Dog Walking, Dog Sitting, Dog Overnight Care

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Dog Training Articles

With all the holiday festivities we all enjoy this time of year, it’s important to remember your pet when you do your holiday shopping.

Not only will your dog enjoy a nice new toy or two from Santa on Christmas morning, but from a practical viewpoint, making sure your dog has a toy to keep him busy can help reduce mischief and excitement during holiday gatherings.

“A tired dog is a good dog” can go a long way toward preventing your dog from jumping on visitors, barking excessively or being mischievous with the gifts, food and Christmas tree.

However, “tiredness” does not only mean taking your dog for a long walk or a run around the yard. Mental stimulation will also exercise your dog’s brain, helping him to feel more calm and enabling him to use more self-control during exciting situations.

The best way to provide mental exercise is through obedience training. Spending just a few minutes practicing the basic commands of “heel,” “sit,” “down,” “stay” and “come,” can really help your dog to feel much less excited. By exerting your leadership, your pet is more likely to respond to your commands when you ask him to “sit” as guests arrive, to “leave it” when wrapping paper is on the floor, and just remain more calm in general.

Dog toys, such as sterilized natural bones, Nylabones, squeaky toys and dog stuffed animals are other things that can help your dog to feel like he has his own activity to do. Instead of his “old, boring toys,” a nice new one on Christmas morning is sure to hold his interest much longer.

During this season of joy and festivities with family and friends, be sure to remember your furry friend too!


Article by Lori Verni is a freelance writer, Certified Master Trainer

Once upon a time, there was a Grandma. She has always loved golden retrievers and has enjoyed their exuberant, loving personalities throughout her lifetime.

Unfortunately Grandma’s latest golden retriever passed away at the age of 14. She loved that dog so much and was heartbroken at the loss. She cried for quite some time and continued to always seem a little wistful whenever she spent time around other family members’ pets.

Her children and grandchildren, concerned for her feelings, decided to surprise her with a special gift… a golden retriever puppy! “What better,” they figured, “than to get her a new, cuddly bundle of joy to help her once again experience the love of a breed she’s always enjoyed.”

Not only did they buy her a puppy, but they also purchased a plethora of dog toys, bowls, leashes and a big bag of food. They expected Grandma to be thrilled and of course, gracious as grandmas are, she certainly seemed to be.

The phone rang at Best Paw Forward. “My family got me this puppy as a gift and she is just wearing me out!” lamented Grandma. “My Bridge Club ladies are afraid to come to my house because she jumps on them, I have scratches and bruises all over my hands from her play nipping, and she’s chewed up my slippers! I can’t even walk her because she’s so excited and pulls so much, but she really is a sweet, adorable and lovable dog. I don’t know what to do!”

Of course Grandma was sure to point out that she appreciated the gift, and that she does love the dog. But at the same time, she was finding it very difficult to manage and probably wouldn’t have gotten this pet if it were her choice. “I have always loved golden retrievers but I really didn’t want another dog just yet. I have thought about it a little, but I was considering a different, probably smaller breed this time around.”

While this story is presented in a fairy-tale format, I have chosen to tell you this tale because in reality I have had this conversation with dozens of Grandmas over the years. Of course it’s not always a golden retriever. Sometimes it’s another big breed or mix of breeds, and sometimes it’s even a small dog.

The moral of the story is, if a person really wants a dog, they will get a dog. Or at least express that they definitely want a dog and also what kind. With a pet dog being a huge responsibility as well as a commitment of about 15 years, it is always better for each person or family to go into pet ownership at their own discretion.

Of course, we have trained many grandmothers’ dogs and it usually all turns out fine in the end. Grandma may be a bit tired from all of the puppy care, but once the dog settles down, things are usually okay.

However, keeping in mind the above story, it is my hope that this holiday season, people will keep in mind that pets are not intended to be gifts. Whether for a grandparent, niece, child or whomever, it is always better for that person or family to make their own decision, participate in the selection and be completely ready for their new pet.

Need a replacement gift idea? If you suspect that the person would want a dog, why not make up a home made gift certificate on your computer offering to help them find just the right pet, and purchase it or pay the adoption fee? You could include some books about dogs and dog training, and it would likely make an even better presentation than being the recipient of an actual pet that they didn’t get to pick.

A little responsibility and the old adage of “putting yourself in someone else’s (hopefully not yet chewed) shoes,” can go a long way when it comes to considering pets as gifts!


Article by Lori Verni is a freelance writer, Certified Master Trainer

One of the fun parts of getting a pet is picking out a name. I have seen some trends come and go over the past 13 years of being a dog trainer, while others seem to be consistently popular.

For example, in the late 1990’s, Elmo was a very popular name, with kids taking a role in the naming and the Sesame Street character being at the peak of his popularity at the time. Buddy, an ever popular name became even more so with the release of “Air Bud,” a movie about a basketball-playing golden retriever. Disney princesses Jasmine and Arielle have also dubbed their fair share of dogs.

I have also seen some very unusual names over the years, including Deogie (pronounced D.O.G… the client vowed to someday get a cat and name it Ciatie). Other less common dog names have included ones given human names such as Jennifer or Mike. I even had a client one time whose dog was named after a Pokeman character… I’m sorry to admit that I never did learn to pronounce it properly!

While some people enjoy naming their pets something less common, there are several names that have been long-standing classics, and many that have maintained their popularity over the past ten years. According to www.bowwow.com/au, a website all about pet names that gathers data based upon the printing of identification tags for tens of thousands of pets, the top ten male dog names in the US of late include: Max, Jake, Buddy, Bear, Bailey, Shadow, Sam, Lucky, Rocky and Buster, while the top ten female dog names are: Maggie, Bear, Molly, Shadow, Lady, Sadie, Lucky, Lucy, Daisy and Brandy.

Paired dog names are also fun and some of the ones I have trained have included Laverne and Shirley, Heckle and Jeckle, Romeo and Juliet and Peaches and Cream. Other popular pairs mentioned on Bowwow.com/au include: Back and Forth, Beauty and Beast, Coco and Chanel, Duke and Duchess, Itsy and Bitsy, Lady and Tramp, Mumbo and Jumbo, Sugar and Spice and Zig and Zag.

Further, some pet owners I’ve worked with have chosen funny names for their pets, including a large bulldog named Tiny, very small dogs named Spike or Killer, a smooth dog named Fluffy and a solid black dog named Spot.

Whatever name you choose for your dog, it is likely to bring something to mind for you and everyone who meets your pet. Just one of the fun parts of having a pet, naming your dog is a great way to get creative and have that creativity last for many years to come!


Although to many of us, the “rules” are common sense, there are of course people who either don’t realize or choose not to follow the etiquette of dog walking. In order to clear up any potential confusion, I thought I would take this opportunity to be the “Miss Manners” of the dog world.

For example, when walking your pet in a neighbourhood, it is not courteous to allow your dog to walk on people’s front lawns, or urinate on their mail boxes or landscaping. Instead, a more appropriate way to handle your pet is to walk him in the street or on the sidewalk and allow access only to “rough” areas to eliminate. Should your neighbourhood not have such an area, it is still inappropriate to allow your pooch to pee on people’s property… keep him to the strip of grass that’s between the sidewalk and street and steer clear of people’s plantings and posts.

Picking up is another issue of concern. Dog walkers, please, don’t even leave your house without a plastic bag for picking up after your pet! And don’t forget to use it! I’ve had three different people tell me recently that they’ve seen people make a great show of pulling out their plastic bag when they see neighbours driving past, only to stuff it back in their pocket once the “coast is clear,” leaving the pile behind anyway.

Have an excited dog? Keep in mind that not everyone may be as much of a dog lover as you are. If a passing person wishes to greet your pet, you will be able to tell, as they will approach you and ask if they may pet your dog. Don’t assume that every man, woman and child wish to pet your pooch as you allow him to drag you over to them and pounce upon them in greeting. Some people are afraid of dogs, or may not be in the mood to be jumped on. Perhaps they’re out for a jog and prefer not to break their stride. Either way it should be their choice to greet or not to greet.

The same holds true for other dogs. True, most people out walking their dog are interested in allowing their pet to socialize with other dogs. But be sure to gauge their interest before approaching. If your dog is barking, most people prefer not to let their dog be the “test” of whether it’s aggression or not. Further, if you have a little dog who barks and may snap, don’t assume it’s okay to allow that just because the other dog is bigger. Having firsthand experience with this, I can assure you that my dog doesn’t enjoy being bitten regardless of the fact that he is 80 pounds and his “attacker” may weigh only twelve.

Last but not least, remember that walking your dog means personally walking your dog on a leash. Numerous readers have contacted me about neighbours who simply “send their dogs out” to do their business, which inevitably ends up on their property for them to clean up. While you may not mind the piles in your yard, your neighbours should not have to worry about it in theirs.

Of course, all of the above rules of dog walking etiquette don’t only apply in your neighbourhood. The same courtesies should be followed at parks, shopping centers, the vet’s office or any other place visited by you and your pet. By working together to be responsible pet owners, we can all help keep our neighbourhoods and parks a fun place to be without the need for authorities to implement overly-restrictive dog laws. Happy walking! 


Socialization is Not Just for Fun

Article by Lori Verni is a freelance writer, Certified Master Trainer

Socializing your dog is a very important aspect toward having a well-adjusted, well-behaved pet. Of course, it’s also usually fun to take your dog for walks, to the park or even for a ride in the car. But even if you don’t particularly enjoy taking your dog places, it’s still important to get him out of the house, off your property and into the outside world.

Being a well-socialized dog means being your pet should be comfortable with many things in life. In order to avoid behaviour problems such as excessive barking, separation anxiety, fear, aggression and many more, your dog should be socialized with people, other dogs, bicycles, joggers, noises, trash cans and as many more things as you can possibly think of.

How does socialization relate to the problems mentioned above? For example, dogs who are comfortable with people, dogs and bikes are less likely to bark excessively when normal neighbourhood happenings occur near your house. Dogs who are thoroughly socialized are far less likely to have confidence-related problems such as separation anxiety, fear or aggression.

When taking your dog out for socialization, it is important to handle situations correctly. Remember that whenever you pet a dog, you’re praising a dog. Therefore, if your dog is afraid of something he’s seeing, be sure not to pet him while he’s acting afraid. Instead of feeling soothed, your pet is likely to feel you are reinforcing his fear, as if you’re saying, “Good boy be afraid.” Instead, when your dog acts afraid redirect his behaviour to a more relaxed activity such as doing an obedience command, giving paw or playing ball. Then, when he acts more relaxed, that’s the appropriate time to pet and praise.

Other ideas for socialization include bringing your dog “out front” when your kids are playing outside, attending a group class, going to dog-related events and more. To learn about upcoming group classes including Puppy Socialization Class, you can visit www.BestPawOnline.com/news-and-events.

By making sure you take your dog out into the world on a regular basis,  you can avoid problems and even help solve existing ones. You’ll probably also have some fun doing things with your pet and family together!