Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Learning to retrieve

Working on retrieving a ball.  Not using many words, just clapping and praising~

Home Safety Check: Part 2

Have a safe place for your puppy to be when you can directly supervise him.  This can be a puppy proof room, a crate or an X-pen.  (If using a crate, be sure about the size.  See March 16 post.)  I like an x-pen for my dogs.  They are available in different heights and degrees of sturdiness.  Some have tops on them and some can have a top added.  I like their flexibility as you can shape them to a smaller size by overlapping the panels.  

Use these guidelines when confining your puppy:

  • Make the confined space a good place where good things happen.
  • Feed the puppy in the confined space so he will associate the confines space with good things.  Praise the puppy when he is eating so he connects the praise to food.  
  • Put indestructible toys in the space.  Occasionally add a toy that allows space for treats like a Kong with a bit of peanut butter and kibble in it.
  • Most naps should occur in the confined space.  Make this a normal part of the routine, not just a place for punishment.
  • If the confined space is in an area where the puppy can see you and you can see him, the puppy will be more likely to accept it and even go in there on his own when tired.
  • Be sure to be aware of when he wakes up, as you will want to take him out to potty immediately.  I find a baby monitor to be very helpful, especially with a puppy under 3 months old.
  • If the puppy whines or barks in the confined space, don't take him out.  This would reinforce the behavior that you don't want.  Eventually he will settle.  When he is calm and quiet for 15 seconds or more, praise him and take him out of the confined space to potty and have play time.  The exception is when you think the puppy is trying to tell you that he needs to go outside to potty.  In that case, say nothing, and carry or take him on a leash to his potty spot.  Use your word that you associate with going potty.  If he does potty, give him lots of praise.  If he does not, without talking or eye contact, take him back inside and put him back in the confined space.  You don't want to reward him for whining or barking.  Wait to take him out of the confined space after he has been quiet for at least 30 seconds.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Home Safety Check Part 1

Puppyhood is a special and relatively short span of time in your dog's life.  Try to see your puppy's new home from his point of view. What follows may sound a bit silly and you may want to do it when no one is watching!  Go through your house at the same height of your new puppy so you can truly see what he sees and what might be tempting or even dangerous to be around.  This usually involves either a crawl or even scooting around your house on your belly!  This will help you puppy proof the environment from his perspective.  If you have younger children, this can be a fun activity and an experiential way for them to begin seeing the world from the puppy's point of view.

Puppy proof your house in the same way you would do for a crawling baby.  Exposed electrical wires, cords, shoes on the floor, open wastebaskets, raised lid on the toilet seat and many other items are possible places for the puppy to harm himself.  Decide in advance what can be left out and subject to a chewing puppy and what must be temporarily stored elsewhere.  Often I have heard owners complain that their puppy was chewing on his leash, their shoes or dragging their underwear around the house.  This is not a bad puppy, but a careless owner.  Remember the crawl through your house at the eye level of your puppy?  Anything that could be seen or reached is subject to puppy exploration--usually by his teeth!  Take the time to puppy proof his environment and save yourself some expense, frustration and a possible trip to the vet.  

Remember Principle #1: There's no such thing as bad behavior to a dog.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Food and Water bowls

There's a great variety to choose from when it comes to bowls for your dog.

  • Material?
    • Dog bowls can be made from plastic, glass and metal.  The common view is to avoid plastic as it can be difficult to clean and become a place for bacterial growth.  Glass and pottery bowls are often beautiful and can be easily cleaned.  Of course, they are also breakable, so if you have a dog that likes to carry his food bowl around with him, they are not a good option.  Metal bowls also are easy to clean.  Check to be sure the metal is stainless steel as other metals can leach into the food and water.
  • Raised or on the floor?
    • Years ago, all dog bowls were placed on the floor.  Then it became popular to raise them, particularly for dogs that are subject to bloat--a condition where the stomach flips and causes blockage leading to sudden death. Dogs with deep chests and narrow waists, nervous dogs, food gulpers and dogs fed once daily also may have an increased likelihood of bloat.  Dogs engaging in a moderate amount of exercise are less likely to bloat.  Current research is finding that raised food bowls are actually more likely to cause bloat and these feeders are now not suggested unless recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Slow Bowls?
    • Slow bowls have some sort of obstacle or raised surface which makes it difficult for the dog to gulp down his food.  They also come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  The plastic ones are quite difficult to clean well for the same reasons they are good at trapping the food and encouraging slow eating. The best metal bowls are made of one piece, which lessens the likelyhood of traped and decaying food.
  • Other options for slowing down the food intake taken from Tricks for Slowing Down Dog's Eating
    • Use a puzzle feeder or treat release toy
    • Serve your dog his meals on a cookie sheet
    • Use a muffin tin
    • Turn mealtime into training time
    • Play hide-and-seek with his food.
    • Turn the bowl upside down
    • Feed two or more smaller meals a day, rather than one large meal
    • Hand feed your dog

Tuesday, April 9, 2019


Leashes come in two types--those that are retractable and those that are not.

  • Retractable leashes have their place, but should not be your regular leash for training.  I tend to only use one for late night potty times in our own yard or at rest areas when traveling.  Retractables require a constant tension on the leash or they will retract.  They do not give the loose leash walking "feel" for the dog.  On the plus side, they do allow the dog to have more freedom and can be an alternative for the owner with disabilities.
  • The standard leash is six feet long and can be made of leather, nylon, cotton, climbing rope or even bungee cord.  They can be very thin or wide and heavy.  In general, use a lighter leash for a smaller dog.  I avoid the leashes with the "traffic" handle near the clasp.  They create extra weight on the leash and also tempt the owner to hold the leash too short.  I usually use a half to one inch padded nylon or leather leash of four to six feet in length.  Larger dogs may do better with a four-foot leash. 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Introducing Chadwyk

Here's my new puppy at 7 weeks old.  He is a Bouvier des Flanders and will be trained to be my service dog in the future.  For now, his training will be more general.  Stay tuned to see videos and hints on training a new puppy! 

Collar or Harness?

The simplest collar can be fastened with a buckle or snap and is usually made from leather or fabric.  This is the only collar that should be used on a puppy.  Collars can also be what is called a "limited slip" or Martingale style with two sections--the smaller one tightens with a loop of chain or fabric.  This type of collar is an option for an older dog who needs more control for walking.

Only the buckle or snap collar can be worn without the owner providing close supervision. Collars that can tighten can get caught in all sorts of places and can choke our dog or at least realy scare him.  Even the safest colar can cause a problem.  Because of this, some people opt for no collar on their dog when in the house.

Halters or harnesses provide other options.  Head halters come in several designs, but all work by going around the dog's head as well as around the nose/mouth in much the same way that a halter works on a horse. They all fasten to the leash from under the chin.  Head halters should always be removed at the same time as the leash.  Head halters are not appropriate for a puppy.

Body harnesses come in multiple designs and styles.  Some fasten in the back, some in the front and a few can be fastened in front, back or both.  Some include a limited slip or Martingale connection at the location of the fastener.  I don't recommend these because dogs have no collarbone.  So, pressure from the front of the chest, like with a front fastening harness, especially with a Martingale style loop, can damage the muscles and ligaments that protect the shoulder.  The body harness is also best kept off until going out on a leash.  A body harness that fastens at the back is great for a puppy!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Getting Ready for A New Dog Addition

There's lots to think about when adding a new dog to your family.  Some of them have been addressed in previous posts:
  • See March 25:  Adding Another Dog
  • See March 16:  Determining the Size of a Crate

Here's a list of other things to consider, which will be addressed in following posts.
  • Gear:  Collar/Harness, Leash, Food/Water Bowl, Teething Toys
  • Home Safety Check
  • Food and Training Treats
  • Routines for Developing Good Behaviors
  • Socializing
  • Training Impulse Control
  • Dealing with Unwanted Behavior