Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Did Santa or Hanukkah Harry leave you a puppy

So you have a puppy NOW WHAT!!!

"He won't stop whining."
"She chews everything in sight."
"He won't come when he's called."
"She scares the kids when she jumps and nips."
"He doesn't want to be cuddled."
"She's the cutest puppy, but ..."

There are visions of a furry, kissing, fun and frolicy, playing puppy in our heads when we decide to bring a puppy into the family, but those visions can deteriorate into frustration for those who are unprepared for the potential difficulties of puppy training and adjustment to family life.

Relax. First of all, these days do pass, often with lightning quickness. Second, puppies really are pretty easy to deal with - a couple of square meals, several trips outside, and lots of playtime balanced with lots of sleeping are the general rule for the first few weeks at home.
Socialization is important, but it needn't be a chore.

There's no doubt that the first few weeks with a new puppy can be exasperating. Much like having a newborn human baby. That tiny bundle of fur that was soooo friendly at the breeder's home, the kennel, the pet store, or the animal shelter has some behaviors that drive people crazy.

There's chewing, biting, jumping, and oh yeah, the whining and barking! While all normal for dogs, what matters is that the housetraining go smoothly and relatively quickly, that the nipping of children be held to a minimum, and that chewing on furniture and clothing be stopped or prevented.

It's important to remember that puppies are always learning about their environment and their people. Most puppies are housetrained by four months of age, but it may take supreme diligence on the part of owners to prevent accidents until that time.

The first 16 weeks of a puppy's life are critical in determining how he/she will fit into the family. Early socialization is important from the day you get the puppy home. Your puppy needs to experience the world to be sure they become the dog you dream of. All socialization experiences should be fun, positive and a memorable experience for your young dog. This is best done with treats. For example, when your pup meets new people, have the pup sit and then you give a treat for good manners. Food is a great memory maker for dogs.

Fun is the key

Puppy training and socialization should be fun for both owner and dog. Puppies can be taught to sit, lie down, and come for rewards. Even eight-week-old puppies can sit for their dinner or treats and lie down to be groomed. Puppies that resist can be taught with persistence and consistency on the part of all family members. It does no good if Mom requires puppy to sit before meals if Dad doesn't follow through or if Susie slips Fluffy a bit of bacon from her breakfast plate.

Puppies and holidays …

• be sure to provide him/her with a crate to serve as a safe place. It should be away from any hustle and bustle and food temptations.

• stick to puppy food for the newcomer; table food, especially rich table food, is likely to upset his/her stomach.

• keep him away from the Christmas tree or other holiday items so he/she can't break or steal ornaments, burn his nose on the lights, nibble on garlands, or tear through gift packages.

• make sure he/she gets outside to relieve himself in a timely fashion. Set an alarm if you need a reminder. Remember a puppy can hold their bladder for 1 hour for each month of age. (i.e. 8 weeks old (2 months) can hold it for 2 hours)

• keep house plants out of reach
• don't leave perishables on the coffee table.
• don't let him/her get over-excited.
• don't let over-excited children give him grief.

The more the merrier….adding a second dog to your family!

Most dogs will enjoy having a canine companion in the home. Here are some suggestions for making the introduction of a new dog a smooth process.

When choosing a new dog, try to match your dog's personality and temperament, and most importantly, play style as well as your family's lifestyle. If your resident dog is a lap dog, he/she might not welcome an active terrier or herding breed. For example, a couch potato type dog is not the best match for a very active dog or household.
  • All dogs should have basic manners, for harmony as much as safety, but this will be more important when bringing in a second dog. If your dog needs a refresher course, do that first. Training is also a good way to bond with your new dog. A great relationship builder is working with both dogs to teach manners together.

  • If your dog has any behavioral problems, you should resolve those before bringing in a second dog. If your dog isn't completely housetrained or barks all the time, you'll soon have two dogs with that problem. There are a few exceptions, such as a dog suffering from separation anxiety from being alone for the first time in its life. This dog may actually do better if you bring in a second dog.

  • Give both dogs some exercise (separately) before the introduction, so that they will be a bit tired and more relaxed.

  • Introduce the dogs on neutral territory – in a park, for example – not in your home. This is very important. If you bring the new dog directly into your home, your dog may feel that his or her territory is threatened, and may react defensively or aggressively. Take them for a walk, having them walk side by side, not one in front of the other.

  • Keep both dogs on a leash, even if they are in an enclosed space, to give you control if one becomes aggressive. (You hold the resident dog's leash – have a friend hold the other.)
    Keep a positive attitude and speak calmly. Avoid high-pitched, rapid-fire "reassuring" words and anxious petting, which we construe as calming, but dogs hear – rightly so - as anxiety-ridden.

  • Make the experience pleasant – give treats, such as bits of deli chicken or hot dog. Be careful, however, only to reward good behavior. Do not use treats to distract from a problem, and be sure you are not inadvertently rewarding aggression or bad behavior. If both dogs sit without growling, give a treat - within three seconds. Timing, and an immediate connection to the good behavior, is crucial to make the dog remember and understand what behavior is desired and is being rewarded.

  • Remember that dogs are hierarchical. One will be dominant. This is usually the resident dog, but if it is not, do not try to reverse the order they establish because you feel sorry for your dog – that will simply prolong the conflict. A submissive dog is not an unhappy dog – some dogs greatly prefer to let someone else (human or canine) be in charge.

  • If the dogs get into a minor tussle, as long as neither one is getting injured, do not interfere. (If you break up the conflict too soon, they may bring more of the unresolved tension to the next encounter.) Simply walk in opposites directions to separate the dogs. STAY CALM!

  • Accidents do happen--do not worry, yell, or punish. Simply clean it up and move on. Be sure to give both dogs extra opportunities to relieve themselves outside until he/she becomes accustomed to your routine and schedule. If either dog starts to urinate or mark inside the house, consider consulting a Trainer/Behaviorist.

  • Be sure to give your resident dog the same amount of affection he received in the past. Don't give him a reason to be jealous. If he got a walk or a play session at a particular time of day, be sure to continue that. The less the routine is disrupted, the easier this will be.

  • If your resident dog is crate-trained, it is best to start that with the new dog immediately. Remember that dogs are den animals – properly crating a dog (correct size, reasonable amounts of time, etc.) is not cruel and may help the dog feel safe and secure. Some dogs prefer solid crates to wire; if you only have wire, put a sheet or towel over the wire crate (but be sure to allow air circulation).

  • Each dog should have his own food and water dishes. Leave some space between the new dog's bowls and the resident's bowls. Food can be one of the most competitive areas for dogs – feed them separately if you have any doubts about their relationship.

  • Don't overwhelm the new dog with visitors, particularly if he/she is a puppy, during the first days in your home. Remember that change is stressful – allow the dog some quiet time.
    Within a few days, the dogs should be getting along nicely, happy to have each other as a friend and pack member.

Additional Reading:

  • Second Hand Dog, by Carol Lea Benjamin.

  • The Other End of the Leash, by Patricia McConnell, Ph.D. (2002) with positive training methods; how to use human and dog body language to help your dog understand what you want the dog to do. Also a good read.

  • Excel-Erated Learning: Explaining in Plain English How Dogs Learn and How Best to Teach Them, by Pamela Reid.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Does your dog jump on guests?? Poor Greeting Behavior

First I feel it is important to remind everyone, that jumping up during greeting humans makes sense to your dog. That is how they greet another dog. So in dogdom, it is a proper greeting, even thought to be a polite greeting. With that said, in the human world, it is rude, offends guests, and can be also dangerous.

We all know the scenario--you come home and are jumped on, kissed from head to toe, your dog(s) may scratch you, etc.

In this entry, I am going to explain how to change the
Poor Greeting Behavior.
Before we start, I need to be sure you understand that methods such as kneeing, pushing your dog off, stepping on your dogs toes, or worse, the smashing of your forearm across their muzzle and leash pull correction (as the dog jumps on a person, the handler pulls the leash to literally pull the dog off their feet), will not change your dog's jumping and poor greeting behavior. It will, in fact, change your relationship with your dog. These types of methods cause fear, distrust, and worst of all, physical pain in the dog.
How to fix it the right way....
Step one--you need to change how you are greeting your pup. Calm behavior gets calm behavior. For example, if you allow yourself to get all excited and talk in a high pitch tone, with hyper body language, your dog only naturally wants to react the same way. You can provide the love and express that you missed your dog by being calm and controlled. You set the tone and you set the needed greeting behavior.

Next, you will need to practice the sit command, not just during greeting times, but all the time. Without a strong foundation for sit, you will be unable to replace the poor greeting with the much more socially acceptable sit.
In the beginning, you will want to collect the following types of treats for the practice sessions--not the run of the mill type treat--you know, the dry old dog biscuits.
You want the high value treats, like pieces of chicken, liver, cheese, or other soft treat. The treat should be the size of a piece of Cheerio cereal.
As you practice remember to send a consistent message to your dog in all circumstances. Make it simple for your dog and eliminate any confusion. This means that everybody who comes into contact with your dog has to reinforce the same message. It's pointless and unfair if you give your dog a cuddle and attention when he jumps up on you, but then yell at him when he jumps up on a delivery man.

Don't give your dog what he/she wants (attention) every time he jumps up and you'll find the behavior decreases.

When you see that your dog is ready to launch up at you, turn your back or walk away from him. During this process don't make any eye contact with your dog and don't say a thing. Ignore your dog and make it clear to him that when he jumps he gets nothing from you. Ask for a sit, say it just once and otherwise do not talk to your dog.

When your dog has settled down and stops jumping, you then initiate some contact with him. Get down to his level and praise and a nice scratch behind the ear.

If you are consistent and persistent with this method, your dog will soon learn that staying on all four legs is a much better alternative!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Cookies are not just for people.....your dog will love these cookies!

Chicken/Beef Dog Treats

Preparation Method -------- ------------ --------------------------------
3 jars baby food -- (2 1/2 oz. each) either beef or chicken
1/4 cup Dry milk powder
1/4 cup Wheat germ (cream of wheat can be substituted for wheat germ)

Combine ingredients in bowl and mix well. Roll into small balls and place on well-greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork. Bake in preheated 350F. oven for 15 minutes until brown. Cool on wire racks and STORE IN REFRIGERATOR. Also freezes well. *Variation: substitute cream of wheat for wheat germ and then used tablespoon to make cookie sized drops on plate.

Microwave for 4 minutes on Medium-High. Suggest keeping an eye on them in microwave and perhaps start out for only 3 1/2 minutes. They do come out soft. Also suggested using Beef/Vegetable Dinner Baby Dinner instead of Beef or Chicken.

Cookies are soft and chewy (good for older pets who have lost a few teeth). And they can be whipped up in no time.

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup skim milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine flour and baking powder in one bowl, and peanut butter and milk in another. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. Place on greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cool in rack and store in an airtight container.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Our Classes: All are ONGOING registrations. You can start ANYTIME!

Manners 101: This is the foundation training for all ages. How are your dog's manners? This 8-week class covers basic commands including sit, come when called, and stay, among others. Skills covered include polite greetings, no begging, and no jumping, among others. This jam packed class is full of helpful information and participating in it will help you build a better relationship with your dog.
It is just $160 for 8 weeks. You can attend one day or both or alternate. It’s all up to you.
Tuesdays, 6-7pm and Saturdays, 9-10am.

Experienced Handler: This class is ideal for the handler and dog with some experience under their collar and want to take their skills to the next level and improve their relationship. This group class covers relationship building skills. Many other things are covered, including improving your off-leash walking; come when called with intense distractions; distance work; advanced sits and downs and other commands; playing with the agility equipment. This wonderful class meets for 10 weeks.
Limited to 8 handlers. Fee is only $190.
Mondays, 6-7pm, Tuesdays 6-7pm and Saturdays, 9-10am.

Therapy Dog Class: The focus of this class is on preparing the handler and dog for the therapy
environment. This class is ideal for both the novice and experienced handler and will include field trips into the community to gain skills. Skills include working around medical equipment, loud noises, food, toys, and other distractions. Topics covered include stress and calming signals in dogs, infection control, medical ethics, general liability, and handling difficult visitation situations.
This 6 week class is limited to 6 students.
Fee is $140.
Tuesdays, 6-7pm.

Agility for Beginner and Intermediate: This class will allow you to explore the fastest growing dog sport and take you and your dog’s skills to the next level. You and your dog will learn trust and teamwork as you progress in your skills with sequencing obstacles and learn the footwork needed to be successful in the sport of agility. Your dog will jump through tires, tunnels, and weave poles, walk up ramps and much more.
(Dogs must be a minimum of 5 months of age for health and safety reasons)
This 8 week class is limited to 6 dogs. Fee is just $160.
Mondays, 7-8pm. Starting in January 2010.

Trick, Targets and Games Oh My!: This class will cover tricks such as roll over, play dead, wipe your nose and yes, READ! This is an on-going class and a collaborative effort type class.
Class fee for 3 months is $150.
Wednesdays, 6-7pm and Fridays, 5-6pm.

Graduate Handling and Training: This class is for the most experienced handlers. It will focus on advanced skill building; ultimate distractions while maintaining focus; social skills and so much more. This wonderful class will explore a variety of training skills, theories and sports, including drill team, free style, Rally-O and agility. This class is open to students with the desire to improve and bond more with their dog,.
Limited to 8 students. Class fee is $600 for 6 months.
Sundays, 9-10am.

Off-Leash Extravaganza: This is truly an off–leash class. In fact, you will leave your leashes at the door. This class provides all the skills needed for off-leash handling and control. It is ideal for graduates of Graduate Handling or Experienced Handler.
This full 12 week class is just $225.
Wednesdays, 7-8pm and Mondays, 7-8pm.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009



PlayCare: Our Play Care is in some ways similar to typical Doggie Day Care, but in SO MANY WAYS very DIFFERENT!
  • Our structured day is filled with small group play sessions.
  • Healthy and safe staff to dog ratio of 1 staff to 7 dogs!
  • Both indoors and outdoor space to play and enjoy the day of fun.
  • Our hours are filled with mini training sessions and skill building.

This structured day is supervised by our Director of Training, Shannon Fitzgerald-Mehlman. She has over 25 years of professional behavioral experience. All dogs are supervised and playgroups are guided to promote healthy and mentally simulating play. No free-for-alls here!

For multi-dog households, we offer a 10% discount on our 10 and 20 day passes.

Eligibility: Dogs must be 3 months of age or older. All dogs must be spayed or neutered. Puppies have until 7 months of age to be spayed or neutered. All dogs over 4 months of age must be current on Bordetella and Rabies. All dogs need to provide proof of vaccinations.

Hours: Monday-Friday 8am-6pm (extended hours are available upon
request). We also offer overnight care at our home. See our Petsitting/Overnight Care.

Leading the Way offers doggie daycare and all types of training, including private, group classes and a residential training program. Behavior assessment and modification is done using ONLY positive methods focused on shaping behavior.

We have over 25 years of professional experience, dedicated to enhancing the relationship of both ends of the leash, through knowledge, compassion, and building long term relationships with our clients, both two and four legged.