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Dog Training Articles

Contrary to the adage, “fighting like cats and dogs,” most dogs and cats can get along nicely together. Perhaps you’d like to add another pet to your family or maybe you will be caring for a friend’s pet while they’re away.

The first thing is to understand what the “problem” is with dogs and cats. The problem is, cats run so dogs chase them. Or, dogs chase them so cats run. (Which came first, the chicken or the egg?)

Therefore, the best way to introduce dogs and cats is to have the dog on a leash and collar so you can prevent fast movement. Do your best to give the dog some exercise and practice a few obedience commands before entering the cat’s home (or bringing the cat in). This may help to burn off some of the physical and mental energy most dogs have.

Next is to act relaxed. If you act tense and worried, the animals will sense it and may have a more difficult time behaving calmly themselves. Remember, most dogs are not interested in biting cats at all. They’re usually just curious and want to meet the cat, the same way they’re interested in meeting people and other dogs.

Use the dog’s obedience commands to prevent him from running or jumping around. The “sit/stay” command is very helpful in this scenario. Allow the animals to sniff one another, but keep the dog on a short leash so that if an altercation were to arise, you could prevent problems.

If the cat keeps running off and hiding, it can be helpful to have a second human who can hold the cat so they can coexist. Be sure not to hold the cat up high, otherwise the dog may jump because he can’t reach to sniff him.

Once the dog and cat have met, resume normal casual activity with the dog on leash by your side. By having the animals simply coexist without focusing on one another, you send the message… that they can simply coexist and not focus on one another!

The worst thing to do when having dogs and cats in the same household is to keep them separated. If they never see each other they’ll definitely never learn to get along, and if they only see each other rarely, each time will be as exciting as the first.

If you already have a dog and cat living in the same household who have not yet learned to coexist, you can use these techniques to help them live in harmony. If you are nervous, or if there have been problems in the past, the services of a knowledgeable, educated trainer can help.

With some patience and consistency, soon the dog and cat may even be “snuggling like cats and dogs!”


Chances are, you wouldn’t consider bringing a wild animal into your home. After all, if you caught a squirrel and brought it into your house to live, you probably wouldn’t be surprised if it chewed your couch, ate your plants or pooped on your rug. As a wild animal who normally lives outside, a squirrel simply wouldn’t know any better and would do whatever instinctively comes to it.

So how does this relate to dog training? After all, this is a dog behaviour web site! The thing is, the same is true for any animal that normally lives outdoors and you then bring inside, including dogs.

Some pet owners choose to have their dog live outside the majority of the time for any number of reasons. Perhaps this is the way dogs have always been cared for in their family, or maybe they feel it’s nicer for the dog to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. As long as food, water, shelter, veterinary care and attention are given to the dog on a regular basis, this may not seem like a problem at all.

However for most people, there will be times when they do want to bring their dog indoors. Many families leave their dog out while they’re at work, but want to bring him in at night. Others bring their dog in only when weather becomes extreme.

The problem is, unless you’ve brought your dog inside and taught him the rules of the house on a regular basis, he will not know how he’s expected to behave indoors. He may do the same things as any untrained animal, including chewing the couch, eating the plants and pooping on the rug.

Unsupervised behaviour outdoors often leads to dogs who chew bushes, dig holes and don’t have the muscle control to “hold in” their business. Not surprisingly, this can lead to a dog who does the same things indoors… he simply may not know any differently.

Often, this leads to a cycle where the dog doesn’t behave when inside, so he’s left outside. The more he’s outside, the less he behaves inside. If this is the case, the cycle can be broken by working with your dog on some obedience commands and manners.

In the beginning, you may need to use your dog’s leash when he’s inside to help control him and teach what’s appropriate. For example, if he tries to leap up onto the sofa, you can tell him “no,” prevent him from getting on, and have him “sit” next to it instead. Be sure to follow with lavish praise when he’s doing the right thing.

The examples could go on and on, with the basic principle being to prevent/correct inappropriate behaviours and redirect/teach the ones that you want. Remember, if your dog doesn’t spend enough supervised time inside, he simply will not know how to behave!

Working with a professional trainer in your home can be very helpful as well. By putting in a little work now, your “wild animal” can soon be the gentle, domesticated pet you originally envisioned!


For most people, our relationships with our pets are strong emotional bonds, and behaviour problems can be pretty upsetting to deal with. Even more difficult is when a normally sweet, affectionate pet does something uncharacteristic, like biting someone, growling or snapping.

One of the things I’ve noticed in over 11 years of dog training is that due to these emotions, excuses pop up quite readily. Statements are made to the tune of, “He only bit that one guy because he was jogging,” or, “He was afraid that time, so that’s why he did it.”

I can safely say that if your dog is properly socialized and not the least bit aggressive, the chances of having a one-time “freak” occurrence such as this would be highly unlikely. However, as a trainer (and also a parent, neighbour, friend, etc.), I also know that more than one “freak” incident is not a coincidence. It’s a behaviour problem.

I’m often amazed at how frequently people will look the other way and not do something about their dog having a problem. I understand that it’s upsetting. I realize that dog training costs money and takes time to practice. But in the scheme of things, it seems far more costly, both emotionally and financially, to endure incidents such as bitten people, police at the door, angry neighbours and more.

Working with your pet on a behaviour problem now can prevent much aggravation from occurring in the future. In addition, stopping the problem before there are any more incidences could be a matter of life or death for your dog.

Does this sound overly dramatic? It’s not. The cold, hard truth is that with enough reported problems, your dog could cause you to pay fines, could be taken from you by authorities and could even result in euthanasia.

Perhaps you’ve worked with a trainer before but your dog seems to be still having a problem. Did you follow the methods recommended? Did you practice and make the training a way of life? Were they educated and experienced?

Has a knowledgeable pet person, such as your vet, groomer, trainer or rescue person warned you that a problem was developing but you didn’t take them seriously?

If any of these things are the case, keep in mind that it’s never too late to work with your dog. Don’t wait for problems to get worse. As difficult as it is to admit there’s a problem, it is far better to take steps and do something about it now.

Whether you work with your dog on your own or with a knowledgeable trainer, taking issues seriously and working on them immediately will surely help prevent more problems from occurring in the future.


Just as fleas, ticks and mosquitoes are a concern for humans, they are also an issue for our pets. Not only are they annoying, but they can pose a serious health hazard through the diseases they may transmit.

Of course, insects are prevalent every year from approximately April through November in most parts of the county, but can be a problem throughout the year in warmer or more temperate areas.  By taking some steps ahead of time, you can prevent your dog from becoming sick from an insect borne disease. Also, preventing problems such as flea infestation can protect your family, home and property too.

There are a variety of topical ointments that can be applied monthly to your dog’s neck which prevent fleas and ticks. They can be purchased from your veterinarian and are far less costly than the expenses that would be incurred if your dog became sick or infested with fleas.

This is important, because ticks often carry diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, both of which can be transmitted to dogs and humans. Ticks are very tiny and difficult to spot, especially within the fur of a dog. Check your dog daily in addition to the preventative treatment to keep him safe.

Fleas are also a problem which don’t as frequently carry diseases, but often cause skin rashes and other problems. In addition, once your dog becomes infested with fleas, it can be very difficult to get rid of them from your dog, your yard and inside your home. A flea infestation would require several special baths for your dog, plus extermination inside and outside your home. Since fleas can live in grass, carpets and furniture, if you were to treat just the dog, the problem would come right back.

Mosquitoes are also a big issue for dogs. Many mosquitoes carry heart-worm disease which can be deadly for dogs. A monthly heart-worm treatment is available, in the form of a chewable pill which every dog should receive. It’s important to have your dog tested to make sure he doesn’t already have heart-worm, and then your vet will provide the preventative medication.

Another step you can take is to provide extra protection for your pet if he’ll be participating in activities such as hiking or camping where he’ll be in woodsy areas that are more likely to have ticks. There are sprays you can use on your dog’s legs to help prevent ticks from being attracted to him. Since the sprays are toxic, you’ll want to use them sparingly and only on high exposure occasions, and be sure to give  your dog a bath when you get home to prevent him licking the areas and ingesting the product.

Like most things, with a little forethought and responsible planning, our dogs can enjoy warm weather and outdoor activities while keeping health issues in mind!


In most parts of the country, when summer sets in, there is no question as to what the weather will be each day. Undoubtedly it will be hot!

For dogs, whose normal body temperatures are warmer than that of humans, it can seem even hotter. Couple that with wearing a fur coat and pets can get downright uncomfortable, or could even suffer heat stress or stroke.

Some of the things you can do to help your dog stay healthy and comfortable include obvious things, like making sure he has shade and cool water and not exercising him during the height of the midday heat. However, there are some other things you can do that can make a difference as well.

  • Remove bedding from your dog’s crate. If your dog is crated, he will surely be much more comfortable laying on the cool crate bottom rather than a thick pile of blankets or towels.
  • Keep up with grooming. Don’t let your dog’s coat get overgrown and matted, but don’t “shave him down” completely either. The dog’s fur is part of his natural insulation system that keeps warm air in during winter and hot air out during summer. Also, keep in mind that shaving dogs’ coats too short can put their skin at risk of sunburn.
  • Be careful with toilets. This is the time of year when dogs are tempted to drink the cold water from toilet bowls. Either be diligent about keeping lids down or skip using any type of cleanser or chemical that stays in the tank or bowl.
  • Teach your dog where to go. If your dog lives outside or is spending time outside, teach him to do a “down/stay” in a shady spot. This can also help prevent digging holes under bushes.
  • Leave your dog in the house when you go out. Keep the air conditioning on or at least a fan.
  • Check the ground during walks. Blacktop in particular can get scorchingly hot for your dog’s pads. Bend down and feel the surface to see whether it may be unsafe or uncomfortable for your pet.
  • Teach kids when “enough is enough.” Dogs, like people, may get grumpy when it’s hot and kids are overzealous with their affections.
  • Spending a day outside with the whole family? Wet your dog’s coat with a hose. He may love it (or not, at first), but will feel very refreshed once he’s all nice and wet.
  • Watch out for symptoms of heat stress or stroke. If you see that your dog is panting heavily, salivating or foaming, these may be the first signs of a heat related problem. Symptoms can progress to include vomiting, lethargy and even worse! Don’t wait for symptoms to progress. Get your dog into a cool location, provide small drinks of cold water and if he doesn’t improve within a few minutes, contact your veterinarian right away.

By taking a few steps to ensure your pet’s safety and comfort, he too can enjoy the “dog days of summer!”