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Dog Training Articles

With holiday festivities coming to a close and a new year beginning, this is a very common time of year to set new goals and resolve to accomplish them.

With cooler temperatures outdoors, no big events on the horizon, and not much else to do to fight the winter doldrums, this is a great time of year to focus on training your dog. Whether a new pet who just joined your family, an old pet who has a few naughty habits, or a pet who has been downright driving you crazy, making a new year’s resolution to train your dog can be one that leads to years of enjoying your pet more.

With the average life span of a dog being about 15 years, it is no doubt a wise investment of your time to prevent or alleviate behaviour problems, whether you have a little puppy or a dog who is more advanced in years.

Those with puppies will likely want to focus on house training, socialization and chewing as well as basic obedience and manners. By taking steps now to prevent problems before they start, you are much more likely to enjoy your dog over the many years ahead.

If you have an older puppy or an adult dog with ongoing behaviour problems, there is no better time than the present to work on alleviating the issues. Whether on your own or with a trainer, a little work with your dog now will pay off in years of enjoying your pet and not having to worry about repercussions that could be caused by certain behavioural issues.

There are many resources available right in your own community, ranging from individual in-home training, to group classes, socialization opportunities and educational seminars. Whether you work with a trainer or on your own, training your dog is sure to lead to a well-behaved pet that is a nice addition to your family.

Whether a puppy or an adult dog, a new pet or old, the new year can be a great time to make a fresh start and get things on the right track. Happy New Year!


Most people who have a dog want to make sure he’s properly trained and well-behaved. Some things that are of top priority include being reliably housebroken (no accidents in the house), and behaving nicely both indoors and out.

One of the simplest things you can do to ensure a well-behaved dog may require some self-discipline on your part, but is sure to work well and can lead to enjoying your pet much more and with far fewer problems, for many years to come. What is it? Not having a fenced yard.

“But I spent thousands of dollars fencing my yard specifically because I have a dog!”, you exclaim. Without question, having a fenced yard can be a huge aspect of enjoying your pet more over the years, as well as your pet enjoying the freedom and exercise a fence can provide. However, during the training process having a fence can be a hindrance instead of a help.

For example, when dogs, especially puppies, spend time outside unsupervised, they tend to do things humans wish they didn’t. These might include digging holes, chewing bushes, eliminating everywhere instead of using a designated area, destroying patio furniture or decking, scratching screens or getting into excessive barking habits. Further, when it comes to house training your pet, sending him out alone leaves you in the dark as to whether or not he “went” while he was out there, and even if he did, you aren’t there to praise him if he’s outside alone.

Now lets think about those problems in the context of having a yard that is not fenced. If you were out there with him and he was on a leash, you’d be there to tell him “no” when he starts digging a hole, chewing a chair or licking the grease from the bottom of the grill. You would also be there to tell him “good boy” when he does his business outside.

By being present whenever your dog does something, whether good or bad, you are able to teach him right from wrong. Then, once he knows the rules of the house and yard, you can both gradually start to enjoy the freedom of just “letting him out,” without the down side of him behaving poorly when he’s outdoors unsupervised.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that your dog must be on a leash every single minute. You can also sometimes let him have free time to exercise and play while you’re out there with him. But by being present, you’ll still be able to teach him right from wrong as described above.

It may be quite a bit of extra work for you now, but if you spend a month or two pretending your yard is not fenced and supervising your pet whenever he’s in your yard, you can dramatically improve the chances of having a problem free pet for many years to come!

Chewing is one of the most common problems we come across as dog trainers. In some households, the damage is vast, involving things such as sofas, carpeting, moulding and more. But in many households, particularly ones with puppies, there is at least some level of chewing that goes on, even if it’s just the occasional sock, child’s toy or remote control.

Either way, one of the most important things you can do is to make sure that your dog has toys to chew on. Dogs instinctively need to chew something, and it is our job as humans to teach him that chewing is okay… but only on his dog toys, not household items.

Last week, I provided three presentations at several preschool and kindergarten classrooms. During the course of my presentations, one of the things I mentioned about being a dog trainer is that I teach dogs to have good manners, come when you call them, not to chew things around the house and so forth.

I couldn’t believe how in all three groups, numerous children regaled me with stories of their dog, their Grandma’s dog or their friend’s dog, who chews things all the time. Of course, I told them that’s part of what I do… teach the dogs to chew only on the dog toys, not other things. That’s when the real shocker came… many of the kids informed me that their dog doesn’t have any toys of his own!

Just as babies need things to teethe on, children need toys to play with and adults need activities to keep themselves entertained, so do dogs. Having a variety of dog toys is the first step toward eliminating chewing issues.

The next step is to do some obedience training with your dog. By working on simple commands such as “heel,” “sit,” “down,” “stay” and “come,” your dog will learn to respect you and the rules of your home. Also important, is that he will learn the meanings of “no” and “good dog.”

Then, when you catch him chewing a sock and tell him “no,” he will more clearly understand what you mean. Further, when you replace the sock with a dog toy and say “good boy,” it will mean much more to him too.

With a little common sense, basic obedience training and a bit of patience, every dog or puppy can learn to keep his teeth on his toys!


Having a baby is one of the most exciting times of life and will involve a big adjustment for everyone in the household, even your pets. Just as you make lots of preparations for your baby to arrive, it is also a good idea to work with your dog in advance. Following are some tips to help your pooch make the smoothest possible transition:

Work with your dog ahead of time on obedience and manners. Basic commands of “heel” (walk at my side), “sit,” “down,” “stay” and “come,” should be used in everyday situations. Manners, such as not jumping or nipping should be addressed in advance.

With the stroller empty, practice teaching your dog to “heel” with the stroller.

If your dog is allowed on the couch, strongly consider changing that now. Chances are you will not want your dog pouncing across the sofa when your baby is on it.

Do role playing. Get a baby doll and put some powder on it to help mock the smell of a real baby. Work with your dog on not jumping up, nipping at the doll’s feet, etc.

Practice leaving baby items around and teaching your dog not to steal them. For example, a burp cloth with some milk on it, pacifiers, rattles, etc.

Teach your dog to “stay off.” Lay a blanket down on the floor and teach your dog not to lay on it or walk across it. Also, since no dog should ever be left with a baby unsupervised, figure out what area of your home you will be using as an occasional gated section and have your dog get used its limitations now.

Socialize your dog with fast movements, loud noises and “baby-style” petting. Praise your dog for tolerant behaviour. Also socialize him with other things that move or make noise, such as a baby swing, mobile, etc.

If your dog has any excessive barking problems, work on them now. Baby’s napping provides precious downtime for new parents. While your baby does need to be comfortable with the sound of barking, your child does not need to be waken when sleeping.

When you bring your baby home from the hospital, remember that your dog is going to be very excited to see his mom, who has been gone for a few days. Ideally, dad should stay outside with the baby and let mom come inside to greet the dog, let him get his excited greeting over with, and put his leash on. Then, dad can enter the house with the baby and one parent can hold the child while the other works with the dog for their first meeting.

Control your dog but try not to restrain him too much. Place your dog into a sit/stay and bring the baby low enough that he can sniff, see and greet him or her. If your dog tries to jump or nip, correct firmly. However, most dogs are just curious and a couple of good sniffs and a lick are all they’re looking to do.

Act relaxed. Remember, unless your dog has had an aggression problem in the past, there is no reason to think he will “do” something to your child. In fact, most people find that their dog greets the baby as if he’s already known him or her for nine months!

Try to include your dog in you and your baby’s day-to-day lives. Be sure to work some time into your day to do some of the “old” things you used to do with your dog, like playing ball and going for walks.

If you feel unsure or your dog behaves in any way that is a concern, contact a knowledgeable, reputable trainer to come to your home and work with your pet and family.


One of the most difficult housebreaking problems that can occur with a puppy or adult dog is when they don’t want to “make” in front of you outside. This can be a huge problem for pet owners who walk and walk their dog, only to have them have an accident as soon as they return indoors and the owner looks away for a moment.

This problem is caused by the dog’s misunderstanding about his bathroom “business.” Instead of realizing that outside is good and inside is bad, some dogs become confused and think that all eliminating is bad, not understanding that only applies to indoors!

This confusion is usually caused by having been corrected “after the fact.” When owners find a housebreaking accident and “drag their dog over and put his nose in it,” the dog may not understand that this is only bad inside. When this is combined with just “letting the dog out” instead of personally leash walking the pet, it can be even more confusing because the humans have not been outside to praise the dog for doing it outdoors.

A very frustrating situation, the only way to alleviate this confusion is to go back to the very beginning and follow an appropriate housebreaking schedule. Regulate food and water. Supervise constantly when indoors. And most importantly, personally leash walk your dog for as long as it takes so you’ll get the opportunity to praise him outside.

Obviously, making sure never to correct your dog after the fact is another important part of solving or preventing this problem, and working on some basic obedience training can help develop the trust between you and your dog while making the meanings of “no” and “good dog” more clear to him so he really understands what you’re saying when you praise him outside.

To learn more about house training your dog, how to prevent or solve problems such as this one and many more, my book, “Everything You Need to Know About House Training Puppies and Adult Dogs” will help you learn exactly how to go about things.

With a little education for both the dog and the owner, problems such as this can be avoided or alleviated so you can enjoy your pet more!