How Can I Tell If My Pet Is In Pain?

How Can I Tell If My Pet Is In Pain?

Very important Information

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Dogs are one of the most stoic of animals.  This means that we often take for granted that everything is normal with them and they are fine.  We may not realize that something is wrong or that they are in pain until there is a serious problem.  You may find yourself wondering how you can tell if your dog is in pain?  It’s not always easy but there are a few things you can look for.

First and foremost, you should always observe your dog to see if he’s acting normal.  Is he doing something that he hasn’t done before?  Does he just seem “off” in some way?  Very often an owner may not be able to put into words what’s wrong with their dog but they know that something isn’t quite right.  If you feel this is the case with your dog it may be a good idea to take your dog to the vet, just in case.

Other signs that your dog may be experiencing pain can include:

  • limping

  • favoring a leg or some other part of the body

  • whining or whimpering especially if you touch them somewhere

  • lack of appetite

  • acting listless or without energy

  • seeming dull

  • not playing

  • slowness getting up or down

  • biting their sides or stomach

  • licking somewhere on their body (such as their leg)

  • acting very submissive or very aggressive, especially if this is out of character for your dog.

These are just a few of the possible signs that your dog could be experiencing some kind of pain.  If you believe that your dog is in pain you should remember that a dog in pain may snap or bite, due to the pain, so be careful not to do anything that could hurt him accidentally.  For instance, if your dog is limping, try not to move the leg around to see what’s wrong.  You could make the pain worse and cause your dog to snap at you as a reflex.

If you suspect that your dog is in pain for any reason you should take him to your vet as soon as possible.  He or she will be able to check your dog and make a diagnosis.  Your vet will probably need to ask you some questions about what your dog has been doing, what he’s been eating and anything else that could have led to a problem.

Some kinds of pain are acute — they may come on quickly and feel sharp to your dog.  Other kinds of pain may be chronic and dull.  These may be long-lasting and come on slowly, such as arthritis.  Your vet may need to perform different kinds of tests and lab work to determine exactly what your dog is experiencing.

Once your vet has made a diagnosis he or she will be able to prescribe a treatment for your dog.  The treatment will, of course, depend on the diagnosis.  Many kinds of pain are treated with anti-inflammatory such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).  Chronic pain associated with arthritis can sometimes be reduced by helping your older, overweight dog lose a few pounds.  Massage can help some kinds of pain.  Too much exercise may be a bad thing for some conditions, but some forms of exercise can be helpful.  For instance, swimming is often recommended for dogs with arthritis and joint pain.

Talk to your vet about your dog’s diagnosis and find out how to handle any recurrence of pain.  You may be lucky and any pain your dog is experiencing will be a one-time occurrence that is easily treated.

Dog Park Etiquette

Dog parks are not for everyone and certainly not for every dog.  Personally I’m not a dog park person but many of my clients enjoy taking their dogs to the dog park for interaction with other dogs.

Dogs are pack animals and accordingly, enjoy running and playing with other dogs.  If they are available in your area, dog parks are a great place where your dog can run off leash and socialize with other dogs.  Not only do they please your furry companion, but you can feel like a good owner in knowing that your dog is getting their social needs met.  As an example, Nashville, Tennessee, Morton Bay Regional Council in Queensland Australia also has several fenced in dog parks where your dog can be let loose to run and play.

Even though dogs are allowed to be off leash, they must still, obviously, be supervised by their owners.  The dog park environment seems relaxed and in the dog’s favor, but you still have the potential to maintain teaching your dog to be obedient.  Many dog park guests simply sit on the bench and wait for their dog to wear themselves out so they can leave.  Doing this is neglecting your responsibility to your position as your dog’s master and teacher.

In such an atmosphere, there is the potential for your dog to cause problems that you might not notice if you allow yourself to disconnect from your animal while they are at play.  To prevent such skirmishes and to remind your animal that they are still to obey you, take the time to do the following steps the next time you are out at the dog park.  Making sure your animal is still listening and obedient, even while excited and at play, will ensure their safety and fun while out.

1. Practice periodically leashing your dog and removing him from the fenced area.  Go over a few basic commands he is used to, such as sit or stay, and reward him before returning him to playing.  This technique reminds your animal that obeying you is still important, even when he is having tons of fun or is distracted.

2. When dogs are loose and at play, dominance aggression is sometimes an inevitable occurrence.  Social canine aggression can lead to dangerous tiffs in which your dog, or someone else’s  dog, could get injured.  You can minimize the potential for aggression cropping up by reminding your dog and nearby dominant dogs that you are in control of him.  Do this by calling to your animal by name while they are at play, having him come to you and petting him before allowing him to return to the other dogs.

3. Be careful to keep a close watch on your dog and to dissolve or remove him from bad situations with negative behavior.  Red flags include tense or aggressive body language, mounting, intense staring, snarling or nipping.  While in a pack, as is the case in dog parks, dominant dogs have a tendency to single out submissive ones.  If your dog lies on their back, tucks in their tail or begins to urinate, make sure to remove him immediately, as this is a sign of being overwhelmed by stress and fear.

Good trips to the dog park can be a great experience for both you and your dog. Remember a tired dog is a happy dog and playing at the park can give your dog the much-needed exercise he needs.

Can You Train Your Dog Not To Bark?

So you’ve adopted a dog. He loves you, he keeps you company, he runs with you on evenings. The only problem is that he seemingly loves you too much. He barks when you put him to bed or you aren’t home. Is there a way to fix this problem or will you forever be plagued by angry notes from your neighbors?

Dogs usually bark for one of two reasons: they are scared or (more likely) they want attention. Habitual barking will always be a desire to get attention as there should be no reason that your dog is perpetually scared.

Oftentimes, without knowing it, we are training our dogs to bark. We shower them with affection and attention, spoiling them right to the second we have to go to bed or leave for work and then they are left with nothing to do. They get bored and want us to entertain them, so they bark. And then, as soon as they start barking, what is our automatic response? “Quiet!” or “Shut up, I’m trying to sleep!” We yell at them, but all this really does is says “If you bark, I will eventually have to give you verbal attention.” This trains them that barking will get them what they want, which just feeds the bad habit.

In order to get them out of the habit of barking, we have to stop reinforcing this behavior and treat the actual problem. The problem is that they are spoiled and bored. A good pet owner can fix both of those things.

First of all, your dog doesn’t need your attention all of the time. Practice a more distanced relationship with your pet so that he isn’t totally reliant on you for entertainment. Sit on a different side of the room from him from time to time and make a habit of devoting a specific chunk of time for snuggling on the couch or petting your pup, do not continue to have physical affection permeate your relationship when you are home. Just because you and your animal are in the same house or room does not mean you should be being affectionate all of the time. Save praise for when your dog does something good or right, not because he is just there.

Another tip is to keep him entertained. Purchase some chew toys or a Kong ball so that he has something to do that is not related with you and so that he will not rely on you for entertainment. Chews and toys should keep him busy while you aren’t home and stop him from finding the need to bark.

If things get really bad, desperate measures can and should be taken.  Bark collars can be purchased at any local pet store and electrically stimulate a dog when they bark. You can even purchase ones that increase in intensity if your dog continues to bark or if they bark louder. Contrary to popular belief, electronic bark collars do not harm or traumatized your dog. Mostly, they just frighten your dog and get your dog to associate that confusion and shock with barking, encouraging him to no longer do so.

Be a good pet owner and take the time to train your dog that barking isn’t accepted.  Your sleep schedule and your neighbors will thank you.


Super Bonus “Dog training tips”

Dogs, like little ones, tend to have a quick attention span.  It’s fundamental to have your dog’s attention and end your training before they lose attention.  Puppies tend to be completely hyperactive and can be over stimulated.  Using a touch and simple sounds is one way to communicate naturally with pet dogs.  They don’t understand key phrases, so they must be conditioned to what the sound means.

A clicker could also be used.  Use it to generate a “clicking” sound to acknowledge that the dog has done the behavior/behaviour you sought after.  Then give the reward and praise. The dog begins to associate the sound which has a treat, which makes them wish to keep doing it regularly.

Try to always use hand signals with all your commands.  In fact, I find it more useful to train your dog using hand signals before teaching them with phrase commands.  Once your pet knows the behaviour that’s anticipated, it’s easier for him to associate with the word used.

To have him obey the stay command, call your dog’s name and make use of the hand signal you chose along with the command sit.  Gently, nevertheless firmly push down on his hindquarters, while gently pulling up on the leash.  When he does the sitting position right, use the clicker, praise him and allow him a treat/pat/praise.

If you have a puppy, first let him get used to a collar and leash by itself.  Let him run around the house or yard wearing the collar with close supervision, dragging this leash.

Although holding the leash, you can keep a treat inside your hand.  Hold your hand by your side, at about the dog’s head height to get him walking alongside you.  Then make him stop and sit for any treat.

When walking your dog, it’s important to maintain the leash short. When it is necessary to do a correction, do it easily, and then relax this leash again.  Mastering some sort of walk with your dog is one of the most beneficial things that you can do for bonding with ones companion.

To get your dog stay, first have him sit.  Then use your hand signal while telling him to remain. When he does, give him praise.  If he does not stay, put him back in position and start again.

Again, be patient, but firm. Much like in the stay command, you start by putting him in a sitting position.  With your dog sitting, give the straight down command, then slowly push on his shoulders and push him off-balance at the same time.  If your dog learns this command, you can keep him away from many bad habits.

First choose a mat or dog bed that’s easily movable

Put your dog on a leash and walk with him toward this bed. When you are generally about two feet away, give the command, “place”. Once your dog gets on this bed, stand there with him about to 20 seconds, then give him the command to leave the bed, (“release” or “okay”) and guide him away from the bed.

If the dog leaves the sleeping pad before given the relieve command, say “no” and take him back to the mat.  Try this exercise several times daily.  Gradually, give the place command further from the bed and leave him for a longer period of time.

These are just a few training exercises you’re able to do to develop a well-behaved pet.  First and most fundamental, be patient!  Your dog will love to please you, he just has to be given time to learn precisely what is expected.

The arrival of a new puppy is a monumental event for almost any household.  Children swoon over their adorable new puppy, babying and pampering the new puppy.  Even the grown-ups can’t help coddling and playing with the little animal.

Although introduction of a puppy can be a joyous occasion for absolutely everyone involved, it should not overshadow the fact that the cuddly new arrival brings with it many additional responsibilities.

The fundamentals of this are to make sure that the cute new puppy learns how to behave and adjust to its new surroundings.  Dog training is necessary to teach your new pet to respond to your commands.  While there are many commands you can teach your dog, the most important among them is the recall command.  Most dog owners are going to master this command before attempting any others.

Your recall command, often vocalized being a short, sharp “come!” is the main command you can teach your dog.  The recall command is something that has to be taught when the dog is young, making that adorable brand new puppy the ideal candidate to teach this to.

Safety can be a major reason why many owners are going to teach this command first.  A dog who masters the ‘come’ command can easily be called away from a dangerous location or situation.  If you are confident that the dog will run back after you call correctly, you can give it more freedom to go around and explore more than you otherwise would.  Additionally, the come command is a superb way of retrieving your dog if you lose sight of him.

While the concept of the recall command is easy, teaching it is unfortunately difficult.  All dogs, certainly young dogs are naturally excitable and inquisitive.  If left alone their natural tendency is always to run around, sniff things and explore their environment.  Getting them to triumph over these natural traits which are a single command is not an easy task.  Sadly there is absolutely no silver bullet in training your dog to respond to this “come!” command.  It takes a long time, repetition and a lot of love and patience.

The following are some useful tips to help teach your dog the recall command:

1. Never punish your dog if he is slow to respond to your recall command.  Irrespective of how long he takes to actually come to you when issuing the command, usually reward and encourage him or her when he finally arrives.  Punishing him for being late only will make him think twice the very next time you call him – making your job twice as difficult.

2. Do not practice the recall command in public areas, as it could be dangerous for a dog. Always practice in some sort of controlled environment until you are ready to try it in some sort of public space.

3. Remain positive when issuing this command.  Your dog will detect your verbal cues of course, if you stay happy even though calling it back, it’s going to associate the recall command being a positive thing that pleases his master.

4. Practice the recall command in a safe and secure environment where you’re pet is comfortable and feels safe.  A dog will not run towards you if it fears due to the safety.

5. When obedience training your dog, stick to one command at a time.  Trying to teach him several commands at the same time will only confuse him or her.  Stick to the recall command until you are sure your dog has perfected it before moving to the next one.

Your approach to dog training has a big impact on the actual training results that you will get. As long as you might have the right mindset about dog training, you can be sure that your puppy will grow to a well-mannered dog that you can be proud of.

Aside from having the right approach, you would also be wise to follow the most useful principles of dog training.  Here are the top five dog training tips that may assist you mold your dog to a positive addition to your family.

Dogs are pack animals and naturally turn to their pack leader for guidance.  Therefore, you will need to establish your role as pack leader in order to gain control over ones dog’s behaviour.
Pack leaders normally control the produce supply, so a good way to establish leadership is always to feed your dog only AFTER you have eaten.  You should also set a feeding schedule and stay with it.

Dogs respond best to positive reinforcement. One of the simplest ways to ensure success in dog training is always to reward good behaviour, together with ignoring unwanted behaviour. This can encourage your dog to repeat those behaviours that will earn him praises together with treats, and refrain from exhibiting behaviours that get him nothing in return.  Be careful not to make use of punishment in training your dog, as this will only alienate him and make him regard you as an adversary.

Rewards and positive reinforcement will not only help ensure success with dog training, but also helps strengthen your bond with your dog.  You can’t ensure the success of your training unless you have a concrete goal to get started with.  Of course, you will need to keep your goals real looking; otherwise, you will you need to be setting yourself up for failure.

For example, it is okay to expect your dog to get good at the “sit” command in 2-3 days, but you can’t count on him to jump through hoops within the same time frame.  Proper timing can spell this difference between success or failure, where dog training is involved.  When you see your dog sniffing and circling, immediately give a firm NO and then lead him to this designated elimination area.

If you wait until he has done his business before scolding him or her, he won’t understand that he is not supposed to do his or her business inside the house.  In the same way, you should praise your dog or give him a treat the very moment he exhibits good behaviour.  This will make him understand that he has just done something that pleases you.

Stay calm even when your dog makes a slip up.  Yelling and showing impatience get you nowhere. Give your dog enough time to recognise each command, and always make use of the same words and hand signals after you give these commands.  Consistency and patience are definitely the keys to successful pet training.

Puppy Potty Training Methods

Puppy Potty Training Methods

Puppy potty training is probably one of the most difficult aspects of dog ownership.  If not properly trained, the dog is more capable of being disobedient or even aggressive to an extent.  There are various methods that you can use to potty train a puppy.  The following methods are the most common.

Crate training

Crate training is one of the most effective potty training methods described by trainers and owners alike.  The methods simply involves the confinement of the puppy within a small crate with the aim of teaching him to hold urine till he is released from the crate.  Many animals want nothing to do with their excrement, therefore the puppy would rather wait than have to deal with his own waste.  When buying the crate ensure that it is small enough that the dog can lie in it comfortably, but not big enough that he can create a mess in the corner then separate himself from the mess.

However, you need to remember not to leave the puppy in the crate for too long.  Recommended time for a 1 month old puppy is 1 hour, a 2 month old puppy is 2 hours and so on.  For the best results, reward the puppy after an outdoor potty.

Potty pads

Potty pads are less of a common potty training method.  However, they can be used intelligently to train puppies without necessarily using crates.  Train the puppy to do his business on the potty pad and the potty pad only.  You should place a dog bed and several toys in a confined area of the house then lay the potty pad a few meters away.  If you catch the puppy before the act, place him on the mat.  Every time he does the right thing reward him through praise or using a treat.

Puppy Potty Training Using A Dog Door

If you train the puppy to use the dog door will save you the trouble of having to take him out every time he wants to relieve himself.  For this method, lay out the play area close to the door.  Show the puppy repeatedly the door’s location by taking him in and out several times over several days.  Once he has known that the door is available and uses it without prompting, show the puppy where he should potty.  Reward the puppy every time he does the right thing by using praise or treats.

Potty Training Do-nots

Even though your first instinct is to negatively punish the puppy when he makes a mistake, you must never do this.  Young puppies are more likely going to be scared by you since they don’t understand the meaning of disapproval.

Potty Training Dos

Positive reinforcement has better results when doing potty training.  Reward the puppy using praise, clicks, or treats for every task completed successfully.  You always have to keep in mind that puppies are unique and training methods will vary for each one.  The best way to get help with the potty training is getting the right training aids such as DVDs, books and magazines.

Chewing Bones Good Teeth

Tips: Ensuring Your Dog’s Safety When Traveling By Plane

Ensuring Your Dog’s Safety When Traveling By Plane

There may come a time when you feel you have little alternative than to ship a dog by plane. Perhaps you are a breeder, or have just purchased a dog from a breeder in another state. Perhaps you are making a long-distance or even overseas move. Whatever your reason, the prospect of sending your dog by plane has raised some very legitimate concerns.

There are a few precautions you can take to hopefully ensure his safety while in the hands of the airlines. The first, of course, is to communicate with the airline carrier. Find out their policies regarding transporting animals and the precautions they take. In addition to that, there are a few things you can do on your end to help.

Before the Flight

Your pet will be traveling in a crate so you will want to be sure that crate is well labeled. Include your name, address and phone number in case of any mishap or medical emergency. Also make sure he has plenty of water available. This is especially important in warm weather as the dog will be traveling in the baggage compartment. A little kibble and his favorite toy would be a comfort to him as well.

If your dog tends to be anxious in new situations, you might also consider asking your vet for a tranquilizer of some sort to help him through what can’t help but be a traumatic experience for him. Generally, the airline personnel are very good to their traveling canine guests. It’s not unusual for them to visit and pet them en route. Still, a little extra something to keep him calm may be in order.

Chewing Bones Good Teeth

The airlines have strict rules regarding traveling pets. They will not, for instance, allow them to travel in conditions of extreme heat or cold. So, don’t even think about shipping your pet in the extreme heat of the dog days of August / December!

Overseas Travel and Quarantine

There is even more to consider if you are taking you dog out of the country. Some countries impose a quarantine period to ensure an animal does not bring undesirable diseases or parasites into their country. This can be a trial for both you and your dog. But in some cases it is also unavoidable. Expect a lot of paperwork for international travel.

Pet Shipping Services

There are actually companies that specialize in shipping pets. Their expertise and experience go far in ensuring your pet a safe journey. But this expertise comes at a cost. We’ll leave it to you to decide if your peace of mind and your pet’s comfort and well-being are worth such a cost. You might also consider a pet chaperone. If your dog is a smaller breed, he may be allowed to travel in the cabin with the other passengers in a crate, of course. You will need to bone up on the rules for this option as well.

By paying attention to the things we have mentioned and doing your research ahead of time, the stress of shipping your dog can be kept at a minimum.

How To Train A Dog To Catch A Frisbee

How To Train A Dog To Catch A Frisbee

What is cooler than a Frisbee dog?  Most dog lovers agree that watching a dog who can catch Frisbees is great entertainment.  And we may wonder just how to train a dog to catch a Frisbee.  Some dogs seem to be naturally good at playing Frisbee but even if your dog isn’t, you can still teach your dog how to play.  Here are some tips.

First you should select a Frisbee.  This isn’t always as easy as it sounds!  There are countless varieties of flying disks on the market, whether they are the Frisbee brand or another brand.  Some are hard disks and others are soft.  Some are specifically made for dogs (though these aren’t always the best if you are looking for height and distance throws).  To train and play with your dog you shouldn’t choose the hardest Frisbees but you may not want the softest ones either.  Try a few and see what you and your dog like.  Whatever you decide on, get a couple just alike.  This helps for training purposes.

Once you’ve chosen your Frisbee, it’s time to get your dog excited about it.  Otherwise it’s just a piece of plastic to your dog.  He has no idea what it can do or how interesting it can be.  It’s up to you to start making the Frisbee an important part of your dog’s life.  You can do this by putting treats in the Frisbee or even feeding your dog his dry kibble in the Frisbee.  Let him associated good things with the toy.  Start playing some simple toss games with the Frisbee.  Tug-of-war, however, is not advised with the Frisbee. You want your dog to get in the habit of dropping the Frisbee whenever he brings it to you, not tugging on it with you.  Make everything you do with the Frisbee fun and interesting for your dog.  You can even use excited speech and body language when you are playing with the Frisbee to keep your dog excited about it.

Once your dog has begun associating good things with the Frisbee you can start rolling the Frisbee to him.  Give him lots of praise and rewards when he brings it back to you.  Make sure that you tell him to drop it when he brings it back.  If he doesn’t drop it you can let it go at first since you just want him to be excited about playing Frisbee.  Roll another Frisbee for him and he will probably drop the first one to go get the second one.  Keep encouraging him to chase the Frisbees you’re rolling for him.

You can gradually start tossing the Frisbee for your dog.  Toss the Frisbee a few feet at first and encourage your dog to chase after it.  Then encourage your dog to bring it back to you and drop it.  (Work on the drop it as much as you need to.)  Always praise and reward your dog.  It won’t be long before your dog gets better and better at anticipating your throws and bringing the Frisbee back to you.  It just takes practice.  Keep making it fun for your dog.  You can slowly make the tosses longer and longer.  Give it a little time and your dog will probably be airborne.

Do take care that you don’t allow your dog to over-exert himself.  Some dogs will chase Frisbees all day if you let them.  Make sure you provide your dog with water and take time-outs when you need to for your dog to rest.

Playing Frisbee with your dog is a lot of fun.  It’s not hard to teach most dogs to play Frisbee.  Have fun!


What Is Dog Whistle Training?

What Is Dog Whistle Training?

Dog whistle training has been around for a long time.  It’s usually associated with hunting and herding since these are activities where dogs often work at a distance from their owners.  During these situations, especially with hunting, the sound of a human voice could spook birds or other game.  It’s much easier for a hunter to use a whistle to communicate with his dog.  In some cases the dog may even be out of sight of the hunter or herdsman.   A whistle still allows the owner to send signals to the dog.

Despite its origins, any owner can teach his dog to respond to whistle training.  It’s not hard for most dogs to learn.  There are a few basic commands that most dogs need to learn (such as sit and come).  These commands typically have the same whistles and signals from one area to the next (though you can use whatever signals you like, as long as you’re consistent with your dog).  Otherwise, there is really no limit to the whistles and signals you can teach your dog.

Dogs have very sensitive hearing so they can pick up many high-pitched sounds that people can’t hear.  Many whistles produce sounds in the upper register or are even “silent” to humans.  There are other whistles that are as loud as a referee’s whistles.  Choose a whistle that suits you and your dog.  Whistles also come in plastic, metal or even horn or bone.  Again, you should go with your personal preference.

It is advisable to get a lanyard when you buy a whistle.  This is a cord that goes around your neck.  The whistle attached and hangs from the cord like a pendant.  This keeps you from losing the whistle if you’re out in the field.

To train your dog to use whistle commands it helps if he already knows basic obedience commands.  You should start by working on the whistle commands when your dog is near you.  Give your dog the normal command to sit, for example, and add the whistle command for sitting (a long whistle blast, hand raised and open).  Praise and reward your dog.  If you do this repeatedly, using the whistle command with the ordinary command, your dog should begin to learn the whistle and hand signals.  You can gradually start working on the whistle and hand signals with your dog farther away from you.

You can add other whistle commands such as coming when called (multiple whistle blows with your arms stretched out wide to the side) using the same method — practice with your dog near you at first using the command that he knows, then start practicing with your dog farther away from you.

You can have your dog change direction when he’s quartering a field (if you’re a hunter) by giving two blows on the whistle and indicating the new direction with your hands.

Otherwise, make up whatever whistle and hand signals work best for you and your dog.  Just be consistent with them so you dog will know what you’re trying to communicate.

Whistle training can be very handy in many situations, especially when your dog is at a distance from you.  Try it with your dog and see how it goes.

Your Dog Needs To Trust You

Your Dog Needs To Trust You

Recently I received a call from a lady who told me about her dog showing aggression toward another dog in the family and being so fearful that it WOULD NOT leave the yard to go for a walk.  We scheduled an appointment for me to take a look and here is what I found.

I found a dog that never leaves the back yard.  It has been sleeping in the owner’s bed and at 3 years old had NEVER been trained.  The lady that owned the dog said she felt that her dog did not trust her even though she had owned it and pampered it for almost 3 years, since it was a puppy.

First thing as you already know is to get the dog OUT of the bed, which is a must for this to succeed.  Second we are going to do some basic obedience training which will give the dog confidence and develop a dog master relationship.  Third we have to get this dog out of the yard so it can go on walks.  Walking helps the dog relieve stress and gives it an opportunity to stimulate the brain and build serotonin by seeing new things.

So here we go.  We start the journey out of the back yard but the dog quickly sits to resist and the buckle collar starts to come over the head.  You know how dangerous that can be! So I grabbed a training collar and put it on the dog.  I told the owner to start walking even if the dog resisted, which it did, for about 2 seconds.  The next thing you know this dog is walking down the street at its owner’s side.  She hollered back at me “this is a miracle”.  We spent about 20 minutes walking the dog before returning to the house for some obedience training.  The dog appeared to love the walk.

The only problem here is that the lady was so in love with the dog that she didn’t want to hurt it’s feeling by making it do something it didn’t want to do.  I feel that your dog needs to learn to TRUST you so dragging this dog out of the yard helped the dog realize that the walk would be okay.  Five days later she called to tell me her dog was a different dog and they were both looking forward to the next lesson.  By the way the aggression toward the other dog went away immediately.

What Is A Certified Dog Trainer?

What Is A Certified Dog Trainer?

Quite often in their search for a dog trainer a new dog owner will ask the trainer if he’s certified.  Being certified does sound impressive but what exactly does it mean.  Keep in mind that there are no federal or state requirements to be certified as a dog trainer.  Simply put if you know how to do it you can.

So why did dog trainers say that they are certified if there’s really no recognized certification.  If the dog trainer is a graduate of a dog training school he will have received a certificate showing that he completed the course and that is what usually is referred to as a certification.

There are also several dog training organizations or clubs, whatever you’d like to call them that over the years in order to help their revenue stream have created what they call a certification program where for a fee you can take a test.  If you answer enough of the questions correctly they will award you with a certification.

So with certificate in hand does that mean that the dog trainer is really a qualified trainer or know what he’s doing.  Good question, some do and some don’t it’s going to be your job to figure that out.  You can do that by checking with some of his former clients and also by doing a Google search to see the level of his experience.

I feel that one of the best methods to find a qualified trainer is by simply talking to them on the phone.  Do they seem knowledgeable, do they communicate well, and do they show a high level of professionalism.

Another thing that’s very important is where did you find this trainer?  Was the trainer simply running an ad on a website like  Here are some questions I think you should ask.  Is he licensed in and by his city?  Does the trainer have a listing in the phone-book?  Is the trainer able to give you client and veterinarian references?  These are things that are important and show his level of professionalism.

Keep in mind that a certificate does not make a good dog trainer.  I’ve been involved in dog training for over three decades and I can tell you that there are a bunch of trainers out there that never attended a dog training school.  They learned how to train dogs on their own over the years and are very qualified to help you train your dog.

On the other hand there are new dog trainers graduating from dog training schools every year that are very qualified as well and they have what it takes as far as the enthusiasm and basic knowledge to help you do a good job with your family pet.

So keep in mind that a certificate is simply a piece of paper what’s more important is the experience and knowledge that your trainer possesses.

When Should I Start Training My Dog?

When Should I Start Training My Dog?

One of the questions I’m asked most often is how old should my dog be before I start formal training. As far as I’m concerned that’s an easy answer, 4 month (16 weeks). At four months old your puppy is like a blank canvas waiting to be painted with all the training you want for your new family member. At four months your dog hasn’t developed a bunch of bad habits and he’ll never be easier to physically manipulate because he’s getting bigger everyday.

Years ago we used to wait till the dog was 6 months to a year old but not today.  Ten years ago training methods were different, not as motivational as they are today. If you choose a trainer who uses motivational methods 4 months is the time.

So now that we’ve established the age what type of training should we do? It gets confusing here because there are several choices, including group classes, private in-home lessons and even the board and train programs that many trainers offer. Let’s talk about each type of training.

1. Group Classes
A group class is an inexpensive way to get your dog trained and also has the advantage of socializing your dog around other dogs and people. However if your dog is easily distracted the group class may not be the best option. I have literally conducted group classes for thousands of people over the years and I can tell that it works for some dogs and not others.

2. Private In-Home Lessons
In-Home lessons are my favorite for training the new puppy for several reasons.  First we are training in the home, and usually that’s where we want the dog to behave the most. In-Home lessons allow us to see the dog with the family in its environment so that we can not only help train but also help solve behavior issues. Also in this type of training there are no distractions so the dog and the owner get the full benefit of the lesson without distractions.

3. Board and Train Programs
Board and Train programs are also sometimes called Doggy Boot Camp. This is where you leave your dog with a trainer from 2-4 weeks depending on the programs provided. The trainer trains your dog on a daily basis and SHOULD give you back a trained dog GUARANTEED. If they don’t guarantee it don’t leave your dog. The key to the success to this program is the follow-up lessons for you.  The trainer has to teach you how to handle the trained dog and you need to train on a daily basis to establish your relationship with the dog.

So if I needed to make a decision on which type of training to do, the in-home private lessons are a no brainer as long as I will commit to training on a daily basis. If I have NO desire to train then the board and train program is the answer. Group classes come in last.