Five Reasons to Train Your Dog

train your dog in a class

Owners: You should train your dog. Maybe you think training is a waste of money or maybe just a waste of time. Or you grew up with dogs and know with enough repetition your dog will ‘get’ the important stuff eventually. Perhaps you think if people can rewire a house using YouTube tutorials, you can do the same to train your dog. Maybe your dog isn’t a puppy anymore and you know the familiar adage about old dogs and new tricks.

Well, let me share 5 reasons why you should train your dog.

Reason #1 to train your dog: Socialization

This is a common one but is so important that it’s worth mentioning again. In most cases, the best way to avoid having a skittish or aggressive dog is to well socialize them with other people and dogs. Group classes are a great way to socialize and train your dog.

No matter how many walks you take, nothing is as effective at socializing a young pup as spending an hour a week in a room with a dozen strange humans and 5 other dogs. You never know what you’re going to get with dogs on the street or at a dog park but in class you know your dog is having an opportunity to learn how to interact with others in a safe, supervised environment that will leave your dog feeling confident and interested in new things.

Reason #2 to train your dog: The Internet Is Not Enough

There are a LOT of experts on the internet with advice on how to train your dog… a LOT. In fact, there are so many that it can be overwhelming. Many have respectabletrain your dog so you can go hiking backgrounds, but all their advice doesn’t always line up; more often then not they actually contradict!

To crate or not to crate? For how long? What kind of collar? What do you teach first? How? Is dominance and submission a reliable philosophy or is it an outdated fallacy?

While some online and book sources will admit that not all dogs fit every rule, they don’t empower you with the tools to identify those exceptions and grey areas. Trainers certainly have their own philosophies and a good trainer will get to know you and your dog. Then they  will be able to identify when is time to try alternative techniques and methods that best fit your dog.

Reason #3 to train your dog: Old Dogs LIKE Learning New Tricks

Just like humans, a puppy’s growing brain is more elastic and learns things faster than an older dog; however, that doesn’t mean an adult dog can’t learn something new. Most often, the benefit of class for older dogs is not even about a specific new trick at all; it’s the process.

Also like humans, dogs get bored. If all they do is go on walks or play a 5 minute round of fetch in the backyard a new challenge can be fun and exciting for your dog. A lethargic or grumpy dog can become alert and energized while trying to work through new commands. The attention and reward the effort brings is incredibly valuable to a dog.

If you’ve adopted an adult dog who already knows the basics and you are trying to build a relationship, going to a tricks or agility class is a great place to start! Your dog may not come out jumping through hoops like a circus dog, but the process of working towards a goal together will help create that special bond that is a little easier to develop with a puppy.

Reason #4 to train your dog: It Is Cost Effective

train your dog to have a tired dogThe value of a well trained dog can’t be overstated. How many stories have you heard of dogs tearing through couch cushions, digging up rhododendrons or ruining carpets?

The one to two hundred dollars you’ll spend on decent training can save you literally thousands in home repairs or furniture replacement.

Even the most well trained dog can act out. A good trainer will help you be prepared to identify the causes of common behaviors. And they will provide you the tools to address the issue.

Maybe your dog chews when he’s bored, digs when anxious or is marking as part of an adolescent phase. A dog trainer is a resource that will guide you to activities, products and solutions that will keep you from going crazy and keep your furniture intact. A worthwhile investment!

**Bonus Points** Well behaved dogs are often welcome in friends and families homes. This means not needing to hire a sitter if you travel for the holidays.

**Double Bonus Points** Have you ever had difficulty looking for an affordable apartment that would accept your four legged friend? Some landlords will make exceptions if you introduce them to your well behaved dog!

Reason #5 to train your dog: It’s Not Just About The Dog

It’s about you.

If you know you want a well trained pet you may be tempted by ‘boot camp’ training options; send your dog away for 3 to 10 days and they come back knowing all the commands and completely compliant.

For some that may be the best option. However, the dog owner doesn’t have the opportunity to learn nearly as much that way. Going to class gives dog owners the opportunity to observe their dog compared to others, have discussion, and ask questions. You have the opportunity to watch how your dog responds differently to commands from the trainer. This gives you the chance to  experiment with varying tone and body language to most effectively communicate with your dog. You will see what other families are struggling with. This can help you gauge if a particular challenge is a common phase or a problem unique to you which requires extra attention.

If you have what you consider a tricky situation (kids at home, work full time, your new pet has complicated history) a trainer will be ready with suggestions for how to handle things specifically tailored for you and your family.

An experienced and certified trainer can guide you through what is important. They give you the tools and building blocks of responsible dog ownership that clears away the stress of trying to figure out the right things to do.

There is also the bond that is created by going through the effort alongside your pet. Class feels like a series of games and challenges for your dog. You playing alongside them helps to create an ever lasting bond and increase your dog’s innate trust in you.

All in all there is a lot that happens on many levels in an hour class; with a good trainer the humans will leave just as mentally exhausted as the dogs!

The truth is that training is not the magic bullet that reliably turns all dogs in to rock solid pups as well behaved as a seeing eye dog. However,  the process has as much value as the results.

After a series of classes my dog still doesn’t quite understand fetch. She isn’t always so keen on ‘drop it’. But I have no concern about bringing her to visit a friends’ house or sitting on a busy patio at a restaurant. My boss welcomes her to the office. My landlord accepted her at home. I can leave her to entertain herself with out worrying about returning to the trash strewn about. We go on off leash hikes and play soccer on the town fields. At the end of the day, she snuggles at my side before putting herself to bed.

Dogs can be great companions but they can also be incredibly frustrating. Making the effort to train your dog can help grow the kind of positive and rewarding relationship that make dogs so valuable in our lives.

Interested in group training classes? Private lessons more your speed?

The author of this post is Pepper’s Paws client Courtney Beard. Courtney and her dog Charlotte completed private puppy training lessons, AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy class, Level 1 Manners, Level 2 Manners, Dog Tricks 101, and Out and About Obedience class with us. Courtney gave me this post as a thank you gift for helping her have the dog of her dreams. She would still be training with us if she had not moved out of the area. Courtney’s dedication to her dog is a pleasure to witness! Thank you Courtney for trusting us to teach you and your dog! 

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training for basic manners, behavior problems, and fear aggression in Chester County, PA. We also offer group classes in everything from Puppy Basics to Advanced Adult Dog Manners to Tricks and Fun! 

Head trainer Deb Murray, is Certified Canine Behavior Consultant (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Training (CPDT-KA) by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, a Fear Free Certified Traineran AKC Evaluator, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy, and a Mentor for the Victoria Stillwell Dog Training Academy.

House Training 101 for Dogs and Puppies!

House training is a key skill to master to be successful with their new dog or puppy. House training can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. We get asked about how to house train a dog a lot. Here are our key points to help you achieve house training success!

House training Secrets:

How to prevent house training accidents

– If you can’t keep your eyes on your dog crate him/her. He/she have a toy or bone while crated. Crating isn’t a punishment. Crating  is a way to manage the environment so the dog can’t make a mistake.house training success

– Confine your dog to the room you are in actively supervising them with crates or other barriers. Your dog should not be able to wander out of the room.

– Put your dog on a house training schedule – take him/her out every 2 hours – more often if she continues to have frequent accidents (every hour if your dog is younger than 12 weeks).

What do if your dog has a house training accident

– Do NOT yell, scold, punish or rub your dog’s face in their accident. Not only does NOT help your dog learn where to learn to go, it can cause setbacks in the house training process.

– Clean up all house training accidents with a cleaning product that is designed for dogs. We love Nature’s Miracle.

How to know when you dog needs to go

– When does your dog need to potty? After a training session of more than 10-15 minutes. When they have been playing vigorously. When they wake up from a nap.  20-30 minutes after eating.First thing in the morning and last thing at night.

–  Anytime your dog wanders away toward another room or an out of the way part of a room, assume your dog is looking for a place to go to potty. Call your dog back to you (and if he/she doesn’t come go get them). If it has been more than a hour since your dog’s last potty break (or if he/she tries to wander away more than once) say “let’s go outside! time to go potty” (or something similar that you will say every time she goes out for a potty break) and take her outside.

– If you see your dog start to walk in a circle, be overly sniffy on the rug or mat, start to squat or otherwise look like he/she is about to go – say “time to go potty!” in a happy and excited voice and head toward the door, calling him/her as you go. The more successes your dog has outside (and the fewer accidents inside) the more likely your dog will be to go outside to go potty.

Not going? Going inside right after going outside?

– Does your dog go out and pee and then come in and pee again? If so, give your dog time to pee twice before bringing him/her in.

– If you take your dog outside and you expect him/her to pee and/or poop and your dog doesn’t go, when you come back in put your dog immediately in the crate. Take him/her out again in 10-15 minutes. Do not allow your dog to walk around the house “full”, you will have a house training accident on your hands if you do.

Keep a House Training Log

– Keep a log of his/her bodily functions on paper where your family can see/add to it. Track day of the week, time of day, pee or poop. Track whether it was a success (done outside) or failure (done inside). Note who was supervising (or supposed to be supervising) the dog too. This log will give you a clear idea on whether housebreaking is working. It will also show who needs a refresher on what it means to “actively supervise” the dog. If you suspect your dog has a medical symptom that you need to share with your vet (i.e. my puppy pees a little bit 25 times per day) the log will show this.

Fine tuning the house training process

– As your dog starts to squat to pee say “go potty” or whatever you want to call it. Say this in a calm voice (almost like you sound bored – not excited and not reaching for a treat). As soon as your dog finishes the FIRST thing he/she does outside (first pee or first poop) – give your dog a super awesome treat right there as soon as he/she takes that first step after going. Don’t mess with treat bags or do anything to distract your dog from the task at hand so you don’t interrupt the process.

– Once your dog has the gist of house training, consider teaching him/her to ring a bell to go outside. There are pros and cons to doing this, which we will cover in a later post.

Need help with house training? Give us a call or email us!

Need more getting started tips? Check out our posts on how to Start Our Right with Your New Puppy

Starting the process to add a dog to your family and need some help understanding how rescues work? how to select a dog? how to get started on training? We have a service designed just for that!

Interested in group training classes?

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training for basic manners, behavior problems, and fear aggression in Chester County, PA. We also offer group classes in everything from Puppy Basics to Advanced Adult Dog Manners to Tricks and Fun! 

Head trainer Deb Murray, is Certified Canine Behavior Consultant (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Training (CPDT-KA) by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, a Fear Free Certified Traineran AKC Evaluator, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy, and a Mentor for the Victoria Stillwell Dog Training Academy.

 

Starting out Right with Your New Puppy!

Puppy Training: To kick off 2018, we will be doing a series of posts about how to get started with a new puppy. This is the first post in the series.

Is Santa brining your family a new puppy for Christmas? Maybe the new puppy has already arrived? The December holiday labradoodletime is a very common time for adding a new dog or puppy to your home. While December can be a great time for the new addition because people have time off from work or school, it is also a time wrought with it’s own stresses, let alone the stress of caring for a new pet. We have some puppy training suggestions and ideas to help you help your new dog or puppy settle in with you, adjust to your new home, and make sure you both get off on the right foot.

Puppy Crate Training

First up, invest in a sturdy crate. Your crate should be where your puppy sleeps during the night, naps during the day, and hangs out when you can’t actively supervise him. Active supervision means you are watching the pup – 100% of the time. If you can’t actively supervise him because you are making dinner, doing laundry, helping with homework, or anything else – that’s where the crate comes in.

Your puppy’s crate should be big enough for him to stretch out in, stand up and turn around in, and sit up tall in. It should not be so big that he can poop or pee in one end and still sleep comfortably in the other. You may think a large crate is “nicer” for your puppy. However, for a puppy learning where to go potty, a large crate is confusing and leaves too much room – literally – for mistakes to happen.

Your pup may need help to learn how to love his crate. He may be used to beign surrounded by his littermates, so being alone can be scary at first. To help your pup be comfortable in his crate, first make sure he is getting lots of exercise – play time with toys, play time with you, chasing balls, and learning new commands with you are all great ways to ensure your pup is good and tired when it is time for some down time in his crate.

puppy trainingIf your puppy doesn’t like his crate, try this

Some pups will walk in their crate and lay down without a fuss, some need some encouragement, some need to learn crates are awesome. Playing crate games can be a great way to show your pup that crates are fun. To play, get a handful of your pup’s food and toss 1 piece in at a time. Let your pup go into the crate to eat the food and when he comes back out, toss another piece in. You should soon see that your pup decides to hang out in the crate and wait for the next piece of food – this is what we want to happen! Toss in a few more pieces and then lure your pup out of the crate and start the process over again. After a few rounds of this, toss a small handful of food in the crate and close the door before your pup can go back in. Then, when he looks eager to go in, open the door and say “crate up!” in a happy, excited voice. This is the beginning of teaching your pup to go in his crate on command.

Look for more crating tips and tricks in our next post in a few days. Interested in puppy training classes? Click here to sign up for our next puppy class!

 

Team Pepper’s Paws – Bark of Life

Join Team Pepper’s Paws for the American Cancer Society’s Bark for Life event Oct 22!

JingleThe Pepper’s Paws dog trainers and their families will be taking part in this year’s American Cancer Society’s Bark for Life 5K Run/walk and 1 Mile Fun Walk and we’d love for you and your dog to sign up to walk as part of our team and walk or run with us! We are passionate supporters of owner’s walking their dogs with other dogs. In fact, we feel so passionately about this, we are one of the event’s top sponsors!

Pepper’s Paws trainers have hosted group walks for our clients and we have seen amazing group walkchanges – in both dogs and their owners! Walking your dog with other dogs can help your dog to be calmer around other dogs, and, since every dog has a person at the end of the leash, group walks can also help your dog be more relaxed around strangers. Dogs who get daily walks – with or without other dogs – are more likely to have their physical and mental exercise needs met, which leads to calmer behavior in the home, less destructive behaviors, and, in some dogs, less anxiety as well. Interested in joining one of weekday group walks? Would a weekend walk work better for you? Let us know!

 

Top 10 Reasons to join Team Pepper’s Paws for the American Cancer Society’s Bark for Life on Oct 22 :

  1. The event will have food trucks, vendor tables, and lots of great raffle baskets!
  2. Lots of great vendors will be there too – make sure to them for info and free giveaways!
  3. There will be fun things for kids to do!
  4. Bark for Life T-shirts!
  5. The event is held in East Goshen Township Park!
  6. It is a great opportunity to get to know our trainers and pick our brains!
  7. You and your dog may make friends to do your own group walks with!
  8. The proceeds go to the American Cancer Society
  9. Your dog will love it!
  10. You will love it too! Seriously, there’s just something fun about walking your dog with other dogs!

HenryPlease join us for this fun event to support a great dog rescue – they need our help to save dogs. Click here to sign up and join Team Pepper’s Paws! A limited number of Team Pepper’s Paws will be available for team members to purchase. Email us if you would like a shirt.

Miles for Mutts

Join Team Pepper’s Paws for TLC Rescue’s Miles for Mutts!

The Pepper’s Paws dog trainers and their families will be taking part in this year’s To Love a Canine Rescue (TLC) Miles for Mutts 5K Race and 1 Mile Fun Walk and we’d love for you and your dog to sign up to walk as part of our team and walk or run with us! We are passionate supporters of owner’s walking their dogs with other dogs. In fact, we feel so passionately about this, we are one of the event’s top sponsors!

Pepper’s Paws trainers have hosted group walks for our clients and we have seen amazing changes – in both dogs and their group walk runowners! Walking your dog with other dogs can help your dog to be calmer around other dogs, and, since every dog has a person at the end of the leash, group walks can also help your dog be more relaxed around strangers. Dogs who get daily walks – with or without other dogs – are more likely to have their physical and mental exercise needs met, which leads to calmer behavior in the home, less destructive behaviors, and, in some dogs, less anxiety as well. Interested in joining one of weekday group walks? Would a weekend walk work better for you? Let us know!

 

Top 10 Reasons to join Team Pepper’s Paws for TLC Rescue’s Miles for Mutts 5K Run/1 Mile Walk:The event will have food trucks for post-run/walk refueling!

  1. The event will have food trucks for post-run/walk refueling!
  2. Lots of great vendors will be there too – make sure to stop by Pepper’s Paws tent for free giveaways!
  3. There will be arts and crafts and other fun things for kids to do!
  4. You get a TLC T-shirt just for walking or running!
  5. The event is held in beautiful Warwick Park!
  6. It is a great opportunity to get to know our trainers and pick our brains!
  7. You and your dog may make friends to do your own group walks with!
  8. All proceeds of the event help TLC Rescue save more dogs. The money raised will cover vet bills, supplies, and rescue costs associated with saving dogs in high risk shelters!
  9. Your dog will love it!
  10. You will love it too! Seriously, there’s just something fun about walking your dog with other dogs!

 

Please join us for this fun event to support a great dog rescue – they need our help to save dogs. Click here to sign up and join Team Pepper’s Paws. Anyone with a well-behaved dog is welcome to join us!

Miles for Mutts 2017

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

    (http://freedomnopullharness.com)

  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)?

Conclusion

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!