Need to Work on the “Come” Command? Try This!

IMG_8133Naturally, Rosie likes to go exploring.  She will sniff at every leaf and flower, grab a stick, and scamper off.  However, my humans realize the importance of her learning to come when she is called and not just go off in her own direction.  What if Rosie dug under the fence or somehow wiggled out of her halter?  Hopefully, those things will never happen, but it is still important to prepare for any escape.  It is also just plain nice to have a dog who will come from the other side of the yard when you say it’s time to go eat.  The best way my humans have found to teach Rosie to come when she is called is what they call the “Milkbone Method.”  Try it on your puppy or adult dog to teach “come” or to polish it up.  Dogs need to review their commands often so that they won’t forget.

The Milkbone Method

Rosie, coming when called

The “Milkbone Method” is actually really simple.  These crunchy treats have little scent, making it hard for your dog to tell if you have them in your pocket.  So, with this in mind, break up a couple of Milkbones and put then secretly in your pocket before going outside.  Then, when your dog is sniffing (but not too far from you), show him that you have a treat.  My humans whistle for Rosie before presenting the treat, as a whistle’s sound can carry very far in case your dog is quite a distance away.  You could also do a command such as, “Come, (your dog’s name)!”  Always try to keep your voice the same tone when you call your dog and never chance the words you use.  If you say, “Come, Fido!” one time and, “Let’s go in the house!” another, your dog won’t master the “Come” command.

Rosie is very interested in this grass!

Now that your dog is starting to race to you when you whistle or issue your chosen command, start increasing the distance.  After your dog will come to you from the other side of the yard, start practicing it when your dog is really interested in something else.  For instance, if your dog has found a particularly interesting leaf to sniff, see if he will come when you ask him.  And, later on, you can add distractions.  A friend, your spouse, or your kids can provide a lot of distractions to help your dog truly master this trick.  For instance, if your spouse is talking on the phone outside while your kids peddle on tricycles, your dog will have more things to see and listen to.  If your dog won’t come when called, go back a step.  He will soon get the hang of it!

Rosie doesn’t like to come when called all of the time yet.  Hopefully, with the help of Milkbones, she will soon learn!rosie's nap

A Few Must-Have Manners

A dog who can politely walk on a leash, will not jump on company, won’t bark constantly, and will not wreak your house is a joy to live with.  Unfortunately, dogs aren’t born knowing social etiquette and manners, leaving it up to you to teach them.

Walk Nice, Please!

Do you have a dog who strains at the end of his leash, eager to go, go, go?  This can be really hard on your arm and make walking your dog something to dread.  It’s time to teach your dog some leash manners!

p pulling on leashPut your dog’s leash on in the house or unexciting backyard.  These are everyday places for him and not filled with such tempting scents to track.  Now, get your dog’s attention with a treat.  Lead him around the room/yard with the command “heel,” stopping if he starts to pull.  If he tugs, get his attention again and, if he lets the leash slacken, give him a little treat.  Do this every day until your dog will walk around the room/yard without so much as a tug, expecting a treat at the end.  Now implement the same training on a small section of your street.  There are more distracting things for your dog here.  Give the command “heel” and walk back and forth with your pocket full of treats, getting your dog’s attention so that he’ll walk at your side, wanting the yummy snack.  Reward him with a treat every so often to keep him interested.  After your dog walks without a pull on a part of your street, walk the whole length.  Your dog might forget his training and start to pull, so give him the command “heel” and get his attention with a treat.  You can slowly wean him off of treats when he perfects walking at heel.

Don’t Jump, Pup!

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I jump up on people.  It’s rude, I know, but I just can’t contain my happinessp jumping up when visitors arrive!  My humans, however, have been working on having me sit instead of jump for attention.  I’m getting better at it, even though I still love to jump up and give everyone kisses!  Does your dog jump up on people?  This can be irksome and possibly dangerous in the case of a larger dog, and our claws tear your clothes and skin.  Teach your dog to ask for attention in a polite way!

To begin with, don’t let your dog get away with jumping on anybody.  Not you, your spouse, your kids, your dog-loving friends, nobody!  Your pooch doesn’t know the difference between jumping up on you and jumping up on guests.  So, whenever your dog jumps up on anyone, help him off and say the command, “Off.”  Give your dog a lot of attention when all four feet are on the ground.  And, from now on, when your dog comes up to you, tail wagging and all four paws on the ground, pet and praise him for being such a good pup.

p sittingNow, teach your dog Sit and totally perfect it.  When that is done, start asking your dog to sit whenever he wants your attention.  Don’t do it all of the time or your dog might start avoiding you!  After you see your dog starting to sit without you asking him, take it another step further.  Have a family member or friend come up to your dog after coming home from work, school, or the mailbox (even a few steps to the mailbox means joyous jumps upon your return!).  If your dog is especially hyper, it might be a good idea to leash him at first.  Have the other person totally ignore your dog until you command your dog to sit.  When he does, the person should pet the dog and make a big fuss over him.  Practice this for many days until your dog will go up to a family member or friend and sit to be pet.  After that, try it on people your dog regularly doesn’t see.  Leash him and ask him to sit.  If he complies, have the guest reward with a whole lot of praise!  Also, when you have guests over now, explain to them how you are training your dog to sit for attention so they can pet him when he does.  Maybe later on you could build off of this command and teach your dog to offer guests a paw!

The Barking Problem

Is your dog an excessive barker?  I know I am!  My humans are alerted of every leaf that falls and of any squirrel that crosses the yard.  I’m a good watch dog, right?  Unfortunately, my humans don’t think so!  How do you stop your dog from barking too much?p barking

Whenever you catch your dog barking, let him do a few woofs to alert you and then ask him to sit.  Have a yummy treat on hand and command him, “Shhhhhh!”  (Make sure to excessively drag out the “Shhh!”)  When he quiets down, reward him.  From now on, when your dog barks, get up, ask him to sit, say “Shhhhh,” and reward him.  Soon, you can wean him off of treats by mixing up the rewards.  One time give him a treat for being quiet, another time a belly rub, and another time play his favorite game.  Don’t stop giving him the treats right away or he will just continue to bark!  Keep very patient and positive, never getting angry with your dog.  Guarding your home is in your dog’s roots and not something you should punish.  Also, alerting you when people come up to your door or fence can be a good thing.  Let your dog give you a few alerting barks before giving him the command, “Shhhh!”

Does Your Dog Destroy Your House?

You’ve been gone all day at work and come home, planning to give the dog a quick walk and p destroying canthen watch a little TV.  You open the door and – oh, my goodness!  Your dog tore apart the couch pillow, peed on the carpet, and ate that bread you left on the edge of the counter!  And there is your dog, looking up at you with big brown eyes, leash in his mouth.  Baaaad dog!!

Or is he a bad dog?  What do you think drove your dog to tear up the pillow, pee on the carpet, and eat that bread, and how can you fix it?

First of all, that shredded pillow.  What did you leave for your dog to do?  A few toys will only keep your dog interested for so long!  You might need to invest in a Kong that can be stuffed with peanut butter or other treats.  This can keep your dog engaged for an hour or so, depending on how much your dog likes the challenge of getting the treat out.  Also, walk your dog vigorously and feed him before you leave.  A tired dog with a full belly will want to sleep for a while.  When he wakes up, he can play with the Kong, stroll across the yard (if he has access), take another nap, play with his other toys, and greet you at the door.  If your dog is still bored and destroying your house, you might need to drop him off with a pet sitter or at a doggy daycare.chewing shoes

As for peeing on the carpet, did your dog have access to outside?  If not, he just had to go, so don’t punish him for something he couldn’t help.  See if your schedule will allow you to stop by your house and let your dog out during the day or hire a pet sitter to.  What if your dog did have access to the yard, though?  Well, accidents do happen, especially with puppies and older dogs.  Clean it up without any fuss; it might just be that your dog didn’t make it outside in time.  If your dog continues to relieve himself in the house while you’re away, you may need to consult your vet.

If you’re wondering about the bread, make sure you push and put up all food and items out of your doggy’s reach!



How to Get Your Dog to Drop Dangerous Items

IMG_6291About a week ago, I was walking around the house, minding my own business, when I saw something: some gum on a coffee table.  I thought that it looked yummy, so I stood up on my hind legs (which I am extremely fond of doing) and picked it up.  It was terribly chewy, and very soon my humans realized what I had done.  They knew that gum can be toxic as it can contain xylitol, so they had to get it out before I swallowed it.  Those silly humans tried prying my mouth open, but I strongly resisted!  Then, they remembered a way to get your dog to drop something that they had read about.  Trying it on me, they soon found out that it worked!

Has your dog ever gotten hold of something possibly dangerous or downright gross?  Something as simple as gum could have made me very sick, but luckily my humans knew a trick to get me to open my mouth.  Any dog can be in danger of picking up something dangerous, so you need to know how to get it out before he swallows.

Blow Hard!

When my humans caught me with gum and had to get me to open my mouth, they blew in my800px-Mimi nose furiously.  It was so uncomfortable, I just had to loosen my jaws.  They say that it’s very fortunate that they were able to reach in and get the candy, but I think it tasted pretty good…even if it was too chewy!  If your dog has got something in his mouth that he shouldn’t, blow at his nose very hard.  It might take a few hard blows before your dog will loosen his grip.  When he does, immediately reach your hand into his mouth and take out the object.

Do a Trade

Australian_Shepherd,_Red_biNaturally, your dog doesn’t want to give you the possibly harmful object because he thinks it’s yummy or fun.  If you offer him something more cool or delicious, however, he might spit it out and do a trade with you.  Try offering your dog a favorite toy, treat, or simply a word.  “Wanna take a walk?” will make a lot of dogs rush to the door!  Just don’t forget to reward your dog for dropping the dangerous object by following through with any promises.  If you don’t, your dog won’t be likely to comply with your wishes the next time he gets into something harmful.

To avoid having to pry open your dog’s mouth, blow into his nose, or try trading with him, a good command to teach him would be Drop It.  If he knows this trick well he will happily spit it out for a reward.  By teaching him this you could prevent a terrible tummy ache or maybe even death for your dog.

Another word of advise, know the nearest animal emergency clinic’s number.  It could save your dog’s life!

Quick Tip: Eye Contact

eyes blue and brownDoes your dog ever make eye contact with you?  Some dogs are leery of meeting their human’s eyes.  It is important, however, to teach your dog to keep his eyes on you.  When you’re in a difficult or possibly dangerous situation, you want a dog who will willingly look up to you and see what you want him to do.  Also, its just important to teach your dog to look into your eyes to see what you want of him in every-day situations.  You can help him with this by establishing eye contact.

Encourage your dog to make eye contact

With a handful of treats, get your dog’s attention.  Point to your eye and say a command like, “Look!”  If your dog looks at your eye even for a split second, immediately reward him.  Repeat this until your dog begins to look at you longer.

Remember, when you hold eye contact with your dog, never act mean or scowl at him.  Also, don’t only look into your dog’s eyes when he is in trouble.  I know it’s easy to do, but you don’t want your dog to hate meeting your stare.  Work on looking into his eyes while you’re petting him and giving him attention so he’ll associate it with something good.


chewing a toyChewing is fun and entertaining for dogs.  Feeling something slide back and forth on our teeth is wonderful, and it gives us something to think about and do.  Dogs, however, don’t know that there is a difference between our squeaky toys and your running shoes.  I mean, they’re both on the ground, right?  All dogs have to learn that there are limits to what they can and can’t chew, and it’s up to you to show him.

chewing shoesPuppies going through the teething stage must have something to chew on.  If their human does not provide them with toys and bones, that cute little bunch of fur will end up chewing shoes or something else displeasing.  A puppy needs things to chew on because he is growing in his adult teeth.  His mouth hurts, and he wants to chew to ease the pain.  Always provide your puppy with large, puppy-safe bones and many toys to chew on.  Also, try getting a washcloth or plush toy wet and freeze it overnight.  When your puppy chews on it, his pained gums will be temporarily numbed.

Adult dogs mostly chew for the fun of it.  It feels good on a dog’s teeth and is entertaining.  All domestic animals, however, have to learn the boundaries, and starting during the puppy stage of the dog’s life is best.  Humans, I have found out, hate it when dogs tear up things such as toilet paper, photo albums, and furniture.  I think this rather silly (why look at a book for hours when you could chow down and tear that thing apart?), but I respect my human’s feelings and behave myself…most of the time, anyway.

How do I Stop Unwanted Chewing?

chewing a table

First of all, put away all things that you don’t want your dog to chew on.  Your books, yours kids’ toys, clothes, remotes, and whatnot should be put on shelves or behind closed doors.  This will prevent your dog from destroying your stuff.  Now that you’ve done this, buy your dog a bunch of dog toys.  If your dog has two or three, buy a few more.  Try rotating what dog toys you leave out to keep your doggy interested.

If your dog chews on objects that you can’t move (such as furniture), you need to put some distasteful spray on the object.  There is a Bitter Apple Spray on to discourage chewing.  This can be put on fabric, furniture, shoes, and clothes.  Hopefully, once your dog gets a lick of this nasty but pet-safe spray, he’ll leave the object alone.

What if you catch your dog in the act of chewing on something inappropriate?  Well, it’s never achewing toilet paper good idea to yell at or hit your dog.  This will only temporarily fix the problem and make your dog think you’re some kind of a jerk.  While your dog will be afraid to touch the forbidden object while you’re there, once you leave your dog won’t see any reason why he shouldn’t chow down.  After all, who is there to punish him?  Instead, when you catch your dog in the act, make a low, sad sound like “aaugh,” then encourage him to gnaw on his own toy.  Once your dog pops a good thing into his mouth, give him praise.  Your dog will soon figure out that if he chews on inappropriate things, like table legs, you’re upset and sad (but never angry or mean).  When he gnaws on his own toys, however, you are happy with him.

Chewing Sticks

chewing sticksAnything can be a toy, right?  For years dogs have fetched sticks, and there seems to be no problem with it.  However, some dogs who are heavy chewers gnaw on the wood, chipping some of it off.  Once this happens, the little pieces of wood are easy to swallow, which could lead to throat blockage or intestinal damage.  While some dogs do fine fetching sticks, others have a hard problem not chewing it.  If you see your dog gnawing on the wood, take it away from him and play with a ball or Frisbee instead.  You wouldn’t want your dog to choke or even die from a friendly game of fetch!

Are you worried about your stick-crazy dog who won’t stay away from wood?  Safestix is a safe stick that’s made of plastic.  You can use it just as you would a real stick, and it even floats in the water!  Check this cool toy out at


800px-Lexus_1_arBones can do good and bad things for dogs.  They can keep us busy and happy for a time, but they can also make us choke and create throat or intestinal blockage.  The best rule of thumb for when buying bones is to buy ones large enough that your dog can’t put the whole thing in his mouth and break it.  Also, always buy made in the USA and all-natural, uncolored, and unflavored bones.  If your dog is a heavy chewer, it might be a good idea to steer clear of any rawhide.


Learning Tricks

Today, my human and I headed outside to review my tricks.  Here are a few tricks I did that my human managed to get pictures of:

Sit, which I am very good at.


Touch the tea bag.  My human throws it and I go touch it.  I haven’t quite figured out why.


Lay down, which I tend to confuse with “take a bow.”


Far away stay.  I’m getting better at sitting while my human goes back a little.


Jump up.  My favorite!!


Yum!  Those treats were tasty!


Puppy Training

Happy National Puppy Day!  To celebrate, Doggy Times will put out three posts on puppy tips, house-training, and puppy training.

What do you think of when someone says “puppy”?  A fluffy face?  Sweet puppy breath?  Perhaps you’ve had a puppy before and you immediately think, “Work!”  Yes, those sweet little furballs are a true workout!  Nipping, chewing, peeing, jumping, and barking are some of their favorite activities.  For most, though, the inconveniences and troubles of puppy raising are worth it a hundred times over.  I mean, really, look at that adorable face!puppy training newborn

Having a puppy is a whole lot easier if you take the time to train your puppy.  Pups with basic manners are more fun to live with, too.  If you train him, you will have more time to simply enjoy his short puppyhood.

Yes, I’m Listening…a Little

puppy training schnauzerYour puppy has a super short attention span.  He probably won’t want to train for 10-15 minutes like an adult dog, even if you have delicious treats.  Don’t force him to do long training sessions.  He will get bored and not cooperate, and you will wonder why you ended up with such a dumb pup.  Your puppy is very intelligent, but he has so much energy that he doesn’t like to focus and stay still.  5 minutes is good for some puppies, but others will need even less time.

Having a short training session doesn’t mean that training should be fast and furious.  Let your puppy take his time when he learns.  If you rush him, he will get confused and not like training with you.  Keep it fun!

Collar and Leash

Uh…you don’t have to teach your dog to wear a collar and leash, right?  Actually, you do. Some puppies will accept wearing a collar and leash more than others, but they still need to learn.  The minute your puppy gets home, you should put his collar on.  He might fuss a little, so distract him with a toy or treat.  Leashes, however, are a totally different thing.  Most puppies can’t stand having that tempting string-thing dangling by them.  Attack!!  If you introduce the leash positively, though, your pup will be happy to oblige.  Here’s how to do it:

puppy training leash
Introduce your puppy to the leash slowly

Attach your leash to your dog’s collar inside the house, but don’t pick it up yet.  Let your puppy drag it around for a few seconds, with you distracting him with treats.  Do this for however many days you think necessary, only don’t rush it.  Next, pick up the leash while inside.  Your puppy probably isn’t going to be happy about this!  To help him, show your puppy that you have a simply delicious treat in your hand.  Lead your puppy a few steps before giving it to him.  Continue this for a few days.  Now you can test it outside.  Still have a few treats in your pocket to lead your puppy.  However, he’ll probably be so thrilled at being outside without a fence that he won’t need it!  By the way, now’s a good time to discourage pulling.  Don’t let your puppy tug, because when he’s older, it won’t be so cute!

The Basic Commands

puppy labIf you don’t enroll your puppy in a puppy obedience class (a very good idea, by the way), you need to teach him some manners at home.  Start with sit.  It’s very simple and good for your puppy’s short attention span.  Next, work on the most important life skill, come.  This is such a vital command that I can’t stress it’s importance enough!  Once your smart pup has mastered these you can move onto some other fun ones like lay down, high five, drop it, and take a bow.

Always, always keep training super duper fun for your puppy.  Read the Tricks page to get a better idea of how to teach him and what supplies you’ll need.

Have fun with your puppy, and remember to keep training paw-sitive!