Common Sense Information on The Training and Care of Puppies and Dogs

10 Healthy Dog Tips for Very Happy Dogs & Cute Little Puppies

10 Healthy Dog Tips for Very Happy Dogs & Cute Little Puppies

Your dog’s health and happiness go together. A sick dog is miserable and unhappiness in your dog often leads to illness. Here are some tips for keeping your dog happy and healthy.

Good Dog Walks

People get bored when they are stuck in the same daily routine. The same applies to your dog. Getting out of the house for a least one walk a day is great. And varying your route is even better. When you walk your dog routinely you have the opportunity to train your pooch as well. A sedentary dog gains weight and loses muscle strength so make sure your dog gets out for at least one walk a day. But what if you’re not at home or if you have health issues that keep you from taking long walks? 

Use a dog walking service and make sure to tell them to take two or three different routes during the week so that your dog doesn’t get bored with the same streets. Another advantage of a dog walking service is that they may have other dogs, and not just your pooch, on the leash which gives your dog a chance to socialize with other dogs as well as get some exercise and explore the world.

Many municipal parks offer dog running areas. You can take Rover on a leash along the street and then let him or her run with other dogs in the park. Take along a ball or stick for playing fetch as well since this game lets you rest while your pooch gets more exercise.

How to Tell if your Dog is Overweight

If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise and is eating too much he or she will become obese. Overweight dogs become sick dogs. They live shorter lives which can potentially be filled with misery. Dog health problems related to obesity include osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, heart and respiratory disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure and cancer.

How can you tell if your dog is overweight?

 Here are a couple of tips. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs under a thin layer of fat. If you can see the ribs your dog is too skinny and if you cannot feel your dog’s ribs he or she is too fat! The same applies to the spine shoulders and hips. You should be able to feel them under a thin layer of fat and, if you can’t, you have an obese dog. When you look at your dog from the side there should be an abdominal tuck. That means the abdomen should be thinner than the rib cage. If your dog’s waist is wider than the hips or ribs he or she is massively overweight.

So, what do you do about an overweight dog? First of all, walk your dog and if you don’t have the time, utilize a dog walking service. Dogs need exercise to burn off calories. And make sure that your dog isn’t eating too much. Be careful about following the directions on the bag of dog food. Typically, dogs that eat exactly what the directions say become fat unless they are constantly active.

Exercise for Dogs

Exercise for Dogs

An active dog is a healthy dog and a happy dog. Make sure to walk your dog and if there’s an area where he or she can run free, go there and let Rover burn off calories and tone up those muscles. And if you’re into jogging, why not take your dog with you for a great workout for both of you. You may exercise to stay in shape for competitive sports like tennis and your dog can be a competitor too!

Flyball is a competitive sport for dogs. They race on a course jumping over four hurdles while holding a tennis ball in their mouth. The game is usually a relay with more than one dog per team. This can be a great workout and a lot of fun. And what about letting your dog express his internal bloodhound? Not all breeds are trackers but all dogs have a great sense of smell and can compete in competitive tracking events. Do you ever wonder why your dog repeatedly wants to investigate something to the side of the route that you are taking? Walk your dog after a light snowfall and you will see that he or she is following tracks and scent of birds, mice, etc. Tracking events can be a source of good, natural exercise for your dog. And, of course, fetching is a time honored way to give your dog exercise and get rid of home bound restlessness.

Parasite Prevention for Dogs

You may be doing everything right in terms of food and exercise but your dog can still get sick from fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. How can you avoid these problems and what can you do if your dog gets bitten?

How to Protect Dogs from Mosquitoes

Dogs have one advantage over humans when it comes to mosquito bites. They have a lot of fur. Nevertheless dogs, can get bitten and get sick. Staying away from mosquitoes helps. Avoid taking walks in swampy areas where mosquitoes breed. Do not use commercial insect repellants used for people. 


How to Protect Dogs from Mosquitoes

They will make your dog sick! Use a product like K9 Advantix which you apply to the dog’s ears, nose and areas where hair is short. It lasts a month. And if you have dogs and cats, don’t let your cat groom your dog when he has this product on him or the cat will get sick!

What happens if your dog is bitten by a mosquito? The first concern is heartworm. This parasite lives in infected animal’s hearts and circulatory systems. The mosquito carries blood from an infected animal to your dog and inoculates the infection with its bite. Other mosquito born infections include West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. However, these later infections are rare while a quarter of a million dogs in North America have heartworm infections.

Heartworm Prevention for Dogs

Your dog should be tested for heartworm every year even if taking preventative medicine. Heartworm prevention is usually achieved by avoiding mosquito bites and taking medication once every month. If your dog tests positive for heartworm it can be treated but treatment is difficult, lengthy and not always successful.

How to Protect your Dog from Ticks

How to Protect your Dog from Ticks

Tick bites are like mosquito bites in that the tick carries a disease that it transmits to your dog. The list of tick borne disease is long and includes Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and tick paralysis. 

These diseases produce symptoms in a week or two after a bite and require treatment. To prevent tick bites check your dog routinely for ticks, especially after an outing in the woods, meadows or other natural habitats. You can kill ticks on your dog with products called acaricides. Ask your vet about these. Some kill ticks on contact and others absorb into the blood stream to kill ticks that attach and feed. And, as with mosquitoes, you can use repellants to keep ticks away. The most common products are called pyrethroids. Ask your vet about these. And remind the person who walks your dog to stick to the path and not let Rover run loose through the woods and brush without checking for ticks immediately afterward.

Fleas on Dogs

Fleas on your dog are more likely to cause a rash called flea allergy dermatitis than a serve infection. But there are diseases that dogs can get from fleas. These include murine typhus, mycoplasma haemofilus, tapeworms and plague! These are also diseases that you can get from Rover if he is infected. There are topical and oral flea treatments that you can get from the vet but a more effective approach is to use a flea collar. These devices either contain a gas that repels fleas or a medication that kills fleas on contact or when they bite. Some of the ingredients in flea collars are toxic to pets if overexposed (ask your vet). So in those cases only have your pet wear the collar when romping in the woods.

Fleas on Dogs

Vaccination Schedule for Dogs

Vaccination Schedule for Dogs

Has your dog had his shots? Just like your kids, your dog needs his immunizations. In the case of vaccinations an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Always make sure when you see the vet that your dog’s shots are up to date.

Here are shots that your puppy will need in the first year of life.

Recommended shots are for distemper, measles, parainfluenza, DHPP (combined vaccines for distemper, adenovirus [hepatitis], parainfluenza, and parvovirus) and rabies.

Optional vaccines are for bordetella, coronavirus, leptospirosis and Lyme disease

The law in your state may require rabies vaccination and the diseases for which shots are recommended are ones you really need to get for your dog. But how about the other, optional vaccines? Bordetella vaccination is an optional vaccination. Bordetella causes kennel cough and is highly contagious. If your dog is around other dogs and especially if it is kenneled with other dogs this vaccination is a good idea. It is given twice a year usually and can either be an injection or via a nasal vaccine. And how about when you are on the road?

When traveling state to state and especially country to country make sure to have proof of your dog’s vaccinations for rabies as well as other shots. In fact when you travel with pets it is a good idea to plan ahead and have the names, addresses and phone numbers of two or three vets in the area where you’re going.

What Foods are Dangerous for Dogs?

Dogs like treats but not all foods are good for your puppy. In fact you should only give doggie treats to your dog. Giving them human food encourages begging and makes them fat. And there are specific foods that are dangerous for your dog. Here are foods that you really need to avoid giving to your dog.

  • Garlic and onions
    Large amounts of onions, garlic, chives and leeks are poisonous to dogs.
  • Grapes and Raisins
    Grape and raisin toxicity has been well documented in dogs.
  • Avocados
    The food is safe to eat but the risk is choking on the large seed of the fruit.
  • Macadamia nuts
    Signs of macadamia nut poisoning include muscle tremors and paralysis.
  • Chocolate
    Small amounts cause an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea while large amounts cause muscle tremors, seizures, internal bleeding and heart attack.
  • Caffeine from any source
    Signs of caffeine poisoning include hyperactivity and restlessness followed by vomiting, a fast heart rate, high blood pressure, tremors, hyperthermia, seizures and collapse.
  • Chemically treated water
    Chlorinated water in swimming pools is dangerous if the dog doesn’t have another source of water and drinks too much. Rover will get severe abdominal pain and may have difficulty breathing.
  • Artificial sweeteners
    The artificial sweetener xylitol is not dangerous to people but can send a dog into hypoglycemic shock (a precipitous fall in blood pressure) and cause liver failure.

And these plants are poisonous to dogs.

  • Holly
  • Mistletoe
  • Amaryllis
  • Daffodils
  • Lilies
  • Dieffenbachia (not poisonous but caustic and makes the tongue swell, which could block the throat)

And remember to tell your dog walking service to avoid these things and only give your dog bottled water or water that you have provided.

First Aid for Dogs

What can you do immediately when your dog gets hurt or sick? What are the basics of first aid for your pooch? Here are things you want to have handy for doggie first aid.

  • A box of cotton wool
  • A box of sterile absorbent gauze
  • Bandages – a roll of self-adhesive or crepe bandage (5cm width)
  • Conforming/open-weave bandages (2.5cm width)
  • Some non-adhesive absorbent dressings (5cm x 5cm) to cover open wounds
  • Surgical sticky tape
  • Blunt ended scissors, preferably curved
  • A thick towel
  • An Elizabethan collar (the cone shaped collar that keeps Rover from chewing and removing sutures after surgery
  • Small bottle of hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds and for inducing vomiting

What do you do when your dog is hurt? Remain calm and assess the situation before responding. If the situation is dangerous to you and others, deal with that first. Then remember that an injured animal might just bite the first person, especially a stranger, who tries to help. Staying calm and deliberative is important.

It’s a good idea to have your vet’s name and phone number on your phone or in your wallet. Contact your vet as soon as practical. Have a pen and paper handy because another phone number may be given and/or the vet or his office help will often give you several steps to follow.

If your dog is upset and is at risk of biting you or others, use one of your bandages to muzzle him or use the Elizabethan collar.

Even if a well-intentioned person offers human medication never give it to your dog.

Drive to the vet with someone else holding your dog and, if someone gets bitten, be sure to seek treatment immediately.

And when should you worry?

If your dog is weak, cannot get up, has difficulty breathing, is vomiting repeatedly or seems dull and depressed you need to take him or her to a vet and not procrastinate. If your dog is bleeding put a bandage on the wound and apply pressure. If your dog seems to have broken a bone do not try to splint it. For burns, run cold water over the burn for five minutes and call the vet. If your dog may have been poisoned call the vet. Usually you want the vet’s advice before inducing vomiting but if you need to make him vomit, ipecac works as does hydrogen peroxide (2ccs will cause a dog to vomit in 15 minutes or less).

Poison Control for Dogs

The first step in poison control for dogs is to adhere to the recommendations from our “dangerous foods” section of this article and never feed human food to your dog. And if you have a dog in the house you should avoid having holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, daffodils and lilies. And avoid dieffenbachia also known as dumb cane. This plant is not poisonous but its sap is caustic and causes the tongue to swell if your dog, or child, chews on it.

And don’t give the wrong medications to your dog. Never give your dog Tylenol or ibuprofen (Advil), but buffered children’s aspirin (80mg) is safe for dogs.

And remember that dogs are very accomplished explorers so make sure that tasty but dangerous things like rat poison are on a high shelf or preferably behind a locked door.

If your pet gets into something, try to identify what it was. If it was pills find the bottle and read the label. What was the drug and how many did Rover likely ingest? If it was a commercial cleaner or other product the approach is the same. What was it and how much did Rover ingest? Remember that for a poison to hurt your dog it needs to be absorbed from the intestinal tract. So, if you suspect a problem but your dog seems OK you still need to assess the situation and watch to see if he starts getting sick.

Once you’ve determined that your dog likely ingested something harmful you need to call a pet poison help line. These folks will help you find out if your dog ingested something dangerous and whether or not you should induce vomiting.

Do not medicate your dog unless told to by a veterinarian. Many “home remedies” can be worse than the initial problem or can make it worse.

Always have the name, phone number and address of your vet or closest pet emergency facility handy and, after first contact and instructions, take your dog in to be treated.

Drinking Water for Dogs

Repeated changes in a dog’s source and quality of water is hard on them. So give your dog clean drinking water of consistent quality. This is especially important when traveling with your dog. And make sure that your dog walker only uses the water you provide or only uses acceptable water sources when out walking your dog.

Diarrhea in Dogs

Perhaps the most common cause of diarrhea in dogs when traveling is changes in the water. City water may have way too much chlorine and hardness (mineral content) can vary greatly from city to city. Bottled water is not all that expensive (less than a dollar a gallon at Walmart) and thus is available almost anywhere. If you are out camping and hiking your dog can drink from lakes and streams that don’t have a chlorine level and are basically rain water runoff so that the mineral content is low. But when you stay at a hotel it’s best to stick with bottled water. This is a good way to avoid the most common reason for doggie diarrhea when traveling. But what else causes diarrhea in your dog and how can you prevent it?

Does your dog eat grass? How about garbage or spoiled food? There is no good reason why your dog eats these things except that he is a dog. Keep Rover away from too much roughage and clean up the mess. And if the problem occurs after dog walking make sure that your dog walker is paying attention.

But what if the problem recurs? Changes in diet may be an issue or food intolerance or allergies. Pay attention to what foods precede the problem and go to your vet if the issue persists.

More serious and or persistent problems include parasites, poisonous plants, bacterial infections, viral infections and a host of system illnesses for which you need to take your dog to the vet.

GPS Microchip for Dogs

Keeping track of a wandering dog can be a chore. If you have a large, distinctive dog like a happy St. Bernard who wanders the neighborhood, the kids down the block may simply walk him home if he seems lost. But what happens if you’re traveling and you’re separated from your dog? Or what if Rover wanders off and gets hurt and cannot make his way home? Modern electronic science has an answer. It’s the Global Positioning System. A network of satellites orbiting the earth send exact details of their positions back to earth. The system is used to track airplanes and ships and even UPS delivery trucks. And now a GPS chip can track your wandering dog. You can get a GPS chip that attaches to your dog’s collar and you can get chips that are implanted under the skin. The range of these devices varies from a hundred feet or so up to much greater distances. However, the quality of these devices and systems vary. Ask a friend who has a tracking GPS chip for their dog how it works. And you might even ask for a trial in which you have someone carry the chip out of the store to see if it tracks correctly. Some systems are set up to warn you if Rover leaves the premises which is probably better than having to track him down when he has already followed a rabbit for a mile into the woods!

Pet Insurance – Is it worth Buying for YOUR Dog?

Pet Insurance - Is it worth Buying for YOUR Dog?

Pet Insurance Is It Worth Having?

I was at my veterinarian last week for an annual exam on one of my dogs. While I was standing at the counter I started looking at the flyers and one that I picked up was for Pet Insurance. This is not the first time that I have looked at pet insurance for one or more of my dogs. Although I normally just toss these advertisements.

This time, however, I happenedpenned to stick a few brochures in my back pocket, along with the $206 (!!!) bill I’d just paid.


Pet Insurance for Dogs

It’s been a long time since I had looked at pet insurance, probably 10 years. I was surprised to find that like the rest of the health care system, much has changed. The flyer was from one of the many pet insurance companies out there.

I started Googling the Pet Insurance company on the flyer (there are just too many out there, some ‘quality check’ research had to be done). After a couple hours sifting through different options and reading a lot of their fine print, I changed my mind about the Pet Insurance world (which had evolved a lot).

"If the cost of insurance is less than the financial benefit it will provide, then it makes sense."

Here is one I can safely recommend to you – Nationwide Insurance for Pets.

Their service is great (from my own experience) and IT’S FREE TO GET A QUOTE from them. Want to know your potential fees? Click here to find out.

Pet Insurance might be worth having

Having a dog is a significant responsibility. Not only from the everyday aspects of taking care of a dog but there are also the financial requirements.  Food is one of the biggest costs of having a dog, along with treats, equipment, and hopefully some real dog parental training. (see my last post about adopted dogs).

Veterinary care for your dog can be very expensive, approximately 30% to 40% of your entire “doggie care budget”. Nationally, the average annual cost of just normal yearly vet care is around $400 (also depending on where you live).

These days, Pet Insurance can provide a buffer to some of these costs and actually save you money. For the most part each of these companies have two or three levels of coverage. You can buy Catastrophic coverage or Major Medical with some kind of Wellness program

I took the time to get “Major Medical Coverage” quotes from a couple different companies and I was pretty pleased with what I got back.

Swimming Labrodor
Copyright: actionsports

Nationwide’s Insurance came back to me with a plan for under $40 per month with just a $250 deductible. 

That would definitely have saved me money on many of my vet bills!! My dogs have experienced pretty significant injuries both in the field plus in training and competition.

Upper level dogs are no different than any other kind of human athlete. My dogs have torn their ACLs, broken bones, been badly cut, and all sorts of indescribable injuries.

If you are running high level agility trials, or Master level AKC or NAHRA tests or trials, it makes good sense for you to at least get a MAJOR MEDICAL Quote so that you can consider if it makes good financial sense to invest in coverage.

For the non-competing dogs, Wellness Care coverage would be the better option.

I then decided to get a few quotes for the “Wellness Care” and again Nationwide came back with what I thought was the best coverage and the best price, at least for me.

Most of the providers cover the same things, annual exams, vaccinations, worming etc. The care that you should be providing your dog on an ongoing basis. Where the big difference comes in is when you look at the deductibles, co-pays, and limits versus the cost of the plan.

The Nationwide insurance quotes on my boy Roz (a labrador, 6 years old) was for under $18 a month with no deductible and no co-pay – with a $400 limit per year and good for any vet in the US.

  • Physical exam:
  • Vaccinations:
  • Heartworm or FeLV/FIV test:Vet with a Golden
  • Fecal test:
  • Deworming:
  • Nail trim:
  • Microchip:
  • Health certificate:
  • Flea control or heartworm prevention:
  • One additional test: (1) Health screen (blood test) or a Radiograph (X-rays) or an Electrocardiogram (EKG)

When I added up the numbers for what we did on this visit I actually would have come out pretty well. Now my boy is already chipped. But I do go to Canada on occasion (I’m just 300 miles from Calgary) so I need to have a Vet Certificate when I cross the border.

I also don’t keep Roz on Heart worm medicine all year but I have him tested about this time of year to make sure he does not have heart worms and then I will start him on the heart worm medicine next month, just before we start to see those pesky little mosquitoes.  I did not have a fecal test this trip but I did worm him. We don’t have much for fleas in my part of Montana so I don’t worry about them.

Based on my visit and then adding up what the insurance would have paid if he was covered, I would have had a “free” visit. based on the quote that I received they would have covered up to $220.00 if the bill had been that much. For this visit I would have been at a break even when factoring in the annual cost of the pet Insurance. The annual premium for Roz would be $213.00 ($17.75 a month). However, we are not finished with the vet for the year. I have my dogs vaccinated for Bordetella , also known as Kennel Cough, two times a year. and I will worm him again about half way through the summer.

If he was a puppy I would save on having him chipped and on his X-rays at 6 months to a year on his hips, an additional savings. In my case, based on where I live and the age of my dog a wellness policy would make sense to have. And I probably will have it but because I have already been to the Vet it does not make sense for me to insure him now, I’ll wait until we are closer to our next visit. : )

Pet insurance has really changed since the last time I looked at it. It now makes financial sense for me to buy coverage for some of my dogs.

Till next time – Happy Tails!

I like Nationwide Pet Insurance policies so much that I’ve decided to highlight this insurance on my blog – I believe it has the best in terms of cost-coverage benefits.

If you find a better deal please let me know so I can check it out, too.

Dog Collars – How to Choose Correctly

Dog Collars - How to Choose Correctly

When I first started obedience training over 40 years ago everything was pretty simple. You just grabbed the old choke chain, your standard 6 foot leash, and you went to work. This was the standard back then. However we have learned a lot over the years; the world of collars and now harnesses have changed quite a bit.

Dog Collars are much different today!

Every collar has its place depending on the type of dog. What you are training for, and your own personal beliefs. In many circles collars have become a heated issue. Because I am a field dog trainer, my needs are different than many others. The training tools I use are appropriate for what I do. Many people don’t think of collars as a training tool, but they are. I think they are one of the most important tools we have.

However, like anything if used in the wrong way, a “good” tool can be a terrible choice in the wrong hands.


Lets start with the original collar that everyone used back in the old days – the choke chain.

I do believe that the choke chain, our original training collar, does have its proper place in the dog training world.

And that would be straight into the garbage can!

Even if you do use the choke collar properly (put it on the dog correctly), this collar will cause damage to your dog’s esophagus. This type of collar is very narrow, and even a mild correction slams all that pressure right on the front part of the throat. Also, I truly do believe that a dog can focus much better when it can breath!

If you are using these collars, please get rid of them and find something safer.

Thank You Petco for allowing me to use the following infographic

Not everyone trains for the same reasons. Maybe you don’t need to have your dog be able to take hand, or even use whistle commands from a couple hundred yards away. In fact, I am sure most of you don’t. So the options below are very acceptable for everyday basic obedience training and for everyday use, like going for walks etc.

Please take a good look at the infographic below; A picture is worth a thousand words!

I am not completely familiar with every one of the choices below. However, I live in an area where I see lots of dogs wearing these different types of collars and harnesses. And I am pleased to say that for the most part the dogs are happy and under control.

The most important thing to keep in mind when using these different types of “Dog Collars” is the fit. If you choose to use any of the options below make sure that you get the right size for your dog. If you have any questions find someone to help. Fit is important! Even just a plain nylon collar needs to be the proper size or it will not work properly. For example, if it is too loose it can slip off.

Keep in mind – Positive and Negative experiences are quickly imprinted in dogs! SO, if you have a collar on too loosely your dog can pull and “slip”  the collar. In other words, if your dog pulls and the collar comes off that is a positive influence and the dog might try to get the collar off for awhile.  But you don’t want it too tight either. Just snug enough to be comfortable and not able to slide over your dog’s head.

There are many styles of dog collars and harnesses to choose from depending on your dog’s size, training needs and disposition.

Use this guide to help you determine the right collar or harness for your pet.

By Petco_Charlene on Dec 10, 2015

Again I want to thank Petco for the use of this wonderful graphic I think it speaks for itself.

Before I go I did want to discuss a couple other Dog Collars

I wanted to spend a moment on the prong collar.

I do use prong collars but I use them correctly. I fully realize that many people do not believe in using these collars, however, I think if used correctly prong collars are a good training tool. Where I think the problems come in with this collar is that people use them incorrectly. The first thing to understand is that this is not a collar that you just leave on your dog. This is not a full time collar. It is a collar that you use during your training session and then it comes off. The only time that I have seen a prong collar injure a dog is if it left on the dog as a replacement for a standard nylon dog collar. This collar is a training tool, to be used just when training. What I do like about the prong collar is that it does not put all the pressure right on the throat because it wraps around the dogs neck and all the pressure is not put on front of the neck. I think you can do more damage with a nylon collar than with a prong collar. I get it, they look somewhat barbaric but they are a good tool – if properly used. The other thing that i like about the prong collar is that the “feel” of it for the dog is similar to an electronic collar so prong collars are a good choice if you are going to transition to an e-collar.


If you disagree, I understand


As mentioned above I use electronic training collars in my program. For those of you that do not like e-collars, I can say that in many ways I agree with you. In the wrong hands electronic collars can be one of the worst training tool anyone can use.

Electronic Dog Collars

However, because of the type of work that we do in the field, if someone is properly trained to use this tool, then it really makes it much easier on the dog. We really do work the dogs at some pretty long distances. Trying to teach a dog to properly run a blind out to 100 or 200 yards without an electronic collar puts too much pressure on the dog. I don’t like to be hard on my dogs and the e-collar allows me to teach the dog what it needs to do without having to be heavy handed. It is not a tool for discipline, it is to help reinforce desired behaviors. I will, in the near future, write a full article on the proper use of electronic collars but I just wanted to mention them here since they are a very useful training tool again – in the right hands and used the right way.

As you can see there a lot of choices when it comes to dog collars and it can get a little confusing at times.  Hopefully, this will clarify the options and help you make the right choice for you and your dog.

Take care, Jeff -The DogMan

Rescue Dogs The Joys and The Challenges

Rescue Dogs The Joys and The Challenges

Rescue Dogs Make Great Pets


Adopting a rescue dog is a great option if you are looking for a new best friend. However, there is a huge difference between adopting a dog and getting a puppy. Raising a puppy can be challenging enough. However many, if not most, rescue dogs display some kind of behavioral issues. In my experience most of these behaviors stem from a lack of socialization or just plain neglect and then there are those that have been physically abused. There is not a single day that I am not contacted by someone who needs help with a rescue dog.

If you are reading this and are in the process of deciding between a puppy and adopting a dog don’t let what I said above scare you off. I don’t think it is fair to stigmatize rescue dogs, they are still what they are; dogs.

Given the right kind of environment, an adopted dog can end up being one of the best dogs you will ever own.

There are many good reasons for adopting a dog

I think the act of bringing a rescue dog into your home is reason enough. Giving a dog a chance at survival compared to the other choice is just a great thing to do. Plus you get to skip the puppy phase and there are situations when that is the smart thing to do. Rescue dogs can be great pets but you have to be a great dog owner!

I used to work with the Bitterroot Humane Association taking “retriever” type dogs that they felt were not adoptable but were too nice to put down. I didn’t take a lot of them but I did several and though it took a couple months working with them, each one turned out to be nice dog and all of them did get adopted. I didn’t really do anything different with them than I do with a pup. I just put them to work. Starting right away with obedience, not to mention the crate training, housebreaking, general good doggy manners. The key is providing the right kind of environment and the right kind of leadership.

This is especially important with rescue dogs. Puppies have the chance and the time to learn the habits within the home. They get to grow into their place in the home.  Rescue dogs if they are older than around 9 months are much closer to an adult dog so it does not have this opportunity. At the same time your rescue dog may have been moved around quite bit without being able to settle into any of the places that he or she stayed. This is particularly hard on dogs as it is quite contrary to their psychological need to be part of a stable social group.

Even though there is a lot of discussion on the importance of the humans in the house being the “pack leaders” it is still the area where most problems with our canines stem from.  The social structure in dogs is very complex. However, the most important thing to understand is that dogs do best in a well structured environment, not a lot different than children. And like children, dogs need to have some responsibility within the household. This is not so much about being dominant as it is about being a leader. It is not hard to acquire these canine leadership skills you just need to make the commitment and take some time to learn these skills.

It takes a fair amount of time and effort to adopt a dog these days. Also, there is the cost of the adoption, and then all the things that go along with bringing a dog into your home. Collars, leashes, toys, beds etc. People tend to spend a lot of money on their dogs. However, the one area where people don’t invest enough is in educating themselves in how to be a better dog owner. I’m not talking about a college education in canine psychology and I am not talking about spending thousands or even hundreds of dollars. Your dog is going to be with you for years, hopefully a lot of years. Is it unreasonable to do everything you can to set the stage for success? Success for both you and your dog.  A well mannered dog is a joy, but an out of control dog can be a nightmare.

Doggy Dan can help with Rescue Dogs

There is a lot of good free information out there. I am sure you could spend the next year on YouTube watching dog “training” videos. However,  I think your better off getting your education from someone that has a true training program. And when it comes to rescue dogs I believe the program you choose should have a strong focus on behavioral training. My program is based on building quality working field dogs. That does not mean that I can’t raise a good house dog, I can and I have raised many. It also doesn’t mean that I lack the knowledge to deal with any number of behavior issues. However, I am not a trained behaviorist.

If your truly vested in having the best chance for success then I highly suggest taking a look at “The Online Dog Trainer“.


This is far from a review which I may do in the future but here are the highlights.

Daniel Abdelnoor who is known as “Doggy Dan”  is a full time Professional Dog Trainer. Dan is a Certified Behaviorist and probably most telling for me, Dan is fully endorsed by the The SPCA. 

If you are in the process of adopting a dog or have an adopted dog or any dog for that matter that is exhibiting any of the following behavior issues.

Separation Anxiety Issues
Aggression Towards Other Dogs or People
Uncontrolled Barking
Fear of Other People or Dogs
Fear of Loud Sounds (Fireworks etc.)
Problems With Submissive Urination

Then Dan’s training program might just be the answer your looking for. Everyone of the above behaviors can be corrected, but you need the right information. There is a $1 trial so you can check out the site and the training and if you decide to sign up for Dan’s program it does not have to be a long term commitment, a few months should be plenty.  The monthly cost for Dan’s program is about the same as a months worth of high quality dog food.

Make an investment in you and your dog’s wellbeing, I believe you will find that it is the best decision you ever made for you and your dog!

So You Have Your New Puppy – Now What?

So You Have Your New Puppy - Now What?

You have a new puppy – Now What?

It’s not a big question but it will require a pretty long answer. Hopefully you picked up all the things that you need prior to getting your new puppy home.

  • Food
  • Food and Water Bowls
  • Leash and Collar
  • Toys
  • Baby gate(s) if needed
  • Dog Crate
  • And you have picked a Veterinarian

If you read my previous post – “If you want a Better Dog then raise a Better Puppy


Then you know that I really focus on doing all that I can with my new dog in the first several months that I have him or her. That post was a bit more philosophical whereas this article is much more actionable.

These are the things I do when I get a New Puppy

Before I bring my puppy home I do a pretty good inspection of the house and look for potential “dangers”.  If there are areas that you do not want your pup to go in the house then use baby gates to keep them out of those areas. If you are in a home with small children, make sure that toys ( child’s toys ) are picked up and stored properly away. Also, if there are small children, especially toddlers, then there needs to be careful consideration as far as the safety of both the children as well as the puppy. Children and puppies go well together but they need to be supervised.  One thing that little children like to do is to hug puppies around the neck, to the point that the child might be chocking the puppy. Puppies will defend themselves and it is hard to blame them if they are choking. If your child is not old enough to understand then Close supervision is needed.



If your child is a little older then a chat about what is and is not proper is in order, and supervision is still warranted at least in the beginning. Children also have a habit ( tendency ) to carry food around, or a sippy cup. be sure to watch closely in these situations to make sure that your child is not slipping the puppy food and drink it should not have. Common sense should rule the day.

The first few days or so with your New Puppy

The first several days when your pup get’s home can be a little stressful for both you and your puppy.  The human stress level can certainly be lessoned with good planning. However, for the puppy there is just so much you can do.

During the first few days that I have a new pup I just let them get settled in. They are more than likely a bit anxious and they have been pulled out of their pack and placed into a new one.  So they need a few days to get settled in and relax.

Hopefully, you asked what puppy food the breeder was feeding. If you are going to change it, do it a little at a time. Switching out the food to quickly can really throw off their digestive system. So I like to change slowly. Your puppy needs to eat 3 X’s a day until 6 months. During the first day or so keep the puppy on the same food that it was being fed prior to you picking it up. Let them eat that for 2 days. Too many changes at one time causes too much undue stress. After a couple days you can do a 25/75 mixture. That is 25% of the new food and 75% of the previous food. Then you can go 50/50 and then 75/25 and then on the 4th day 100% of the new food. This is much easier on their body and mind.

Crate training a new puppy is a post all in itself.

I crate train all my dogs right from the beginning. The key things to keep in mind are these. Dogs are denning animals and even though you may have to listen to some Weep Weeping for a couple few days your dog will be much better for it. There will be crying either way so you might as well get something out of it. 


 Pick a crate that is the appropriate size for the puppies current size. If you have a St. Bernard don’t buy a giant sized crate at least not yet. I know that means that you will buy more than one crate over time but the crate needs to fit the dog. It’s not a playpen it’s a crate. There should be enough room for you to be able to put a food and water bowl in the crate and still have enough space so that the puppy can move around comfortably behind the bowls. Enough room to stand, and turn around without being too constricted. If the crate is too big then they will have more chance of going to the bathroom in the crate. Crate training is very much part of Housebreaking. I think it is the easiest way and that is after probably close to 100 dogs that I have crate trained.

I feed my dogs in their crates, in fact I do more than just feed my dogs in the crate, I teach my dogs to eat. One of the things that the pack leader does is control the food. Though our dogs are domesticated they still carry over 99% of the genes of a wolf. Their understanding of the pack is the same. In a wild pack when there is a kill the Alpha male and female get to eat first. And they eat what they want, All the animals in the pack that are below them have to wait their turn.

Black Lab Retriever Puppy

We can use some of that pack mentality with our dogs as well. I feed on a pretty set schedule, one because it helps in housebreaking but also dogs have an uncanny sense of time and if they are on a consistent schedule then they have the expectation of the next feeding time.

Right from the beginning, with my young puppies they get their food, but I only give them about 10 minutes to eat and whether they are finished or not I take their food bowl up.  You will find that after the first several days to a week, When it is feeding time your puppy will be happily following you to their crate so that they can eat. It help make the crate a happier place. Also, by feeding this way your dog will “learn” to eat when they get feed which helps avoid any eating problems later on.

I do not like to use any kind of cloth bedding or toys with my young dogs unless they are supervised. I have seen more than one dog swallow enough torn up cloth to end up having to have surgery. When they are a little older and past the teething stage then a nice soft bed is fine. I still don’t let my dogs have cloth toys, they don’t last anyway.

Something else to be aware of when they are little and still getting their puppy shots is that they are still somewhat susceptible to illnesses like Parvo and Bordetella ( kennel cough ) so just be a little cautious what dogs you let your pup come in contact with until they have had their third set of shots. I am talking about dogs you don’t know. As long as you know that the dog(s) that your new puppy has contact with have been vaccinated then that is fine. I would try to avoid the unknown dogs in those first few weeks.

After I have had my pups for a few days to a week and they are pretty settled in then we begin some puppy training. The first thing I want them to know is the leash or lead.

A plain old nylon collar is perfect and a standard 6 foot lead. It’s time to teach the puppy to walk on the lead. If you can find a collar that has a buckle, not the ones with the plastic snap connectors. they are harder to find in the small collars but if possible they are best. When you put the collar on your puppy you want it tight enough so that it can not slip off. This is very important. We don’t want to choke the dog but we want the collar snug enough that there is not possible way that if the puppy pulls on the lead that the collar comes off, slipping the collar is what we call that.

Since positive influences are quickly imprinted. We can’t let the puppy slip his or her collar. Just one time is enough for the dog to learn and then you have a dog that at least for a time will test that over and over to see if they can slip it again.


This is easier done outside but inside is ok if you have enough room. put the collar and leash on and try to take the puppy for a walk. I say try because the puppy is going to fight the leash. Encourage your pup to walk with you. when it stops to fight the collar, just stand there and hold the leash and let the puppy work it out. They might act like a fish on a line but if you just stay calm and don’t say anything and just let the puppy do what ever it is going to do he or she will stop pretty quickly. Once it quits then try walking again, with lively  encouragement. Don’t drag the puppy around, when the puppy stops or starts to fight the lead again, just stand still.  We are not teaching healing, that comes later. This is just to get the puppy to “give to the lead”. As you progress and the puppy starts to walk with you then as soon as the puppy gets out in front of you turn around and go the other way. This works quite well on a sidewalk. The first couple times you do this the puppy will probably fight it, again just stand still and let the puppy do what it is going to do until it stops and then start again. Don’t make these sessions too long, about 10 minutes should be fine.

You can do this every day if you want. But don’t over do it. Young puppies have a short attention span. It is important to keep things fun.

The other thing that I work on are puppy sits. This is not formal training just like all of this, it should be light and fun. You can do this inside. Just get down on the floor have the collar on the pup and do some sits. Since a at this age puppy is pretty small it is easy to work with. One hand holding the collar and then you can pull up just a little ( we are not lifting the front feet off the ground ) and then take your other hand and run it down the dogs back and then down its butt and then move your hand inward at the hocks making the legs collapse so the puppy sits. Be easy and make it fun, make it a game in the puppies mind. To do this correctly just as your hand comes in under their back legs and you just pull up slightly and say “sit”, “sit” in a light voice, then praise.

I don’t want your dog to be a treat junky, but an occasional little treat will help enforce the action.  If you do these 4 or 5 times a week, even a couple times a day for 5 minutes or so each time you will find that in a week or two your puppy will start to pick this up pretty quickly.


The last thing that I work on in the very early days is the recall, “Here” or “Come”. Again this is puppy training. For me and my dogs the recall is somewhat related to a retrieve. So I combine these two into one exercise when they are little. If you have a hallway where you can close the doors so you can sit at one end and the puppy has nowhere to go except in the hall or past you then that is perfect. Grab a couple socks, balled up. Since the puppy is in a hall it can’t go anywhere and so coming back to you is the only way out. Now this is very much a game and if at any time either you or the puppy are not having fun, stop.

You have your two socks, take one and move it around get the puppy excited and toss it down the hall. The puppy should chase it. If it does not don’t throw the second one we have that one for a reason. Just go get the first one and do it again. If the pup is not quite into it, then play a little keep away and get the puppy excited and then try throwing it again. The puppy will figure it out, chasing comes very natural to dogs, however, coming back does not. So now your puppy is down the hall and has the sock. Just let them be for a moment, usually they will play with it for a bit and then a couple things might happen, the puppy might loose interest. If so just go pick up the sock and start again or the puppy might decide that the sock is ok and that it now “belongs” to him or her. This is where the second sock comes in, if the puppy gets the sock and is playing with it give it a few minutes and then start playing with the second sock. Toss it up in the air bounce it off the floor, whatever you need to do to make the sock you have look more fun than the sock your puppy has. When you pup starts your way, say “here” “here” a couple time while your puppy is coming down the hall to you. When the puppy get’s to you, give it lots of praise but DO NOT try to take the sock from the puppy. Just let it hold it while you love the puppy up. Usually the puppy will drop the sock at some point, however, some dogs are a little more possessive. If so then start playing around with the other sock you have, roll it around, toss it up in the air, if you make that second sock look pretty enticing your puppy is going to drop the sock it has to try to go for the one that you have. When that happens you can then pick up the sock that the puppy had so that you now have both of them again. If you try to take the sock from the puppy it will not take long for your puppy to stop coming back to you. It’s not going to come back if it’s toy is taken away each time. Let the puppy drop the sock on it’s own then you can just repeat this until the puppy starts to loose interest at which time, it is time to stop.



These are the things that I like to do with my pups in the first couple or three weeks that I have my dog. It gives you good play time. The puppy is learning some things even if it is play and I think more importantly, it makes the puppy think. The more we can challenge that little brain the more it will develop which leads to better learning skills later in life.

This is fun time for you and your puppy, enjoy it, these days go fast.

Don’t forget to sign up for my Quick Tips, I send out a ton of additional information in my newsletters.

Till next time……

Happy Tails


Sample | DogMan’s Quick Tips

Sample | DogMan's Quick Tips

DogMan's Quick Tips This is an example of my Tips

I’m sure that you get inundated with the opportunity to sign up for any number of mailing list. I am as well and probably like you I don’t sign up for many. I though it might be nice if you could get an idea of the type of information that I send in Dogman’s Quick Tips.

 This is a copy of my newsletter,  it looks pretty much like the email would. I just pasted this into the post and fixed a little formatting but I’m sure you get the idea.

I thought it would be fair to let you see it.

Happy Tails

Jeff – Dogman

Jeff and Packer at the line - Spokane, Wa
Training Great Dogs

DogMan’s Quick Tips
Common Sense Information on The Training and Care of Puppies and Dog

Hello ALL


I hear this time and again. It is probably the most common naughty behavior that I see in the dogs that I come in contact with. So if this is something you find yourself saying them maybe this will help… 

 My Dog Doesn’t Come When I Call

Training the recall can be one of the more trying dog-training exercises we do, and many people do it completely wrong! 


Let me explain.

This is what we want to achieve: When we call our dog “here Bella” we want Bella to come running as fast as she can to us.

In order to achieve this we must make “here Bella” the best command in the world. With the best result and rewards at the end!

So here are some tips!

Never call your dog and then scold it! Even if you just spent the last half hour trying to get your dog to come to you you don‘t scold. You can undo a lot of hard work training your dog to come by having come to you be a bad experience and it only has to happen just once. 

Positive and Negative experiences are quickly imprinted in canines
Don’t ever make coming to you a negative experience. 
Again, as in all dog training you need to be consistent as far as teaching the recall. Use the same command each time. The words, here, come, come on, let’s go, etc are not the same sound to your dog. Commands are just sounds that have conditioned responses associated with them. I use the word “here” you can use whatever you want, just use the same thing every time.
If your dog has a decent recall and you are trying to make it better. The following technique should work well to strengthen the command your dog already knows.

CALL your dog to you, then
REWARD your dog within 2 seconds and then immediately

RELEASE your dog. 
You can make kind of a game out of this. One thing to keep in mind is to mix up the time you wait in between recalls. Dogs have a good internal clock. If you recall them on a regularly timed basis you might have a dog that starts to come at that time before it’s been called. Also, mix the reward up. Don’t click every time, or give a food reward, or however you reward. Mix it up.  
The other thing you need to decide in your mind, in your training program, is what “here” means. To me it means, come all the way to me until I can touch you, period. You don’t want your dog to get in the habit of “checking in” and then off they go again. 
If you are just starting to teach the recall, the method is not much different, we are just going to add some insurance.  
A long line.   
A long line is a piece of line or rope ( I like the rubber coated clothes line ) preferably around 50 feet long. You’ll take your dog out with the long line on and let it do what it wants. If your dog tends to stay by you then do your best to ignore it. Then when you dog has found something it is interested in  call your dog. I prefer that we just use the command just once but in the early stages you want to entice your dog as much as possible. When you call your dog if he/she does not come then reel them in, gently while repeating the recall command and then when the dog gets to you, reward and praise.  Just keep repeating this and in time your dog will start to respond. Don’t make the training sessions too long, maybe 10 or 15 minutes should be fine, and maybe 3 or 4 times a week.
Once they get the hang of it you can try this without the line. If you have a confined area all the better. If you dog recalls pretty well without the lead then continue to work on it off lead. If it does not go well, then go back to the lead until you think your dog is ready and try off lead once again. 

again the formula to any good recall training is:

CALL your dog to you, then
REWARD your dog within 2 seconds and then immediately
RELEASE your dog.

Again it consistency and patience and you will get there if you put in the required time. 

Till next time…

Happy Tails!
Jeff – The DogMan

Holidays – Dogs and The Grinch

Holidays - Dogs and The Grinch


Keeping your dogs safe during the Holidays

Now that Thanksgiving is over people are turning their attention to the upcoming holidays. I thought an article about how to keep your dogs, especially the young ones, safe during the holidays might be helpful at this time of the year.

You don’t have to be the Grinch but you do need to keep your dogs safe over the holidays

There are 3 Things to be aware of…

The first is food.

As you decorate one of the things that you might be doing is placing bowls of treats around your home. Many holiday goodies are poisonous to dogs. Anything with caffeine needs to be kept away from your dogs. Things like chocolate and anything else with coffee (caffeine) are dangerous for dogs.

Also many candies these days have artificial sweeteners in them, Xylitol, which is found in many candies as well as gum is toxic to dogs. So be very careful with with any candies that you might put out. Sugar is fine but no Xylitol.

Nuts are another common item that are put out for snacking on. Most nuts are fine, however,  Macadamia nuts, Walnuts and since these many times go together, Raisins are also toxic.

So just use common sense when it comes to these foods. Watch your dogs and when it comes to puppies, I would suggest that you not let them have access to areas where they might be able to get to any of these food items.

The second thing are certain plants

There is a wide misconception that Poinsettias are poison, they are not. They can cause slight skin irritation but otherwise they are fine. So go crazy with the Poinsettias.

However, the following is a list of very common plants that we use doing the holidays are quite toxic for dogs.

  • holly
  • mistletoe
  • amaryllis
  • daffodils
  • lilies

Each of these plants are very dangerous to dogs. Be sure to keep these out of the reach of your four legged friends. Be especially aware of your dogs behavior during the holidays. If you observe anything out of the ordinary, throwing up, acting drugged or sleepy. Respiration can be another sign of distress. If you think that your dog might have ingested any of these things, call your Vet. Do your best to determine what it might have been but call the Vet. Mistletoe will kill your dog, don’t wait.

Holiday Wreath

If you happen to catch your dog in the act of eating any of these things, try to figure out how much he or she consumed and then get your dog to vomit as quickly as possible. Hydrogen Peroxide works very well, it will not hurt your dog, it is cheap, I always have it on hand. It is given orally and the general dosage is one CC ( ml.) per pound but do not give more than 40 CC’s total regardless of how big the dog is. If you live in an area where you can get a syringe, any feed store that caters to cattle should have syringes. Otherwise a turkey baster works ok too just don’t give too much.

Here is a link to some additional information on using Hydrogen Peroxide to make a dog vomit.

I just went through this about 2 years ago. I was renting a house and was gone for a few weeks.  I asked my landlord to check on the house while I was gone. While she was there she placed mouse/rat poison blocks out around my house. She didn’t tell me, and don’t ask me why, she has dogs and she knew I had my dog. Anyway, I get home with the dogs and go in the house and I barely get my bag on the floor and I see Roz, my current Lab chowing down on some green thing. My dogs don’t get a lot of treats, and they don’t get anything like this. It kind of looked like one of the dental chews. So I grab this thing out of his mouth and I quickly start looking around and I found another one. So I’m like oh $?&#!!!

I could tell that it was some kind of poison bait but the little green block didn’t have any kind of information other than “Keep away from domestic animals” I immediately called my landlady, and though she could not tell me what exactly the product was she told me where it was on the shelf at the hardware store.

I grabbed a syringe and the Hydrogen Peroxide and squirted about 10 CC’s down his throat. Fortunately he was very cooperative and puked up everything he had in his stomach within about 10 minutes.

poison in Vomit
poison in Vomit

I know they are not pretty but you can see the green pieces in the pictures.

Once we got finished getting this stuff out of his stomach we headed for the vet. I just happened to have to go past the offending hardware store so I stopped so I could see what poison I was dealing with. I was figuring it would be one of the anti-coagulant but no, it was Bromethalin.

I know they are not pretty but you can see the green pieces in the pictures.

Once we got finished getting this stuff out of his stomach we headed for the vet. I just happened to have to go past the offending hardware store so I stopped so I could see what poison I was dealing with. I was figuring it would be one of the anti-coagulant but no, it was Bromethalin.

There are no tests to diagnose Bromethalin poisoning in pets. The signs of poisoning include include severe muscle tremors, fits, extreme sensitivity to being touched, seizures that appear to be caused by light or noise. However, the symptoms can be delayed for several days. There is no antidote for Bromethalin.

Sorry, I digressed, however, my point here is that you have to be prepared. If I had not had the Hydrogen Peroxide, I very well could have lost my boy.

Here is the list of symptoms to look for in a dog that has eaten Mistletoe.

• Drooling  • Vomiting  • Diarrhea   • Abdominal pain • Hypotension  • Walking drunk  • Collapse  • Seizures  • Death

Not a lot of difference in the end…… Please be prepared for the holidays, really for every day of the year.

Lastly as far as food I think it goes without saying no alcoholic beverages for the dogs.

The last thing we need to be aware of are the decorations themselves.

Lot’s of fun shiny things for Holiday dogs

While you are stringing the lights and setting up the tree one thing to watch for is where you run the electric cords. This is not as much a problem with the older dogs unless you have one that really likes to chew. However, for puppies electric cords are very enticing. And those little puppy teeth can go right through those rubber cords. Electrocution is not pretty, so be careful with the cords.

Then we have the tree. I have seen more than one Christmas tree pulled over by a dog. With all those pretty ornaments and candy canes etc., the tree is a puppies dream. Don’t leave a puppy alone with your tree even for a second. If you have raised children through the terrible two’s then you understand, when I say things can happen in the blink of an eye. This is just one of the reasons that I prefer people not get puppies during the holiday season, but that is a subject for a different post. Don’t shuffle your puppy off to solitary confinement – but at the same time be careful where your pup goes.

Dogs and Holidays can co-exist quite nicely

All it takes is a little preplanning and common sense and you, your family and your dogs can enjoy a fun and safe holiday season.

Happy Tails


If you want a better Dog then Raise a better Puppy

If you want a better Dog then Raise a better Puppy

Black Lab Retriever Puppy


If you have been to my site before then you will see that I have rearranged a few things. I removed and turned what had been my first post into a page. It’s not published yet but soon.

So to replace that first post I think this is the most appropriate thing that I can write. When I used to do the sporting shows my demonstration was titled  If you want a better dog then raise a better puppy.  It would be impossible for me to get all the information from that demo in a single post. It was a two hour demonstration.

However, what I would like to talk about, is the importance of the first 6 months for you and your dogs life.

You will hear me say how really nice it is to have a well mannered, mentally healthy, happy dog. And that is easily possible but it takes some effort and patience and it begins the first day that your new best friend lands on your doorstep.

The only way to raise a better puppy is to have a well thought out strategy

You only get this time ONE TIME don’t let it pass without putting it to good use. And it does not matter what breed of dog it is this goes for all dogs

It is amazing how many people that I run into that still believe that you really can’t start training a dog until it get’s to be some predetermined age. That is not the case, you can and you should begin training just about as soon as you get your new pup.

Star a female Golden Retriever Puppy

In future posts I will get into specific topics like housebreaking, walking on a leash etc.  This article is a little more about general things that you can do to make sure that you really do raise a better puppy.

First thing is to make sure that you choose well. Take time to decide what breed and gender, don’t buy on emotion choose your pup based on conscious choices.

Make sure that you have everything ready before you get your pup home. A kennel ( crate ), collar, leash, dog food, toys, baby gate if needed. make sure your house is safe from exposed electric cords that are easy to get to, no items that could be poison to a dog. Imagine letting a 3 year old child loose in your house for about an hour and then you will see things differently.


Develop a plan for how you are going to raise the pup. Do you know how you are going to housebreak your pup, do you have a schedule worked out. Young puppies can not be ignored. They need to eat 3 x’s a day, they need play time, as much outdoor time as possible, and then there are the training related items to consider. What do you want your puppy to know, sit, here/come, down, wait, etc. You need to have a plan as far as what and how you are going to train your pup. Have you chosen a veterinarian?

Have the mindset to Raise a Better puppy

In future posts I will get into specific topics like housebreaking, walking on a leash etc.  This article is a little more about general things that you can do to make sure that you really do raise a better puppy.

First thing is to make sure that you choose well. Take time to decide what breed and gender, don’t buy on emotion choose your pup based on conscious choices.

Make sure that you have everything ready before you get your pup home. A kennel ( crate ), collar, leash, dog food, toys, baby gate if needed. make sure your house is safe from exposed electric cords that are easy to get to, no items that could be poison to a dog. Imagine letting a 3 year old child loose in your house for about an hour and then you will see things differently.

In my training program there are two major areas that need to stay consistent.  The first is how you treat your dog. I can sum up in four words how my dogs are treated: Firm, Fair, Consistent and Patient.

Firm does not mean heavy handed, firm does not indicate any type of capitol punishment whatsoever. Firm means just what the definition says – in a resolute and determined manner.

Chocolate Labrador Puppy trying to retrieve a training dummy

Somebody is going to lead the pack, with my dogs it needs to be me. I have certain expectations based on age appropriate abilities. So I treat my dogs in a resolute and determined manner.

You have to be fair with your dogs. This is no different than how I try to treat the people in my life. Everybody, including the dogs get treated with fairness. If I’m having a bad day, I don’t take it out on my dogs any more than I take it out on my kids or my wife. If my dogs are having a bad day I don’t tell them to do things that would be unfair at that moment. Yes dogs have bad days too.

Consistency is very important, in everything you do with your dog. Schedules are important, the feeding schedule, when you take your pup outside, how you communicate with your dog. The need to be consistent can not be overstated.

The last one is patience. Remember these little guys are not born knowing stuff. They need to be taught, to be nurtured. Having a good plan will help, but things happen. Shoes get chewed as does furniture. There will probably be some mistakes when it comes to housebreaking. All manner of things are possible and you need to be patient. You don’t get to hit your dog, yelling at your dog does no good either. You want your dog to trust you, You want to develop a close relationship with your dog. Patience is a definite virtue when it comes to raising a dog.

The second major area that I focus on with my younger dogs is time.

I would like to encourage you to spend as much time with your dog as you possible can in that first 4 months, assuming you get your dog when it is around the 8 week old period. The first six months of a dogs life is really critical. Take advantage of it. Do everything that you can with your pup. Expose him/her to everything you can. Start your training soon after your pup gets home and settled in.  Start with some lease training, work on some puppy sits. The more that you can expose and challenge your pups little mind the better your dog will develop.

If you take the time to raise a better puppy, then I can assure you that you will end up with a much better dog!

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