Five Tactics to Teach Your Dog Manners

As a slightly obsessed dog lover, I want everyone else to at least like my dog. That’s why I spent so much time training Bitsy to behave like a proper lady. Jumping up on guests, stealing shoes, barking excessively, and begging at the table are pet peeves I cannot tolerate in someone else’s dog. I would certainly not tolerate that behavior in my own sweet Cavalier.

Don’t get me wrong. Raising a well-behaved canine is no easy feat. But if you don’t have the time and patience for proper training, perhaps a dog is not the best pet choice. Maybe you should consider a hermit crab instead.

FullSizeRender-2

Tactic 1: Find what motivates your pooch.

For many dogs, food is the most effective motivator. Luckily for me, Bitsy falls into this category. Treats should be small and healthy. Examples of good training foods include raw vegetables, bits of home baked biscuits, or dry food kibbles. Ice cubes can also be a no calorie special treat!

There are many reputable websites that include more comprehensive lists of foods you should not feed your dog, but here are a few to avoid:

  • Grapes
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy products
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Raw meat
  • Raw eggs
  • Onions, Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Caffeine
  • Fat trimmings
  • Chicken bones

Praise is an excellent motivator, both verbal and physical. A calm, positive word of encouragement or a scratch behind the ears can get some dogs to do anything you ask! You can also reinforce good behavior by using a much-loved toy or activity. If your pup goes crazy over a favorite ball, kong, or ride in the car, use those things as training tools.

Tactic 2: Nip jumping in the bud.

It doesn’t matter whether Fido weighs 5 pounds or 85 pounds. When a dog jumps up on you, it scratches your legs, covers you in dog hair, frightens, and annoys even the most reasonable people. I’ve seen many tactics to combat this unpleasant behavior. I would start with these simple tips first.

IMG_4459

Train your dog from the very beginning to sit and stay when someone enters your home. Use the motivator that works for your dog. Start with short periods of time and increase that span in increments.

If your dog already acquired the “jump on visitors” trait, ask people who enter your home to fold their arms and turn their backs on your dog. When the dog finally figures out that jumping up will not elicit any affection, he will usually give up. When your dog returns all feet to the floor, try getting him to sit and stay. Once accomplished, hand over a treat or praise.

If the folded arms system does not take hold over time, you can try lightly stepping on the dogs back feet while his front paws are resting on the human legs (or chest). This will immediately prompt your dog to return to his own four paws. In time, he will associate jumping up with the discomfort of his back paws and cease the bad behavior.

If this last straw tactic fails, then contact a dog trainer.

I want to add here that I am not a professional dog trainer. I love dogs and have taken the time to train my own. Dog training takes time, patience, practice, and a calm spirit. Don’t expect miracles overnight. And never lose your cool.

Tactic 3: Stealing the Three S’s – Shoes, Slippers, Socks

Have you ever wondered why some dogs take your house guest’s shoe the moment they leave it at your front door? Or why she runs through the house with your bedroom slipper hanging from her mouth? Does your pooch confiscate more single socks than your dryer?

Could it be she gets your attention every time she takes something you’ve forbidden? In my opinion, dogs just want to love and be loved. If you make a big deal out of chasing her down when she steals something, it becomes a game and a source of attention. Use treats to reward her for not taking shoes, slippers, or socks when you put them within easy reach to tempt her. You should also ensure your dog has her own toys for entertainment.

Confession: Bitsy loves it when she finds one of my dirty socks. She does not chew it, but relishes in running away when I see it dangling from her mouth. Funny, but she never takes the clean ones!

If your dog is taking your shoes and chewing them, that is a more serious behavior issue than poor manners. I recommend reading Cesar Millan’s website for shoe chewing and other problematic behaviors.

Tactic 4: Halt Excessive Barking

It is difficult to speak with a house guest or talk to your neighbor through the back fence when your dog is overtaking the conversation with loud, obnoxious barking.

DSC_0517

As with jumping up or stealing slippers, never reward your dog with attention for unacceptable behavior. Remain calm and ignore an overly excited dog. Affection and attention should only be paid to an equally calm dog. This is much more difficult to achieve if you’ve rescued a dog that already developed the barking habit. Don’t get frustrated. Remember what I wrote at the end of Tactic 2!

I am not a fan of those barking collars. I’m not passing judgement on anyone who successfully uses them to train their dog. It’s just not my personal preference.

Tactic 5: Do Not Teach Begging!

Here is where I am going to pass judgement. If your dog begs at the table, you are one hundred percent to blame. It is an owner-created bad habit. (On my soapbox now.) If you only feed your dog dog food and healthy snacks as training aids, your dog will not beg for people food from the table. I’m not sure how I could explain that more simply or explicitly! This is a hard habit to break, so don’t go down that road in the first place. If you inherited a dog that begs at the table, then work with her to overcome the habit by ignoring it and not feeding her from the table.

Dogs are much easier to train than children, or so I’m told! Be patient. It takes time to break bad habits. Be positive. Your dog only wants to make you happy. Most importantly, start your dog out with firm boundaries and good manners from the start. That way, your family, friends, and guests will love your prized pet as much as you do. Well, almost!

Advertisements

Tips to Maintain Those Poochy Pearly Whites

Tips to Maintain Those Poochy Pearly Whites

Bitsy is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. If you know anything about Cavaliers, then you can deduce pretty quickly that brushing teeth in that small mouth is no easy feat!

Bitsy-toothy-grin

But I also know the importance of dental health in both people and pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 80 percent of dogs have at least some dental disease by age 3. Dental disease can lead to all kinds of other health problems including heart disease. No one wants that, am I right?!?

Fortunately, you have a few choices when it comes to maintaining your dog’s dental health.

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Frankly, I think brushing her teeth is the best option. You can use a human toothbrush, or there are plenty of companies out there that make a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically for a dog. The trick is to start when they are puppies and get them used to it over time.

Dental Treats Help Remove Tartar

greenie
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/homard/2613876622/in/photostream/

If you lack the time and patience to institute a brushing regimen, there are some dental chew toys for dogs which help prevent tartar buildup and support fresher breath. I will not personally recommend any one product over another, but will highlight a few so you can see the variety of choices.

Before you buy anything, take a look at this list of approved dental chews for dogs by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. The products on this list were vetted by the council and meet their standards for recommendation. Of course, no recommendation should override what you know is best for your dog. For example, if your dog is allergic to chicken, read any list of ingredients carefully to make sure the product won’t make your pup sick. There are one or two rawhide products listed which I would never give my dog in a million years because I know rawhides have made Bitsy choke in the past. And of course, another golden rule of thumb is to always be present when your dog eats or chews on a treat or toy just in case there is a problem.

The VOHC has probably not tested every dental chew out there. My list includes a few not listed, but that got pretty good online reviews from dog owners.

Here are three you could check out:

  1. Greenies
  2. Whimzees
  3. Hills Dental Chews

On a side note, feeding your dog crunchy kibbles as opposed to a soft-textured food like canned will also help keep plaque and tartar from building up on those canine canines!

Other Dental Cleaning Products

Water additives have been around for awhile and I am still learning about them and how safe they are long term on dog internal systems. They help prevent the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth, thereby reducing plaque and keeping the mouth cleaner.

Tooth and gum wipes work much the same way as an additive by killing bacteria in the mouth which leads to plaque.

A Trip to the Vet

Your veterinarian will keep tabs on your doggie’s teeth during each annual check up and alert you to dental problems. It may be necessary to take her in for a professional teeth cleaning. You can look for signs of tooth decay or tartar build-up between visits. If you happen to notice your dog’s breath getting a lot worse, that could be a sign of tooth decay too.

Remember, you wouldn’t go days, weeks, months, or years without brushing your own teeth, so don’t neglect your dog’s dental hygiene. Feel free to leave a comment below and share what products or methods you prefer for doggie dentures!

 

Easter Egg Surprise!

Weeeeeellllll…. Easter had me rising extra early. Bitsy found her way into my nephew’s chocolate stash which he had apparently hidden beneath in her dog bed while he was over on Saturday. Luckily, it looks like she only got into 2 pieces, but it was enough to cause lots of digestive upset….

So, being the dog dad that I am – I looked up what to do when it was coming out both ends… and apparently, pumpkins are the way to go. Found this vet online – http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/03/26/dealing-with-dog-diarrhea.aspx?x_cid=20160328_ranart_dealing-with-dog-diarrhea_facebookpets – she seems pretty legit. I wish it were easier to follow her blog. What do you normally feed your dog when their tummy is upset?

Despite my beautiful girl not feeling well, I got a picture of her in her Easter bandana. I love that my groomer does this. It makes me feel like it’s extra special when she goes. I’m not sure a fan of the super cropped ears though. I prefer when they leave them a little longer.

Brad Nierenberg

 

 

Don’t Buy things at 3am…

So – over the holidays I succumbed to a 3am infomercial… after 16 AAA batteries completely drained, I can say, without a doubt – Bitsy and I are completely disappointed in the KnotOut brush…

On the bright side, we’ve discovered that when we go too long without going to the groomers, Bitsy can really rock a good comb-over / pompadour.

Maybe she and I should go out on the town and I can gel my hair and we can be one of those rockabilly duos.

Brad and Bitsy

Happy Tongue Out Tuesday Everyone!

Bradley Nierenberg’s New Years Resolutions

So, I’ve been delinquent in committing to anything for New Years until today. I was reading through my facebook feed and came across a very touching article about a woman who reads to shelter dogs.

I always think to myself, “wouldn’t it be nice to have another dog” – but then I realize that it would be a lot harder to give Bitsy the time she deserves if I have to share it. So I don’t think a new dog is in my future.

However, my new years resolution is to spend more time volunteering at animal shelters. A friend of mine in PA told me they have dog play rooms at her local shelter. I think I need to do some research to see what fits with my schedule.

I know you’re probably going to think I’m nuts, but… should I be worried about getting Bitsy sick? Like, if one of the dogs there has a cold, could I transfer it to Bitsy? I hate to sound like a germphobe… but, she’s my world… I’d hate myself for getting her sick. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

IMG_7480

The Holidays and Grooming

Well, I figured since I had to shave off my goatee before going to see family, Bitsy deserved some time at the groomers’ too. This way we were both groomed for our visit home.

She looks so cute with the bowties, but this lasted a whopping 3 minutes til she got home and decided to slide face first on the rug to “scratch”. I made her sit on my front steps to get a good picture so I could show my mother that I DO try to make her pretty for visits…

Do your dogs hate having stuff put in their fur? I wish she’d tolerate this since I see other dogs at the park with them. Do you take your dogs to the groomers before visiting family?

I swear, Bitsy’s fur just gets loosened up and she sheds more after she’s been groomed. I did see this great infomercial when I was at my parent’s house for a knot free brush. I succumbed to the 3am infomercial… I’ll let you know how it goes when I get it. Bitsy always gets knots near her bum and behind her ears… it probably has something to do with the face sliding on the carpet thing…

She is my heart.

 

Mix’n it up – Cross-breeds

So, I have friends who know I’m obsessed with cavaliers. It’s good to have friends… but friends who feed my obsession are even better friends. So, a friend sent me a link on cavalier cross-breeds.

While I’m not really a designer pooch kind of guy, I have to admit, if I saw these two faces at a shelter, I’d be sunk…

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 2.29.53 PM Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 2.29.42 PM

It’s something about the ears. Plus, I think that a cross breed might shed less. I swear, since Bitsy came into my life, no shirt or pants are safe. Black, tan and white… I’ve given up trying to not look like a crazy dog dad.

Anyhow. That’s what’s on my mind. Oh! Another thing… Bitsy is not nearly as excited for the reindeer costume my sister bought for her as my sister is… I may have to try to get a picture of her in it. It’s better than the cone of shame… right?

P.S. the link for all the cross breeds was http://pinsit.com/10-unreal-cavalier-king-charles-spaniel-cross-breeds-you-have-to-see-to-believe/ in case you wanted to have a look too.