Maintaining a positive relationship between dog owners and other park users

Being granted to use an off leash parks is a privilege but many dog owners don’t seem understand this and are letting their dogs become more and more of a nuisance in these areas.

Just because the park is off leash for your dog doesn’t mean that your dog can do anything it likes. In most council areas dog owners are required to share the park with walkers, joggers, cyclists and parents with prams, children and other dogs.

Dog owners’ cannot assume that because their dog is friendly that every other dog at the park is going to enjoy running around with it. Also parents may not appreciate your dog sticking its nose into their baby’s pram and having a good sniff! Dogs off leash are also a hazard getting in the way of joggers and cyclists or, even worse, chasing them.

Here is a list of tips that will maintain positive relationships between dog owners and other park users.

Practise recalling your dog to you even when you don’t need to. Use a whistle or a squeaker over long distances and always reward your dog for coming back. Always give your dog lots of pats. It’s up to you if you want to use treats; however, the best reward is being allowed to run free again. If you scold or punish your dog for coming back it simply won’t and you can’t blame it. If you train your dog to return to you and reward it with lots of pats and let it run free again your dog will always want to come to you. There will be a time when you’ll need to put it on leash but that’s okay if you let it go during training.

If you see someone approaching with a dog ask if they are happy for your dog to meet theirs. Many dogs are over whelmed when they meet new dogs and this can encourage aggression. It is best to make sure the other person’s dog is friendly. It might be your dog that ends up being bitten and this can lead to fear based aggression later on.

If you see someone put their dog on leash when they see you do the same. They know their dog and may feel they need to protect it. It is safe practise for you to do the same.

If there are houses that back onto the park make sure that your dog doesn’t go up to fences and start barking at the dogs on the other side. Their owners may get complaints from neighbours if their dog is barking excessively. It would be unfair for a dog in this situation to get into trouble because another dog is goading it through the fence.

If your dog runs after a cyclist or jogger walk away while you are calling it. If you try to catch your dog and / or chase it your dog might think it is some kind of game and think you are rewarding it for chasing the bike or jogger. If you walk in the other direction your dog will more than likely want to follow you. If this happens please yell out an apology to the other person – it’s just good manners!

If your dog does runs off and simply won’t come back then use a long line or lunge line. You might use one if your dog is aggressive too. A nice long 20 metre leash will give your dog the freedom to wander around and take in or the smells at the park while you have the added security of being able to reel it in if necessary.

Start training your dog to run off leash as early as possible. As young puppies are easier to train don’t be afraid of starting this type of training as soon as you get him or her. They will respond to lots of affection and it will help build your relationship with it more.

Being a responsible dog owner is about taking the rights of others into consideration and ensuring that they are left alone to use the park in any way they want. If this doesn’t happen then authorities are well within their rights to deny our dogs access to these areas and that would be a terrible shame.

Is Your Dog House Trained Enough?

House Training a puppy or adult Dog is such an essential issue for its owner that even a single exclusive tip turns out to be extremely helpful.

The first step in making your Dog fit for polite company would be to potty train him. Some see this training as a hassle and some as a challenge.

For me, it is part of bringing up a pet.

There are a few things you need to know before you actually start potty training a puppy or adult Dog. I enumerate these below:

  • You need to understand your dog’s body language. Watch for signs that will indicate to you when your pet wants to eliminate.
  • If you own puppies, remember that they need to go potty at fairly frequent intervals – as soon as they wake up, after short naps, after play-time, after meals, before and after being crated and finally, before retiring for the night.
  • Take your Dog for walks at the time that he usually does his potty. Take him out to the yard and then to the same place there every time he needs to answer nature’s call.
  • Praise your Dog after he eliminates at the right place. Some Dog owners even give treats to their dogs. But remember to do this every time he does it right. He will relate the rewards to his having “done it right” and zero in on the spot where you want him to defecate regularly.
  • With time, you can try signal training. This is so that you know when your doggie wants to go. You can hang a bell at his level near the door and teach him to push it with his nose or pat it with his paw on his way out.
  • Until your Dog has been fully potty trained keep him under strict vigilance. Do not let him roam around the house freely.
  • Use a crate. A crate-trained Dog is usually very happy to get his own den. The advantage of crating is that dogs do not soil the place where they sleep. So, he will naturally not eliminate inside the crate.
  • If you have a small dog and if you live in a high-rise building or in a place that does not have a proper backyard, you can try litter pan training. What you do is create a space for your pet to eliminate in your house itself.
  • Use positive reinforcements while housebreaking puppies or adult dogs. Do not scold or hit him as you will gain nothing by doing that. He will only associate punishment with your return from outside. If you catch him in the act, a stern ‘NO’ or ‘FREEZE’ will do. It will startle the Dog enough for him to stop pooping.
  • Be prepared to return to a soiled home if you are keeping your Dog home alone for more than 4 hours as separation anxiety is quite common among home – alone dogs.
  • Accidents will happen. It is unusual for a trained adult Dog to work against its house training. But medical problems or health disorders may lead to sudden accidents.
  • Many dogs mark their territory. These can be a leg of a table or a particular wall. Intact male and female dogs mark their territories by urinating. Use deodorizers to spray on the places where your Dog has marked.
  • If you are patient and are ready to accept that house training a dog takes time, even months sometimes, you will end up having a good housetrained Dog.

Now we will move on to how to potty train puppies and adult dogs.

Potty Training A Puppy :

Irrespective of breeds, housetraining a puppy is considered to be one of the biggest challenges by dog owners. If you think housetraining your puppy simply involves a steady supply of old newspapers, then think again.

A puppy does not develop full control over his bladder until it is over 4 or 5 months old. Since they are growing and developing rapidly at this time, puppies eat more, burn more calories and need to eliminate more frequently than an adult Dog.

After each nap, meal, drink or play, take your puppy to his designated area (indoors or outdoors, wherever you have decided) and stay there until it eliminates. Then bring him to his crate.

Repeat this situation everyday until he has developed a habit out of it.

Potty Training An Adult Dog:

The best way to housetrain an adult Dog is to begin all over again.

Observe him very closely. Maybe even maintain a diary of where he goes and when. Whether he is pooping when you are home or only when you are outside; whether you can time yourself to be home when he feels the need to go outside.

You can try dog crates, but be careful to introduce him gradually to them.

Remember, commitment, consistency and intelligent use of positive reinforcement will make you the owner of a perfectly housetrained Dog. Don’t expect miracles. You will only be disappointed.

Food Aggression

Food aggression in puppies

In the past few weeks I have been asked by clients to help them with their food aggressive puppy. Food aggression is an instinctive behaviour that involves guarding food (standing over it); growling and bearing teeth and in some cases, biting. The puppy is just doing what comes naturally but it is a very disturbing sign and has led to puppies being put to sleep in rare cases.

This behaviour is often exhibited in puppies that have come from large litters. A bitch only has eight teats so if there are nine or more puppies then every puppy learns to fight for every meal from the first day of their life. There are other puppies that just by their very nature are defensive and become aggressive when food is present. Some puppies and dogs are just naturally defensive when there are other dogs around too as an alpha dog will take the food away from another dog to maintain its pack hierarchy.

Some foods have a higher value than others. Raw meat such as, chicken or beef, and bones have a much higher value than dry kibble or canned food. This is because they taste better. Also, some puppies become aggressive with foods that take longer to eat and therefore there is a greater chance that they may lose the food to another dog. I have seen happen with bones and also pig’s ears and raw hide chews.

There are two things to keep in mind when re-training this type of behaviour. The puppy has to learn that its owner is allowed to take its food away. This can be done by conditioning the dog to respond to a clicker or a squeaker and redirecting it away from the food and rewarding it for leaving it. The other thing that will make this learning process quicker is to give the food back to the puppy. If it learns that if it allows you to take the food away and you will give it back then it will be happier for you to take the food away.

It is important that you take action immediately if your puppy shows signs of food aggression or guarding. You may have to put it on leash and wear heavy duty gloves to keep yourself safe. At no times should you allow children to participate in this type of re-training as their reflexes may not be quick enough. I always encourage my clients to make sure that there is at least one other person with them when working on this problem. By putting the puppy on leash you will be able to pull it away if it snaps at the person taking away the food. Wearing leather gardening gloves will protect your skin from bites.

If you don’t feel confident I would suggest you hire a professional who uses positive based training methods. If you were to use a choker to correct the dog or if you hold the dog down then you may increase its aggression or redirect it onto something or someone else.

It is important that you deal with this issue immediately but that you focus on rewarding the puppy from leaving the food (what trainers call redirecting) and don’t focus on punishing the puppy for being aggressive. It is only using its natural instincts to protect the most important thing in its life and won’t understand if you punish it for doing so.

Here are the steps you may like to follow to help you get rid of this behaviour:

1. Before you give your puppy any food which may make it aggressive train it to respond to a clicker or squeaker. All you have to do is ‘click’ then ‘treat’ repeatedly until you get an automatic response from your puppy. This means when you click it immediately stops what it is doing and comes to you. You don’t have to use treats with this type of training. You could use pats instead but food aggression is a serious problem and you’ll need to stop it as quickly as possible so I’d advise using very special treats, such as cheese or a deli meat. You might want to spend a week practising this before you go on to the next step.

2. Give your puppy a bone then click and encourage it to leave the bone and come to you. If it doesn’t then it’s not conditioned properly to the click so you’ll need to practise that some more.

3. When it does come step backwards quickly, luring the puppy away from the bone. Get someone else to pick the bone up and remove it completely from sight.

4. Make a huge fuss of your puppy from patting to treats

5. Ask the person to replace the bone on the ground for the puppy and encourage it to start eating it.

6. Repeat the steps again.

7. At no time become angry or aggressive – your puppy will feed on your aggression and become worse

8. Do this every day until you feel safe giving your puppy a bone or its favourite food.

Dog Friendly Vacations:

Summer is Coming Don’t Forget Your Dog!

Summer vacation is coming what are going to do? I mean with your dog. Many times I have clients call me the week they leave for vacation to ask me what they should do with their dog or what kennel is best. Everyone is so busy now days that their dogs get pushed to the back burner. Planning ahead will make a huge difference in the amount of stress you will have right before you leave for summer vacation.

Today I am going to give you some tips on having a great summer vacation with or without your dog. Now I know that some folks will say that putting a dog in a kennel not the right thing to do but I look at it as a personal preference. Some people plan their vacation around their dog’s others don’t. Don’t feel guilty either way. It’s your vacation and more importantly it’s your dog, do what’s right for you.

The first thing you need to do is decide if you want to bring your dog along on your vacation. If you decide to do that then here is a list of things you may want to consider. Prepare your dog by pre-training before you leaveStart looking now for dog friendly hotels and motels. Find an emergency vet in the area you’ll be staying.

Doing some pre-training before you leave will help your dog to be ready to listen and behave well while you’re gone. Just a half an hour a few times a week reviewing your obedience and working on distractions will go a long way to making sure your dog will be on his best behavior. Get online and look for dog friendly hotels ahead of time. Don’t wait for the last minute. Remember to ask about insurance should something happen. Find an emergency veterinarian in the area around where you will be staying so that you know who to call and where to go if something bad happens.

If you’re going to leave your dog in a kennel start looking now. Ask friends or local veterinarians if they have someone they recommend. Do some research and if possible take a drive and see what the place is all about. Here are some things to consider when you get there.

  • Is the place clean?
  • Do you hear a lot of unnecessary barking?
  • Do they take the dogs out of their runs to play in a paddock area during the day?

What you smell can or better yet what you don’t smell can tell you volumes about a kennel. If the place smells of urine and stool then chances are they don’t clean that often and that means you move to the next kennel on your list. Incessant barking adds stress to all the dogs involved. If they don’t control the problem your dog could end up not eating or sleeping well and that can lead to weight loss and lower immunities. Not having a chance for fresh air and to get extra energy out can cause your dog to develop bad habits.

Things like excessive barking, jumping and chewing stem can be caused by staying in a constant state of frustration. Exercise can bleed off some of the stress and frustration and allow your dog to relax.No matter how you end up doing things just remember plan ahead and use some common sense.

Have a great summer and if your dog needs a tune up before you leave make sure you give us a call. We have programs to meet all of your training needs.


This is an interesting article from Life on the Line Rescue . It discusses the myth that dogs can’t laugh or smile and instead states that dogs will often display characteristics of happiness and joy. Most dog owners will agree that they have seen their dogs smile and laugh or even noticed a cheeky glimmer in their dog’s eyes. I know that my dogs often seem to display feelings of joy but usually at my expense!

Animals make laugh-like sounds when they are tickled or playing

For many years psychologists and behavioural biologists agreed that laughter was a unique emotional expression found only in humans. However, as the study of animal emotions expanded this idea was called into question.

The Nobel Prize winning ethnologist, Konrad Lorenz suggested that dogs are capable of laughing. He says that it is during play that dogs actually appear to laugh. In his book Man Meets Dog, Lorenz describes it this way:

“…an invitation to play always follows; here the slightly opened jaws which reveal the tongue, and the tilted angle of the mouth which stretches almost from ear to ear give a still stronger impression of laughing.

This ‘laughing’ is most often seen in dogs playing with an adored master and which become so excited that they soon start panting”.