5 Common Dog Training Mistakes and What to Do Instead

From my first day working with Pixie, I knew I’d have my work cut out for me. Like most shelter dogs, we didn’t know her background, but it was clear that this six-year old terrier mix hadn’t had it easy.

She didn’t know her basic cues like ‘sit,’ ‘down,’ and so on, but someone had certainly tried to teach her some life skills, and my guess was they’d done so using pain, fear, and intimidation. In the beginning, I couldn’t get close to Pixie, let alone get her to trust my attempts to lure her into simple positions.

After several visits, Pixie finally began to relax. When we were able to start work on our cues, I selected hand targeting (where the dog chooses to touch their nose to the palm of your hand) and ‘sit’ as easy, confidence-building tasks that could help us lay a good foundation for future training.
It’s not that Pixie was dumb. Months down the road, she would be playing dead to my finger-gun “bang” cue and weaving around poles. She was shut down, and afraid of my response to her getting a request wrong.

Working with Pixie, I became very aware of the dog training traps that are so easy for even a professional to fall into. In the beginning of our work together, my mistakes could lead to confusion from Pixie that would lead a backslide that could force us to start all over again. Whether your dog is a learning machine or needs extra care and time like Pixie, these common dog training mistakes are good ones to avoid.

1. Impatience

Every dog learns at their own pace and it doesn’t do you, or them, any good to set a timeline for how quickly they should pick up a new skill.

Be patient! The skills will come.

2. Expecting too much too soon

Along the same lines as general impatience, this one is common. I like to think of building a dog’s ability in any particular cue as equivalent to a child’s journey through school.

What I mean by that is, you wouldn’t expect a 9-year-old learning addition and subtraction to go on to the advanced algebra that kids several years their senior are doing.

Similarly, just because you’ve taught your dog to come when you call inside the house (2nd grade level) doesn’t mean they’ll be able to come when you call at the dog park (college level). To get them to the college level, you need to build their skills through grade school, middle school, and high school levels.

In other words, you need to slowly increase the challenge, building your dog’s ability to succeed in more and more difficult situations over time.

3. Bribing instead of training with rewards

We know from scientific research that rewards-based training is the most effective way to teach new skills.

When the dog sees what is in store for them, they are likely to offer whatever behavior they think might win them the treat. However, when the treat isn’t present, the behavior falls apart.

But there is a right and a wrong way to use those rewards. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when teaching a new cue? They hold a visible treat in their hand while asking the dog to complete an action.

When the dog sees what is in store for them, they are likely to offer whatever behavior they think might win them the treat. However, when the treat isn’t present, the behavior falls apart.

Instead of holding the treat in front of your dog before they complete a cue, it should appear after in a sequence of action-and-consequence. For instance, the dog sits, and the treat appears as a reward from out of the blue.

4. Yelling or using a raised voice

Dogs, like children, are much happier to respond to a request when it is spoken with excitement and happiness.

An angry tone or raised voice, on the other hand, might indicate that you are already angry with them and cause the dog to avoid you at all costs. I see this happen most often at the dog park, where guardians screaming at their dogs are less likely get their dogs to come than those calling out with joy.

5. Using physical corrections

Using your strength to correct your dog’s behavior will never have the desired effect.

Not only does physical force typically backfire as a long-term management strategy, but it frequently results in a fearful or withdrawn dog.

As a professional dog trainer, I understand just how frustrating dog training can be! However, taking that frustration out on the dog will only make the situation worse.

What to do instead

Consistency, positivity, and reinforcing good behavior with rewards is the key to a well-trained dog. For further tips, see: 3 Training Exercises to Perfect Your Dog’s Manners for Life.

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Netflix’s “Pet Fooled” Reveals The 10 Big Secrets The Pet Food Industry Is Trying To Hide

Earlier this year, a documentary called Pet Fooled made its debut with an aim to expose the secrets and lack of transparency in the pet food industry. Marketed toward humans, but made for consumers who can’t speak (our dogs and cats), pet food companies have learned how to navigate through verbiage and loopholes. The end result is a product that’s cheap and easy for them to make, while buyers are promised that they’re giving “quality,” “healthy,” and “nutritious” food to their pets.

Insights and knowledge are shared by multiple interviewees, including Dr. Karen Becker of Mercola Healthy Pets, Dr. Barbara Royal, founder of The Royal Treatment Veterinary Center and Oprah Winfrey’s veterinarian, Susan Thixton, founder of Truthaboutpetfood.com.

Trailer for Pet Fooled:

There are a few major takeaways from this documentary that every pet parent should know. Here are 10 harsh truths about the pet food industry, exposed by Pet Fooled :

1. The vast majority of the pet industry is monopolized by 5 major companies.

Despite the fact that there are thousands of brands for different foods, toys, and products, only 5 major companies account for most of the $60+ billion industry – and that’s just in America. The overwhelming monopoly means that these companies dictate the bulk of commercial pet products, including what’s in them, how to produce them, and how to increase profits.

Image Source: Screen Shot via Pet Fooled

2. A massive and deadly recall in 2007 made consumers lose trust in the industry.

You may remember being part of the widespread panic of pet parents after contaminated wheat gluten killed thousands of cats and dogs. The culprit was melamine, a toxic chemical used in plastic and foam products that causes renal failure when consumed. Although multiple pet products and brands were affected, it was discovered that the tainted ingredient came from a single company located in China. This made consumers seriously question the health and safety of their pet’s food.

3. Our dogs’ DNA is 99.9% identical to wolves, so they require the same nutrition.

Biologically, dogs are nearly identical to wolves, with the small percentage of differing DNA accounting for all the different types of breeds that we know today. Dr. Karen Becker compares dogs’ variety of appearances to humans having different eye, skin, and hair colors, heights, builds, etc. Just because we look different, we’re all humans with the same basic nutritional needs – and the same goes for dogs, whose diets should resemble their wild cousins.

In the film, Dr. Royal comments that her 12-year-old dog doesn’t look his age due to his excellent diet of raw foods. / Image Source: Screen Shot via Pet Fooled

4. Every species requires a certain diet to fulfill their biological needs – and most pet foods miss the mark.

In the documentary, Dr. Becker talks about species-appropriate diets, meaning that each animal has a biological need for certain nutrients. While many wild animals will simply avoid the foods that are unnecessary for their bodies (she uses the example that if you give a snake a salad, it won’t eat it and will just die), our domesticated friends have been forced to consume additives and fillers. Cats and dogs are designed to be carnivores, and while they’re resilient, the nutritional deficiencies of their diets manifest themselves in a myriad of health problems.

Image Source: Screen Shot via Pet Fooled

5. When it comes to our pets’ declining health, grains are a huge culprit.

Dr. Barbara Royal points out that the overuse of processed grains like corn and wheat are a cheap way for companies to add “bulk” to their foods, but provide little nutrition for our four-legged friends. The consumption of these low-quality grains, she believes, is the cause for the widespread obesity, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and allergies that afflict our pets. 

6. Kibble was an invention of the pet food industry during World War II, and it has led to some serious consequences.

During the war, there were rations on meat and tin. Up until then, packaged pet food was in cans, meaning it had a higher moisture content similar to their species-specific diets (in other words, fresh meat that they killed). But when meat became limited and tin reserved for ammunition, the pet food industry knew they had to formulate a convenient type of pet food that they could package in a bag – dry kibble. Now that this dry food is the norm, pets live in a state of chronic mild dehydration, and rates of kidney disease, organ failure, and diabetes have skyrocketed among pets.

Image Source: Screen Shot via Pet Fooled

7. The dietary advice from your vet may be influenced by the major pet food companies.

In the film, Dr. Karen Becker points out that the major pet food brands have a large part in funding vet students, therefore influencing their education. She and Dr. Royal point out that there’s a huge lack of education surrounding raw diets, and they’re taught to promote the big-name brands in the industry. What’s more, the doctors say that many modern vets have learned to discourage raw diets because of potential pathogens and bacteria. But in reality, our pets’ systems are designed to digest this material, in part with a high stomach acidity pH of 1. After all, Dr. Becker points out, dogs eat poop and lick their butts on a regular basis – behaviors that could kill a human. While any food brand is susceptible to being recalled (humans make mistakes, after all) raw food companies tend to make smaller batches, and make them with more care.

Image Source: Screen Shot via Pet Fooled

8. The people that set the standards for pet food have more to gain from profits than your pet’s health.

AAFCO – or the Association of American Feed Control Officials – is the organization that sets all the standards for pet food, including nutrient ratios, ingredient allowances, and the terminology that’s allowed on packaging. While this group works with the FDA, it is not government regulated. AAFCO also doesn’t approve products for safety, that’s where the FDA comes in.

AAFCO holds a yearly conference to update pet food standards, and according to Pet Fooled, representatives from major pet food companies attend the meetings so they, too, can weigh in. The danger is that these companies can define terminology and slip through loopholes in order to benefit their profits.

9. The terminology on pet food packaging is NOT what you think.

As mentioned above, AAFCO is responsible for defining terminology on packaging. For instance, your dog’s beef “dinner,” “nuggets,” or “formula” only have to contain 25% meat. If your cat’s food is labeled as “chicken with salmon,” the word “with” may only represent 3% meat. And the label “flavor” is the worst – “flavored” foods don’t have to contain any real meat at all. What’s more, foods with added colors are made to appeal to humans – your pets can’t even see the different hues when the food is dyed.

You also may have looked for protein percentages on your pet’s food. While this is a good place to start, that protein may not be meat. It could have been derived from wheat flour or gluten that’s been fortified with protein.

Image Source: Screen Shot via Pet Fooled

10. By-products are the result of processed animal carcasses from unknown sources.

Meat by-products and meals are commonly found in pet foods. They’re the result of what’s leftover when animal carcasses – feathers, hooves, teeth, and all – are boiled down and processed into a powder. But the most disturbing part is where the corpses could have come from: leftovers from slaughtered farm animals, road kill, diseased animals, and euthanized animals are all examples of what’s being rendered.

According to the National Renderer’s Association, putting the recycled carcasses in pet food is necessary because… well.. where else would they dispose of them?

So, now what?

In the documentary, Doctors Becker and Royal are strong advocates for feeding pets raw diets, food that is very similar to what they’d consume in the wild. If you’re used to feeding your dogs and cats kibble, as most pet parents are, the thought of switching to a raw diet can seem like a huge, expensive, undertaking. But don’t worry, there’s help out there!

If you want to make the switch but you aren’t sure you can commit, even just supplementing your pet’s diet with fresh foods can give them a big boost in heath. (Also, when transitioning your pet to a different diet, you should begin by introducing the new food a little at a time.)

A good place to start is Dr. Karen Becker’s video, The Best and Worst Foods to Feed Your Pet:

For more information about raw food diets for pets, check out these YouTube videos by Dr. Becker. Another great resource is Truthaboutpetfood.com, founded by a pet parent and advocate who made it her mission to uncover the secrets of this industry.

You know your pet better than anyone, and there’s no “one size fits all diet.” It’s up to you, as their guardian, to do your research, be diligent, and decide what works best for your companion and lifestyle.

You can watch the entire Pet Fooled film on Netflix to get all the nitty gritty details that documentary uncovers. You can also rent it on YouTube for $3.99.

Tags: documentary, health, pet food industry, Pet Fooled, safety, secret

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Pet Fooled Reveals The 10 Big Secrets The Pet Food Industry Is Trying To Hide

Earlier this year, a documentary called Pet Fooled made its debut with an aim to expose the secrets and lack of transparency in the pet food industry. Marketed toward humans, but made for consumers who can’t speak (our dogs and cats), pet food companies have learned how to navigate through verbiage and loopholes. The end result is a product that’s cheap and easy for them to make, while buyers are promised that they’re giving “quality,” “healthy,” and “nutritious” food to their pets.

Insights and knowledge are shared by multiple interviewees, including Dr. Karen Becker of Mercola Healthy Pets, Dr. Barbara Royal, founder of The Royal Treatment Veterinary Center and Oprah Winfrey’s veterinarian, Susan Thixton, founder of Truthaboutpetfood.com.

Trailer for Pet Fooled:

There are a few major takeaways from this documentary that every pet parent should know. Here are 10 harsh truths about the pet food industry, exposed by Pet Fooled :

1. The vast majority of the pet industry is monopolized by 5 major companies.

Despite the fact that there are thousands of brands for different foods, toys, and products, only 5 major companies account for most of the $60+ billion industry – and that’s just in America. The overwhelming monopoly means that these companies dictate the bulk of commercial pet products, including what’s in them, how to produce them, and how to increase profits.

Image Source: Screen Shot via Pet Fooled

2. A massive and deadly recall in 2007 made consumers lose trust in the industry.

You may remember being part of the widespread panic of pet parents after contaminated wheat gluten killed thousands of cats and dogs. The culprit was melamine, a toxic chemical used in plastic and foam products that causes renal failure when consumed. Although multiple pet products and brands were affected, it was discovered that the tainted ingredient came from a single company located in China. This made consumers seriously question the health and safety of their pet’s food.

3. Our dogs’ DNA is 99.9% identical to wolves, so they require the same nutrition.

Biologically, dogs are nearly identical to wolves, with the small percentage of differing DNA accounting for all the different types of breeds that we know today. Dr. Karen Becker compares dogs’ variety of appearances to humans having different eye, skin, and hair colors, heights, builds, etc. Just because we look different, we’re all humans with the same basic nutritional needs – and the same goes for dogs, whose diets should resemble their wild cousins.

In the film, Dr. Royal comments that her 12-year-old dog doesn’t look his age due to his excellent diet of raw foods. / Image Source: Screen Shot via Pet Fooled

4. Every species requires a certain diet to fulfill their biological needs – and most pet foods miss the mark.

In the documentary, Dr. Becker talks about species-appropriate diets, meaning that each animal has a biological need for certain nutrients. While many wild animals will simply avoid the foods that are unnecessary for their bodies (she uses the example that if you give a snake a salad, it won’t eat it and will just die), our domesticated friends have been forced to consume additives and fillers. Cats and dogs are designed to be carnivores, and while they’re resilient, the nutritional deficiencies of their diets manifest themselves in a myriad of health problems.

Image Source: Screen Shot via Pet Fooled

5. When it comes to our pets’ declining health, grains are a huge culprit.

Dr. Barbara Royal points out that the overuse of processed grains like corn and wheat are a cheap way for companies to add “bulk” to their foods, but provide little nutrition for our four-legged friends. The consumption of these low-quality grains, she believes, is the cause for the widespread obesity, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and allergies that afflict our pets. 

6. Kibble was an invention of the pet food industry during World War II, and it has led to some serious consequences.

During the war, there were rations on meat and tin. Up until then, packaged pet food was in cans, meaning it had a higher moisture content similar to their species-specific diets (in other words, fresh meat that they killed). But when meat became limited and tin reserved for ammunition, the pet food industry knew they had to formulate a convenient type of pet food that they could package in a bag – dry kibble. Now that this dry food is the norm, pets live in a state of chronic mild dehydration, and rates of kidney disease, organ failure, and diabetes have skyrocketed among pets.

Image Source: Screen Shot via Pet Fooled

7. The dietary advice from your vet may be influenced by the major pet food companies.

In the film, Dr. Karen Becker points out that the major pet food brands have a large part in funding vet students, therefore influencing their education. She and Dr. Royal point out that there’s a huge lack of education surrounding raw diets, and they’re taught to promote the big-name brands in the industry. What’s more, the doctors say that many modern vets have learned to discourage raw diets because of potential pathogens and bacteria. But in reality, our pets’ systems are designed to digest this material, in part with a high stomach acidity pH of 1. After all, Dr. Becker points out, dogs eat poop and lick their butts on a regular basis – behaviors that could kill a human. While any food brand is susceptible to being recalled (humans make mistakes, after all) raw food companies tend to make smaller batches, and make them with more care.

Image Source: Screen Shot via Pet Fooled

8. The people that set the standards for pet food have more to gain from profits than your pet’s health.

AAFCO – or the Association of American Feed Control Officials – is the organization that sets all the standards for pet food, including nutrient ratios, ingredient allowances, and the terminology that’s allowed on packaging. While this group works with the FDA, it is not government regulated. AAFCO also doesn’t approve products for safety, that’s where the FDA comes in.

AAFCO holds a yearly conference to update pet food standards, and according to Pet Fooled, representatives from major pet food companies attend the meetings so they, too, can weigh in. The danger is that these companies can define terminology and slip through loopholes in order to benefit their profits.

9. The terminology on pet food packaging is NOT what you think.

As mentioned above, AAFCO is responsible for defining terminology on packaging. For instance, your dog’s beef “dinner,” “nuggets,” or “formula” only have to contain 25% meat. If your cat’s food is labeled as “chicken with salmon,” the word “with” may only represent 3% meat. And the label “flavor” is the worst – “flavored” foods don’t have to contain any real meat at all. What’s more, foods with added colors are made to appeal to humans – your pets can’t even see the different hues when the food is dyed.

You also may have looked for protein percentages on your pet’s food. While this is a good place to start, that protein may not be meat. It could have been derived from wheat flour or gluten that’s been fortified with protein.

Image Source: Screen Shot via Pet Fooled

10. By-products are the result of processed animal carcasses from unknown sources.

Meat by-products and meals are commonly found in pet foods. They’re the result of what’s leftover when animal carcasses – feathers, hooves, teeth, and all – are boiled down and processed into a powder. But the most disturbing part is where the corpses could have come from: leftovers from slaughtered farm animals, road kill, diseased animals, and euthanized animals are all examples of what’s being rendered.

According to the National Renderer’s Association, putting the recycled carcasses in pet food is necessary because… well.. where else would they dispose of them?

So, now what?

In the documentary, Doctors Becker and Royal are strong advocates for feeding pets raw diets, food that is very similar to what they’d consume in the wild. If you’re used to feeding your dogs and cats kibble, as most pet parents are, the thought of switching to a raw diet can seem like a huge, expensive, undertaking. But don’t worry, there’s help out there!

If you want to make the switch but you aren’t sure you can commit, even just supplementing your pet’s diet with fresh foods can give them a big boost in heath. (Also, when transitioning your pet to a different diet, you should begin by introducing the new food a little at a time.)

A good place to start is Dr. Karen Becker’s video, The Best and Worst Foods to Feed Your Pet:

For more information about raw food diets for pets, check out these YouTube videos by Dr. Becker. Another great resource is Truthaboutpetfood.com, founded by a pet parent and advocate who made it her mission to uncover the secrets of this industry.

You know your pet better than anyone, and there’s no “one size fits all diet.” It’s up to you, as their guardian, to do your research, be diligent, and decide what works best for your companion and lifestyle.

You can watch the entire Pet Fooled film on Netflix to get all the nitty gritty details that documentary uncovers. You can also rent it on YouTube for $3.99.

Tags: documentary, health, pet food industry, Pet Fooled, safety, secret

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She Didn’t Have a Prom Date, So Her Pug Stepped In

When Ivana Brozic’s mom heard that her daughter didn’t have a prom date, she did the best thing ever. She ordered Ivana’s beloved pug a tuxedo on Amazon so Ivana could have the most adorable prom photos of all time.

The most interesting pug in the world

Perfect couples don’t exist

Prom royalty right here

Cute dogs delivered straight to your inbox

About Kiki Kane

Kiki Kane is a lifelong animal lover owned by two rescue dogs, a cat, and a horse. She has been blogging professionally since 2009.

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Here’s Everything You Probably Don’t Know About Poodles

Most of us think of poodles as high-maintenance homebodies who spend more time at the beauty parlor than in the great outdoors. But nothing could be further from the truth!

History of the Poodle

This classic European dog breed has its origins in 15th century hunting parties, when they specialized in water bird retrieving.

The exact starting point of the poodle breed is up for debate, divided between a French origin (related to the Barbet) and a German origin (from which the name Pudelhund— “splashing dog” comes).

The Poodle Breed Standard

The modern poodle standard includes 3 size categories. The standard poodle is the closest to the classic, and is a member of the sporting group in the AKC. The miniature and toy poodles were bred down from the standard to be family companions, and are members of the companion and toy groups respectively.

The standard poodle was originally bred for a life splashing through rivers and lakes. Webbed paws and a dense waterproof coat make for a strong swimmer. The poodle is also eminently trainable, thanks to a high IQ and an eager-to-please personality.

Although breeders since the 19th century have aimed for a companion temperament over a working temperament, some poodle fanciers have chosen to specialize in reawakening the hunting instinct in their dogs, and have gone on to win titles at field trials. Some poodles even give Labradors a run for their money.

The standard poodle was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1887 and the miniature and toy types followed quickly behind.

Poodle Grooming Needs

Poodles possess a bountiful, curly coat of hair (not fur). It needs regular grooming, plus trimming, every six weeks or so.

Though many stylish and fanciful show cuts are available, a do-it-yourselfer with a nice pair of clippers can keep a poodle tidy with practice. The poodle show clip is inspired by their water dog history, with puffs of hair to keep joints warm, and shaved areas for a faster drying time.

Corded coats are allowed in the show ring, but take a lot of time and effort to maintain.

Fun Fact: Poodle Coats Can Be Corded

In recent times, the poodle’s coat is best known for it’s ‘hypoallergenic‘ properties. Because poodles lack a fluffy undercoat and are tightly curled, their dander is less likely to spread all over your home.

Regular bathing removes dander buildup, which means less allergens for those who are prone to dog allergies.

Poodle Skills

Circus Poodle

Poodles are second only to border collies in intelligence. That, plus their working heritage, leads to high energy levels and a capacity for any kind of activity or training you can imagine. From hunting trials to agility, flyball, or dock dog, the world is your oyster with a poodle by your side. Heck, you can even run away and join the circus!

As service dogs, poodles excel, though their friendly and inviting appearance means people don’t always take them seriously. Strangers can find it hard to resist petting or touching a poodle even in a working vest.

The Doodle Phenomenon

Labradoodle Assistance Dogs.jpg
By Oracle7 (talk)Myself – I created this work entirely by myself., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The doodle craze is alive and well. Crossing poodles with other breeds to create less-allergenic hybrids started in Australia in 1988 with the Labradoodle (Labrador retriever cross).

This mixed breed was inspired by the idea of creating a hypoallergenic seeing-eye dog. Since then, goldendoodles (golden retriever cross), Bernerdoodles, and every-other-breed-crossed-doodle have taken the world by storm.

Poodle Health Issues

If you are looking to add a poodle to your family, make sure the parents are tested for the most common genetic issues with poodles, including Addison’s disease, and gastric dilatation volvulus (torsion).

Hyper- and hypo-thyroidism and tracheal collapse can appear in some breeding lines, as well as some more common issues in large breed dogs such as cancer and hip dysplasia.

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Featured image: Amy’s Poodles

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SureFlap Reveals A Smarter Way To Connect With Your Pets

Pet lifestyle specialist SureFlap has revealed the first-ever app-controlled pet door -  the Microchip Pet Door Connect.  Combined with their Sure Petcare app it allows pet owners to control the pet door remotely from a smartphone or tablet, as well as monitor their pets’ activity and habits from anywhere in the world. 

The Pet Door Connect is designed for cats and small dogs and works via a Hub device, which connects the pet door to the internet. The Hub can be used to link more Connect products from SureFlap as they expand their range in the future.

The pet door utilises microchip-reading technology meaning it only responds to your pets microchip or RFID-collar tag ensuring unwanted animals are kept out, similar to their existing products such as the Microchip Pet Feeder and Microchip Cat Flap.

Dr Nick Hill, founder and CEO of SureFlap said: “Our aim is to develop great products that are useful, easy to use and make life easier for pet owners and their pets.”                    

Jon Bowen, Royal Veterinary College vet and animal behaviourist said:  “For me, the real value lies in the data and ability to log and track a pet’s habits – something we’ve not been able to do until now.  Over time, this information can provide an accurate insight into your pet’s wellbeing and help you determine what is “normal” behaviour for your pet and what is not."

The Microchip Pet Door Connect, including the Hub is available to purchase online at sureflap.com, as well as from leading pet retailers for an RRP of £159.99. 

It will be available in USA, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Netherlands and Belgium later in the year.

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How to Introduce Your Rescue Dog to New People

My rescue dog Radar has always been a bit cautions with new people. Once he gets to know you, he loves you, especially if you let him crawl into your lap. But he can be fearful around new people, so we have to be careful with introductions.

Introducing rescue dogs to new people is challenging when you don’t know anything about their past experiences with humans. Of course, every dog’s personality is different. But the rules of safe dog introductions apply to all types of dogs.

Whether you have an anxious pup like Radar, or a super-social mutt, these tips for how to introduce your rescue dog to new people will help ensure good socialization all around.

Listen to your dog (and tell the humans what to do)

In general, dogs prefer calm, quiet introductions.You should never let somebody approach, speak to, or touch your dog unless it’s very clear your dog wants the attention.

Sometimes, introducing your rescue dog to new people is as much about handling the people as the dog! Here are some general tips for introducing your rescue pup to new people:

  • Read your dog’s body language. Their ears, eyes, and tails will communicate how they feel.
  • Ask the person to ignore your dog at first. Too much enthusiastic attention can be overwhelming for shy dogs. Let your dog choose if and when they want to greet somebody.
  • Remind new people to pet your dog’s side, not her head.
  • Have treats on hand, and give some to the new person! Nothing smooths the waters of first introductions (and rewards good behavior) like a tasty treat.

Rescue dog introductions at home

If you’re introducing your rescue dog to a guest at home, lay the ground rules in advance. Before you guest arrives, give them some instructions. They should:

  • Dress comfortably in clothes they don’t mind getting dirty (just in case your rescue dog hasn’t learned not to jump up yet)
  • Say hello to you first before paying attention to the dog
  • Stay calm and relaxed, and let the dog sniff them before attempting any pets
  • Use any verbal cues you use with your dog, such as “sit” or “off”

Depending on your rescue dog’s reactions to new sounds and smells, you may also ask guests to text you when they arrive and meet you outdoors, or to enter through the door without ringing the bell.

With Radar, outdoor introductions work best to let him get used to new people.

After the humans have said hello, let your dog sniff the guest’s shoes. You can step on the leash to gently prevent jumping. Hopefully, after some initial sniffs, your dog will feel comfortable and everyone can settle in for a visit!

If your rescue dog is nervous with guests, make introductions more gradual. Consider using a baby gate to separate them so they can get used to the sights and sounds of guests before saying an up-close hello.

Rescue dog introductions on walks

As a Rover reader, you probably know to ask permission before you greet another person’s dog. But not everybody has dog experience. When you’re the one holding the leash, you set the tone.

If a stranger approaches your rescue dog, speak up and tell them how to introduce themselves. Here are some phrases you can say to signal how to approach (or not approach) your dog:

  • “You can say hi!”
  • “Please let him sniff your shoes first.”
  • “She doesn’t like to be hugged, but you can scratch behind her ears!”
  • “He’s not friendly, I’m sorry.” (Even if your dog is very friendly, this is a good one to practice for times you just don’t want to do an on-leash introduction)

If your rescue dog is in the mood for an introductions, follow the basic rules listed at the top of this post. But if your rescue dog is nervous around strangers, don’t feel bad about avoiding introductions on walks.

I often cross the street with Radar to avoid other people. Sometimes not doing an introduction is easier!

Introductions = socialization

If your rescue dog is anxious or shy, though, you don’t have to hide from introductions. Instead, gradually help them build confidence with safe, controlled introductions. You can even turn to Rover for help socializing and entertaining your rescue dog with walks or daycare visits. Of course, you shouldn’t push it—remember, listen to your dog! But introducing your rescue dog to new people will help them learn to trust humans and be comfortable in the world.

As for Radar, he’s still iffy with new people on-leash, but lately he’s met several new people in the yard at home.

With time, practice, and patience, I learned what makes introductions work for my rescue dog. You’ll do the same with yours.

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Featured image: Handshakes for Treats flickr/yannconz

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5 Must-Teach Basic Commands that Every Dog Should Know

Basic commands are a cornerstone or properly training your dog. These commands extend beyond just getting your dog to be more well behaved. A thorough grasp of basic commands can help you keep your dog and yourself safe, as well. With these commands, you can rest easy knowing that you’ll be able to keep your dog mostly out of harm’s way and keep him from inadvertently harming others. Let’s check them out and learn why they are so important!

Basic Commands Every Dog Should Know

Part of responsible dog ownership is properly training and socializing our pets. A well-socialized dog is a dog who is less likely to get into fights or be fearful. A properly trained do is a dog who is easier to remove from potentially dangerous situations and who is easy to stop from accidentally hurting another dog or person. The following are basic commands that every dog should have a through grasp of.

Sit

This is one of the basics that every dog should know. Sit is a cornerstone command that can be used in conjunction with other commands. When you teach your dog sit, you’re not only helping him to be more well behaved, you’re teaching him the beginning step in chain commands like sit and stay which is an important chain for safety.

Stay

It’s important to teach both sit and stay to your dog, as these basic commands work best together. When you teach your dog to sit, you’re really just teaching him to put his butt on the ground. When you add in stay, that’s when you get to the money. The sit/stay combo is perfect for keeping your pet out of harm’s way or in helping to calm him down if he’s getting to be a bit much for the room.

Heel

Heel is one of the most important basic commands to teach your dog. When walking your dog, you want him to stay by your side unless you specifically allow him more leeway. Teaching heel to your dog is important for safety. It ensures that your dog will stay by your side instead of darting after a squirrel and into a dangerous situation like oncoming traffic or other hazards.

Leave It

Leave it is another of the must-teach basic commands. When a dog knows leave it, you can reliably stop him from getting into things that he shouldn’t such as trash, dead animals, and other hazards. It’s an incredibly useful command for every owner.

Fetch

This one is just plain fun. Don’t ask me why, but dogs really seem to love running back and forth with a ball in their mouths. One of the most fun ways to spend time with our dogs is with a good game of fetch. Not only do they love the activity, but that extra exercise is good for them. Now, if only we could have that much fun running…

Nail These Basic Commands for More Safety and Fun

These basic commands are important for every owner and their dog to have down pat. With these basic commands, owners can help keep their dogs safe in almost every situation. And hey, fetch is just fun!

Did you already teach your dogs these basic commands? Share your tips below!

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Happy Fourth Gotcha Day to Our Dog Baxter!

The beginning of July is Baxter’s “Gotcha Day.”

This year is the fourth anniversary since Baxter came to live with us. Inspired by Tracey at Love lives on, I have a tradition of writing a letter to Baxter on the anniversary of his gotcha day. You can see the letters from year 1 , year 2 and Baxter’s adoption story on my blog. Since I started writing for ThatMutt.com, I’ve been sharing the letters with all of you, starting with last year’s third anniversary letter.

Dear Baxter,

Can you believe it’s been four years? I imagine you’re probably saying, “Four years? What? I’m all about now.” I like how dogs live in the moment, and it’s something I try to practice often when we’re together.

A sunbeam, a hike, a good neck scratch, a soft bed. It doesn’t take much to make you happy. I’m grateful that you make it so easy for us. We knew from the start that you were a pretty mellow dude, and that has not changed.

I’ve probably changed more than you over the past four years—early wake-ups so that we can go for a walk before work, driving to weekend hikes, extra money on vacuums to deal with all of your fur. I don’t begrudge any of these things and love what you’ve brought to our life.

I’ve seen a few changes from you over the past year. You’re a bit slower now, and I can see your hip is stiff some days. You’re a little more grouchy and opinionated sometimes. But usually your easy-going nature wins out.

I love how people ask how old you are when we’re hiking. You’re so wiggly and excited to meet everyone that you seem like a puppy. But the rest of the time, you’re an old man. Your commitment to snuggling and sleeping is fun to watch.

I’ve enjoyed spending more time with you this year and doing some different things now that my work schedule has changed. There are going to be some more changes coming, and I hope that we get to have even more time together. We certainly have a lot of fun.

Happy fourth gotcha day.

Love,
Julia

How long have the rest of you had your dogs?

 

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Check Out These Early Prime Day Deals for Dog Lovers

posted from https://www.rover.com/blog/check-early-prime-day-deals-dog-lovers/

Attention dog lovers! Enjoy up to 20% off selected dog foods and treats in a pre-prime day celebration of deliciousness. Amazon is getting the party started a little early this year with tasty bargains your dogs will love. Check out some of our favorites.

Savory grain free jerky style snacks in  4 tempting flavors.  $6.99 4 oz

Boost your dog’s diet with this convenient freeze dried meal topper. Meal mixers are grain free and raw— a great way to  increase your dog’s protein intake without changing her diet completely.  Choose from Turkey, Seafood, Chicken, or Beef  $35.99 18 oz

This hearty kibble comes in a flavor and size for every dog. Lifesource bits provide bonus anti-oxidants and minerals.  $14.99-$47.99

Crunchy baked treats in a variety of flavors and sizes for every dog.  $4.99 20 oz

Perfect for dogs with food allergies. This limited ingredient kibble boasts no grain, potatoes, or chicken, and comes in three protein varieties: Beef, Turkey, and Lamb. Size and prices vary. $19.99-$62

Soft and delicious grain free treats, perfect for training. 5 tasty flavors to choose from. $5.55-$7.48  6 oz

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