Category Archives: Living with Your Dog

Articles and Links… Living with Your Dog

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

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!

 

 

 

BOREDOM BUSTING IDEAS TO HELP KEEP YOUR DOG PHYSICALLY & MENTALLY STIMULATED

 

                                       Tired Gino 600 x 450

This picture is of “Gino” DeCarlo. He is a very tired & happy 6 month-old Boxer who just had lots of mental stimulation. He wants you to know that A TIRED DOG IS A GOOD DOG!

Does your dog spend much of his day running around your house stealing your underwear and chewing your shoes? Do you go out in your yard and discover that he’s tried his hardest to dig to China and beyond?  Have you gone practically bald pulling your hair out trying to figure out why your furry friend is doing these things?  Well, I’m here to tell you, he’s more than likely bored out of his little mind. So what’s a pet parent to do?

It’s really important for all of us who live with dogs to provide both physical exercise and mentally stimulating activities for dogs. We need to be challenging our dog’s mind by directing his attention to interesting stimuli rather than his having to create ways of exercising and entertaining himself inappropriately.  Afterall, dogs were originally bred to do a job of some kind, whether it’s herding sheep, hunting birds and other prey animals, performing in the show ring, protecting property and even sitting pretty on the laps of royalty.

Your dog should be walked regularly to facilitate continued socialization with people, places, other dogs and his world at large. So many people think a dog shouldn’t be permitted to sniff the ground, but that’s not true. Let your dog sniff during your walks. Mind you, he doesn’t have to smell every blade of grass, but give him opportunities to use his nose to figure out who has been at that very same spot and to discover if it was a male or female dog, or a cat or some other critter that may have visited the neighborhood. Teach your dog to sit politely when someone approaches to greet him while you’re out walking together. Do some obedience training during your walks, like teaching him to look up at you when you say his name, or training him to touch the palm of your hand, which can help keep him walking right by your side on a loose leash. I like to train dogs to stop and wait at curbs until I give a cue to move forward. The more you pay attention to your dog, the more he’ll pay attention to you.

I believe more than 50 percent of dog behavior problems are caused by extreme boredom.  There are lots of sports activities that you could actively participate in with your dog, such as agility, flyball, canine freestyle (dancing with dogs), hiking, herding and hunting.  If your time is limited to consider the above, there are activities you can do right at home.

If you have a dog who loves to dig, you can purchase a child’s sandbox and bury all sorts of goodies in the sand for him to dig up and enjoy. Bury some biscuits and inexpensive stuffed squeaky toys so he’ll be so excited to dig in that sandbox and won’t even bother with digging up your prized vegetable garden.  Keep things interesting for him by rotating the toys you bury in that sandbox each day so he’ll always be interested to see what treasures he might uncover when he’s digging.  Make use of your dog’s innate instincts to want to dig and explore.

If you have a herding dog or a super energetic dog, there’s a fantastic interactive dog toy on the market just waiting for you to bring home to that energizer bunny you live with.  It’s called a Flirt Pole or Push ‘n’ Pull.  It looks like a fishing rod and it has a fleece lure at the end of it. You can entice your dog to chase after that fleece toy as you keep moving it in all different directions, as well as raising it up high and then lowering it.  Be kind and let him grab the toy once in awhile to keep him very interested. Trust me that you won’t have to break a sweat while playing with your dog and the Flirt Pole: http://www.amazon.com/KONG-Chase-It-Squeaking-Assorted-Characters/dp/B00AEJANCW/ref=sr_1_3?s=pet-supplies&;ie=UTF8&qid=1384561833&sr=1-3&keywords=flirt+pole+for+dogs

Have you used your muffin tin lately? Maybe it’s buried underneath your tupperwear containers and all those lids that don’t seem fit any of them 😉  Take that muffin tin and put an especially tasty treat at the bottom of each opening. Then get some of your dog’s favorite toys to sit on top of each of those treats. Call your dog over and encourage him to sniff around the muffin tin. Get all excited and clap your hands when he picks out one of those toys and uncovers a treat. Then get him to do the same thing with all of the toys sitting on top of the muffin tin.  You’ll never guess what this activity is called; “The Muffin Tin Game.” Check out this video to see how busy and happy your dog will be when he’s playing this really fun game:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhIWa_W3QxY&;feature=related

One of the dogs I’ve recently worked with is a very smart and energetic Boxer who has separation anxiety. One of the owner’s complaints about her dog was that he would destroy anything made out of cardboard she might have around the house. I smiled and I looked over at the dog who seemed to be smiling back at me. I told my client to go to the supermarket and get some cardboard boxes to leave with him in his room when she had to leave him alone. All he had to do to earn getting the boxes everyday was to sit, and then do a handshake with his mom. She’d then toss a box or two into his room and told him to “go find it.” I had her tape him for a few days after she implemented this protocol and she said he seemed very pleased with himself after he got to rip them all to pieces. Yay!

Do you have a dog who likes to tip his bowl over and then his kibble goes all over the place? Have you noticed your dog takes pieces of kibble out of his bowl and then brings them to a different area to eat? I have a very unscientific theory that these dogs are actually “pretending” to hunt for their food. Hey, nobody says a dog has to eat his food out of a bowl. The only reason we feed them out of bowls is because we humans eat out of dishes! There are several different types of food-release toys on the market that would enable your dog to hunt for his meals. Why not use one or two of these when it’s time to offer Fido his breakfast or dinner.  Click on these links to see what food-release toys and games your own dog would enjoy:

http://www.amazon.com/KONG-Classic-Kong-Dog-Small/dp/B0002AR15U/ref=sr_1_5?s=home-garden&;ie=UTF8&qid=1295991064&sr=1-5

http://www.amazon.com/Omega-Paw-Tricky-Treat-Large/dp/B0002DK26M/ref=sr_1_24?s=pet-supplies&;ie=UTF8&qid=1314199559&sr=1-24

http://www.amazon.com/Kong-PW1-Wobbler-Dog-Toy/dp/B003ALMW0M/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&;ie=UTF8&qid=1297989832&sr=1-1

www.amazon.com/KONG-Chase-It-Squeaking-Assorted-Characters

http://www.amazon.com/Deer-Antlers-Dog-Chew-Treats/dp/B004YFY0Q2/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&;qid=1417195034&sr=8-5&keywords=deer+antlers+for+dogs

http://www.amazon.com/BULLY-STICKS-Standard-Regular-Downtown/dp/B004B3W4N8/ref=pd_sim_petsupplies_2

I hope I’ve given you some good ideas for keeping your canine companion happy and busy.  Always remember how important it is to keep your dog mentally stimulated and physically exercised.  If you do, I strongly doubt you’ll ever need to call me or any other behavior consultant because your dog is destroying things in your home or because you’re convinced he’s become out of control.  Trainers have a favorite expression; “A tired dog is a good dog!”

Renee Premaza
Copyright: 2012

Advice to ALL Dog Owners

  1. Make sure your expectations of your dog are reasonable. Don’t expect your dog to acquire good behaviors until you train him to do what you want.
  2. When you begin extinguishing attention-seeking behaviors (e.g., jumping, barking in your face, pawing at you, stealing, etc.) expect these behaviors to get worse before they get better (known as an extinction burst). Be consistent in your training, and be patient!
  3. When saying English words to your dog (e.g., his name, commands like sit or down, etc.), do not repeat these words more than ONCE. When we nag our dogs by repeating and repeating, they learn to stop listening to us.
  4. If your dog ignores you, it is not because he’s being stubborn! It can be because whatever you’re saying might be confusing to him, or you might be using words that have become meaningless to him because you’ve repeated them over and over again.
  5. When asking your dog to sit, or when asking him to do anything, please stand up straight. Avoid leaning over your dog to address him as he may back away from you.
  6. WOMEN – avoid sing-songing commands to your dog. When you tell your dog to sit, say the word in a firm, but neutral voice. You’re not asking the dog to sit — you’re telling him to sit.
  7. Remember that when you reward your dog for a behavior, that behavior will tend to increase. This is known as positive reinforcement.
  8. If your dog is hyper, reward him for sitting, lying down or doing ANY calm behavior he voluntarily offers by giving him treats . You’ll notice that your dog will begin sitting and lying down more and more on his own.
    If your dog starts to show inappropriate behaviors, and those behaviors get worse and worse, you will have to figure out who or what is reinforcing those behaviors. Remember that what can be rewarding to a dog is not necessarily rewarding to humans.
  9. Consider the breed of your dog when fretting over his behaviors. If you have a herding dog, this dog will tend to nip at children’s ankles, he’ll be more likely to chase children, cars, bikes, rabbits and squirrels and anything that moves quickly. If you have a dog known for protecting, your dog will bark at strangers. If you have a dog that has been bred to hunt rodents underground, this dog will enjoy digging.
  10. Never physically punish your dog for anything! Your dog will not trust you if you slap him. He will think you’re a bully and he will not respect you. He might learn to be afraid of you, but he won’t respect you! Also, someday he may choose to defend himself against your aggressive behavior toward him. His behavior toward other people may also be affected by your aggression toward him. Physical punishment creates a lot of fallout.
    MEN – when speaking to your dog it is not necessary to yell. More often than not, a word spoken in a non-threatening way will get more of his attention than hollering.
  11. Your dog needs to know that you’re a good leader. When dogs do not have confidence in their humans to make good decisions, dogs instinctively feel that they need to “take over” and make decisions on their own. Your dog wants to know that you will never place him in harm’s way. Your dog wants to feel confident that his survival is your responsibility. If your dog feels the need to make decisions on his own, he will always resort to doggy-behavior. Dogs that think they have to rule the roost become hyper and nervous. Many times they develop very bad habits, like biting people, growling and snarling when they don’t get their own way. Help your dog to feel more relaxed by controlling all of his resources (e.g., food, toys, shelter, and all good things). He will become much calmer when he knows it’s not his responsibility to make important decisions. Follow the Nothing in Life is Free Program.
  12. Do not leave your dog’s food in his bowl all day long. “Free-feeding” causes dogs to lose their appetite. Dogs that have food out all day do not feel that their food is valuable. They think food grows in the bowl just for them. By offering two distinct meals per day, your dog will learn to eat when his bowl is placed on the floor. He will also see YOU as the giver of his food. If you have a puppy, feeding at definite times will help his digestive system become more regulated and you will be able to housetrain your pup much more easily.
  13. If you have young children in your home, and you have a computer, please go to the following website for extremely important information about how to keep children safe with dogs, and how to keep dogs safe with children: www.doggonesafe.com
    1. Never allow small children to play on the floor with any puppy or adult dog. When dogs get overly excited they tend to nip children on the face! Avoid making this mistake. Young children should either stand up or sit on furniture when playing with their dogs.
    2. Never leave young children with puppies or adults dogs without an adult to supervise — do not leave them alone even for one second!!
    3. According to the Humane Society of the United States, 12 year old boys are more apt to be bitten by their own dogs. Never allow your children (or your husband) to rough-house with your puppies or adult dogs.
    4. Teach your children to behave appropriately with your puppy or dog. Never allow children to pull tails or ears or to lay on top of your dog! Teach children that when puppy or dog wants to go into his crate for a rest, they should respect his need to do so.
    5. Learn to recognize stress signals that your dog tries to communicate. When your dog becomes stressed around your children, allow him to escape to either his crate or another room where he can chill. Teach your children never to bother your dog when he’s in this “safe space.” **To learn how dogs communicate that they are stressed, purchase the book, “ON TALKING TERMS WITH DOGS,” by Turid Rugaas. Also purchase the companion video with the same name. You can purchase these items at: www.Dogwise.com
  14. When purchasing puppies, do not take them from their littermates until 8 weeks of age. If you purchase a pup younger than 8 weeks, it will be difficult to teach him to have a soft mouth. Puppies removed from their litter too early tend to be nippy and play bite with hard-mouths. A pup needs to learn bite inhibition from his littermates before he’s brought into the home. You then must teach him to use his mouth softly (see my Puppy Packet for more information).
    Begin training puppies as early as 9 weeks of age. The earlier you begin training, the less likely your puppy will be to develop inappropriate behavioral habits as he goes through his adolescence and enters adulthood.
  15. If you adopt an adolescent dog or adult dog from a shelter or rescue organization, be sure to start obedience training ASAP. The majority of dogs that wind up in shelters or rescue have not even been trained to sit.  
    1. When adopting a dog from a shelter or from rescue, expect a “honeymoon period.” This period can last anywhere from 1 week to 4-6 months. This might all depend on how long it takes for your adopted dog to feel comfortable and secure in his new home. Once this honeymoon period comes to an end, your dog might begin showing some inappropriate behaviors that he had developed in his previous life. Be patient with your dog and teach him more appropriate behaviors by rewarding him heavily for doing what you want him to do.
    2. Start training your adopted dog in obedience after only a few days of arriving at your home. Let him know from the very beginning that you’re going to be a firm, but benevolent leader!
  16. When you train your dog, teach him the word you want him to learn AS HE’S DOING THE BEHAVIOR. For example, if you want your dog to understand the word, SIT, say the word “SIT” as he goes to put his butt on the floor. After about 5 times, test him to see if he understands the word by saying it first. If he sits then you’ll know he now understands what that spoken word means. Dogs will always respond quicker to hand-signals, as they communicate with each other using body language.
    When using reward-based training, give your dog his reward within 1/2 second of his doing that good behavior. If your timing in incorrect, you might be rewarding him for the wrong behavior. For example, many people will take their dog outside to potty, but will then give the dog a treat after he comes back inside the house. The dog has only learned that he’s been rewarded for coming back in the house — not that he’s done a good thing by going potty outside!
  17. If during the life of your dog you notice any sudden change in his behavior, take him to the veterinarian for a complete physical examination. There are many serious illnesses that might cause a dog to change his behavior.
    I wish you good luck with your dog, and I hope this article will help you understand your canine companions.

© 2009 Renee Premaza

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.