Thursday, April 28, 2011

5 Dog Training Myths Debunked!

Prong collars, dominance theory and puppies, oh my! With dog training television shows, books, and the internet, pet owners are inundated with a plethora of training information on a daily basis that is enough to make anyone’s head swim. Unsure of which methods to adopt? We’ve tackled some of the confusing theories you might encounter.

Myth: Puppies younger than 6 months of age can't be trained.
This concept took hold back when collar corrections were all the rage and punishment was acceptable. Modern dog training relies heavily on positive reinforcement which can easily be applied to a young puppy. Puppies are eager little learners and though their attention spans may be short, they are easily motivated by healthy treats, attention or play. Set aside short chunks of time to teach a desired behavior several times a day and keep providing those rewards!

Myth: All interactions with dogs are either dominant or submissive.
In recent years, dominance theory has become a bit overblown. Dominance theory classifies interactions between dogs and owners as either dominant or submissive. However, we feel that this approach is too simplistic and doesn't take into account the myriad dog behaviors that have little to do with dominance or submission. If your canine exits the door in front of you before you go on a leisurely walk, that doesn’t mean your dog is trying to dominate or control you. Your dog is probably just excited to get going! If your dog acts out in an uncontrolled way like eating scraps off the table or pulling on his or her leash for walks, simply teach the correct behavior and reward rather than blaming it on dominance.

Myth: An old dog can’t learn new tricks.
This is an old adage that many people choose to believe when they experience training hurdles. Just because you adopt a mature dog or your pet has carried some bad habits into adulthood doesn't mean training is a lost cause. Treat your mature dog as though it were a puppy; start from square one. If your dog isn't housebroken, begin by taking your dog outside to go to the bathroom and reward afterwards. Teaching new skills and reinforcing old ones is beneficial to dogs at any age and is a wonderful way to keep your dog’s mind young.

Myth: Your dog will seek revenge if you leave him alone.
Though guilt, revenge, and payback are all actions and emotions that exist far too often in the human world, they have little or nothing to do with the realm of our furry four-pawed friends. If you leave your dog alone for a long period of time and return to find the contents of your garbage strewn across the kitchen floor, rest assured that it was not done with vindictive or malicious intent. Our lovable pups are blissfully unaware of those turbulent emotions. Instead, your dog is likely to be acting out in response to anxiety and boredom. If your dog has issues being alone, refer to our previous blog post for some helpful tips.

Myth: Crates should only be used for punishment.
Just because a crate has bars on it does not make it a prison. Crates are an excellent tool for potty training, quiet rest time, and are essential for traveling. If you only use a crate as punishment, it will be very difficult to use the crate when other situations arise, like traveling cross country or even using it as a safe haven for your pet during a thunderstorm. Make your crate comfy with blankets, familiar with toys, and appetizing with treats, food, and water, and your dog will associate pleasant thoughts with the crate. This way, if you are having guests over and don't want your dog getting underfoot, you already have a secure and comfortable place to let Fido rest for a while. 

Though it is great that our dog-loving society has no shortage of training information, it can certainly make the training process a mystifying one. Morris K9 Campus is dedicated to staying on top of the latest training tips and techniques while simultaneously incorporating tried and true strategies that have proven effective over the years. If you feel overwhelmed or perplexed by the practice of dog training, consider visiting Morris K9 Campus for guidance on the training process. Our motto is that a well-trained dog is a happy one! 

What dog training myths have you discovered? Which techniques have proven particularly effective for you and your dog?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Eco-Conscious Canine

The green movement has unquestionably swept the nation and by now, you have probably jumped aboard the environmental band wagon and are doing your share to ensure the longevity of our planet for generations to come. Maybe you hang your clothes out to dry, carpool to work, and are tenacious about recycling. But did you also know that it’s possible to reduce your dog’s carbon paw print? We don’t expect your pup to start picking up litter on the sidewalk during your daily walks, (though we’ve heard it’s possible, Ruby a golden from Colorado does just that) but there are small lifestyle changes that can be made which are not only better for the planet but also your cuddly canine.  In honor of Earth Day, we have outlined some green-savvy tips to help you and Fido help the planet.

-Biodegradable Poop Bags: If you haven’t yet made the jump to canvas bags, use all those leftover plastic bags as poop bags on your dog’s walk. If you are already a canvas bag junkie, pat yourself on the back and use bio-degradable bags for your dog’s eliminations. These bags are compostable and can be flushed down the toilet so they don’t sit stagnant taking up space in landfills. 

-Donate dog toys: No one understands more than we do that your dog is your child. But having two toy boxes full of dog toys might be overwhelming for your dog, not to mention wasteful. Buy durable toys that won’t be destroyed an hour after your dog gets hold of them, and give them a quick wash when they get dirty. You can donate toys you no longer want to shelters where homeless dogs would be more than happy to play the day away with Fido’s hand-me downs.

-Green your dog products: As the environmental movement gains ground, so too do natural products ranging from your shampoo to the paper towels you use. The dog industry has seen its share of amazing innovative earth friendly products. From compostable dog food Becobowls, made from natural fibers like bamboo, to toys made at Planet Dog from leftover recycled materials.

-Spay or neuter: Spaying and/or neutering your dog not only fixes numerous behavioral problems but ensures we don’t continue to overpopulate our planet with canines that may wind up in shelters.

-Adopt a dog: Shelters across the country are overflowing with dogs that have come across hard times. Provide them with the loving warm family they desire and deserve. Let’s celebrate the lives of wonderful dogs already in this world!

These are only a few helpful tips. How have you and your dog gone green?


Friday, April 15, 2011

How to Adjust Your Puppy to Alone Time

Is there anything more irresistible in life than a warm, fuzzy, sweet puppy? Squirmy, playful, and innocent as a newborn there’s no better way to pass the time than to watch a puppy play, jump, sleep, breathe…just about anything! We understand the difficulty of actually getting up off the floor and leaving your puppy’s side to brush your teeth let alone leave the house. That said, we also understand alone time is a pivotal step in a puppy’s maturation process and crucial to healthy development. In order to prevent separation anxiety down the line for both you and your pet, we have outlined some baby steps and tips to help you confront the issue with minimal effort.

But Wait! Before you begin, make sure that your baby dog has had a recent potty break and some food in the ole’ belly so that if puppy starts whining, you know it’s not for those reasons.

Puppy Play
Engaging your precious little pal in games and activities that work both their expanding minds and muscles is just as essential to their overall well-being as food and bathroom breaks. If you don’t want your pooch to be upset, you need to provide them with an outlet. Romp in the yard, play fetch, try training techniques like Morris K9 Campus’s puppy on-off leash class; all activities that get your puppy’s body moving and their brain thinking. If you provide this activity before leaving, they will be exhausted and less likely to be upset. If you engage your puppy after you’ve been away it proves you will return and a reward is on the way. It’s a win-win!

Photo courtesy of Barely Fitz
The Crate is Your Best Friend!
Andrea Arden, animal behavior counselor and pet expert suggests taking advantage of your growing pup’s need for ample rest time by adjusting your dog to sleeping in a crate. In the beginning, keep the crate close to you or other family members. Gradually move the crate further and further away over the course of a few weeks. Need to get some chores done around the house? Want to try that new workout DVD? Place puppy in the crate and tackle your to-do list with vigor! Your puppy will probably whine which is normal in the beginning. Simply listen to music or turn up the volume on your workout DVD. Don’t forget, you also deserve your own attention as well! After 30 minutes to an hour, let your pooch out. This demonstrates to your dog that after a certain extent of time, you will return, which will ease their little minds.
Note: Baby gates placed in designated areas can often be just as useful.

Photo courtesy of Bowi the Boxer
When life calls and you must leave, toys can take your place amazingly well! Just make sure they are safe toys that won’t cause a choking hazard (for more information read our blog article The Hunt for the Best Dog Toy). Kongs® filled with treats can be appetizing and engaging and chew toys can aid in the teething process.

We understand that raising a puppy is both a joyously wonderful experience as well as a little overwhelming. If you follow these tips both you and your puppy will be better for it. If you need more assistance raising your puppy, Morris K9 Campus is standing by and eagerly waiting to lend a paw.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

When a Stranger Calls

The early morning garbage man, the mail carrier, or even the occasional Girl Scout selling those delicious cookies is often enough to send Fido into a barking frenzy. No doubt, for safety alone, alerting us to the presence of a stranger is a valuable benefit to owning a dog.

However, if your pooch takes it too far by displaying aggression, don’t worry; there is no need to hide your little Cujo in the spare bedroom. The following tips are provided by Dr. Sophia Yin, a veterinarian and animal behaviorist, in a guest blog for

Womb to Tomb
If your dog was never properly socialized from the early stages of tiny furry cotton-ball to adult fuzzbucket, it makes sense that random people and other dogs might frighten a pet with little outsider experience. Make every attempt as your dog develops to introduce him or her to new people, places, and other pets. This will ensure your canine doesn’t develop a fear of unfamiliar people, places, or situations. Just keep in mind that some breeds are naturally more sociable than others.

Body Language
Learning to read their body language provides critical clues into dogs’ thinking and how they are likely to react to certain situations. According to Dr.Yin, “Fido may be tense with eyes darting back and forth or his gaze looking away while he's cowering. Or he may be yawning, licking his lips or panting when he shouldn’t be hot.” All these signs should alert you to your dog’s discomfort and give you time to warn eager petters about the possible danger. Look for the same signals when approaching dogs that you have never met and always remember to ask before petting an unfamiliar dog.

Small Steps
Once you’re fluent in your dog’s body language, take little steps to eradicate unfavorable behavior toward strangers. Invite guests over one at a time so as not to overwhelm your dog. Have the acquaintance come in the house, but don’t let them pet or even look at your dog. Provide your guest with treats so Fido will associate this new person (and new people he or she meets in the future) with a positive reward. You can also try distracting your dog from his or her fears by asking your pet to perform tricks, focusing on you rather than the stranger.

Until you are absolutely confident in your dog’s behavior toward new people, do not allow any petting. Simply work on providing constructive and pleasurable experiences for your dog so that guests feel pawsitively welcomed by not only you, but your dog as well!

Is your dog ready to meet new people this spring?

Sources: “Dogs and Fear of Strangers.”