Category Archives: Living with Your Dog

Articles and Links… Living with Your Dog

Renee PremazaPhone: 609-280-9338Email: renee@JerseyDogTrainer.com

A Word About Puppies

A Word About Puppies:      

Spring has arrived. Soon lots of people will be purchasing puppies, possibly for the first time. Please, please, please avoid getting your puppy from a puppy milI. Many people do not know that in our area Lancaster, Pennsylvania and the surrounding towns are a huge puppy mill area. Mill breeders do not care about the temperament or the health of their litters. They do not care about the health or temperament of their breeding dogs! They are strictly in it for the money.

Let’s talk a little about the work that lies ahead for you so you can ensure your puppy becomes the most wonderful companion pet who has no major behavior problems.

Avoid getting your puppy during the winter months. You will have a difficult time house-training your pup to go outside due to bad-weather days and nights. You will also have a much more difficult time getting the puppy out for walks and socialization, both of which are hugely important for all puppies! Avoid giving a new puppy as a gift unless that recipient is with you to select the puppy. Make sure you research the breed that you are thinking about getting, as well as the breeder! Your puppy’s breed will determine some of his future behaviors. If you’re shopping for a puppy, be sure to meet and interact with the puppy’s mom and dad. Afterall, they are the basis that forms your puppy’s genetic makeup. Even if you see a puppy that you fall madly in love with, think {Red Flag !} if the breeder won’t allow you to meet the parents (especially the mom who has enormous influence on her babies), if you see any unfriendliness from either of the parents to your family or even toward any of the litter, or if you notice that the puppy you are most attracted to… is not so attracted to you (puppy comes to sniff you, but is mostly interested in playing with its siblings, or hanging with its mom)!

Avoid bringing your puppy home before s/he is 8 weeks old! Dogs need to be with their moms and littermates at least until then in order to learn important things, like dog to dog social skills and bite inhibition! Puppies who are taken from their litter before 8 weeks will play-bite using a lot harder pressure than puppies brought home at 8 weeks. They may also be lacking in dog-dog social skills! If a breeder seems too anxious to release the puppies before then, that is another {Red Flag !} that the breeder just wants to get rid of the pups and get paid. Also, don’t let the breeder convince you to take 2 littermates! That’s not always the best choice for the humans or those dogs 🙁

Make sure you’re going to be able to get your puppy out for frequent potty breaks. Crating puppies for long periods of time is very counterproductive and can actually cause significant behavior problems to develop. Make sure you have the time to exercise your new puppy, get the kids off to school, go to work, and still be able to meet your puppy’s basic needs. Puppies are a lot of work! You will need to devote time for your new puppy if you want to avoid house-training accidents, chewing and other destructive behaviors. One more bit of absolutely free advice: make sure to teach your puppy how to be alone! From day 2, begin leaving puppy in the crate alone for 10 minutes, then 15 minutes while slowly building up to longer periods of time each day. Rule of thumb for leaving dogs alone in the crate go something like this: At 2 months, leave pup alone for no longer than 1 hour (after doing some “alone” training); at 3 months, leave pup alone for 2 hours, at 4 months, leave pup alone for 3 hours, and so that’s how it goes. I can’t tell you how many dogs develop severe separation anxiety because owners neglect to teach the dog to be alone when they’re very young puppies. If you are a teacher, or your children are off from school for the summer, we often see dogs that do develop separation anxiety because someone has been home for months and suddenly nobody is home come September!

When you get your new puppy or you adopt a new adult dog, do not make the mistake of spoiling him. All too often, we rescue dogs that have had unfortunate past lives and we feel that we have to make it up to them by giving him everything they want. Spoiling a dog will not show him you love him and it will not make up for all that went wrong in his life before he came to you! By spoiling him, you will only be telling him that you’re weak and can’t implement rules. Dogs absolutely need to know there are rules to follow (just like human children). If you give your puppies or dogs everything they want, they will become obnoxious and demanding! Avoid allowing your dogs to get up on furniture or to sleep in your bed or your children’s beds without getting permission (it’s best to wait until puppy is at least 1 year before allowing him to sleep in the bed). Avoid giving your puppies and dogs treats just because they’re cute and breathing! Also, avoid mindlessly petting your dogs. Use treats and petting as a reward because they’ve offered appropriate behaviors that you like.

How Do You Know When Your Dog Needs Training?

All puppies and dogs need at least basic training in manners and self-control. An untrained dog is like an untrained child. As with our children, dogs must learn that there are rules to follow in their lives in order to live successfully with us in a domestic environment. Your dog needs to learn that you are his trusted guide and teacher, you control all the good and necessary resources in his life, and you make all of the critical decisions that affect his safety and well-being. Training also provides us with the ability to communicate to our pup or rescue dog about what we want our dogs to do. I only train in the home, but for young puppies I send my clients to a facility in West Berlin, called Wonderdogs (www.wonderdogs.com) for puppy class. Puppies will get those basic skills there, but they will also play with one another and learn proper dog-dog etiquette.

If your dog won’t listen to you, train him to pay attention! If your dog won’t come when called, train him to come to you! If your dog pulls you when you walk, train him to walk on a loose leash! He will not figure out how to perform good behaviors unless and until you teach him!

If you train your dog at a very early age at 8-12 weeks your dog will be much less inclined to develop major behavior problems throughout its life (although I advise training dogs until they’re 2 years old). If you neglect early training, you may experience some of the following problems with any breed at any age:

  • Jumping on guests and children
  • Digging holes in your yard
  • Stealing things just to get your attention
  • Excessive barking both in the home and outside
  • Pushy and demanding behaviors
  • Nipping and mouthiness
  • Rude behavior with other dogs
  • Anxious and fear-related behaviors
  • Dog can become out of control
  • Food and object possessiveness
  • Pulling on leash
  • Will not come when called
  • Inattentiveness to you
  • Dog to dog aggressiveness
  • Dog to human aggressiveness

One last point: avoid all harsh punishments. Avoid saying “BAD DOG” or “WHAT DID YOU DO?” Don’t think for even a second that your dog feels guilty or knew he did wrong. Cowering, looking away or running away from you is NOT GUILT. It’s your dog needing to feel safe until you become safe to be with again!

Good Luck!

Prevent Dogs From Getting Lost – Part 1

I get stressed out each time I see an announcement for LOST DOG on Pawboost Alert. I would love to know how and why so many of these dogs are running away and getting lost. I thought it might be a good idea to discuss how to PREVENT this from happening. Keep in mind though if you have recently adopted a shelter or rescue dog, many will try to escape in the early days of coming home. So closely supervise your newly rescued dog for several weeks! Do not allow that dog to be out in your yard unsupervised!

One reason dogs will run away is: it’s more exciting and fun to be outside hunting or scavenging, or playing with a neighbor’s dog rather than being stuck in the house with nothing to do! Dogs need exercise, both physical and mental. You must provide enrichment activities that will keep their brains working and give them something enjoyable to do, especially when they’re alone in the house. There is a blog on my website that has tons of ideas for providing enrichment activities . Click on this link to read it:  “Physical Exercise and Mental Stimulation for Dogs.”

NEVER call a dog to you to do something unpleasant (e.g., to say “bad dog!” or to put him in his crate, or to take him to the vet’s or groomer). No matter when you call your dog, it should be with a happy, cheerful voice, even if you’re mad as hell. Dogs will not come to you if they think they’re going to be punished! Even if your dog comes home hours after you’ve been going crazy trying to find him, BE JOYFUL and praise him for coming home. Remember that punishment will teach him something bad will happen if he approaches you!

NEVER chase your dog! Doing that will teach him/her running away from you is more fun than coming to you.

Below is my handout of games for teaching dogs to COME WHEN CALLED first from inside the house to teach him that coming to you is a good thing. My next article will teach you how to get your dog to come in from outside the house:

BACK UP AND TREAT GAME

Get your treats and begin the game with the dog sitting directly in front of you. Show him the first treat in your hand, and lure him to follow that treat as you take a step backward and he comes forward to you. Say, “COM’ERE” and give him that treat immediately when he reaches you! Keep taking one step back, and each time he comes to you, give him a treat right away using the word, “Com’ere.”

Only use a food lure for 3 repetitions! Once you get past this first part of the game, you should hide your treats behind your back and offer it only when he’s right in front of you. Encourage everyone in your family to play these games. 

DOGGIE IN THE MIDDLE GAME

Start out with the dog standing between 2 family members who are at a small distance from one another. One person calls the dog saying, “Com’ere” and rewards with a treat as soon as he arrives. Then the second person calls the dog and repeats this same process. As the dog gets better at coming to each person, begin slightly increasing the distances that you’re calling the dog back to you. Start calling your dog from different rooms to find both people who are playing the game when he’s doing well.

GO FIND IT GAME 

Toss a treat to the left of the dog and say “Go Find It.” Let him eat his treat. Then call him back to you saying “Com’ere.” When he is directly in front of you, give him a treat immediately. Then toss a treat way out to the right. Tell him “go find it!” Let him get his treat. Then call him back to you saying “Com’ere” and give him a treat immediately when he’s directly in front of you. Toss a treat out front of him and say “go find it.” Repeat this process over and over. Little by little, increase the distance you’re tossing those treats so he has to return back to you from further away to get his rewards! 

 

Physical Exercise and Mental Stimulation for Dogs

As a dog trainer, I’m always reminding my clients about the importance of exercising their dogs. But physical exercise alone isn’t always quite enough, especially with breeds such as the Border Collie or Australian Shepherd, or  Jack Russell Terrier. Retrievers and Terrier breeds come with with their own batteries that are on the charger all day long! Most of our dogs were bred to work. We have herding dogs, hunting dogs, protection dogs, flock guardian dogs, sled dogs, etc. It’s alarming when people tell me they don’t have to take their dogs out for walks because they have a backyard to run and play. Relying on the backyard to provide exercise stops all socialization since there is zero interaction with the world at large. That means the dog never gets to see or play with other dogs, s/he never gets to greet the neighbors or see children of all ages, s/he never gets used to hearing traffic or seeing moms walking their babies in strollers. Isolating dogs causes boredom, fearfulness and sometimes aggression.

Here are some ideas to get your dogs to be more active, and also to help them use their brains:

  • Sports Activities (Agility, Flyball, Canine Musical Freestyle, Tracking, Dock Diving, Lure Coursing, Sheep or Duck Herding, Hiking).
  • Group Training Classes (AKC Canine Good Citizen, Pet Therapy, Tricks, Rally-Obedience, Nosework).
  • Best Toy for Super High-Energy and Herding Dogs (Flirt Pole) See video below.

If you live around South Jersey, check out some of these sports activities and group classes at Wonderdogs in West Berlin, NJ: http://www.wonderdogs.com/store/scripts/index.asp

See for yourself how much fun you and your dogs can have. Fetch games are okay, but dogs actually become stressed when they play fetch for too long! Yes, Really! Look at some of these terrific ideas how to physically and mentally exercise your dog:

  1. Here is a video showing dogs having the time of their lives doing Flyball: https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=youtube+videos+of+flyball#id=2&vid=8ac55be219183275308a0053e91c0042&action=click
  2. Watch how these dogs are being taught to do Nosework: https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=nosework+videos#id=24&vid=5941d5737cd668dbcab204d3211b6a49&action=view
  3. This is a beginner doing Rally Obedience: https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=videos+of+rally+obedience#id=1&vid=78dbaec77bbf1646d7730d8e6324f1b3&action=click
  4. Watch how beautiful Canine Freestyle is: https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=canine+musical+freestyle#id=4&vid=dddeaead4b481ea863e73c11087d84e2&action=view
  5. If you have a Sight Hound, try doing Lure Coursing: https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=video+of+lure+coursing#id=2&vid=30b748f2c5f4bb9e37d67ec721b9082b&action=click
  6. Here is a video showing how to use the Flirt Pole: https://vimeo.com/26279876
  7. Have you heard about the Kong Wobbler? Watch this video of Louis, The Dog Toy Critic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-9Q0_BPUHM
  8. Have you heard about the Snuffle Mat? Watch this video of Louis, The Dog Toy Critic: https://beaglefanclub.com/dog-toy-critic/
  9. One of my favorite games to recommend is called The Muffin Tin Game. Watch this video: https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=videos+of+muffin+tin+games+with+puppies#id=6&vid=8c5037c6d7a2ca3aac687fd2e964e078&action=view
  10. Make your dog’s meal a hunting expedition. Take his bowl of food out on your lawn (grass should be cut short. Ask your dog to sit and stay. Take out a few kibbles from the bowl and toss them on the lawn. Tell him to “Go Find It!” Make it easy for him to find them at first. Call him back to you and place her back in a sit/stay. This time take a slightly larger amount of kibble out of the bowl and toss them over a  larger area, but it should still be easy for him to find his food. Once he knows the name of this game, It shouldn’t take too long before your dog learns how to hunt for his food. I promise she’ll love it!

This is just a small sampling of how to provide very fun and stimulating activities for your dog. I hope you like them!

 

 

 

Canine Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic – the practice of using one’s hands to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases. Chiropractic spinal manipulations have been done on both people and animals in this country since 1895. History indicates that spinal manipulation was used on animals as far back as ancient China.

Misalignments of the vertebrae are called subluxations. When a chiropractor manually performs a spinal manipulation on an animal, he is attempting to correct subluxations in the spine in order to restore the proper functioning of that animal’s nervous system.

Spinal subluxations in dogs may be caused by any physical injury, stress, faults in conformation, excessive crate confinement, leaping from or running down stairs or other high places, using leash corrections with choke chains, chaining your dog out on any collar, poor diet, insufficient exercise, sporting activities, such as agility, herding, lure coursing and playing rough with other dogs.

If a dog has a subluxation, he may or may not experience some form of pain, ranging from moderate to severe. Symptoms that you may observe in your own dog might include any of the following:

  • Shows any signs of lameness
  • Refuses to have his collar or harness put on
  • Does not want to be touched on specific areas
  • May no longer desire to jump up on the bed or sofa when previously happy to do so
  • Shows sudden change in behavior, such as aggressiveness or depression
  • Becomes stiff anywhere on his body
  • Appears weak or unable to walk or move about
  • Excessively licks his paws causing sores to develop
  • Drags his hind leg behind as he walks, or becomes paralyzed
  • Favors sitting on one side
  • Becomes incontinent (urinary and/or fecal)
  • Develops problems with digestion
  • Shows poor performance in sports activities or a decreased interest in playing
  • Dogs who suffer from hip dysplasia, IV disc disease and Wobblers Disease are excellent candidates for chiropractic care.

Ray E. Derman, D.C., C.V.C.P. Equine & Canine Chiropractic 401 W. Somerdale Rd., Hi-Nella, N J 08083 Office: (856) 309-1991 Cell: (856) 889-7729 drray@peoplepc.com

Game for Teaching Self-Control

“Go Wild & Freeze”

This is a game that is all about having a great time, but teaching your dog that he MUST remain in control of himself. You will also enjoy this game because you can now act like a total idiot with your dog and this dog trainer won’t even raise an eyebrow about it 🙂

Take your dog outside or down the basement to play where there is plenty of room to run around. Remember to have your dog’s leash or a long-line attached to his harness or collar before you begin playing.

Before you play this game:

  1. Hold onto the leash
  2. Ask your dog to sit
  3. Once he’s seated, ask him, “wanna go wild?” in a real excited and happy voice
  4. Start running around, but only for a very short distance (maybe a foot)
  5. Immediately stop running and tell the dog to sit!
  6. Give him a treat if he sits instantly!
  7. Repeat all 5 steps for a good 3-4 times before lengthening your run.

As you and your dog really get into the game, as long as he is sitting for you as soon as you ask him to, you can begin lengthening the distance and time that you’re both running around. Run around in a straight line at first. Then begin running around in circles. You can now discontinue the food treat for sitting, as the reward for sitting will be playing the game.

If you notice that your dog is getting too revved up, go back to the last level where he was able to control himself. Once he’s doing well at that level again, slowly raise the bar by allowing longer wild playtimes before you again ask him to sit for you.


I have had owners successfully play this game with very jumpy dogs. Require that your dog use good self-control, and his reward will be getting to play for longer periods of time.