Teach Your Dog Something New!

Hi!  It’s Sissy again!  Remember to check out the Tricks Page.  There you’ll find information on how to start your training adventure!

Here are the tricks I have directions for so far:

Come (the most important!)2013_Royal_Melbourne_Show_(10017072334)

 Drop it (very handy for a mouthy dog)

High Five (a real crowd pleaser!)

Lay Down (other tricks build off of this)

Sit (many tricks build of of this handy trick too)

Take a Bow! (This is a perfect finish to a display of your dog’s talent!)

Have fun teaching your dog!




Outdoor Fun in Cold Weather

Fremont_Solstice_Parade_2010_-_384_(4720327208)Cold weather shouldn’t put an end to outdoor exercising and fun.  Do you like to do sports with your dog and enjoy a challenge?  If you have a lot of snow then, you can sled with your dog or go skijoring (wondering what this “ski” thing is?  Keep reading!).  Hiking in the colder months will allow you to see mounds of leaves or snow (which can be awesome to romp in with your dog!), and you can see through trees without having bushels of leaves blocking a good view.  Plus, you shouldn’t let your dog lay around all day putting on extra weight and being bored, so a fun outing will be good for him.  He doesn’t care if it’s cold!


Skijor_worldsWhat in the world is skijoring?  If you look at it one way, it’s a lot like dog sledding.  You ride on skis and your dog pulls.  However, there is no way for the skier to really control the dog or show him where to go unless he uses his voice.  The dog has to make the decision of where to turn next if he can’t hear his master’s command.  A dog who does this has to have a strong desire to run and pull.  And, obviously, don’t enroll a small dog in skijoring!  Interested in this fun sport?  You can learn more about it at  Sled Dog Central.

Now, if you choose to take your dog sledding or skijoring, you need the proper equipment and training.  Search for sellers of dog harnesses, bungee tow lines, etc. with good reviews.  You might have to pay a little more to get true quality that will last.  With enough research, you can probably find a good trainer in a snowy area, but if it only snows lightly once or twice a year where you live, you might not be able to find one.

Play at the Dog Park

800px-Dogs_and_people_in_snowy_dog_parkThe dog park won’t be closed because it’s chilly outside!  Your dog needs to run and get exercise, even if it’s cold.  Why not treat him to a large fenced-in area where he can run freely?  Your dog can also romp and play with other canines and make some new friends!  If it’s snowing, all the better!  Now he can run around in a large area of snow!!

Keep Warm

Poodle(cropped)snow-coatWhen you exercise your dog during cold weather, make sure that he keeps warm.  Some dogs – like the Siberian Husky – will naturally love wind and snow, but others will not to so thrilled.  If you think your dog is too cold on walks, hikes, etc., purchase a coat or some little booties to keep his feet warm.  I have a little blue coat that I wear when it’s cold outside, and it keeps me warm and cozy.

Remember, your dog will especially need to keep warm if he is a senior dog, as he will have a harder time regulating his body temperature.

Play Some Games

No, I don’t mean board games!  Your dog can’t play Monopoly or checkers with you, but he can participate in wintry doggy games.  Here are a few fun ones below:

Catch the Snowball!

This game is as simple as it sounds.  Roll up some snow, toss it, and let your dog crunch down on it!  Some dogs go absolutely crazy about this game and will catch for hours.

Learn a Trick

For your dog, one of the best games in existence is to be taught a new trick.  Don’t make the excuse that your dog is too young or old!  Puppies as young as 8 weeks can be taught to sit, and I’m almost 13 and learning a new trick called “crawl,” so age is no excuse.  Check out the tricks page to start out on this fun adventure!Koostöö

If your dog already knows a few tricks, enforce them by asking him to “sit” or “lay down” on cold walks or hikes.  Ask him to sit as you wait for traffic to stop, lay down when you’re talking outside to a friend.  It’s really cool if you can teach your dog to sit anytime you stop walking while on the leash.  This way, he will be under control if you stop to greet someone or answer a phone call.

Make a Snow Dog!

Well, this is only really fun for you, but you can let your dog watch.  Gather a mound of snow and chisel at it with a fork until you have molded a dog.  Then, you can let your dog munch on your creation!216cc2f8-a341-45f5-b34e-a588b4b06a76



Which Breed Fits Your Lifestyle?

800px-Gizmo_the_Jack_RussellHave you been thinking about getting a new dog?  That’s wonderful!  However, you should take some time to think about what kind of dog you want.  The possibilities are endless!

What Dog Do You Want?

Or, more specifically, what do you want in a dog?  If you like the Golden Retriever’s looks but don’t like to exercise, you need to get a different breed.  That’s why it’s a good idea to write a list of all of the qualities you want in your new dog.  Look at the example list below:

I want my new dog to be…

  • Friendly with kids
  • Low shedding
  • Small
  • Active
  • Social

Hmm…interesting list.  A couple of breeds that would fit these wants would be a Toy/Miniature Poodle and a Bichon Frise.

LISIANow that you’ve done your list, start researching the different breeds.  If you want a dog who will retrieve and hunt with you, you will probably want a dog from the hound of sporting group.  A few dogs from these categories are the Cocker Spaniel, Beagle, Gordon Setter, and Basset Hound.  Don’t get one of these dogs if you don’t like to exercise.  Most of these dogs need a lot of it because of their original breeding.

Maltese_dog_(6225570341)Do you want a small dog?  Check out the terrier and toy groups.  Here are just a few: the Papillon, Toy Poodle, Pug, Bull Terrier, and Jack Russell Terrier.  Just because these dogs are small doesn’t mean they don’t need much exercise!  Jack Russells are especially hyper.  Also, these might not be the best if you have small children who like to squeeze doggies.  Smaller dogs need more gentle handling.

rottie prettyWant a dog who has protective instincts as well as working ability?  Check out the working group!  Here are a few dogs in it: Boxer, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Samoyed, and Rottweiler.  If you are a first time dog owner, some of these breeds who are very strong willed are not for you.  They need a strong pack leader to keep them in their place.  Also, never get one of these dogs to be solely a guard dog.  They need your attention and love, so please don’t chain them outside expecting them to become an awesome guard dog.  They will most likely bite your children and become aggressive.

800px-Border_Collie_sheepdog_trialWant a dog who will herd sheep, chickens, and even your kids?  Check out the herding group!  These dogs are greatly renowned for their intelligence.  Here are a few that you will probably recognize: Australian Shepherd, Border CollieWelsh Corgi, Shetland Sheepdog, and Belgian Sheepdog.  Please don’t get one of these dogs if you can’t stand excessive nipping from your dog as he learns to curb his herding drive.  Also, if you don’t think much of exercise or obedience training for your dog, mark the herding group off of your list.  These dogs MUST be trained and exercised a lot in order to help them not go crazy with energy!

800px-DalmataThe non-sporting group is a lot like a collage, full of different personalities and hairstyles.  Here are a few dogs from it: the Bulldog, Chow Chow, Dalmatian, Lhasa Apso, and Poodle.  I can’t give you any tips for this group as they are all very different, so please do your research!

I’ve Narrowed it Down; Now What?

Now that you have a few breeds that are your favorites, start researching them as much as you can.  You will have to live with this dog for 10-15 years, and you want to be happy with your final decision.  Read books, magazines, go to their breed website, find owners of the breed you can talk to.  If they love their dog, they’ll probably be more than happy to answer your questions.

Get a Mix!

mutt 2Can’t decide which breed to get?  Get a mixed breed!  These dogs are uniquely colored and have varying personalities.  I encourage you to go to your local dog shelter and look at the dogs there.  They’re just as good as purebred dogs, and all they want is to be loved.

Giving Your Dog Pills

sissy-dogThis week, my humans have to give me various medicines.  Ear drops for earwax buildup in my ears, pills for itching, and liquid medicine in syringes for any parasites.  I have been having trouble “holding it” while in my cage at night as well as having a bad smell from my ears and terrible itching.  Then, the vet said I couldn’t eat anything but regular dog food!  Isn’t that awful?  No more treats…  Anyway, my humans were wondering just how to get me to swallow a pill without stuffing it in a slice of hot dog.  Hmmm…  The decision was made to pry open my mouth and put it in there.  That didn’t go over well.  That pill is gross!  And the syringes…well, those were even worse!  Finally, however, everything got down.

Have you ever had to give medicine to your dog?  It’s very difficult!  My humans are having to learn some techniques to make it easier for both them and me.  I decided to write a post about giving pills and liquid medicines to your dog, and I hope these tips and ideas help when you’re trying to give your dog medicine!


Bull_Terrier_Chico_05Normally, you can just put the pill in a slice of hot dog or a “pill pocket” treat you buy at a pet store and feed that to your dog.  Sometimes, however, you won’t be able to.  Here is the best way my humans have found to give me a pill:

First of all, have someone else hold your dog (an adult would be best, in case your dog decides to nip).  If you absolutely don’t have anyone, put your dog’s leash on him and, sitting down, put it under your knees.  This will make sure that your dog doesn’t bolt off as you try to pry his mouth open.  Now, open your dog’s mouth.  Reassure your dog as you do so and pop that pill as far back on his tongue as safely possible.  Keep your dog’s mouth shut with your hand and gently massage his throat.  Don’t let go of his mouth too soon, as he will probably spit the pill out.  My humans had to learn that the hard way!

Congratulations!  Your dog has taken his pill!

Liquid Medicine

When medicine is in a syringe, it can be very hard to get it into your dog’s mouth!  It took three people to get me to swallow my medicine!  I wiggle so much that nobody can hold me!

Have someone hold your dog.  If your dog is super wiggly, have two people hold him.  Now, at the side of your dog’s mouth, there is a little slot where you can stick the syringe in.  Get it in there and squirt that nasty medicine in before your dog can stop you.  For me, it took two squirts to get it into my mouth.  Yuck!

Hooray!  Your dog took his liquid medicine!  


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine puppy
Be my Valentine?

Valentine’s Day is a fun holiday for both you and your dog. On this special day, people will give candy, stuffed animals, and flowers to the ones they love. Even though your dog doesn’t know it’s Valentine’s Day, you can still make his day the best by playing an extra game of fetch or giving your dog a belly rub.

valentine's cupcakeOn Valentine’s Day, many people eat chocolate.  Even though this candy tastes wonderful to humans, do not ever feed any to your four-legged friend.  It is toxic for us and can kill dogs if we eat too much.  Even if you just feed your dog a little (don’t give into those puppy-dog eyes!), he will still have a terrible stomach ache and might even vomit.  So keep all candy, especially chocolate, out of reach from your four-legged friend.  Also, always pick up and throw away all candy wrappers.  Your dog may try to eat them.  This is very hazardous for your dog, as he could choke on them.  Take extra care with foil candy wrappers.  If swallowed, foil becomes as sharp as a knife.  If you even think your dog has eaten wrappers or chocolate, call your veterinarian right away.

Sometimes, on this special day, people will have parties. Your dog can be involved in the party, too, and have loads of fun, but you need to take some precautions:

  • If any presents are unwrapped, throw away all trash as soon as possible.valentine party
  • Place all purses and bags out of reach of your dog.
  • Don’t feed your dog any candy.
  • Make sure your dog is not underfoot, so he doesn’t get stepped on.
  • If your dog seems stressed out from all the holiday activity, let him nap in a quiet room or his cage with a few toys to keep him company.
  • If your dog is known to get very excited when company arrives, play a game of fetch or take a walk before the guests come.  This way, your dog will be tuckered out and able to sleep quietly on his bed while the party goes on.

Some dogs like to jump up on people when they arrive at their house.  This is their way of saying hello.  Even though it may be cute, someone could get hurt.  Dogs have sharp claws!  Don’t punish your dog for doing this; he doesn’t mean to hurt anyone.  He’s just trying to give everyone Valentine’s Day kisses.  But this doesn’t mean you should let your dog get away with it.  Whenever I jump up on someone, my humans help me off and says, “Off, Sissy.”  This way, while I am practicing my good manners, I am learning a new command.

valentine puppies
Puppy love!

It’s loads of fun to give presents on this day, and, if you want to, you can get your dog a present. This present could simply be a homemade doggy biscuit or a new toy. A toy Kong would make a great present for a dog. Kongs can be stuffed with peanut butter or dog kibble and provide dogs with hours of fun.  They bounce funny and come in all sorts of chewing styles.  There are Kongs for a good price at Amazon.com.

Have a tail-wagging Valentine’s Day!

Help, My Puppy Bites Me!

800px-PachoncitaAre those sharp little puppy teeth always gnawing on you?  Does your puppy bite you when you try to play with him?  If you think that you got the wrong dog for your lifestyle, think again.  What you’re experiencing is normal!

Bangladeshi_Puppies_behavior_(01)There are several reasons why puppies bite.  Your baby could just be playing with you by snapping the air and mouthing your hands.  This, however, can become irksome, especially if your puppy enjoys doing this to children he could frighten or hurt.  Another possibility is fear.  When your puppy thinks he is in danger, he will bite to try to protect himself.  Your dog could also be a bit aggressive (trying to be top dog).  This could easily become dangerous as your dog gets bigger and continues to challenge your authority.  You need to find some solutions to this biting before it gets out of hand!

“I’m just kidding!”

If your dog enjoys snapping/biting you during playtime, he is only trying to have fun and joke around.  As innocent as it seems, however, you have to teach your dog that this is unacceptable behavior.  Those sharp teeth hurt!800px-Chewy_Puppy


If you want your dog to stop play biting, don’t hit or yell at him.  This will only lead to fear or aggression biting and will break his trust in you.  If you’re mean to your puppy, he won’t want to play with you!  You still, however, have to show him that he shouldn’t nip, even at play.

Start playing with your dog.  Fetch would be a good game, as tug-of-war encourages small Dogies_Day_Out_01861puppies to growl, snap, and bark.  Play this game with your puppy when he is a little older.  If your dog “play bites” you as you’re playing, stop the game immediately.  Totally ignore your dog and walk away.  If your dog approaches you calmly and doesn’t nip, praise him and continue the game.  Don’t do this if your dog bites you again.  Eventually, your puppy will catch on that, if he wants to have fun, he has to keep his teeth to himself.

“I’m scared!  Don’t touch me!”

800px-Lisbon_By_Alyson_Two_-_10_(3467115750)Does your puppy put down his ears and tail before he bites you?  If so, he is frightened and feels insecure.  When your puppy bites you, have you been holding an object that could frighten him?  Even something as simple as a hairdryer could look like a monster to a puppy.  If you think your dog is frightened of an object, put it on the ground (as long as it is not dangerous), and let your dog explore it.  If he continues to cower and yip at it, put a high-value treat nearby.  Don’t do it too close at first.  Once your dog has gobbled it up, put another one even nearer to the scary object.  Eventually you can work your way right up to it and help your dog overcome his fear.

Child_with_umbrella,_1968Does your puppy only snap in a scared manner at certain people?  A person wearing a hat, holding an umbrella, or with facial hair are good examples of things that can spook your dog.  Have the person present some high-value treats to your dog when he greets him.  Also, if your puppy does not object, have the “scary” person pet his favorite spot while saying, “Good dog, Trusty.”  If your dog continues to fear certain people, however, consult a professional dog trainer.  While your puppy’s bites do little damage now, he could bite out of fear as an adult and do some real harm.

“I’m top dog!  Back off!”

If your puppy growls, barks angrily, or bars his teeth before biting you, he is being aggressive.  This is very dangerous.  Don’t let this puppy around small children or pets such as hamsters and birds.  He cannot be trusted.  Consult a professional dog trainer right away!450px-Hathor_des_doyens_bordelais


Even though your puppy might bite out of fear of playfulness, he isn’t a bad dog.  He doesn’t know any better.  Please keep this in mind as you teach him patiently and kindly to keep his sharp puppy teeth off of skin.

How to Keep Your Dog Fit and Occupied This Winter

When it’s cold outside, it’s easy to stop exercising your dog.  As the cold in increases, the nice neighborhood walks and outdoor games of fetch slowly come to an end.  Even if it’s cold, however, you shouldn’t stop exercising your dog.  And the good news is, you don’t have to spend a lot of cold outside time to do it!  Below are a few ideas of what you could do with your dog to keep him fit both physically and mentally.

Do Indoor Fetch!

File:Pomeranian at play.JPG
Fetch isn’t only for outside!

Fetch isn’t only for outside.  You can play this with your dog while sitting on the couch!  If your dog doesn’t know how to fetch (or just likes to catch, not retrieve), follow the three steps below to teach him.

  1. Start playing with your dog with his favorite toy.  Fling it around playfully, encouraging your dog to take it in his mouth.  Then, throw it a little distance away.  When your dog chomps down on it, praise him and give him a treat.  Continue this until your dog immediately goes and takes the toy when you throw it.
  2. Now that your dog is reliably running to mouth the toy when you throw it, start encouraging him to bring it back to you.  When your dog brings you the toy, praise your dog and give him a treat.  If your dog finds this difficult, don’t throw the toy so far.
  3. As your dog gets better at fetching, start giving your dog a treat one time and another time scratching him in his favorite place.  Don’t rush this; you don’t want your dog to stop fetching because the treats have stopped.  Soon, your dog will be fetching for just a scratch!

Play Hide and Seek!

dog hiding
“Found you!”

This game isn’t only for children.  Your dog can play it too!  You can hide yourself and softly call your dog to find you.  Or, if your dog loves toys, hide them around the house and give your dog the command, “Seek!”  At first, seek them out with your dog, pointing and showing him where the toys are hidden.  Soon, your dog will rush off to find them himself.  Always remember to say the command! 

Being an older dog, I am not really crazy about toys.  I do have my special little stuffed dog Blue, but I don’t chew on him.  If your dog is more food motivated like me, hide small treats instead of toys.  The stronger the treats smell, the better your dog will be able to sniff them out!

Set Up a Mini Agility Course!

winter post dog agility

Dog agility is basically an obstacle course for dogs where they weave through poles, jump through hoops, and zoom through tunnels.  You can set up your own miniature agility course in a larger room in your house.  Here are a few obstacles you can set up for your dog:

Weave Poles
But forget the poles!  Set up water bottles, and help your dog snake through them with a treat.

Put two books on the floor and lay a broom across them, making a makeshift jump.  However, never stack the books high.  For indoor agility, keep them only as high as one book for small dogs and two for larger ones.  Never ask your dog to jump higher than his knees, even if you think he could.  Also, if your dog has arthritis, don’t ask him to jump at all.

Put two chairs near each other and drape a blanket over them.  There you have it: a tunnel!

Always remember that safety comes first in this indoor agility course.  Choose a nice open space in your house for this course, and never ask your dog to jump high or weave too much.  You probably shouldn’t do the jumps or weave poles if your dog is a young puppy or a senior.  Also, if you have a larger dog, you might not want to play this game with him.  He will have a hard time not knocking things down.

Do Indoor Exercising!

winter post dog in stairs

Put on your dog’s leash and run up and down the stairs with him.  If you don’t have stairs, jog around the house with your dog.  While this should not replace a vigorous outdoor walk, it can help keep your dog fit and happy when it’s bitterly cold outside.

Safety tip: When going down the stairs, walk slower.  You don’t want your dog to skip a few steps by jumping and hurt himself.

Learn Some Tricks

Teaching your dog tricks will give his mind something to think about and help ward off boredom issues such as unneeded barking, pacing, and digging.  Read the Tricks Page to start your training adventure on the right foot – and paw!

Go for a Joy Ride

Even your dog can get cabin fever.  Take your dog for a ride in the car.  You don’t have to have a destination; just go around the neighborhood!

winter post dogs in car

Keep your dog’s safety in mind!  Never, never, never leave your dog alone in the car!  Even if it’s just chilly, the car will act like a refrigerator, trapping all of the cold air inside.  Also, don’t let your dog poke his head out of an open window.  Trash could get into his eyes or he could jump out, even through a small hole.  Dogs are award-winning squeezers!  Keep in mind that your dog should never travel in the back of a truck.  He could jump out and break something and, again, trash could get into his eyes.

Have a paw-some winter!