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5 Basic Tricks to Teach your Newly Adopted Dog

by DOG for DOG Team 0 Comments

When you first adopt a dog and bring them home, they’re entering into a whole new world with you. Even if they’ve had previous homes before they came to you, their life with you isn’t just a new chapter – it’s a whole new beginning! Some pups may already have strong personality traits and ticks and, if you’re lucky, they may already know some basic commands and training as well. It’s important to spend those first few months really getting to know your new family member, and getting them acclimated to your life and routine. Even if they’re super well behaved, there are a few basic tricks you’ll want to master with them as they’re getting used to you being their new pack leader. We’ve rounded up five basic dog tricks you’ll want to teach them, which are easily learned no matter their current level of training. You could take a class but it’s really not necessary if you have just a bit of free time. Plus, this will be a fun and bonding experience for you both!

Teaching a dog to sit

Photo by @me_and_charlie on Instagram

Sit: This is probably the easiest trick to train so it’s a great one to start with. Hold a treat close to your dog’s nose and move your hand up, allowing his head to follow the treat while causing his bottom to lower. Once he’s in the sitting position, say “Sit” and give him a treat and affection. Repeat this sequence a few times a dog until he has it. From there, cement the trick and continue to use it by asking your dog to sit before being given meals or treats, before a walk and any other scenario where you’d like to calm him.

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Photo by @farmdoggies on Instagram

Come: This command is important for both you and your dog in case your dog gets away from you, whether through an open door or by slipping through the collar. It can also be helpful at the dog park or places where they are off leash. To train, put a leash and collar on your dog. Go down to their level and say “Come” while gently pulling on the leash. When they get to you, give them a treat and affection. Once they’ve mastered it with a leash, remove it and practice the command without it (while still indoors in a trusted area).

How to train your dog to down

Photo by @borithegoldenfamily on Instagram

Down: Down is one of the harder commands to train, as it’s seen as a submissive position. You’ll want to keep this training particularly positive and relaxed, especially with anxious or fearful dogs. To start, find a good smelling treat (like our DOGSTREAT mini peanut butter!) and hold it in your closed hand. Hold it up to your pup for a sniff and let his nose follow the treat to the ground. Slide your hand along the ground in front of him to encourage his body to follow his head. Refrain from pushing him down, he should be able to get there by wanting to follow your hand. Encourage every step of the process! Repeat this every day. If your dog tries to sit up or lunge towards the treat, say “No” and take your hand away. He’s working hard to figure it out, so allow the extra patience and time for this one!

training a dog to stay

Photo by @siradacr on Instagram

Stay: You’ll want to start with Stay only after you’ve totally mastered the Sit command. First, ask your dog to “Sit.” Then open the palm of your hand in front of you and say “Stay” and take a few steps back. Reward him with a treat and affection if he stays. Repeat this, gradually increasing the number of steps you take backwards each time before giving him a treat. Reward him each time he stays still, even if it’s only for a few seconds. Since this is an exercise in self control, don’t be discouraged if it takes awhile to master, especially if you’re working with a puppy or high-energy dog.

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Photo by @petey_3pups on Instagram

Leave it: Here, you’re teaching your dog to stay away from potential dangers on the ground as well as protecting things you don’t want them to have in the house. You’ll be doing this by teaching them that if they listen, they’ll get something even better as a reward. Start by placing a treat in each hand and show him one enclosed fist with the treat inside and say “Leave it.” Let him lick, sniff and paw at you to try and get to it (if he does), while ignoring these behaviors. Once he stops trying, give him the treat from the other hand. Repeat until your dog backs away from the first fist when you say “Leave it.” As a next step, give him the treat only when he leaves the first treat and looks at you. Once he’s mastered that (leaving the first treat and then making eye contact), try it with a really smelly, great treat and a just okay one. Say “Leave it” while placing the less attractive treat on the floor and covering it with your hand. Wait until he ignores it and looks at you. When he does, remove it from the floor, give him the better treat and praise him. Once he’s got that, place the less tasty treat on the floor but don’t totally cover it with your hand. You should be able to work to a place where you can hold your hand about six inches above the treat saying “Leave it” and he still won’t go for it. You can eventually stand up, and cover the treat with your foot only if he tries to go for it.

It may take a bit of time and patience to master these tricks, but will be well worth the effort. If in the process you’ve taken it up a notch and your pup is really stuck, try returning to the previous stage for a bit. Teaching your dog these few basic commands will form a bond between the two of you and that can be helpful when tackling problem behaviors that could develop in the future. You won’t regret taking the time to work with them on trusting and listening to you from the get-go. In the comments below, share tips on how you trained your current pups and what tricks you’d still like to master.

Psst: check out the Humane Society’s tips on basic training!

Tips to Overcome Shyness for Dogs

by DOG for DOG Team 2 Comments
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                                                                Photo by Jeff

 

So your dog isn’t exactly Mr or Miss Congeniality. We can’t all be social butterflies! But as is often the case with humans, dogs can become shy for a number of reasons – whether they’re a rescue you’ve gotten whose likely had at least one other home before you or you have a brand new puppy on your hands. Rest assured, it is unlikely anything you’ve done, and could very well just be in the nature of the breed or something from their life pre-you. The good news is that shyness doesn’t have to be permanent. There are ways to combat it to help your pups become more confident and less fearful of their surroundings.

 

 

  • Identify the fear. It might feel like who or what a dog is shy over is random. But you can often work to identify the root issue by simply making a list of all of the people or places your dog is afraid of. Get as specific as possible, and become aware of your dogs “tells” and triggers. Do they hide under the bed? Shake? Whine? These will help you know when you need to manage his or her environment to help them move forward and past their fears. Many fears present themselves in four ways: freeze, fight, flight and fool around.
  • Start small and don’t push. Just like a shy friend wouldn’t want their first foray into a social atmosphere to be a massive house party, a shy dog shouldn’t be immediately thrown to the wolves. Start small by encouraging them. Dogs are aware of our own emotions, so try using a playful, warm tone when they’re in a situation they might be uncomfortable with. Keep excitement level regulated though, as fear and excitement can become two sides of the same physiological coin. If they’re still on the verge of worry, take them out of the situation. Always quit while you’re ahead!
  • Keep it predictable, within reason. You can’t shield your dog from every experience (nor likely should you) but shy dogs often do best with predictable, familiar patterns and fall apart when things seem or feel out of place. Keep their anxieties in check by establishing clear routines and using reward-based training. While a social dog is probably used to (and comfortable with) new people coming into your home, a shy dog will do best if they have a routine for this. For instance, you can teach your dog to go and lie on their bed when they hear the doorbell ring. This gives them a comfortable and safe space to retreat to. Train your human friends – no matter how dog friendly and knowledgeable they are! – to wait to be approached by your dog. Rushing over to ruffle their ears may come from a good place, but will likely not be a welcome greeting in the eyes of your pup.

Dogs with friends at dog park

Photo by Andrew Z.

  • Get them some outgoing friends. If your pup is great with other dogs and just anxious around humans, they will usually benefit from spending time with social doggie friends. Try walking them together, as there is evidence that an anxious dog’s fears can be eased by the company of a non fearful companion. This won’t immediately cure your dog overnight, of course, but it’s a small and important way to improve their quality of life and confidence-building in the right direction.
  • Train for confidence. Training a dog, even just a few simple behaviors, can greatly influence their confidence and overall attitude, which can lead to better reactions overall. There are three specific training exercises that can really help a dog’s confidence. One is to have them ask politely for everything. Train them to sit down before you give them treats, open doors, etc. This builds structure (which, as we’ve mentioned, is hugely stress-relieving) and teaches your dog to look to you for guidance. Mark all positive behaviors around people, whether it’s with a clicker or the word “yes!” and a treat. Do this whether you asked for the behavior or not, and the reward and your happiness can work as a coping mechanism to help them reduce their own stress level. You can also train your dog to watch you, often by using the command “watch me” when they begin to get nervous in public.
  • Work on both desensitization and counterconditioning. Think of what you’re afraid of. Spiders? Heights? Planes? No matter the fear, you know you cannot reason it away. Exposure to the thing that scares you simply scares you, making your palms sweat and your heart beat quicken. This is likely similar to what your dog is experiencing – an emotional and physical reaction. There are two important methods you can use once you’ve mastered basic training and identifying the root issues and triggers. Desensitization is exposure to the fear-inducing stimulus at a low threshold. Counter-conditioning is presenting a pleasant stimulus (a very special treat or time throwing the ball) in the presence of a scary one. So how exactly do you do this? First, figure out your dog’s exact threshold. Consider things like how close the person is, how many people are there and what they’re doing. Start by having a designated stranger (to the dog, not you – that might be weird!) come into the environment at a safe distance that the dog is still comfortable with. Each time they appear and your dog notices, start feeding them special treats. Once they leave, stop. Repeat this until your dog is good about looking to you for the good stuff when put in this same situation. Once they seem more comfortable at this level, have the stranger come a little closer (not leaps and bounds here, small increments over time). Repeat this over several sessions and days for as long as it takes. Be patient! The payoff is worth the effort.
  • Let the little guy set the pace. We get it – you think your dog is the bravest, smartest, sweetest thing on the planet. And we do too! But one of the most important things you can do as a pet parent is respect your dog’s fears and allow them to set the pace for improvement around new and scary things. Provide consistency, maintain his basic training behaviors and provide him with great things in the presence of fearful scenarios to help them overcome their fears.

 

Photo by globochem3x1minus1

                                                          Photo by globochem3x1minus1

It’s important to note that the tips here are most useful for a dog with a mild issue of shyness. If you’re dealing with more severe issues, you may want to consider speaking to your vet about medication that can relieve your dog’s anxiety and maximize his or her progress and also a trainer who could work on behavior modification.

 

Have a shy dog on your hands? Share your own stories and tips for socializing and helping more timid dogs in the comments below!

Training Dogs to Act Properly Around Kids

by DOG for DOG Team 0 Comments
Training Dogs to Act Properly Around Kids

 

Featured Image by Dogs by Lori

If you’ve got a dog at home – or more than one! – and have a baby on the way, you’re likely beginning to think about how your pup will react to having a new, tiny human added to the dynamic at home. It’s a fair and valid concern, as this new addition will greatly impact not only your own life but thusly the life of your pets! Or maybe you’ve already got young children at home and are recently beginning to think about ways to train your pet to better interact with your kids. Whatever the case, and whether you have the most calm, sweet of dogs or a more hyper or needy youngster in the home, there are several things you can do to prepare your pup for life with a baby or young child. We’ve rounded up some of the best advice available on raising kids with dogs and how best to train your dog to properly interact with your kids. Know that, like any training, reaching these goals will require diligence and consistency. If you’re able to start on some of these things before the child comes home, you’ll have things set in motion before your life becomes crazier than you ever imagined it could be!

 

  • Understand your dog. Vicki DeGruy wrote in the Dog Owner’s Guide, We need to realize that dogs are not little people in furry costumes. They don’t think in the same way that we do. They look at the world around them with a different perspective. Most of their actions are instinctive. A dog will react to situations according to what his instincts tell him unless these instincts are overridden by the consistent training and socialization he needs to receive from his owner throughout his life. What can be done to prevent dogs from biting children? I feel that, first, it’s essential to understand that almost any dog will bite under the right circumstances. Second, a dog is a dog, an animal whose behavior isn’t the same as humans and can’t always be predicted with 100 percent accuracy, no matter how friendly or reliable he is.” It’s easy to feel like your dog will just naturally love and tolerate your little one the same way that you do. But the reality is that you, especially if you’re a mom, are programmed to love and care for your child. It’s in your bones. Your dog doesn’t have the same emotions running through them and they don’t have the same relationship with your child that they have with you, who has raised and nurtured them. So while even you might feel mildly irritated when your screaming child runs over to you and hits or pulls at you in frustration, imagine how your dog will feel receiving the same attention! No matter how well you train and work with your pup, it’s important to work with your child too on how best to interact with dogs.

 

  • Start small, with basic commands. Obedience training and socialization are absolute musts for a dog who’ll be spending time with children. A dog without training to fall back on will act according to instincts only, and so dogs need to be taught to obey commands under all circumstances, no matter how distracting your life is about to become. Simple things like “sit,” “come” and “leave it” could greatly help you as you juggle both your human baby and your fur child. With your drastically changed routine, your dog’s schedule will change too, and out of necessity, they’ll get less of your time and attention. That’s why it’s so great if you can start working on all basic commands and get them down pat before the baby arrives. Consider a training class or personal trainer if time constraints are a concern.
Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Dog For Dog

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Dog For Dog

 

  • Gradually introduce your dog to their new life. Four months before the baby arrives, gradually begin to introduce your dog to new experiences, sights, sounds and smells that they will likely encounter when you bring home a new child. Associate these new things with rewards, as this will help your dog learn to love life with a baby. One to two months before the baby arrives, anticipate the changes you’ll likely be making to your dog’s daily routine and start to make those changes. If you plan to nap during the afternoon, start taking occasional afternoon naps. If you plan to feed or walk your dog at different times of the day, start moving to those new times early. Of course, life with a baby can be very inconsistent and hard to plan for. If your dog is Type A and used to a certain routine, you may consider preparing them for chaos by feeding them at all different times. For instance, if your dog starts standing over their food bowl at 7 AM, start feeding them at random times between 6 AM – 10 AM. If you’d prefer to keep an absolute regular schedule (or if you feel that doing otherwise would really affect your dog’s happiness), consider getting an automatic feeder for their feedings and a dog walker for their walks. You can also look into dog daycare options for ways to give your dog a break and get them out of the house to socialize with other pups, something you will have less time to do once the baby arrives.
  • Make new rules now. Although your instincts might tell you to lavish your dog with love and attention while there’s still time, this will only lead to a bigger letdown later on. Instead, start scheduling short play and cuddle sessions and gradually give them less attention at other times of the day. Schedule them randomly though so that your dog doesn’t learn to expect them at certain times. If you don’t want your dog on the furniture or bed after the baby arrives, introduce that new restriction ASAP. If your dog is a barker, that’s something you’ll want to get under control now, so that they aren’t waking the baby at naptime or during the night.
  • Work on more advanced verbal commands. Once you’ve mastered some basics (sit, down, stay, leave it, coming when called), you can begin to work on more verbal commands that could come in use once the baby is home. Training your dog to wait at doors until you tell them to enter and teaching them to “settle” (lay down or retreat to a safe spot to lay down) can help dogs learn to control their impulses. Work with your dog on jumping on people, as this can become dangerous if you’re holding the baby. Even if your dog wasn’t originally crate trained, consider getting them one and teaching them to see it as their safe place. This way they have a cozy place of their own to relax when things get crazy at the house.
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Photo by Debbie L.

  • Master “go away.” It may sound harsh, but this is one of the most important verbal commands that you can train your dog. This will enable you to control their movements and interactions with your baby. You can use this cue to tell your dog to move away from the baby if they’re crawling towards them and the dog seems uncomfortable. It sounds funny, but many dogs wouldn’t have even realized that moving away was an option! If your dog learns that leaving is an option, they’ll never feel trapped in a stressful situation and therefore won’t be forced to express their anxiety by growling or snapping. So how do you do it? Show your pup a treat and say “go away,” tossing the treat four or five feet away from you. Repeat this sequence many times. Then, you can refrain from tossing the treat until your dog starts to move away. Say “go away” and act like you’re throwing the treat. When your dog moves in that direction, even slowly or just a little bit, say “yes!” and toss them the treat. After many repetitions, try waiting until your dog takes several steps away before you say “yes” and toss the treat.
  • Train your dog with hand targeting. If your pup gets nervous or timid, teaching them to target your hand with their nose will give them something to do when they’re around the baby. This can make them feel comfortable and confident, as many dogs enjoy having a “job” and being stimulated.
  • Read everything you can! We’re glad you visited us here, but don’t refrain from really exhausting your search on best ways to prep your dog for baby. In particular, the ASPCA has a host of great information that we think you’ll find helpful.

 

 

Still having issues? If your dog continues to have problems acclimating, showing any signs that set off alarm bells for you, be prepared to call in a trainer or behaviorist who are equipped to help you deal with the issue. While it’s our feeling that many issues can be corrected with hard work and patience, we understand that your child’s well being is of the utmost importance to you. If you begin to think that rehoming your pup is the best thing to do, consider speaking with loved ones in your family and friend group who may be able to take your pup, whether it’s just for a while or as a new forever home. This way, your dog will stay a part of your life. If this isn’t an option, you can reach out to local rescues about best next steps, as they will likely have resources you weren’t aware of.

 

Want tips on how to work with your kids to properly interact with your dog? Check out our reverse of this story here. In the comments below, tell us your own experiences and advice for introducing and acclimating dogs to life with a child at home!

36 questions to ask BEFORE choosing a new doggy day care, dog walker or dog sitter

by Lorna Ladd 0 Comments

36 questions for dog walker

Modern pet parents are typically busy with jobs, school, and children and often rely on doggy day cares, pet lodging facilities, and/or professional dog walkers/pet sitters to help board and entertain furry family members when they can’t. Thinking about leaving your pup in the care of a dog sitter, day care or dog walker? Here’s a checklist of 36 questions to ask before making reservations.

Print out this list and take it with you when you interview your prospective service provider.

-Are the boarding and play areas clean and free of any overwhelming, lingering odors?

-Are there separate facilities for dogs and cats?

-Are there separate quarters for big and small dogs?

-Are you able to bring your pet’s own food and toys if staying overnight or for an extended period of time?

-Are you allowed to visit your dog at any time during the day?

-Do all outside play areas have high, secured inescapable fencing?

-Will the facility management allow a full tour of the daycare/boarding area prior to your making reservations?

-Is there a vaccination protocol that all visiting pets must adhere to in order to prevent the spread of disease?

-Does facility management have an evacuation order on hand in case of natural disaster or a facility catastrophe?

-Is there a veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic on call in case of a medical emergency?

 

Discuss the people who will be taking care of your pets, and don’t be afraid to ask pointed questions.

-What kind of training and/or certification does the staff receive?

-Are they expected to get continuing education considering the changing nature of modern pet care?

-Do they know how to read a prescription and how to give necessary medications?

-My dog tends to get nervous, will you administer a calming tonic I provide

-My dog won’t take her pill unless it’s hidden in peanut butter, will your staff provide that accommodation?

-Does staff know how to give meds orally, by SQ injection and topically?

-Are any of the staff members veterinary trained?

-What kind of supervision do the workers receive during each shift?

-Do they know how to recognize and handle canine aggression of all kinds, including food aggression, territorial aggression, and fear-based issues?

-Does anyone on the staff understand the special needs of senior pets?

-Are the workers trained to watch for signs of disease or a veterinary emergency?

 

You’ll want to determine if the daycare or boarding facility adheres to daily or weekly schedules and how that works with your employment and your pet’s comfort levels.

-Are you able to pick-up and drop-off at times that fit your work schedule?

-Is your dog scheduled to play and socialize on a regular basis?

-Are feeding times regular and will your pet be fed separately from other animals? (This cuts down on possible food aggression problems.)

-Is a trained staff member supervising canine socialization 100 percent of the time?

-Is the facility open on the weekends?

-What provisions will be made if, for some reason, you have to work extra hours?

-Does the facility pick-up and drop-off your pet at home and, if so, is the driver bonded, insured, and trained on transporting crated animals?

-Will any necessary medications be administered at the times designated by your veterinarian (once, twice, or three times daily)?

 

Dog walkers and pet/house sitters need to be able to answer these additional questions to your satisfaction?

-How is the sitter trained or certified?

-Will they be handling more than one pet, or more than one family’s pets, at a single time?

-Are they bonded and insured?

-Do they have references?

-Did the facility manager who hired the sitter run a criminal background check?

-Do they know how to handle emergency situations?

-Is the sitter trained to watch for signs of illness or trauma?

-Will the house/pet sitter be sleeping overnight in your home, and does he/she have a regular day job?

-Does the dog walker regularly vary the route she/he travels with your pup?