8 Tips for a Great Dog Walk

Did you know that this week is National Walk Your Dog Week? (http://www.walkyourdogweek.com)

In honor of National Walk Your Dog Week, here are 8 tips to make your walk with your dog more enjoyable for you, your dog, and your community too!

  1. Poop bags. Carry them, use them, dispose of them properly.
  2. If your dog pulls, use a front clip harness. These harness deter pulling and also protect your dog’s neck. Our favorites are the Easy Walk harness by PetSafe (www.petsafe.net) and the Freedom Harness by Freedom No Pull Harness
    dog walk
    Shadow and Remy taking a walk together


  3. Let your dog sniff! Yes, the point of a walk is exercise – physical and mental exercise is best! Sniffing works your dog’s mind, so when you dog is walking nicely at your side for a few minutes give him a sniff break to sniff something exciting like fire hydrant or street sign post. Sniffing is a great reward for polite walking!
  4. If your dog likes other dogs, walk with other dogs. A lot of dogs love to walk as part of a group. They can sniff and explore together, learn to walk nicely together, and hang out with doggie friends – and you get time with friends too – win-win for everyone!
  5. If you take a long walk with your dog, bring water. Dogs don’t regulate their body temperature well, so having water to offer is a great way to help your dog cool down on warm Fall days.
  6. Take your dog somewhere new for a walk. Chester County has lots of wonderful dog friendly parks, trails, and perseveres. Giving your dog a chance to explore a new trail or park will the walk exciting and fun for both of you.
  7. Walk and train at the same time. Having a training plan for a walk is a great way to work practicing Sit, Down, and Stay (on leash) on a walk. Each time you pass a mailbox or corner, ask your dog to do a behavior. When she does, continue the walk! (treats are generally not needed – the walk starting again is reward enough!)
  8. Make a resolution to walk your dog everyday! Walking is great exercise for dogs and people – it can help reduce stress, increase health, and be mood enhancing — for you and your dog!

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training in Chester County, PA. We also teach Puppy Basics to Advanced Adult Dog Manners and dog sports classes at Dogtopia of Chester Springs.

Head trainer Deb Murray, CPDT-KA is certified by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, an AKC Evaluator, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy.

How to select a dog

Part 2 of 3 part series.

dog mix breed
What breed am I?

When families start to look for a dog they often hear sage advice to “do your homework on dogs first – research breeds you think you want to make sure they are a good fit for you and your family”. It sounds like fantastic advice, right?

If you are planning to add a pure bred dog from a reputable breeder to your family, you can and should do your dog breed research as advised. But what if you are planning to adopt a rescue dog? How do you research a “lab/shepherd mix”? What

kind of shepherd is in the mix? What the lab part of the mix an American lab, an English lab, or is the lab mix mixed with another breed as well? What if the vet who examined the “lab/shepherd mix” for the rescue guessed wrong all together? (spoiled alert: not many rescues or shelters do DNA tests to determine the exact “mix” of a dog, vets use their experience, judgment, and knowledge of breeds to assign a breed to a dog). But what if they did? Wouldn’t a DNA test solve the riddle of what breed(s) the dog is? Well, sort of, maybe?

DNA test?

Patricia McConnell, a world-renowned zoologist PhD and Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist recently wrote an article that casts a different light on dog DNA testing. She and a friend compared results from a Wisdom panel, an established DNA test

for dogs, against a newer DNA test put out by Embark. The article can be found here: http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/theotherendoftheleash/whos-your-momma. The most prominent breed identified in both sets of results was the same, the remaining breeds were completely different. In the case of Dr. McConnell’s article, about 1/3 of the dog was a Siberian Husky (maybe 1/3 in both tests – this wasn’t completely clear in the results presented), the other 2/3 of the dog was different breeds. The article goes on to offer explanations from the manufacturers about why and how they arrived at their results if you want to learn more. Note: this post is in no way intended to be an indictment of DNA test manufacturers. DNA testing for dogs is new and evolving science that will no doubt improve over time.

So the conundrum for would-be dog adopters remains: if I am supposed to do my homework and research breeds, but I can’t be certain that breed listed on the adoption paperwork matches the dog DNA inside, what should I do?

Go with the same breed you had last time?

As a dog trainer, I often get questions from people about how to select a dog. My best advice is not technical or flashy. The first thing I suggest is that people don’t follow the strategy of “I want a that I grew up with, or just had to put to sleep at 15, or that my best friend has so I get a dog just like him/her”. Thinking that if you adopt a specific breed because you had a great experience with this breed in the past can be a disaster waiting to happen. Why? Because dogs are individuals with personalities and every dog – even dogs of the same breed – is unique. If you have just lost a dog this is ever more important. Trying to replace your dog who just died with the same breed in hopes that it will be the same dog usually results in disappointment and frustration. So again, what is a would-be adopter to do?

Personality test?

Instead of focusing on the breed of a dog you loved in the past, focus on what the dog did that you loved. (If this is your first dog, think about what characters and personality you want in your 1st dog). How much energy did he have? How old was he when you met him and how did his exercise needs change over time? (Your 14-year golden that just died wasn’t always a couch potato – I bet he had a lot of pep in his step for the majority of his life – remember that part too!) Do you like to hike with your dog? Do you like to take your dog to public places? Do you want a social butterfly of a dog, or one who is content to hang back and be calm? Do you want a dog that will play fetch for hours with you? A dog you can take swimming? Do you want to take your dog to friends’ houses? To be able to board your dog at a daycare when you go on a cruise next year? Do you want to spend a lot of time training and exercising your dog, or would you prefer to just do the basics for training and have a family dog? Do you have the time to house train a puppy (meaning you or someone is home the majoring of the day)?


By honestly answering all of these questions honestly, and then interviewing potential dogs and adoption organizations, you just may find the dog of your dreams who is a completely different breed than you thought you wanted, and be happier than you imagined. Reputable rescues and shelters will help you find dogs who are a good fit, and they will allow you to spend as much time with a dog as you need to make your selection (don’t expect them to “hold” a dog for you though, most will not because more than half of the “holds” fall through, leaving dogs in kennels and foster homes longer than necessary). Take your time, meet lots of potential dogs, and go with instinct if you see something you do or don’t like in potential dog for your family. Your are making a commitment for the life of the dog you are bringing home – it may take a while to find “the one”, but it is time well spent.

Our next post will provide specific tips and suggestions for working with rescues to adopt the dog of your dreams.

4 Things to Consider Before Adding a 2nd Dog to Your Family

If you are thinking of adding a second dog to your family there are a lot of things to consider. Many times families focus on things like what a new pups’s name will be, what breed do they want, how old, where will go to get it; however, there are some more important considerations and decisions to make before embarking on your search for a new 4 legged friend.

[Full disclosure: the author is a proud dog mom to 4 great dogs]

  1. Does your current dog want a buddy? Not all dogs like other dogs. Some pups like to walk with other dogs but not play with them. Some like to romp and wrestle with their canine buddies. If your dog does not enjoy playing with other 4 legged buddies, Dogwhether in your neighborhood or in a daycare setting, there is a good chance he won’t like it in his home either. When considering adding a second canine, make sure to factor in your current dog’s sex (male-male and male female pairs tend to do better than female-female pairs), your current dog’s energy level (a senior dog may not see a puppy as a good couch buddy), and tolerance for other dogs (if your dog does not like other dogs, adding a second dog could be disastrous for both dogs).
  2. Time commitment – Put simply, two pups require twice the care and attention. Many times, pup number two is added to a family to keep pup number one occupied. Sometimes this results not in two well-exercised and happy dogs. Many times the result is two pups who chew shoes, dig holes in the yard, and get into other creative mischief. Don’t get me wrong, the pups have a blast together, but the owner now has twice the issues to deal with. You also need to factor in time to work on training both dogs (dog trainer secret: What is the best way to train two dogs? One at a time.) Is everyone in the family on board with helping with a second dog (or are at least enough family members on board so that the responsibility doesn’t fall to one person)?
  3. Financial considerations – Food bills, vet bills, and all other costs are close to double the amount for two canines versus one dog. Budgeting and planning, not to mention realistic expectation for this can prevent adopter’s remorse when it is time for annual wellness visits at the vet and it’s time to refill preventative flea, tick, and heart worm medications.
  4. Why do you want two dogs? – This is a personal question each family should ask itself. My best advice is to consider this carefully, along with the considerations above. Adding a second dog is a big decision. If your answer to this question is solely “to occupy my other dog”, I strongly suggest you reconsider your plan.

If you have really gotten to know your current pup’s likes and dislikes in terms of other four legged friends, are honest about how much time you have to give to two pups, come up with a budget, and do that gut check about why you want a second pup, and all signs point to “yes, the entire family would love a second dog” – go for it! A future post will offer some tips and things to consider in selecting your second pup and also so great resources for finding great dogs. Thinking of adding a new puppy to your pack? Check out our article Starting out Right with Your New Puppy!

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home training in Chester County, PA. We also teach Puppy Basics to Advanced Adult Dog Manners classes at Dogtopia of Chester Springs.

Head trainer Deb Murray, CPDT-KA is certified by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, an AKC Evaluator, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy.

10 Tips for Children and Dogs

As a dog trainer, the call I dread getting is the one that starts with “Our dog bit our child….”. When a dog bites a child,  even if it isn’t a medically serious bite, the relationship between the dog and the family can be forever changed. Many times the family no longer trusts the dog after a bite. They either re-home him or the dog is banished to the crate or a far away room whenever children are around. Most, if not all, bites to children can be prevented. Basic supervision, educating kids on how to safely and respectfully interact with dogs, and by managing the children’s and dog’s environment can prevent bites. These simple tips can help make interactions between dogs and children safer.

Our 10 Tips for Dogs and Kids

  1. Don’t let your kids hugs dogs. I know this is a bummer for kids, but most dogs don’t like to be hugged, especially by children they do not know. When I work with families with dogs, I ask the kids “how long do mommy and children superviseddaddy have a new friend before you give them a hug when they come over?” – the answer is usually  something like “a really long time”. I suggest families use this same rule of thumb with dogs. Don’t hug a newly adopted dog, or even one you have had for a few weeks. The dog will tell you when it is ready to be snuggled. He will lean into you, curl up next to you, or try to sit with you. These are all signs that he wants your affection. When he does this, pet him on his back or sides, and let him lean into you rather than hug him.
  2. Don’t leave children and dogs alone together. This one can be a bit trickier, but it is super-important to make this rule how you live with your dog. Some easy ways to do this is to teach your dog a “with me” command. When you, the supervising adult, needs to leave the room for a few minutes tell the dog “with me”. Pat your leg to get him to follow you. If you have trained this by rewarding the dog with treats, toys, or petting for following you, when you say “with me”, he will happily follow you out of the room and stay with you. If you can’t take the dog with you, teach him to love his crate, and he goes in the crate when you can’t be in the room to actively supervise the dog with the children.
  3. Teach kids how to approach a dog to see if she wants to be pet. Teach kids not to pet dogs on the top of the head. They also should not to reach for a strange dog or offer a hand for sniffing. Have your child pat his/her leg and then wait to see if the dog approaches. If the dog approaches, let him sniff your pant leg or shoes first. Then, if he stays there, pet on the back or side, not the face or head.
  4. Make sure your dog gets enough exercise. Tired dogs rest nicely in crates when kids are around. See last week’s post for ways to tire your dog out https://pepperspaws.com/tired-dog-good-dog/.
  5. Get to know your dog. Learn to read dog body language (check out this video for more info).Keep your dog’s annual vet check up. Dogs that are in pain or don’t feel well can be less than hospitable when children are around. Learn your dog – what does she do when she doesn’t feel well? What does he do when he is in pain? What does “normal” look like in your dog’s world? If you think your dog doesn’t feel well, let him rest in his crate, away from excited kids.
  6. Crate train your dog. If you need help with this, let us know.
  7. Let your dog eat in peace. Meal time is not a good time to pester, annoy, tease, or otherwise bother your dog. “Testing” your dog to see if you can pick up his bowl while he is eating is not a good way to teach him you are the boss. If you’d like other ways to teach your dog that you – the adult – being nearby at mealtime is a good thing, ask us.
  8. Have your kids help with training. Positive reinforcement training can be a great way for supervised dogs and children trainingchildren to bond. If you aren’t sure how to get started with this, give us a call – classes and private in home lessons are a great way to get started on this.
  9. Don’t allow kids or adults to rough house with the dog. I know, I know, I’m no fun. Trust me when I tell you rough housing is NOT a good way to exercise your dog. I have received more than one call about wrestling matches that ended with bites. If you want your dog to think you are a rock star, train him to roll over, retrieve toys, walk nicely on a leash so he gets lots of walks – he will love this way more than wrestling with you.
  10. When you think you need help, because you’ve seen your dog do something around your children that scares you, get help right then. Don’t wait until something bad happens and someone gets scared or hurt (to a child, getting scared can be just as bad as being bitten). If you wait, it might be too late. Help with dogs and kids is available!

Need help teaching your kids how to greet dogs, pet dogs, or read body language? We have a special program for families with dogs. Click here for more information: https://pepperspaws.com/about-peppers-paws-llc-dog-training/kids-dogs-training/

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training in Chester County, PA. We also teach Puppy Basics to Advanced Adult Dog Manners classes at Dogtopia of Chester Springs.

Head trainer Deb Murray, CPDT-KA is certified by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, an AKC Evaluator, a Doggone Safe “Be a Tree” Presenter, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy.

A Tired Dog is a Good Dog!

Do you have a dog that has tons of energy? A dog that, even after a long walk, wants to play and jump and romp around the house? Do you hear people say “a tired dog is good dog” and wonder how to achieve that with your dog? One of the tired Nalamisconceptions about dogs is that physical exercise is the way to tire them out; that long walks or playing fetch in the yard is the “thing” to do with their dog to tire the dog out. Physical exercise is very important for dogs but for many dogs, vigorous exercise achieves one thing: it makes the dog more fit, and therefore the dog needs more and more daily vigorous exercise to actually be tired. So what is a dog owner with a young, healthy dog to do?

A great way to tire out a dog is to make them use their brains, not just their bodies, to exercise. Unlike with physical exercise, dogs don’t develop a tolerance to mental exercise. When you are teaching your dog a new behavior or command or even a trick, his mind is working and that can be exhausting to a dog. If you can combine physical exercise with mental exercise, even better!

Here are some ways to tire out your dog – and your dog will love you for it!

  • Take your dog to daycare – Daycare is great for building social skills, and also because when dogs play they are thinking the entire time. The dialog in your dog’s mind goes something like this “Who is that? Does she want to play? Let me do a play bow to see? OK cool she wants to play – now I need to jump to show her I’m ready – oh wow she moved the other way, I need to chase her – uh oh now she’s chasing me – up and over the ramp I go….” And all the while the dog is running, jumping, wresting and thinking, and at the end of the day the dog is spent.
  • Train your dog – Impulse control commands like Stay, Leave It, and Go to Your Bed are all great ways to wear your dog out. These commands require your dog to work out what she needs to do to get the reward – and what not to do. In our classes, we have found that these commands are also great for teaching dogs not to nip and jump – because they learn to think before they act.
  • When you walk your dog also train your dog – When you head out on a walk, have a plan for what commands you want your dog to do along the way. A great way to build obedience into your walk is to have your dog sit at every corner and mailbox you pass. On a walk, the reward for sitting like this “Let’s go!” and the walk continues – no treats required if you dog already has a solid sit!
  • Make meal times learning times – Use your dog’s food as rewards for obedience commands. Put the food bowl out of your dog’s reach and ask for behaviors like Sit, Lay Down, Touch, and Stay and when your dog does them give him some of his food. It will take a few minutes longer to feed him but it is time well spent! Another great idea is to feed your dog using food puzzles like Kongs, Buster Cubes, Wobblers. To get the kibble out, your dog needs to manipulate or chew on the toy to get to the food – both are great mind exercisers!

Need help learning how to train your dog to tire him or her out? Our next round of group classes at Dogtopia starts September 6th – check out our class schedule https://pepperspaws.com/group-dog-training-class-schedule/ – we’d love to have you join us in class!

Why is my dog fearful?

A common question I get from dog owners is “Why is my dog afraid of (fill in the blank – men, children, bikes, new people…)?” Usually followed by the statement “He is a rescue, so he must have been abused”. There are a lot of reasons why dogs show fear of things, and in most cases it is not because the dog has been abused. Dogs can be born naturally fearful – the same way some people are born shy. Socialization is also a key factor in whether a dog will is shy or fearful.

Preventing fearfulness in puppies

In a puppy’s early development, they need to experience as much of the world they will ultimately live in as possible. They need to explore things like different types of flooring – carpet, tile, hardwood, even grass can all be scary to a dog who walks on it for the first time. It is very important that a puppy’s first experience with something new is positive – not scary or threatening to the pup. A great way to achieve this is to associate the new thing with play, praise, petting, or treats — all things that most puppies love! For example, I work with a lot of puppies that are afraid of steps. To help them overcome their fear, we use treats and praise to encourage the pup to go up one step. Once the pup realizes the step is not scary big deal, we encourage for 2 steps up. As his courage builds, we go for more steps between treats and the next thing you know going up steps is not a big deal, so we work on going down the steps the same way. The key to success is going slow, doing short sessions, and lots of good stuff for the pup – including making sure nothing scary happens like falling down the steps. This technique can also work with older dogs – but it may take a lot longer for the dog to build confidence so asking a trainer for help can be the best approach.

If a puppy doesn’t meet other puppies, it is very common for the puppy to develop a fear of dogs. The best way to prevent this is to bring your puppy to a safe, well-run puppy class that includes off-leash puppy play. Before coming to class, be prepared to talk with the trainer and your vet about what vaccines your puppy must have become coming to class – our classes require a puppy to be at least 10 weeks old, have had 2 rounds of distemper vaccinations, and also a bordatella vaccination to prevent kennel cough. When your puppy first comes to class, she may be timid and fearful – and that is OK. Don’t force your puppy to interact with other puppies if she doesn’t want to – a great way to start socialization is for her to just watch the other puppies. Remember, keep it positive and not scary for the puppy.

Helping fearful adult dogs

Agility has helped Dixie build confidence. Her mom Jen couldn’t be more proud of her!

If you adopt an adult dog who shows fear towards men, strangers, kids, tile floors, etc. it is more likely to be due to lack of exposure/experience with these things than the having been abused. Just like with puppies, go slow with fearful adult dogs and let them explore their environment. Praise and reward them for braving the scary kitchen floor, and if they want to back away from something that scare them, let them. One of the worst things you can do to a fearful dog is throw them into a scary-to-them situation and just expect them to “deal with it”. I have seen this have disastrous results.

If you have a fearful adult dog, training can be one of the best ways to help to your dog. Positive reinforcement training – where the dog gets rewards for doing behaviors (and does NOT get punished for not doing them) – can help show your dog that the world is not scary and unpredictable (and therefore dangerous), it can be fun and predictable (from your dog’s point of view – “this is awesome! I have figured these people out – if I want a treat or them to throw the ball for me, all I have to do is sit! I got this!”) Don’t laugh – it really works!

Adult fearful dogs can be tricky to figure out, and even trickier to help them. This is one area where you definitely should not go it alone. If you think your dog has fear issues, don’t wait and hope it gets better, take steps to help your dog now. We have used everything from obedience training, agility training, group walks, in home environment and behavior consultations, calming sprays, essential oils, and referrals to veterinary behaviorists to help our clients with their fearful dogs. Every dog is different, and most can be helped. Need help with your fearful dog or puppy? Give us a call, we’d be happy to help you. Check out our new Fear Free Program.

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training in Chester County, PA. We also teach Puppy Basics to Advanced Adult Dog Manners classes at Dogtopia of Chester Springs.

Head trainer Deb Murray, CPDT-KA is certified by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, an AKC Evaluator, a Doggone Safe “Be a Tree” Presenter, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy.

Back to School Time

Back to school time for kids is just around the corner. Time for new schedules, new routines, and new rules – for kids and dogs too.

From a dog’s perspective, back to school time for the kids can be boring, lonely, and downright scary for some dogs. Their days may go from kid action packed, to long stretches in the crate and without their people. This can result in destructive behavior, resurgence of the jumping behavior, excitable dogs that need an energy outlet, and other not-so-fun behaviors for dogs and their people. Here are some tips to help your dog settle into a new back to school routine.

Establish the back to school daily routine.

Will your dog’s day be spent in a crate while everyone is at work and school? Will this alone time start earlier than usual, now that the kids are off to school instead of day camp? Take your dog on a walk, off property and on leash each morning.Back to School While on the walk, let him sniff and explore a bit – this will help tire him out more than just a normal leash walk. A daily morning walk can do wonders to prepare your dog for a long nap in a crate while you are gone.

Training, which is a form of mental exercise, is a great way to start your dog’s day too. Instead of just putting a bowl of food down for your dog, have her to Sits, Downs, Touches, and anything else she knows to earn her kibble. This is also a good time of year to add to your dog’s behavior repertoire – teach your dog to Spin, Roll Over, or any other new behaviors that you can cue and then reward. Learning dogs are happy dogs! Your dog’s dinner time is another great opportunity to build training into your dog’s day – and you will be surprised how little time this actually takes at each meal!

After school, don’t forget your dog has been home all day and would love a walk! Schedule a family member to walk the dog everyday and both the walker and the dog will benefit from the exercise.

Once you decide what the new house routine will be, put it into effect NOW before the back to school routine for the kid’s starts. By giving your dog a few weeks to adjust to more crate or alone time and a different walking and training routine, the less he will be bothered by the change for the new school year. This will also help the family adjust to more structured time with the dog too!

When in doubt – add more exercise!

If you come from a long work and school day to find that Fido redecorated the family room on you (meaning he chewed shoes, emptied the trash can, otherwise got into trouble), a dog daycare or daily dog walk with a dog walker may be in order. Dogs left to their own devices can sometimes get into trouble, giving them a few days each week out with other dogs or dog walkers can be a great boredom buster and exercise outlet.

If you come home to chewed windowsills, damaged doorway trim, housebreaking accidents in a normally housetrained dog, it may mean your dog has separation anxiety. Contact Pepper’s Paws for a separation anxiety evaluation.

Back to school time can be exciting, challenging and stressful for families and dogs. The best way to ensure everyone adjusts to the new school year is to have a plan. Do you have your back-to-school plan yet?

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training in Chester County, PA. We also teach Puppy Basics to Advanced Adult Dog Manners classes at Dogtopia of Chester Springs.

Head trainer Deb Murray, CPDT-KA is certified by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, an AKC Evaluator, a Doggone Safe “Be a Tree” Presenter, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy.

How to prevent your dog from jumping

Does your dog jump on visitors to your home? Jump on you and other family members? To a dog, jumping on people is great fun. They do it because it works – they get the attention that they want (don’t are good at telling “good attention” from “negative attention”. The first step in training your

Pepper sitting not jumping

dog not to jump on people is to train your dog to Sit. Once your dog has a rock solid sit, you can tell your dog to sit when someone approaches – a sitting dog can’t jump on people – and then guests can pet your dog for sitting.

Follow these steps to teach your dog to sit:

Step 1. Tell your dog, “Sit” in a cheerful tone of voice.

Step 2. Pause a second (count one-one thousand in your head), and then lure your dog into a sit by putting the treat up to her nose and slowly moving the treat backwards and up. Keep the treat lure close to your dog’s nose — if you move your hand up too quickly or too far away from their mouth, they may lose interest in the exercise or try jumping to get the treat.

Step 3. As soon as your dog’s backend hits the ground praise and treat. Repeat several times, so long as you and your dog are still enjoying yourselves. At this stage, it is important to praise your dog (“good boy!” or “girl girl!” works great) and give your dog a treat for every sit.

Step 4. Repeat the exercise several times over a few days. When your dog sits every sit you ask, it is time to take the treat out of your hand and use the verbal cue alone. If your dog makes a mistake, first try luring without the treat. Only put the treat back in your hand if all else fails.

Ask you dog to sit to get what he wants in life

Once your dog knows what “Sit” means, have them sit before going out doors, having a leash put on, on a ball thrown for him. The more automatic you can make sitting on command, the better. Think of your dog sitting as saying “Please” and ask for a sit anytime you would like your dog to be polite.

When guests come over tell your dog to “Sit” and have guests only pet the dog while the dog is sitting. If the dog gets up, the petting stops and the person turns their back and ignores the dog. Your dog will quickly figure out that sitting “works” for getting attention and petting, and jumping up gets them ignored.

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training in Chester County, PA. We also teach Basic to Advanced Manners classes and offer in house dog training at Dogtopia of Chester Springs.

Head trainer Deb Murray, CPDT-KA is certified by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, an AKC Evaluator, a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy, and APDT C.L.A.S.S. Evaluator and Instructor.


Did you know training your dog did this?

There are some obvious reasons to train your dog: to teach him sit, lay down, not pull on the leash, why else should you train your dog?

Dog training can have amazing effects on your dog’s personality, confidence, and energy level. It also gives people – including children – confidence around dogs. People who train their dogs feel more bonded with their dogs, and if you watch them with their dogs, their dogs are more bonded and responsive to them too. They also feel less stressed with their dogs – at home, at the vet, on walks, meeting other dogs and people. Here are a few of their stories….

Liam used to be very leash reactive. He looked like a crazed, aggressive dog when he saw another dog – from as much as 100 yards away. But when he met dogs off leash in his back yard he happy and relaxed with most dogs. Brenda needed Liam to be Training Liam and Bearcalmer when he saw other dogs, and desperately wanted to be able to walk him with other dogs. We set out to desensitize him to seeing other dogs – we showed him seeing other dogs was no big deal, and we counter-conditioned him seeing other dogs by showing him that seeing dogs on a walk was a good thing – it made hot dogs appear! Over a few months Liam went from doing barky, scary threat displays when he saw a dog on a walk, to a dog who saw a dog and calmly looked at his mom for guidance and reward. Liam learned to not only walk with other dogs, he started to enjoy it and was even able to help other leash reactive dogs to settle as well.

Bella used to be afraid of people. Strangers made her nervous and she was reluctant to go near them. To help her, we taught Bella

Training Bella
Don’t take Bella’s word for it – train with us and see for your self!


some basic cues – Sit, Down, Touch, Stay, and Leave It – and rewarded her generously for doing these behaviors on cue. Learning these basic cues helped Bella relax and feel more in control of her environment – in her mind I think she thought she had figured us crazy humans out: “I sit, and they give me a treat, or open a door, or take off my leash – it’s so easy to get these people to do things for me!” In reality, all we did was make Bella’s world more orderly and predictable. We did most of this training while Bella was in daycare without parents present. I knew Bella was getting more comfortable with me, but the real break through came when Bella showed her parents her new people skills. During my handover session with Bella and her parents, my assistant Eryn walked into the room. Bella had never met Eryn before, and she walked right up to Eryn to greet her and turned sideways and politely asked for pets. Through training, Bella learned basics commands and she gained confidence, and we were thrilled!

When I first went to Maxi’s home she was a frantic little dog. She seemed to be going in 3 directions at once – and nipping everything in site. Maxi was anxious and nervous, and showed it with her mouth and by jumping on people. We taught Maxi that doing Sits, and Down, and Touches, and Stays made her ball fly through the air, treats appear out of no where, and Training Maxipetting and love come her way. In one week, Maxi went from anxious and frantic to focused and calm. Her Mom started hand feeding her and making her work for food, ask politely to get on the couch, and ignored any impolite or pushy behavior. I think it showed Maxi that there was nothing to be anxious about, Mom had the world under control, and Maxi blossomed. Maxi isn’t a perfect dog, but her progress in 1 week was fantastic! Her Mom is thrilled with her and feels much more in control of her home, and her dog, who used to be too excitable to sleep on her bed, now rests calmly at her side each night.

I can’t promise every dog will have transformations like this, or as quickly as some of these dogs did, but I can promise you this: training your dog and working with your dog will teach you and your dog to understand each other better, will help you (and often your dog) feel more confident, and it is a great way to exercise your dog’s brain, which can tire a dog out more than a long walk. Training should be fun and rewarding, for both dog and human. Give it a try, you just might love it!

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training in Chester County, PA. We also teach Basic to Advanced Manners classes and offer in house dog training at Dogtopia of Chester Springs.

Head trainer Deb Murray, CPDT-KA is certified by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, an AKC Evaluator, a Doggone Safe “Be a Tree” Presenter, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy.

7 Things You Can Do to Prevent Dog Bites

Some sobering facts:

  • Each year 4.5 million people in the US are bitten by dogs and 1 in 5 of those bites require medical attention.
  • Of the 800,000+ people bitten who need medical attention, at least half of them are children.
  • Children are the most common victims of dog bites, and are more likely to be severely injured, and about 75% of them are bitten by dogs they are familiar with .
  • As the number of dogs in the home increases, so does the likelihood of being bitten. Adults with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home.

Dog bites are preventable. Set up your family and your dog for success by following these 7 tips.

Set your family up for success:

1. Adopt the right dog

Research dog breeds before select your new dog or puppy. Be realistic about the needs of the breed and breed traits – are you active enough to satisfy a border collies need for mental and physical stimulation? Would a senior dog be more your speed?

Do you have the time the dog will need to be adequately exercised & trained? If you don’t have the time to exercise your dog every day, is dog daycare something that will fit into your budget?

Sociability – is the dog you are considering friendly & politely soliciting attention? Does he seem reluctant to be petted? Is she bouncing off of you with excitement? Is a shy dog or an over-exuberant dog a good fit for you? (i.e. are you up to the task of lots of socialization time and effort to help the shy dog feel more confident and exuberant dog to learn how to be calm?)

What can you find out about the dog’s history? Things like multiple re-homings, abusive situations, or a dog with a bite history can all be a lot for a new dog owner to take own. If you aren’t sure what you are in for with dogs like these, ask a trainer to help you evaluate the dog before you sign on the adoption contract dotted line.

Considering bringing home 2 dogs at the same time? If so, be ready to take on three times the work for training, exercise. A better idea is to adopt one dog, train, and get used to one dog. Then, if you still want a 2nd dog, you are better positioned for success in bringing home #2.

2. Learn how to read dog body language. Understanding and being able to read dog body language is essential to preventing dog bites.

  • Do you recognize the signs of fear and stress in dogs?
  • Do you know that a wagging tail doesn’t always mean a dog is friendly?
  • Doggonesafe has great resources on reading body language and keeping kids safe.

3. Teach your children how to safely and appropriately interact with dogs

  • Hugging, ear pulling, tail pulling, climbing on the dog all put your child at risk for a dog bite.
  • Even if your dog is tolerate of your kids doing these things, teach you kids they are not appropriate behavior – not all dogs will tolerate children behaving like this.
  • Teach your children respect for strange dogs – ask before petting, appropriate petting, and knowing when they should get away and how to safely do it will all help keep your children safe around dogs.
  • Always actively supervise kids and dogs – the ASPCA recommends that kids younger than 10 should never be left alone with a dog – even their own dog.

How to Set your dog up for success:

4. Socialization is key for puppies – take a puppy class that includes supervised off leash play & encourages kids to come to class

  • Puppy classes can help prevent puppies from developing fear issues as adolescents and adults
  • They teach puppies to be more comfortable with new dogs and people.

5. Training

  • Plan to do it – even if you adopt older dog. Dedicating 1 hour per week for 6 weeks (the length of a typical basic manners class) and doing the homework for class is a great way to get your new dog’s training career started with you – and the accountability of going to class will help ensure you do the work each week!
  • Have kids take part in training once you know the basics (it’s easier to coach/teach kids to do something you already know rather than have them learn from you while you are learning – and supervise them while they train the dog.
  • Use positive reinforcement training techniques– they can be safer for kids and less stress on dogs and people.
  • Don’t punish growling – this just tells your dog it isn’t safe to growl when he feels afraid or threatened – and can him more likely to bite. Instead, work to understand why the dog is growling and solve the behavior issue at the root rather than just suppressing the expression of it.

6. Get to know your dog

  • What does your dog like? Not like? Men? Loud noises? Children? By knowing what your dog doesn’t like, you can prevent him from feeling threatened, and with the help of a trainer, help him learn to more comfortable with previously scary things.
  • If you don’t know if your dog likes other dogs don’t take him to a dog park to find out. Ask a trainer for help in determining how your dog feels about other dos.
  • If your dog was in pain, would you recognize it? Vet check ups are important to maintain your dog’s health – and also reduce the risk of pain or injury related aggressive incidents.
  • Use daycare, do walkers/you walking, play time to tire your dog out before high activity times in your home or times when you know you won’t be able to pay attention to your dog.
  • Crate train your dog – and teach kids that crates are dogs safe places so no kids allowed in or on crates.
  • Learn ways to occupy your dog – food puzzles, stuffed kongs, and safe chew toys can all be great ways to keep your dog busy.

7. When you think (or know) you have a problem with your dog, get help BEFORE your dog bites

  • Trust your gut – if you think some of your dog’s behavior to be dangerous or threatening, you are probably right.
  • Does your dog growl when you come near his toys or food bowl? Growl at strangers? Get help before he bites
  • Is your dog fearful, skittish, or untrusting of strangers? A good trainer can help your dog learn to be more comfortable and teach you how to recognize when your dog needs help.

It is impossible to say that your dog will never bite someone. The better your understand canine body language, know your dog, and set your dog and your family up for success, the more you reduce your risk of dog bites.


Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training in Chester County, PA. We also teach Basic to Advanced Manners classes and offer in house dog training at Dogtopia of Chester Springs.

Head trainer Deb Murray, CPDT-KA is certified by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, an AKC Evaluator, a Doggone Safe Be a Tree Presenter, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy.