Video: Tips for Potty Training Your Pup

One of many videos to be created by a Canine Companions Intern.

5 Simple Commands You Should Teach Your Puppy

Contents

  1. How To Teach A Dog To Come
  2. How To Teach a Dog Loose Leash Walking
  3. How To Teach a Dog To Sit
  4. How To Teach a Dog To Stay
  5. How to Teach a Dog to Lay Down

Getting Started

To start off on the right foot (and paw!) with your pup, he’ll need to know what you expect from him. This will make him feel secure in his ability to meet the goals laid out for him going forward.

The foundation of dog training should be based on positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is the process of giving a dog (or person!) a reward to encourage the behavior you want, like getting a pay check for going to work. The idea is not to bribe the behavior but to train it using something your dog values.  Avoid using punishment such as leash corrections or yelling. Punishment can cause a dog to become confused and unsure about what is being asked of him.  It is important to remember that we can’t expect dogs to know what they don’t know – just like you wouldn’t expect a 2-year-old child to know how to tie his shoes. Patience will go a long way in helping your new puppy learn how to behave.

Reinforcement can be anything your dog likes. Most people use small pieces of a “high value” food for training treats — something special — such as dried liver or even just their kibble. Lavish praise or the chance to play with a favorite toy can also be used as a reward. Dogs must be taught to like praise. If you give the dog a treat while saying “Good dog!” in a happy voice, he will learn that praise is a good thing and can be a reward. Some dogs also enjoy petting. Food is often the most convenient way to reinforce behavior.

Puppies can begin very simple training starting as soon as they come home, usually around 8 weeks old. Always keep training sessions brief — just 5 to 10 minutes —and always end on a positive note. If your puppy is having trouble learning a new behavior, end the session by reviewing something he already knows and give him plenty of praise and a big reward for his success. If your puppy gets bored or frustrated, it will ultimately be counterproductive to learning.

How To Teach A Dog To Come

teach dog to come

teach dog to come

You’ll want to begin training a recall (come when called) in a quiet area and indoors. Sit with your puppy and say his name or the word “come.” Each time you say “come/name,” give your puppy a treat. He doesn’t have to do anything yet! Just repeat the word and give a treat. Easy!

Next, drop a treat on the floor near you. As soon as your puppy finishes the treat on the ground, say his name again. When he looks up, give him another treat. Repeat this a couple of times until you can begin tossing the treat a little further away, and he can turn around to face you when you say his name. Avoid repeating your puppy’s name; saying it too often when he doesn’t respond makes it easier for him to ignore it. Instead, move closer to your puppy and go back to a step where he can be successful at responding to his name the first time.

Once your puppy can turn around to face you, begin adding movement and making the game more fun! Toss a treat on the ground and take a few quick steps away while calling your puppy’s name. They should run after you because chase is fun! When they catch you, give them a lot of praise, treats or play with a tug toy. Coming to you should be fun! Continue building on these games with longer distances and in other locations. When training outside (always in a safe, enclosed area), it may be helpful to keep your puppy on a long leash at first.

When your puppy comes to you, don’t reach out and grab him. This can be confusing or frightening for some dogs. If your puppy is timid, kneel and face them sideways and offer him treats as you reach for the collar. Never call your dog to punish! This will only teach him that you are unpredictable, and it is a good idea to avoid you. Always reward your dog heavily for responding to his or her name, even if they have been up to mischief!

Further Reading

How To Teach a Dog Loose Leash Walking

teach a dog to heel

teach a dog to heel

In competition obedience training, “heel” means the dog is walking on your left side with his head even with your knee while you hold the leash loosely. Puppy training can be a little more relaxed with the goal being that they walk politely on a loose leash without pulling. Some trainers prefer to say “let’s go” or “forward” instead of “heel” when they train this easy way of walking together.

Whatever cue you choose, be consistent and always use the same word. Whether your puppy walks on your left side or your right side is completely up to you. But be consistent about where you want them so they don’t get confused and learn to zig zag in front of you.

First, make sure your puppy is comfortable wearing a leash. This can feel strange at first, and some puppies may bite the leash. Give your puppy treats as you put the leash on each time. Then, stand next to your puppy with the leash in a loose loop and give him several treats in a row for standing or sitting next to your leg. Take one step forward and encourage him to follow by giving another treat as he catches up.

Continue giving treats to your puppy at the level of your knee or hip as you walk forward. When he runs in front of you, simply turn the opposite direction, call him to you, and reward him in place. Then continue. Gradually begin giving treats further apart (from every step to every other step, every third step, and so on).

Eventually your dog will walk happily at your side whenever he’s on his leash. Allow your dog plenty of time to sniff and “smell the roses” on your walks. When they’ve had their sniffing time, give the cue “Let’s Go!” in a happy voice and reward them for coming back into position and walking with you.

How To Teach a Dog To Sit

teach dog to sit

teach dog to sit

There are two different methods for showing your puppy what “sit” means.

The first method is called capturing. Stand in front of your puppy holding some of his dog food or treats. Wait for him to sit – say “yes” and give him a treat. Then step backwards or sideways to encourage him to stand and wait for him to sit. Give another treat as soon as they sit. After a few repetitions, you can begin saying “sit” right as he begins to sit.

The next option is called luring. Get down in front of your puppy, holding a treat as a lure. Put the treat right in front of the pup’s nose, then slowly lift the food above his head. He will probably sit as he lifts his head to nibble at the treat. Allow him to eat the treat when his bottom touches the ground. Repeat one or two times with the food lure, then remove the food and use just your empty hand, but continue to reward the puppy after he sits. Once he understands the hand signal to sit, you can begin saying “sit” right before you give the hand signal.

Never physically put your puppy into the sitting position; this can be confusing or upsetting to some dogs.

Further Reading

How To Teach a Dog To Stay

A puppy who knows the “stay” cue will remain sitting until you ask him to get up by giving another cue, called the “release word.” Staying in place is a duration behavior. The goal is to teach your dog to remain sitting until the release cue is given, then begin adding distance.

First, teach the release word. Choose which word you will use, such as “OK” or “free.” Stand with your puppy in a sit or a stand, toss a treat on the floor, and say your word as he steps forward to get the treat. Repeat this a couple of times until you can say the word first and then toss the treat AFTER he begins to move. This teaches the dog that the release cue means to move your feet.

When your dog knows the release cue and how to sit on cue, put him in a sit, turn and face him, and give him a treat. Pause, and give him another treat for staying in a sit, then release him. Gradually increase the time you wait between treats (it can help to sing the ABC’s in your head and work your way up the alphabet).  If your dog gets up before the release cue, that’s ok! It just means he isn’t ready to sit for that long so you can make it easier by going back to a shorter time.

Once your dog can stay in a sit for several seconds, you can begin adding distance. Place him in a sit and say “stay,” take one step back, then step back to the pup, give a treat, and your release word. Continue building in steps, keeping it easy enough that your dog can stay successful. Practice both facing him and walking away with your back turned (which is more realistic).

Once your dog can stay, you can gradually increase the distance. This is also true for the “sit.” The more solidly he learns it, the longer he can remain sitting. The key is to not expect too much, too soon. Training goals are achieved in increments, so you may need to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. To make sure the training “sticks,” sessions should be short and successful.

Further Reading

How to Teach a Dog to Lay Down

down step 2

down step 2teach dog to go down step 1teach dog to go down step 1
“Down” can be taught very similarly to “sit.” You can wait for your dog to lie down (beginning in a boring, small room such as a bathroom can help) and capture the behavior by reinforcing your dog with a treat when he lies down, giving him his release cue to stand back up (and encouragement with a lure if needed) and then waiting for him to lie down again. When he is quickly lying down after standing up, you can begin saying “down” right before he does so.

You can also lure a down from a sit or stand by holding a treat in your hand to the dog’s nose and slowly bringing it to the floor. Give the treat when the dog’s elbows touch the floor to start. After a few practices, begin bringing your empty hand to the floor and giving the treat AFTER he lies down. When he can reliably follow your hand signal, begin saying “down” as you move your hand.

Just like with sitting, never use force to put your dog into a down.

And Remember …

Keep training sessions short and fun. End each session on a positive note. If you feel your dog is having a difficult time learning or being “stubborn,” evaluate the speed of your training and the value of your rewards. Do you need to slow down and make the steps easier, or does your dog need a bigger paycheck for a harder exercise?

The “Basic 5” commands will give your puppy a strong foundation for any future training.

And just think, if you and your puppy continue to work hard—and have fun—at training, someday you may become obedience champs!

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The Puppy Training Guide: Guest Post

Training Puppy the First Week

Puppies learn very quickly with proper instruction. The first few days at home are extremely important for puppies and the precedents you set now will last a lifetime. All family members must agree upon responsibility and rules for the new pup.

Read more …

House Training a Puppy

It’s normal for a young puppy to be a little ‘input-output’ machine. Since puppies are growing and developing rapidly, they eat food often, burn up lots of energy and seem to need to eliminate constantly! They also have not yet developed bowel and bladder control, so they can’t ‘hold it’.

Read more …

Crate Training a Puppy

Crate training can be an effective way to house train a puppy. Puppies do not like to soil their resting/sleeping quarters if given adequate opportunity to eliminate elsewhere. Temporarily confining your puppy to a small area strongly inhibits the tendency to urinate and defecate.

Read more …

Training a Puppy to Stop Biting and Mouthing

Biting and mouthing is common in a young puppy especially in play and while teething. Puppies must learn to inhibit their bite and normally, they would learn this from their littermates. But, because we take them away from this environment before this learning is completed, we must train our puppy they cannot bite us.

Read more …

How to Train a Puppy to Stop Whining, Crying, and Howling

Whining, crying and howling often result when a puppy is left alone. Puppies will whine and cry when separated from their owners. The puppy is afraid he is being abandoned by his pack and is sounding the alarm so that he can be rescued. At other times, a puppy whines, crys, or barks because they need or want something.

Read more …

Puppy Obedience Training

Obedience training is one of the best things you can do for your puppy and yourself. Although obedience training doesn’t solve all behavior problems, it is still the very best foundation for solving just about any behavior problem. Training opens up a line of communication between you and your puppy.

Read more …

Training Your Puppy to Come When Called

Training Your Puppy to Come When Called

To many a puppy, the command “come here” means, “quick, run the other way!” Your puppy is always learning whether you are intending to teach something or not. We often unintentionally train our puppy NOT to come when called.

Read more …

Training Puppy to Stop Jumping Up

Training Puppy to Stop Jumping Up

Jumping up can be dangerous as well as annoying. Young children and elderly people can easily be toppled over and seriously injured by exuberant, friendly dogs. Start now to teach your puppy not to jump up. Even little dogs can cause problems and injury to themselves and others when they leap and jump around.

Read more …

Training a Puppy about the Collar, Leash and Stairs

Training a Puppy about the Collar, Leash and Stairs

Introducing your puppy to his collar, leash and the stairs can be a challenge. If your puppy is trained properly, it will be simple, satisfying and successful. Always use praise and lures rather than force.

Read more …

Training Puppy to Stop Pulling On Leash

Training Puppy to Stop Pulling On Leash

Do not drag your puppy. Do not yank or pull on your puppy’s delicate throat and neck. Never use a choke collar on a puppy. Instead, teach your puppy to walk nicely on leash before he develops a habit of lunging and pulling on leash.

Read more …

Training a Puppy to Control Barking

Training a Puppy to Control Barking

Barking is a perfectly natural canine behavior. Puppies bark, whine or howl for many different reasons. Barking can be a blessing as dogs will alert to sounds and movement we cannot detect. Barking can also be a puppy’s cry for help! Here are some training tips to help you understand and also put limits on puppy barking.

Read more …

Submissive and Excitement Urination in a Puppy

Submissive and Excitement Urination in a Puppy

Submissive urination is a normal way for your puppy to demonstrate submissive behavior. Even a dog that is otherwise housetrained may leave dribbles and puddles of urine at your feet when greeting you. Excitement urination with a puppy is usually caused by lack of bladder control. The puppy is not aware that he is urinating; he’s just excited and any punishment will only confuse him.

Read more …

Puppy Socialization - Why Socialize A Puppy?

Puppy Socialization – Why Socialize A Puppy?

Socialization and puppy training are of utmost importance as puppyhood is the most important and critical time in your puppy’s development. What you do and do not do right now will affect your puppy’s behavior forever. A properly socialized puppy is well adjusted.

Read more …

Training Puppy to Chew Her Toys

Training Puppy to Chew Her Toys and Stop Chewing Everything in Sight!

Any area that the pup has access to must be kept clear and clean. Put out of puppy’s reach anything you don’t want him to chew or destroy. Do not allow your puppy to have unsupervised access to ‘unchewables.’ Do not chase the puppy in an attempt to take something away. Instead provide puppy with her own toys and teach her how to play with them exclusively.

Read more …

Training a Puppy to Overcome Separation Anxiety

Puppy Separation Anxiety

In some situations, a puppy will experience separation anxiety when left alone. They will often bark, chew, dig, scratch at the door, soil the house or destroy your home and yard. We often unintentionally will train a puppy to behave this way by causing over-dependancy in our puppy.

Read more …

Winning Your Puppy's  Love, Trust and Respect

Winning Your Puppy’s Love, Trust and Respect

Just as a child needs a caring parent; an athletic team needs a coach; your puppy needs a leader and a clear social hierarchy. If you do not take up the role of leader, your dog will; and you will end up with an unruly, disobedient dog. Many people try to win their new puppy’s love by letting the puppy always have its way. Buckets of affection is a wonderful thing for most puppies, but it must be tempered with respect.

Read more …

Share These Puppy Training Articles!

 

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The Treadmill for Dogs

7 Dog Gadgets You’ve Never Seen

You would be surprised at how much ‘dog stuff’ there is out there. We could make a HUGE list of everything we have found working at Canine Companions, but we are going to limit the list to ten today. Take a look below and find ten of the coolest dog gadgets today!

dog Product 1: the camera, 2-way audio, treat dispenser!

Any pet owner knows that their furry friends rule their home, and specialized pet cameras are becoming a popular way to keep an eye on what they’re up to back at the ranch.The ability to check on your pet back at home, keep them entertained and ensure they’ve been picked up by dog-walkers is something everyone can benefit from. But pet cameras differ from a smart home camera, and pack extra features that are a tad more playful than your standard Nest camera.Pets left alone can become lonely. With WOpet Dog Treat Dispenser , you can See/Talk/Treat/Play with your furry friends while you are away from home. WOpet brings more fun and quality time to you and your pets.

Click here to learn more!

dog product 2: the professional dog treadmill for exercise in the home

Lack of exercise can cause your dog to have poor endurance, slow response and obesity. The pet treadmill helps pet train, exercise, lose weight and have a healthy body. It is ideal for small and medium sized dogs. Even if it rains, you can keep your pet indoors for exercise.

Equipped with a safety key that will stop when your dog pulls out the safety key. And there is an emergency stop button on the remote control. Once your pet is in danger, you can immediately stop treadmill by pressing the button.

Equipped with remote control that can be remotely controlled wireless. There is also a display that clearly shows speed, time, distance and calories. It has 12 modes that can be set freely, multiple speed adjustable and timing functions.

Made of 600D oxford cloth, ABS and iron pipe, the pet treadmill has a solid structure and strong load-bearing capacity. Waterproof and detachable oxford cloth blocks the pet’s line of sight, so they don’t look around to improve their concentration.

Easily install it in 20 minutes. And it has built-in wheels for easy movement and storage. The base is adjustable in three heights to meet the needs of different pets.

Click here to learn more!

dog product 3: automatic, timed dog food to keep a routine

Smart pet feeders make sure that your pet gets fed. If you don’t make it home on time due to inclement weather, working late, or a social event, you don’t have to worry that your pet’s dinner will be late.

Click here to learn more!

dog product 4: the portable dog paw cleaner

The Dexas MudBuster is a new, innovative and easy way to rinse your dog’s dirty or muddy paws, before they track it all over the house! Using the MudBuster is easy: muddy paws go in, clean paws come out! To use, add a little water to the base of the Mud Buster. Then, insert the muddy paw, do the twist, dab the paw dry, and repeat for 3 more feet! The Mud Buster features an array of soft, gentle, thick silicone bristles inside an easy-to-grip tumbler. Designed to be gentle on your dog’s paw, the silicone bristles will gently loosen mud and dirt, keeping the mess in the MudBuster and not in your home or car. The Mud Buster is great for trips to the park, hiking, running or even playing outside. The Medium MudBuster is specially sized for medium to large sized breeds. BPA free!

Click here to learn more!

dog product 5: the automatic ball launcher

All For Paws Interactive Ball Launcher is an automatic fetching machine that can be used by dog and owner or just the dog. The launcher features make independent play easy and fun, all you have to do is plug it in, choose your launching distance and then drop in a 2.5” max ball.

Click here to learn more!

dog product 6: the purple dog bed; orthopedic to reduce pressure

The Essential orthopedic bed made with ergonomic gel memory foam is so cozy and indulgently supportive that your dog will never want to get out of bed. The thick high density foam base supports your dog’s joints and pressure points making it great for all dogs, but especially those with arthritis, recovering from surgery or suffering from other mobility issues.

Click here to learn more!

dog product 7: the dog food puzzle for mental stimulation

More than 60% of pets have obesity due to excessive eating.
Elimination of obesity, intellectual stimulation; slow feeder dog bowls promote healthy eating,
adjusting pet weight and prolonging meal time prevent indigestion. Also slows down the speed of eating. Reduces anxiety by providing mental stimulation.

Click here to learn more!

I’m a Man and My Dog is Afraid of Me… What Do I Do?

Your dog may be perfectly content and calm without any behavior problems around women and children, but when a man approaches (even if it’s just one man he or she knows) she can become a completely different dog.

Some dogs may try to hide from you (the man), cower or show submissive behavior, shake, or even urinate due to anxiety.

Others may show signs of aggression (growling/showing of teeth). If you (the man) get too close she may even snap at you.

A Fear of Men is Common

A fear of men is actually a relatively common phobia in dogs, and some very well-behaved and well-rounded dogs share this fear.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help your dog overcome its fear and learn to accept the men or man she encounters.

why do dogs fear men?

When people find out a dog is afraid of men, they often immediately connect the fear to a bad experience. But, there are a variety of reasons why your dog may fear men in general or even one particular man including:

  • If your dog has been abused by a man prior to being brought into your family, this may cause a lifelong fear of all men. Think about how long you have had your dog. Was your dog a puppy? Adult? In most cases, this is not the most likely culprit, though.
  • In many cases, being afraid of men is a result of a lack of socialization with men when the dog was a puppy. If you are the man your dog is afraid of, how much time did you spend with your dog when she was a puppy? Sometimes, the lack of socialization with men is due to the man being out of the house due to long work hours.
  • Another factor could be intimidation. Men can be more intimidating in a dog’s eyes. They are often taller and bigger than women and children, have deeper voices, and may have different types of features, like facial hair. From a dog’s perspective, these differences might be scary.

easing your dog’s fear of the man

The level of difficulty of correcting this behavior depends on the severity of your dog’s fear.

Some dogs are only somewhat fearful, whereas others may be completely terrified. Remember to be patient with your dog; it can take a lot of time for any dog to overcome any phobia.

In the meantime, keep things as positive as possible. We’ll recommend a few things to try to help ease your dog’s anxiety below.

your dog’s comfort zone

It’s important to understand you cannot force your dog to go beyond her comfort zone and expect her to change her behavior.

If you attempt to push your dog too far by pushing her into uncomfortable situations, your attempts can backfire and actually strengthen the fear.

Worst-case scenario…. your efforts could lead the dog to bite and increase her fear of you.

Let Your Dog Approach you on her own terms

Allow your dog to approach you (the man) on his or her own. This may be difficult, but attempt to ignore the dog who is fearful of you. Of course you want to be near your dog to increase the bond, but this just isn’t the right time. By ignoring your dog, you’re essentially providing her with the opportunity to come to you. It’s on her own terms.

Offering treats to encourage her to come

When you’re trying to break your dog of her fear of you, be sure to keep treats handy (even if your dog is no where near you- just in case she comes closer).

Whenever the fearful dog gets even a little closer than usual, very gently toss a couple of treats in the dog’s direction.

It may take a while for the dog to accept treats from a man, but eventually, he or she will connect you with something good- treats! A positive association with form.

For some dogs, this can take a week or two. For others, a month or even longer. Patience is key.

Desensitize Your Dog

Desensitization is the process we’re talking about here. We are using treats and praise to slowly, over time, help your dog understand that it’s safe to approach you (the man).

Over time, you may be able to slowly close the distance between the dog and the man without your dog feeling fearful.

In some cases, your dog may never feel completely comfortable around men (dependent upon the reason why she or he is afraid). But, you may notice her becoming significantly more comfortable over time.

obedience training: it helps

If your dog is obedience trained, there’s a higher chance of her or him being able to focus in stressful situations.

If there is someone in the home (a woman), she should make obedience training part of their daily routine. Continuous obedience training with a fearful dog may speed up the process of comfort.

Prevent Disease in Your Dog Using ‘Superfoods!’

If you’re reading this, we already know your dog’s health is extremely important to you. We all want our dogs to live long, healthy lives. That’s no shock.

Disease fighting foods can help!

We’re sure you have heard the saying ‘you are what you eat.’ That’s true. Literally.

Eating healthy will help you stay healthy- and that goes for both ourselves and our pups.

Disease Fighting Food #1: Blueberries

Blueberries are jam packed full of fiber, antioxidants, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K.

Blueberries are known to assist in the prevention of obesity, colon cancer, and heart diseases. Plus, they help prevent memory loss in senior dogs.

With that said, don’t overload your dog with blueberries. A handful of fresh, organic blueberries is sufficient each day.

P.S.- Be sure to rinse off the blueberries prior to feeding. This goes for ALL fruits and veggies for both us and our dogs!

Disease Fighting Food #2: Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has become the new ‘craze’ with health fanatics for people. But, coconut oil can help our dogs, too!

Coconut oil has special fatty acids resulting in a ton of benefits including:

  • Obesity prevention
  • Immune system booster
  • Healthy teeth
  • Flea and tick repellent
  • Healthy brain function

If you’re interested in adding coconut oil to your dog’s diet, it can go right into their daily food intake. The recommended daily amount is approximately 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight.

To learn more about disease-fighting foods, watch the video below:

Until next time!

How to Keep Your Canine From Causing Chaos

You know how much you love dogs, especially that little one that lives in your home and fills your heart with laughter and joy. But there’s a less pleasant side that comes with that goodness.

Canines cause trouble, pure and simple. This involves anything from spilling food on the floor to tearing up sofa cushions to doing their business on the carpet, any of which could make you tear your hair out as you yell and scream at the little feller in the hopes that they’ll learn a lesson for a change. However, that’s not the worst of it; sometimes, your dog’s naughtiness puts them in danger, like when they devour a bar of chocolate, which can be deadly.

It’s not their fault, though. They don’t have the same self-control as we humans, and they often don’t even know they’re doing something wrong. As their guardian, it’s up to you to keep them safe and secure. Here’s what you need to know.

Banish Poisonous Plants

Autumn crocus, azalea, and daffodil are just a few on the long list of species that could cause grave harm if your pooch were to take a nibble, according to an article in PetMD. The best bet would be to rid your home of all of them — or at least put them out of the reach.

Hide the Cleaning Products

You wouldn’t leave dangerous and potentially deadly chemicals out in the open where a toddler could get at them and take a swig, and the same should go for your furry friend. Behind closed doors that can’t be easily opened is where your bleach, detergents, and fabric softeners belong — unless you buy the non-toxic, pet-friendly versions.

Beware of Certain Foods

There’s a lot more than just chocolate that could give your four-legged friend a sore tummy — or worse. Anything containing caffeine or alcohol is a strict “no,” along with onions, garlic, and chives. Make sure to store these items and others up high or in a pantry to avoid mishaps, and throw out anything moldy, as that can be highly toxic, too.

Pet-Proof Everywhere

Hiding dangerous foods and chemicals from prying paws is just part of it. There are some rooms, particularly ones with lots of cables or cords, that should be off limits. Remember to close doors behind you whenever you enter or exit, or use baby gates to keep them from walking up or down the stairs. And don’t leave dirty laundry lying around on the floor.

Get an Electronic Feeder

A hungry dog is an angry dog that’s likely to take their wrath out on your interior. These devices dispense a small meal at specified hours of the day so you don’t have to think about it. You’ll no longer worry whether you left food in the bowl while you’re at work or out running errands.

Schedule Your Playtime

Dogs have a lot of energy, and they need to get it out or they’ll throw a fit. Lamps get knocked over, vases get shattered — it’s ugly. Tire your dog out with a spirited game of fetch, and build that into your daily routine so you don’t forget to spend quality time together.

Find a Dog Park Nearby

Visit a dog park so your pooch can socialize — with other dogs, that is. It’s more important than you think, says a writer with PetHelpful. Not only does it boost their self-esteem, but it also helps your pooch develop their communication skills, as they interact with members of their own species. Their rougher style of play will also make them calmer at home.

Make Regular Visits to the Vet

Once a year is the general rule of thumb, though that may change based on age and health condition of your dog. Dogs should get a checkup once a month until they’re four months old, while senior woofers need frequent expert checkups as well.

Now your pooch will be safe when you’re not home, and that gives you one less thing to worry about. Having a dog should be about enjoying the good times, not worrying about the bad.

Human Foods That Dogs Can Enjoy

Feeding your dog is a part of your daily routine, and it’s easy to grab a couple of cups of the same dry pet food and pour it into your dog’s bowl. For the most part, your pet’s dry food is a nutritionally balanced meal that is tasty and healthy for them. However, these same flavors and textures can become boring for your dog.

By offering your dog human food once in a while, you will give them the variety they crave. For your dog, this extra-special meal will feel like a reward—aiding with training—and you will feel good about enhancing your pet’s diet. Even so, it’s important that you stick to human food that is safe for dogs.

Here are some human foods that you can safely offer to your dog.


Cooked boneless chicken breast

Chicken is a lean meat that provides dogs with many nutritional benefits, such as added protein. Most dogs enjoy the flavor of chicken, and it can be used to make any dry meal more appealing to your pet. Chicken can be paired with brown rice if your dog is experiencing digestive issues but may still need a nutritious and wholesome meal.

Note: Chicken should be boneless and fully cooked before serving to your dog. Boneless chicken breasts are ideal for dogs because they minimize the risk of inadvertently giving your dog bones that could become a choking hazard.

Raw Carrots

Raw carrots can provide your dog with additional beta carotene as well as vitamin A. Also, raw carrots are low in calories, which makes them an ideal snack between meals for your pet. Not only do carrots offer a boost of essential vitamins and nutrients, they also help to naturally clean and strengthen your dog’s teeth. Consider offering your dog raw baby carrots, as the size is perfect for snacking.

Sliced Apples

Apples are packed with vitamins that are beneficial for your dog. Vitamins A and C are plentiful in apples, making this low-calorie fruit a great snack option for your pooch. It’s OK for your dog to eat the skin of the apple, but you should avoid serving a full apple — for fear your pet might eat the stem and seeds. Note: Seeds can contain trace amounts of cyanide, which would be dangerous. Consider slicing apples and rewarding your dog with this treat for good behavior.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is likely to be one of your dog’s favorite human foods. This sweet, creamy concoction is a great choice because it is filled with valuable protein as well as powerful vitamins, including vitamins E and B. When you stuff your dog’s favorite chew toy with peanut butter, you’ll provide a healthy reward and a long-lasting treat. Not to mention, you might also enjoy a few extra minutes to yourself while your dog devours the tasty snack (be sure to grab natural peanut butter- most regular peanut butter jars contain artificial sweeteners which can be dangerous to your dog’s health).

Pureed Pumpkin

This fall gourd is often considered to be more of a decoration than a nutritious vegetable, but it’s one of the best human foods you can give your dog. Filled with fiber and vitamin A, pumpkin can help your dog when suffering from gastrointestinal issues. Be sure to serve canned pureed pumpkin, or even homemade pumpkin pie is an acceptable human treat for your pooch.

If you are interested in changing your pet’s diet or mixing in some of these human foods as supplements, be sure to first discuss it with your veterinarian. Your vet may have insight into the best human foods for your dog’s breed, age, or health history. After adding a new food to your dog’s diet, monitor for any signs of digestive distress or allergic reactions. Always contact your pet’s health care provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Author bio: Stephanie N. Blahut is Director of Digital Marketing and Technology for Figo Pet Insurance. Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology — the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud — and the industry’s best pet insurance plans. 

6 Steps to Potty Training Your Puppy

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Young puppies have an extremely hard time holding their bladder and will need to relieve themselves frequently. Potty training isn’t an easy process, but with time and dedication, you’ll have a much easier time as your pup gets older.

Potty training should begin the moment you pick up your puppy. This will help her get on the right track, sooner. Although she may have accidents, she will begin to understand what is expected of her. And, this will mean less clean-up for you. In this article, we’ll go through the steps of potty training… the ‘do’s,’ and the ‘do not’s.’

Step 1: Praise Your Puppy Excessively

Being required to go potty in a designated area is new to any dog. A dog’s instincts don’t tell them they’re not permitted to use the bathroom inside the house. Their instincts tell them to find an area where they don’t sleep or eat, and use the bathroom there, whether inside or outside.

That’s why it’s so important to praise your dog excessively when he uses the potty outside. Your dog needs your feedback to be successful in potty training (and all other types of training). Be sure to praise your puppy immediately after they potty outside… or else they won’t know what you’re praising them for.

The praise can be in the form of an excited “yay, good job,” a yummy low-calorie treat or kibble, or both. Many dog lovers carry around a handful of kibble in their pockets out of their puppy’s daily portions.

Step 2: Utilize a Crate

There’s controversy in the dog world about using crates… some dog lovers want a crate and others feel it’s not necessary. But, the crate essentially becomes your dog’s ‘den’ or ‘safe space.’ The crate is also helpful because puppies don’t like to use the bathroom where they sleep.

The crate should have a soft layer of padding to it. A dog bed generally works just fine. The crate should be large enough for your puppy to stand up and move around, but not large enough for your pup to relieve himself and move to another spot to sleep.

You can also place toys in the crate with your puppy so they’re able to play if they get bored. Mental puzzle toys, and some type of chew toy, are usually best. The Kong toys work extremely well, they’re mentally stimulating, and puppies generally can’t rip them to shreds. One of the biggest mistakes puppy parents make is grabbing a toy that looks neat, but their puppy shreds the toy into small pieces and end up swallowing parts of the toy. This could lead to a blockage… and we don’t want that to happen.

For this step, it’s critical to note that puppies should not stay in their crates for long periods of time. The crate should only be utilized when you’re not able to pay attention to your puppy. Then, once their potty trained, you can leave the door to their crate open so they’re able to freely enter and exit.

Step 3: No Punishments

Punishing your puppy for urinating or defecating on the floor can do more harm than good. By the time you find out your puppy has had an accident, your pup likely doesn’t remember what they did. And, even if you catch them in the act, punishing your puppy could permanently damage the bond and trust they have with you.

Staying calm when they have an accident is essential. You shouldn’t yell, chase, or smack your puppy. You also shouldn’t ‘rub his nose in it.’ Not only will you lose their trust, but they will associate going potty with punishment and may resort to using the bathroom in areas you won’t find.

Some dog lovers will argue, ‘but rubbing her nose in it works.’ And, yes… sometimes it does. But, you risk the bond you will have with her for the rest of her life by using punishment as a learning method.

Step 4: Show Her Where to Go

If you catch your puppy in the act, instead of punishing, try to re-direct her attention. You can re-direct her attention by saying “let’s go potty outside” or something similar. Then, immediately bring her outside to show her where it’s okay to use the bathroom. Then, once she uses the bathroom in your designed area, that’s when you can excessively praise her. She will connect the dots, and learn you are happy when she uses the bathroom in that particular area.

Step 5: Don’t Overuse Puppy Pads

You can, and should, have puppy pads in the house while you’re training your pup. But, you shouldn’t set them up in multiple areas around the house. This is confusing to a puppy, and they won’t understand why it’s not okay to use the bathroom in the house. They also may not be able to distinguish between a puppy pad and an area rug, or why she’s allowed to use the bathroom in some areas of the home but not others.

Step 6: Establish a Routine

Establishing a routine with any puppy or adult dog is critical. Dogs have a great sense of time, and if you have a set routine it will make potty training much easier. For example, if you always take her potty after she eats, she will understand after she eats she goes potty outside. This may take time- so don’t get upset if she doesn’t immediately understand the routine. Don’t worry- she will.

The Bottom Line on Potty Training

The most important step you should be aware of in this process is to always be positive with your puppy. Dogs and puppies are eager to please you. They want to make you happy as often as possible. Also, understand every dog is different, and some puppies may take longer than others to learn what’s expected of them.

Why Do Dogs Bite Ankles?

There is a commonality among herding dog breeds– they bite ankles! Why?!

Dog breeds like the Corgi, the Great Pyrenees, the German Shepherd, and others, and even mixes are known to bite ankles when playing.

Well, they’re trying to herd you. Think about their instincts for a moment. Way back when, the sheep or other livestock would be running and they would be nipping their ‘ankles’ lightly to get them to stay in line, and get to where they want them to be.

Now, take today’s situation. Let’s say you are running with your dog, playing… her natural instinct may be to bite at your ankles. They’re copying the behavior they were originally bred to do.

Altering the Behavior

Even though this behavior is based on instinct, of course that doesn’t mean we’re okay with our dogs nipping at our ankles. So, we need to re-direct our dogs in an effort to remove this behavior from their ‘behavior menu.’

If you’re noticing this behavior, your dog needs a job mimicking this behavior… or even just a little bit of extra exercise. But, make sure to give them a purpose. They need to feel like they’re being productive.

Don’t pay attention to this behavior. If you give your dog extra attention when he bites your ankles, he will either see it as positive (like you wanting to continue playing), or as punishment which can be damaging to the bond you share with your dog. And… if you think about it… he may not understand why you’re mad (remember, instinctual behavior).

Ideas to Rid of Ankle Biting

The following are several ideas you can try out to remove this behavior from your dog’s mind (or just make him content):

  • Toy balls: Herding dogs often love toy balls. Throw them in the yard and let them run, and chase.
  • Keep a toy ball available during play. When you’re playing, and she nips at your ankle, throw the ball to redirect her attention.
  • Puzzle toys: Puzzle toys are recommended for not only this behavioral issue but many others well. Puzzle toys stimulate the mind and decrease problem behaviors.