Amy Lear, CPDT-KA, ABCDT, ABCCT and her pup header

Highlights from Homeschool for Canines with Trainer Amy Lear

Keep a Close Eye

With anything new – please monitor your pets! This applies to a new bed, kennel, chew, toy, collar, harness, etc. Some items are not right for every pet – make sure that this new item is something appropriate & safe for your pet. As always, please remember the Hollywood Feed Promise: If your pet doesn’t love it, or if you don’t love it, we’ll gladly replace or refund it!

Use a clicker, high-value treats, and a treat bag when you’re training your pet with new commands. 

Stick to a Routine

Keep a routine – use a kennel or a bed! This gives both of you your own space to escape to. Make the kennel a positive space. Give them a high-value treat or toy while they are inside of the crate

Use Toys to Combat Boredom

Use a filled Kong to give your pet something to focus on during your mealtime, while you’re working from home, or to just give them a fun & stimulating treat! Check out some recipes here:

You can also keep your pets stimulated with maze bowls, Kong Wobblers, Bob-A-Lots! Fill these items with food or treats to keep their minds busy & active. 

Poochie Bells for Potty Training

If you’re teaching potty training to a new pet – puppy or adult – try using Poochie Bells! Hang these on the door you will open when letting them out to potty. Have your dog use their hand or or nose to ring the bells each time you go outside to potty. Eventually, they’ll associate the sound of the bells with going outside to potty. This will let them alert you when they need to go outside! 

Tools for Pullers

If your dog is pulling during a walk – try out the Easy-Walk Harness by PetSafe! This is a front-clip harness, and it’s the same harness that Thor was wearing during each class. Martingale collars are also a great option for pulling. These slip over the head & get tight when the dog pulls – but they have a ‘stop’ so that they will only get so tight when pulled. 

Help Alleviate Your Pet’s Anxiety

To help ease your pet’s anxiety try a calming treat, a Thundershirt, pheromones or even a stimulating chew to keep them occupied. Treats like Heavenly Hounds and Progility offer calming ingredients to soothe your pet during storms, traveling, or separation anxiety.

 

Try The Pet Corrector™ for Unwanted Behaviors

If your dog needs a bit of a push in the right direction during training, try The Pet Corrector™ Canned Air. This device emits a hiss of compressed gas (HFC 134a) that’s completely safe for dogs. The gas releases a white noise on the broad spectrum – either a low-frequency rumble or high-frequency hiss depending on the setting. It’s effective for treating pet’s unwanted behaviors.

 

simple solution training pads on wood floor

Should You Use Training Pads with Your New Puppy?

You just picked out a new puppy and are planning out what pet supplies you need. You’ve heard mixed reviews about puppy pads, so you aren’t sure whether to include those on your list. Below we’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of using puppy pads with young puppies, especially those learning house training.

Training Pads for Older Dogs

It’s important to note that puppy pads are extremely useful for senior dogs or dogs with mobility or incontinence issues. If your dog is unable to walk outside to go to the bathroom, having a puppy pad available as the designated bathroom spot is necessary.

Where Does Your Puppy Live?

Very young puppies must go to the bathroom every hour or so until their bladders develop the ability to hold it for longer periods of time. They are physically incapable of holding it and will develop the ability to hold it for longer periods of time as they grow. If you live on the tenth floor of a high-rise apartment building, getting your puppy down to the grassy area on the ground floor can be a challenge.

This is where using puppy training pads comes in handy. The attractant added to the pad coaxes your puppy to use the pad and having the pads in the same spot in your apartment trains your puppy to only go to the bathroom in that area on the pad.

If you live in a house with a fenced in backyard, you’re less likely to need the training pads. As long as you’re able to let your puppy out on a regular basis (at least thirty minutes after any food or water), you shouldn’t need to incorporate training pads into the process.

However, if you are not able to let your new puppy out multiple times during the day, puppy pads are essential. Best way to keep your puppy safe is to keep him or her contained in an exercise pen and have a potty pad in one corner of the pen.

How Many Puppies are You Taking Care of?

How many puppies are in your care will also determine whether you need to use training pads or not. If you are fostering a litter of puppies, it will be almost impossible to take every one of the puppies out to potty when needed.

Many puppy fosters always opt to use an exercise pen or sectioned off safe area in the home and have puppy pads available for them to use. This also cuts down on the amount of mess to clean up.

Why Can Puppy Pads be Counterproductive Sometimes?

Using puppy pads out of convenience rather than necessity can sometimes backfire when you want to discontinue using the pads. You’ve trained your puppy in their formative development stage that the puppy pad equals going to the bathroom. This makes it difficult to teach them to associate outside as the designated potty area.

Therefore, it may take a longer time to get your puppy accustomed to using the bathroom outside. One tip to help with the transition from pads to outside is to keep a training pad outside where you want your puppy to go. Eventually, you’ll be able to remove the pad from the yard, and your puppy will be potty trained.

spaniel under a bed

Fear, Anxiety, Stress, and Phobias in Dogs

We all have encountered fear, anxiety, and stress in our lives. Our dogs are no different. Fear and anxiety and the stress they induce in our pets is often down-played and overlooked. Most of us fail to notice anxiousness in our own pets. Once we understand stress and can recognize the signs, we can work to identify the underlying cause, and take the appropriate steps to eliminating the stress in our dogs’ lives.

The terms fear, anxiety, stress, and phobias are often used interchangeably when referring to a dog’s behavior; however, they are very different. As responsible guardians for our dogs, we are obligated to understand these principles and the impact they have on our canine companions so we can do what is necessary to minimize stress in their lives.

 

  • Fear is an emotional response that occurs when an animal perceives something or someone as dangerous. Fear is a normal and beneficial behavior which helps us to adapt and survive.
  • Anxiety is the anticipation of future danger or a threat, whether it be real, imaginary, or unknown. Anxiety and fear both lead to stress and cause a similar physiologic stress response involving the release of neurotransmitters and stress hormones.
  • Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. Stress is much more than just an emotional problem. It can cause many serious physical health issues and exacerbate other mental and physical problems.
  • Phobias are persistent fears of certain things or situations that are often extreme and out of proportion to the actual threat that they pose. Unfortunately, many dogs have phobias that are often not diagnosed or handled properly.

Most fears, phobias, and anxieties in dogs develop at the onset of social maturity, from 12 to 36 months of age. Often times owners who have a dog they adopted from a shelter, or don’t know the full history of, assume that fearful or anxious behaviors they have are because of past abuse and tend to ignore the problem. While in some instances this may be the case, there are also many dogs born with heritable predisposition to being fearful or anxious. Many dogs suffer from a pathologic fear or anxiety and perceive a threat even when none are present.

As dog owners, we need to do a better job of learning normal animal behavior and becoming aware of how are dogs are learning from positive and negative experiences. Ignoring these problems will not make them go away and only prolongs your dog’s suffering. When a dog cannot change its behavior in a way to help it better cope with fear and anxiety, or escape from the situation they perceive as dangerous, the prolonged negative effects cause the body to remain in a stressed state. This can have serious negative mental and health consequences.

Let’s talk a little bit more about fear, anxiety, stress, and phobias in dogs.

Fear

Fear is an emotional response that occurs when an animal PERCEIVES something or someone as dangerous and causes them to avoid situations and activities that may potentially be dangerous. It is very important to know that just because we may think a particular person, event, or object is nothing to be feared, that does not mean that your dog feels the same. A dog’s perception is their reality, and they will respond to what they perceive as a threat even if we do not see it as threatening. When a dog can’t get away from something they perceive as fearful, they may freeze up or become aggressive in a self-defense manner. This, in many cases, is a perfectly normal adaptive response. The context of the situation determines whether the fear response is normal, or abnormal and inappropriate. Most abnormal fear reactions are learned and can be unlearned with gradual exposure.

Anxiety

Anxiety is defined as the anticipation of future danger, whether it be real, imaginary, or unknown. Anxiety can result in similar physiologic responses similar to those associated with fear and has an effect on almost every body system. Some of the most common visible behaviors and signs are urinary or bowel eliminations/accidents, destructive behaviors, and excessive vocalization. Separation anxiety is the most common specific anxiety in companion dogs. When alone, the animal exhibits anxiety or excessive distress behaviors. Many dogs live in a constant state of anxiety, always wary of potential threats or always worrying that their owner will leave them at any minute. It is vital to your dog’s health to be aware of these issues and work towards improving them.

Stress

Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. Stress affects dogs both emotionally and physiologically, just as it does in humans. Certain levels of stress are normal, beneficial, and even necessary for survival. The “good stress” allows us be alert, increase our sense of awareness, and use energy to help us learn new tasks and adapt. When a dog experiences fear or anxiety frequently, especially when they are unable to escape from the stressor, it is called distress. This “bad stress” can cause insomnia, euphoria, depression, mania, mood swings, irritability, suppression of the immune system, weight gain, and even psychotic behavior which further exacerbates the stress our dogs face. It is important to note that every animal is different in how they respond to stress and what their stress threshold level is. A large majority of behavior problems in dogs, especially conditions such as separation anxiety and aggression, are often the result of stress.

Phobia

Phobias are persistent fears of certain things or situations that are often extreme and out of proportion to the actual threat that they pose. Phobias are quite common in dogs and can be directed at anything. One of the more common phobias in dogs is a fear of loud noises such as fireworks and thunderstorms. Dogs will often become very anxious in anticipation to exposure to these things or situations. Every dog is different; some may have very mild anxiety responses and some may panic severely and can even injure themselves or others as they attempt to escape from the stimulus. They often lose sight of everything other than getting away from the stimulus. Phobias often start out mild and increase in severity every time they are exposed to the fearful stimulus again.

Physiological Effects of Stress

When an animal is fearful or anxious, the body responds by going in to its “fight-or-flight” mode by activating the Sympathetic Autonomic Nervous System (SANS) and stimulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) to release stress hormones. When this “fight-or-flight” system is activated, neurotransmitters such as adrenaline and stress hormones such as cortisol are released. This essentially tells our body to shut down all functions that are not essential for fighting or flighting from the stressful stimulus. At the same time, they ramp up the body systems needed to protect ourselves from the threat. The overall response by the body is to increase the energy and oxygen directed towards muscles and movement, decreasing perception of pain, and increasing memory and sensory function.

Normally after a stressful incident, the “fight-or-flight” and stress systems will turn off and all the neurotransmitter and stress hormone levels should decrease to normal. It does not happen instantly and may take up to 24 hours to stabilize. However, with frequent and constant stress, the neurotransmitter and stress hormone levels may not have time to return to normal before another stimulus is encountered. This keeps these systems constantly active and keeps the levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones elevated. This has a strong negative impact on the body and can lead to lethargy, high blood pressure, impact normal gastrointestinal tract function, weight gain, increased thirst and urination, cause hair loss, suppress the body’s immune system, and can lead to or worsen behavioral issues.

These emotional, stressful, and fearful situations systems activate the “primitive” part of the brain which is directed at survival and suppresses the “thinking” part of the brain. This is why people and dogs don’t make the best decisions and may respond inappropriately in an emotional, stressful, or fearful situation. Brains are built to remember these negative and stressful situations in order to help adapt and be prepared for them if they are encountered again in the future. It is very important to note that when dogs are stressed, memories that occur during this time are very strong and can have lasting impacts on their behavior. Therefore, it is very important to handle these situations properly and to not worsen the situation by punishing a dog for his response to a fearful or stressful situation.

Now, let’s move on to common causes of stress in dogs and how to identify them.

Common Stressors in Dogs

  • Excessive stimulation (too much play, doggie daycare, dog sports, etc.)- and the inability to escape or avoid stimulation
  • Insufficient stimulation/attention
  • Grief due to the loss of a companion (human or animal)
  • Arguments among family members and yelling
  • Too many dogs/animals in one space
  • Environmental changes (new home, schedule, people, animals, increased noise)
  • Punitive training (shock, choke and prong collars)-even yelling and telling “no” can cause fear, anxiety, and stress in some dogs
  • Combination training (rewards and punishment)
  • Inappropriate play partners
  • Insufficient social time/family time
  • Scary events and loud noises
  • Frustration
  • Uncertainty- Inability to predict the outcome of a situation
  • Excessive play that becomes borderline “obsessive/compulsive”
  • Not being taught to be okay with being left alone (separation anxiety)

Identifying Stress in Dogs

Dogs express themselves and communicate with body language, vocalizations and behavior. Most people recognize the obvious signs of stress in their pets such as avoidance behaviors, flattened ears, crouching, trembling, or panting. However, the more subtle signs are often overlooked. As pet owners, it is important to learn to read your dog’s body language for these signs to help them avoid experiencing unnecessary stress and, thus, a reduced quality of life. It is important to interpret your dog’s body language, vocalizations, and behavior as a whole.

Some key indicators of stress in dogs are listed below:

Eyes

  • Dilated pupils
  • Tightness around the eyes
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Staring
  • Wide eyed
  • Blinking, squinting
  • Whale eye- when the dog’s head is turned away from a stressor while keeping their eyes focused on it causing you to see the whites of their eyes
  • Furrowed eyebrows

Mouth

  • Yawning
  • Lip/nose licking
  • Lip curling
  • Panting
  • Excess salivation
  • “Smiling”/showing teeth
  • Teeth chattering
  • Cheek puffing
  • Wrinkled muzzle
  • Mouth closed tightly or pulled back
  • Mouth pursed forward
  • Mouthing

Ears

  • Pinned back/flattened
  • Upright and alert

Body

  • Tense
  • Freezing or walking slowly – little or no movement
  • Cowering- crouched low to the ground, tail hanging low with head down
  • Stretching
  • Excessive shedding
  • Urogenital licking/“check-out”- your dog may turn their head around and inspect and lick/groom their urogenital region
  • Urination/defecation
  • Low body posture, weight shifted back
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Sweaty paws
  • Tight brow
  • Shake off
  • Lifting one leg
  • Nails extended
  • Hair standing up
  • Turning away (C-shaped)

Vocalization

Dogs may indicate that they are stressed by vocalizing. Some of the more common stress related vocalizations are:

  • Barking: growling, howling, whining, screaming
  • Hissing: Low pitch = threatening / High pitch = fear/stress

Behavior

Signs of a dog that is stressed include:

  • Restlessness, inability to relax
  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Excessive sleeping, often due to exhaustion
  • Jumpy/High-strung
  • Irritable
  • Destructive
  • Excessive self-grooming
  • Loss of appetite
  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
  • Inability to focus, appearing distracted
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased urination and defecation
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Biting, nipping, snapping
  • Clinging to owner
  • Hiding
  • Pacing
  • Running off, Jumping and startling easy at slight changes—hyperalert state
  • Sniffing
  • Taking treats harder than usual, being pickier with treats, or not taking treats at all even if hungry
  • Trembling
  • Turning away (C-shape) or turning head
  • Will not settle down and rest, or will for a moment but back up and moving again

Steps to Reducing Stress in Dogs

There are many approaches to eliminating stress in dogs. In order to reduce our dogs’ stress we first need to understand it and identify the underlying cause in each situation so we can take the appropriate steps to correct this.

The first and simplest way of helping reduce stress in your dog is safety and avoidance of the situation or environment which stresses them out. This will not fix the underlying problem, but it will temporarily alleviate it and not further subject them to the stress. If the specific situations that dogs become stressed in is something they cannot avoid completely, such as separation anxiety or a hatred towards the local mailman, you may need to work with a qualified behavior consultant to help get your dog over this fear. While there are thousands of books, articles, and TV shows directed at correcting behavioral issues, you need to be very cautious with these. Most owners find themselves unsuccessful trying to resolve these problems on their own and often make them worse by trying to follow bad advice. In addition, dog training classes are rarely recommended for dogs with anxiety or aggression issues as it puts them in an environment where they will be constantly stressed and unable to learn and adapt. This is known as flooding and sensitizing. Research tells us that using aversive and punishment training methods can cause and worsen anxiety and fear in dogs. Every dog and every situation is different, and thus require different plans to try and correct these problems.

A behavior consultation with a certified behavior consultant will help you identify your dog’s stressors (triggers) and develop a personalized treatment plan. The behaviorist will almost always recommend a behavior modification protocol, specifically tailored to your dog’s situation. Additionally there may be recommended changes in diets, treatment with products such as pheromones, and medical managements through the use of certain drugs prescribed by your veterinarian. If your behavior consultant is not a veterinarian, it is strongly recommended to have your behavior consultant and veterinarian work together to help correct these issues. Some veterinarians have a special interest in behavior and are members of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. You can find nearby veterinarians that are AVSAB members by visiting their website: http://avsabonline.org. In addition, some veterinarians pursue years of advanced training to become a board-certified veterinary behavior specialists through the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. To locate a veterinary behaviorist near you, please visit the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists website: http://www.dacvb.org/.

Treatment plans for fear, anxiety, and stress in dogs involve:

  • Avoiding known triggers and negative stimuli- PREVENTION IS KEY
  • Cue-Response-Reward-teaches predictability and structure to interactions with humans and reduces stress and anxiety by making sure anxious behaviors are not rewarded
  • Teaching new coping skills-hand targeting, eye contact on cue, and how to relax on a mat are techniques that can help to redirect and refocus. These also make hand and eye contact less scary.
  • Social and Environment Enrichment– food dispensing and puzzle toys-reduces stress and gives the dog more control over their environment. One-on-one human play and training time is important as well for social enrichment. Sometimes another animal (dogs, horses, cats, cows, etc.) can provide social enrichment.
  • Desensitization/counter-conditioning– the only way to change fear is by eliciting a new positive emotional response and gradually reintroducing triggers in a controlled environment. Counter condition is a way of training an animal to elicit a behavior or response that is counter to, or opposite of, the unwanted behavior or response to a particular stimulus. Desensitization is the process of slowly exposing your dog to a stimulus without causing the unwanted response. By introducing them to the stimulus or trigger very slowly, many dogs begin to realize it is not something to be feared and do not elicit the undesired behavior. These methods are not simply training the dog to accept the trigger or stimulus, as this type of training does not change the emotional response. These methods help the dog realize there is no need to be fearful of the stimulus so that they are no longer fearful of it. Remember fear is irrational and cannot be reinforced, therefore desensitizing/counter-conditioning will not make fear worse unless you go too fast at the gradual reintroduction of the trigger. For example, a dog that is fearful of the car and car rides can be gradually counter conditioned and desensitized to not be fearful of it. You can slowly bring the dog closer to the car each time and reward them for not acting in the undesirable manner. As they are successful, they can slowly be moved closer to the vehicle until they are getting into the car, and eventually riding in the car in a calm and quiet manner while still being rewarded for accomplishing their goal. It is important to watch for the signs of stress listed above and work to keep in a calm emotional state when working.
  • Medications– medications are not a cure for behavioral problems, they must be used with behavior modification but can be very helpful by decreasing overall anxiety and fear levels and increasing learning and behavioral modification potential
  • Tools– in addition, there are many tools on the market designed to help your canine companion with their behavior conditions. The ThunderShirt uses pressure in a manner similar to being hugged to help reduce anxiety and trigger relaxation. There are a variety of supplements and treats available that use natural ingredients to help support proper nervous system function and help keep your dog calm and relaxed. Other options include caps that can be used to reduce visual stimulations, and DAP sprays that emit drug-free, natural vapor signals to your dog that the area is friendly and safe by mimicking a dogs natural pheromones.

Summary

Stress makes us feel miserable; it makes our dogs feel the same way. The effects of fear and anxiety are serious and distressing for the animals that experience them. As dog owners, we owe it to our best friends to become better at recognizing signs of fear, anxiety, and stress and do more to decrease their fear when possible. In addition we must work to help prevent fear in new pets by understanding the principles behind it and avoiding actions and situations that predispose our dogs to stress. Dogs that show a pathologic level of fear or anxiety need to be recognized and treated to prevent them from a reduced quality of life and the long list of medical problems that occur secondary to prolonged stress. They do not deserve to suffer simply because we are not adept at recognizing their suffering and the signs of stress. It’s time to take action and work to improve the lives of our four-legged companions.

Do you want to learn more?

ThunderShirt Works for Annie’s Anxiety: A Product Review

10 Ways Your Dog is Telling You He’s Stressed

How Changes in Our Routine Affect Our Dogs

Tell us about your experiences with stressed or fearful pets in the comments section below. Ask your questions here or you can, email bark@hollywoodfeed.com. The experts at Hollywood Feed are always happy to help!

References:

  • Herron, Meghan E., Frances S. Shofer, and Ilana R. Reisner. “Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors.”Applied Animal Behaviour Science 1 (2009): 47-54.)
  • O’Heare, James.Canine Neuropsychology: A Primer on the Canine Nervous System, Stress, Emotion and Stress Reduction. Ottawa: DogPsych, 2005. Print.
  • Overall, Karen L.Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals. St. Louis: Mosby, 1997. Print.
  • Pfaffenberger CJ, Scott JP. The relationship between delayed socialization and trainability in guide dogs. J Genet Psychol 1959, 95: 145-155.
  • Radosta, Lisa, DVM, DACVB. “Canine Fear-Related Aggression Toward Humans.” Clinician’s Brief, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.
  • Scholz, Martina, and Clarissa Von. Reinhardt.Stress in Dogs. Wenatchee, WA: Dogwise Pub., 2007. Print.
woman cuddles senior retriever

Top 10 Tips for Responsible Dog Ownership

When you decide to adopt a new dog, it’s very exciting! There are so many fun things you can do with your new dog and they are so very cute at any age. It is easy to imagine all of the adventures you will have with your new companion, and it can be just as easy to forget all of the responsibilities that come along with dog ownership.

September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month, so make the time to take a look at yourself this month and make sure you are doing the very best for your fur babies!

1. Life-Long Commitment

The first and most important thing you must realize to be a responsible dog owner is that you must commit to loving and caring for your dog for his entire life. It does not matter what health problems may come up, it does not matter what new people may come into your life, and it does not matter if you move out of your house and into an apartment. Dogs are living, breathing, feeling animals who form emotional attachments and can feel depression and abandonment thoroughly. If you cannot handle the cost and care of a dog for his entire life, then do not get a dog. It’s that simple.

2. Good Nutrition

Feeding your dog good food is the most important step to lifelong health and happiness in your dog! Talk to your local Hollywood Feed store associate about which food is right for your dog. They are trained by experts like veterinarians and nutritionists so they can meet your dog’s specific needs.

3. Lots of Water

Hydration is very important! Make sure that your dog always has a clean full bowl of water, whether he is indoors or out. Here are some fun ways to keep your dog hydrated!

4. Identification

Always keep a well-fitting collar with ID tags on your pet at all times and check regularly to make sure the fit of the collar is good, it has not become frayed, and that you can read your phone number on the ID tag. Microchipping is also very important and I highly recommend it. If anything ever happens to separate your dog from you, these are the best ways to ensure a safe return. Check out more information here.

5. Spay and Neuter

The most important thing we can do as pet-parents to help prevent homeless and unwanted animals is to spay and neuter our pets. Please take this important step, which also has added health benefits for our dogs like reducing the risk of uterine infections, certain types of cancer!

6. Exercise and Preventing Obesity

Exercising with your pet is a real bonding experience. Whether you are more relaxed and like to go for walks around the neighborhood together or if you like to camp, hike and be more adventurous with your dog, he will love it and it will help to keep him healthy. Exercise has cardiovascular benefits and will keep your dog’s waistline trim. Obesity causes so many preventable health problems in our pets just like it does in humans. Learn more about combating obesity here.

7. Training

A well-trained dog is a happy dog! Besides knowing what you expect of him and being able to fulfill it, training your dog is also important for safety and mental stimulation. Check out some of our great training blogs here: Surviving K9 Adolescence and 10 Training Secrets Every Pet Parent Should Know.

8. Regular Check-Ups

Your dog should go to his veterinarian at least once a year for a full physical exam. A head-to-tail check-up may find a health concern that you didn’t know about before it starts to cause visible symptoms in your dog. This is especially important the older your dog gets! Making sure your dog’s teeth are in good shape is also very important to his overall health!

9. Be Prepared for Emergencies

Make sure that you have a first aid kit, emergency evacuation or quarantine plans, and know some basic CPR and first aid techniques. We have the blogs to help you with this!

10. Affection

Every dog needs affection and approval from his owner. This is very important! Learn your dog’s love language! Does he like to be petted calmly? Does he like to play fetch with you? Does he love having his back scratched? Does your dog’s ultimate happiness lie in that special canned food for dinner instead of his regular kibble? Reward your dog for good behavior and love your dog every day.

chocolate lab puppy with tennis ball and red leash

It’s Never Too Late to Train Our Dogs!

A well-trained dog is a very happy and well-behaved dog! As much as we try to ignore it or put it off, training is an essential part of dog ownership. I know that I need to work on my dedication to training as most of us probably do. I like to start off strong training my new puppies to pee outside, sit and shake. Then I end up getting distracted by life and training falls off of my radar like it does with almost everyone else. We only partially train our dogs to stay or lie down, and we don’t reinforce the behaviors. We forget to train our dogs not to bark at everything and not to jump on us or other people. And then we complain about how our dogs always jump up on us!

January is Train Your Dog Month, so I thought that now would be a good time to remind everyone that old dogs CAN learn new tricks, and it’s never too late to train our dogs out of a behavior we can’t stand, or into a behavior that we really desire. It can be done, and I’ve compiled a list of our best training blogs here at Hollywood Feed to help us on this journey. Read on and let’s get to training our dogs!

Training Basics

There are some training basics we should all become familiar with before we start trying to teach our dogs any commands. Consistency, timing and relationship building are a few essential training skills. Find out what the rest are and how to work on your skills by reading 10 Training Secrets Every Pet Parent Should Know.

Clicker training is a great way to start teaching our dogs. Learn about clicker training by reading So, What is a Clicker and Why Do I Need One? Clicker training is very effective for almost every dog, and your dog will learn to enjoy training sessions! Read more at 7 Reasons Why the Clicker Works Every Time and How.

Housebreaking

If you’ve got a new puppy, the first thing you will want to do is to housebreak him! Sometimes older dogs we adopt from the shelter or off the street will also need to be housebroken. This is very important, as most of us prefer that no animals pee or poop in our homes. We can ALL successfully housebreak our pets, the main thing it requires is consistency on our part for two or three weeks, which can be hard. Read my Foolproof Guide to Housebreaking New Puppies and Oopsy! There’s a Poopsy! – What To Do if Your Pup has an Accident in the Crate or House to learn how easy housebreaking really is!

Quiet Time

Another very important part of training our dogs is to teach them how to stay home alone without destroying things or to calm down and be quiet when playtime is over. Crate training and place training can be an important part of this. Imagine how good it would feel if after your dog has been running around for a while you could say, “go to your place” and have your dog lie down and be quiet! It’s not as hard as you think. Read a Crate Training Guide-A Guide to Getting Your Dog Acquainted to a New CrateTeach Your Dog to Wait Before Exiting the Crate in 5 Minutes and A Place for Everyone – Place Training Your Dog.

Our dogs should also understand when they need to leave something alone, such as my dinner plate, a trash can, or a cat. This can also be a life-saving command if our dogs “leave it” instead of chasing it into the street. Learn how to train your dog to “leave it” here at 4 Simple Steps to the Perfect “Leave It”.

Getting Out of the House

If we ever want to go on a walk with our dog or take him to a dog park or to our mom’s house, then we need to start working on socialization training right away. We need to teach our dogs how to behave in public. It is actually very easy with puppies, and can become more difficult (though possible) once bad behaviors are learned and reinforced with time. It really comes down to the amount of exposure to new things our dogs get, with a positive or neutral consequence. Things like new smells, new people, other dogs, cats, noises, pretty much anything new our dogs experience helps their socialization. You can read Eliminate Your Dog’s Anti-Social Behavior with This Guide to Socialization and Tips for a Fun-Filled Trip to the Dog Park to learn more.

Body Language

We must always be on the lookout for our dogs’ body language because that is one of the ways they communicate with us. Spending time training your dog will also help you to learn his body language very well. Part of training is starting a relationship with our dogs where we teach them that behaviors have consequences and that they must follow our lead and do what we say. They will learn to trust us, and we can learn to trust them because we can read them so well by knowing their body language. Learn about common canine body language by reading 10 Ways Your Dog is Telling You He’s Stressed.

Training isn’t such a hard thing to do. It takes our time, consistency and commitment (and a few treats). It helps us bond with our dogs more closely, and it makes our dogs more polite and easy to bring with us anywhere! Take the time this week to train your dog on the behavior you’ve been wanting to work on!

golden puppy peeing outside

Foolproof Guide to Housebreaking New Puppies!

Housebreaking a new puppy can seem like a daunting task! I know some people who have adopted an older dog just so they can skip this very important and necessary step in training. Some people even give their new puppy over to a trainer for a few weeks to get the housebreaking done.

These are both fine options, but the thing is, housebreaking is a very easy thing to do. All it takes is timing, patience, positive reinforcement, and two weeks of consistency!

When Should I Start?

Experts say puppies are developmentally ready to start housebreaking somewhere around 2-4 months of age. I think it differs depending on the puppy. I think you should start training as early as you can, depending on your puppy’s needs. I started working with all 3 of my dogs somewhere between 2-5 months (as soon as I adopted them from the shelter).

My Experience with Housebreaking

Skeeter is the first dog I ever housebroke or trained at all! He’s 10 years old now. I took on the task of housebreaking without any prior experience with dogs (I had a cat named Scooter when I was a kid, but no dogs), and without any research into housebreaking. I used common sense, and it worked very well! I have since used the same method on Annie (9) and Fitz (2), and Hollywood Feed’s foster puppy, Seymour (about 4 months) is staying with me for two weeks and is now getting the same treatment.

I try to be very observant of my puppy’s habits, as this helps me predict when he may have to use the bathroom. Is he standing by the backdoor? Is he walking around sniffing out good places to pee? Seymour, when he was very young, used to start turning in a backwards circle when he had to poop. It was pretty cute, but it also gave me time to rush him outside before anything happened, because I paid attention to his routine.

Eat, Sleep, Play…Poop

If we think about it, puppies have a pretty cyclical life. They eat, they sleep, and they play. Our job is to train them to have the habit of using the bathroom outside in between these other very important parts of their life. Within 5-30 minutes of eating, a young puppy will be ready to use the bathroom. We need to create a habit for our puppy.

Of course, there will be a few accidents indoors during the training process, and some dogs may take an extra week’s worth of work to get this habit down.

 

The Schedule

  1. The very first thing we should do in the morning is to take our new puppy into the yard and wait patiently until he has urinated. Praise your puppy for a job well done verbally and with a little petting.
  2. Next, feed your puppy breakfast, and after a few minutes take him outside again. Be very patient again, and wait until your puppy defecates. This could take a while, as puppies are easily distracted by smells, other dogs, and the sound of our voices! Wait patiently and quietly. It is very important to stay outside until your puppy has done the deed, even if it seems to take forever. Once your dog does his business, pet him and tell him what a good boy he is! Your puppy will likely then play with you for a little while, get worn out, and go to sleep.
  3. The next step is to take your puppy back outside immediately after he wakes up, patiently wait again, and give positive reinforcement again. Take your puppy out every time he wakes up from his naps and after every meal. If he stays awake for longer than an hour after he last went to the bathroom, take him out again. If your puppy has an accident in the house, take him outside immediately.
    YES, EVEN OVERNIGHT!!
  4. I think the hardest part of housebreaking is taking your puppy out overnight. A young puppy will need to go out about every 2-3 hours during the night. You need to set an alarm and take him out! This is a very important part of housebreaking training, and two weeks worth of poor sleep will give you a housebroken dog for a lifetime.

But, I Work All Day!

I know this can be difficult if you leave your puppy kenneled at home while you work all day. I know there is really no way around this for most people. If this is the case, then you need to be consistent when you ARE home in the evening and on the weekend. Take your puppy outside immediately after getting home from work, and follow the schedule from there.

If you can take a week of vacation when you first get your puppy, all the better. Think about adopting your puppy in the summer when your teenager is home from school and can do the daytime training.

Consistency Is Key to Lifelong Habits

That’s all there is to it! I promise, this works, and it’s just common sense observation of a puppy’s natural routine. Consistency is key. If you will live on your puppy’s schedule for a couple of weeks, then he will live on your schedule for the rest of his life!

four puppies in a kennel

Crate Training Guide: A Guide to Getting Your Dog Acquainted to a New Crate

Yes. Your puppy is adorable. And yes, it’s fun to have him running about the house and sleeping in the bed at night, but unless you enjoy cleaning up after your bundle of fur when he poops and tee tees in the floor, you’ll need to house train him.

black and brown small breed puppy next to pee pad

House training is probably the most important behavior to teach a new puppy. It’s your job to cultivate the pup’s natural instincts and help teach him where he can potty and what’s totally off limits. When puppies first begin to walk they naturally leave their “den” to eliminate. You, as the new owner, must provide an appropriate potty area, and timely trips outside, so the puppy can continue with their natural desire to leave their living area to potty. Many dogs, that never learn proper potty protocol, end up in shelters or turned out on the streets and homeless. There’s no reason for this to happen. It’s an easily trained behavior and with a little effort and consistency on your part, your puppy will be house trained in no time.

Prevention is Key

In order to prevent your puppy from ever having an accident you need to supervise your puppy whenever they aren’t in their crate. Keep them in either an enclosed area of your home or in a playpen where you can supervise their play. You can also have them on leash, with you, while you are walking about the house, or sitting and reading a book. Just make sure they cannot walk away and potty somewhere in the house.

golden puppy peeing outside

A young puppy should be taken outside and given the chance to eliminate every two hours. It’s also necessary to give them the chance to potty outside after a play session and after they’ve had water. Typically a puppy can hold it for as many hours as his age in months. For example, an eight week old puppy needs to go out every two hours. Just like us they can hold it for longer at night, because they are inactive, but they should still go out to potty about every four hours. By four months old, a puppy can hold it for four hours, and can usually sleep through the night.

Home Sweet Home

Puppies learn to love their crates fairly quickly. It’s natural for them to need a place of their own. In the wild, their den is a safe and comfortable retreat where they can get adequate rest without worry of becoming someone else’s meal. Young puppies need frequent naps, so several two hour nap sessions, in the crate, spread out throughout the day are appropriate. Your pup should also sleep in the crate at night. Not only does the crate provide a cozy place for them to rest, but it also keeps them out of trouble when you are sleeping. A young pup is curious and has a need to chew. The vet bills can become enormous if your pup chewed and swallowed something during the night that becomes lodged in their gastrointestinal tract.

Follow These Steps to Teach Your New Pup to Love Their Crate:

  1. When you introduce your puppy to their new crate, don’t shove them inside! Instead, sit on the floor next to the crate, with the puppy standing beside you, and feed him some kibble. Next, place kibble on the floor of the crate and see if he will walk inside to get it. If he does, reward him by telling him “good boy!” and giving him a few more pieces of kibble. If he doesn’t readily walk in, you can pick him up and gently place him in the crate and drop a few more pieces of kibble. Speak very enthusiastically to the pup. Keep this fun and exciting! Don’t close the crate door, but allow your pup to enter and exit as they please, always rewarding them for entering the crate. Once your pup has gone inside the crate once, only give them kibble when they are inside. Do this for 5 minutes and then take your puppy out for a potty break and a short walk.
  2. After your walk, repeat step one.
  3. After your second walk, you can rest assured that your puppy is pooped. This time, sit beside the kennel and place kibble inside. When the puppy goes inside, reward him with some type of toy, and close the door. Kong toys, stuffed with peanut butter, make great crate rewards because it gives the puppy something to do until they fall asleep. When in the crate, don’t give them toys such as stuffed animals that can easily be ripped apart and ingested.

fluffy dog in white kennel with buffalo plaid accessories snoozepad in nice home

Remember to keep the crate door open when your dog is not confined, allowing him access to his home. Praise him when he goes inside voluntarily.

Important Things to Remember about Crate Training:

  1. Don’t isolate your puppy in another room by themselves. Remember, this is the first time they have been away from their mother and littermates. Keep them in a quiet area of the house that you will be in a good bit. Most pups will whine the first time they’re crated, and maybe even for several days. It’s important that they learn it’s ok to be separated from their family, and confinement is ok. If they don’t learn this now, they could develop anxiety disorders in the future.
  2. NEVER let your puppy out when he whines. Dogs continue to use behaviors that get them desired results. Don’t underestimate your pup and think he isn’t yet smart enough to figure out what gets him out of the crate! Just a few mishaps on your part and you can create quite a noisy dog that won’t give up and stop the whining because he knows you will eventually give in. Only open the crate door to let them out when they are quiet. This is teaching them that quiet and calm behavior opens the door.
  3. It’s important that you not put a puppy in the crate when they will need to potty. Make sure they eliminate before you put them in their crate, and then be sure to give them the opportunity to go out every two hours. If you notice your puppy waking up in the crate go get them and take them out immediately before they have the chance to start whining or have an accident.
  4. Set an alarm at night so you can wake up and take your puppy out before he wakes up and either starts whining or has an accident.
  5. It’s also very important that you be observant of your puppy and start reading his behavior. If you hear a whine that you think isn’t a typical “let me loose!” whine, go get him and give him the opportunity to eliminate. You want to prevent an accident at all costs. After the potty break, place him back in his crate. Don’t give him time to play. This was just a potty break.
  6. Reward your puppy every time you put them in their crate by giving them a treat, a toy, or some kibble. This makes a positive association with the crate and it becomes a great place for them to go.
  7. To put the behavior of going in their crate on cue, start by saying the cue every time you put them in the crate. When you place the kibble on the floor and the dog starts to walk in, say “Kennel! Good kennel! Good boy!” You can use any cue you choose.
  8. When you take your puppy out first thing in the morning, pick him up and go straight outside to your chosen potty spot. Once they’re a few weeks older and can hold it longer, you can start letting them walk from their crates outside so they learn the route to the appropriate potty spot. Make sure you still run to the door once you let the puppy out. They just woke up and have to go! Get them outside!

Adult Dogs

Whether your dog is a seasoned professional when it comes to house training, or new to the business, she’ll enjoy a new crate as her own space. If she’s never had a crate before you’ll want to follow along with the puppy training procedures in this guide to properly introduce her to her new room. If you’re welcoming a new adult dog into your home and don’t know if they have been previously house trained, follow the steps in this guide to get them started on the path to success!

Lola often chooses to hang out in her crate with the door open. A comfy crate mat and an assortment of toys makes it an enjoyable space of her own.

A Quick Overview of Important Things to Remember:

  • Never scold or punish your dog while inside his crate.
  • Never force your dog into his crate.
  • Keep the crate door open when your dog is not confined, allowing him access to his home. Praise him when he goes inside voluntarily.
  • At times, put your dog in his crate to rest while you’re in the room with him.
  • Provide toys inside the crate so your dog doesn’t get bored.
  • Never allow children or guests to taunt or tease your dog while inside his crate.
  • Never clean your dog’s crate while he is watching you.
  • Never lock your dog in his crate with his collar on or leash attached.
  • Never overuse your dog’s crate. He needs exercise and to be a part of the family.

For tips on how to handle an accident in the house or crate, visit the Oopsy! There’s a Poopsy! blog post.

someone high fives a chihuahua

10 Training Secrets Every Pet Parent Should Know

 

As pet parents, we have a responsibility to provide for our furry friends, and supplying them with lavish toys and treats isn’t exactly what I’m talking about. Yes, those things are nice, but we also have a duty to provide the best that we can in diet and nutrition, veterinary care, socialization, and training. Many times, pet parents get the first few things right but have trouble tackling the task of training. Dogs love to learn. They thrive on that interaction with their humans and build confidence in themselves through training work. Here are 10 key points that will make your time training more effective and fun for you and your dog.

Build a relationship with your dog

  • Talk to your dog
  • Walk your dog every day
  • Teach your dog fun tricks
  • Jump right into clicker training because positive training builds a bond between you and your dog

Be consistent

  • Keep your cues consistent
  • Make sure your whole family and anyone else who will be interacting with the dog knows the proper cues and is consistent with training

Timing is everything

  • Dogs live in the moment so timing is everything
  • All rewards or reprimands should be given within one to two seconds of the dog’s action
  • If you can’t deliver in that amount of time, don’t deliver

Repetition, repetition, repetition

  • Dogs are creatures of habit
  • It’s important to repeat training even after the dog learns a behavior to keep it fresh in their memory

Prevention is key

black and tan chihuahua next to pee pad

 

  • It’s better to prevent a behavior from ever happening than have to correct it later
  • You might think your puppy on the couch with you is cute, but you might not when the dog is full grown

Keep Sessions Short

  • It’s about quality, not quantity
  • Always finish training sessions on a positive note

Work in an environment with no distractions

man's arm training german shepherd

 

  • Always begin training in an area with no distractions
  • As your dog is successful, move to areas with more and more distractions

Step backward

  • If you progress in training and your dog begins to have trouble, take a step back to where they were last successful and begin again
  • Don’t be afraid to take these small steps back. If you don’t and continue to move forward, you will have to take leaps back later on

Rewards are important

  • The dog determines the reward, and every dog is different
  • Some dogs are motivated by treats while others enjoy toys, and some are happy to work for praise and petting

Eye Contact is Essential

training with treats

 

  • Eye contact is crucial because dogs communicate with each other this way and look into your eyes to try and determine what it is you are asking of them
  • If you’re training outside, never train with sunglasses on. Your dog needs a clear view of your eyes