My Dog Didn't Know Sit

Tips From a Dog Trainer and Her Dog


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Five Valuable Lessons Your Puppy Must Know Before Adulthood

There are several things your puppy should know before adulthood, including how to sit, stay, and come on command, how to have a routine for potty breaks throughout the day, how to practice proper doggy etiquette when at a dog park, how not to chew on things that aren’t its own toys, etc., but did you ever think about the even more “no-brainer” things you puppy must know? Although they’re no-brainers, it doesn’t mean they’re not some of the most valuable lessons your puppy should know before it’s an adult!! Here are the top five lessons your puppy should definitely know before it reaches adulthood!

5. How to be crated/kenneled: Whether you plan to have a crate in your home or not, being able to be caged is an extremely important lesson for every puppy to learn. When your dog is at the vet, at the groomers, or at a dog boarding facility, your dog will be kenneled at some point. It may be for only half an hour after getting bathed, or for days while you’re on vacation. Either way, you dog needs to be able to stay in that kennel without howling, barking, pawing at the walls and door, or throwing itself upon the ground and having a tantrum. No one likes an unhappy dog, so do your puppy a favor and be prepared!
13905581116_9c21b7c5ef_zWhile crated, your dog may be left alone, or kept nearby. If your dog is going nuts and having a panic attack because it’s been placed in a crate and sees it as a scary place, it’s still going to have to stay in there until you come and get it. It’s best for your puppy to learn that the crate is not a punishment device, nor is it confinement; it’s a safe and quiet place to be kept safe in. Even if you don’t groom your dog or keep it in boarding while you’re away, a normal dog will be crated at some point while at the vet’s office. Your dog may even have to be kenneled at least once a year, in fact!
Once an adult, your dog will need to have its teeth cleaned at least once a year by a veterinarian. This is pretty much a requirement because even if your dog chews teeth-cleaning toys and you brush your dog’s teeth, he still needs to have his teeth and gums checked for disease, infection, plaque, or any other common oral issues almost all dogs have.
Your dog will be put under and then have plaque scraped off its teeth and mouth and gums checked for any signs of complications that would otherwise be impossible to check while your wiggly dog’s awake and trying to lick the vet tech’s face rather than stay still with its mouth open. Because this procedure is a yearly thing, teaching your dog to be crated will make the teeth cleaning process much smoother when your dog wakes up in a strange place, half drugged, and in a big metal crate without you around to tell him to chill the heck out. Until the medication wears off and he’s completely awake, he’s going to have to stay in there, and if he spends those hours screaming and howling and peeing all over the place, then so be it. It’s torture for those in the office, your dog, and every client there, so save yourself the embarrassment when you have to pick him up and crate train your puppy early!!

puppy74. How to walk on leash: Similarly to being crated, at some point in your dog’s life, it will have to walk on-leash even if you let your dog out in the yard to exercise or go to the bathroom, and you never bring your dog anything but at the vet. It’s fine if you choose to have a puller when you walk him to the vet, but if your dog ever needs to get his shots or some other reason, he’ll need to be taken to the back room by the vet tech, and this will have to be done with the vet’s own leash. They use a simple “slip lead”, which is essentially a rope that easily loops around a dog’s neck and tightens when pulled so that its a snug fit. If your dog lacks the all leash manners that it should have learned when it was a puppy and not close to as heavy, strong, or stubborn as it is now, your dog can end up strangling itself if it pulls too hard. Your dog can also hurt the vet tech taking it to the back room. No one wants that, right?
A dog who can’t walk on-leash is also a very difficult client when brought to day care or boarding when the employee must walk your dog to potty or go home from its suite as well. When I worked as a Daycare Associate a few years back, I dreaded bringing some dogs to its owners; they’d pull so hard and literally run through the halls like maniacs, dragging me behind them thanks to the slippery linoleum floor lacking any friction one wished they had to slow the dog down. With one dog, a very large and powerful Great Dane, I was yanked through the halls with him as he burst through the doors into the waiting room, and I was almost slammed into a pillar nearby, but luckily dodged it by just a few inches. This was right in front of the owner, who informed me that she actually has been slammed into trees by her titan of a dog during walks, so she just doesn’t walk him anymore except to and from the car when going to daycare. Unsurprisingly, she was wearing a wrist band, a waist back to keep from pulling her back, and very high-traction shoes, specifically for walking her dog to the car. He never learned how to properly walk on leash and has almost sent multiple who associate with him to the hospital because of this…

3. How to ignore strangers: Like the previous two suggestions, this will keep you, your dog, and everyone around you safe! Yes, it’s nice to see your dog interacting nicely with neighbors, other dogs, children, and everyone in the world outside your home, but not everyone wants to be greeted by your dog, even if they loved to be just 6 months ago. As a puppy, he will learn that everyone wants to say hi to his adorable self, but as an adult, people aren’t as eager to pet and hug a big excited full grown dog as much as a tiny fluffy puppy. As your puppy becomes an adult, he may not realize that he’s grown several times in size and strength in just a few months!
cat-ignores-dogWhy can’t he suddenly can’t run up and say hi to the neighbor’s 3 year old and jump up and lick her face anymore? Rather than get a doggy dictionary to explain it to him, it’s best to start right away not to make your dog magnetized toward every other living being you pass by. It’ll save yourself the trouble and your dog the heartbreak.
I’m not saying that you should avoid people who are interested in meeting your puppy, but try hard to not show him off and approach others; have them approach you so that your dog learns that playing with others only happens when they come to you, and you don’t go to them. When someone comes to meet your puppy, be sure to teach him restraint and have him sit and wait before being petted, and prepare beforehand by standing on your dog’s leash so that he won’t be tempted to jump up on people. A puppy jumping up isn’t a big deal unless he’s a giant adult! Wait, is that even possible?! Anyway, all meetings should be calm and casual and not a big deal; that way your dog won’t become obsessed with saying hello to everyone he passes by because it’s a rare occasion that most likely won’t happen during every walk.

2. How to play alone: It’s nice to play with your dog, but when you’re busy writing a extremely lengthy essay on what to teach your puppy before adulthood, it’s even nicer when you don’t need to! Teaching your puppy that he doesn’t have to have a playmate to enjoy his toys is extremely important, especially when you’re away at work or are in the middle of doing something else in general.
Giving your puppy safe chew toys that he can occupy himself with when you’re not nylabone2available to play is the easiest way to teach your puppy independence and patience. When your puppy begs for attention to play while you’re busy, simply provide him with an alternative: A durable, safe, and fun one-player toy! Kong toys with frozen peanut butter smudged inside, Nylabones of the proper size and strength, Mighty Dog toys, and StarMarks chew toys are good suggestions of things you can bring out before you leave your puppy alone. Be sure that all toys you leave out for your puppy is safe and strong enough to play with without you needing to keep a sharp eye on him. Don’t leave soft stuffed toys, rope toys, or any other toys out you know you’ll have to supervise him with unless you’re in the same room and want to promote two-player play with them.
Patience is important to teach, so if he has something to play with but still demands your attention, you’re sadly going to have to ignore him, no matter how adorable he is. Be sure that when you ignore him, it’s 100%! Don’t even glance down at him because acknowledgement is often considered a reward, especially when your puppy begs. When he gives up trying to force you to join in his game and goes to play with his toy himself, THEN you can reward him with praise and sometimes even a treat that you stick inside the toy (is possible). Playing with toys alone should still be fun!

1. How to do… Nothing! Teaching your puppy how to do nothing is, in my opinion, the most important thing you can teach him. Many adult dogs don’t, and probably never will, know how to do nothing — mostly because owners don’t realize that this can be taught!
You’re walking your dog and reach a stop light, or need to fix your shoe, or need to step aside and let someone pass by on the sidewalk; what do you want your dog to do? You want him to stop, stay beside you, and do nothing. You don’t want him to lunge into the street, whine and tug at the leash, or leap up and say hi to the passerby.
You’ve brought your dog with you while you plan to have brunch outside a restaurant; the weather is great, your dog is leashed beside you, other people are enjoying their meals nearby. You want your dog to stay beside you, attached to the table, and enjoy being outside in the fresh air and do nothing; you don’t want him crying and barking, begging for food, zig-zagging through the chairs, jumping up onto tables, or getting under tables and licking peoples’ feet. You want him to stay still, without telling him to sit and stay and wait and wait and wait and wait and… You get my point.
As a puppy, he will learn that every few hours, he’s gonna need to go out for a walk, and then play, and then be fed, and then play, and then be trained, and then be cuddled with, and then everything else a busy puppy does all day. A puppy’s routine is full of attention and excitement and tasks. It’s very different from how it will become when it’s a mature (hah, yeah right!) adult who has time to smell the roses and, well, do nothing. But! This dog needs to learn that it’s possible to do nothing rather than smell the roses and lick the owner’s hand and bark at the neighbor dog and go nuts. You need to teach your puppy how to relax. You need to teach your puppy how to stop and stay still during walks. You need to teach your puppy that even though we’re outside and there are distractions on every corner, you don’t have to do anything; you can do nothing.
XG8IF00ZEvery day, for about 10 mins, sit down with your puppy in an empty area– no toys– and listen to music (or it can be silent if you don’t mind it). Don’t cuddle with him, don’t pet him, don’t give him treats, don’t do anything. Just sit down and relax. He can lie beside you and cuddle, but don’t touch him. Maybe read a book, or play with your phone, or whatever — Just ignore him, unless he starts going nuts, then you can give him a chew toy to occupy him. After the 10 mins go by, reward him and continue on with your busy day. You can teach him “Relax” before you two have your session of nothing if you like. As he gets older, you can do this for longer if you feel the need to.
When walking, teach your dog to relax for a few seconds. Stop walking, stand there, and chill out. As your puppy becomes more advanced in doing nothing, practice relaxing while waiting at the cross walk, or while at a park with your dog tied to your chair/bench at a shopping center. You can put a jacket of some sort on your puppy/dog to indicate that you’re in training mode so that people don’t interrupt. Be sure to keep your dog social and expose him to many different things so that the environment isn’t so alarming or so amazing that it’s impossible to chill out. That’s kind of a given though, right?
By teaching your dog how to relax and do nothing, you’ve given him an extremely important and useful lesson in restraint, patience, discipline, and will-power that doesn’t require force or motivation. It should be a natural and beneficial trait your dog will know, which is nothing! Hm. That didn’t come out right…

Well, I hope these Words of Wisdom were valuable to you, and that you can mold your puppy into a mature adult with these simple, but very important, tasks! As for those who have adult dogs, how many of these important things has he accomplished? Even as an adult, your dog can still learn these important lessons. Although they may seem like things that are unimportant in your lifestyle right now, eventually your dog will be challenged and things that seemed as petty as walking on-leash will be something you will be glad you taught him when he was young!


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Happy New Year 2015!

Wow, it’s been a long long time since I last posted here! It was about a year ago, actually. To be honest, I forgot about this blog and then suddenly *ding!* I felt like writing about something. I look next to me at my lovely napping Ringo Star, stretched comfortably on his blanket-covered bed and mustached nose nuzzled deep against the big huggy pillow I got him when he was first adopted, and I thought to myself, “I should write about Ringo! …Wait, I already do. Erm, well, used to.” Because– you know– people think in their head the same way they talk. Anyway! Let’s brush the dust off the nonexistent piece of paper resting eagerly on my desk and get to writing already!

Now, what to write about… What to write about…

Let’s write about me and how I’m doing (because you all care so so much, right?) and then begin the year with a dog-related article full of words of wisdom and knowledge and whatever other positive feature I can come up with on the fly about the article I’ve yet to write– oh! clever. The article will be clever to boot. And smart too.

Well, how’s life? It’s adequate. I’m learning something new every day about myself and those around me — Ringo included. At the moment, I’ve kept myself busy with dog training, graphic design, and a new element of work: Youtube. Yup, I’ve squatted down, hugged my knees against my chest, tippy-toed, and allowed myself to roll down the snowy mountain of “online entertainment” and see how huge I can snowball. Strange imagery, huh? I agree. I have no idea where that came from. But yes! Youtube. It’s quite fun. Along with dogs and art, I’m very engrossed in gaming. So, as one would expect, I’ve begun a Youtube channel based on Video Game Let’s Plays!
“What’s a ‘Let’s Play’?” one may exclaim. Well, it’s when someone makes a video of them playing through a video game with a microphone and commentates on what they’re doing or what’s happening. Unlike someone doing a speed run, playing the game quickly, using shortcuts and sometimes glitches, to beat it as quickly as possible with no mistakes; or doing a video game walkthrough, playing the game at a normal pace, collecting everything, showing all cutscenes and sometimes all secrets, and beating the game with little to no mistakes; someone who does a Let’s Play will play the game, sometimes for the first time, and talk with the viewers as if they’re in the room with them. They’ll upload the entire game little by little and may reply to comments made in the Youtube Comments Section in their video.
They’ll talk about the game as they play, laugh, get angry, scared, etc. as if they’re playing video games with friends sitting with them. People watching become engrossed in the game and get to know the Youtuber more and more as they listen to stories and the like. Some Let’s Players will play the game and try to teach viewers certain techniques. Some Let’s Players will play a game for the first time and show viewers how they progress. Some Let’s Play videos have multiple people together playing a game and the viewer watches them play as the Let’s Players chat about the game. It’s great for people who can’t play the game, but want to see someone else play and experience it as if they’re with a friend or learning from someone experienced in the game. It’s quite fun, and a very special kind of Youtube video. Let’s Players can make a living doing this: playing games, uploading videos, and making friends, money, and a reputation from an online community. It takes a lot of time, but it’s time spent doing what you love!
Like dog training, I enjoy playing video games I’m experienced with and teaching viewers useful tips, tricks, and techniques on how to be successful in the game. And a lot like dog training, I’m not the best, but I’m good enough to be someone to look to when needing help, or just some entertainment.
For those who have their interests magnetized to every word I have typed about my Youtube Let’s Plays, you are more than free to visit my youtube channel and watch a few of my videos! At the moment, I’m playing Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U! Soon, I’ll be playing more games, namely Monster Rancher, Paper Mario, and more! My Youtube name is TheGoldenDunsparce. Hope to see ya there!

So, now that my shameless plug-in has been tossed out there like a tasty steak to hungry (and very lovely) lions, let’s move on to the next subject: Dogs! In my next post, we can cover dogs. What should I write about though? Hmmm… How about: “Things Your Puppy Should Know Before Adulthood”?

Not too difficult, right? Well, some of these actually aren’t as obvious as one may think! Eager to learn from the owner of a dog who Didn’t Know Sit but now knows ALL of these valuable lessons? Well, sit tight and find out soon!!


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Living the Apartment Life With Your Dog

I’ve recently moved from mom and dad’s single family house into a one bedroom apartment with my dog Ringo, and as expected, a new environment beings about new experiences. Some are great, like the friendly front desk staff and giant “back yard” that includes a parking lot and lots and lots of open grass, but some aren’t so great. What kind of challenges have we faced, and what have I done to make things easier on him (and of course myself)? Well:

That Random Barking “Out of Nowhere”: Every time someone walks in or out of their room or past my room, it can be heard by Ringo’s sharp doggy ears from the other side of my apartment, and of course, being such a big tough wimp he is, Ringo will warn those loud neighbors with an abrupt “BUH!” to scare them away. Sometimes, the sweet quiet little dog next door will answer back with its own “BUH!”, and then it becomes an argument between two dogs who can’t even see eachother and live hundreds of doors down from one another.

What’s the best solution to this? Grab your dog and move into a different room further from the door? Clap your hands to interrupt your dog’s cursing? Call your dog over and stuff his loud mouth with treats? You can do that. I did these things at first since it’s a good way to stop your dog from barking in general, but when it happens EVERY time someone goes by or another dog decides to yell threats at your dog who’s trying to nap in his own room, it’s not very productive. As a dog trainer, you learn that the best way to stop your dog from doing something you don’t like is to keep it from happening in the first place; how do you keep everyone’s loudness from happening so that Ringo doesn’t bark? Block the sound from coming through the door.

I bought an inexpensive “Door Draft Guard”, which was pretty much a piece of cloth that slips under the door with two foam tubes to block the inside and outside of the gap under the door. You can’t hear people walking by, doors shutting (at least not as loudly), or the charming neighbor dog’s attempts at sniffing under the door. Because you can’t hear it, it’s apparently not there, right Ringo? If you want something permanent and less “cheapo”, you can get something called a sound seal, which is a neoprene or vinyl strip that will cover the gap under the door and block out noise. There are cheap stick-on versions as well as seals that can be screwed in place, but those are obviously more expensive. Try that out before you resort to putting earmuffs on your dog…

Traveling A Million Miles To Get Outside: Leaving your apartment room, walking down a hallway, taking the elevator (or stairs for you “active” people), and making your way past a million people wanting to say Hi to your dog  in the front desk area is a long trek to Ringo’s Potty Spot compared to simply stepping out into the back yard and walking 3 feet from the door. One must take account of this and realize, “Hey, maybe Ringo lets loose in the elevator because the trip to outside takes forever…” Oh! So THAT’S why the elevator smells like pee! (Not really, I swear!)

urinate in elevatorSo for all you apartment newbies who have dogs who piddle on the way to the Potty Spot, be sure not to cut it too close. If Ringo begs at 6:00pm on the dot to pee, leave at 5:55pm (or maybe 5:59pm if you’re lazy) because the time it takes to wait for the elevator or make your way down those 50 flights of stairs could feel like a million years, and who wants to hold it for a million years when you don’t really have to? If you leave early every time and your dog still has issues, maybe the apartment is considered “inside” and outside of that is indeed “outside”. When I fostered dogs with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, the wall right across from my apartment was considered a tree to some of my fosters. Let’s say that in addition to poo bags, you may find that carrying a few paper towels would be a good idea too while your dog gets adjusted to the apartment life! What I did to avoid accidents while waiting for the elevator was to continuously pace back and forth so that my dogs didn’t have a chance to stop and water the invisible plants on the hallway carpet. Sure, it might be tiring, but so is cleaning pee.

Meeting “Friendly” Neighborhood Barkers: Remember that charming dog a few doors down? Well, you’ve just met him face-to-face while he’s trying to get of of the elevator that you’re planning to get into. Wonderful friendly neighbor dog is cursing at your sweet charming puppy who’s hissing threats to rip his face off. All you can think at the moment is, “Which way do I go? Which way do I go?” Where do you go? YOU GO AWAY!

It may be tough with a big dog, but the best way to get away when both dogs are going nuts and yanking at the leash is to pull your dog toward you so that he’s close, and  literally walk into him, and keep walking until you’re both far away from the opposing dog. You do this so that he’ll be too busy stumbling and tripping all over himself to realize that he ran away from the other dog in the most embarrassing-looking way ever. Dogs don’t want to be stepped on, obviously, so a successful way to make your dog move backward is to walk into him. Don’t kick or stomp on him; just walk. While you do this, you can say cheerfully, “Come on, let’s go!” so that once he’s done tripping and has forgotten about the other dog, he’ll then walk with you because, “Oh right! We’re on a walk!” If your dog tries to dodge you while you walk into him, no worries; just keep walking and pull him along.

This is a good  way to quickly get out of a bad situation when you don’t have time to call your dog or gently pull your dog back away from danger; talking loudly and yanking the dog can also be seen as you egging him on in some instances. A dog on leash acts differently than usual, so even a friendly dog can become defensive when another dog is snapping at them not even a foot away and the leash makes them feel like they won’t be able to run.

The safest way to prepare for potential dog incidents is to make sure to stand far away from the elevator and position yourself infront of your dog before the doors open. When the doors open, check that no one’s there. You can make it a habit to tell your dog to sit and stay while waiting for the elevator too. When inside the elevator, make sure that, if there’s space, that you have your dog standing in a corner where it won’t be seen the moment the doors open, so if someone tries to come in with their dog, they’ll see you with a leash at the door and the dogs won’t see each other right away. It’d be good to have your dog sit and stay inside the elevator too.

If walking down the hall and you see a dog up ahead, simply U-Turn and call your dog to follow you. Even if your dog is trying to look back and engage with the other dog, don’t scold him or stop; just keep walking and cheerfully tell him to Heel or Let’s Go. You can enter back into your room, or keep walking until the neighbor has entered their room, then U-Turn and continue on your way to the elevators as if nothing happened. This is a good way to deal with dogs outside too. Don’t let your dog get too close if you know the other dog will bark. If you see a dog and know he’s good, walk by (with distance), and always praise your dog for not reacting badly to it. Ringo doesn’t mind dogs, but he does mind some men, so I do the same procedure when he tries to bark at them outside or before walking into an elevator. Avoiding conflicts is better than dealing with them when you shouldn’t have to.

Meeting Awfully Wonderful Neighbors: Not everyone loves dogs – It’s horrible, I know! – but it’s the truth.

Letting your super awesome friendly dog who loves to jump up onto people to say Hi so that strangers pet and love them isn’t as acceptable in an apartment as it would be at a dog park or Petsmart. What a surprise! Even having a dog walk up and lean against someone who dislikes dogs makes them scowl at you with disgust and sneer, “You must be one lousy  owner!”

I actually had a lovely sweet little old lady say this to me when Ringo almost jumped up on her upon exiting the elevator – thankfully I was able to pull him away at the last moment before she blew a fireball in his face. It’s shocking to get jumped on when you’re standing RIGHT at the elevator door in a dog-friendly apartment building at the time everyone walks their dog, I guess. The fault isn’t hers though, even though I really feel that it should be. You can’t control anyone but yourself… and your dog. No matter where you are, if there’s a chance that a person could suddenly appear out of thin air near you and your dog will try to rudely greet them with excitement, it will happen. The best way to avoid conflict is to always keep your dog close to you, even when outside, until the last moment when he’s about to circle around and poop/pee on his Potty Spot. If you do otherwise, a nice little old lady will be assaulted by your horrid mongrel for no reason at all because you obviously “don’t know how to control your animal”. A 6ft leash is meant to be kept 1ft long when you live in an apartment because “that’s what they’re meant for!” Can you tell that I’m bitter? Yes. Yes you can.

The Elevator is Scary!: Ringo never had this issue, but some dogs can be scared of the elevator. A good way to train your dog to accept it is to never FORCE your dog to use it. Take the stairs, as horrible as it seems, but, before you do that, take the normal motions of getting ready to go into the elevator. Walk up to it, press the button, and if the door opening scares your dog, back up a bit and let it open, then go and take the stairs. If you expose your dog to the dreadful elevator, but don’t actually make him go into it, he’ll soon become less afraid of it. Eventually, let your dog enter the elevator, and then walk back out and take the stairs. Do this every day until you’re sure he’ll be okay with the scary doors closing behind him and feeling the elevator moving down to the bottom floor. Once he can be in the elevator and it can move, maybe take it easy and go down only one floor so that the trip is brief. Eventually go down two, then three, then four, then a million floors at a time (I hope to God your apartment isn’t a million floors high) The elevator will then be seen as a great shortcut to the Potty Spot without ever having to take the stairs. Yay!

Other Stuff: That’s the only issues I’ve come across (so far) while living in an apartment. What kinds of problems do YOUR dogs have, and what have you guys been doing to cope with them? Have any been successful, are still an issue, or were they solved thanks to this post? Feel free to share in the comments and let us know how wonderful (or horrible) your apartment life with your dog is!


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Should I Shave My Pet For the Summer?

Shaved To those who have long-haired cats or dogs and are considering shaving your pet’s coat for the summer to help him “cool down”, DON’T DO IT! Although dogs and cats only have sweat glands on their footpads (hence why they can leave footprints all over a shiny wood floor if stressed out or overly excited), they have their own super-effective way to cool down. Cats lick their fur and paws, and when the saliva evaporates, it cools them down; dogs keep themselves cool by vaporizing large amounts of water from their lungs and airways when they pant, expelling body heat in the process.

Although they have a warm thick double coat, long-haired cats and dogs are actually kept COOL from this. The coat acts as insulation against the sun’s UV rays and its effects. It regulates the animal’s body temperature, so when it’s hot, it keeps the cool in, and when it’s cold, it keeps the warm in. Shaving your pet’s fur off is like removing the walls of your home and then wondering why it’s scorching hot even though the AC’s on or freezing cold even though the heat’s on.

shaved_catThe best way to keep your pet cool is to keep your pet’s coat mat-free, well-brushed, and clean. Dogs have almost no pigment in their skin to ward off harmful UV rays and are very prone to sunburn and skin cancer, so the best way to protect your dog is to save the longer walks for evenings, and consider applying pet-specific sun block to thinly covered areas, such as the bridge of your dog’s nose, the tips of his ears, and his belly. You can also use a FURminator (or an off brand brush that does the same thing) to keep tangles to a minimum, remove loose fur, and lighten the coat a little bit. Keeping the coat healthy is the first and easiest step to keeping your pet cool in the Summer heat!

8d72e47ba7aac41439d8759a1515bf84If you feel that you HAVE to give your cat or dog a trim, try to leave at least two inches of fur to protect your pet from the elements. Be aware that once shaved, a double-coated pet’s coat will never grow back the same. It can end up patchy, discolored, thinner, and will shed even more than before! The rough top coat may never grow back as well, and your pet’s natural defenses from heat and cold will be gone for the rest of its life.

For dogs who want to play in the back yard, be sure to provide lots of shade, water, and breaks, even if your dog’s eager to keep playing; your dog probably doesn’t know what heat stroke is, but when it happens, you’re going to have a very big vet bill all because Fido wanted to play Frisbee for ten more minutes.

UnknownHopefully this helps, and your pets keep cool in this Summer blaze. Remember that the moment you start to feel thirsty and gross, your pet may be too! Be sure to offer lots of water (and pee breaks) and keep that coat healthy and non-shaven!


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Poisonous Plants and Flowers Your Pet Should Avoid

The weather’s (finally) getting nicer as Spring is approaching, so as expected, everyone’s taking advantage of this and buying new flowers to make their garden look nice. Dogs are able to romp around the yard more often, people are more willing to walk their dog for further, and everyone’s able to enjoy the outside without shivering and sniffling noses. Even the outside kitties can finally enjoy the lack of snow and slush on their paws as they scale the roofs and fences of the neighborhood. Best of all, there’s finally long green grass available for both pets to munch on like fat cows! Ahhh… the smell of fresh-cut grass, the shining sun, and the poisonous flowers; how enjoyable! Wait, “poisonous flowers”?! That’s right! Here’s a quick list of some of the common not very pet-friendly, flowers your neighbors may decorate their yard with and that your dog and cat should avoid!

DaylilyEaster-Lily Day Lily & Easter Lily – It’s hard to believe that these spring beauties are deadly to cats! Ingestion of any part of this plant, even the early green shoots, can cause kidney failure, so prevent your cat from having any access to these plants. Symptoms of ingestion include vomiting, lack of appetite, lethargy, kidney failure, and possible death. Although they’re harmful to cats, they’re non-toxic to dogs and horses.

Screen shot 2013-04-13 at 10.12.34 PMcastorbean-leaf Castor Bean Plant – This tropical plant is often grown as an ornamental plant and as a crop in North America. In my opinion, this plant doesn’t look very friendly anyway, and as expected, ingestion of either the beans or the foliage is lethal to both cats and dogs. Signs of ingestion usually develop within 12 to 48 hours; the nasty list of symptoms include burning of mouth and throat, increase in thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weakness, stomach pains, trembling, sweating, loss of coordination, difficulty breathing, kidney failure, progressive central nervous system depression, fever, coma, and death.

english-ivy.ashxEnglishIvyplantEnglish Ivy – This is a very common decorative plant, and unfortunately, it’s toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. Ingestion may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Be aware that cats are often drawn to displays of this plant as it often drapes and dangles from its planter. 

Screen shot 2013-04-13 at 10.29.01 PM P3205552Garden Hyacinth – These beautiful and colorful spring bulbs are toxic to cats and dogs. The actual bulbs themselves are highly toxic and can cause vomiting and diarrhea, in addition to triggering dermatologic and allergic reactions as well.

 

 

buttercup.ashxScreen shot 2013-04-13 at 10.35.43 PM

Buttercup – These little yellow flowers may sound yummy, but are toxic to horses, cats, and dogs. Ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, anorexia, hyper-salivation, and wobbly gait.

 

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Begonia – This common houseplant is toxic to both cats and dogs, and although it’s not necessarily deadly, eating this plant will cause intense burning of the mouth, tongue, lips, and gums, difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, and vomiting. The tubers of the plant are the most toxic. Interesting note: Although the rootstock, tubers, and roots are poisonous, the flowers of the begonia are edible, and are used in some cultures for their tart flavor.

Of course, this isn’t a complete list of all the flowers and plants that can make your pet sick. Unfortunately, there are many many plants out there that can be dangerous to your pet, so for a complete list of what you should keep out of your garden this Spring, and want to avoid during your walks in the park and through the neighborhood, feel free to check ASPCA’s Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants list just to be safe! And remember: If you think that your pet may have ingested a poisonous substance, be it a plant or something from under the sink, contact your local veterinarian or ASPCA’s 24-hour emergency poison hotline directly at 1-888-426-4435. Although your garden may be lacking in a few pretty flowers this Spring, at least you can be 100% sure that Fido, Kitty, and Mr. Ed are safe!


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Top Ten Things To Teach Your Dog

There are many things you want to teach your dog right when you get him. Be it sit, down, roll over, or whatever you think is great for him to know. But, there are universal things all dogs need to learn to do and/or love in order to live a healthy functional life. These top ten things to teach your dog are loosely ordered from least important to the most important, and of course, is my opinion. Some owners may look at a few of these things and simply go, “Nope. Not doing that.” and it’s fine! Like dog training in general, there are always different solutions to one concept. Now, without further ado, let’s look at my Top Ten Things To Teach Your Dog:

10. Crate Training: Teaching your dog to be in a crate is a great way to keep your dog safe and out of trouble. By instinct, dogs enjoy being in cozy den-like places to feel secure, and we can take advantage of this love and teach your dog to love the crate. Be it a metal barred cage, a plastic kennel, or a dog house, the crate should be an inviting good place for Fido to stay in when his owner’s not home or is asleep at night. Some people dislike crates because they see them as a sort of prison where you’d trap your dog against its will; well, it can end up that way if your dog isn’t properly introduced to the crate. Some people may buy a crate, stick their dog in it, and then shut the door behind him, and then wonder why he’s having a fit.

crate-training-your-dog-300x300Like many things, you need to teach your dog first that the crate is good. Keep it open and let him wander in and out of it. Have a nice comfy pillow and a chew toy in there. Make the chew toy a “special” toy that can only be played with when in the crate by taking it from your dog any time he tries to sneak out with it and putting it into the crate. Feed your dog in the crate. Give your dog treats every time he sniffs or goes into the crate. Let him relax in it without shutting the door on him. Let him relax in it with the door shut, but occupied with a chew toy, and with your nearby with him. Play special soothing music whenever he’s assigned to be in the crate. Soon, the crate will be the best place ever since it’s not only a bed, but also a dinner table, toy box, and a place to be in for peace and quiet.

9. Lie Down (right here): Once your dog knows lie down without being lured to the floor with a treat, and can lie down by having you point to the floor, it’d be very useful to get him to lie down next to you, as opposed to infront of you (which is surprisingly tough since dogs want to look up at you for trick), or ontop of objects like pillows. If you can teach your dog to lie down on a specific object, and you can take that object to different places and he’ll lie down on it no matter where it is, then you can teach a very powerful stay with many powerful uses. For dogs who jump up on guests when they come into the house, teaching your dog to lie down and stay on a pillow is a great way to keep him from stampeding up to guests and bulldozing into them. Being able to make your dog stop what he’s doing and go over to where you’re pointing on the floor and lie down right there is a wonderful and useful trick that’ll get him out of trouble. If he’s sniffing around where he shouldn’t, you can call his name, getting his attention, and make him lie down beside you instead. For dogs who leap ontop of their owners when they want to cuddle on the couch, having the dog come up and lie down on the couch first will make it impossible for this to happen. If the dog’s lying down, he’s not doing anything else.

8. Off (No Jumping) – Dogs like to jump. They like to kiss, they like to have their face close to yours, they like the “attention” of you looking at them and talking (yelling) at them and petting (pushing) them. It’s a great way to demand attention, and it works! Well we don’t like it. Being jumped on, of course, is super annoying, and it’s especially annoying when your excited dog weighs almost as much as you and thinks it’s awesome to jump on you and push off your body when you yell at him to get off.

image taken from here

image taken from here

Well, if they’re going to be “fun” and get all over you, you should be allowed to have that kinda fun too! When your dog jumps on you, respond with “Off” and walk forward into him, knocking him down, taking his space, and generally getting all in his grill like he was to you. Once he lands and moves away, praise it! Yay! All four feet on the floor! Good job! Make sure that you don’t look down at him or push him off; dogs see the eye contact and touching as positive attention, even if its a glare and a shove. They’re jumping for just that: Attention.

Some people suggest turning your back and crossing your arms. You can do that too, but sometimes the punishment of ignoring the dog can be seen as acting submissive of the dog. Dominant dogs stand ground and don’t turn away when another dog gets in its face. Neither should you! If you keep walking all over your hoppy dog every time he jumps on you, and you say “Off” as you do it, he’ll learn that jumping on you is no fun, and that anytime he’s on something and you say “Off”, you’re going to get all in his personal space, and that’s no fun!

7. Loose-leash Walking: Some dogs really can’t walk well on-leash: they pull and drag you all over the place; they gag and choke and cough as you dangle behind them and they walk with their heads stretched far out ahead; they dash back and forth like maniacs; they run up to other dogs to say “Hi”; Overall, they completely disrespect you and the leash. The best way to solve this is to resort to better kinds of tools than a flat collar if it’s really bad. For Ringo, I used a harness since he liked to stop and fall behind, then dash forward at full blast a few feet, choking himself and destroying my wrist. The harness was a front-clip harness that, well, clipped in the front, and worked like horse reigns; when he pulled, the leash would pull back at an angle and forced him to turn alittle, and if he wanted to go straight, had to slow down and adjust for else he’s be completely turned around. Unlike the front clip, there’s a back clip harness that I feel is a horrible idea and promotes your dog to lean his chest against the harness and make you pretty much hold him up. It promotes pulling and goes against the whole point of getting a harness bar not choking your pulling dog to death. There are other kinds of leashes such as Gentle Leaders, Halti, Martengales, Prong Collars, and Slip Leads.

Two dogs wearing a Halti Head Collar

Two dogs wearing Halti Head Collars

(Brief collar/leash lesson!) A gentle leader wraps around the head of the dog and kind of looks like a muzzle, but doesn’t restrict the dog from drinking, licking, or barking; it gives the most control, which makes sense since it’s wrapped around the dog’s face like horse reins. Personally, I think they’re great, but requires a lot of training and patience to get your dog to accept it and not try to paw it off or throw itself to the floor and have a fit. A halti is similar, but has an extra strap that attaches from the dog’s mouth to its collar, and the leash clips on a ring inbetween the strap. I’m actually not sure what the difference is other than the appearance. A Martengale is like a collar, except the ring the lash connects to is attached to a strap on the collar that lets the collar tighten a limited amount (a few inches) so that any time the dog pulls, the collar corrects it with a sqeeze, which loosens once the dog stops pulling. Similarly, a prong collar tightens a limited amount when the dog pulls, and then loosens when the dog stops pulling, but it has the added effect of pinching the dog’s neck alittle bit beween each prong inside the collar as a punishment for pulling. They’re also used for Compulsive Training and are a way of using positive punishment (add something bad to punish bad behavior) by quickly snapping the leash, pinching the dog’s neck, and then stopping once the dog stops. The worse in my opinion, especially for pullers, is the slip lead. It’s like a super tough rope that’s used for training and correcting dogs’ bad behaviors, but it has no limit in how tight you can make the collar, and you can pretty much hang the dog like with a noose, but it tightens. For waking, I’d go for a Martengale, harness (front clip), or Prong Collar.

Anyway! To keep your dog from pulling, make sure that he’s aware that you’re on the other end of the leash. Sounds easy enough, but some dogs don’t seem to get it. You do this by stopping often and waiting until your dog stops, looking around wondering what’s going on, and then finally looks up at you for the answer. The moment he does, mark it with a “yes”, and the reward is to continue walking. Every time he pulls from that point on, you mark with “Nope” or “Ah-ah” or whatever you like, stop walking, wait, and let him go once he looks at you. Soon, he should be looking at you all the time when you stop suddenly. You can fortify your existence (nice word use there) by doing U-turns every once in a while, making sure to turn TOWARD the dog so that you’re walking into him and forcing him to turn with you (he should be inside the U, not outside). He’ll keep his attention on you then!

6. Heel: With the loose-leash walking set-up, you can now effectively heel. This is important for when you’re passing another dog, walking through a crowd, need to meander around cars, or just need to keep your dog close for whatever reason. You hold the loop of the leash in your dominant hand and then about 2/3 down the leash, hold there with your other hand. You should have part of the leash cross infront of you. This will shorten the leash so that your dog’s right next to you. In the hand closer to your dog, hold a treat. As your dog’s walking beside you like a good boy, you praise him and give him a treat. You can also stop, call him, and as he comes to you, lure him past you alittle bit, then have him loop around so that he’s facing the same direction as you and is next to you. As you have him position next to you, use “Heel” as the command. With Ringo, I’ve gotten him able to shift from heeling to loose-leash walking by starting loose-leashed, telling him to heel and having him come beside me, and then walking heeled. After a while, I’ll stop, and when he looks up at me, I have him sit and stay, drop the leash in my other hand, and then say “OK!” and let him walk the 6-foot length of the leash to sniff around and wander alittle. He never pulls because I stop every time he does, and since I’m a mean meanie, I silently wait for him to heel beside me before we start walking again.

200455362-0015. Leave It: Teaching your dog to Leave It can save your dog’s life. The most common use is to keep your dog from ingesting food he shouldn’t, and saves you money and a trip to the vet. Another way to use Leave It is to keep him away from other dogs who may not want him near them or from rudely sniffing people nearby, and is best followed up with Come. It’s also a strong impacting command that can get you from Point A to Point B without a bazillion stops in between to sniff every smelly smell on the sidewalk or neighbor’s yard. It also keeps your dog from eating poops that people were too busy to pick up during their dog’s walk, which could make your dog sick and, of course, gross and unkissable.

To teach Leave It, start with a treat and hold it in your hand, gripped in a way that your dog can smell it, but can’t take it. Just hold it there infront of him and let him nibble, lick, paw, etc. your hand. The moment he stops, say Leave It, pause for a split second, and then reward him with a DIFFERENT TREAT FROM YOUR OTHER HAND. Keep doing this until he stops every time you say Leave It five times in a row. Then, try gently placing the treat on the floor, held down and slightly covered by your hand. You can gradually move your hand away and if he goes after it, say “Leave it!” as you cover it with your hand, and when he pulls away or stops trying to take it, pause for a moment, mark the action, and reward him.

Then comes the tough part: Take a simple food that’s generally low value and large so that he can’t vacuum it up (maybe a nylabone or an icecube), and toss it idly nearby behind you. As your dog runs over to sniff or grab it, quickly say “Leave it!” and block his path. The moment he hesitates, you quickly reward him with a smelly high-value treat, then pick the object up. If your dog’s way too fast, you can do this with the leash in hand and the moment he goes for it, quickly snap it back to pull him away, and then reward once he recovers from the pull. Do this over and over until he no longer goes after the item when you say Leave It. Do NOT reward him by letting him eat the item afterward, or he’s going to learn that Leave It means “Stop for a second and then eat it” and not “Leave it alone”. You can do this with other dogs as well, or items in the house, by body-blocking (standing in the way) or pulling with the leash. Make sure you don’t drag your dog gently away and that the leash snap is quick, brief, and not too hard and not too soft.

4. Come: This can also save your dog’s life, especially if he’s found himself bolting across the street and for some reason everyone and their mother decided that this moment was the best moment ever to drive at a billion miles an hour down the neighborhood. It’s also very important to be strong enough that other dogs, small animals, strangers, and the like aren’t too distracting for your dog to “hear” you calling him.

To start, you want to make sure your dog knows his name and will always respond to you when you say it. Do this by saying his name in a “calling” tone right next to him. When he looks at you, or even if his ears move toward you, you reward it with “yes” and then a treat. Keep doing this over and over while less than a foot away until he does it every time ten times in a row. Then try when you’re a few feet away. If it doesn’t work, get closer. See how close you have to be for him to react, and then retry a foot away from there, but say his name louder. Honestly, some dogs really didn’t hear you since most of the things we say are toned out since when we’re far away, we’re talking to someone else and not the dog. Keep doing this until you’re about six feet or so (leash distance).

Then, start saying his name while walking outside. You can walk and walk, and then stop. While you’re dog’s looking around at the beautiful scenery, say his name. If he reacts, mark it and reward. If not, you can tap him on the shoulder, or catch his attention with a treat briefly brought to his nose and then lead toward your face for him to look up at. “I’m here too, you know!” Keep stopping every few feet and saying his name to get him 100% sure he knows it. This also helps with the beginnings of loose-leashing walking and heeling too.

Teaching-Your-Dog-To-ComeNow’s the “easy” part. He knows his name, now he needs to know how to come up to you to ask, “Yes, what did you need?”. You can start on your normal six-foot-long leash or with a long rope; have him a few feet away, then say his name, and follow it with, “Come!” or “Come here!” or as I say it, “Come’ere!” and act excited, maybe shuffle backwards alittle, slap your knees, beckon him, make funny noises like “Pup pup pup!”, whatever it takes to get him excited and interested so that he runs up to you. If he jumps on you in excitement as he reaches you, that’s fine. Once he reaches you, act like he did the most amazing thing ever, with lots of “Yaaaay!”s and “Wooooo!”s and petting and hugs and all that jazz. Keep doing this over and over until he comes easily. Once you’re confident, you can start getting him to come to you from further and further away in low-distraction places, and eventually get him to come in higher and higher distracting places. The highest point is getting him to come while he’s running around full speed off-leash or while he’s playing with another dog. Make sure that until he comes no matter what, you always have a reward for him coming to you. NEVER call him to you and then make him do something horrible like take a bath, end a fun game off-leash, be punished for running off (Hey! I came back, didn’t I?), or take a medicine.

3. Voluntary Attention: Teaching your dog to look in your eyes is one of the most important things for your dog to learn. It’s the main connection you can make with your dog to communicate, and if your dog’s always looking up at you, it’ll be that much easier to train him and help him follow your lead. Anything you want to say to your dog will be noticed because he’s looking right at you and you’re looking right at him when you say it.

To teach this, find a quiet distraction-free place to train. Stand infront of your dog with treat in hand, hidden of course. Every time he looks at you, mark the action with a clicker or by saying “yes” or “good” in an even positive tone, and then follow up with a small treat, either given right to him into the mouth or dropped on the floor for him to retrieve. After the first treat, your dog’s going to start working his brain on how he can get more treats. Of course, he’ll start by looking up at you to see if you can give him a hint. Right at that moment, mark the action, and then treat. Do this ten to fifteen times a day as a daily routine, and when he does look at you between each session, reward with praise and petting, or maybe a rare treat or two. The importance of having a training routine is that, by standing infront of and looking down at him, that itself is a cue that the training has begun and it’s time to work, and that the training REALLY begins when you two catch eyes.

2. Reinforce Sit to Gain Leadership: Once you teach your dog to sit, you’re now able to use this easy trick as a tool to gain respect and leadership. Start a “No Free Meal” policy in your home once you’ve “mastered” making your dog do what you want. Any time and every time you’re going to give your dog anything, be it his meals, putting his leash on, going out the door, being let inside, being allowed out of the crate, starting a play session, any thing, your dog must sit first, and be able to hold it while you give him what he wants. Once his sit is super strong, and he can hold it without tapping his feet in anxiousness or barking at you to hurry up, you can start teaching “OK!” which indicates that he is now allowed to break from the sit and enjoy what you have given him permission to enjoy. It sounds like being a total Nazi, but it’s very important, isn’t mean, and gives your dog structure and strong leadership.

To teach your dog “OK!” to break from his sit, you can start with easy things like giving him his meal or letting him out. You have him sit and slowly lower the bowl or open the door. When he breaks it without you telling him to, you give him the “you messed up!” mark with a simple, “oops.”, “nope.”, “ah-ah”, or whatever you like, and then lift the bowl back up or shut the door. Have him sit again, and then retry. Be consistent and mark the mistake the same way every time and don’t add any dialog between attempts or your dog will get confused. Once he holds the sit and the bowl is on the floor or the door is open, say, “OK!” excitedly and when he breaks the sit and goes for the bowl or steps outside, praise him verbally since the reward is the food/freedom. Do this all the time as a usual day-to-day routine and you’ve become a leader without having to “really” work for it.

Screen shot 2013-03-19 at 12.40.07 AM1. Fetch/Go Get It/Where’s Your Ball: This one may not seem like a life-saving trick or one that’s vital enough to be #1 (sorry to disappoint you), but I feel that exercise is the most important thing for your dog, as cheesy as it sounds. Your dog’s health is what matters most when it comes down to it, and having your dog know how to fetch or at least go after a toy is so important. When I adopted Ringo, I was surprised to learn that this puppy didn’t have any “interest” in toys. He was 8 months old and when I tossed a stuffed toy, he looked at it confused, and then sniffed it as if he really didn’t know what it was. I mean, it was a silly looking squeaky flat lizard toy, but still! Any stuffed toy should be fair game to a puppy! I actually had to teach him that it was good to chsse after things I tossed near him.

I did this by tossing it, and when he looked at it, he got praise and a treat. Then I took it and tossed it again. Every time he took notice of it, there was praise and a treat. When he sniffed it, he got praise and pets and a treat. When he picked it up, he got more praise and excited petting and a few treats. Then, I gave him place and let him try playing with it. It was easier in that it was a squeaky toy, so every time it squeaked, I cheered and pet him. Soon he learned that these weird stuffed things aren’t all that bad. Hell, they make my owner go crazy and that’s hilarious!

Now, he goes after anything I toss, be it a stuffed toy, a ball, his Kong, or his rubber bouncy stick thingy. They all lead to lots of dashing about, cheering and pets, and playfully rough play. It’s great to play fetch when the weather’s crummy and walks have to be brief and consist of “Go poopoo! Go peepee! Okay! Let’s go home!”.

To start getting your dog enticed enough to go after the object you threw, if just throwing it doesn’t work, you can say something like, “Go get it!” excitedly as you throw it, and if he stares, run after it alittle. If you’re gonna grab it, it must be something amazing, so I want it first! When he goes for it, cheer and act like he did the best thing in the world. You can get him to Drop It if you have two of the same toy by trading them (whichever toy you’re holding usually has higher value solely because you have it and not him) by giving your toy to him for his toy. If your dog just doesn’t like fetching, you can always hold the toy and dance around shaking it around and smack your knees (kind of like doing a play-bow) and bringing the toy out for him to tug with when he seems interested. It’s great exercise for your dog, as well as yourself, even if you’re only standing there tossing the toy/ball while he goes after it or dancing with a stuffed toy.

And those are the Top Ten Things To Teach Your Dog! This list, as I said before, is pretty loosely-ranked, so number five may be as important as number six, and number ten may be number eleven, but I feel that in general, these things are important enough to teach your dog that SOMEONE pointed it out. If anyone has any other tricks they feel deserve to be in the top ten list instead of what I have, feel free to share your thoughts! Opinions and suggestions are always welcome!


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Why Won’t My Dog Listen?

Dog-Training-SchoolsEver attend a training class and all the dogs around you are quietly listening to the trainer and doing what their owners are telling them, and meanwhile your dog is throwing a tantrum and ignoring every word you say? You sigh in frustration and think to yourself, “My dog is so stupid!” and smile embarrassingly to the trainer as she responds with a pitied look from across the room. The puppy next to you knows sit; why can’t your dog?!
Well, there are many reasons why dogs have trouble learning sit, or any command. Most of these things aren’t as obvious to the typical owner as they are to professionals who are able to read what a dog is trying to tell us though. Sometimes it has to do with the environment, but sometimes it’s because of the owner himself! Here’s a list of reasons why your smart dog could be having trouble acting smart:

Unaware of Your Intentions: Dogs don’t automatically pay attention to you just because you’re standing infront of them. Sometimes you need to teach your dog on how to be trained. This is called Voluntary Attention and is actually quite easy to train, but is best if your dog is hungry. To do this, simply stand onfront of your dog and say his name or “hey” to get him to look at you. The moment your eyes meet, reward him with “yes” or “good boy!” and give him a treat or a kibble of his food. Keep doing this every time your eyes meet. Eventually, he’ll hold his gaze to you even after given a treat. Take advantage of this and wait a few seconds longer every few times until he can hold attention for what seems like forever. This is the best trick you can teach your dog. By teaching him to look to you for rewards and direction, you can get him to do just about anything. I taught Ringo Voluntary Attention right away when I fed him the first time. Now, whenever he looks at something new, he’ll look up at me for direction on how to act. Anytime I do anything, he pays attention to it and waits for any indication that I want him to do something. It’s great and can solve a lot of unruly behavior when your dog learns that you’re the leader he’s looking for.

squirrelDistractions: This one’s pretty obvious; your dog is too occupied with everything around it to listen to you. Depending on the dog’s breed, it can be too difficult to concentrate on the person standing infront of it screaming, “SIT!” when there are so many smells and sounds drowning the person out.

Herding dogs may prioritize a doggy classmate or anything running by, be it squirrel or child, over whatever treats you have to offer due to its herding instinct. A hound may be distracted by that amazing smell ten feet away if the treat you have in your hand isn’t as smelly.

One way to catch your dog’s attention during training is to flash the treat infront of your dog’s nose, then lure your dog’s gaze back up to you. Usually, this should snap your dog out of it and he’ll pay attention to the treat and what he has to do to get it. You can also stand in your dog’s line of sight if he’s staring at something as well, or if he’s freaking out due to sensory overload, try to move further from the source of the distraction if possible.

DorWUToo Much Energy: When your dog is lacking in exercise and everything is exciting, it’s impossible to pay attention. Yelling, trying to distract him with treats, yanking him around, or anything like that probably won’t help when he has enough energy to power the sun. If possible, tire him out first with a game of fetch or a walk around the neighborhood before you start trying to teach him something. Once he’s tuckered out and has been given some water, food might sound like the next exciting thing to pay attention to and training will be easy!

Too Nervous: If your dog is busy whimpering and trembling and won’t take treats, there’s no way he’s going to be able to learn anything or listen to anyone. Whatever’s going on around him has made your dog way too nervous to function, and tugging his leash, pushing his butt to the ground, yelling at him, or saying “No!” over and over isn’t going to help him learn how to sit down. It’s best to work on getting him relaxed and associate the place you’re in as a good place, and not the place where everyone’s screaming and the floor’s covered in mysterious puddles of pee.

You can do this by acting calm and not correcting his whimpers and trembling. This is your dog’s way of telling you, “I don’t like this place! I’m scared!” and yanking him or yelling is just going to tell him, “Oh god! This is place is horrible indeed!” Instead, squat down to his level and be calm and talk gently to him, but don’t pet or baby him because it’ll promote the way he’s acting. Offer some treats if he’ll accept them by hand or by dropping or placing them on the floor. The treats can be a good distraction and if they’re high value treats, teach him that the good treats are given only when in this scary place. You can also, if possible, offer a toy to help him relax. If all else fails, it’s best to ignore your dog until he eventually calms down on his own. If you’re not in a classroom or vet, maybe it’d be a good idea to leave and come back another day.

Some signs of a nervous dog are obvious: whimpering, trembling, barking, panting with tongue hanging out, pacing back and forth, jumping on owner, sniffling and licking things, tensing up, and chewing on the paws. There are less obvious signs too though: panting when it’s not hot in general, yawning over and over, not reacting to anything, and not taking treats. You’ll also notice when a dog is nervous when it flicks its tongue over and over, or licks it lips dramatically. A nervous dog will also turn away from people trying to interact with it, look at people with wide eyes where you can see the whites (whale eyes). They may blink slowly and obviously, or have wrinkles on the sides of its lips while panting or on top of the head between the ears. When a dog pants while nervous, the tongue is sometimes curled up and the panting is very rapid. If your dog seems nervous, don’t push him too hard, or at least back off alittle bit until he’s calm again.

Screen shot 2013-03-16 at 5.29.36 PMCommand Has Negative Results: When you call your dog to you, what does he expect? Pets, praise, treats, toys, fun things, of course! But what happens when you call your dog and when he comes to you, you pick him up and drop him in the bathtub? He won’t want to come to you anymore.

Whenever you say your dog’s name, you want to get his attention. Whenever I say “Ringo”, he comes running to me because I only say his name when I have something nice to offer or want him to do something fun, like start a game or get ready for a walk. When he does something naughty, I never say his name because you don’t want your dog’s name to be a punishing word. Use something you don’t say often like, “Oh no you di’nt!” instead if you want to scold your dog. Remember though, it only works when you catch your dog in the act of doing something naughty, not after he’s stopped doing it! The same is for when your dog has run off and you call him back: when he comes back, don’t scold him for running off; you’ll just be teaching him not to come back because dogs associate cause and effect one action at a time.

Command Loses Value: Dogs also can’t understand human speech, obviously, so what about when a dog knows a command and doesn’t seem to follow it anymore? It makes one wonder what the heck happened, right? Well, when you give a command, do it once. If “sit!” becomes “Sit! Hey, sit. Sit. SIT!” you have a problem that will be tough to solve. Say the command once, and if the dog doesn’t understand or messes up, let him know it was wrong with a simple, “Oops” or “Nope” and turn away for a moment then come back. This resets the command and lets your dog understand that you’re retrying to command, not adding to it.

Screen shot 2013-03-16 at 5.43.06 PMThere are also times when you give your dog a command he knows and he literally looks at you and then turns away. He knows the command, and knows that you know that he knows the command, but because nothing happens when he chooses not to follow it, he feels that he’s free to ignore it if he’s not interested in treats. Always follow up when you give your dog a command like “Come”, “Leave it”, “Stay”, “Off”, or whatever other commands that keep your dog out of trouble. You don’t want your dog to dive for a bar of dark chocolate and ignore you when you tell him to Leave It all because the word has no value.

If you teach your dog Leave It and he goes for the item anyway, don’t sit there and go, “Aw man! He ate my cupcake!”; you want to follow up! Block the food, and the moment he hesitates, that’s when you reward him with something better, like a treat or extra praise. You want your dog to hesitate when you tell him to Leave It, and if you’re far away, you can call your dog to you to get him away from the object. If needed, you can open your dog’s mouth and pull the food out before he swallows it. Be sure to give the command before or as you do this, and let him know that this is what happens when he tries to eat it anyway. Don’t hit him or anything like that though because then the command will mean, “I’m about to smack you!” instead of, “Don’t eat that!” and that’s not the point you’re trying to get across.

Wha’chu Talkin’ Bout?: Your dog doesn’t understand what you’re trying to tell it. Dogs aren’t born knowing their name or any commands, so telling every dog you meet to sit or shake hands isn’t only embarrassing, but it’s pointless. Like how dogs communicate, using body language with words/sounds is much easier to understand than just words in a foreign language. Until your dog has learned the command with body language and can do the command about 90% correctly whenever cued, your dog may not be able to follow just by speech. Saying a command over and over, but louder and slower, won’t help. It doesn’t help someone who can’t speak your language understand what you’re saying just like how it doesn’t help your dog understand what you’re saying.

Although training your dog in different places with different distractions is a good challenge for him, be sure to only challenge your dog when and where you know he can successfully accomplish it. Being patient and setting your dog up for success by training him in a place with no distractions, when he’s in a good state of mind, and with nothing that’ll make your commands negative or worthless will help your “stupid” dog show you that he’s actually quite intelligent. Remember these different reasons, and training sessions will make it much easier since you’ll be more aware of why your dog’s not paying attention to you. Other than these reasons, can anyone think of any others? Feel free to share your knowledge!