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Covid-19=Separation Anxiety

While we are all experiencing “house arrest,” we are all spending a lot more time with our dogs. They are so happy and, of course, we love being with them all day. But I am really worried!

It is so important for every pet parent to try and replicate some schedule of departure every day. If we fail to do this, our dogs will have gotten used to everyone being around all day long, and then suddenly you and/or your family resumes a normal work schedule. That may not happen until May! If both you and your spouse normally go to work outside the house everyday, then both of you need to leave the house everyday. If you both work, and your children go to school everyday, they need to leave too. Look… I understand we can’t go too far from home. We are under “lock-down.” Take a walk where your dog can’t see you for 30-60 minutes, or get in the car and park around the block for at least 30 minutes, go into your home office and stay there without letting the dog see you. On a nice day, go out and clean up your gardens where your dog cannot see you from the windows. If you can separate from your dogs minimally once/day – preferably twice/day, you will all be helping your dog(s) to prepare for being totally alone. Make sure to give your dog a frozen filled Kong, or a Kong Wobbler or any other enriching item to keep him occupied and happy while your gone. Here’s a link to give you some additional ideas:

Separation anxiety/distress all too often occurs annually in September. Trainers see this every year. Teachers suddenly have been home more often, children are off from school for two whole months. Once I had a client whose dog dug out the insulation in the walls! Another client’s dog dug out the linoleum on their kitchen floor, and also dug out the wood that led to their upstairs. Severe separation anxiety is a dog having panic attacks! I’m sure you have seen photographs of this on the internet.

Take care of your dog, and you take care of yourselves during this very trying time in all of our lives. Good luck!

Renee Premaza, The Jersey Dog Trainer


It’s March 7th, 2020 already! Thankfully, we’re headed to spring and some really nice weather. This is the beginning of “puppy season.” So I figured I would offer some important advice for those of you who either have already purchased/adopted a puppy or you’re in the process of deciding whether you want a puppy or an adult rescue.

If you’ve never had a puppy before, make sure to research the breeds and consider which breed to choose that would be a good match for your energy level. Some breeds come with a huge amount of energy, kind of like the “energizer bunny” that just wants to go and go and go. If you are not an energized person, stick with breeds that like a more quiet life. Also very important to determine is how much time you can devote to a new puppy. If you don’t have that much time because you work long hours, and you either can’t afford a pet sitter or dog walker to come to your home 3 times/day to let puppy out and to play and help with socialization, please do NOT get a puppy. Puppies need to be socialized with both humans and other puppies and well-socialized adult dogs. They also need to be socialized with the outside world. The best time to enroll a puppy in a puppy class is right after they’ve had their first set of shots. If you find a puppy that you fall in love with at a shelter, make sure that puppy is 100% healthy before taking any group class. Good puppy classes offer short play-periods during classes. However, some veterinarians offer socialization classes, so ask your own vet if that is offered at their clinic. The window of socialization closes at 12 weeks. Socialization must happen within a day or two after you bring your “bundle of joy” home. Socialization means getting puppy used to your family, getting puppy out for short walks to meet the neighbors, having friends and family visit the house a little at a time so puppy becomes used to people. If you are a light skinned person, make sure to introduce your puppy to dark-skinned people. If you are a dark-skinned person, introduce your puppy to light-skinned people.

Most of the fearful dogs that I meet in my business are fearful due to lack of sufficient socialization. I’ve met puppies who are 11 weeks old and they are already showing signs of fearfulness because they didn’t meet enough people or any dogs. By the way, puppies do NOT belong at a dog park!!!

Has it been awhile since you’ve housetrained a puppy? If you enroll in a puppy class, your instructor should give you instructions on how to effectively do that in order to prevent accidents from occuring. Crating is helpful during housetraining, but puppy must get out of the crate for potty breaks, play breaks and short walks (might be best to walk puppy in the street rather than on the curb where other dogs are peeing and pooping). If your puppy is confined to 6-8 hours in the crate, you may NOT wind up with a “normal adult dog.”

There is one facility that I always recommend for puppy classes. That is: Wonderdogs in West Berlin, NJ. Their puppy classes are for pups 8 weeks to 16 weeks. Here is their contact information:

Many times people will call me about puppy training. I always suggest a good puppy class, and as long as that potential client is actively socializing their pup, I will go to the home and train the puppy. But when they can go to Wonderdogs, I will do a 2-hour puppy consult prior to the start of their classes. I teach people proper housetraining methods and I also teach people how to deal with the puppy play-biting. Those two topics can take as long as 2 hours.

Puppies are a lot of work! But it IS worth it if you have the time, the energy and the patience to raise a puppy. Take your time making that decision. If you have any questions about puppies, don’t hesitate to either message me on Facebook, or email me at or call me at (609) 280-9338.

Good luck 🙂

Renee Premaza

Why Dogs Do What They Do

  • JUMPING FOR GREETINGS – Pups learn to jump up when they’re in the litter. They jump up to elicit food from their dams by licking at their mouths. They learn very early that jumping up gains attention.  When they leave the litter, they learn that jumping up on us also gains attention. BUT… any attention they get for jumping on us becomes reinforced, whether we’re petting them, talking to them, screaming at them, kneeing them in the chest, etc.  Any behavior that gets reinforced will increase and get stronger with practice (aka “positive reinforcement”).  Your dog can be trained to greet you and/or other people politely as long as  you require that he sits for all greetings when people come into your home, or when people approach him during walks, or anytime someone comes toward him for a greeting. It does take a lot of practice!
  • BARKING AT THE DOORBELL –  Many dogs learn to “alert bark” when they hear the doorbell. Some dogs will take this behavior over the top if we teach them that the sound of the doorbell gets people in the house all excited. We run to the door excitedly, we shout out “who is it??”  So the dog learns very early to associate the sound of the doorbell as a reason to run toward it because everyone else is doing it too. Many dogs will become overly excited when they hear the phone ring too, because our behavior is very similar when we get a call and run to the phone. 

Now, if the barking happens and it gets on your nerves, and you wind up shouting at the dog to “shut up!” or “be quiet” and so the dog thinks we’re barking right along with him! That’s when we see in increase in the intensity of the barking. You can teach your dog to stop barking by saying “thank you” or “quiet”. But he must BE quiet when you train this verbal cue!

Dogs should NOT be the main greeter at the door. This actually creates a lot of stress in them because they can’t handle this situation very well and this also causes more barking. We wind up holding their collars to keep them back and that, in itself, creates frustration. Your dog can be trained to “go to your spot, lie down and stay” until you release him to greet someone. Remember that practice makes perfect, so if your dog is doing something at the door that you don’t like, each time he gets to successfully practice it, he’s getting better at it! Do yourself a big favor and get a professional to come and help you with this issue.

  • DEMAND BARKING – If your dog is barking in your face in order to get your attention, you will be reinforcing his bad behavior even if you just look at him! If you want to extinguish this behavior, turn your back and pretend he’s not in the room until he stops barking for at least 5 seconds! When he stops barking, you can either interact with him or just go about your business.  Be aware that the barking may get worse before it gets better. Consistency is critically important in all of your training.  If you give attention just sometimes when he barks at you, the barking will get much stronger as well if he is jumping, pawing at you, etc. because you’re randomly reinforcing the bad behaviors you don’t like ( known as a “slot machine principle”).
  • BARKING AT PEOPLE/DOGS DURING WALKS – This is not an easy behavior to give an answer for because it depends on the dog’s emotional state at the time he’s doing this.  Some dogs are not well socialized and so they bark at people or other dogs because they’re afraid that something bad will happen to them.  Some dogs bark at people or other dogs because they get so excited to greet them, and then they are restrained on the leash, which causes leash frustration, which can then become leash aggression. Barking then becomes an outlet for that frustration. Many of these dogs are fine once the leash is taken off. They can play with another dog or greet a person in a very friendly manner.  However, without the assistance of a professional, I would not recommend trying to fix this on your own.

BARKING WHEN PEOPLE/DOGS WALK BY THE HOUSE –  If you have a Rottweiler or a German Shepherd or other protection breed, I would expect this behavior to occur.  However, all dogs can take up this behavior for many reasons. They may be under-socialized and feel threatened when people or other dogs are anywhere near their home or yard, even if nobody has ever caused them any harm. Allowing your dog access to windows and doors where they can bark all day long will create more territorial behavior and negative emotions. Your dogs are not happy when they’re barking out the door or window! This becomes “barrier frustration” as does allowing your dog to run and bark at your fence line. The more they practice this behavior, the angrier they become. Any dog that might get out of the fence or get out of the door they’ve been barking at can wind up behaving aggressively toward people or other dogs on the outside! Prevent this behavior! You are positively reinforcing a very inappropriate behavior.

  • DIGGING –Dogs that do a lot of digging can be bored out of their minds, or they hear moles and other animals underneath the ground or they’re wanting to lie in a cool bed. If you  have a Jack Russell Terrier or a Dachsund or other terrier breeds that are bred to hunt vermin, your dog will always want to hunt small prey. Instead of screaming at your dog to stop digging, try buying a child’s sand box or a kiddie pool and bury some goodies in sand so he has something to hunt for and will become satisfied by doing his instinctive behaviors.  Every few days bury new and different squeaky toys, treats and biscuits in the digging pit. Every few days, take them out and put some new things in the sand. Keep him guessing about what interesting items he might be finding that day. More often than not, this becomes a wonderful way of protecting your lawn and garden. Dogs that dig because they’re bored need a lot more exercise and a variety of activities, not mindless, unstructured activity like running around the yard for hours.

Another way to satisfy the digger is to give him a variety of ways to hunt for his food. You can fill a Kong toy with his kibble and let him eat his meals out of the Kong. Here are some names of other food-release toys: Buster Cube, Molecule Ball, Busy Buddy, Twist and Treat, Tug a Jug, Kong Wobbler, etc.  Nobody says that a dog must eat his meals out of a bowl. 

You can also teach your dog to hunt for his kibble by tossing it all over the lawn. Then release him to find the kibble. He’ll come inside happy and tired from his half hour of hunting 🙂

  • STEALING LAUNDRY AND OTHER ITEMS THAT YOU VALUE – Dogs love stealing laundry items because (a) they generally stink really good, and (b) when they steal your stuff, they get everyone to chase them all over the house, and that’s what they want.  It’s rare that a dog doesn’t alert you to the fact that he’s got something in his mouth, and then runs off with his loot. Aren’t they clever?  They’ve gotten you to play a “catch me if you can game.”  They’ve succeeded in getting you to pay very close attention to them.  If your dog steals a sock or your bra and he’s not eating them or actually ingesting them, the best way to extinguish this behavior is to remove ALL attention for it! Pretend you don’t even notice he’s got something. Read a book, keep watching TV, or get up and leave the room. In a very short time, your dog will get bored and realize his little game isn’t working anymore.  It will eventually disappear IF you are consistent and PATIENT about ignoring him.

If your dog steals valuable items or if he steals things that he’s actually eating and swallowing, you’ll have no choice but to retrieve those things and get them away from your dog for his health’s sake. ALWAYS make a food exchange for that item!!! But… for his sake and the sake of your valuables, KEEP THEM OUT OF HIS REACH!  You need to pretend that your dog is a 1 or 2 year old toddler, because that’s about the maturity level of all adult dogs. You would never leave dangerous things lying around the house for a small child to find and get hurt with or swallow, right? Be as diligent in keeping harmful things out of the reach of your four-legged attention hog!

  • STEALING FOOD FROM THE TRASH OR GARBAGE CAN –  If you’re a dog, then food is a primary reinforcer for you. Survival is all about food and hunting for food. Here is where management becomes very important in preventing a behavior you don’t want from becoming reinforced and habitual. Keep your dog away from your cooking area anytime you are preparing meals or someone is eating.  With training, you can teach your dog to “go to your mat and stay” right in the entranceway of the kitchen. Set him down with a frozen filled Kong or a bully stick or other long-term chewie to keep him occupied while you’re cooking and eating meals. At no time should ANY dog be permitted around the appliances in your kitchen when meals are being cooked.  If you haven’t taught him to lie down on his own mat yet, you can find an appropriate area to tether him w/ a harness so he can’t move too far from his mat.  If you don’t want your dog to learn how to hunt in your kitchen, prevent the behavior from happening ever again.  Remember that practice makes perfect! Each time your dog learns that there is food in the trash or on the floor, he will be right there to scarf it up.  Another training cue that is very helpful in this scenario is a LEAVE IT cue.  Train your dog!
  • DOGS THAT DON’T LIKE BEING PICKED UP, HAVING THEIR EARS EXAMINED OR MEDICATED, HAVING THEIR PAWS HANDLED OR BEING PETTED OVER THEIR HEADS – Dogs can develop handling issues when handling is not done enough when they are younger than 8 weeks old. If you took your dog to a good puppy kindergarten class, your instructor should have had everyone doing many different types of handling so that your dog could accept a vet doing a physical examination or a groomer brushing, drying, clipping and cutting his nails.  Many people adopt dogs from shelters or rescues who have handling issues because those poor dogs did not get exposed to enough physical handling by their original owners. Also, some of these issues are the fault of a breeder who did not handle the puppies much before they were sold (puppy mill breeders)!

There is a process called “desensitization and countercondition,” which is part of a behavior modification program.  Those dogs that don’t like certain parts of their bodies touched or they don’t like when people reach over their heads can be taught to accept these things when a behavior consultant creates a specific program to get him to feel more positive about what he already has a negative emotion toward.  We pair up the negative with something the dog sees as a positive (food!).  Little by little the dog begins to associate the negative (having his paws handled) with getting delicious and high-value food when he’s touched on his paws.  With practice the dog learns to feel good about it.

  • INGESTING NON-EDIBLE ITEMS (E.G., ROCKS, DIRT, SOCKS, PLASTICS, MULCH, ETC.).  This is a difficult behavior to stop.  It’s also difficult to prevent. There are rocks on this earth, there is dirt everywhere, there are children’s plastic toys in the house and you only have two eyes to see what’s going on with everybody everyday!  The only thing that you can really do is manage your dog’s environment to prevent him from gaining access to those things that he’s actually swallowing.  If you don’t, you may be faced with a very dangerous and expensive surgery ($2,000.00) to remove a stomach or intestinal blockage. If your dog likes rocks, you may have to put a muzzle on him whenever he’s around rocks!  You also need to teach your dog a LEAVE IT cue by playing a game that teaches this! Again, a reminder that your dog is like a 1 or 2 year old that loves putting things in his mouth.  But once this starts to happen, it’s becomes habitual quickly! Prevent, prevent, prevent.
  • DOG IGNORES ITS OWNERS AND/OR WON’T COME WHEN CALLED – Dogs that do not see their owners as important enough to pay attention to do need training, as do the owners! There are many reasons dogs ignore their owners. They also ignore there names.  They never come when they’re called. They are just in tuned to their own selves and doing their own thing because (a) they’ve not ever been taught to pay attention, (b) they hear the human voice and it sounds angry, (c) or they associate their owners voice to mean, “all my fun ends when I hear my name.”  Please do not think of your dog as being “dominant” because he’s ignoring you.  You could also be competing with the environment.  If you have a terrier or a beagle, or any dog that’s been bred to be independent, you ARE competing with the environment. You need to become way more interesting and exciting that any squirrel or rabbit.  You also need to provide a motivator that will help your dog learn that you hold the keys to all the good things in his life. And… you need to reward your dog for paying any attention to you, whether you ask for his attention or he voluntarily offers it. Instead of punishing your dog for inattentiveness, make sure you reward him like crazy for any appropriate attention that he does show you.  Reward that behavior with praise, or a treat, or a toss of his ball, or by petting, and you’ll get more of it. Also, begin training with a trainer who uses motivational methods and can teach you how to do some attention exercises to get you started.  Your trainer should also teach you how to get your dog to come to you no matter what’s going on. 
  • EXCESSIVE LICKING – Whether the dog is licking you excessively or himself, this can become a neurotic compulsive behavior if you don’t interrupt the behavior before it goes on for more than a second or two. Generally, it starts because the dog is feeling stressed by something, and licking makes him feel better until that stressor goes away. But with continued practice, it then becomes a neurotic habit. If your dog is constantly licking you, remove yourself from him. Just walk away, but don’t say anything to him. If you’re consistent, he will learn that licking you makes you leave him.  Hopefully this will teach him to stop it.  If he’s licking himself, he will develop an acral lick-granuloma. This is a nasty skin condition for which there is no cure!
  • HOUSETRAINING ISSUES – There are certain breeds that have been shown to be difficult to housetrain. Chihuahuas, Bichons and many of the toy-breed dogs are more difficult to housetrain because they have very tiny bladders and they are very excitable dogs. The more excited a dog becomes, the more urine he’ll produce. Management is key and good housetraining procedures are absolutely a must. If you’re punishing your dog for having accidents, you will only create MORE accidents by causing more stress for your dog. He will not learn to potty in the yard when you shout, “what did you do?” and point your finger at him.  He certainly will never become housetrained if you rub his nose in his excrement!  I’ve never heard of any mom smearing a baby’s diaper in her baby’s face to teach her to go to the toilet.  Basically, you will need to take your dog outside to his “toilet area” onleash.  Tell him to “go potty” and when he starts to go, remain perfectly quiet. When he’s finished, you need to give him a very delicious treat within ½ second of his getting up out of his squat to reward his behavior right there on the spot.  Quite frequently, people cause more accidents in the house when they bring the dog into the house right away and THEN give him a treat.  Smart puppy learns to hurry up and pee as fast as possible because YOU want him to come back inside very quickly.  So puppy or rescue dog pees or poops just enough to release pressure, and then finishes peeing or pooping after he gets his treat in the house! Never punish by hollering, hitting, pointing or scowling at your dog when he has an accident. Your dog will quickly learn that he can’t go in front of you because you can’t handle it when he has to potty. I can’t tell you how many 1 and 2 year old dogs I’ve met who REFUSE to potty in front of their owners!
  • PLAYS TOO ROUGH WITH PEOPLE – Dogs learn to play too aggressively because someone has played with the dog by roughhousing! The dog learned that mouthing and body slamming and jumping on the person is what that person wants, so they continue to do it and become very positively reinforced for doing it. In order to get your dog to play appropriately, scale your play behavior down and leave out the high excitement of wrestling.  Play fetch, hide and seek, and play-training games. Incorporate obedience into your games by interrupting all play and asking him to sit or lie down. Then resume your play.  You can even play tug of war IF you require good manners during the game. If your dog even touches his teeth to your skin, you need to end the game and remove all your attention from the dog for at least 30-60 seconds. Don’t play tug with  him for several hours after any mouthy behavior.
  • SHY/FEARFUL WITH PEOPLE – This issue cannot be explained away easily.  Shyness is a genetically inherited trait. Fearful behavior can be a result of shyness and/or insufficient socialization by the time the puppy reaches 12 weeks. Anything after 11-12 weeks and the owners are doing remedial work! With both shyness and fearful behavior, people need to realize that the dog is NOT being dominant. He is scared out of his mind. When he is exposed to something or someone that he’s afraid of, he can wind up having a panic attack. Panic attacks can look like aggressive behavior because his brain becomes adrenalized quickly. If your dog behaves in this manner, seek professional help!  If you have a dog who is clearly telling you “I can’t handle being near people, other dogs, or something in the environment.” Quickly remove your dog to an area that can help him feel safer and calmer. You cannot force a dog to accept something that he’s afraid of! This behavior is absolutely not a punishable offense!!
  • PLAY-BITING FROM A DOG 6 MONTHS AND OLDER –  All mouthy behavior after a dog acquires his adult teeth is no longer “play-biting.”  Putting teeth on skin is an inappropriate behavior and should never be tolerated.  Roughhousing with dogs causes mouthy behavior because the dog has not been taught to keep his teeth in his mouth.  Dogs that place their teeth over someone’s wrist are not playing – they are controlling the human.  Remove your attention immediately from the dog WITHOUT using any negative emotions. You can use a word like, “timeout” or “too bad” or “ouch” and then leave.  Stay away from your dog for at least 30 seconds.  When you return ask for some obedience and then life goes back to normal. If he repeats the behavior anytime soon, remove your attention for 60 seconds. Put your dog on a “Say Please Program” and definitely teach him obedience and use it for the rest of his life.
  • BOLTING OUT THE DOOR –  If you have an escape artist in your home, you need to tighten up on your management. First and foremost is training! If someone is going to be opening the front door, they need to first check on the location of your dog before opening it.  You need to work on obedience cues, like “go to your mat, lie down and stay.”  You also need to work on teaching your dog to come when called, so that if he should get out, you can get him to come back immediately.  Everytime a dog escapes to romp and explore the neighborhood or to hunt, he is being positively reinforced for this behavior. He is learning that this is a good behavior and it is acceptable because YOU are allowing him to do it and he is being successful at it.  Prevent all bad behavior and reward him for doing all appropriate behaviors, like staying when the door is open.  Training is very important with a dog like this.  If your dog is escape artist, make sure he’s getting enough physical AND mental exercise! CAUTION: NEVER PUNISH HIM FOR RUNNING OFF! IF YOU DO, HE’LL LEARN NEVER TO COME WHEN YOU CALL HIM BECAUSE “YOU ARE DANGEROUS!!
  • SEPARATION ANXIETY –  This is an emotional disorder.  Depending on the severity, your dog might need to be seen by a veterinarian.  In severe cases, vets can recommend meds specifically for this disorder. You should also work with a behavior consultant who can create a behavior modification program to work with your dog to feel more comfortable when being left alone.  Here are some books to purchase which deal with this behavior:
  • Separation Distress and Dogs, by James O’Heare
  • I’ll be Home Soon by Patricia B. McConnell Ph.D.
  • TERRITORIAL BEHAVIOR IN THE HOUSE AND/OR CAR – Seek professional help from a certified behavior consultant or your vet for this behavior as it can lead to aggressive behavior towards both people and dogs, depending on what or to whom the dog reacts.  A dog that becomes territorial sees a threat to himself or to his humans where no threat actually exists. 

Good luck!



I can’t tell you how upset I get each time I see a PawBoost Alert that a dog is lost. One of the dogs, a Bichon mix has been lost for almost two weeks. Recently, there have been a few that have been lost for at least 2 days or more.

I want to give all of my readers just a little advice on how to prevent dogs from getting lost.

Today one little fur ball was reported missing because she got through an opening of a fence. I suspect the fence may have been the modern vinyl privacy fence. Or, it could even be an old wooden privacy fence. Everytime I visit a new client and we go out in their yard that has one of these fences, I strongly advise that the owners put large garden rocks at the base of these fences. Why? Because as the fence wears in, and is exposed to weather changes, gaps begin to appear at the base of these fences. That is a huge red flag to me because small dogs can get through them. Large and small dogs, on the other hand, can see one or more of them as an invitation to dig these gaps deeper in order to get out. Some dogs are very adept at climbing fences, so make sure your fence is high enough if you have a large, energetic dog.

Please be aware there are some horrible people out there who love to steal dogs and use them as bait for their dog-fighting rings!

Please also be aware that there are hawks above who see little dogs as dinner! Some people tell me they never see hawks flying around their house. If you love your dog, assume that they’re up there!

Here’s something I hear a lot: I let my dog out in the yard by him/herself, but I always watch. If you “always watch,” then just go out with the dog and make sure nothing bad happens.

If you have recently rescued a dog, please understand that rescues escape from their new homes waaay too often! If they’ve been in a shelter, they can’t help themselves because coming to a brand new home may be very stressful for them, especially during the first few weeks.

One dog was recently lost because the owners went away on vacation and left their elderly dog with their parents to pet-sit until they returned. We never got any notice that dog was recovered 🙁

One last thing; an electric fence does not guarantee your dog will remain behind it. If you have a hunting dog, a herding dog or a terrier and your dog spots something exciting to chase, catch or kill outside of that fence, they will go through it without even feeling that shock! If you see them escaping, they also won’t hear you calling them back! That’s because they are having an Adrenalin rush at seeing prey or something moving quickly. Dare I add that when the dog wants to return home, he finds he can’t, because s/he’ll get shocked coming back into the fence, but will definitely feel that one!!

So many of you have been wonderful about sharing these PawBoost Alerts that announce there are lost dogs or cats. I can’t thank you enough for sharing them. Please, please share this post.

Warmest regards to all of you,


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 ( 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!