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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
Does Your Dog Like to Counter Surf and Look for Food?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
When it comes to dogs, it’s time to reject the idea that work is work and fun is fun. School is in session every time we interact with our dogs— even during lighthearted play, they are always learning.
Here are seven fun games that teach dogs practical lessons that will help them be upstanding members of society. (These descriptions highlight the benefits rather than provide step-by-step instructions for each game.)
Consider this game if you’re convinced that your dog doesn’t like to play; once they’ve been enticed into a game of chase, you may see their fun side come alive. Another plus: when you want to reinforce your dog but have no treats or toys handy. Chase can be a go-to way to make your dog glad they listened to you. And, because it teaches your dog to move toward rather than away from you, it can help with recall training.
For it to work, your dog must always chase you, not the other way around.
“Chase” can easily turn into the not-so-wise-or-fun game of “let’s nip the human’s ankles, legs or behind”. For the right dog played the right way, it can be a fantastic way to teach. Your dog to pay attention to you because you’re fun, and lays excellent groundwork for a reliable recall. Change directions often. To avoid trouble with an aroused dog becoming mouthy, stop running before your dog gets to you.
I advise against children playing this game unless the dog has a proven record of being able to handle it without becoming overstimulated.Even then, only with adult supervision.
When we think about playing with dogs, this is the game that most often comes to mind. Fetch is a cooperative activity, and each player has a role that must be fulfilled for it to work. (Many people tell me that their dog loves to play fetch. Then go on to say that the dog chases the ball but won’t bring it back, or won’t drop it. That’s not fetch—that’s running after a ball and hoarding it.)
Fetch has a lot to offer, including the skill of dropping an item upon request. It also provides opportunities to work on high-level obedience. After a few throws, during which the dog has retrieved an item, brought it back to you and dropped it at your feet. Take a short break and ask them to do something specific. Sit, down, high-five or any behavior they can do on cue. Then resume play. Adding this training into a game of fetch can be done sporadically so that most sessions are pure fun and games for your dog.
By switching between the excitement of running and the discipline of responding to a cue, the dog learns to transition between high arousal and being calm. Teaching dogs to have an on/off switch develops emotional control that will serve them well throughout life. (Another perk: Your dog gets exercise without much effort on your part. It’s particularly appealing when you just want to enjoy your morning coffee while your dog burns up some energy.)
3. Find Your Treats.
Dogs have a lot of fun with this deceptively simple treasure hunt. But the “treasure” must be something your dog cares enough about to search for. It gives your dog mental exercise. This game keeps them occupied for a while and is a great party trick that allows your dog to show off.
Begin by putting some treats on the floor or furniture without your dog seeing you do it. Say the cue (“find it” or “find your treat” are frequently used) and tap or point to the treats. Repeat … a lot … over many days or weeks. When your dog starts to look for the treats upon hearing the cue, drop the tap or point. Once your dog is familiar with the game, have them stay, then release them to find the treats. At first, hide the treats before you ask them to stay. After your dog’s stay is solid, you can have them do so while you hide the treats. Either within sight or even in another room.
If your dog is a food-guarder, skip this game. Also, it may teach your dog to sniff around and get into stuff.
Here’s another game that teaches your dog to go on a search, but with you as the focus of the quest. It’s a great way to practice and improve a dog’s ability to come when called. To play, they must already know what “come” means.
Call your dog when you are partially out of sight. Perhaps crouched down next to a piece of furniture or behind a plant that doesn’t entirely conceal you. When your dog finds you, reinforce them with top-quality stuff . Treats, a toy, a bone, a chew, play time or a walk. Gradually work up to more obscure hiding spots, until you can be completely hidden from sight when you call them.
Add in “stay” practice by putting your dog on a stay, hiding, then releasing them and calling their name to come. For many dogs, the anticipation of being released makes them respond even more enthusiastically when called.
Expect your dog’s recall to improve dramatically if you play this game on a regular basis. You are teaching your dog that “come” means to do it even if you are not in plain view. Because it’s a game with reinforcements, dogs find it fun and worthwhile.
Playing this game when you are out in a (safe) off-leash area teaches your dog to keep an eye on you, and helps them understand that if the two of you become separated, they should look for you. And vice-versa—it’s not one-sided.
Disappearing around an aloof dog outside may not prompt any concern at all, and disappearing from view around a clingy dog anywhere may be upsetting.
5. Family Circle.
This is a special kind of hide-and-seek in which dogs are told to find a specific person. To play, the dog needs to understand and respond to the “come” cue.
I’ll use a scenario with Chloe as an example. First, one person says, “Where’s Erin?” and then I call Chloe. If she comes to me, she gets reinforced, but if she goes to somebody else, she gets ignored. Once I have reinforced the dog, I say, “Where’s Ben?” and then my husband calls the dog to come.
Most dogs learn people’s names quickly and begin to head to the right person once they hear the name, even before the cue. At that point, you can mix it up— sometimes calling them to come (to maintain a strong recall), sometimes saying only “Where’s [name]?” Once the dog can succeed in that context, up the stakes by having people stay out of sight, perhaps in other rooms, so the dog needs to search.
Learning the names of everyone in the family is more than just a cool party trick or a practical way to locate someone. It’s also another way to give the dog exercise without a lot of work on our part.
There are many reasons to play tug with dogs. One of the most obvious is that so many of them love it.
a way to provide a dog with exercise in a relatively small space
help them stretch before another activity or rev them up before a competition (if that leads to a better performance).
The game requires that a dog knows (or learns) how to respond to cues to take a toy and to drop it, which are related skills. Incorporated into the game itself, they are easier to teach. The game is the reward for taking an object, and dropping it can be reinforced with a treat and then resuming the tugging.
These skills can be useful in real life as well. Use “take it” when you want your dog to carry something small for you, or “drop it” when they’ve gotten hold of, say, the title to your car!
With tug, many dogs also learn to control their mouths and the emotions that can cause their mouths (and the rest of them!) to spiral out of control. Contrary to once-popular opinion, it will not make a behaviorally stable dog “turn aggressive.”
This game can be problematic for dogs who guard objects or those who become aggressive when highly aroused. It’s best for dogs who do not struggle with impulse control or bite inhibition.
7. Red Light, Green Light.
This one, borrowed from a game enjoyed by human children, teaches dogs to listen to cues even when excited. The impulse control involved in repeatedly stopping and starting is a great life skill that often spreads to other contexts. Sometimes, a dog who is having trouble with self-control will be able to pull it together after several of the transitions between the excited running and stopping that make up the core of this game. Other dogs calm down if you play it in a very tranquil, slow manner. Different styles of the game work best for different dogs.
It can be played one-on-one in the living room or during a walk, or in teams in a class setting, with multiple dogs competing to reach a finish line. In order to play, the dog needs to be able to watch the human member of the team and respond to a “sit” or “down” cue.
When they hear “green light,” dogs walk or run next to their human. Then when they hear “red light,” they must stop and lie down or sit (depending on the skill being worked on and which cue the dog is capable of responding to).
If the game is played in class, the dog is unable to lie down or sit on cue within three to five seconds, the team pays a penalty —taking three steps backward or returning to the start line, for example.
There is more to playing with our dogs than just having a good time, though that’s certainly enough to make it worthwhile. While you and your best friend are having fun, the game serves double duty as a practical way to teach important skills.
Training With Your Dog Is FUN!!
Think of it this way: in the name of training your dog, you’re totally justified in putting aside housework to play with them. Three cheers for being practical!
Parents of small children know sleepless nights are bound to happen, but what about pup parents with dog sleep? Many dog owners learn the hard way that like babies, dogs don’t always respect your desired sleep schedule. You love them, but that doesn’t mean you love waking up multiple times a night to deal with their crying and acting out. All you want is to help your dog sleep through the night.
Puppies don’t sleep through the night because they’re still working on house training, but it’s also a common problem for adult and senior dogs. No one can be happy when they’re forced out of bed still exhausted, and solving the problem of your dog’s sleep schedule will help everyone in the household. Before you get started with a plan, first figure out what’s causing your dog’s sleepless nights.
Reasons Your Dog Doesn’t Sleep at Night
They need to go to the bathroom.
Owners of new puppies need to accept the fact their sleep schedule will be interrupted for at least the next few weeks. Like babies, puppies are still growing, and that includes developing the muscles and self control needed to hold their pee.
According to the Humane Society, puppies can control their bladder for about one hour for every month of age. That means a four-month-old puppy can go four hours before needing to go to the bathroom. With consistent house training and time, they’ll be able to wait longer between bathroom breaks and won’t need to wake up at night.
They’re not tired.
This one seems obvious, but it’s also one of the most common reasons why dogs don’t sleep through the night. Dogs that spend the majority of the day alone do a good amount of daytime snoozing. There’s nothing else for them to do, and it’s either sleep or find ways to get into trouble. Without the chance to exercise, all their energy continues to build. Sleep Advisor tells dog owners,
“Lack of activity is going to cause anxiousness and severe buildup of unused energy – this will undoubtedly result in the absence of sleep amongst other conditions of the kind.”
What’s more, older dogs showing signs of dementia may be experiencing disruptions in their sleep-wake cycles as a side effect of the condition. Learn more about dementia in dogs here.
Separation anxiety can affect dogs of all ages. New puppies sometimes cry if they’re forced to sleep away from their owners, and older dogs develop anxiety issues that lead to behaviors like whining, barking, and destroying things.
They’re in pain.
It’s hard for people to fall asleep when they aren’t feeling well, and dogs have the same problem. Stomach aches, joint pain, skin issues, and other side effects of injury or illness are more than enough to keep a dog from a good night’s rest.
How to Help
Once you figure out what the underlying problem is, you can move forward with a solution. For some dogs, a simple change to their routine will be all the help you need. For others, you’ll need to try different ideas to find what works best. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
1. Provide more mental and physical stimulation.
If your puppy or high-energy dog is roaming the house at night or doesn’t want to settle down once bedtime comes around, filling their day with more exercise will help. Dogs need a minimum of one hour a day of exercise, and they benefit from all the extra enrichment and stimulation you can give them.
If you work all day, consider hiring a dog walker to interrupt your pup’s lazy day of napping. That extra activity will help tire them out in preparation for bedtime. The amount of exercise a dog needs to reach the right level of tiredness will depend on their age, breed, health, and personality. You don’t want to force them into too much exercise, but it’s important to find the right balance. Brain games like puzzle toys and snuffle mats also help by engaging their minds.
2. Take bathroom breaks before bed.
When your pup is getting up every night to go to the bathroom, make sure their tank is empty before they hit the hay. Eating shortly before bedtime can help them fall comfortably asleep with a full tummy, but drinking too much water at night won’t help them sleep until morning. Make it a part of your daily routine to go out for a bathroom break right before bed.
3. Keep evenings calm
Before you take your dog out for their last-chance bathroom break, gradually lull them into a peaceful night. Dogs base their emotions and actions largely on what their owners are doing and feeling. If you’re agitated, for example, your dog will pick up on those vibes and act similarly. If you’re calm, they’ll take the hint and begin to relax alongside you.
You can’t expect your pup to flip their switch the moment you’re ready for bed. The hour or two before you usually go to bed should be deemed quiet hours to help your dog adjust to the end of the day.
4. Start crate training
Training a dog to sleep comfortably in their crate will deter them from getting up and wandering the house. Many pet parents prefer to have their dogs sleep in bed with them, but crate training can help stop bad habits like waking up in the middle of the night. The key is to make being in the crate a positive experience for the dog. It should never be used as punishment, and instead, it’s the place your pup feels safest.
With time, your dog will be content to stay in the crate as part of their nightly routine. Once they’re sleeping soundly through the night without getting up, you can try having them sleep in bed with you.
5. Make them comfy
Whether you choose to have your dog sleep in a crate, on a doggy bed, or somewhere else, they need to have a designated spot that is nice and comfy. Give them soft blankets to snuggle with, and if they have an emotional attachment to a particular toy, make sure they have it before you fall asleep.
Different dogs like different things, so experiment with your dog’s sleeping arrangements to find what they like. Test having the lights off versus having a night-light and determine whether they like cool surfaces or something with extra warmth.
6. Address medical issues
If you suspect an injury or illness is keeping your dog up at night, it’s time to visit the vet. In some cases, pain medication can be used to help ease soreness and help the dog relax. Restless nights could be your hint that your dog is suffering from an undiagnosed medical condition and needs your help. There’s also the chance biting pests like fleas or mites are irritating them. Either way, your pup won’t sleep soundly until you find and treat the root problem.
Sometimes not sleeping through the night is a phase your dog will grow out of. Other times, some new habits need to be made or broken in order to get you and your pup on a healthy sleep schedule. It will take more than a few days, but consistent training and effort will make a difference. Once you determine the reason behind your dog’s wakefulness, experiment with these different methods to help you both start snoozing all night long.
How to Potty Train a Dog When You Live in an Apartment
When you get a new puppy, potty training is often at the top of the to-do list. If you have a yard or outdoor space, it can be a little easier, but when you live in an apartment or high-rise, the logistics of getting a puppy outside when they have to go RIGHT NOW gets more difficult.
The Potty Training Basics
Before we get to the logistics of potty training your dog in a high-rise, let’s review some of the basics of house training in general.
How long they can hold it
First, a good rule of thumb is that your puppy can hold their bladder for one hour for every month old they are. For example, if your puppy is 8 weeks old, they probably can’t hold it for longer than 2 hours. When they hit 12 weeks, it’s around 3 hours. Puppies can usually hold their bladder for a little bit longer when they’re sleeping (until they wake up) and will need to go very soon after eating or playing.
It’s also important to supervise your puppy at all times to catch any accidents and keep them out of trouble until they get older. When you’re home, use an x-pen or baby gate to keep your furry friend contained, but at night and when you have to leave the house for work or errands, consider crate training.
Crates are supposed to be spaces that keep your puppy cozy, so they shouldn’t have a lot of extra room, but your pup should be able to stand up and turn around. When used properly, it becomes a safe place they enjoy being, so never use the crate as a punishment. It’s okay to give your puppy breaks or time outs in there, just make it a positive experience and reward them for going in.
Frankie and Chloe are both crate trained. Most of the time, dogs won’t go in confined areas, but there are accidents that happen. As a puppy, Frankie would have A LOT of accidents in his crate.
Remember that the puppy needs to adjust to your lifestyle.
Speaking of punishment, never punish your puppy for having an accident. Even if you think they’ve got it down, mistakes happen. When you yell at them or push their nose in it, your puppy will either learn that they can’t eliminate in front of you without getting in trouble (so they’ll try to be sneaky about it) or have no idea why you’re upset and just get scared. Keep it positive, reward them for doing it right (treat/praise/favorite toy), and simply clean up and move on if they have an accident.
I can understand that his part of training can be exhausting. Having a puppy is very fun, but there’s work and training with a puppy and any new dog you bring into your home.
Signs Puppy Has To Go Potty
If you learn to watch carefully for their signs — sniffing around more than usual, circling, suddenly running over to the corner or another room, etc. — you’ll be able to catch your puppy before an accident happens.
House Training in a High-Rise
Okay, you’ve got your crate or x-pen set up for when you leave, but how do you potty train your puppy when you can’t get them outside quickly? Luckily, there are a few solutions and tricks to make your life — and your puppy’s life — easier.
Use pee pads
Pee pads are great because they are easy to move around, pick up, and take with you if you’re heading to a friend’s house or taking a trip and will be in a hotel. Put the pee pad in one place in the house (near the door is your best bet for when your dog gets older and will go to the door when they need to go out anyway) and if you see your puppy start to eliminate in the house, simply pick them up and move them onto the pee pad. It’s also easy to situate a pee pad in an x-pen if you want to give your puppy a little space when you’re gone.
When I was training Frankie to potty, I used pee pads. Frankie thought they were something to chew on! He would sniff around and act like he was going to potty on the pad. Then all of a sudden, he would run with it in his mouth around the house.
Make sure your puppy isn’t just chewing on the pad!
Put a grass patch on your patio or terrace
There are several companies that will mail you a patch of sod for your dog to do their business on. Some are just patches of grass and others have containers to put the sod in so you can empty any waste that might drain out. There are also fake grass pads that you can wash off. Get a dog waste container to put any poop bags in so it doesn’t linger and smell, then just empty the container when it’s full.
Get your puppy on a schedule
Eventually, your dog will be able to hold it long enough to get them down the stairs or elevator and outside. While you may want to keep pee pads or your grass patch around for times when you can’t (or don’t want to) go out, it can help your dog to get on a schedule for when they are supposed to eliminate. When you get a young puppy, try to take them out as often as possible: In the morning when they get up, after breakfast/before you leave for work, at lunchtime, after work, after dinner, before bed, etc. As they get older, you may be able to get away with a schedule such as before and after work and before bed.
While it may initially feel like a daunting task, with a little preparation and consistency, house training your dog in apartment life isn’t that much different than anywhere else.
How to train with positive reinforcement when your dog won’t take treats (or can’t have them due to a restricted diet).
Many dogs will “work” for ordinary kibble or cookie-style treats at home. But need a higher-value treat in order to focus on you and your cues when in the face of a more distracting (or more stressful) environment. And some dogs get too stressed in public to take any treats, no matter how meaty and delicious. Finding a non-food reinforce is critical for training these dogs.
I use treats when I train. So do my clients. Now positive reinforcement training has a 25-year-plus track record in the dog world (supported by studies that affirm its effectiveness). The use of treats in training has become widely accepted and embraced.
There are times, however, when you can’t use treats. Perhaps your dog isn’t particularly motivated by food. Maybe there’s a medical reason your dog can’t have food right now. Or perhaps (horrors!) you ran out of treats.
The good news is that food isn’t the only form of reinforcement we can use in training. There are a number of others ways you can reinforce your dog’s behavior.
NOT FOOD MOTIVATED? Try Positive Reinforcement
The fact is, all dogs must be food motivated, at least to some degree, or they truly will starve. We all have to eat to live.
But it’s true. Some dogs are more interested in food than others. Labrador Retrievers are notorious for being “food hounds”. In fact, a recent study found this breed is more likely to have a very strong interest in food because they have a specific gene mutation associated with food obsession. (Flat-coated Retrievers have it too, but it has not been found in any other breeds.)
Still, all dogs must eat, so the first questions we need to ask are:
Why is my dog not more interested in training treats?
Are there things I can do to increase my dog’s interest in training treats?
If I can’t get him to be more interested in treats? He can’t have treats right now for some reason. Inexplicably, I ran out! Are there other reinforcers I can use in my training program?
There are several reasons why your dog might not appear to be motivated by food during training:
We always want to consider and rule out or treat any possible medical causes for or contributors to a behavioral challenge, including anorexia. If your dog truly has little to no interest in food (if you have not already), please discuss this with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
There is a long list of possible medical reasons why your dog may not be interested in food. Some of them are very serious.
Treats are low in value to your dog.
Perhaps you’ve heard the suggestion to use your dog’s regular kibble for training. This could well work for a Lab and for other very food-focused dogs. But for dogs who aren’t as interested in food, kibble just might be too boring.
Easily bored with your high-value treat.
Some dogs get bored with (or just too full to be very interested in) a great number of the same delicious treat. Be prepared with a list of treats your dog considers high-value. When their interest in one starts to wane, switch to another.
Most dogs love chicken (baked, boiled, or thawed-out frozen chicken strips), and yet we often see dogs tire of it at our academies. They are plied with training treats throughout the day.
Other treats dogs tend to love include roast beef, cheese, cooked hamburger, meatballs, peanut butter squirted from a tube, ham, baby food – the list is endless.
If your dog is less than enthusiastic about food, the longer your list of potential high-value treats needs to be.
Your dog is easily distracted, or the environment holds too many or too highly disturbing distractions.
If your dog is on the mild-to-moderate end of the food-interest continuum, environmental distractions can serve to deflect their desire for treats. Especially if they are easily distractible, and/or if you haven’t done your homework to generalize her behaviors to a variety of different locations.
If this is the case with your dog, try higher-value treats. Do more training in a less distracting environment before generalizing to more distractions. (Your backyard might seem perfect – but not when there are squirrels racing around the trees, or the neighbor’s dogs are barking at you through the fence.)
Your dog is not hungry.
This is a concept totally foreign to your average Labrador. A lot of dogs who are not as crazy about food as the Lab will be less enthusiastic about working for treats if they just finished a meal.
This is an easy fix. Schedule your training sessions before mealtimes, not after, and don’t feed your dog just before training class.
Your dog is stressed.
This is one of the most commonly overlooked reasons for dogs to turn up their noses at their training treats. It is biologically appropriate, for survival reasons, for their appetite to shut down when your dog is stressed. When the brain signals “danger,” the last thing an organism should do – if they want to survive – is stop for a bite of food. The part of the brain that controls appetite turns off until the danger is over.
Reluctant to Take Treat
If your dog is reluctant to take treats because they are stressed, you may be able to tempt them with higher-value treats. The best solution is to figure out how to make the stress go away – or at least decrease enough so they can happily eat again. (If they can normally take a treat gently, but in a stressful situation goes from not taking the treats to blindly grabbing at the food, sometimes getting your fingers in the process. Their stress level is still too high for effective learning. Move farther from the stressor.)
Sometimes a dog will learn to take treats in the face of their stressor just through habituation (they just get used to it). Although a concerted effort at counter-conditioning and desensitizing her to the stressor tends to be more effective and faster.
In some cases, if the dog’s stress levels are persistent, behavior modification drugs are in order. This calls for another discussion with your vet. If your veterinarian is not behaviorally knowledgeable, she can schedule a phone consult with a veterinary behaviorist for assistance in determining what medication(s) might be appropriate for your dog. Your vet can find a list of Certified Veterinary Behaviorists at dacvb.org/search.
One of the great things about using food as a reinforcement in training is that the dog can eat the treat quickly and immediately go on to the next behavior. But anything your dog perceives as “good stuff” can theoretically be used as a reinforcer.
Play, for example, is an excellent, very strong “other” reinforcer for many (but not all) dogs. Keep in mind, however, that other reinforcers can take more time to deliver and regroup from. Thereby are more likely to interrupt the flow of training.
Now that the use of food in training has become so widespread, it’s easy to forget that there are a multitude of other ways of reinforcement your dog’s behavior.
The definition of a reinforcement is “something that causes a behavior to increase“. In positive reinforcement training we teach our dogs that certain behaviors make “good things” (reinforcers) happen. So our dogs learn to offer those behaviors in order to make good stuff happen.
It is what we call a primary reinforcer, meaning it has innate value to the dog. Dogs don’t have to learn to like food; they are born looking for their mother’s milk.
Verbal Praise Reinforcement
A scratch under the chin feels good – it has innate value – so that’s another primary reinforcer.
Verbal praise is a secondary reinforcer. It takes on value through its association with a primary reinforcer such as food treats, excitement, and scratches under the chin.
Toys as Reinforcement
Toys are also secondary reinforcers; they take on value through their association with the predatory chase response. (Doubt this? Have you never met a dog who was initially mystified and uninterested in toys? But learned to play with them over time?)
HOW TO USE A NON-FOOD REINFORCER
If you want to (or have to) make use of reinforcers other than food in your training, try this. Start by making a list of all the other things your dog loves. Here are some potential non-food reinforcers:
Tennis balls, or balls with a pleasing squishy texture
Playing “chase me” games
Going for a ride in the car (a chief pleasure for some dogs, aversive for others; know your dog!)
Swimming (again, it’s important to know your dog; some hate water!)
Sniffing Performing a favorite trick for an appreciative audience
For each item on this list, write down how you might be able to use that as a reinforcer in your training program. Some are easier than others. Here are some examples:
Use sniffing to reinforce your dog’s polite leash walking.
Have your dog walk politely with you for a reasonable stretch (short enough that they can succeed!). Then give them a release cue and say, “Go sniff!”. (This works especially well at first if you give them the “Go sniff” cue when you know you are near something that they would like to sniff.)
Use tug to reinforce your dog’s “Stay.”
Have your dog stay for whatever length of time they are able (set them up to succeed!). Return to your dog, mark them for staying, give your release cue, then invite them to tug.
Remember to pause various lengths of time before your release cue, so they don’t start anticipating the release. You can even remind them to stay. Hold up the tug, put it behind your back and hold it up again, several times, so the mere sight of the tug toy doesn’t become the cue to release from the stay. This, by the way, is a great impulse-control exercise.
Use a squeaky toy to lure and reinforce sits and downs.
To lure a sit, hold the toy over your dog’s head the way you would a treat. When they sit, squeak and toss the toy.
To lure a down, slowly move the toy toward the ground and, when she lies down, squeak and toss. If that doesn’t work, move the toy under your knee or a stool, so they lay down to crawl after the toy. When she does, squeak and toss.
Use a tennis ball to reinforce your dog’s recall.
They come when you call, you mark them for coming, and then throw the ball for them to chase. If they are one of those who won’t bring it back, have several balls within reach so you can call them back and toss the next ball when they come. If you want them to sit in front of you as part of your recall, wait for them to sit before you mark and throw.
Your Dog’s Reinforcers
Now take your own list of reinforcers and write down scenarios that incorporate them into your training program. You will likely find some reinforcers that are impractical for training (say, the dog who loves to roll in deer poop). But you should end up with a treasure trove of possibilities!
Your Dog’s Secondary Reinforcers
There are secondary reinforcers that you would like to use that your dog isn’t already enthusiastic about? You can “charge” them by associating with something your dog already loves.
Want your dog to be happier about your verbal praise? Repeatedly praise them and then throw them beloved ball. They will begin to associate praise with the joy of chasing a squeaky ball.
When they are not crazy about car rides, start taking short car rides that always end up at someplace wonderful (such as the swimming hole, if they love swimming).
You get the idea. Whether your dog won’t take or can’t have treats, if you look for and create a good long list of other high-value options, you will always be prepared to reinforce your dog. They will love you even more for that.