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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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.



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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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!

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Bad Human Foods for Dogs

Dog-Sick-pictureNow that we learned from my earlier post that some human foods are quite good for dogs, let’s look at what’s bad for dogs. Many of these you may know, but let’s see why they’re so horrible and what you can expect to happen if your dog ingests these foods. Let’s gather these bad human foods for dogs and keep them safely sealed up in the cupboard out of Fido’s reach!

Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine: Caffeine isn’t all that good for kids, and it’s even worse for dogs! Methylxanthine, which you find in cacao seeds, coffee plants, and in the nuts of an extract used in sodas, can really mess up your dog: it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, excessive thirst and urination, and even death. Darker chocolate, being more concentrated in the stuff, is more dangerous than milk chocolate, while white chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines. While baking, chocolate contains the highest amount, so don’t you share those yummy chocolate chip cookies with Fido!

Onions, Garlic, and Chives: Although some veggies are good for your dog, these three veggies aren’t as they can cause GI irritation and red blood cell damage. You can find garlic in some dog foods, vitamins, and treats, and is sometimes used as a topping to entice a picky dog to eat his meals, but this is only safe if given in teeny tiny amounts. Too much can make your dog very sick and very unhappy. Don’t give ANY to your cat though, for the results are even more dramatic. Although many people like to feed their dogs baby food as a treat, this contains onion powder and isn’t a good idea.

Grapes and Raisins: Being one of the more common foods in your home, it’s important to know that grapes and raisins are horrible for your dog! People aren’t sure what the toxic substance is, but these fruits can cause kidney failure in dogs. If your dog already has health problems, signs may be even more dramatic.

Raw Meat, Eggs, and Bones: Even though wolves and stray dogs can eat raw meat, your dog really shouldn’t. Raw meat and raw eggs can contain Salmonella or E. coli that can be harmful to pets. Raw eggs also contain Avidin that decreases the absorption of Biotin (Vitamin B), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones isn’t a good idea either for your dog, no matter how smart he is, can choke or splinter the bone and it can become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract. That’s a very big vet bill for a very small treat.

Raw Fish: Although cooked fish is great for your dog, raw fish can result in a Thiamine (Vitamin B) deficiency. This leads to loss of appetite, seizures, and even death. Don’t share your sushi!

Avocado: The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. In very tiny amounts, it can be a nice way to keep the skin and coat healthy, but unless your dog’s getting his avocado fix from Avoderm Dog Food, try to resist sharing any avocados with him.

Macadamia Nuts: These nuts are sometimes used in cookies and candies, and can cause problems for your dog such as weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia. If you suspect Fido stole some cookies from the cookie jar, be aware that symptoms usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion, and last about 12 to 48 hours.

Yeast Dough: Although dogs can eat small amounts of bread since the dough has already fully risen, uncooked yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system, resulting in his intestines to rupture! It’s not pretty, so bake his treats before you plan to give some to your dog if it contains yeast dough.

Canine Patient in Hospital Room

Milk: Dogs are lactose intolerant because they don’t possess enough lactase in their body, so milk and other milk-based products cause diarrhea or other digestive upset. Teeny tiny amounts can be okay, but be careful or else your carpets will hate you forever.

Salt: Too much of this can cause excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures, and even death. It’s a given that feeding your dog those yummy potato chips isn’t a good idea then.

Alcohol: It’s not great for humans, but like caffeine, alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol result in even worse symptoms for dogs. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma, and even death. If you’re having a party, make sure no one decides to be generous and share a glass with your dog.

Xylitol: A sweetener used in gum, candy, baked goods, and toothpaste, Xylitol can lead to liver failure in dogs. It causes an insulin release in many animals that leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels), and results in vomiting, lethargy, seizures, and loss of coordination. If you want to brush your dog’s teeth, please make sure to use dog tooth paste available in pet stores and not human tooth paste!

Cat Food: Of course, this food is designed to be fed to your cat, not your dog. Cat food contains a lot protein and fat; way more than your dog needs. If your dog has a cat friend, try to make sure they don’t share meals. One interesting thing I’d like to mention is that dogs can eat cat treats, but cats can’t eat dog treats. Cat treats are much cheaper overall, so take advantage of this knowledge! But be aware that like their food, cat treats contain a large amount of protein, so feed these smelly fishy treats sparingly.

Marijuana: Although some people might think this would be great for a hyper or nervous dog, this can depress the nervous system, cause vomiting, and dramatic changes in heart rate. Your dog will not become chill after eating or smelling this!

And those are the many human foods that are no good for your dog. Sure, some of these things aren’t foods, but for the average dog, anything that fits in its mouth is considered food. Be sure to keep these things far from your dog’s reach, and if enjoyed by yourself, stay greedy and don’t share any with your dog. Instead, offer a snack from the Good Human Foods for Dogs list!

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Homemade Dog Biscuits – Peanut Butter Pumpkin Crunch

Worried about the treats you’re feeding your dog? Why not make some of your own? Not only is it cheaper and less dangerous than store bought treats, but this recipe consists of ingredients that are easy access and inexpensive. Most importantly, it’s healthy, tasty, and safe for dogs -and people- to eat!
Made with peanut butter and pumpkin as the main ingredients and sources of flavor, these treats can help your dog a lot. Peanut butter has Vitamin H and E in it; Vitamin H can help bring sheen to your dog’s coat, improve the quality of your dog’s skin, and adds strength to your dog’s nails. Vitamin E can help your dog’s immune system, which protects your dog from disease. Pumpkin is great in that it’s full of fiber and helps with both constipation and diarrhea, and even helps with upset stomach. A yummy treat for your dog with peanut butter and pumpkin in it sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it?

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Crunch
Prep time:  20 mins
Cook time:  40 mins
Total time:  1 hour

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (unsweetened – not pie filling)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (I used crunchy peanut butter for unique texture)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together the flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, and salt.
  3. Add water as needed, one tbsp at a time, to help make the dough workable. The dough should be dry and sticky. Add flour to keep the stickiness off your hands if needed.
  4. Roll the dough onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper into a 1/2-inch thick roll, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
  5. Bake in preheated oven until hard, for about 40 minutes.
  6. Let cool and offer to your lucky dog!
NOTE: This recipe is not my own and belongs to A Muse In My Kitchen. I tweaked it a tiny bit, but if you’d like the original recipe with a step-by-step walkthrough, and access to even more amazing recipes for dog and man alike, visit her blog here!

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Good Human Foods For Dogs

As many people know, things like chocolate and coffee are bad for dogs and can make them very sick because of many reasons. We also know that, in general, table scraps are no good since fatty foods make a bigger difference for dogs than people, especially since a dog that’s five pounds overweight is considered obese.

What are we allowed to feed out dogs then? Well, there are a lot of great things you can feed your dog with much less guilt, and some things are actually healthy! Many of these things can be mixed together and baked into wonderful treats, or used to top off your picky dog’s food to entice him into finally finishing his meal.

There are people who argue over whether dogs are omnivores or carnivores, but although dogs would prefer meats over fruits, veggies, and grains, I feel that dogs actually are omnivores and can benefit from non-meat treats such as these:

Yogurt: This is a great source of available calcium and protein, but be sure to pick a brand that has live active bacteria and no sugars or artificial sweeteners added to it. If your dog’s alittle pudgy, you can pick fat-free yogurt, but not one that contains fat substitutes. Yogurt is a nice summer treat for dogs, and is a super cheap replacement to peanut butter or Kong Stuff’n pastes when frozen in a Kong toy.

Pumpkin: This is a good source of fibre and beta carotene (a source of vitamin A). Dogs need fibre in their diet to stay “regular”. A lot of people are leaning toward dog foods that are higly digestible so that their dogs have smaller, more manageable, stools, but that’s not really a good thing. You want to keep your dog’s GI tract moving helps keep the cells lining the gut healthy. Adding pumpkin to your dog’s meals can help a lot! I usually buy canned pumpkin (unsweetened and not pie-filling!) and feed this to my dog once a month or when he seems to be having problems going to the bathroom.

Squash: Like pumpkin, this can be added to bulk up your dog’s stool, and is a good source of betacarotene (provitamin A). One fun thing you can do is buy a fresh squash and slice it in strips, making sure to remove the seeds and skin, and freeze it for a yummy treat!

Sweet potatoes: This is another source of dietary fibre, like pumpkin and squash, and contains vitamin B6, Vitamin C, beta carotene, and manganese. You can buy a lot of yummy healthy jerky treats made of sweet potato since, when sliced and dehydrated, become chewy and easy to digest.

Peanut butter: This is Ringo’s favorite snack. It is healthy and high in protein, and has been said to reduce canine diabetes and can help with bad breath! I like to smear some on Ringo’s antler chews and freeze it so that the peanut butter is frozen in the pores of the antler chew and gives it a special flavor. It’s also an inexpensive, healthy, and tasty ingredient to make any homemade dog treat extra yummy.

Peas: This can be added right to a picky puppy’s food, frozen or thawed. Peas are a good source of the Vitamin B (thiamine), phosphorous, and potassium. 

Green beans: Even though I personally hate green beans, they’re a good source of plant fibre, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and manganese. Ringo can eat all he likes! They’re a great substitute to some of your dog’s food (you can feed half dog food and half green beans each meal!) if he’s getting fat as it’s a low-calorie way to fill him up and maintain a healthy weight. Many dogs enjoy green beans frozen as a chewy crunchy treat. 

Apples: These are a wonderful crunchy treat for your dog, and one of Ringo’s favorites. With the skin on, apples are full of plant chemicals (phytonutrients) that are thought to be protective against some types of cancer in humans, so who knows, maybe it’s good for dogs too. They’re a nice source of Vitamins A and C and fibre. Be careful though; Apple seeds contain cyanide so your dog should not be allowed to eat the core! Be sure to slice an apple and have it prepared as if you were to eat it. If you do give your dog a full apple, be sure to watch him.

Pineapple: This can be an occasional special treat for your dog. Pineapple does contain a lot of sugar, but it does have calcium and potassium too. Frozen pineapple can be a fun summer treat for your dog, or a special ingredient to get a picky dog interested in his dog food.

Cottage cheese: High in protein and calcium and fairly bland, cottage cheese can be a good way to add some extra protein to your dog’s diet. Be careful though; dairy products, cottage cheese included, don’t do well with dogs, whom are lactose intolerant, so make sure to start with just a small amount.

Eggs: They’re a great source of very digestible protein, riboflavin, and selenium. For some dogs that are prone to digestive problems and stomach aches, eggs can give them a little protein boost. Adding eggs to your dog’s food is a healthy treat, but make sure to use cooked whole egg since raw egg whites can cause biotin deficiency. Considered a tasty and rare treat, you could take some with you to obedience class as a super high value reward. They may be alittle smelly though…

Oatmeal: This is a good source of soluble fibre. Oatmeal can be beneficial for older dogs that may have trouble staying “regular”. Oatmeal is also an alternative source of grain for dogs that are allergic to wheat! Keep in mind that oatmeal should always be fed cooked and plain with no sugar or flavoring!

Rice: It’s good to feed your dog boiled (and warm-temperature) rice when your dog has an upset tummy and needs a bland meal. Brown rice is a little higher in protein and a little lower in fat when compared to white rice. Rice in general is easily digestible and makes a good source of energy when your dog has an upset tummy. I like to boil chicken breast and rice into a mushy soup whenever Ringo has a stomach ache. Be sure to never serve dishes hot!

Popcorn: With no butter or salt, this is a great low-calorie treat for your dog. Popcorn contains potassium, as well as phosphorous, magnesium, and calcium to help build strong bones. Make sure the popcorn isn’t too hot when letting your dog in on this snack during movie time.

Flax seed (ground or oil): This is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids that are good for skin and coat. Since they can go bad quickly, it’s best to grind whole flax seeds before feeding. Ground flax seed can be added to your dog’s diet as a source of fibre, but flax oil is a more concentrated form of omega- 3 fatty acids, but without the fibre. Make sure that you store the oil or seeds in the fridge in an air tight dark container.

Parsley: This is a good way to improve doggie breath, so next time you are baking treats for your dog, try adding a few tablespoons of chopped parsley for added flavour and colour. Parsley can also be a good source of calcium, potassium, and beta-carotene.

Brewer’s yeast: Full of B Vitamins which are good for skin, coat, and carbohydrate metabolism, Brewer’s yeast is a good cooking ingredient for your puppy’s treats. Make sure you’re using brewer’s yeast and not baking yeast which will make your dog sick. You can sprinkle a little on your picky dog’s food too!

Now that we’ve looked at the fruits, grain, and veggies that are good for Man’s Best Friend, what kinds of meats are good? Well, any meat, really, but I personally like:

Salmon: This is actually one of my favorite meats personally, so Ringo gets a lot of this in his diet. Actually, his dog food is currently Salmon and Potato flavored, and I chose it because that sounded like something I’d like to eat. Anyway! Salmon is a fatty fish and a great source of omega- 3 fatty acids. These fats support the immune system and can be beneficial for skin and coat. You can feed your dog salmon or salmon oil; if feeding salmon, make sure it’s cooked before serving, as raw salmon can carry a parasite that can make your dog sick. No sushi!

Liver: You can get this freeze-dried in most pet stores, and is a great training treat that’s high in value due to its taste, smell, and texture. You can also buy it fresh in the grocery store to feed at home. Fresh liver can be cooked, and then baked into tasty liver treats at a fraction of the cost of freeze-dried treats at the pet store ($8 for a one-ounce bag? Seriously?!). It is an excellent source of B vitamins (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, and Folic acid), Vitamin A, and Vitamin K. It is also a great source of iron. Be careful though; because of its high vitamin A content, do not feed your dog too much liver!

And of course, there are the typical meats prominent in dog food, such as turkey, chicken, beef, lamb, etc., but more specifically, the kind of meat you want to feed your dog is:

Lean meat: Be sure to let your dog in on yummy tasty meats, but make sure that you only offer slices with no visible fat and no added sauces or seasonings. Plain meat can be a great training treat, or can add a bit of good-quality extra protein to your dog’s diet. Meat is an excellent source of amino acids, the building blocks of muscle in your dog’s body, as well as Vitamin B (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Pyridoxine, and Cobalamine), which are involved in energy metabolism in the body. All dogs need meat in their diet, but despite how tempted you are to give your dog the “bad pieces” with fat all over it, hold back and provide your buddy with the nice lean slices you planned to save for yourself. Though, I don’t think he’ll mind getting that gross piece with the vein on it…

So that’s that; the many yummy human foods that are also good for your dog. Like all foods, just because it’s healthy, it doesn’t mean you can engorge yourself with it. Be sure that your dog’s main food source is its dog food, which is already balanced in nutrition for your dog. A sample or two of these human foods can help though, especially if your dogs is lacking in some vitamins, is having a tummy ache, or just deserves some super special treats during training class. I’m sure there are other human foods that are good for dogs, and if I missed any, feel free to add more to the list in the comments!