Whose Ball This Is I Think I Know (Playing Fetch)

“I swear I just found it!”

Whose ball this is I think I know.

I make him throw and throw and throw.

Some will, no doubt, think him a fool

To play the role of dog-whipped wretch

And expose himself to so much drool

As he makes me fetch and fetch and fetch.

How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch

“Gimmee that ball!!”

While some dogs love to play fetch, and for dogs like retrievers the game comes very naturally. Other dogs may find the idea of fetch foreign. Some dogs don’t have much interest in toys or aren’t naturally inclined to bring toys back after being thrown. Similarly, some rescue dogs may not have had experience playing with toys as puppies and just don’t know what to do with a toy. Fetch is a game that most people want to play with their dog and it can be frustrating if you throw a toy and your dog just sits watching you or goes and gets the toy but doesn’t bring it back. Although fetch doesn’t come naturally to every dog, it is a skill that can be taught!

Supplies Needed to Teach Fetch:

Toys

When teaching a dog to fetch, I like to have an array of toys available. This will let you get a feel for what kind of toys your dog is going to like. Some dogs are ball lovers while others prefer plush toys. If your dog is really not toy motivated (especially if they are a rescue dog who didn’t have a lot of exposure to toys as a puppy) it can help to find toys that have a velcro compartment to put food in can be very helpful. I’ve even used fun fur pencil pouches filled with smelly treats for teaching fetch to dogs who are especially reluctant to put something in their mouth.

Treats

For teaching your dog to fetch you want to have a lot of small pieces of high-value treats.

Clicker

If you use a clicker to train your dog, have it ready. Clicker training can be especially useful to help you communicate with your dog in the early stages of teaching the trick.

Step 1: Teaching Hold

The first step to teaching your dog to fetch is to teach hold:

Teaching Hold

  • Sit on the floor with your dog facing you, while holding a toy show it to your dog.
  • When your dog goes to investigate the toy praise/click and treat. At this stage, you want to reward any interest in the toy.
  • Next, increase the criteria slightly. Wait until your dog sniffs the toy click/praise and treat. Next wait to praise/click/treat until they put their mouth on the toy.
  • When your dog is regularly putting their mouth on the toy, start building duration into the trick by not immediately clicking/praising the instant they put their mouth on the toy. Wait a moment, and while their mouth is still on the toy click/praise and treat. Build up very slowly, adding just a half-second and then a second before you praise/click and treat.

Going very slow here will pay off later.

When your dog is constantly keeping their mouth on the toy for a couple of seconds before you click/praise and treat you can begin introducing a verbal cue like “hold.”

  • Once your dog is keeping their mouth on the toy until you click/praise and treat you can start adding in more time. Again, go very slowly building with fractions of a second of time you are asking your dog to hold. You can also begin moving your hands off of the toy. Then quickly put your hand back on the toy before your dog drops it. Praise, take the object, and give them a treat.
  • Keep your dog successful by working at their pace building the length of time they are asked to hold very slowly. It’s much better to do many repetitions of short holds then asking for one very long hold.
“You’ll give me back my ball if I let you have it, right?”

Step 2: Teaching Fetch

Once your dog has mastered “hold” it’s time to start teaching fetch!

Teaching Fetch

  • Hold the toy out to your dog in your outstretched palm and ask them to “hold”. If your dog takes the toy click/praise and treats. If they don’t take the toy that’s ok. Just practice the above “hold” skills a little more.
  • When your dog is successfully taking the toy from your outstretched hand place the toy on the floor in front of them. Ask your dog to “hold” the toy and when they pick it up immediately praise/click. This is where having gone slowly with building understanding with your “hold” cue will really pay off with your dog being able to generalize the skill to a new location. At this point, you can start to introduce your new verbal cue like “get it” or “fetch.”
  • When your dog has been consistently successful picking up and holding the toy, start moving the toy slightly further away from you. Start with the toy right next to you.
  • Start to very slowly increase the difficulty/distance away from you the toy starts just a few inches at a time.
The goal is to break down the retrieve into very small behaviors. Your dog can become successful instead of starting with the toy next to you and immediately moving it across your yard. That would be too much for a dog just learning the skill.
  • Continue increasing the distance you ask your dog to go to get the toy. As your dog gains understanding in the game, you can begin to alternate between asking your dog to get a toy that you have placed away from you and throwing the toy. It’s a good idea to also vary the toy you are asking your dog to fetch. Practice with balls, plush toys, rope toys etc.
  • Continue to build distance very slowly and keeping your dog’s rewards very high value. You will be building a lot of value in the hold/retrieve game.
“Hey, I was the one that was suppose to fetch that ball!”

With a little patience and consistent practice, the finished skill will be a smooth cued retrieve of any toy. Just remember that for dogs, you teach to fetch the reward isn’t the game itself. Be sure to continue to reward the fetching behavior with treats.

I Hope You’re Having Fun (Biscuit on Nose)

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Training your dog to balance a biscuit on their nose is a great bonding experience. Your dog may not be so happy to wait for a treat that is right on their nose though!!

“Come on, you know this kills me to perform this trick.”

Your lack of kindness–it shows.

Your imagination? Not fecund.

You’re not the owner I would have chose;

My hate for you deepens and grows

With every single second

This biscuit stays on my nose.

Training Your Dog to Balance a Biscuit on Their Nose

With some practice and a lot of patience, you can teach your dog the treat on nose trick.

Let’s teach your dog a trick that reinforces patience with food!

Try the following steps to train the Treat-On-The-Nose trick!

(Brush up on your sit-stay before you attempt this trick.)

Your dog has to sit perfectly still to hold the treat! This trick requires a lot of patience on both parts. Be prepared to stay calm and not get frustrated. Remember this is something fun for you and your dog, not a requirement!

  • Start with a sit-stay directly in front of you while you sit in a chair. Their head should be slightly resting on your lap.
  • Put one hand under the dog’s head and raise its nose until it is level to the floor.
  • Place the treat slowly and gently on the flattest part of their nose.
“You better let me play in the mud after this!”
  • While you rest their muzzle in your hand, alternate praise with the phrase “Hold It!” in your command tone.
  • After a few seconds, release him, praise him, and let him flip the treat off his nose and eat it.*
“Finally I get the biscuit!!”
  • Repeat this process five to ten times per day for several days.
  • As your dog begins to hold their own head steady, begin to remove your hands slowly from their muzzle to let them do it alone.
“I could just roll this biscuit into my mouth!”

*Dropping the biscuit

Some dogs will drop the treat on the floor and pick it up. Others will flip it into the air and catch it. If you want the flip method and your dog is a “dropper”, immediately command them to “leave it” if they drop it. Let them take it if they flip it.

With consistency, this will condition the dog to flip it. If they do not catch it on the first flip, praise the effort with “good dog!” so that they do not give up. When they do catch it, praise vigorously!

Have fun!

“If I could just get my tongue on that biscuit!”

Why Do Dogs Chase Squirrels? National Squirrel Day!

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Why Dogs Chase Squirrels

“I’m going to get you little squirrel!”

A walk in the park or a stroll down a country lane can turn into a frenzied hunt for squirrels for some dogs and their owners! A flighty little dash of fur and suddenly your pup is off on the chase. Their prey drive kicks in and there is very little you can do when this happens.

Hunting, chasing and rushing off after small animals are a worry if you are out walking and trying to enjoy some exercise. Everyone wants to feel safe to walk in a park or open country environment with their dog.

Chasing squirrels is particularly common for breeds of dogs with instinctive desires to hunt. They get the scent of a little critter like a squirrel and Mother Nature takes over. Small breeds of dogs, like Terriers, are natural born hunters. In many situations, uncontrolled chasing can have unhappy consequences. Overcoming instinctive reactions is challenging but not impossible. Armed with patience and some helpful guidelines, you will be able to make a difference and curb this behavior.

The Root of the Behavior

Hunting

“I’m going to get you this time! That’s the last time you poke fun at me.”

Hunting is a natural behavior of animals like dogs that have descended from wolves. Nature has equipped dogs with a strong sense of smell and a desire to chase smaller creatures. Their brains are wired to respond to an animal running away with a chase reaction. Add to that some breeds are bred to track and flush out game. They are driven by the scent of the animal they are chasing and an innate prey drive response. When your dog gets into this instinctive mode, it is difficult to change their mind without some prior intervention and coping skills.

Sense of Smell

“I know I can smell a trail of squirrels around here somewhere. Can you smell them?”

A dog’s keen sense of smell is the key issue. Dogs have a sense of smell that is between 1000 to 10,000 times more powerful than ours. Some dogs, like Beagles, are incredibly scent driven. Dogs also have a large olfactory center in their brain where they can store all the information about smells they know. The scent of squirrel is probably high up there on the list of scents to remember. In some cases, long after the squirrel has disappeared, your dog will carry on the chase just because they still smell the scent of the squirrel.

Squirrel: “Maybe if I just act like a dog, he won’t notice me.”

The hound group of dogs is especially scent driven. It is a good idea to find out about a breed and it’s instinctive behavior before you contemplate having them join your family.

Positive Reinforcement Obedience Training

A good place to start correcting the behavior is with some basic obedience training. If you are aware that the breed you have is a member of the scent hound division, then keeping their focus on you is going to be very important.

Your dog should focus on you while on walks when you notice something that may trigger your dog to misbehave.

Attending obedience classes and learning the basic commands of sit and stay will give you more control. Reward your dog for listening and being focused on you. Little treats that they really love will give the message that you have a better reward to offer than the squirrel in the tree. Correcting instinctive behavior is challenging. While you are trying to correct the behavior walk on a leash or even use a Head Collar to have control over lunging and pulling.

Avoid areas with lots of squirrels while you are training. Start your obedience activities a fair distance away from the squirrel zone and move closer as you see your dog being more focused on you and less on the squirrels.

Prey driven behavior may need the help of an animal behaviorist if you are not able to deal with this yourself.

Encouraging the Behavior

Squirrel chasing is always going to distract your dog on a walk as it buys into their prey drive instinct. The natural sequence of predatory action is:

  • search
  • stalk
  • chase
  • grab

It is important to watch out for the initial stages of this sequence and intercept before the chase begins. Try to watch your dog and anticipate the beginning of the sequence and intercept with a distraction. A noise distraction is often successful as this will draw attention away from the squirrel even if it is just for a moment. A tin full of coins to shake or loud whistle could be the noise distraction.

Join a Group For Tracking Dogs

The prey driven dog or scent hound may actually bring you a lot of joy if you recognize their natural ability and join groups of other dogs and their owners participating in tracking events. Training with other dogs and rewarding your dog for the behavior they were bred to do could be great fun for both of you.

Find dog tracking groups at: https://www.akc.org/sports/tracking/getting-started/

Scent Game at Home

Learn how to play scent games at home or in your backyard.

Start with a few bits of kibble or a treat and let your dog search for the treats. Say ‘find it’ or ‘go fetch’ as a command and then build on the experience by hiding treats in more difficult places. You will be rewarding your dog for using their natural instinct and challenging their mental and physical abilities. Although chasing squirrels is not to be encouraged, participating in scent trail groups and organized activities is a great idea.

Search and rescue activities and agility are all the kinds of dog outlets that will go a long way towards enjoying the instinctive nature of your dog as a true blue hound.

Other Solutions and Considerations

Your dog’s safety is always of paramount importance and therefore encouraging random chasing in public places poses dangers to the dog and other citizens. Starting obedience training early on in your dog’s life will help enormously to give you the upper hand.

Trying to break the pattern of a prey drive instinct will require patience and determination. You will always have to manage your walk with care as you look out for the instinctive signs of a chase mode. Getting your dog to focus on you is the important behavior you are looking for.

Remember the chase is enjoyable for your dog. They are having fun while you struggle to get them under control. Some breeds are more driven to chase than others, so take that into consideration and find activities to allow for this instinctive desire to chase. Your prey driven dog will thank you!

Patience Will Pay Off

“I know I’m not suppose to chase after that squirrel, but he’s been mocking me!”

Preventing squirrel chasing could be almost impossible with some breeds of dogs but you may be pleasantly surprised when some of your patience and time spent training pays off. Imagine how you and your dog will feel after a round of ‘find it’ in the park when you have a moment of success.

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Fido.

Fido who?

Fidon’t catch that squirrel, I am going to go nuts!

Chloe LOVES Looking For Squirrels

“What kind of creature are you?”

Chloe loves squirrels. Whether it’s sitting inside looking out the window for squirrels or walking and catching a glimpse of one before I redirect her attention. She’ll try sneaking on them if she’s in the backyard, but she’s not very good at sneaking!

She’s only caught one squirrel that had an injured leg (squirrel was too slow!). Chloe only had it gently in her mouth, then dropped it when I yelled at her to drop it! The squirrel wasn’t injured by Chloe and ran away.

On walks when she sees one, she’ll start whining and do her little jumpy dance. I just have to redirect her with a little “Ah, ah” and she will stop with a little huff. (She gets mad that she can’t play with the squirrels!)

How To Stop A Dog From Digging

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Why Do Dogs Like to Dig Holes?

“There has to be some treasure here somewhere!”

Do you need to know how to stop a dog from digging up their yard? Just why do dogs dig holes? And how can we keep dogs from digging under fences and in flower beds?

If your puppy has been digging holes in the flower bed every time your back is turned, or every time you try and plant something in the flower bed, you are probably wondering how to stop them.

To stop a dog from digging effectively, it’s important to understand why they are digging holes. Dogs dig holes for lots of different reasons. Once you know why your dog digs holes in the yard, you’ll have a better chance of stopping them effectively, without conflict.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons your dog might be digging. And what you can do to prevent him from digging.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Digging?

There are two possible ways to stop a dog from digging. One is to prevent access to the area they like to dig. The other is to work out why they are digging, and then tackle the root cause.

Erecting a fence to separate your dog from any area that they could potentially dig is something that you could consider. If your puppy is still small, then you could use a puppy pen to prevent them from getting access to their desired area.

However, most people do not want to fence their backyard. They would rather enjoy spending time in it with their dog – but without fear for their rose bushes!

So let’s look at alternatives to fencing your dog out of their favorite digging zones.

Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?

To understand how to stop a dog from digging, your first step should be to establish why they are doing it.

There are a lot of possible reasons that your dog could be digging. These include enjoyment, prey drive, accidental reinforcement from the owner, excess energy and even escape efforts!

Let’s look at each of the potential reasons in turn, and what you can do to help stop your puppy digging in each scenario.

“Where did I put that bone?”
  • Temporary Changes: Stress-Related Digging
  • Digging For Fun
  • Digging to Hide Food
  • Dogs That Have Learned to Dig
  • Dogs Digging to Solve A Problem
  • Energetic Dogs That Dig
  • Dogs Digging Under Fences to Escape

Temporary Changes to Your Dog’s Situation

Pregnant bitches can dig when they wouldn’t ordinarily, due to instincts to create a place for their pups.

Likewise some dogs dig when they are anxious. This stress can be caused by a new environment or change in lifestyle. For example if you have gone on holiday and someone else is caring for them.

Provided things go back to the status quo soon, then this digging behaviour should reduce once normality returns.

If your pregnant bitch starts digging in a way which is out of character for her, then it’s worth waiting to see whether this behavior stops once she has had her litter of puppies.

However, if your puppy or dog is a keen digger and the behavior has increased gradually over time, then you will need to take action to stop your dog digging. What you should do to prevent dogs from digging holes will depend upon the reasons why they are digging them in the first place.

Dogs Enjoy Digging!

“Is this hole big enough for your flowers?”

Some dogs dig just for the fun of it. This is more likely to be the case with Labrador puppies than adults. Some dogs will lose interest in digging as they grow.

Sometimes a dog that digs for fun will continue doing it into adulthood however. This is something which certain breeds of dog, such as Terriers, are more inclined to do because of their ancestors’ roles.

For those dogs who continue to enjoy digging, there are ways to channel this enthusiasm more productively. One which a lot of people find success with is in making them a dedicated digging ground. This will usually consist of a structure much like a children’s sandpit. You can encourage them into it if they are reluctant to go by offering treats and standing in it yourself. However, most dogs upon realising that there is an easy to dig surface will happily redirect their efforts to it.

Rather than trying to prevent dogs from digging, in this scenario we just give them their own dedicated digging zone! The dog is still happy, and so are your rose bushes!

Dogs Digging to Hide Extra Food

“I have to hide this in a hole where I can remember for later.”

Dogs will also sometimes hide surplus food, so if they are given a large chew toy or bone to gnaw on for example, they will dig a hole to put it in when they have temporarily had enough.

If this is the only circumstance in which your dog is digging, there are a few ways in which you can stop them.

One is by only giving bite size treats which they won’t be inclined to store. Another is by supervising them when they have a large bone or chew toy. Either taking it away as soon as they are bored with chewing or eating it, or only letting them have it indoors where they haven’t got the option of digging.

If your dog is young, you can try giving them access to these things outdoors again in a few months when the habit has worn off.

Dogs Who Have Learned to Dig

The answer to the question ‘why do dogs dig holes?’ is sometimes “because someone accidentally taught them to”!

They have have been accidentally taught to dig by their owners, or rewarded by the things that they have found.

‘Just doing what needs to be done!”

If you are a keen gardener then your dog might have observed you shoveling soil on several occasions. You may even have laughed or encouraged them at some point when they tried to get involved.

They could also have found something tasty in the soil once, and effectively reinforced their own behavior and been encouraged to keep trying.

If this is the case you can break this habit.

First prevent access to the area of the garden that their efforts are focused on. Although this can be tricky, putting up temporary fencing or only exercising them on a long line for a while in the yard can break the habit effectively.

You may find if you do this that after a few weeks you are able to give them access to this area again without the behavior restarting. Although I would advise leaving them indoors when you do your weeding in the future!

Is Your Dog Digging to Solve a Problem?

“I love the feeling of smushed mud on my belly!”

Occasionally a dog will dig because it helps to solve a problem that they are having. The most common example is probably a lack of somewhere soft or cool to lay down. If the weather is hot and your dog digs a hole and lays down in it, they are probably trying to cool off. You can stop them from doing this by providing a shaded area or paddling pool for them to play in.

Likewise, if the weather doesn’t seem to be a factor but they are still resting in their newly turned out hole then it could simply be that the undug ground is too hard to lie down on.

Providing them with an alternative place to rest will mean that they don’t need to dig to achieve it. Perhaps an outdoors waterproof bed or a pile of straw, depending upon the set up in your garden.

Energetic Dogs Dig More

“Gotta dig. Gotta dig. Gotta dig!”

A lively dog might decide to start digging to burn off some of their energy. If they don’t have space to run, or have missed out on routine daily exercise, then they will find other ways to stretch their legs.

In addition, dogs with more prey drive may transfer this very specific energy to digging! Labradors, for example, were bred as gundogs. They have a certain level of inherent prey drive.

This may be transferred to digging if they have seen or smelled rabbits or other animals popping in to visit your back lawn. They are digging to try and get at the rabbits. Or other creatures that they can smell have been around the yard earlier.

If your dog is digging because they are bored or looking for prey, then keeping them busy when they are in the garden will help.

There are a couple of ways to keep your dog busy in the yard. You can try some games or do some fun bits of training. Make sure it is a positive experience for them. The excitement you offer is greater than that which they got from burrowing into the ground.

Try keeping their favorite toy just for yard time. Get some new special treats that you give for high reward training outdoors.

Dogs Digging to Escape

“I need to get to those pesky squirrels!”

If your dog is digging under fence lines because they want to get out of the back yard, this can be tricky to deal with. Especially if they have self-rewarded by managing to escape in the past.

Dogs are more likely to repeat a behavior that results in “things improving” for them. If your dog is digging in order to leave your yard, or just to be able to see out past the fence line, the solution is to make sure they get no ‘reward’ from doing this.

How to Keep Dogs From Digging Under Fence Boundaries

The best thing you can do is to enforce the fencing under the ground so that it is impossible for them to achieve anything.

Make sure that it is not just wire, as being able to see the outside world may be reward enough for them to keep doing it. A dig proof fence should be a visual barrier as well as a physical one.

If you can entirely block your dog’s visual access to the world beyond your back yard, they will over time give up on their endeavors.

But it is vital that you make sure they don’t gain anything from doing it. So make sure they don’t get out, or get to see more of the world by digging.

If they do, they will keep on trying to dig under the fence in the hope of another reward!

How to Stop a Dog From Digging

“I love helping out!”

Hopefully I’ve shown you that knowing how to stop a dog digging will depend partially upon why they started doing it.

You may find that solving this problem is simple once you have established why your dog is doing it. Or you might have to implement several of the options above to resolve the problem. For example, restricting access to certain areas of the garden and putting a digging zone into another.

Whichever method you use to prevent your dog digging in your backyard, make sure that you don’t fall out with them. They are not doing it to annoy you.

And although it might be frustrating or time consuming temporarily, it is totally within your power to stop them kindly but effectively.

Dogs and Cats Can Get Along With Proper Introductions

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The Easiest Ways to Introduce Dogs and Cats

Yes, dogs and cats can get along with each other if they are introduced properly. They may not become best friends, but they will understand how to live with each other.

If you already own a dog but are interested in getting a cat, you may be thinking about the process of introducing them to each other. But the steps to introduce dogs and cats is a bit trickier than just sticking them in a room together. (Doing this will cause harm to both and may lead to death.)

To make sure the introduction goes smoothly, plan ahead. You might need plenty of time for your dog and cat to get acquainted. 

Here are the easiest ways to prepare.

Choosing The Right Cat

Before you get a cat, you’ll want to consider the various cat breeds. Each breed has a different personality, so do some research before you make your decision. Interact with the cat you plan on getting for a while before you bring them home.

Try and imagine how its personality will mesh with your dog’s. For example, if your dog is the type to chase things, your best bet is to get a cat that is calm and confident. A shy cat may end up being afraid of your dog.

If you think your cat’s nervousness may be temporary, you can ease the transition with cat treats CBD or calming pheromones to help your feline stay calm.

Separate Dogs and Cats Temporarily

Before you introduce them, you should give them time to get used to each other’s scent. This means confining one animal and letting the other one roam. Rotate which pet is confined and which is roaming for a few days.

This is a great way for both pets to see each other without either one getting hurt.

When it comes time for them to meet, they won’t be as surprised by each other. This would also be the time to assess how the meeting might go.

If your dog digs at the barrier that is keeping them from the cat, the interaction might not work out. At this point, you may want to consider pursuing training.

Choose The Right Location

If you’ve decided to adopt, Do Not try and bring your dog to the shelter where you are adopting your cat from. This could make him feel scared. Also, it’s a health concern. The first interaction should take place at home.

Have somewhere the cat can escape if they want to get away like a cat tree.

Make sure the space you choose to introduce them is large, but not so large that they could end up freaking out and running away. If you don’t have control of both pets, you may find them chasing each other.

Use Leashed Introductions

“Ha ha! You’re all tied up while I have the run of the house!”

Before you let them interact on their own, you should let them meet each other while leashed. You can continue doing this for several days until your dog isn’t bothered by your cat.

If either animal displays aggression or fear, you may want to backtrack and continue keeping them separated for a longer period of time.

If there is no one home, make sure one of or both of the animals are confined so they cannot interact with each other unsupervised.

Unsupervised Interactions

Once both animals feel relaxed, it may be time to let them interact on their own. Only allow this when you are sure that neither animal will hurt the other. It can take about a month to reach this point.

Poor kitty is too scared of the pup. You should back track with a barrier in between until they feel comfortable around each other.

If it takes longer than this, don’t feel discouraged. Every animal is different, and it’s impossible to tell how the two personalities will interact. The important thing is that you don’t force it. Eventually, they won’t feel so shocked or threatened by each other.

Training Advice

If your dog remains focused on the door blocking them from your new pet cat, distract your dog with treats or by guiding them away on a leash.

Lure your dog away with treats from where the cat is.

Once your dog is no longer near the cat, offer them a treat. Repeat this process several times until your dog loses interest. Over time, this will teach them that they shouldn’t stay fixated on what’s on the other side of the door.

Chloe and Twinkie Meeting Each Other

Couple of months after adopting Twinkie.

Deciding to Adopt a Cat

After two years of having Chloe, my husband and I decided to adopt a cat. I was volunteering at a shelter at the time and saw the perfect cat. She just arrived at the shelter after being on the streets. I asked if I could foster her while there was still a hold to find if she had any owners. Well, that turned into us keeping her! When we first brought her home, she was kept in the bathroom to calm down and Chloe couldn’t get to her.

Twinkie getting used to our house.

Chloe was very interested in what was on the other side of that door! We kept Chloe away from the door with treats and toys.

Getting the Smell of Each Other

After a couple days, I switched blankets so Twinkie could smell Chloe and vice versa. Chloe of coarse sniffed the blankets so deeply. Twinkie could care less!

Meeting Each Other

When a week went by and Chloe was more familiarized with Twinkie’s smell, we introduced them to each other by having Chloe in her cage and having Twinkie roam around. This gave Twinkie time to get used to the house and could see Chloe.

Chloe, being so nosey, really wanted to meet Twinkie. So after Chloe calmed down, we switched pets in the cage. That way Chloe could sniff her up close without getting hurt and scaring Twinkie. Twinkie sniffed back and was very calm.

Leashed Chloe As Twinkie Ran Around

Next, we put Chloe on a leash and let Twinkie roam around freely. We wanted to let her know that she can run away from Chloe if she got tired of being around Chloe. She came around slowly at first because Chloe would whine and want to play with her!

Supervised Meeting

About two weeks after either having Chloe on a leash or Twinkie in a safe area where Chloe couldn’t get to her, we did a supervised unleashed greeting. Chloe sniffed at Twinkie as Twinkie was trying to rub on Chloe. It was a great match!!

Introducing dogs and cats takes time and patience.

Counter Surfing: Catching Your Dog in the Act

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Does Your Dog Like to Counter Surf and Look for Food?

“Can you give me just a little bit?”

Put yourself in the dog’s paws and place your favorite food on the counter when you are hungry. Now walk past and see if you can resist taking a bite. The most realistic solution to counter surfing is to use a combination of management and training techniques to make it easy for your dog to avoid temptation.

Training Techniques:

  • Blocking access to places where food is left out by using baby gates or putting the dog in another room when you have company means there is no opportunity for your dog to fail.
Just make sure they don’t have spring loaded legs!!
  • If this is not a realistic option, you can try tethering your dog to you so that they are with you at all times.
  • If you are working in the kitchen and unable to use a baby gate, draw an imaginary line along the floor and teach your dog to stay behind that line.
  • To do this, you need to first teach a reliable ‘Stay’ cue so your dog understands what is expected of them.
  • If they cross over the line, gently block them with your body until the go behind the line again. If you reward them at intervals while they stay put, they will see this area as a good place to be.
I trained Chloe to lay on the couch while I’m in the kitchen working.

Using the training command “Go To Place” can help tremendous when you don’t your dog in the kitchen. Especially when you are trying to prepare a mean and don’t want a trip hazard of your dog trying to find food you drop!

“At least I can watch while my human plays with food.”

How to Catch Your Dog In the Act of Stealing Food:

  • Put some food on the counter and then walk away to a place where you can see the food but where your dog thinks he is not being watched.
  • Pick up a magazine or pretend to be doing something else so they think you are not paying attention to them.
“Are you not paying attention to me? Maybe I can sneak some food!”
  • Wait for them to go up to the counter, and just before they jump, ask them to ‘leave it’.
  • If they back away, praise them.
  • If they take the food, calmly remove what is left and repeat the process, putting the food in a less accessible place to make it harder for them to be successful. When they are responding well, gradually move the food back to the place they previously took it from.
  • Start this exercise using low-value food before making it more difficult with the yummy stuff.

What Not To Do:

Some people use ‘scat mats’ to keep their dogs off of countertops and furniture. Although you may see short-term success in that your dog stays off the counter, the trauma of being shocked can cause emotional complications. Your dog may not want to come into the kitchen at all, and could even start having accidents in the house as a result of the stress and anxiety caused by being shocked.

Why Does My Dog Need to Know This?

  • Not only is counter surfing annoying for people, but it is also dangerous for dogs.
  • Stealing food can lead to ingesting plastic wrapping or eating food that is toxic to dogs.

Clicker Training Is An Easy Teaching Method

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Clicks Instead Of “Good Dog” For Dog Training

There are many different types of tools for training dogs. Clicker training is the first major improvement in dog training since choke chains and spiked collars. “Click and treat” has quickly established itself on becoming a big hit in the world of training dogs. Currently, there are over 10,000 trainers who are using this training method everyday.

Easy for Dog and Trainer

One advantage to using this form of training at home is its easy to learn for both the dog and his trainer!

Originally used to train marine mammals, click and treat breaks down the process into two separate steps, information and motivation. The click is the information, the treat is the motivation. While other trainers still work on these two steps, they try to teach them all at once, which can confuse the animal and slow down results. The animal confuses why the clicker goes off and they just want to get the treat!

Using Clicker VS Lure

Most trainers will verbally praise a dog for good behavior, while at the same time motivating the dog to repeat their actions. This can be a good method, however it takes longer for the dog to understand which behaviors and actions caused the praise from the trainer.

With the click and treat method, the processes are easily taught. In normal training, a person would say “good dog” when a welcomed action occurs and proceed with giving a treat. The clicker becomes a substitute for verbal praise and can actually catch the good boy behavior quicker than saying it, letting the dog know exactly which behavior he is being rewarded for. (As long as you click at the right time of the dog performing the behavior.)

Clicker Training Becomes Second Nature

Another way to look at click and treat training is viewing it as a secondary reinforcement, while food, water, physical affection and play (things the dog wants) become primary reinforcement. Like when you take a dog for a walk, the leash works as a secondary reinforcement.

It is obvious to the dog that the leash is not taking him for a walk; the owner is. However, it triggers a reaction in the dog, telling them that the leash will let them know where they will go and where they will not. And if they react to the leash with good behavior, their reward will be a nice leisurely walk.

Working With Clicker Training

Click and treat works the same way by letting the dog know when they have done a behavior you want. When a dog hears the clicker, they will know that they performed a good behavior and as long as they keep hearing a click, there is a treat coming their way. So, the clicker works as a secondary reinforcement, teaching them boundaries and appropriate behavior.

A couple advantages of the click and treat method include:

  • Faster response than verbal praise. The clicker can identify the exact behavior at the time it happens.
  • It takes the place of treats. While motivating the dog to hear clicks, it will also teach him to work without the expectations of having treats given to him each time he does something good.
  • If the trainer is working at a distance from the dog, the clicker will still work, without having to be right next him.

Are you ready to try clicker training?

The first thing you’ll need to do is go to your favorite pet supply store or online and invest in a clicker. The clicker is nothing fancy and should just cost you under five dollars. While you’re there grab some pocket treats. I like to work with treats that you can split into pea size treats.

A good method to use when getting started with click and treat is to stand in front of your dog. Click the clicker and give a treat. Continue doing this for 20-30 minutes at different intervals to get your dog to understand that when they hear a click, they get a treat.

This will familiarize them to the clicking sound, while teaching them that every time they hear it, they have done something good. After they get the hang of it, begin by adding commands, such as sit and stay.

Click Training Is a Simple Alternative to Verbal Training

Click and treat has proven to be a simple, yet consistent training method with quick results. So for the trainers out there who are looking for a new and innovative way to motivate and praise their animals, get out there, buy a clicker and… click!

Crate Training Your Dog Is Beneficial

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“I love sleeping in my own bed!”

Crate Training Is A Kindness And Helpful Routine

All training starts with taking advantage of your dog’s natural inclinations to reinforce the behavior you want. The only place your dog will not most likely make a mess is their sleeping place. Crate training works with your dog’s instinct. They never have the opportunity to be bad.

Why Crate You Dog?

Crate training is fairly easy. The rule is: if you are not actively paying attention to what your dog is doing, your dog is in the crate. Period. Even if you’re in the same room. If you’re not watching your puppy, they are in the crate where they can’t get to anything bad. If you think caging your dog is cruel, it’s actually beneficial for them as it is to you. Its worse for your dog not to know the rules of the house and get into bad things or even goes potty when your are not looking.

Your dog may whine and bark the first couple of times being in a crate. Do not let them out until they are quiet. Then they will begin to understand that when they are quiet, you will let them out.

*Never use the crate as a punishment. This will only make your dog associate bad things and not want to go into the crate.

Crate Sizing

Finding the right size of crate for your dog is very easy. At full growth, your dog should be able to stand up without the top touching and they should be able to turn around. With puppies, you want to separate the empty space to just where they can stand and turn around. While they are growing, make sure to give them enough space.

Don’t Leave Them In Their Crates for Hours

“I got worried and thought you were never coming back!”

Crate training is not an excuse to ignore your dog for hours at a time. A puppy cannot go more than a couple of hours during the day without a bathroom break. If your dog learns to mess in their crate, the behavior is very difficult to correct. Its one of the biggest challenges when adopting strays or rescues from shelters. It can be done, but requires patience and dedication.

Potty Time Intervals

Dogs should be taken out at regular intervals:

  • when done eating meals
  • after naps
  • after play sessions

*Dogs should never be in a crate for more than 8 hours.

Potty Time is Business Time

When taking your dog out just for a potty break, there should be no playing until your dog has done their business. Teach them to potty in one certain area. Put the collar and leash on, take the dog to a specific spot you want them to use for their toilet area. Give your dog a command go potty. If they go potty, reward them with praise and cookies. Say something like “good go potty”. Of course you can use any words you want. Just be careful not to use the phrase under other circumstances.

Sleeping In a Crate

Your puppy should also sleep in their crate, ideally in your bedroom. Dogs are social animals. They need to know their pack or family are close by. I like making the crate like a den by putting blankets over the top and sides. This helps with light shining in and your dog can’t see every move you make.

If the dog wakes you in the night, take them out on a leash. Give them about 10 minutes to do their business. Go back inside, pop them in their crate (small treats can be given), say goodnight and go back to bed. Don’t let the dog outside by itself, even in a fenced yard. Again, this isn’t playtime. You don’t want to be yelling for your dog to come back inside while everyone is trying to sleep!

While Your Dog is Outside of Crate

As your dog learns what’s expected of them, the next phase is to keep the dog on leash, out of the cage. Tie the leash around a belt loop so that you can go about your daily routine with both hands free. Keep one eye on the dog.

When you see their gotta go signals, drop what you’re doing and go. Some people are successful in hanging a bell on the doorknob. They ring the bell whenever they take the dog out. The dog learns, over time, to ring the bell when it has to go. Others teach their dogs to speak as a signal to go out.

My dogs are always crate trained when I leave the house. At this point, they see me reaching for their treats (which sometimes are toys stuffed with a little treat) and they run for their crates. It’s their room, a safe place they can always go to.

Crate training with Frankie. He loved his private place to sleep.

Just a note of caution and safety: never leave a collar or harness on your dog in the crate. It can get caught and cause problems.

How To Stop Possessive With Food

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Train Your Dog Not to be Possessive Over Their Food

Though sometimes we would like to believe otherwise, food is a dog’s first priority, so the first step to successful training is to establish yourself as the leader. This can be achieved by showing them that they can only have their food at your discretion and command. It is a very scary situation when your dog is possessive of the food and/or toys.

Be The Leader

Start with given them their dinner and allow them to eat for a few seconds. Then take the bowl away from them. 

Use an appropriate sound each time you pick up their dish, such as “leave” or “stop”. Keep the bowl for a few seconds. Provided they haven’t shown any aggression as you removed the bowl, tell them ‘good dog’ and give the food back. Allow them to continue eating. Repeat this two or three times during each meal for a few days, then once or twice a week for a few weeks.

Why Are Dogs Possessive of Food?

Some dogs are never possessive with their food. You may find if your dog came from a large litter, the only way they could obtain their share of the food was to threaten their brothers and sisters.

Finding this action achieved their desired result to get more food. They may well try it with you. If you don’t sort this out very early on, this possessiveness will transfer to other things such:

  • as bones
  • toys
  • furniture and so on
  • perhaps even to other members of the family

To stop them from being aggressive with their food, don’t give them possession of it! By this I mean feed them by hand for a couple of weeks. Prepare their food in the bowl as usual, but don’t put the bowl on the floor for them. Simply feed them a handful at a time. The bowl of food on the floor almost instinctively makes them want to guard it. If they are not put in this position of needing to guard, they will not bite!

Don’t just leave food down for the dog to guard.

Feeding by hand also helps if your dog is dominant in other areas. It makes them completely reliant on you for the most important thing in their life, their food. This will reinforce your position of pack leader, as they are only receiving the food from you and not from the bowl. 

You can also use this period of hand feeding to your benefit by making them display some minor obedience and manners expected from you for some of the food. Get them to sit first before one handful, or to lie down for the next, and so on. Don’t make them run around for the food as this could cause digestive upsets.

Dog Starts to Understand They Don’t Have to Guard Their Food

You will find that after a couple weeks of this regime, their general attitude over possessions will change. You can then try giving them their food in a bowl again, and, provided there is no sign of aggression, continue to feed them normally.

Possessive Over Toys and Bones

For dogs that are food possessive, do not give them bones or toys, as they will attempt to guard these in the same way. Once the food possession has been sorted out, you can try introducing a toy, but make sure the dog understands that it is your toy, and they are only allowed to play with it with you, and when you decide the game is to end, you must end up with the toy.

Barking Dogs Shouldn’t Become a Problem

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Don’t Let Your Barking Dog Drive You Crazy

You love your dog, but the barking can sometimes be – a lot! It can be really annoying to you and your neighbors if it becomes incessant barking. So what can you do to control or reduce your dog’s barking and make him the most loved dog on the block?

Traditional Methods

First off there are the traditional methods. Dog training and dog obedience schools help train the dog and also teach you how to handle your pet too, so that you can grow a lasting bond with your dog. Of course if you take your dog out and give them lots of exercise they’ll be a lot less inclined to bark. A tired dog has less energy to bark and a tired sleeping dog can’t bark at all!

Here’s a list of six techniques that can help stop your dog from barking.

While all can be successful, you shouldn’t expect miraculous results overnight. The longer your dog has been practicing the barking behavior, the longer it will take for them to change their ways.

Some of these training techniques require you to have an idea as to why your dog barks. 

Always remember to keep these tips in mind while training:

  • Don’t yell at your dog to be quiet—it just sounds like you’re barking along with them.
  • Keep your training sessions positive and upbeat.
  • Be consistent so you don’t confuse your dog. Everyone in your family must apply the training methods every time your dog barks inappropriately. You can’t let your dog get away with inappropriate barking some times and not others.

Remove the Motivation

Your dog gets some kind of reward when they bark. Otherwise, they wouldn’t do it. Figure out what they get out of barking and remove it. Don’t give your dog the opportunity to continue the barking behavior.

“My job is to protect this house. I will bark at anyone that comes close!”

Example: Barking at passersby

  • If they bark at people or animals passing by the living room window, manage the behavior by closing the curtains or putting your dog in another room.
  • If they bark at passersby when in the yard, bring them into the house. Never leave your dog outside unsupervised all day and night.

Ignore the Barking

If you believe your dog is barking to get your attention, ignore them for as long as it takes them to stop. Don’t talk to them, don’t touch them, don’t even look at them; your attention only rewards them for being noisy. When they finally quiet, even to take a breath, reward them with a treat.

To be successful with this method, you must be patient. If they bark for an hour and you finally get so frustrated that you yell at them to be quiet, the next time they’ll probably bark for an hour and a half. They learn that if they just bark long enough, you’ll give them attention.

“PAY ATTENTION TO ME RIGHT NOW!!”

Example: Barking when confined

  • When you put your dog in their crate or in a gated room, turn your back and ignore them.
  • Once they stop barking, turn around, praise them and give a treat.
  • As they catch on that being quiet gets them a treat, lengthen the amount of time they must remain quiet before being rewarded.
  • Remember to start small by rewarding them for being quiet for just a few seconds, then working up to longer periods of quiet.
  • Keep it fun by varying the amount of time. Sometimes reward them after five seconds, then 12 seconds, then three seconds, then 20 seconds and so on.

Desensitize Your Dog to the Stimulus

Gradually get your dog accustomed to whatever is causing them to bark. Start with the stimulus (the thing that makes them bark) at a distance. It must be far enough away that they don’t bark when they see it. Feed them lots of good treats. Move the stimulus a little closer (perhaps as little as a few inches or a few feet to start) and feed treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things (treats)!

Example: Barking at other dogs

  • Have a friend with a dog stand out of sight or far enough away so your dog won’t bark at the other dog.
  • As your friend and their dog come into view, start feeding your dog treats.
  • Stop feeding treats as soon as your friend and their dog disappear from view.
  • Repeat the process multiple times.
  • Remember not to try to progress too quickly as it may take days or weeks before your dog can pay attention to you and the treats without barking at the other dog.

Ask your dog for an incompatible behavior

When your dog starts barking, ask them to do something that’s incompatible with barking. Teaching your dog to react to barking stimuli with something that inhibits them from barking, such as lying down on their bed.

“No I’m not the butler.”

Example: Someone at the door

  • Toss a treat on their bed and tell them to “go to your bed.”
  • When they’re reliably going to their bed to earn a treat, up the ante by opening the door while they’re on their bed. If they get up, close the door immediately.
  • Repeat until they stay in bed while the door opens.
  • Then increase the difficulty by having someone ring the doorbell while your dog is in bed. Reward them if they stay in place.

Barking Can Be Good

Sometimes barking is good. It’s your dog’s main way of communicating with you. They may have heard or smelled something and wants to let you know. Just acknowledging them may well stop the barking, they know you’ve heard and understood. If your dog continues to bark, try a “NO”, or “Quiet” command. When they stop barking, reward them so that following your commands becomes pleasurable to them.

Keep Their Mouth Full!

“This is what I’m going to do when I catch you squirrel!”

Giving your dog something to chew on is also a good deterrent to barking. How many dogs have you heard barking with their mouths full? All your dog’s attention is now on the new squeaky toy you gave them!!

Barking Collars (After Trying Traditional Methods)

If the traditional methods don’t seem to be working it may be time to try a barking control collar. Many of these work by using sound so that the desired behavior, (in this case stopping barking), can be associated with the sound. Some of the more sophisticated, and of course expensive, models also use electric shocks to deter the dog from barking.

Types of Detection in Bark Collars

There are two types of bark detection used in Bark control collars. The sound collar uses the noise of your dog’s bark to activate and the vibration collar uses the vibrations from your dog’s throat.

Neither type is perfect. The sound type can be set off with sharp loud external sounds and the vibration type from violent motion such as your dog drying himself. There are collars that combine the two methods and these help reduce the false readings.


Whichever method you use, barking can be brought under control in a reasonably short space of time, so persevere and enjoy your dog for years to come.