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Monday, September 29, 2014

Crate Expectations: When to Trust Your Pup without the Crate

So your new puppy is doing great, your pooch is completely crated trained and having no accidents in the house, the question is when is it okay to leave your puppy free when you leave, or when is it okay to let your pooch sleep out of their crate? Before you begin letting your dog roam, you need to identify the issue of why you are still confining your dog when you leave. Does your puppy have a housebreaking issue or is your dog a chewer? Whether it be housebreaking, chewing or getting into things you have to resolve the issue before you begin letting your dog roam around your house unsupervised.

Once you have a hold on the issue, you can begin thinking about allowing your dog more access. A good rule of thumb is, 8 months accident free before beginning the process of letting your dog out of their crate unsupervised.  This means your dog should go an entire 8 months without having an accident with their specific issue. For a dog with housebreaking issues, this means 8 months without having an accident in the house. For dogs with a chewing issue, you need to go that period of time where your dog isn’t attempting to chew on anything they shouldn’t be while under your supervision. Same goes for getting into things, if this is the issue you have with your dog you need to go that long without them attempting to get into things while you are watching them.

The key to letting your dog roam free while you are gone is making sure you start with slow increments. This would entail leaving your dog home alone for no longer than an hour to begin, and gradually building up to longer periods of time, you would do this by slowly extending the amount of time they are left out alone. Remember that at the beginning your dog should still be confined, even though they are not being crated. This could mean letting them out of the crate, but leaving them in a gated space such as the kitchen. It’s important to not let your dog have free roam of your entire house right away. Once your pooch has worked their way up to long periods of time in a confined area, you can then begin to give them free roam of the places in the house you want them to have. With this transition however, you need to start off with small periods of time once again and work your way back up to the longer times.  

When it comes to letting your dog sleep out of the crate the same 8 months free of an accident rule still applies. Remember that you are sleeping, which would allow your dog plenty of time to explore unsupervised.

It’s important to remember to set your dog up for success when letting your dog out of their crate unsupervised.  So make sure there are not things for your dog to get into. If you have had housebreaking issues make sure that they go out before you leave, or before you go to bed. If you have a dog that chews make sure that you have Kongs and chew toys for them to keep their busy mouths occupied. You still need to proof your house before you leave, that could mean putting away things such as the garbage and making sure they don’t have access to things like household chemicals.

Leaving your dog alone is a process, and if your dog has an accident during this process remember that you need to go back to square one. That means if your dog has an accident, you need to return them to the crate. After an accident they should be crated again when you leave, and again at night, until you go another 8 months without an accident. It can be a long process, but it is worth it when you can feel comfortable enough to leave you dog home alone and in the bed at night and be assured that your dog will not have an accident.

What's the biggest challenge you've had when leaving your dog out when you leave for the first time? What was the way that you solved the issue?

Love and Paws,

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Training Terms: A Cheat Sheet to Training Your Dog

Have you ever been to a training class where the trainer mentioned a term and you didn’t know exactly what it meant? One of the most confusing parts of dog training can be the lingo used in training classes. With an understanding of the most commonly used definitions, success in dog training is easily achievable.

While there are many useful terms in training, first let’s focus on the basics. These terms are methods of teaching dogs to perform or learn a behavior, and are important for every dog owner to understand before they begin basic training. When training Carter I consistently use the first three training methods listed, it forces your dog to think and they learn things on their own, therefore they are more likely to produce the behavior when you take the reward away.

Luring is a term trainers use to describe a method where the dog follows a treat (or toy) to exercise a behavior. For every simple behavior that I teach Carter I use luring, this would include sit, down and stand.

Example: Pulling a treat up over your dog’s head for sit or pulling it forward for stand. Like a fish following a lure, the dog's body follows their nose and their nose is following the treat. Lures should be very quickly faded into rewards. A lure is used to PRODUCE a behavior. A reward is used AFTER the dog offers the behavior.

Capturing is a term coined for when you just happen to catch your dog practicing a behavior and click/reward it. For capturing you’ll need to keep a clicker and small treats close at hand. Remember to click and reward your dog as soon as they produce the desired behavior.

Example: To use capturing to teach your dog to yawn on command, simply wait for your dog to yawn then click/reward it. Capturing is also a great way to have fun actions on command. You can capture things like sneezing, begging, shaking off - pretty much anything your dog does that you think is really cute and that you want them to do on cue.

Shaping is rewarding incremental steps to a final behavior. With shaping, you’ll need good timing too, because you must click at just the right moment. Shaping also requires that the dog is clicker responsive. Carter has been trained to shut the door, which was achieved by breaking the complex behavior down into simple steps and him getting rewarded throughout the training session.

Example: You can use shaping to get a dog to pick up and hold a light dumbbell. First click for the dog looking at the dumbbell, then up the ante to having the dog touch it with his nose, then licking it, then taking it in his mouth for a moment, then holding it, then picking it up from the floor.

Modeling is the option least used by modern trainers. Modeling uses physical positioning to teach the dog a behavior. Modeling tends to be a training method of the past, like I said previously I do not use it on Carter at all, the ideas are outdated and your dog’s behavior will not be reliable. It is in your best interest to stray away from trainers who use modeling as a training method.

Example: Pushing a dog’s rear into a sit to teach the sit command. Try to avoid modeling, as it's the slowest and least effective way to train. Because the dog is physically put into position by their handler, it’s unlikely that the dog will remember or offer the behavior on their own. It's always better to get the dog to freely offer a behavior rather than forcing the action on the dog. Modeling makes for very unreliable behavior.

When training your dog, it is important to learn all of the terms associated with dog training. Do your best to educate yourself on additional terms. Words and phrases like “threshold”, “replacement behaviors”, and “impulse control” can often be heard during training. If you are unfamiliar with any language used by your trainer, don’t be afraid to ask!

Love and Paws,

Monday, May 12, 2014

Never Leave Your Dog Alone in the Car: 5 Alternatives to Keep Your Dog Safe

The warm weather and sunshine has finally arrived! This can mean more trips to the park, more fun playing outside and car rides with the windows down and their head out. Carter loves the warmer weather, he is always out more and active during the summer months and I enjoy being able to bring him so many places with me. However, within minutes a cool car can turn sweltering on a hot summer’s day, are your doing everything you should to keep your dog safe?

If you are traveling with your dog, or just want to get your dog out of the house there are many alternatives to leaving your dog alone in the car.

Drive Thru: If you are out with your dog and want to stop to get a refreshing drink or snack choose to go through a drive thru instead of leaving your dog alone in the car. Within minutes your car can get hotter than your dog can with stand, so do you pooch a favor and go through the drive thru, instead of leaving them alone while you run in. Whenever I am driving with Carter I always opt for the drive thru Dunkin Donuts, plus he really loves seeing the people so that’s always a bonus for him. Also, a lot of drive thrus always keep treats handy for pups visiting through the drive thru, let’s just say Carter loves going to the bank!

Pet Friendly Stores: If you want to get your dog out during the summer heat, but want to stay cool, look for local stores that are pet friendly. This way you can enjoy shopping while your pooch stays cool. Most pet stores are generally pet friendly, as long as your dog is on a leash. However, there are a lot of other stores that allow dogs, the Short Hills Mall actually has dog stroller that you can rent for FREE at customer service, how cool is that! Now only if Carter were small enough to fit into a stroller made for tiny dogs!

Dog Friendly Restaurants:
There are restaurants in the area where the patio is dog friendly. A quick Google search will pull up restaurants by you where you and you dog can both enjoy an outing while being outside. Another great resource for this is Bring Fido, they have a list of dog friendly restaurants and you can search by location. This summer Carter and I are going to have to stop by the Allentown Brew Works, every Monday they offer a “Doggie “Yappy” Hour,” this means great beer for me and treats for Carter!

Leave Your Dog at Home: If you have errands to run, leave your dog at home! It’s too hot outside to leave your dog in the car even when just picking up milk at the grocery store. Temperatures can soar fast, so leave your dog at the house instead of leaving them in the car, that way they can enjoy the air conditioning at home instead of being in the heat. Your dog may love going on car rides, but if they are going to have to be unattended leave them home, you don’t want to risk coming out to a sick dog, or trying to explain yourself to the authorities.

Dog Daycare: If you have things to do, but you don’t want to leave your dog at home, a great alternative would be dog daycare. If you aren’t going to be home all day, but you are also not able to give your dog the attention they need, try a dog daycare, this way they can stay cool and play the day away while you get done what you need to.

Remember that it is not safe to leave your dog in a car on a hot day for any period of time, temperatures can reach a deadly point for your dog fast. Never leave your dog in the car alone, even with the windows open, or the air on, it doesn’t prevent your dog from overheating. If you spot a dog in a car on a hot day, contact your local police department or the local animal control. Don’t ignore a dog in distress, and make sure that you keep an eye on the dog until the proper authorities have arrived.

Never leave your dog unattended in a hot car. The summer can be an enjoyable time for both you and your dog as long as you take the right precautions.

Love and Paws,

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Carter's Critique: The Honest Kitchen Quickies

With Carter in both agility and nose work right now, I'm constantly looking for new high value treats that I can use for him, that don't cost him the calories. Last April the vet recommended that Carter lose about 8 pounds, I'm now happy to say he has lost those 8 pounds since last April and he is now down to his perfect weight. But not the question is how to I help him maintain his weight, when I need to use treats during class? A great treat that I found that I use for Carter is Quickies by The Honest Kitchen. The treats are small and made of pure dehydrated Alaskan Haddock and only contain 1.1 calories per treat!

I must admit they do have a pretty strong smell, but it's nothing that I can't deal with, and I do refuse to use some treats because I feel they smell so unbelievably terrible.

Carter loved the treats and quickly gobbled them up in class. Check out the cute video of him showing off some of his new tricks that he has learned in his class!

I would recommend these treats to anyone, yes they do run on the expensive side, but for a pure treat with such few calories I highly recommend them to anyone looking for treats while watching their pooches weight. Plus the added bonus of these for me is they are made from fish, since Carter can't eat chicken it really does limit the treats that I can give him.

I was concerned that since they are a hard treat it would be a slight issue, since Carter is use to working for a higher value soft food like hot dogs or cheese in class. But boy was I wrong, the second the lid came off Carter went crazy, I instantly had his attention! The treats worked great and keep him interested and focused through out all of class.

I will be keeping a stock of Quickies in Carters training bag for sure!

What are your dogs favorite treats? Let us know in the comments below, Carter and I are always looking for new treats to try out!

Love and Paws,

These Quickes were sent to me from The Honest Kitchen to review, however all opinions are my own honest opinions. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Safety Tips for Your Dog

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! At the start of football season Dr. Angela discussed ways to keep your dog safe during football season, and I have written about how to keep your dog safe during a party. Today is Super Bowl Sunday, which means parties and plenty of opportunities for your dog to get into a little mischief, here are Veterinarian Dr. Angela's tips to keep your dog safe on game day, as well as my tips on how to handle your dog during a party!

Today is Super Bowl Sunday, which means millions of households nation-wide (including ours) are gathered around a TV, cheering for their favorite teams, and eating large amounts of -- ah hem-- not-so-nutritious food.  This can present a danger to your dog.  Whether inadvertent food-sneaking on your dog's part or just your attempt to include your dog in the action of the day, many dogs of football-loving families consume some of the junk food their people are enjoying.

It may seem to be a harmless way of showing your dog you still care for them even if you're yelling at the TV, but in reality it can result in an emergency trip to the vet (and who wants to miss a football game because they are taking their puking dog to the vet?)

The food often consumed during sporting events are generally relatively high in fat content, such as buffalo wings, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, and other fried foods.  If your dog's body is not used to processing such high-fat foods (which is normally the case), it can cause the pancreas to have to work over-time.  The pancreas is an organ which produces enzymes to break down fats consumed in the diet.  If it has to work over-time, it gets angry and becomes inflamed-- resulting in a condition called pancreatitis.  This condition is very painful and can cause your dog to vomit uncontrollably and become quite dehydrated and ill.  Treatment generally involves supportive care including anti-nausea medications and IV fluids, as well as other medications to protect the gastrointestinal system and to help relieve pain.  Severe cases can take days to resolve and can lead to secondary conditions such as esophagitis (inflammation of the tube to the stomach).

I once saw a patient who had consumed an entire bag of frozen buffalo wings off his owner's counter.  Buffalo wings can present a second danger in addition to pancreatitis.  Chicken bones tend to be more brittle than beef bones and can splinter easily when chewed on.  The bone fragments can become lodged in your dog's mouth or throat or occasionally cause damage to the digestive tract.

Also keep in mind that some foods we enjoy eating can be toxic to our pets, including grapes, chocolate, macadamia nuts, onions, and garlic, among others.  The Pet Poison Helpline ( is a good resource for learning about pet toxins.

Lastly, while it may seem comical to let your dog share your beer, alcohol can be dangerous to pets.  If you would like to offer your pup a frothy beverage of his own while watching the game, try a Dawg Grog (, a beer specifically brewed for dogs right here in beautiful Central Oregon!

Remember that food shouldn't be your only concern during a Super Bowl party, you need to make sure that you keep an eye on your dog and party guests to make sure everything goes smoothly. These four tips can make it a little easier to have house guests over.

Make sure your walk your dog.  Even with company over, your dog needs to go outside. Take them out for frequent potty breaks. An extra long walk before guests arrive can also burn off some of that extra energy.

Have plenty of toys on hand to keep your dog busy. A frozen stuffed Kong or a stuffed Monster Ball could be the perfect way for your dog to stay busy while guests are over.

Have a no tolerance policy. This goes for both humans and dogs alike. If you tell people specific things about issues your dog may have, be sure to enforce your rules. As for your pet, you are your dog’s voice for the night, so it's your job to speak for them and keep them comfortable.

Don't be afraid to put your dog away for a while, they need a rest break. Remember that your dog doesn’t need to be out the entire time when guest are over. Create a nice spot for them in a quiet room, with their crate or bed. This gives them a place to go when they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Soft music in the background can also help drown out the noise of visitors.

So while you enjoy the Super Bowl, don't forget to keep an eye on your pooch, and for his health and wellness please refrain from sharing your junk food with him!

Enjoy the Big Game!
Dr. Angela and Bethany

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

PAWS-itive Experience: How to Protect Your Dogs Paws during the Winter

Once again Carter and I are snowed in, the snow that is falling outside is beyond beautiful, and we are expected to get 10 inches by tomorrow. Carter loves the snow, he loves rolling around it, just standing there and letting the snow hit his face and he’s always up for a game of snowball catch, but there is one thing he despises, the salt on the ground. The salt makes Carter absolutely miserable, he usually ends up limping and I end up carrying him inside (which is a task since he is so big). The salt on the ground can play a huge part in irritating your dog’s paws during the winter and during snowstorms. It's important and is super easy to take the proper steps to insure your dog’s paw safety during the wintertime.

Use dog-friendly salt

The major cause of irritation is the salt used to melt ice. Salts can cause serious irritations for your dog. Make sure you spend a little extra money to invest in a pet-friendly salt. Safe Paw is a great dog-friendly salt and can be found at most local pet stores and hardware stores. If a pet friendly salt is not an option for you, try to stick to something like sand that is less likely to irritate your dogs paws.

Walk your dog on the grass instead of the sidewalk

Since Carter and I live in an apartment, it is impossible for me to control the salt they put down, so instead I have to take other step to make sure his paws don’t bother him on our walks. Most of the salt that can bother your dog’s paws is on the sidewalk, a great way to avoid the irritation would be to walk your dog on grassy spots that haven't been salted. Since your pooch will be walking on all of that snow, make sure the hair in between your dog’s paws is kept trimmed. This will prevent snow from building up between their toes, which can make it hard for them to walk.

Invest in a pair of dog booties

If your dog is tolerant enough, a pair of dog booties could solve paw irritation problems. However, some dogs enjoy wearing the boots more than others. If you do decide to try boots, make sure you introduce them slowly in order to get your dog used to wearing them. Let your dog become accustomed to the boots indoors before you make them wear them outside. This means that boots aren’t typically a quick solution, with Carter for example, he will barely walk in boot, that’s how much he despises them. So instead of getting him use to something I know he is extremely uncomfortable with I choose to not use them.

Try a Protective Barrier

If you cant get your dog to wear boots, just like Carter wont, you can always try a protective barrier. A great investment would be something like the Fou-Stick, it’s a balm that comes in a container like a chapstick, that is used to protect your pooches paws against the winter salt. Carter’s two girlfriends, Yorkies Mickey and Punky swear by them. The bonus to the Fou-Stick is it also can protect your dog against hot pavement, it’s a great multiuse product.

Clean your dog’s paws after going for a walk

It might sound like common sense, but this is completely necessary. Simply wipe your dog’s paws down with a warm, damp rag when you return from a trip outside. This removes the salt and will help relieve your dogs irritation, it also prevents possible stomach issues in the event your dog would lick their paws and ingest the salt. A good wiping with a damp cloth will do the trick.

The wintertime and snow can be great fun for your dog! Just be sure to keep your dog’s paws clean to prevent any health or safety issues as well as relieving any discomfort they may feel.  Get out and enjoy the winter weather with your dog, but make sure you keep their paws a priority.

Love and Paws,

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Five Easy Steps to Get Your New Dog Adjusted to Your Home


So you just brought a new dog home, but the question remains, how do you get you get your new dog or puppy adjusted to your household? Here are five simple steps that can help make the transition period a little easier for you and your brand new pooch.

 Management Make sure that you stay one step ahead of your dog, whether you brought home a puppy or an adult dog, it’s important to make sure you think about the possible outcomes of any situation your dog could get into, and manage them accordingly. For example, remember that keeping the tonight’s dinner out on the counter could entice your dog to jump up and take a lick; you’ll want to keep your dog out of the kitchen or keep the food in a safe spot, if you are unable to be watching your dog every second.

Dog Proofing You want to make sure you are not giving your dog free roam of your house. This leaves the possibility open for your dog to get into mischief.  You want to be sure that you also watch out for household cleaning products, wires, children’s toys, or anything else that could be potentially hazardous to your dog. 

Teachable Moments Always be on the lookout for teachable moments! This would be any moment that your dog does something that they should be rewarded for. A good way to do this is to have small treat containers randomly dispersed throughout the house. This allows for you to take advantage of any teachable moment with treats readily available. A good example would be a dog that jumps. If your dog likes to jump on strangers but takes the high road and sits instead, grab a treat and reward! It would be great to keep a treat box in the foyer for such an occasion! 

Routine Just like humans, dogs thrive on routine! In order to get your dog adjusted to your new home you will want to keep a regular routine. The more you stray from your routine the longer it will take for your dog to get comfortable in your home. Even though you may get caught up everyday life; just make sure to remember your dogs feeding and potty times. Your dog has come to rely on the schedule you have started and altering that schedule can confuse your new pooch. 

Affection Your dog is so happy to have gained a new home and family. However, as you can imagine, this is also stressful for your new pooch. It is important to remember to shower your dog with affection. An evening belly rub is a great way to show your dog some love and affection. Just remember that your dog is new and still getting to know his new family. Therefore, you will want to stay away from too many hugs and coddles as this can make your dog a little stressed. 

Congratulations on the new addition to your family! Keep in mind it can take up to 12 weeks for your new family member to become completely adjusted to their new life. Remember to have fun and enjoy the journey!

Love and Paws,