Train Your Dog to Come When Called!

 

One of the most valuable things you can teach your dog is to come when called. Otherwise known as their recall. When a dog has good recall, you can go virtually anywhere with your dog off leash and be able to fully trust that he will keep watch of where you are and come back when you ask him to.

Before we dive into the process of teaching your dog good recall, you should keep in mind some breeds may be harder to train, but not impossible! Many dogs that were bred for scent tracking such as beagles, bloodhounds, etc., can take longer to teach ‘come’ as they get distracted by interesting scents (scents that are usually more interesting than us or even the treat we might have). But don’t be discouraged, it really isn’t impossible, it just may take more time and it is so important that you stay positive and consistent for successful training.

The most popular way to teach you dog ‘come’ is to simply have them on leash and while holding that leash, ask your dog to ‘come’. When he does come, give him praise and a treat! If he doesn’t, then simply tug on your leash gently pulling the dog towards you and when he reaches you, give him praise and a treat just as you would if he did it on his own. This will help communicate with your dog exactly what you are asking him to do (you are after all teaching him a word he’s never heard before!).

When your dog seems to understand it, you can then continue to use longer and longer leashes so that you are then challenging him to come to you from a farther distance. Don’t be discouraged if your dog did great on the short leash but not on the longer leash! Even on the long leash you can gently pull him in towards you and give praise when he reaches you. It is very important to not continuously keep repeating the word ‘come’ as it will let your dog think he doesn’t have to listen to you the first time, he can come when he feels like it. If you ask your dog to ‘come’ and he doesn’t, don’t repeat the word, simply pull him in towards you. You want to teach your dog that if you say the word come, he is expected to run to you right away.

If your dog gets really good at the long leash exercises, you can start introducing some distractions to challenge him. Have a friend walk by, or a friendly dog hanging out nearby. Slowly you will be able to introduce more and more distractions that your dog will learn to ignore and only focus on what you are asking him to do.

In no time at all your dog will be enjoying life off leash and you can live worry-free knowing that no matter what distractions are happening around you, your dog will reliably come back to you.

Breed of the Week: Irish Setter

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Looking for a friendly companion to add to your family? Look no further than the gorgeous Irish Setter! Graceful and endearing, the Irish Setter is a great choice for anyone in need of a gentle and loving pet.
True to the name, the Irish Setter originated in Ireland. There is a lot of debate over what breeds the Irish Setter came from; but likely a combination of pointer and water spaniel breeds. This breed was usually a mix of red and white in colouring, whereas now we most commonly see only the solid red coat. Graceful and athletic, the Irish setter was bred as a hunting dog, specifically birds. These dog were happiest when working with their hunting masters in the field all day. Giving us the high activity level and high stamina that today’s Irish Setters are known for.
The Irish Setter is known for its beautiful red coat. This breed requires daily brushing/combing as the hair is very fine and there’s a lot of it! Especially after long hikes or walks by the lake, the Irish Setters fur can be a magnet for burrs, grass, twigs, etc. and easily tangle.
Originally a hunting dog, today’s Irish Setters need an active owner to keep up with them. They would love to go for a long hike every single day if they could! They also love to swim, so if you are an avid beach goer, consider making an Irish Setter your new best friend! You will love playing Frisbee or fetch with this breed as they are so incredibly graceful when they run.
This breed is generally healthy and will often live to about 11-13 years old. Some of the health concerns to watch out for as your Irish Setter gets older are, arthritis, hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism. If you notice any sudden changes to your Irish Setters appearance or personality, make sure to call your vet immediately.
The Irish Setter is a friendly breed that brings grace and stamina together. They love adventure and are great with the whole family including other pets. Maintaining their coat with daily brushings is essential to keeping out all those twigs and knots. If you do keep up with their daily grooming, you can watch that beautiful hair flow in the wind as they take their long strides!

What Your Dog’s Tail is Telling You

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It can sometimes be difficult to know what your dog is trying to tell you, if only someone would invent a dog to human interpreter! Don’t worry, even though we don’t have an app invented to interpret dog barks yet, your dog is communicating with you all the time with their body language. You can see how your dog is feeling just by looking at his mouth, eyes, paws, and especially his tail! The many ways your dog wags his tail are not by accident, read on to learn what your dog’s tail is telling you!

The Tense Tail:
A tense tail is one that is often held in a very prominent ‘C’ curve. It is not wavering, but instead perfectly still and looks very stiff. The ‘stiffer’ the dog’s tail will often mean the more tense the dog is.
Often you will see this tail behaviour occur when a dog has something of high interest in his surroundings such as a squirrel running up a tree or watching another dog play. Depending on the situation your dog is reacting to, a stiff tail can mean he is very interested to investigate something, or he is possibly anxious of something approaching. For example if a dog is nervous of strangers and he notices a stranger approaching him, you may see his tail stiffen, communicating with you that he is uneasy about the current situation. Approach a dog that has a tense tail with caution as they are in a very reactive state and may become aggressive if haven’t calmed down properly first.
The Scared or Anxious Tail:
If your dog has his tail curled under his body, it will usually mean that he is in a very anxious or scared state. The more tightly curled under his body the tail is will tell you the degree of his anxiety (very curled under means very anxious). A tucked under tail generally means your dog is not having a good time. Find what could possibly be affecting your dog in this way and help your dog overcome the situation. If he is simply scared of something he hasn’t seen before, enlist the help of a dog trainer/ behaviorist to help your dog overcome his fear and change it into a positive association.
The Happy-Go-Lucky Tail:
One of the best tail movements to see is the happy-go-lucky tail. When your dog is happy or excited he will have a proud upright tail that is wagging back and forth or sometimes in a windmill motion. This movement most often means that your dog is happy and/or in a playful mood. It is common to see a big wagging tail when you come home from a long day, or when jumping in a car to go to the dog park!
The tail can be a huge giveaway to what your dog is telling you. But keep in mind that to get the best understanding of what your dog is trying to tell you, look at their entire body to see if they are tense, anxious, happy or excited. Also take into account their surroundings and situation so you are able to get a full understanding of how your dog is feeling. Bettering the communication between you and your dog will strengthen your bond and help your dog feel they are being heard and acknowledged.

Breed of the Week: Pomeranian

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Is your idea of the perfect dog outgoing, alert and intelligent? Well then you may be interested in our pint-sized breed of the week, the Pomeranian!
The Pomeranian can come in many different colours/ variations, but the most common is the orange and red. Typically this breed will only weigh between 3-7 lbs when full grown (although it often looks like more with all that fur!). The Pomeranian name originates from Pomerania, a region in Germany, even though the breed was not created in Germany, but it was bred down to its small size there. Surprisingly, this breeds’ ancestors are working dogs from Iceland, specifically sled dogs. In fact, the Pomeranian still belongs to the Spitz family which also includes such breeds as the Norwegian elkhound and the Malamute. This history gives us a better idea of why the Pomeranian always seems to have that big dog personality in that tiny little body.
This breed definitely looks like it needs a lot of grooming, but in reality, their fur only really requires 1-2 times a week of brushing. Hair clipping only if the owner desires. They are almost fox-like in appearance especially with the red colouring. Other variations the Pomeranian can come in are; black, black and white, brown, white, black and tan, even blue merle!
Pomeranians can make wonderful family pets! When socialized properly, they get along amazingly with kids, strangers and other pets. They strongly believe they are there to protect you, and will bark to alert you to any possible threats or dangers. It is a good idea to work on obedience including ‘quiet’ so you can communicate to your Pomeranian when to stop barking. Obedience training for Pomeranians is relatively easy as they are very intelligent and enjoy making their people happy. Pomeranians have lots of energy and require a long walk everyday as well as some sort of mental stimulation or training to keep their minds active. Many Pomeranian owners have started entering their dogs into fly ball and agility competitions. Competitions are a great idea for these feisty little dogs so they can release some of that energy!
If you’re interested in a little dog with a huge personality, the Pomeranian may be perfect for you! They will easily adapt to apartment living due to their compact size, but keep in mind that you’ll need to teach your dog important manners such as stop barking on command, to not disturb your neighbours. Fairly easy fur to maintain, but with the freedom of many different haircut possibilities! Just as with any dog, make sure to keep yours physically and mentally stimulated to have a happy and healthy life. The Pomeranian will require at least one good long walk each day. Suitable for families or individuals just looking for a companion, with the right socialization, the Pomeranian can become best friends with just about anyone!

Crate Training Your Dog

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Crate training your dog can be very beneficial to both you and your dog. Although some owners will sometimes see sending your dog to his crate as a punishment, when introduced properly, it can be a safe space for your dog to feel secure and relax.

It is a great idea to crate training almost any dog. Every person as well as dog should have at least one place that they can feel safe and peaceful. When lined with a comfy bed or blanket, your dog will feel nice and cozy in his crate and many dogs will sleep more soundly at night when put into their crate. Leaving your dog constant access to his crate will allow him to separate himself if he feels too overwhelmed or stressed.

Crate training is also extremely helpful if you are potty training your dog. Most dogs do not want to soil their sleeping quarters, so they are more likely to try and stay clean when in their crate. When potty training, it is vital to not leave your dog in his crate for too long (longer than he is able to go without relieving himself). It is a good idea to give your dog lots of bathroom breaks when potty training, especially 20-30 min after eating as that is the typical time they will need to go. Make sure you aren’t leaving your dog in his crate for too long, you don’t want him to resort to doing his business inside the crate and then getting too used to that habit.

When looking for a crate for your dog, make certain it is not too small or too big. Also take into account if he has anymore growing to do. A crate that is too small for your dog will make him feel uncomfortable and cramped, ensuring that he will not be very happy to go into the crate. And there is no need to get the biggest dog crate on the market when you have a miniature or toy breed dog. Bigger is not always better, most dogs will appreciate having a crate the perfect size for them so they can move around comfortably but also be nice and cozy. Make sure that when your dog is in his crate, he can easily stand up straight with approximately 3-6 inches of extra space above his head; as well as able to turn around in his crate easily.

To help your dog have a positive association with his crate, do not force or push him in to it. Leave the door open to the crate so you can let him investigate it at his own pace. If he looks curious and starts sniffing the crate, or even starts to wander inside, give him lots of praise! Help him to realize that the crate is a happy place and not a punishment.

Ensuring that your dog has a safe place to escape to is just one of the many responsibilities a pet parent has. It is up to you to help your dog realize that his crate is not a punishment, but instead, his own little private space if he feels stressed or just wants a peaceful place to sleep. An easy mistake to make is not having the right size crate for your dog which can often make or break your efforts. Make sure it is not only the right size, but also appealing for your dog; adding in a dog bed or even a t-shirt with your scent on it will help make a little sanctuary for your furry best friend.

Breed of the Week: Dalmatian

The Dalmatian is possibly one of the most famous and recognizable breeds in the world. With their signature spots, most people instantly think of ‘101 Dalmatians’ or the dogs working alongside firefighters. Let’s take a closer look at this breeds history, lifestyle and personality quirks!

The Dalmatian was originally known as ‘The Carriage Dog’ in the 1790’s as they were often found in paintings standing next to horse drawn carriages. Even as far back as you can find records on the Dalmatian, you will consistently see that they were always a working breed. When not running alongside and guarding the carriages, people would use the Dalmatian to hunt vermin, as trail hounds, even as circus dogs thanks to their high intelligence and distinctive look! With their natural ease around horses, they would help firefighters get to the fire faster by running ahead and making sure there was a clear path for the horse drawn carriage (obviously this was no longer needed once we had fire trucks!). They would also be used to guard the fire station and alert the fire fighters of anyone breaking in.

With all that intelligence and energy, this breed is best suited for someone with a very active lifestyle. Dalmatians require a lot of exercise as well as mental stimulation every day to be at their happiest. They love to be with their family 24/7 but can be a bit aloof around strangers as they do really bond with ‘their people’. It is a great idea to train your Dalmatian early on basic commands as well as looking at options for agility competitions. These dogs are so naturally active and strong they easily earn high rankings in dog agility competitions or fly ball competitions.

If you are considering adding a Dalmatian to your family, whether a purebred or mixed, make sure to learn all about any health concerns they may be prone to so you can treat any signs or symptoms early on. Dalmatians in particular can be prone to deafness as many breeders will overlook some genetic defects and instead breed only for that perfect Dalmatian look. Dalmatians will also need to relieve themselves more often than other dogs as they actually have a very unique urinary system. For this reason, it is important that their diet is closely monitored and discussed with your vet as nutrition imbalance can easily cause urinary tract disease in this breed. If you ever see your Dalmatian straining to relieve themselves it is best to call your vet right away.

The Dalmatian is undeniably cute and loves to be around their family. They can get along well with young kids if socialized early and monitored during interactions. They make very strong bonds with their family and will protect them from any harm. A perfect day for a Dalmatian would simply be working alongside their owners outside all day. A Dalmatian can be a fantastic addition to the right family, and they will always be ready for whatever the day has for them!

Introducing Your New Puppy To Your Adult Dog

Adding a new puppy to your family is an exciting time! And if you’re lucky enough to already own a dog, you may be wondering how they will get along? So we’ve put together some thoughtful tips on how to best introduce your new dog to your adult dog.

 

Remove Your Adult Dog’s Personal Belongings: During the first meeting between your new pup and your adult dog, try to remove items your adult dog may feel protective of, this could include toys, blankets, food, etc. To your current dog, you are bringing in a complete stranger and he doesn’t really know why. So it is a good idea to take away items your dog feels a connection to, to prevent any incidents such as, the puppy trying to play with one of the adult dog’s toys, or getting a bit too close to the food dish. This will help keep their first meeting running smoothly when the adult dog doesn’t feel he needs to guard his things. Some dogs may feel they also need to protect their house, so instead of bringing the puppy into the house to meet, you can set up their first meeting in a ‘neutral’ area such as the park.

Supervise: It is critical to watch all interactions between your new puppy and your adult dog, not only for their first meeting but for several weeks after that. Puppies are still learning about the world around them, including their doggy manners. There is no doubt that the new puppy will step out of bounds once in a while with the adult dog; you want to be there when it happens so that you can not only observe how your adult dog reacts (his tolerance level), but also correct your puppy and say ‘no’ to communicate that whatever he was doing was not appropriate. It may take weeks or months for you to feel fully comfortable with them left alone together, but it will definitely pay off in the long run when you can watch your dogs play and cuddle together.

 

Be Realistic: Understand that some dogs may get along right way, while others may take much longer to bond. Be prepared for the relationship between your adult dog and the new puppy to grow gradually over time; and if they do happen to love each other at first sight, even better! It is also important to be honest with your current dog’s behaviour. Have you seen him interact with puppies before? Has he ever shown aggression to another dog, and under what circumstance? If you are at all concerned that you aren’t prepared for their first meeting, find a reputable dog trainer or behaviourist for their first interactions. Not only do you get the wisdom and knowledge from an expert, you also gain that extra confidence that your pets will have the best first meeting possible to set them on course for a great relationship.

 

The most important tip of all, relax! Have a positive attitude and it will rub off on your dogs! Enjoy their first interactions with each other and look forward to years of happiness with your pets!

Breed of the Week: Miniature Pinscher

Ever wonder what that tiny Doberman-looking dog was called? It’s the Miniature Pinscher! Or more commonly known, the Min Pin. These little guys pack a lot of personality and energy into a small package. Read on to find out more about these spirited little dogs.

Although the Min Pin usually looks like a miniature version of a Doberman, they actually aren’t related at all! In fact the Miniature Pinscher breed is much older than the Doberman. The Miniature Pinscher was originally bred in Germany several hundred years ago, gaining most of their popularity in 1895 when the Pinscher club was formed. These tiny dogs were developed to rid vermin in German homes.

The Min Pin that we know today usually aren’t hunting for vermin, but they still possess their natural high prey drive. Anything from squirrels, squeaky toys, even leaves blowing in the wind will often gain their attention. Being very determined and strong-willed dogs, once something has their attention, it takes a lot of convincing for them to move on.

Even though the Min Pin has a big personality, they are still tiny little dogs that can get hurt easily if playing too rough with others. Min Pin owners should be extra careful when watching their dog play as they often won’t hold back and with their tiny limbs it can be very easy for a bigger dog to accidentally hurt the Min Pin during play.

If you are considering buying a Miniature Pinscher, get ready for a lot of energy! These guys love to play every minute of the day. If they aren’t given something to do, these curious guys will go exploring and get into anything they can find to keep their busy minds happy. It’s best to have an experienced dog owner as Min Pins are very intelligent and will require a lot of time and training to be satisfied.

Being so naturally tiny, the Miniature Pinscher will require ‘winter wear’ during the colder months. Little booties, sweaters, jackets, it all helps to keep your dog from getting too cold out on his walks in the snow.

These great little dogs love the company of their human companions. Confident, energetic and curious are the best ways to describe the Min Pin. Never underestimate their determination and focus, but instead direct that focus to learning new tricks and you will have an incredibly smart and happy dog!

Strengthening The Bond With Your Dog

One of the greatest benefits of owning a dog is the unconditional love. Dogs bring so much happiness into our lives. It is so important to keep that wonderful loving relationship strong between you and your pet and there are many great benefits to keeping that friendship strong!

When you interact with your dog, whether it be going for a walk, doing a training session, or playing in the backyard, you are strengthening your bond. You learn to read their body language better and they learn the same about you! Hanging out with your furry best bud is a great way to spend the day, but did you know it also helps your mental state? There have been numerous studies proving that pet owners have significantly lower stress levels compared to non-pet owners. Lower stress results in less risk for stroke and cardiovascular issues.

The emotional bond that we make with our pets, also greatly helps with depression and anxiety. This is partly due to the fact that dogs need to get outside daily! Which means we have to go out into the world and explore with them. Being out and about, getting some fresh air and sunlight is a great mood booster for both dogs and humans!

So with all these great benefits, how should you be bonding with your dog? It can be as simple as going for a walk; but make sure you are alert and attentive to your dog during the walk! This is the part that most owners forget. Watch your dog reacting to different objects on your walk and when he looks back at you for direction, tell him ‘good boy’ so he knows you are focused on him. During your walk, take spontaneous breaks to have your dog sit, lie down or give paw, whatever tricks you’d like! This shows your dog you aren’t interested in everything else going on around you two, you are interested in him, and it will help your dog to also pay more attention to you.

There are so many ways you can help strengthen the bond between you and your dog.  Some examples are playing fetch, going for a hike, exploring new places together or even training your dog on agility equipment! Even something as simple as cuddling with your pet helps to improve your bond as most dogs are very responsive to touch and it’s a great way to communicate to your dog your affection. Or consider teaching your dog a new trick! If he already knows all his basic commands, think of something new! Teach him the name of one of his toys so he can go grab it when asked. Learning new tricks will not only help you two bond, but also keep your dog mentally satisfied as he is challenged with a new problem he has to figure out through the help of your communication.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to just have fun and enjoy the time you are spending with your dog! Dogs are easily able to identify when a human is being sincere or not so make sure you really are doing something fun together! Whether you two are practising for a dog agility competition or having a lazy afternoon cuddling on the couch, enjoying each other’s company will help to reinforce your bond.