortably in another part of the house.
  3. Crate training prevents coming home to destroyed property (house, your favorite pair of shoes, that nice, expensive, new couch you just purchased for your new home, etc).  Most dog owners have a common story that they tell about leaving that first dog home alone:  ” I came home and my dog had chewed my favorite pair of shoes,” or “My brand new couch has been shredded,” or my favorite story from my parents and their first dog out of college, “We came home and Sandy had chewed a hole in our garage door.” Crates are wonderful safe places to leave your dog when you need to leave your house to run errands or go to work, but you cannot trust the dog unattended in your home.  After properly introducing your dog to the crate, it will be happy to be left in the crate with its favorite toy or chew while you run to the store to get your groceries.  And you will be happy when you come home and all of your property is still in tact.  Keep in mind the amount of time a dog can be left in a crate at one time will vary depending on the dog’s age, health, and physical abilities.  Talk to your local dog trainer or veterinarian about appropriate amounts of time to leave your dog in a crate.
  4. Crate training gives landlords peace of mind.  I have never owned a home, but I own 2 dogs and usually have a third dog in my home for training and/or fostering purposes.  Thus, I have rented for most of my adult life.  Landlords are usually hesitant to rent to people with pets and the reasons why are understandable.  They all have the stories of the people with pets they rented to and the house is destroyed when the tenants move out.  Being a dog owner and a renter for nearly 8 years now, I have managed to find ways to convince on-the-fence landlords to rent to me with dogs.  One of the biggest factors that impacted the landlord’s decision is the fact that both of my dogs are crate trained and the occasional third dog receives crate training upon immediate arrival in my home if it is not already crate trained.  The landlord’s know that when my dogs are left unattended they will be left in crates, so they cannot destroy the house or potty in the house.  Due to the use of crate training I have never had a landlord complain about damage done to their property by a dog.  With that being said, if you use “crate training” to convince a land lord to let you rent with a dog, PLEASE follow through with the crate training!
  5. Crate training makes travel with your dogs safe and easy!  The safest place for your dog to travel is in a crate in the car.  I personally prefer the plastic crates for in the car.  The wire crates can collapse in a car accident, but the plastic crates roll and do not collapse.  Crates give your dog its own space in the car and protects it from objects that may shift during travel.  It also keeps the dog contained in one place so it cannot distract the driver.  Just like they can prevent damage in your home, they also prevent damage in your car.  I recently traveled to Utah from California with my husband and 3 dogs. All 3 dogs rode in crates.  Each dog had its own crate.  Plus, we were able to pack the rest of our stuff in the car around the crates and not worry about the dogs getting squished by our stuff or the dogs sneaking a bite of our road-trip snacks.
  6. Crates are great for teaching your dog to settle.  How many people do you know with dogs that end up throwing their dogs outside or in another room because the dog is too wild, or is being a nuisance to house guests, or is begging at the dinner table?  Dogs often exhibit these behaviors due to lack of guidance, boredom, and/or the behavior has worked for them in the past.  Dogs are social animals and want to be a part of the family and the activities the family partakes in.  Of course, the family activities cannot always cater to or center around the dog.  Sometimes the dog needs to just be able to be present in the background.  This is where settling comes into play.  The dog needs to be given a place to be during family dinner.  That place can be a bed on the floor in the corner of the room or the crate in the corner of the room.  Chances are that the first several times you send your dog to its bed to settle it will get up multiple times without permission.  We do not always have the time or patience to correct this behavior by sending the dog back to the bed.  Crates provide a great alternative.  The dog cannot get up and go pester people for attention.  It is confined by the crate, but can still enjoy the company of its family and feel involved in the family activities.  The dog eventually learns that its job during dinner time is to wait quietly and patiently in the crate.
  7. Crates work wonders when it comes to managing multiple dog households.  Dogs are social animals, but when managing a multiple dog household I do not feel comfortable leaving 2 dogs alone together.  A common saying is that 2 dogs will do what one dog alone would not do.  Personally, I prefer not to find out what trouble my dogs would get into together while I am away, but I do know that they enjoy each other’s company.  Usually when I leave the house I will leave the dogs in crates next to each other.  They can enjoy each other’s company without getting into trouble.  Additionally, crates have greatly simplified the process of introducing a new dog to the household.  When a new dog comes into my household my dogs are in crates while I walk the new dog in on leash.  When the new dog has adjusted to its surroundings I will crate it and let my dogs out of the crates.  This allows the dogs to smell and see each other without being forced to interact.  Watching the behaviors of all dogs during this process allows me to assess whether the dogs are going to get along or not while keeping all dogs safe.  After anywhere from a couple of hours to a week (time will vary depending on the dogs’ temperaments) I can determine if it is safe to let the dogs interact.  If I determine that it is not safe to let the dogs interact, I continue with the “crate and rotate” management strategy.

Now that you have read through these seven benefits, you might be thinking, “I wish I would have crate trained my dog.”  Well not to worry!  Next week I will be posting on how to crate train your dog!  Stay tuned!

Thankfulness, Something to Wag About

It is the holiday season, and I am flooded with so many memories.  I remember going Christmas shopping at the mall with my parents and admiring the puppies in the the window of the pet store.  I would occasionally ask if we could buy a puppy.  My parents always answered, “No, we only get puppies from the pound.  Pound puppies appreciate you more.”  I later learned, this was my mom’s G-rated answer, to end my 20 questions.  Throughout my life my parents always preached, “adopt before shopping,” and the reason remained the same:  Pound puppies appreciate you more.

This memory got me thinking; are dogs thankful?  Everyday at dinner time, Popeye will sit at attention while he waits for me to prepare his dinner.  I put his dinner on the floor next to the water bowl, while he remains seated.  He gives me direct eye contact, then I say, “Eat-up.”  He digs in.  I trained him to do this feeding routine.  Then, every night when he finishes his dinner, he comes and sits right next to me at attention.  I did not train him to do this.  He does this on his own.  My husband always says, “He is saying thank you.”

Popeye’s small “thank-you” gesture reminds me of all of the things I have to be thankful for this holiday season or anytime of year.  It reminds me that I am entitled to nothing.  If I want something, I have to go get/earn it myself, meaning I will have to work for it.  It reminds me that I should be thankful for even the smallest things I have.  Things that may be taken for granted sometimes:  The opportunity to work, doing what I love, a roof over my head, 3 meals per day, a supportive husband, family, and friends, etc.

I don’t know if Popeye understands “Thankfulness,” but I do know that he understands that he gets one meal per day and it is earned not given.  He has to perform certain tasks to earn his meal.  He also understands that his meal comes from me, and without me he does not eat.  I also know that this “work ethic” we established in our relationship makes him a much happier dog than before.  He knows what to expect each day, and he is not guessing as to what behaviors are going to be rewarded or corrected.  This “work ethic” creates balance in both of our lives and ultimately results in a peaceful, happy, cooperative relationship.  Establishing this was not casual and did not occur at random.  It is something that we built on and continue to build on EVERYDAY!  It became/is a lifestyle!

The more I reflect on the relationships I have with my dogs and the more I observe the relationships other people have with their dogs, the more I realize these relationships are circular.  I taught Popeye what was expected from him through training and establishing household rules.  In return, Popeye very willingly gave back to me.  He reminded me that even the small things I have matter; be thankful.  The more I put in the more he gives back!  I don’t think he is keeping tabs either!  Another reminder for this holiday season:  Give without expectation of anything in return.  If Popeye does not understand “Thankfulness,” at the very least, he does embrace and value our relationship, and I think his gesture at the end of every meal is a reflection of the value he puts on our relationship.

If I learn anything from Popeye’s small “thank-you” gesture, it is that “Thankfulness” should not be a once-a-year lifestyle, it should be a year-around lifestyle.

10 Tips for Dog Owners


  1. When picking a dog to join your family, pick one whose energy level matches your life style. If you lead an active life style a dog with more energy and stamina may be a good match for you. If you lead a more laid back life style pick a lower energy, laid back dog. When you make the commitment to being a dog owner, commit to the dog for its life, and make sure you have the time and energy to fit the dog into your everyday life. A professional dog trainer can help you pick a dog with the right temperament for you.
  2. Expose your dog to as many different situations as possible. It is best to do this through socialization when your dog is a puppy. Keep your puppy’s age and stage of development in mind. Stage of development will play a key role in how your puppy reacts to each situation. A professional dog trainer or behaviorist can help you understand your puppy’s development and how to set it up for success. As dogs grow older they become more set in their ways, but they can be taught how to behave in different situations. Monitor all interactions between your dog and other people and animals. If your dog starts to show signs of high stress, end the interaction. Start with one dog or human at a time in a comfortable environment for the dog to avoid overwhelming it. Additionally, dogs have many different personalities, and just like in humans, not all personalities are going to mesh well together. Dogs do not have to like every other dog or person, and should not be forced to do so. The goal is to teach your dog to peacefully coexist with other people and animals, NOT to force it to play or interact. As you progress, you will learn which personalities your dog likes and dislikes.
  3. Learn your dog’s body language and behavior in different situations. Your dog’s body language will tell you a lot about the behavior it will exhibit next. It will also tell you whether your dog is happy or stressed (a wagging tail does NOT always mean the dog is happy). If you are not sure about your dog’s body language or behavior contact a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. Knowing a little bit about dog behavior and body language will help keep you and your dog safe when out in public.
  4. Greetings between dogs are best done from the side (nose to tail) on a loose leash. Parallel walking with the other owner and dog is always a good way to start an introduction between dogs. Some dogs may take longer to feel comfortable with the dog he/she is meeting than others. Sometimes the best approach is to let the dogs see and smell each other from a distance before allowing them to interact. Do NOT force an interaction. If one or both dogs are feeling uncomfortable give them time to adjust. Sometimes just peacefully coexisting is a success!
  5. Always ask the dog handler before you pet or approach another dog. Invite the dog to approach you before you reach out and pet him/her. If a dog moves away from you or turns its back on you, do not follow it or pet it. That is a dog’s way of saying, “nice to meet you, but I do not want to be touched.” If the dog allows you to pet it, pet it for 5 seconds and then stop. If the dog leans in for more, you can pet it again. Limit petting to 5 second intervals. When a handler says “No, please do not approach my dog,” RESPECT it. Nobody knows a dog like its handler. The handler is saying no to keep both you and the dog safe.
  6. Basic obedience training is always a good idea for all dogs and owners. It will strengthen your relationship with your dog and make life easier for both of you. Keep your training sessions with your dog short and fun. Training should be fun for you and the dog. If you get frustrated or are not having fun end the session by asking the dog to do something simple that he/ she already knows. Training sessions should always end on a positive note. A dog’s basic skill set should include eye contact or focus, heeling, sit, down, stay, come, leave it, settle (go to your bed), and peaceful coexistence with other dogs and people. Basic obedience should be practiced inside and outside of your home, and should be integrated into your everyday life. Well-behaved dogs are happy dogs and make happy owners! If you are not sure how to train your dog, contact a professional dog trainer you trust.
  7. Exercise your dog mentally and physically on the daily basis! It is recommended that you walk your dog for at least 1 hour per day. Higher energy dogs may need higher intensity exercise or longer walks. For mental exercise you can teach your dog new tricks or give it a puzzle toy or Kong. Puzzle toys are usually made so you can put food in them and the dog has to figure out how to get the food out. Buster Cubes and Kongs are the most common types of puzzle toys. The best type of mental work for your dog is training and interaction with YOU. Play games that encourage the good behaviors you teach your dog during obedience training. Make a game of obedience! A tired dog is a well-behaved dog!
  8. Give your dog and other dogs you pass on the street space. Just like humans, dogs like their personal space. The sidewalk can be tight quarters sometimes; in tight situations get your dog’s attention and give him/her a command to follow while the other dog passes. A “sit” and “focus” (on you) off to the side or “heel” are good behaviors to encourage while other dogs and people pass by.
  9. When walking your dog be sure to have the proper equipment and that it fits properly. Your choice professional dog trainer can give you advice as to the equipment that best suits you and your dog.
    • 4 to 6 foot leash
    • Collar
    • Poop bags
    • Dog treats
    • Water

10.  Always pick up after your dog. Nobody likes to step in poo!

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