Common Sense…AKA Positive Reinforcement

Some people don’t have common sense. I haven’t always had it. It’s a new way of thinking…new age. Okay, I kid. People complain that their dogs whine and beg at the dinner table. Did that just happen magically? Well…NO!

If you give your dog food from the table while you are eating, generally they will want more of that good stuff while you are eating. If you save some for them and put it in their bowl later…they won’t beg at the table. If you reinforce their begging at the table by giving them more food…it will happen again. It’s called positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement is giving a dog a reward for something you like (you want repeated). Positive reinforcement is a very powerful tool in dog training. Positive reinforcement is used in any healthy type of dog training. If you want your dog to come, you teach them the concept with positive reinforcement (when they come to you, you give them a reward to tell them “good job” such as attention, toys, or treats). If you want your dog to learn any trick you use positive reinforcement. If you want to modify behavior such as jumping on people, fearful aggression, or even begging at the table…you can use positive reinforcement.

There is a pattern here…positive reinforcement works. Why? Because it’s the same thing your parents used to raise you and build a caring and loving relationship (hopefully). Dogs are family, not play things or replaceable (even though some people think so-it infuriates me!). Making a connection with them and building a trusting relationship is very important-believe me, I have learned it work very well in training, especially with fearful dogs.

If you yank a dogs leash, yell at them, swat them with paper or your hand, you can bet they will not trust you and your relationship with your pup will suffer. Traditional methods of training are outdated and cause dogs to follow you out of fear instead of wanting to follow you…just because they want to (they like you!). Positive reinforcement training allows dogs to be more confident and less fearful.

Next time a problem comes along I suggest positive reinforcement (also known as common sense). You reinforce behavior you want to keep. If you want your dog to beg at the table, then go ahead feed them that piece of steak off of your plate. However, if you want to use common sense, wait until later when they are laying around relaxing and reinforce that with a small piece of steak.

For those of you who want an example of positive reinforcement in action here you go:

Positive reinforcement can be used to reinforce everyday behavior you want to continue. For example, if you want to teach your dog to relax, give your dog a treat when you see them relaxing. If you want to reinforce paws staying on the floor when guests arrive, treat only when the dogs paws are on the floor.

Positive reinforcement can also be used to teach behaviors.

For example, if you want your dog to learn to look at you when you say his or her name you can easily use positive reinforcement. Call your dog’s name. When your dog looks at you, give them a treat (I would use a clicker and click, then treat to make sure the dog realizes you are giving them a treat for the moment they look at you.) Continue practicing this so that every time you say the dog name they continue to look. This should be repeated until they can at least look at you 80% of the time you call their name.

Additionally, positive reinforcement can be used to modify behavior.

Oreo is fearful. She gets scared when she sees other dogs on walks. Problem: she is so scared she starts to puff, growl, and lunge even when a dog is 50 feet away. She won’t turn around or move!

How can I solve this problem? Positive reinforcement! I can walk with Oreo at a distance a bit further than 50 feet away. I don’t want her to get very upset, so upset she can’t hear me or think. I want her to be far enough away from her “trigger” (what gets her upset), that I can work with her. So I try 55 feet away. I walk with Oreo and when we see another dog we start practicing turning around. I call her name and give her 5 seconds to turn around. If she does turn and look at me I click and treat (reinforcing the behavior of looking at me in the presence of another dog so she will do it again). If she doesn’t we need to start over (no reward, I don’t want her to ignore me, so I won’t reinforce it). Eventually with practice, she will turn around and walk the other way with me quickly.

These are just examples, and if you have a fearful dog like my dog Oreo, I suggest you seek a positive professional dog trainer to help you. There’s a lot more your dog needs to learn then just turns. Common sense right?

The Most Dangerous Time of Year…For Your Pet

Dog_Christmas_cartoonAccording to vets, Christmas is the most dangerous time  of year for pets.

Whether you are celebrating at home or at a family member’s house, there are some things to remember to have a jolly jubilation:

  1. Holiday plants can be poisonous: holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia.
  2. If you have a real tree, don’t let your dog drink the water. You may think it’s okay or funny, but it’s not. The trees usually contain chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers. These chemicals go into the water and can poison your pet!
  3. Don’t let your dad, your favorite uncle, or even your child feed the dog too much fatty food. This food can cause to stomach upset. It could be a little bit of a problem where it’s bothersome, but could also turn out much worse.
  4. Decorations: If you have a christmas tree hang ornaments and lights higher, so your dog won’t chew them or think they’re a toy. Also watch out for broken ornaments, especially if they are glass. Tinsel and ribbon can cause LOTS of problems. I have a friend whose dog ate tinsel and had to get surgery to remove it from their intestines. **GROSS ALERT: If your dog happens to eat ribbon or tinsel and tries to poop it out, but it gets stuck-DO NOT PULL IT. This can cut slit the intestines open. The only reason I know this is because this is what happened to my friend’s pup.
  5. Hide your presents…from your dog. Don’t leave the house with presents around. Dogs can smell chocolates or other food or candy wrapped up. Countless dogs get rushed to the emergency vet due to “finding” chocolates and candy, eating them all, and some of the wrappers.
  6. Keep the routine-Don’t stress out your pet. If you are busy continue to feed, walk and play with your pet around the same times if possible. Stress can lead to many health problems or behavior issues. A bored dog might find those presents, or rip up and eat those decorations.
  7. Have an escape plan…for your dog. If you are planning on having a holiday party at your house or brining your dog to another house, have a plan. Your dog may become overwhelmed. You might think, “Oh he’ll/she’ll be okay,”  but it’s always important to have a place your dog can relax or escape to if they become nervous or tired. Many kids/adults/other dogs may not want to leave your dog alone-be prepared to stand up for them. But really-if you think your dog may have a problem..DON’T even take them. Flooding them with too much at a time can create lifelong lasting problems…trust me.

There are many other things to think about such as keeping your tree anchored, keeping tree needles out of your dogs paws, not using flashing lights if your dog is scared, and keeping your dog away from loud noises.

As always avoid giving your dog foods they are allergic too and make sure no one else does. Avoid common foods that are toxic to them such as alcohol, chocolate, onions, grapes, coffee, caffeine, avocado, raisins, xylitol (sweetener used in gum, candy, baked goods, and toothpaste) and large amounts of salt.

Most of these things are commonsense to many people, but it’s always important to refresh your memory during such a busy time. Enjoy your holidays, keep your pup calm and happy and enjoy the time with your furry friends!

 

                                                                              Oreo and I wish you a happy holiday!574765_10150698253903348_1034283633_n

 

Buying a Puppy for Christmas

Considering buying a puppy or pet for Christmas?

Please don’t!

PETS ARE NOT GIFTS/TOYS. Please do NOT give a dog as a gift/toy. A dog is a family member, very much like a baby in many ways. Don’t buy the dog on a whim-yes they are sooooo cute and can be cuddly, but they also can pee and poop all over your house and tear apart your belongings. Puppies have fear periods and the holidays are full of commotion. You want to get a puppy or dog at a time of stability and calmness. Breeders don’t usually sell Christmas litters because it takes TIME to train them and socialize them properly. You might be disappointed with a puppy when you find out they keep you up every night crying and make messes. They might not be the “Christmas Present” you thought they would be. Please don’t adopt/buy during Christmas or for Christmas-many dogs are returned during this time and this can have a profound effect on the dog for the rest of it’s life.

If you have talked about getting a dog, please be serious and committed to the dog. Do your research if you haven’t had a dog. Ask neighbors, friends, and trainers the effort that needs to be put into training and having a dog. Consider adopting a shelter dog. Instead of adopting/buying a dog right away, perhaps have a card saying, “Let’s talk about getting a dog!” Over the holidays you can discuss many different things:

  • Where to get the dog (finding a reputable breeder, adopting from a shelter, etc)
  • How to train the dog
  • Do your research about dog training, adopting, house training, etc.
  • Discuss breed type-get some books!
  • Discuss cost of a dog/puppy and consider all the food/vet bills/equipment
  • Discuss time you will need to put into training with your dog/spending with your dog (make sure you have time!)

Overall, adopting a shelter dog is a wonderful thing to do. Adding a puppy or dog to your family can be very rewarding, however, please don’t do it around the holidays.

Urinary Tract Infections

Dogs get UTI’s just like people do. There are many reasons for UTI’s.

Some include:

  • prostate disease
  • stress
  • trauma
  • cancer
  • bladder inflammation or infection
  • stones, crystals or debris accumulation in the bladder or urethra
  • weak bladder/hormonal issue

How do you know if your dog has a UTI?

  • fever
  • inability to urinate
  • increased frequency of urination
  • bloody or cloudy urine
  • increased water consumption
  • vomiting
  • soiling in inappropriate places
  • lethargy
  • changes in appetite

There are many different treatments including supplements, powders, and antibiotics for your dog. The most important thing to do is to take your dog to the vet asap. An untreated UTI could lead to kidney and other more serious problems.

Why talk about UTI’s? Well, a week after bringing Oreo to the vet for her lumps, I noticed increased urination, then noticed blood in her urine at the park. She is on antibiotics for a UTI. We are going to send a urine sample in a week after she finishes antibiotics to make sure it is gone and there aren’t any crystals or anything else in her urine.

As for her bumps…the large bump on her leg has gone away completely. The red lump on her leg has disappeared. She seems to have large bumps…more like swelling in a few areas, but she seems happy and content.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving everyone!!!!

Be Your Dog’s Advocate

Stand up for your scared pooch!

Yesterday my husband and I took a lovely, long walk. Even though the air was cold and crisp, we enjoyed a walk around the neighborhood. We encountered a few dogs in yards. Luckily enough they stayed in their yards. We decided to keep our distance and I grasped my treats to give to Oreo as we walked by. I was also holding onto those treats tightly incase I needed to launch them into an approaching dogs face.

We must stand up for our dogs. If your dog is scared of another dog, don’t let the dog come up to it. We had a close call on the way home when someone was greeting relatives. The man opened his door and started walking across the roach when his little poodle came running out after him. I’m sure the dog was nice, as everyone reassured us. However, I place myself in between my dog and the white poodle looking to say hello. Luckily I was with my husband, who picked up Oreo (she is not light anymore, around 45 lbs.). I yelled for the people to get their dog. I told them my dog will attack their dog (seemed like a good thing to say to get them moving, they were moving sloooww). “Oh, she’s nice, don’t worry about it,” they replied. I don’t think so….I called back to them telling them she WILL bite their dog, they need to call it back.

You know that awkward moment when someone tries to walk by you, you move out of the way, but you actually move in their way. Then they move to the right, and you move to the right, and you both are gridlocked like you are playing a blocking game. Well, that’s what we were doing. The poodle moved to the right I moved in front of it and said “No!” The people might have taken offense, but too bad…MOVE YOUR DOG, it’s like 2 feet away from being attacked or who knows! They called their poodle, yet it didn’t listen. Luckily I kept blocking the dog long enough for the owner to scoop it up when if finally swerved to the side and started peeing. Unbelievable.

We live in a condo area, so it’s the law to keep your dog on a leash at all times. There are many condos tightly packed together, with many people around. The man let his dog follow him and run around right in the middle of the street. It horrified me even more that the dog seemed to have no recall skills. If I didn’t stick up for Oreo I don’t know what would have happened. Maybe she would have been nice to the dog, but more likely she would have been scared and lashed out. I didn’t want her training to regress, but I also didn’t want her to have to experience that fear of being attacked or having to attack herself to protect herself. I had to show her that I would protect her. She could trust me, and I wouldn’t let her be attacked again.

It’s important to protect your dog from major triggers and fears. For example, if your dog is afraid of small children, don’t let children pet your dog. Tell them your dog is scared, sick, or training, or the truth-that it would bite them. Do what you need to do to protect your dog. They can’t talk the same way we can, so talk for them. Be your dog’s advocate.

Snoozin’

I love my bone!

This was definitely after a long walk…ahhh so peaceful. She loves her bone! It is a good extra source of calcium since she is fed mostly homemade food. We let her chew on it in the evening and when she is done we put it away. This is a good managment idea for resource guarders…don’t leave toys or things around your dog guards (if you can help it), and keep practicing “trade”.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good:

Over the summer months Oreo’s health and behavior has greatly improved. We can walk by dogs on the opposite side of the street without her caring (most of the time depending on some dogs she is super scared of). We can also walk at the park on the path and people pass us and all Oreo does it look up at me for a treat (yay!!). She got along very well with my husband who was helping out, taking her on long walks after work and feeding her and giving her medicine in the evening. She even greeted the new neighbor with a lick!

The Bad:

I am back at work now, this was my first week. Oreo is home alone around 8 hours a day. I’m a teacher so I can’t come home at lunch and my husband works too far away. A dog walker is out of the question because of her reactivity. She doesn’t destroy anything or go in the house-she is actually great at home and probably sleeps the whole time. However, when I come home she is happy stressed–meaning she jumps all over me nipping at my hands/clothing. That means that she is anxious. Anxious from being home so long and change I am sure. What else has rocked her boat is that we are getting bamboo flooring in the living room. Our townhouse is tiny, so furniture is stacked in the kitchen, we have been walking on a concrete floor and there are only two couches in here. I’m sure that change has probably affected her A LOT. She also eats in the living room, which is a BIG change from her routine.

And the worst and most permanent of the changes: 2 DOGS NEXT DOOR, and you can hear them barking sometimes through the walls. This is what I dreaded since renters are next door. Fortunately, the lady has fearful rescues (Small ones too), so she is understandable. However, just seeing dogs constantly or hearing them when you are afraid definitely will raise your stress. We have also put our home back on the market, hoping at some point we will get that single house with a big yard for her to run around in 🙂

On another note, Oreo has scabs on different areas of her body-I think it may be a bacterial infection so I am using wipes to help, but if it doesn’t improve we are in for another trip to the vet. I’m guessing the infection is caused by all the changes and stress which must have lowered her immune system. We try to spend more time outside with her, but unfortunately she must be allergic to grass or pollen.

The Ugly:

Last night was ugly alright. Oreo was on the ground eating her kong from earlier. She has extra special goodies in it. My husband walked out the door then returned and within one step she snapped at him. Except this time there was no warning, and no fault at all on my husband. He was just walking by-didn’t even look at her and she snapped. It was a very vicious sound too. I thought she got a hold of him or something and was attacking. Thankfully, no one was hurt, just some feelings. Immediately she dropped the kong and licked him. She was told to go to her bed and not allowed to sleep on our bed.

Yes, I understand that resource guarding is a normal behavior FOR A DOG, and very unsafe for humans. I would be more understandable and hopeful if there was a warning, or if it were my husband’s fault, however this was unpredictable since she hasn’t growled or resource guarded for a while. My husband is VERY upset and threatened that if she does it again she is gone. However, I think he said this out of fear/pain/anger right after it happened. He says it is his house so she needs to listen she is a guest. However, she is not a human guest. I have a plan for him to work on so it doesn’t happen again, although I think it may have been redirected stress instead of as much of resource guarding as I think.

So the game plan is:

-less stress by making sure she is walked, spending as much time as we can with her after work, doing some training/tricks with her when we are home to help her confidence

-whenever my husband walks by and she has something of value (start with low and work way up), he will drop treats, and practice trading. He needs to be consistent because he doesn’t stick with it. I will have to convince him-he will probably need more time.

All of this may sound silly to some, but we are young and do want to have kids in the next years to come, we would hate for anything to happen to anyone (including her).

Well, that’s all, wish it were better news. Seems I just need to win the lottery so that I can stay home and spend more time with the pup.

Taking the Scare Out of the Hair

Today’s blog post is a review of a product called the Scaredy Cut Silent Clippers. As you see above, it is basically scissors plus an attachment combs.  When you order the product it comes in either blue or pink, with 6 attachments from very long to very short.

When Oreo was under a year old she would get groomed (hair cut) at a local pet store. I was told she was very good during trimming. Eventually she would throw a fit when she saw us leaving (like a 2-year-old barking throwing herself on the ground, etc). Still, after a few minutes the groomers would take her in the back and she would be fine. After being attacked, her fear of dogs came about so bringing her to a dog store is not a great idea. I thought of alternatives, maybe having someone come to the house or a traveling groomer or even a local one with no other dogs there.

However, her fear of people had increased and other reasons added to our decision to do her hair ourselves. For one, we paid over $45 each grooming session. Cutting her hair ourselves would save us some money. Additionally, she has come back from the groomers with cuts before. We have tried a few groomers and days later each time we would find cuts and scratches on her that were not there before.

So I decided to take things into my own hands. My mother always groomed out west highland terrier herself with an electric razor. So I brought Oreo to my moms and we plugged it in to get started. Immediately the humming vibrations freaked her out! She would not come anywhere near it and was scared to death. Well, that was out of the question unless I wanted to go through weeks of training to have her adjust to the humming noise. Plus the thing was big, heavy, and bulky…I wouldn’t want that coming at me if it was around the size of my head either! Great, now what was I going to do?

Internet! Yes, I am an avid user of the internet and finding answers on here. I searched no noise razor, silent dog groomer, quiet haircut for dogs, etc until I came across the scaredy cut. I said hey, I’ll give it a try. I was skeptical knowing that Oreo is afraid of almost everything new, and thought it would take FOREVER to give her a haircut. However, I read reviews and took the advice of others.

My amazon purchase arrived shortly later that week and I opened the package to be surprised by how easy it looked. Everything looks easy until you try it right? Wrong! I spent some time having Oreo touch the scissors and treating her so she knew it was a “good thing”.  I progressed to taking her outside and running it along her back (not cutting), and treating. I was trying to get her to think it was a positive thing. I read many other reviews from people on amazon and some used similar techniques with their scared dogs or cats. Eventually I cut a piece of her hair and treated her immensely. Yay! We did a little at a time.

The first time I gave her a haircut I will admit it took a long time. Not because of the product, but because she was scared. I probably cut her hair for about 10 minutes, then gave her a break. I focused on one section of her body, then we took a break. Sometimes we came inside and played or did other things then returned to cutting later so she wouldn’t be anxious.

The scissor attachments work great. I started with a longer attachment but found the shortest one the best for most of her body except her face and lower legs. All I had to do was run the scissor with the attachment up her back and snip snip snip. I was amazed at how quick I could cut her hair, if she wasn’t afraid. The hardest area for her of course was her paws and face. That took much longer because it required more stopping and more treating. However, I am happy to say now she is hardly bothered by the trimming of her face (however she seems annoyed at me sometimes!). She is MUCH better with me trimming around her legs and feet, especially when she is tired (that is key!).

Overall, the Scarey Cut is a great tool for people who want to save money or have scaredy dogs or cats. She actually loves it now and will lay down and sleep while I am cutting her hair! Well, I can’t say she loves the scissors, but I know she loves the treats that come along with them. I can probably cut all of her hair (back, belly, feet, legs, trim ears, face, etc) in an hour or less depending on how perfect I want it. It has been a wonderful gift for us and can’t thank the inventor enough!

Allergies and How to Stop Infections

It’s been 2 years that Oreo has been dealing with her allergies. As mentioned in the previous post, food allergies were partly to blame. She is also allergic to pollen, and her allergies flare up the worst after it rains. Oreo+wet grass = bacterial infections

If you have a dog or cat with allergies, you know how frustrating it can be. I have tried so many different supplements, allergy pills, and other items. I will tell you what works for US. It doesn’t mean it will work for anyone else, but if you are struggling with allergies perhaps it will help. I know the pain and agony of bringing the dog to the vet continually to get antibiotics which seem to help for a few weeks, then you are back at the vet again.

Some things I have tried:

  • allergy pills claiming to help (online, in pet stores)
  • cover ups  (t-shirts) to stop flare ups outside
  • wiping her feet/belly when coming in
  • herbal supplements (Calendula, tinctures, etc)
  • wipes
  • itching spray
  • tea bags on towel then warm compress on eyes
  • Benadryl, zyrtec, etc (as prescribed by the vet)
  • bathing her at least once a week

Unfortunately, as some of you already know, my conventional vet failed me when it came to allergies. She just kept recommending different types of antihistamines which didn’t work and didn’t even suggest a food allergy test. This is when I went to Smith Ridge where they combine conventional with complementary therapy (totally recommend looking at all choices). Some of the things they recommended work, some I figured out on my own or other dog owners have helped me. This doesn’t mean it will work for you, but I hope it helps.

Some things that have HELPED:

  • wiping her paws,legs, belly with a towel after a walk when it is wet outside-helps get the pollen off
  • walking her so much she is too tired to itch! (may seem funny but when she is tired she is less likely to itch and bite at herself)
  • clean her ears at least once a week with WITCH HAZEL (no alcohol) I recommend Thayers. This has worked MIRACLES for us! I put some on a cotton ball and wipe the inside of her ears. I don’t even have to use harsh ear wash that irritates her or put drops in her ears (which she HATES).
  • supplement that has really helped: http://www.onlynaturalpet.com/products/Seven-Forests-Quercenol-Dog-Herbal/105004.aspx it’s quercenol-it helps the immune system, liver, and allergies. It is especially helpful with itchy skin, ears, and paws due to allergies. You can read more about it at the link above. I got it from the vet when she told me about it, but you can order it online too.
  • Keeping stress down. When her stress builds up her immune system is weak, therefore, allowing allergies to bother her more. Keeping stress down is easier said than done (as all of us reactive dog moms/dads know).
  • Got her food allergy test done. If your dog has seasonal allergies I really think you should still get a food allergy test because you NEVER know!
  • Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil-This is the similar to giving your dog fish oil pills, but Oreo is allergic to those. I add about 1/2 a teaspoon to her food every day. Here is an article about the health benefits of coconut oil for your dog. http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/the-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/ Make sure you get ORGANIC EXTRA VIRGIN coconut oil.
  • Douxo Chlorhexidine 3% PS Pads-these are pads that help stop infections. Instead of going to the vet every single time Oreo gets bumps or a rash, I simply wipe the area a few times over a couple of days and usually it is all better! It also has great reviews on amazon (5 stars). This was recommended by a woman in my training class. Here is a link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002LO0MGU/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00
  • Bathing her-once a week or once every 2 weeks. I neglected this recently since she doesn’t love baths, but gave her one this morning since she is getting super itchy. I definitely notice a difference in the severity of her itching if I don’t give her a bath for a few weeks.
  • Last but not least natural hydrocortisone from the yam plant. If you have never heard of this ask your vet if your dog is on hydrocortisone-the natural kind has less side effects. It is also mentioned in the article below.

http://www.myholisticpetvet.com/2012/02/09/treating-itching-and-scratching-a-ticklish-subject/

All of these seem like a lot, but they become part of the routine and I didn’t add them all at once. If your dog is super itchy make sure it’s checked by a vet (many things can cause itching, not just allergies). Helping your pup with allergies can be very frustrating. If it is frustrating for you, think about how bad it must be for your pup. I thought NOTHING would work, until I found the right combination and so far it’s been smooth sailing (okay not smooth, but so far so good-knock on computer!)

Maggots, Bats, and Turds-Oh My!

We were gone for more than a week on vacation and Oreo did a great job with my parents. My parents know how to manage and work with Oreo when she is stressed. They had 2 incidents of barking/lunging with a dog and a girl when she was too close. Oreo came back happy, but with gooey ears and bumps on her belly. She spent a lot of time outside (which she LOVES) but her body does not like (allergies).

Anyways, on our walk to the park today I was reminded of all the wonderful things she has had in her mouth since she was a puppy. My parents informed me she LOVES to eat the clumped up cut up grass. Boy do I remember things she use to eat when she was a puppy:

mulch, stones, bottles, sticks (still loves to make them into mulch), grass clumps, wires, poop, etc

Just like a baby, puppies put anything they can get a hold on into their mouths. Unfortunately I have had the displeasure of taking some very NASTY things out of her mouth. On our walks she would have something in her mouth before I could even tell what it was, so I would stick my fingers in her mouth (not recommended) to get it out afraid it was something non-edible. On our walk one day she gobbled something in her mouth, I went to get it out and AHHHH I got it out only to find maggots crawling on the item and on my hands. GROSS.

Needless to say I guess I didn’t learn my lesson. In the Poconos she had something in her mouth. I was hesitant this time to stick my fingers in their to get it out, but with some urging that it was just black plastic from my mom I put my hands in their again. After she spit it out, I then realized what I was grabbing at was a DEAD BAT! UGH!!!!

Again, I didn’t learn my lesson and next time wound up with goose turds on my hands. Just goes to show you never know what you’re gonna get when you stick your fingers in your puppies mouth.

On a serious note, we should watch what our puppies eat. I have heard countless stories of dogs eating metal, balloons, plastic, and other items only to end up at the vet to have major surgery to remove it. For puppies, eating anything is normal behavior, so going to a class or teaching your puppy to “leave it” or “drop it” can be very important.

One way to practice “drop it” is to have your dog play with a toy. When the dog drops it-click and treat! Your dog will get the hang of it and you can add the words “drop it” as the dog drops the toy then click and treat. Eventually your dog will associate “drop it” with dropping the toy or item, then receiving a treat for it. You want to try this with lower value items (things your dog doesn’t want as much) to items that are highly valued (their favorite bone, toy, etc).

“Leave it” can be taught many different ways. One way is to put a treat in front of you. As your dog approaches say “leave it.” Keep your hand close by to cover the treat if the dog approaches. Then uncover and say leave it again. When your dog hesitates – CLICK! then pull a treat from your pocket. Continue practicing by adding distance and different toys/things that your dog wants. Always start with low value items to higher value items. If your dog cannot “leave it” do not move on to a higher value item.

Also, make sure your dog has some chew toys-especially when they are a puppy.

These 2 things are very important so your dog doesn’t get maggots, bats, or turds in their mouths that you may have to pull out!