Top 10 Things to Teach Your Dog

Top 10 Things to Teach Your Dog

After falling in love with a dog that melted your heart at the local shelter or carefully selecting a puppy from the breed-specific rescue, you’re now faced with some very real challenges at home. What’s the quickest path to making your new bundle of joy a member of the family with whom it’s a joy to live? Your pup will be developing habits each and every day, so begin on day one to train the behaviors listed below.

1. Housetraining

From day one, the key words are containment, both short-term and long-term, and reward opportunities. Confinement in a crate for night-time and in a small area during the day with an indoor sod tray or puppy pad is essential for errorless housetraining until your pup earns more space in your house. Ample opportunities for elimination with food rewards will have your dog looking forward to getting onto the leash to go to the chosen spot in your yard to eliminate and get a yummy treat.

2. Handling and Good Manners at the Veterinarian and Groomer

Your pup should be handled often, starting at 4 weeks of age if that is possible. Visit your puppy frequently and get a head start on the human-animal bonding process with all the members of your family. If your puppy comes home at 8 weeks or later, handle, massage every inch of your puppy, and hold your puppy often. In addition to regular snuggling, pretend you and your pup are at the groomer or vet and practice puppy calmness while you examine toes, ears and mouth with your puppy standing safely on a raised surface.

3. No Bite!

Start on day one to let your pup know in a dog-friendly way that puppy biting is not OK with you. Discontinue playing or handling your pup each and every time you feel teeth on your skin – draw away from your pup or put him on the floor immediately as you make a disappointed sound with your voice. Wait for five seconds, and then resume calm play and handling as if nothing had happened. Your dog will learn that everything, especially fun, stops if he bites!

4. Socialization

Expose your dog to anything and everything you think he may experience later in life – 100 New Things in the First 100 days! Learning to be a social butterfly is the most important thing your dog will ever learn. Socialize early and frequently to all types of people, other dogs and moving objects. Ultra-socialize your puppy to children of all ages, men and strangers and with lots of other dogs of all shapes and sizes. Socialize to skateboards, bicycles and joggers and to all types of situations too.

5. Appropriate Chew Toy Training

Chew items are your friends. Provide a nice variety of safe chew and food toys to help stop puppy biting, to save your furniture, and to teach your puppy self-calming and how to be happy on his own. Up to five months of age and perhaps for a lifetime, your dog will be hunting about for things to chew. Chewing dulls the pain of teething, keeps a pup busy and very importantly, it relieves stress. If you don’t give your puppy something to do, you can be certain, he will find something to do!


This article was published by Linda Michaels, on Victoria Stilwell’s website. To read the full article please follow this link:www.positively.com

Destructive chewing!

Destructive chewing!


Chewing is essential for maintaining the health of your dog’s teeth, jaws, and gums. Puppies especially have a strong need to chew to relieve the irritation and inflammation of teething. Dogs chew to relieve anxiety and boredom, as well as for entertainment. Your dog’s jaws are his tools for carrying objects and for investigating its surroundings. Essentially, a dog’s approach to all items in his environment is “Can I chew it?”

Chewing is Normal, Natural, and Necessary

Dogs generally sleep at night and in the middle of the day. However, chewing is your dog’s primary form of entertainment during his morning and late afternoon activity peaks. After all, there are only so many things your dog can do when left at home alone. He can hardly read a novel, telephone friends, or watch the soaps! Indeed, most chewing sprees stem from your dog’s relentless quest for some form of occupational therapy to pass the time of day when left at home alone.

Chewing is a perfectly normal, natural, and necessary canine behavior. Prevention and treatment of destructive chewing focus on management and education — to prevent your dog from chewing inappropriate items and to redirect your dog’s natural chewing-urge to appropriate, acceptable, and resilient chew-toys.

Prevent Destructive Chewing

When leaving home, confine your puppy-dog to a long-term confinement area, such as a single room—your puppy-dog’s playroom—with a comfortable bed, a bowl of water, a doggy toilet (if not yet housetrained), and nothing to chew but half a dozen freshly-stuffed chew-toys. Housetrained adult dogs may be confined (with their chew-toys) to a dog crate. When you return, instruct your dog to fetch his chew-toys so you can extricate the freeze-dried liver pieces and give them to your dog. Your dog will happily settle down and entertain himself with his chew-toys as soon as you leave in the morning, and he will be more inclined to search for chew-toys when he wakes up in anticipation of your afternoon return. This is important since most chewing activity occurs right after you leave home and right before you return.

When you are home, confine your puppy to his doggy den (crate) with nothing but a freshly-stuffed chewtoy for entertainment. Every hour on the hour (or at longer intervals with housetrained adult dogs), take your puppydog to her doggy toilet (see Housetraining blueprint), and if she goes, praise her and play some chewtoy games with her before putting her back in her crate with a freshly stuffed chewtoy. The purpose of confinement is to prevent your dog from chewing inappropriate items around the house and to maximize the likelihood your dog will develop a chewtoy habit.

Redirect Chewing to Chew-toys

The confinement schedule described above optimizes self-training; your dog will train herself to chew chewtoys. In fact your dog will soon become a chewtoyaholic. With a good chewtoy habit, your puppy will no longer want to destroy carpets, curtains, couches, clothes, chair legs, computer disks, children’s toys, or electrical cords. Your dog will be less likely to develop into a recreational barker. And also, your dog will happily settle down calmly and quietly and will no longer be bored or anxious when left alone.

You must also actively train your dog to want to chew chewtoys. Offer praise and maybe a freeze-dried liver treat every time you notice your dog chewing chewtoys. Do not take chewtoy chewing for granted. Let your dog know that you strongly approve of her newly acquired, appropriate, and acceptable hobby. Play chewtoy games with your dog, such as fetch, search, and tug-of-war.

Chewtoys should be indestructible and nonconsumable. Consumption of non-food items is decidedly dangerous for your dog’s health. Also, destruction of chewtoys necessitates their regular replacement, which can be expensive. However, compared with the cost of reupholstering just one couch, $70 worth of chewtoys seems a pretty wise investment.

Kongs, Biscuit Balls, Big Kahuna footballs, and sterilized long-bones are by far the best chewtoys. They are made of natural products, are hollow, and may be stuffed with food to entice your dog to chew them exclusively.

To prevent your dog from porking out, ensure that you only stuff chewtoys with part of your dog’s daily diet (kibble or raw food). Firmly squish a piece of freeze-dried liver in the small hole in the Kong, fill the rest of the cavity with moistened kibble, and then put the Kongs in the freezer. Voila, Kongsicles! As the kibble thaws, some falls out easily to reinforce your dog as soon as she shows interest. Other bits of kibble come out only after your dog has worried at the Kong for several minutes, thus reinforcing your dog’s chewing over time. The liver is the best part. Your dog may smell the liver, see the liver, (and maybe even talk to the liver), but she cannot get it out. And so your dog will continue to gnaw contentedly at the Kong until she falls asleep.

Until your dog is fully chewtoy-trained, do not feed it from a bowl. Instead, feed all kibble, canned food, and raw diets from chew-toys, or hand-feed meals as rewards when you notice your dog is chewing a chew-toy.

If you would like better insight into your dog’s chewing psyche, read chapter 3, “It’s All Chew Toys to Them,” in The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson. If you require a more detailed description of chewtoy training, read our Chewing booklet and BEFORE You Get Your Puppy, and watch the Training The Companion Dog Video II: Behavior Problems & Household Etiquette. To chewtoy train your dog, you need a dog crate, a number of hollow chewtoys, and some freeze-dried liver treats.


This article was written by Dr. Ian Dunbar;  Published in 2004 by Dr. Ian Dunbar: James & Kenneth Publishers

Dr. Ian Dunbar PhD, BVetMed MRCVS

Veterinarian, animal behaviorist, and dog trainer, Dr. Ian Dunbar received his veterinary degree and a Special Honors degree in Physiology & Biochemistry from the Royal Veterinary College (London University) plus a doctorate in animal behavior from the Psychology Department at UC Berkeley, where he researched the development of social hierarchies and aggression in domestic dogs.

Biking with your dog?

Biking with your dog?

Every dog needs exercise!

Some owners go for regular walks during the day, others will take their dogs to a park and play fetch games with them. There are also some who take their dogs to dog parks and let them play with other dogs, while they get to socialize with dog owners. Some people love running with their dogs and that is what I used to do until I twisted and broke my ankle last summer. My dogs weren’t too impressed with their new lack of exercise… and decided to cause me some grief in their spare time. Digging holes in our backyard, destroying toys in a matter of seconds while unattended and play-fighting to a point of snapping at each other.

I quickly came to realize that I needed to get them occupied in a meaningful way despite my crippled leg. At the beginning, driving to the park and playing fetch worked just fine, especially with Lutz and his never-ending desire to chase after a ball. Funny side story: one day my wife Marie Therese took our kids and Lutz to the playground adjacent to the baseball field where I play fetch with Lutz.  My wife had her hands full with the kids and suddenly realized that Lutz was no longer at the playground! She called him several times to no avail as he wasn’t anywhere to be found. She headed toward the baseball field where she saw Mr. Lutz playing fetch with a man and his ball, while the man’s dog sat and watched. Lutz came over to her side after being called wagging his tail. The kind gentleman, stated that he had a blast playing with Lutz as his own dog (a little Shitzu) didn’t really have any drive to chase after the ball. It just goes to show that Lutz would even go and play with strangers to satisfy his ball drive!

Anyways, when I became somewhat mobile but still unable to run, I decided to teach Lutz and Nika some basic positioning skills for accompanying me on a bike ride. Nika wasn’t much of a challenge as I’ve had her since she was a puppy and she fully understands what it means to heel. Lutz on the other hand caused me to almost drive myself into a parked car. I realized that I had to take some baby steps in teaching him how to properly heel beside my bicycle. Here is how I started:

  1. Walk slowly beside the bicycle while on leash (it took me a few days to get him used to not running in front of my bike). I did lots of reps in a straight line to ensure that Lutz understood what was expected of him.
  2. Lutz heels on my left side by default so I decided to take him for his first slow jog around the block, selecting only right turns in order to avoid the possibility of him cutting me off. He did great and actually quite enjoyed himself. I decided to keep on going at that pace for a while to do some proofing with Lutz, while still leading him on-leash.
  3. Several weeks passed and I decided it was time to change the route on Lutz and take him for a first slow jog while off-leash. I need to say there have been better days!
  4. A few days later I returned to off-leash practice while riding on my bicycle only to find out that Lutz was ready for the challenge. I was able to speed up significantly to a point of a full gallop for Lutz while riding through our neighbourhood and expose him to unexpected cat sightings, which for Lutz are usually very exciting, if you know what I mean. Regardless of the distractions he still heeled beside me off leash.

At this stage, I can take both Lutz and Nika with me for a nice bike ride without worrying about colliding with them. It is a huge improvement from one month ago and an enjoyable form of exercise for the dogs and I.


Written by: Andy Krzus

The ‘Place’ command, a handy trick

The ‘Place’ command, a handy trick

Aunt Florence walks through the front door in her Christmas best, only to be bowled over by  Rover, your beloved, overgrown dog who is trying to say “hello”. Does this sound familiar?

We are currently in the thick of the holiday season and many of us will be entertaining guests at our house. You may enjoy your dog greeting you excitedly when you come through the door, however, your guests may not be as thrilled with this sort of welcome.

In this article, I would like to explore a practical trick to teach your dog, it’s called the “place” command. It teaches your dog to stay on top of a “place object” for a period of time until released by you. At the same time, it improves concentration skills and self control.

Here are a few steps to teach the “place” command:

Step 1

  • First of all, make it a fun game for your dog and have his favorite treats on hand.
  • In the initial steps of learning, try to eliminate unnecessary distractions (such as children, other pets or toys on the floor etc.)
  • Instead of spending 30-45 minutes of continuous training with your dog, split it into 3-5 sessions per day of 5 minutes each.
  • Choose a “place object” that your dog can comfortably fit on, such as a floor mat or dog bed.
  • With your dog at your side place a small treat on top of the “place object” and invite him to go to his “place” while pointing to it. When he gets there he will be able to get his treat.
  • Repeat this exercise as many times as it takes for your dog to learn what you want from him. It takes a dog 30-80 repetitions to learn a new command, so be patient.
  • Important note: your dog gets rewarded only while on top of his “place”.

Step 2

  • Ask your dog to go to his place without placing a treat on it and reward him immediately when he gets on top of it (we’re not working on duration yet).
  • Start introducing distance gradually by taking a step or two away from the place.
  • Once you’re standing farther away you can simply toss the treat on top of the place, next to your dog instead of walking toward him.
  • Try this fun variation: Once they learn the “place command” you can also use it outdoors on benches, stumps, large rocks etc.

Step 3

  • Gradually introduce duration. Most dogs are conditioned to the “good dog” phrase; therefore, we can use it to reinforce duration by saying: “good place” while giving them a treat.
  • Make sure you use a release marker, such as “yes”, “break” or “free” when you are ready for them to leave their place.
  • It’s up to you to determine how long you would like your dog to stay in their place.

How long will it take to see results? Your dog should be able to learn this command in 1-3 days, after that comes repetition and reinforcement.  Please be mindful that the results will be directly related to the amount of time you are willing to invest in training your dog. Remember to keep it fun and with a little bit of practice each day, you can make Aunt Florence say “Wow” this Christmas, when she walks through the door.


Written by Andy Krzus