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Creating a great Recall – Part 2

Want your dog off leash? Start in your own backyard!Creating a great recall is about repetition and helping your dog make an emotional connection that coming to you is a good idea. 

Here is a good game to play. If your dog is not reliable off leash even in your own yard, use a long line of 15-20 feet.

The check in

Step 1:
Let your dog do whatever he wants to do in the yard. You do not need to make any effort to get his attention at this time.

Step 2: Whenever your dog decides to “check in” with you by coming away from what they are doing to check you out give your dog a reward. That’s it!

It doesn’t have to be complicated  to be effective. With this game your dog is learning that checking in with you pays off, big time. This is not the time to use kibble or dry biscuits, who wants to work for pennies! I’m talking break out the big bucks, chicken, cheese, hot dogs, liver. Something your dog will WANT to come back for. Make it memorable. 

 This youngster is getting rewarded today for checking in and offering attention. I’m not asking her to come to me, its her choice to keep on checking in and her good choices are paying off.


Creating a GREAT Recall – Part 1


Recall, or coming when called,  is one of the most important commands to teach a dog to obey. It  is particularly important if you ever want to enjoy the pleasures of having a dog roam free on a walk, playing with other dogs or even just enjoy general social behaviour. Whilst not the easiest command to teach our dogs, by setting your pup up for success and keeping each training session simple, teaching recall can be a great bonding exercise and a load of fun! The major steps in teaching the recall are to introduce the cue and then practice in a huge number of different circumstances. Vary how far away you are from the dog and how many distractions there are.

Make it worthwhile!

While some snacks may or dry kibble may be effective at home, these may not have the same effect out in the world. It’s important, in the learning phase,  you take along treats that your dog loves whether that is raw meat, cooked chicken, string cheese or liver treats. Dogs will appreciate pieces small enough that can be devoured in a split second so that they can quickly return to their other activities. Crunchy treats that fall to the ground are not preferable, as your dog will spend his time searching the ground then paying attention to you. If we make the reward for returning to us worthwhile, then your dog is going to be much more willing to return because he associates his choice to responding to you with reward.


“Come” means only good things happen

In order to make a recall fast and reliable, your dog should only associate being called to you with good things. This means that you should never call a dog or puppy for discipline, or ever punish a dog because it has taken longer to come back to us after we have called it. Although it may be frustrating, a recall should always be a positive thing and your dog should always be rewarded for choosing to come back, even if it does take a while. While at the park, call your dog back regularly, not just when you want to leave. This way, the recall is of little consequence.

Your recall word should also be spoken in a happy and cheerful voice. Using a higher pitched voice is more attractive to dogs and therefore more likely to respond to it. Teaching a recall in a gruff voice can tell your dog to stay away as you may not be a safe choice.

Stay tuned for games to play with your dog!



Are you ready for puppy? Top 5 checklist!

It seems that this time of year I get lots of inquiries about what to do when puppy comes home. Spring and Summer  are the perfect time to get a new puppy as most puppies don’t protest to eliminating outside. 

Here is my checklist for what owners need before your puppy even comes home


Before buying a leash, a harness,  before buying a cute water bowl and chew toys, get a crate. It is not designed to be a mid-century torture chamber, rather it is a place that your puppy can sleep, build bladder control and stay out of trouble when you can’t keep an eye on him. The puppy should be able to stand up, turn around and lay down  in his crate. If your crate is bigger than that your new puppy will most likely find a corner to eliminate and then lay down in the opposite corner. This is now defeating the purpose of the crate. Make sure your crate has a divider so as your puppy grows you can give the puppy more and more space. Puppies and older dogs do not like to sleep where they eliminate. The crate is your new best friend. 

2) Gates

Tiny new puppies do not need run of the house, they rarely need more than run of the kitchen. Put the crate in the kitchen and then gate off all access points with either exercise pens or gates. When you are able to monitor the puppy, play with him in the kitchen or other hard surface so the puppy is not inclined to urinate. Puppies are more likely to relieve themselves on absorbent areas. 

3) Ceramic or metal food and water bowls. 


Puppies are funny little creatures. They love to play, run and romp just like human toddlers. Get a variety of toys, both hard and soft for the puppy to chew on. Those razor sharp teeth are coming in fast and chewing relieves the pain. 

5) Puppy Food

If owners want to switch their puppy’s food, do it slowly. Make sure you are feeding a high quality puppy kibble, or raw diet. Find a food with limited ingredients so not to overwhelm the digestive system. 


Don’t feel bad for the dog

I don’t feel sorry for dogs. Not mine or yours. It doesn’t matter if your dog spent the first half of his life in a shelter or wandering the streets I still don’t feel bad for them. I realize how this makes me sound but that’s OK because I’m on your dog’s side. Feeling bad for a dog who had a rough life before you came along doesn’t make him a better behaved dog today. It doesn’t teach him good behaviors and how to live a calm life with his favorite human. Sympathy doesn’t stop him from rummaging through the trash and requiring surgery. Allowing dogs to do whatever they please causes layers of problems.  Taking some time to train the dog to do the things we want  like being calm on walks, chewing those things that are appropriate and  going into  a crate for their safety  can be a real stress reducer down the road.  I do however feel sorry for those dogs whose owners are feeling too sad to give themselves and their dog the gift of peace.

 Dog Boarding




Barking, Barking and more Barking!

“Is there anything I can do about my dogs barking?”

Dogs bark, its what they do. If you never want your dog to bark again your best solution  is to remove your dogs vocal cords and end your frustration with your dogs constant yapping. For those of us that do not want to take such extreme measures here are a few tips you can implement to curb unwanted barking. 

1 )Figure out WHY your dog is barking.

Is your dog barking for attention? To demand something from you? stress? the arrival of a strangers? Boredom?  Your dog is most likely not barking just because it wants to bark, although barking for some breeds does provide a lot of reward. Your dog is trying to tell you something . Lost of dogs bark more when they are bored, or not getting enough exercise.  One cold and blustery winter afternoon Sadie was barking intensely out the window.   Upon investigation, there was a squirrel tormenting her from a nearby fence. To her this caused her  alarm to go off and she wanted everyone in the house to know it. 

2) Manage the environment. 

Find out what triggers the barking. Keep a notepad out and jot down the times when your dog barks. Close the curtains, have UPS stop ringing the doorbell. Get your dog used to settling in a crate. When I first got my chocolate lab, I lived in a condo and  every single morning at 5am he would bark in an ear piercing tone.  After much investigation and inquisition I  found out that at 5am the newspaper got delivered to the neighboring condo.  Moving his crate to the back of the house solved that incidence of barking. 

3) Resist the urge to yell  at your dog to stop barking.

When your dog is on a barking rampage he mostly likely doesn’t understand (or hear) all your reprimanding. If you reprimand your dog and he doesn’t even blink an eye in your direction, it’s pretty likely that he doesn’t have any idea you are even talking to him. A more likely scenario goes like this 

Dog: Bark Bark Bark!!!

Owner : Stop all that barking!!!! repeat 10 times

What dog hears: Blah Blah Blah… great now my owner is barking with me! Lets all bark together, BARK BARK BARK!

4) Train a positive interrupter.

Find a sound, or phrase you like such as  “This Way!” or “Quiet!” as your interrupt cue.  Find a quiet space, away from distraction to start your training. Get your dogs attention on you and say your phrase  in a  high pitched voice. Then feed him one piece of very high value treat, such as cheese, pasta or chicken, something novel, this is not the time for dry dog biscuits! Repeat until you see his eyes light up and his ears perk when you say the phrase. Practice daily in low distracting environments so your dog knows the phrase when you need it most. 

Some dogs have lots to say yet uncontrolled barking can be frustrating for any owner. If what you are doing to curb your dogs barking isn’t working, its time to try another method. 



Dog Saftey – What to tell kids – Part 2

We are continuing the list of important tips all parents should educate their children about when it comes to dogs. Prevention is key when it comes to escaping a bite. Lots of people tell me that a dog “almost” bit them and if they didn’t pull their hand away they would have gotten bit. While this may seem like the case, its usually not. Dogs are very deliberate with their mouths, if they want to bite you, they will. Most likely the dog was sending out a warning. 

Tip #4
Do not bother dogs that are in cars, behind fences or chained.

Dogs that are being restricted are often already over excited and anxious. Barriers can cause frustration, frustration can lead to a bite.  Children should know when to approach a dog and when to walk away.  Just because a  dog looks “cute” or “sad” doesn’t mean that it is. 

Tip #5

Most dogs do not like being petted on the top of their head. 

Dogs prefer to be pet on their sides and not the top of the  head,  muzzle, ears, legs, paws and tail. In fact children should be taught to never pet a dog who doesn’t initiate contact. Often children will assume that a calm looking dog wants to be touched, encourage children to ask owners before petting a dog who is lying down, cornered in a room or actively trying to get away.

Tip #6

Learn what a safe dog looks like



Using these well researched facts will help you and your loved ones stay safe from a bite. 

If a strange dog charges at you: Be a Tree

be a tree.jpg


If a strange dog jumps up on you : Be a Rock 



A list of Never’s from Doggone Safe:

  • Never stare at a dog in the eyes or put their faces up to a dog’s face.
  • Never try to take something away from a dog.
  • Never go near a dog who is eating or drinking or chewing on something.
  • Never approach a dog that is on a bed or furniture.
  • Never approach a dog that is tied up or in a vehicle.
  • Never try to pet a dog through a fence or in a crate.
  • Never climb over a fence into a dog’s yard, even if the dog is usually friendly.
  • Never try to break up a dog fight or interact with dogs that are play fighting.
  • Leave dogs alone that are sleeping, resting, injured, very old or with puppies.
  • Teach your child about canine body language 
  • A safe dog is one that has a soft, relaxed, happy face and a wiggly body.
  • A dangerous dog has his mouth closed or mouth open with tight lips, ears forward, intense look, hard body.

Dog Safety: What to Tell Kids Part 1

No one wants to get bitten by a dog.  We all want to avoid a confrontation when encountering a strange dog yet often do not have the tools to do so.  So what methods are really effective? Doggone Safe is an organization  that aims to  educate and equip the public with dog bite prevention methods. Here are a three of their tips.

Tip #1

Dogs do not like hugs and kisses. I will often ask  older children that I meet when training if they think they dogs like hugs and kisses, 99% of the time the answer is “No”.  Younger children (under 5) however think dogs like it.  Educating children (or children you meet when out with your dog)   to pet dogs on their back or sides and keep their face away from the dogs face  is the single best way to  prevent a dog bite to the face. 

Tip #2

Teach your child to be a Tree

While this may sound silly, it works. When children are afraid they will often run, cry, squeal and yell, to a dog can look like injured prey which can trigger prey drive  only making the dog chase them faster.  Here is what you should teach your children to do if a dog comes running up to them. 


Tip #3

Leave sleeping dogs alone

While it may seem like  a good idea to pet or try and cuddle a sleeping dog, it’s not. When dogs are resting or sleeping we should give them the space they deserve.  Startling a sleeping or resting dog my trigger a bite from fear. 

Following these rules can help children realize that dogs have boundaries that need to be respected and protected. 

Stay tuned for Part 2!time


My Dog Jumps!

Why does my dog always jump?

Starting during puppyhood, young dogs are very jumpy. They jump on their litter mates and their mother to lick food from her face. When owners bring their new puppy home the puppy continues to jump since as it has in the past and for good reason! Jumping got your puppy lots of attention from litter mates and mother dog, after-all dogs will continue to do what works. When owners bring puppy home for the first time the young pup often still gets lots of attention from jumping on  all the new people in its life.  Every time he jumps, we look at him, put our hands on him and then pet him when he gets down. And a new behavior is born. 

It seems innocent while your dog is young, but as he grows it can become bothersome and  irritating. This is especially true if he’s going to grow significantly in size, although toy dogs are no exception. If your dog thinks its ok to  jumps on you, he’ll definitely jump on other people as dogs do not do well with sometimes. This can create an uncomfortable atmosphere for your guests. Take the time to train your dog not to jump up and you’ll be one step closer to a well-mannered companion.

Ok So how do I get my dog to stop jumping?

1)The best thing you can do when your dog jumps is to not give him the attention he is after.  He must learn that if  wants attention, he will not get it from jumping. Ignore all jumping efforts, no eye contact, no petting, nothing. 

2) Train an alternate behavior such as a sit.  I have a boxer, a very jumpy one, this dog can easily clear 4 feet without even trying and she is only 1.  I have lots of people coming in and out of my house, the last thing I needed was my own dog jumping on anyone.  By reinforcing sit to say hi, she learned that the only way people will give her attention is when 4 feet are on the floor.  Practice this daily! After some repition your dog should figure out that sitting allows him to greet the guest. Be sure to practice regularly with different people to make the behavior a habit.

3)  Alternatively, if ignoring the jumping efforts are not working, you can hold your dogs paws.  Wait until he gets uncomfortable and starts to struggle, making jumping now a very unpleasant experience.

Your best defense against unwanted behaviors such as jumping is to train your dog to look to you for аll decisions. Encourage eye contact, use release cues, give your dog permission to get the things they want.   Train everyday, Train everywhere. 

Every Great Dog can help. 


Who is walking who?!

It’s a nice evening outside, you and Doggie are getting ready to go for a walk. You put your shoes on, wrangle the leash on him, and head out the door. You’re off down the driveway and Doggie immediately starts pulling ahead towards a tree he is wanting so badly to sniff, dragging you behind. Your arm is tired of always pulling against him, you try to get him to stop pulling by yanking on the leash, it doesn’t work.  You cut the walk short and head home frustrated with Doggie (and Doggie confused as to why his walk was ended so fast). 

Does this sounds familiar? Then it’s time to learn how you can help your dog be walking partner, not a puller. Walking is a two way street, a partnership. Just as you are not dragging Doggie down the street, he should not be pulling you either. Dog who pull are more likely to have aggressive episodes than dogs who walk calmly by their owners side. 

Check out these useful tips by Ian Dunbar


Let’s talk Collars…

I recently came across a conversation  where someone was saying that they are tired of all the pulling and plan on investing in a prong collar for their dog.  Yes,  the prong collar allows for  maximum control with very little training. I’ve seen plenty in use, a couple tugs on the prong collar  is usually enough to remind everyone to keep going forward. I have also seen my share of owners whose dogs are hanging at the end of the leash while wearing a prong collar.  Yank, Yank, Yank  and the dog doesn’t even turn around. What has this dog learned? To keep on ignoring his owner. 

There is a general belief  among dog owners, that dogs should somehow just know how to walk nicely on a leash. That’s why, instead of recognizing our dog’s lack of leash manners as a sign he needs more instruction and guidance, we get agitated by the constant pulling on leash.  As a dog owner, the joy of a nice walk is like no other. I want my dog to enjoy being with me instead of threatening with pain (yes,  prong collars are painful) to obey. If they were not painful, they wouldn’t work. 

Here is where prong collars will fail you every time:

1)They do not teach your dog what TO DO!

Collar corrections do not tell your dog what do.  If you’ve been using collar corrections without any significant behavior changes, it’s likely your dog does not understand what is being expected of him. Prong collars essentially shut down behavior rather than encouraging/teaching new or more compatible behaviors.

2) Causing pain can make dogs aggressive

There are some pretty serious possible side effects to prong collars including severe injury, increased anxiety and increased aggression. A determined dog lunging after a squirrel can tune out not only your voice,  but also the physical pain of his prong collar digging into his neck. 

3)  Your dog may associate you with pain

 Many people say they have tried positive reinforcement only to say it doesn’t work. This can happen for several reasons: inconsistency, incorrectly implementing the methods, not following through in the long term and more. I’m not saying prong collars don’t get the job done, they do, but the potential consequences of aggression, fear, pain, and mistrust are too risky for me. 

As with anything, the magic is in the handler . If you feel a prong collar is your only choice, then so be it, but as a dog trainer I’m here to tell you that that there are better ways to help your dog walk nicely where pain is not included. Invest in a no pull harness, head halter or martingale collar. Your dog will thank  you. 



DIY Dog Toys – No Sew!

Why spend so much money at the local dog store to keep your dog busy and entertained?! Think he knows the difference between a DIY toy and one you bought at the store? Think again! If you find it fun and playful so will your dog.  

Check out these super simple craft projects you can make today!

Your dog and creative side will thank you!

No-Sew DIY Dog Toys: 4 Ways To Turn Old Socks Into Puppy Play


Why does my dog do that!?

Ever find your dog performing usual behaviors at unusual times? A friend comes to your house for a visit, and your dog starts drinking laps and laps of water. You bring your dog to puppy class and he starts scratching himself. These are called displacement behaviors.

Dogs may use displacement behaviors when they are feeling stressed, uncertain or anxious about a new situation. By engaging in a familiar behavior (usually one not  relevant to the environmental context), the dog can distract himself from and avoid responding to whatever caused his stress.  Displacement behavior is the dog equivalent of nail-biting. These behaviors relieve stress without dealing with it directly. Other common displacement behaviors are  yawning, stretching, self-grooming and sniffing the ground.

It is important to look at the context to determine whether the dog is feeling stress. For example: if it is bedtime and the dog gets up, stretches, yawns and goes to her bed, then that yawn was not a displacement behavior. If the kids are lying on him and hugging him and he yawns then this is displacement.

If your dog performs a displacement behavior that you would like to stop, give your dog something else appropriate to do such as a down stay or go into his crate. Exercise your dog and keep up with obedience training so you can build confidence and trust.


Dog Body Language

It’s that time of year, the weather is getting warmer and we are more likely to want to get our dogs out of the house, and possibly even enjoy the company of other dog owners, finally!  However, if you are one to visit the dog park, you should educate yourself on some basic dog body language. Thankfully most dogs display the same signs so once you know them , they become easy to read.   Not every dog enjoys interacting with other dogs or humans even though they are at the dog park. Dogs communicate via body language especially before attacking.

Training Tip: If your dog is playing and you aren’t smiling and having fun, your dog isn’t either!  Play should be fun to watch and downright silly. If you are holding your breath while your dog is “playing”, your dog is stressed and its time to go home.  Use the image below to get educated… before it costs you a trip to the vet. 

Having a knowledge of dog body language is a must for every dog owner.