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Calm Dog with Calming Signals- Part 2

PART 2 OF THE SERIES – Calm Dog with Calming Signals

More Signals to Have a Calm Dog

8.  Down: Lying down on his back, belly up, is submission, and lying down with his belly to the ground.  You can use it when your dog is stressed and trying to get attention, lie down either on the sofa or ground to calm dog.

9.  Yawning:  Your dog may yawn in many situations, such as when you go into the vet’s office, when there is a loud fight, when a child goes to hug him, etc.  You can use it when your dog feels uncertain, a little bit scared, stressed or you want him to calm down a bit.

10.  Sniffing:  Sniffing can be a swift movement down towards the ground and up again.  Or a dog may continue to stand with his nose down to the floor until the problem is over.  However, dogs also like to sniff to explore, so you need to look at the whole situation to be sure what it is.  Its hard for people to use this signal themselves, but if you want to try you can sit on the ground and pretend to scratch the grass or examine something on the floor.

11. Curving:  This signal happens a lot in the city life, since our dogs are on leashes, and is the best way for dogs to meet!  You’ll often see two dogs curving their bodies, and sniffing each other’s behinds, or one sniffing while the other turns away.  Mature dogs usually do not go straight toward each other, because it is impolite to do so (puppies on the other hand don’t know this yet!)  You can use this signal easily, but not approaching a scared dog directly, or even changing directions a little first

12. Wagging Tail:  A wagging tail is NOT always a sign of happiness.  You need to look at the whole picture in order to interpret it.  If the dog is crawling towards you, whining, or peeing, the wagging tail is a white flag, trying to make you calm down.  You cannot use this signal, because you have no tail to wag 🙂

Calm Dog

Non-Calming Signals

There are other types of signals too, like staring, walking straight towards someone, standing over another dog, growling, barking, showing teeth, these are all threatening signals.  Other signals can be excitement such as raising of hackles and tails.

Observing all of these signals is important in your dog and in other dogs.  Observe your dog at home, when visitors come, etc.  While out walking your dog, or at the park, observe all the dogs behavior at the park, its quit amazing how quickly you’ll pick this up and learn how to have a calm dog.

The Stressed Dog

A dog feels stressed just as humans, when they feel unable to cope.  Usually when they get stressed they start to use calming signals to try to ease the stress.  SO knowing these calming signals will help you to see when your dog is feeling stressed.

A dog with constant high stress will be much more likely to get stomach problems, allergies, and heart trouble.  They will be faster and more violent in their defense.

What makes a dog stressed?

  1. Direct threats such as violence, anger, aggression in his environment
  2. Jerking at the lead, pushing him down, pulling him along
  3. Too many demands in training and daily life
  4. Too much exercise for young dogs
  5. Too little exercise.  If you need help exercising your pup, just give us a call- Whiskers and Leo Pet Care!
  6. Hunger
  7. Too much noise
  8. Being alone
  9. Too much over excited play with balls etc
  10. Never being able to relax
  11. Sudden changes

For example, a dog can become stressed and therefore aggressive because of its environment, and yes of course it can be genetic, but more often than not, its something in the dog’s life.  There is no reason or excuse to punish , be violent, threatening or forceful towards a dog or demand too much of him.  All of these things can make a dog stressed, and stress can make him ill.  He can become reactive more quickly, showing aggression because he has a higher defense mechanism.

How to Identify Stress:

  1. Restless
  2. overreaction
  3. use of calming signals
  4. Scratching
  5. biting himself
  6. diarrhea
  7. shaking
  8. chasing his tail
  9. panting
  10. shivering
  11. loss of appetite
  12. allergies
  13. Fixation on certain things- glimpses of light, flies
  14. Looking nervous
  15. behaving aggressively

What can we do about stress in our dogs? Some basic ideas….

  1. Teach ourselves to see, identify and use calming signals!!
  2. Change environment and routines wherever possible
  3. stop using harsh methods, violence and painful things in training (like shock collars, prongs etc)
  4. Avoid hunger, Thirst, extreme cold or heat.
  5. Make sure he has the opportunity to go to the bathroom as much as he needs- again, if you need help exercising your pup, just give us a call- Whiskers and Leo Pet Care!
  6. find your dog’s correct level of exercise, not too much or too little
  7. Let the dog be part of the pack as much as possible
  8. closeness, touching, massage, lying close together without keeping your dog there by force

One of the best ways to reduce stress and have a calm dog is to be able to communicate with dogs.  When you can make yourself understood by dogs, its a wonderful feeling- calming signals are the key!

Teach Your Dog To Do NOTHING!

This is a great read for all dog owners! I do something similar with my dog Valentino, but I labeled it LEAVE IT. So anytime he is looking/staring at someone/something, and I think he may start to bark etc, I say LEAVE IT, if I see something on the floor I don’t want him to touch, I say LEAVE IT. Its a great command, and the below, is also a great alternative to reward your dog for behaving!

“Reinforcing your dog for doing nothing is a technique I learned from my most amazing mentor, Kyle Rayon. The idea is, when you see your dog doing absolutely NOTHING, that is the moment you want to reinforce him with attention and treats. For example: Your dog is standing calmly at your side on a loose leash, and an excitable dog comes out of the blue from around a corner. As your dog sees the other dog, you pop a treat in your dog’s mouth while he is standing there DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! By doing this you will reinforce your dog for doing nothing in this situation, making it more likely he will do nothing when in a similar situation in the future. Don’t wait the 3 seconds for when your dog starts barking his head off at the other dog. Another example is: You are in the street standing and talking to a friend on a walk, while your dog is next to you doing nothing. Feed your dog a treat for doing nothing while you chat. Don’t wait until your dog starts whining, or pulling or jumping on you to give him attention. “Nothing Behaviors” are highly overlooked by many dog trainers. Many trainers focus on training dogs to “Sit”, “Down”, and “Stand”. But they forget to reinforce all the wonderful “Nothing Behaviors” that the dogs are already doing!

Tip: When reinforcing your dog for doing nothing, you need to get the treat to him before he thinks to look at you. This is because you want to “take a picture” of that calm behavior he is doing at that exact moment in time with the reinforcement, so that exact behavior will be repeated in the future. If your dog turns to look at you as you feed him a treat, you will be “taking a picture” only of a dog that is excited about the food that he is about to eat. Feeding him a treat while he is looking for his treat will not at all reinforce the calm nothing behavior you had hoped for, so wait until your dog is not thinking about the food again, before giving your dog the treat.

You can get the food to your dog while he is not looking at you, by having food already prepared in your hand, so that you don’t make a noise before you move to feed your dog. You can also toss a treat between your dog’s paws so it is less expected, or come from behind your dog with the treat to get it to his mouth. If you have a dog that is so over-aroused by food that he never looks away from the food, teach him to settle around food first.”

From website: http://dogmantics.com/train-your-dog-to-do-absolutely-nothing/


Why Is It Dangerous To Leave Your Dog’s Collar On While In The Crate

Your dog’s crate should be his or her’s safe haven- a place to relax, a place to sleep, a place of comfort and safety.  Unfortunately, there have been stories about dogs accidentally strangling themselves in their crates while their owners are not home.  It is such a tragedy, and one that can be avoided, so please please please adhere to these safety tips!


A dog’s collar could get caught on the latches or the bars of the crate.  When my Valentino was a puppy, he figured out how to escape the crate (and not through the door!!)  And a lot of dogs will try to do this.  Well if he had a collar on, he could have gotten it stuck while trying to escape.  If they do get stuck, they panic and try to get themselves free which usually only makes it worse, and they can end up injured or strangle themselves 🙁


Tags and hooks can also catch up on the bars or the doors of the crate- which is another reason why you should remove your dogs collar before he or she is put in the crate.


Some dogs out of boredom, will try to chew on their collar while in the crate.  Not only is this expensive to buy a new collar, if your dog swallows part of the collar, this may require expensive surgery too!  Also do not leave your dogs collar on top of the crate (esp. with wire crates), because the dog may be tempted to reach it, and pull it into the crate to chew on it.


Another thing that can happen is your dog can scratch at its collar, to try to get it off, and hurt himself in the process, by either scratching the skin raw, or getting its leg caught in the collar itself.

Treat your puppy as a toddler, and take all precautions!



Problem Barker??

barkingdogQuick helpful hints for your problem barker!

(1) Try not to yell when he’s barking, he just thinks you are joining in the fun!

(2) Pick a word you will use every time, and stick with it, whether its HUSH, NO BARK, etc.  Be consistent, and don’t yell your dogs name to make him stop barking.

(3) Manage the situation properly- for example, if he is barking out the window, shut the blinds.

(4) Provide a stimulating environment for a bored dog- most dogs bark when bored.

(5) Make sure you are NOT rewarding the barking and confusing your pup.  For example, your dog barks like crazy right before you feed him, then do not feed him until he stops barking, or else you are rewarding the barking.  It may take forever the first time, but be patient 🙂

(6) If you think he’s barking because he’s nervous, maybe contact a professional positive trainer to help you.




The Hide and Seek Game Never Grows Old!



Dog-Under-A-Blanket-On-White-53243893 copyAll kinds of pets can play this game, not just dogs, but for dogs it just comes naturally!

The game is also an obedience lesson.  Start the game with a SIT or a DOWN, and a STAY.  Be well supplied with yummy treats, and then go to another room and pick a good hiding spot.  Make it easy at first and then graduate to more difficult-to-find spots.  Once you are hidden- call the dog, but just once!  If he doesn’t find you in a reasonable amount of time, or starts to lose interest in looking, make another noise or call his name again, to get him back into the game.  When your hiding spot has been discovered, then reward with lost of treats and praise.  And then start all over!  Trust me, your dog will never grow tired of this game!

Winter Fun for Dogs!

Winter Fun for Dogs!

As a dog owner myself, I know how agonizing these brutal winter months can be with an energetic dog.  Also, I’m very familiar with that guilty feeling because you are not stimulating your dog as much as when it’s warmer out- running with, biking with, playing with, eating with at outdoor restaurants, drinking with at Pier 13 — or just taking that extra long walk along the waterfront because it’s so beautiful outside.

Hopefully, some of these suggestions can help provide some relief to you and your pup during this extremely cold winter season!


When a client asks us to walk their dog on the same path everyday, we usually ask the client if we can switch it up instead, and here is the reason why:  going new places, or just going on a different route offers the excitement and mental stimulation of new sights and smells, in addition to exercise.

I am definitely guilty myself of walking Valentino on the same path often, however I notice that when I do walk him on a different street, he gets really excited for the new scents (more so than I would have thought!).  Or you could also get in your car and drive to a new dog park.  I like Brookdale in Montclair because it’s bigger than any dog park in Hoboken, and its not too far if you have a car.

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Did you know that mental exercise tires a dog more quickly and thoroughly than physical exercise?  So teach your dog a new trick each week!  Can your dog balance a treat on his nose?  Shake a paw?  Roll over?  Crawl along the floor?  Jump through a hoop?  Play dead?  Retrieve?  Pick a new trick, and start training!  Don’t forget that consistency is very important when training.  Teaching your pup a new trick will also enhance the bond between you and your dog.  And if you teach them a trick that also relates to obedience training- leave it, off, down – well, ever better!

Don’t underestimate your pup!  Dogs love learning, love the challenge, love pleasing their owners, and of course love the treats that come as a reward!  There are so many tricks you can teach your pup, I can’t even count how many Valentino knows.  Also, you can teach them words alone.  A dog can learn more than 100 words, close to 200.  Valentino has been practicing the names of his stuffed animals.  It sounds silly but they really do enjoying learning – “Bring Tigger!”


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Chewing is healthy for dogs, and helps them relieve stress as well.  Food dispensing toys are invaluable boredom busters. While rubber Kongs are great toys and can be stuffed with a great variety of treats and tasties, there are many other options on the market now — check out your local pet store!

Valentino’s new favorite chew toy is an antler, or a marrowbone.



If you place your dog’s kibble in a food bowl, chances are the bowl is empty within 15 seconds and the dog gazes up at you upon finishing as if to say, “is that it?”  You can put that food to work for you by making your dog hunt for it with his nose. Instead of dumping the food in his bowl, consider crating him, or putting him in another room, while you hide small piles of food in the house then release him to “kibble hunt.” Initially, make the piles very easy to find. As your dog gets better at this game, practice hiding the food in more difficult spots.

I actually use small treats when I play this game with Valentino.  This is one of his favorites! 


Hide and seek is a great way to exercise your dog’s mind and body and recall skills. You can do this alone or with your friends or family. Hide (or take turns hiding if there is more than 1 person playing) throughout the house, calling the dog to you, and rewarding her generously with treats or maybe a game of tug once your pup finds you. If you are playing with more than 1 person, when the treats are finished, say “all done!” which is the cue for the next person to call him.

When I pay this game with Valentino, I start in easy hiding spots, and then make them progressively harder.  I put him in a room that I am not going to hide in, say “STAY” close the door almost all the way, so he cant cheat and peek, and then once I’m hidden I say “COME FIND ME!”  If he is stumped I give him hints, by calling out his name so he can follow my voice.


Turn your dog’s favorite game into a training game!  For every throw of the toy, ask your dog for some obedience behavior or trick as you hold the toy.  As soon as your dog performs, give him some praise, then send your dog after his toy.  Dogs adore this game, once they understand how it works.  For working breeds, it also gives them a fun, satisfying outlet for their built-in drive to work with you.

After I started playing this game, Valentino eventually started throwing all his tricks my way- to try to guess which one I wanted! 


Dogs benefit from social interaction outside their family unit.  If your dog gets along well with other dogs, find some time to get together with a friend or relative and their dog.  The great thing about a play date is that it doesn’t have to be outside in the frigid cold, it can be inside your homes.

When I introduce my dog, or any dog for that matter to a new dog especially in a home type environment, I always make sure to pick up all the dog toys first.  Take any potential items they can fight over out of the picture at first (including food, food bowls), then you can slowly introduce toys etc into the picture.  If you do not know someone with a dog you can arrange a date with, you can always call Whiskers and Leo Pet Care to walk or run your dog!

Have fun with the games!

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One last thing before you leave…..please read this article titled “Your Dog is Not a Human Being- Stop treating Her Like One.”  Trust me, every dog owner should read this!!  The title sounds harsh, especially for us dog fanatics, like myself, but it’s truly great advice, and adds to my blog post about keeping your pup occupied mentally and physically!



Does Your Dog Walk You?

dogpullThe first rule in teaching your dog NOT to pull, is to never allow him to pull. If you are inconsistent, your dog will test you and continue to try pulling since it pays off for him sometimes!

You can use various methods and training equipment to help teach your dog not to pull. Here are some guidelines and methods from the ASPCA website:

1) Until your dog doesn’t pull, consider all walks training sessions.
2) Find other ways to get out your dog’s energy while training him, so he is not tempted to pull you on the leash. Most dogs pull because they have excess energy. Try a dog park, fetch, tug etc.
3) Use desirable treats that your dog doesn’t get at other times.
4) Walk at a quick pace. Your dog will stop less, and have fewer chances to pulling you.
5) If your dog gets too excited right before the walk, while putting on the collar/harness, then you need to calm your dog down before leaving.
6) Tell your dog walker that you are training your dog not to pull, and give him or her the methods that you use, so they can continue the training process on their walks.

My 2 favorite methods of training your dog not to pull:


Walk in your intended direction. The instant your dog reaches the end of his leash and pulls, red light! — stop dead in your tracks and wait. When he stops pulling and puts slack in the leash (maybe he turns to see what you’re doing and this makes the leash a little slack), call him back to you. When he comes to you, ask him to sit. When he does, say “Yes,” give him a treat and resume walking (green light). If your dog looks up at you in anticipation of more tasty treats, quickly say “Yes,” and give him one while you keep walking. If he pulls again, repeat the red-light step above. As you’re walking, reward your dog frequently for staying next to you or slightly ahead and for looking up at you. If you do this consistently, he’ll learn that a) if he stays near you or looks at you, he gets treats and gets to keep moving, and b) if he pulls on the leash, the fun stops because he doesn’t get to keep walking and he has to come back to you and sit. If your dog pulls toward an object to sniff or eliminate, carry out the red light, but when he comes back and sits by you, don’t reward him with a treat. Instead, make the object he wanted to sniff the reward. Say “Yes,” and release him to go to the object. (Make sure you go with him toward the object so that he doesn’t have to pull again to reach it.) After a few days or weeks, you’ll find yourself stopping less frequently. Make sure you continue to reward your dog for walking with slack in the leash or he’ll start pulling again. This is the method I used on my pup Valentino, and it worked for him!


Start with your dog standing at your left side. With several treats enclosed in your left hand, hold your left hand right in front of your dog’s nose (within 1 inch of it). Say “Let’s walk,” and walk in your intended direction. Every few seconds, pop a small treat into your dog’s mouth and praise her for walking along at your pace. You’ll need to frequently reload your hand with treats from your left pocket or from a treat pouch attached to your waist. If she pulls ahead or to the side, immediately stop. Get your dog’s attention by calling her name again. Ask her to sit, and praise her when she does. Then put the treat-loaded hand back in front of her nose and start walking again. Go a little bit farther every day that you practice. After at least a week of daily practice with lured walking, stop luring her along with your treat-loaded hand, and instead just carry your empty left hand in a natural position at your waist with elbow bent. Say “Let’s walk,” and reward her, about every other step you take, with a treat that you get from your left pocket or waist treat pouch. When she can walk along without pulling for several minutes, begin gradually increasing—over many daily training sessions—the number of steps you go in between treats so that your dog is walking longer distances between rewards. Reward her every other step at first, then every 5 steps, then every 10, and so on. Eventually, you should be able to walk with your hand comfortably at your side, periodically (every minute or so) reaching into your pocket to grab a treat to reward your dog.

Lastly, choosing the right equipment is vital. When in training do NOT use a regular snap collar (actually don’t use this ever because dogs can get out of them easily), a regular body harness (gives them power), or a prong collar (unless used with the guidance of a certified trainer). Good choices are a martingale collar, a head halter or head collar such as the gentle leader, or a no pull harness (sensation harness).

dog nopull

Good luck! It is worth the effort, because once your dog learns not to pull, you can have relaxing walks side by side! 🙂

School is Out!! Give Your Pup Some Extra Attention!

Now that school is out for the summer, why not spend some extra time with your pup! Summer is a great time of the year to give your pup some special attention since the weather is warm. By teaching your dog new tricks, providing her with extra TLC, or simply going on a hike, you can really strengthen your bond with your dog.

Another great thing you can do with your pup is take her to obedience classes. If you already completed obedience, and are ready for the next step- you can get your dog certified as a therapy dog! (http://www.njsitnstay.com/about.htm)

My pup Valentino is a certified therapy dog through Sit and Stay. I also love to teach him new tricks. It’s a great way to keep your dog stimulated, and keep your top dog status in the household. A great book I like is called “101 Dog Tricks (by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy).” As long as you and your pup are enjoying yourselves, and you are using positive training techniques, go for it!


House Training Tips!

Some clients have recently asked us about house training, so we thought we would share some tips!

(1) Keep your pup on a regular feeding/watering and walking schedule.

(2) Your pup’s walking schedule depends on his age and how far along he is in house training. Young puppies always need to go out first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and shortly after naps, playtime and eating. Other than that, a typical walking schedule is every hour for how old your pup is in months. So if you have a 3 month old pup, he should be able to hold it 2/3 hours (of course this varies).

(3) Your puppy always needs to be monitored in your home, so as to not let him have accidents. Watch for signs such as whining, barking, and sniffing. Be aware of your pup’s signals that he has to go!

(4) When you are not around, or not able to watch your pup, he should be in a crate. Crate training is an excellent technique for helping with house training, and keeping your pup safe while he is still young, and curious! The crate should not be too big. Gradually, as he gets older and grows you can increase the size of the crate, and eventually give him more and more space while still keeping his environment safe.

(5) When you do take him out to go to the bathroom, praise and treat him afterwards. I would give him the same treat for going outside, and only give him that treat for doing just that. Also, take him to the same spot each time to go to the bathroom.

(6) If you find your pup in the act of eliminating indoors, startle him, so he might stop mid-stream, and take him directly outside to finish. Then reward and praise. If you find that he elimiated but did not catch him in the act, you cannot scold him, because he will not relate that to the wrong act.

Good luck!!


Clicker Training Your Pup

I recently bought a clicker, why not!  Im taking Valentino to Agility class, and they mentioned clicker training, so I wanted to share some tips I found!

Clicker training is a form of positive reinforcement training.  The sound of the clicker marks a positive behavior.

Things to keep in mind:

1) A click equals a treat!  After you click, to mark a positive behavior you always have to give a treat to your dog.

2) Give the treat as soon as possible after you click.  It should only take 1-2 seconds to give him the treat.  If you do not, then he might not see the connection between the clicker and the treat.

3) Timing is important!  It is important that you click the clicker at the exact moment that your dog completes the behavior asked of or task asked to do.

4) Keep your clicker handy to capture behaviors.  Capturing behaviors is a great way to teach your dog new behaviors with very little effort on your part.  Keep your clicker and a handful of treats handy, and whenever you catch your dog doing something you like, simply click and treat.  You will be amazed at how quickly your dog can learn!

5) Go back a step.   If you find your dog confused about certain behaviors, take a step back.  For example, if he cannot hold a stay for 30 seconds, and breaks it, go back to a 10 second stay.  Slowly move forward.  If your dog is making mistakes, it might be because you moved ahead too quickly for him.

6)  Keep your clicker training positive!  If you find yourself getting frustrated end the sessions.  Keep sessions short, 5-10 minutes.  Always end on a positive note!



Stop Your Dog From Jumping!

dogjumpStopping your dog from jumping can be a daunting task.  My puppy is 2 and he still jumps on people, but mostly at the dog park, when he’s really hyper and running around with his ball in his mouth.  Luckily he is only 44 pounds (however some people might say that is big).  In contrast, there is a 125 pound Great Dane at the dog park that jumps, and the outcome is a little bit different needless to say!

When your dog is a puppy, it is cute when he jumps, but when he turns into an adult, it is more a nuisance and could be dangerous (and can wreak havoc on your wardrobe!)

Teaching your dog not to jump takes time, patience, and some training and management.


First you have to teach your dog that if he jumps he gets NO attention.  Turning your back to him is a great way of doing this.  Never use your hands to push him off you because this is considered attention.

Then teach your dog if he sits, you will then pet him and give him attention.

One of the most important things in training is CONSISTENCY, so make sure your whole family is on the same page!


When teaching your dog not to jump, you must manage every situation so he doesn’t have an opportunity to jump.  Things you can use to help you manage:

(1) Keep your dog on a leash around people you know he will jump on, so you can control him.  For example, a lot of dogs jump on new visitors to your home, so put a leash on your dog before answering the door.

(2) Confine your dog to another room when you are at your home, and have visitors over.

(3) You can also put your dog in his crate (but not as punishment) when you are at your home and have visitors over.

All of these things will prevent your dog from jumping, and possibly reinforcing bad behavior while he is in the learning phase.

Here are some other useful tips:

(1) If your dog jumps on you when you come home, then keep your greeting low key.  If he does jump, turn your back and ignore him.  Tell him to sit, and when he does then praise him and say hello to him.

(2) If your dog jumps on you when you are sitting then stand up and ignore him.  Don’t push him or use your hands, just ignore him.

(3) If your dog jumps up on other people and if you have your dog on a leash, you can control him and tell him to sit.  Then when he listens, you can tell the other person to acknowledged him, and you can even give that person a treat to give him.  If you don’t have your dog on a leash and someone is approaching you, you can put your dog in a sit and stay, and then praise and reward him if he stays there when they person has approached.  Of course if he does jump, you can ask the person to turn his back on the dog, and not pet him.  If you are at an off-leash park or somewhere where your dog is not on leash, and a person says ITS OK when your dog jumps on them, you can always in a friendly way tell them you are training your dog not to jump, so they know its not OK with you.

Good luck and remember stay consistent!  It can be a lot of work, but you are stimulating your dog every time you work with him, so this is actually great mental exercise for your dog!



What You Should Know When Deciding Between a Dog Walker & Day Care Facility…..

  • In regards to training, most reputable trainers will say that a day care facility is not an ideal option when you are practicing obedience training with your dog.  Since most facilities have a poor staff-to-dog ratio, correcting bad behavior is not on the top of the list.  These facilities can reinforce undesirable behaviors in your dog. In addition, at a facility your dog can pick up bad habits from other dogs such as barking, soiling indoors, and overbearing issues.
  • The chances of your dog becoming injured are far less with a dog walker.  During a dog walk, the dog is on a leash, and closely monitored.  In a day care facility, the dogs are off-leash and things can get out of hand real fast because again of the poor staff–to-dog ratio.  Accidents can happen easier in this type of situation even with the most well-meaning people, and sometimes these accidents can have lasting negative affects on your pup.
  • Day care facilities are not ideal when housebreaking your dog.  In fact your dog will often continue to eliminate indoors while at a facility.  Dogs are best housebroken in their own homes with consistent, realistically spaced out walks that are appropriate for life stage.
  • The likelihood of your dog getting sick increases drastically at a day care facility.  In addition, most facilities do not insure the dogs while they are in their care; so if your dog gets sick or hurt at the facility, you are paying the bill.  With most dog walking companies, the dogs are insured, and the company will cover your expenses.  But of course, make sure you ask about their insurance!
  • Dog walking is also more appropriate for addressing separation anxiety.  It is best to deal with these issues by teaching and then supporting your dog to be at east at home by himself.  If needed, a trainer or behaviorist can help.  There are many methods for supporting your dog through separation anxiety; however, sending your dog away to day care will not address this use, just mask it.
  • If you are looking to further socialize your dog, dogs love to walk in packs, which can be accomplished with a reputable dog walking company.  For safety purposes, the company should not walk more than 2-3 dogs at once, and this way your dog gets personalized attention and training.
  • Regarding your dog, there are 2 types of exercise: physical and mental.  Some dogs at day care facilities do not get enough of either, or both!  With a dog walker, you know your dog is walking (or running!) while he is out.  As for mental exercise, on a leashed walk, your dog is getting the mental stimulation that he needs – i.e. leash training whereas the walker is making sure your dog is walking behind or beside him for the duration of the walk.  In addition, your walker can reinforce other commands your dog is learning, such as leave it, wait, stay, heal etc.  At day care facilities, this one-on-one walking and attention doesn’t exist.
  • Some facilities provide limited access to their clients.  This is two-fold.  Some facilities prohibit dog owners from visiting their pet at any time, with or without advance notice.  And some prohibit you to tour the entire facility and observe play before signing up your dog.  The other side of this is that some facilities “close” during part of the day, and at night, so you are not allowed access to pick up your dog at these times.  Also, some facilities, are closed for holidays, meaning if you come home on that day and want to pick up your dog, you cannot, and have to wait for the next day, and pay for your dog to stay there that night.


It can be embarrassing when your dog acts a certain way in public, but you should recognize that it won’t help if you’re equally reactive. For instance, if your dog is barking and lunging at another dog across the street, pull it back and say nothing. Just remove it from the stimulus that triggered the reaction. Yelling at your dog for reacting simply adds stress.
It’s important to remember that you need to set an example, because dogs watch us and learn from our body language. If you are stressed, they might not understand why, but they might see a reason for themselves to be on high alert. So be aware of yourself and note whether you are cuing your dog’s reactions with your own stress.

7 Smartest Dogs

Dogs are very smart animals.  In fact, some scientists estimate that the average dog is as smart as a 3-year-old child.  That means he is smart enough to understand more than 150 words, smart enough to count to five – and smart enough to outsmart humans! Psychologist Stanley Coren, a leading canine researcher and widely published author from the University of British Columbia, studied data from 208 dog obedience judges in the USA and Canada to determine which breeds are the smartest.  Check out the results below to see if your dog made that list: 1. Border collies 2. Poodles 3. German shepherds 4. Golden retrievers 5. Dobermans 6. Shetland sheepdogs 7. Labrador retrievers So how do you improve your dog’s IQ? A good smart toy can actually boost your dog’s IQ!  It’s true. Veterinarians recommend puzzle toys (also called “smart toys”) because they provide dogs with the fun mental challenges they need to keep their minds sharp, while keeping them active and happy.  These toys require your dog to use his problem solving skills to “win” the game. A good smart toy is worth its weight in gold, because it will entertain your dog for hours.  One that I am going to try is Kyjen Hide-A-Squirrel. (Information provided by petplace.com)

How To Control Your Puppy’s Barking Habit

(From Dogster.com) Dogs bark at things for several reasons including a perceived a threat, a sign of boredom, or a cry for attention.  Barking is also a form of communication between dogs and they have distinct sounds and volumes for different expressions.  A dog barking in a high pitch is often excited, a dog sort of gurgling in a lower pitch is usually content. A dog emitting a low growl is issuing a warning.

All breeds except the Basenji bark. Some are more vocal than others such as those bred from guard dogs. Puppies are looking for work at this age and, in the case of incessant barking, warning their owner of impending danger is their work. The trash truck is an enemy, the doorbell is an enemy, the dog barking down the street is an enemy.

There are two approaches to stopping barking – deterrents and training. Often the best result is to use both.


  1. Get a Ultrasonic Deterrent – These make a sound undetectable to human ears which discourages barking.
  2. Use a Citrus Collar – This sprays citrus near your puppy’s face when he barks and acts as a deterrent.
  3. Hire a dog walker – This will ease boredom if you’re away.
  4. Acupuncture – This solves many problems, from depression to colds. It can also help with behavior problems such as excessive barking by relaxing your puppy and balancing their system.
  5. Leave Things to Do – Leave interactive toys and Kongs out for your dog if you’re going out to keep your puppy busy.
  6. Leave the Blinds Down – If your puppy is barking mostly in reaction to sights outside, closing the blinds will help stop him.


  1. Make Sure You’re Established as Alpha – Obedience training helps to establish this as does actions such as deciding when you pet your puppy or when he can, or can’t, get on the couch.
  2. Train Your Puppy to Bark – Yes, this will actually help. Train your puppy to bark on command. Hold a treat up to your chin and say “Speak!” When your puppy speaks, reward him. Next, say “Whisper!” in a very soft voice and reward when your pup figures out how to lower his voice. When he barks on his own, use the “Whisper!” command.
  3. Train Your Puppy Not to Bark – Now you can train your puppy not to bark. Start with “Speak!” then command “Whisper!” and, finally, say “Quiet!” in an even softer voice. Most puppies will find this exercise fun and will easily figure out what you want him to do. Be sure to praise and reward whenever he accomplishes a command.

One of the most frequent reasons dogs are given up to shelters is excessive barking. This is sad considering that we can easily fix this problem. It’s also ironic since it’s often our own behavior that is causing it.

Lack of a human Alpha in the household confuses a dog and makes him think he is responsible for protection. We encourage barking when it’s fun and then wonder why they continue later. We leave our dogs alone all day and wonder why they get bored and bark. And incorrect training exacerbates the problem. Yet, some view this problem as entirely the dog’s fault. And we all know it’s (usually) unfair to blame it on the dog!

Leash Training Hints

Dogs pull for various reasons. But the simplest explanation is this: we keep following them, allowing them to lead us around by the leash. If we keep following, the immediate connection is this – them pulling on the leash equals person moving.

Before expecting your dog to calmly walk beside you on leash, train her to be calm when you are putting her collar and leash on! Ask her to sit-stay while you are putting on her leash. If she does not stay, the walk is delayed until she does. Don’t give in or she will learn that it’s OK to be out of control. If your dog doesn’t have a reliable sit-stay, then practice training her to sit-stay without the distraction of the prospect of a walk. If you do not know how to teach a reliable sit-stay, enroll in an obedience training class or call an at-home dog trainer like Bark Busters.

Most dogs learn very quickly that they must sit while the leash is being attached to the collar. They usually tremble with excitement, ready to explode into a frenzy as soon as this phase is accomplished. If your dog bolts toward the door, dragging you behind, then the situation is still out of control. Simply hold onto the leash, stand still and let your dog dance, ricochet and bounce around at the end of the leash. It may take 5 minutes or more, but she will soon realize that you are not going anywhere and will begin to calm down. When this happens, praise her for being good. After another minute or so, take your first step, but NOT towards the door. Instead, walk your dog around your house, garage or yard to give her a chance to practice her ‘not-pulling’ skills. Every time she pulls, lunges or strains on the leash, simply stand still again. When she calms down, talk to her, praise her calmly and quietly. Try to keep her attention on yourself instead of the door that leads to outside. When you feel that your dog is in control and she is walking nicely without pulling in your house or yard, then it is time to proceed to the great outdoors.

Every time your dog pulls on leash and you continue the walk, you are rewarding her for pulling and lunging. Every time your dog gets out of control it is essential that you instantly stop the walk, stand still and wait for her to calm down before continuing. It is a tremendous effort in patience at first but it will pay off if you persevere. You may only get to the end of the block or even your driveway on your first outing, but if you give in to your dog’s demands, then she will continue to pull. You can speed up the process by asking her to sit- stay for about 5 to 10 seconds every time she begins to pull. Of course this will only work if your dog already has a reliable sit-stay.

What is Your Puppy’s IQ?

Learning your puppy’s IQ can help you with training, telling you what to focus on.  It is best to test and compare within a species, such as dog to dog, as inter-species testing has too many variables. Testing for a dog’s I.Q. is different from testing a human’s but there are some ways to determine his smarts.

Before thinking about testing your puppy’s IQ, your puppy must be at least 12 weeks old and must have been in the home with its new owners for at least 4 weeks.

What you will need:

  • Flat collar on your dog
  • Training lead
  • Treats
  • Small can or bowl (like an empty coffee can or some other Container)
  • Towel, sheet or some fabric that can completely cover your puppy

    Test 1 – Observation Learning

    Choose an activity that your puppy has seen you do before many times and that it enjoys e.g. going out for a short walk in the yard or ride in the car, getting dinner ready, etc. Engage in the behavior in five stages, scoring 5 points for your puppy’s immediate understanding of your intentions (you take one step toward the door and see if he approaches you and looks enthusiastic or runs to an appropriate place, signaling understanding). Score 0 for paying no attention at all while you complete the entire maneuver. Intermediate scores 1-4 are awarded for intermediate responses.

    Test 2 – Problem Solving

    Take an empty can and your puppy’s favorite food treat. Show your puppy the treat and then put the treat under the inverted can. Score the puppy’s attempts to obtain the food on a similar 0 to 5 scale. A score of 5 is awarded if the puppy obtains the food treat by knocking the can over and getting the treat within 15 seconds; score the pup 4 for obtaining the food treat within 15-30 seconds; score 3 for completing the task in 30-45 seconds, score 2 for a time of 45-60 seconds, score 1 for eventually getting the treat; score 0 for the pup giving up, losing interest, and walking off defeated.

    Test 3 – Problem Solving

    Throw a tea towel or the corner of a sheet over the pup so it is completely covered and observe its attempts to think its way out of the situation. Use the same scoring method as in Test 2 above.

    Test 4 – Social Learning

    Wait until your puppy is near you but is not engaged in any particular activity. Look directly into its eyes and smile. Hold this pose. If the pup comes towards you, this is an excellent result indicating good social learning: score 5. If the pup ignores you, score 0. Intermediate scores are assessed, as before, on a timed basis.

    Test 5 – Short Term Memory

    Show the pup a delicious food treat and allow him to watch you hide it under a tea towel. Then lift him up in your arms and walk around the room in a large circle before depositing him at least 6 feet from where the food is hidden. If he immediately goes to the food treat and finds it, score 5. If he shows no interest in the treat and doesn’t look for it, score him 0. Intermediate scores are awarded for his finding the treat within 30 seconds, 1 minute, 1-1/2 minutes, and 2 minutes.

  • There are many other tests you can find or make-up to get an idea of your pup’s I.Q.

    For the 5 tests above, the best possible score is a 25; however, it is impossible to test for raw intelligence in dogs.  There are always influencing factors!

    Have fun with this, and rememebr that with all the variables, really every puppy is a winner no matter what his test score says.


    As winter is approaching, its great to have on hand some creative games for your dog, for when he gets “cabin fever.”  Dogs are happiest when they are mentally and physically stimulated, so keep these tips in mind to provide your dog with boredom relief for the upcoming months.

    GO SOMEWHERE NEW:  When a client asks us to walk their dog on the same path everyday, we usually ask the client if we can switch it up instead, and here is the reason why:  going new places, or just going on a different route offers the excitement and mental stimulation of new sights and smells, in addition to exercise.

    TEACH SOMETHING NEW:  Did you know that mental exercise tires a dog more quickly and thoroughly than physical exercise?  So teach your dog a new trick this week!  Can your dog balance a treat on his nose?  Shake a paw?  Roll over?  Crawl along the floor?  Jump through a hoop?  Play dead?  Retrieve?  Pick a new trick, and start training!  Don’t forget that consistency is very important when training.

    GIVE YOUR DOG A BONE OR A FOOD DISPENSING TOY:  Chewing is healthy for dogs, and helps them relieve stress as well.  Food dispensing toys are invaluable boredom busters. While rubber Kongs are classic toys and can be stuffed with a great variety of treats and tasties, there are many other options on the market now, like: Aikiou toy, Nina Ottosson’s toys, Kong wobbler, Kibble Nibble, Busy Buddy toys, Orbee Treat Spot toys, Tug-a-Jugs, and Buster Cubes.

    KIBBLE HUNT:  If you place your dog’s kibble in a food bowl, chances are the bowl is empty within 15 seconds and the dog gazes up at you upon finishing as if to say, “is that it?”  You can put that food to work for you by making your dog hunt for it with his nose. Instead of dumping the food in his bowl, consider crating him while you hide small piles of food in the house then release him to “kibble hunt.” Initially, make the piles very easy to find. As your dog gets better at this game, practice hiding the food in more difficult spots.

    HIDE AND SEEK:  Hide and seek is a great way to exercise your dog’s mind and body and recall skills. Each family member should stock up on great treats. Family members will take turns hiding throughout the house, calling the dog to them, and rewarding her generously when she arrives. When her treats are finished, say “all done!” which is the cue for the next family member to call him.

    DO SOMETHING OLD WITH A NEW TWIST:  Turn your dog’s favorite game into a training game!  For every throw of the toy, ask your dog for some obedience behavior or trick as you hold the toy.  As soon as your dog performs, give him some praise, then send your dog after his toy.  Dogs adore this game, once they understand how it works.  For working breeds, it also gives them a fun, satisfying outlet for their built-in drive to work with you.
    ARRANGE A PLAY DATE:  Dogs benefit from social interaction outside their family unit.  If your dog gets along well with other dogs, find some time to get together with a friend or relative and their dog.  If you do not know someone with a dog you can arrange a date with, you can always call Whiskers and Leo Pet Care!

    Have fun with this and feel free to share comments about your favorite game to play with your dog!

    How to Prevent Dog Bites

    Your dog is part of your family, but do not forget that your dog is still an animal, and needs to be treated a certain way.  If you are a dog owner with children please follow these rules:

    (1) Supervise your kids when the dog is around.  If a toddler is interacting with your dog, you should have your hands on the dog too.  Even if your dog has NEVER bitten before, you do not want to take a chance.

    (2)  Make sure you train your dog.  You can get an in-home trainer, like Bark Busters, or you can bring your dog to obedience classes.  Never act aggressive towards the dog when he is misbehaving, because then you are just teaching your dog to be aggressive.  Make sure you involve your whole family in the training of the dog.

    (3) Spay or neuter your dog.  Neutered pets are calmer, healthier and less likely to be aggressive.

    (4) Condition your dog for the world.  Give your puppy/dog lots of new positive experiences.

    Even though you see a cute dog, this doesn’t mean you should run right up to it and pet it.  Safety first!

    If you are a parent, please go over these rules with your children regarding dogs.

    (1)  Teach your kids to not hug and kiss your dog on the face.  This has been some causes of bites to the face.  Have your children scratch the dog on the chest or side of the neck.

    (2)  If you want to let your children pet strange dogs, first ask the owner, then let the dog smell you.  If the dog shows no sign of affection, then you can pet the dog on his chest or side of the neck.  Never pet a strange dog on the top of the head, because this can be a threatening jesture toward the dog.

    (3)  Never tease a dog, especially when he is eating, sleeping or protecting something, like his toys.

    (4)  If a dog is running towards you or threatening you, stand completely still, do not run!  If you stand still, the dog will no longer be interested in you, but if you run, the dog will look at you as prey.  This works for strange dogs or your family dog that is getting too aggressive or frisky.

    If you have any questions, or need a recommendation for a trainer, don’t hesitate to call us at 347-223-5116.