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You Can Prevent a Disaster: A Step by Step Guide for Teaching Your Dog to Wait at the Door

Dog in front on door with leash resting on paws.

Teaching your dog to wait at the door may one day save their life.

You are running late and need to leave for work. You say goodbye to your beloved pooch and open the front door to leave. Just then your pup gets a twinkle in his or her eye and out the door they bolt with you running behind them yelling for them to come back, pleading with them to come back, begging them to come back, but your adorable dog is playing keep away and catch me if you can. Ugh! You are going to be late for work, again! If only you have gotten out the door faster! But wouldn’t a better way be that your dog had waited at the door and never went through unless he or she was granted permission to do so? Teaching your dog to wait at the door will not only help you get to work on time but may save your dog’s life.

Here is a Step by Step Guide to Teaching Wait at the Door:

Start working on this exercise when you have time. Do not start working on this when you are in a hurry, you are distracted, you are stressed, or your dog needs a walk or potty break.

Step One

Peron with a dog on leash at a door.

Start with your dog on a leash when teaching them to wait at the door.

You will start teaching wait at the door with your dog on a leash. Have him or her sit at the door and slowly turn the doorknob. If your dog continues to sit open the door slowly, an inch or two at a time. If your dog gets up and moves towards the door, take your hand off the knob or close the door and try again. Be careful when you are closing the door that you do not close it on your dog. You want to keep your training sessions short and end on a high note, so if your dog will sit and wait at the door while you turn the doorknob, give him or her a release word such as “okay” or “let’s go” and take them for a nice walk. Unless your dog does not enjoy walks, the act of taking him or her for a walk should be reward enough.

When you get back from your walk you can have another short wait at the door training session. Make sure you use your release word and take another short walk.

Step Two

Step two is the same as step one, but just a little more difficult for your dog. Open the door a little wider and ask your dog to “wait” for a second or two. If your dog gets up, make sure you close the door and try again. If your dog stays put for a second or two use your release word “okay and take your dog through the door and for a quick walk. When your dog can wait at the door without trying to walk through the door a minimum of four out of five tries you can proceed to make it even more difficult with the exercises in Step Three.

Step Three

Now you will challenge your dog by opening the door even wider. Work on this until you can have the door fully open and your dog will not attempt to go through unless you give him or her the release word.

Dog in crate with the door open,

Teaching wait at the door can be used to teach your dog to wait in their crate.

This is only the beginning! Work on this behavior with your dog exiting their crate and your car. And just because your dog knows to wait at your front door doesn’t mean he or she will know to wait at your back door, so you will need to work in different locations within your home too. You will also need to work on how long your dog will wait at the door and you will want to proof for distractions. It’s great that your dog will wait at the door when there is nothing going on, but will he or she wait if another dog walks by? You will also want everyone in your home to work with the dog. Your dog may wait at doors for you, but not your spouse.

While having a polite dog who waits at doors is wonderful, it could also save your dog’s life. A dog that knows to wait at the door is at less risk of getting lost or bolting into traffic.

Have you tried this exercise? What is your biggest challenge? Let us know!

 

Lost Pet Prevention: 7 Tips for Protecting Your Pet

Lost dog poster on light post

Lost Pet poster.

July is Lost Pet Prevention Month. It only takes a second for one of our beloved pets to get away from us and become lost. Here are 7 tips for keeping your pet safe so that you can prevent having to go through the heartache of losing your precious pet.

1. Entryways

Always make sure doors and windows are secure. It only takes a second for your beloved pet to slip out of a door that wasn’t properly latched or an open window. Teach your dog to wait at doorways until released. By teaching this valuable cue you could prevent your dog from walking or running out the door and becoming a lost pet before you even realize he or she is gone. Ask your friends and family to be quick when entering and exiting your home so that doors do not have to be open for too long.

2. Gates and Fences

Before you let your dog in your yard make sure all gates are closed and latched. It a good idea to do periodic checks of your fence perimeter to look for holes or gaps your dog could slip under or through. And never leave your dog in the yard unattended. 

3. Collars and Harnesses 

Avoid a Lost Pet, make sure your dog has a properly fitting collar with an identification tag.

Make sure your dog’s collar or harness fits properly. A loud noise or aggressive dog could cause your dog to panic and back out of his or her collar or harness. Always keep a firm grip on the leash when out for a walk.

4. Recall

Teach your dog to come when called. This could save your dog’s life in numerous situations, but if your dog does get away from you a good recall could prevent your dog from running away and getting lost.

5. Seatbelts and Crates

Avoid a lost pet when transporting to your veterinarian or groomer. Secure your pet in a crate when in the car.

Always have your pet secured in a crate when transporting him or her to the vet or groomer. If you have a large dog, you can secure them in a harness that attaches to your car’s seatbelt. Pets can find travel stressful and if they accidentally get loose in a strange environment they may startle and run. 

6.Identification

If your dog or cat does get loose it is important for them to have identification so that you can get your lost pet back to you as quickly as possible. Your pets should have a collar with an ID tag attached. But tags come loose, and collars come off and get lost so your pet should also be microchipped. Read our blog on microchipping to learn more about this invaluable form of identification.

7. Proof of Ownership

If your lost pet is found, you will probably be required to show proof of ownership. Having your pet’s records and a few photos of you with your pet will go a long way to you getting your pet back quickly.

Contact us to learn more about teaching your dog to wait at the door and come when called.

Choosing a Dog Walker? 5 things to Look For and Consider

Dog waiting and begging to go for a walk with the dog walker.

Is your dog left at home for long periods of time because you work long hours, you have a long commute, or because you are often asked to stay late? Or maybe you would like to stay at work later to work on that well-deserved promotion. No matter your reason you have decided you need to hire a dog walker to come in and give your dog a much-needed potty and some exercise break during the time you are at work. But how do you go about choosing a Dog Walker that is right for you? Here are 5 things to consider.

1. Are they a professional Dog Walker?

A lot of people offer to walk dogs to earn some extra cash, but are they true professionals? Do they have the availability you will need? What happens if they are unable to fulfill their commitment to walk your dog? Do they have an emergency plan in place?

Another thing to consider when choosing a dog walker is do they know how to handle emergency situations when walking your dog? Do they know what to do if they encounter an off-leash dog? Do they know how to keep your dog safe during hot summer walks? Will they be able to manage if your dog should become ill? Have they had any formal pet first aid/CPR instruction?

A lot of people love dogs, but not everyone can be a dependable, skilled Dog Walker.

2. Are They Online?

There are so many ways to check out a company. Read reviews from some of their clients via review sites, such as Angie’s List.

Do they have a professional presence on social media? What kind of information are they writing about and sharing?

Visit the website of the company you are considering. Do they make contacting them easy?

3. Ask Your Friends and Family Who Their Dog Walker Is.

Dog walking with a dog walker.

You most likely know someone who has a dog. Who do they use to walk their dog? If they love their Dog Walker they will be happy to share their experiences.

This is also a great way to find out what dog walking services their dog walker offers and why they chose to use that company.

If your friends

4. Can You Call and Talk to Someone?

What better way to start learning about a business than picking up the phone and talking to someone. It will give you a chance to not only learn about the people working for the company but also learn about what services they offer.

The initial contact with a company will give you a good indication of what you can expect in the future. 

5. What Types of Walks Do They Offer?

Professional Dog Walker Exercising Dogs In Park

Dog Walkers may offer group walks as well as private walks. While it is lovely to think of your dog out with a group of his or her friends on a group walk, it may not be a situation your dog is comfortable being in. If your dog is not the social type, walking with a group of dogs may not be fun for them. You should consider your dog’s comfort level around other dogs.

Private walks give your dog more one-on-one attention. If your dog is not the social type, private walks may better suit them. On a private walk, your dog will be able to go at his or her pace, taking time to take in the scents along the way. Getting a chance to sniff is very important to your dog’s health and well-being.

Contact us to learn more about our commitment to providing you and your dog with the highest standard of service and care.

 

 

 

 

Microchipping Pets: Costs and Benefits

Losing a pet is a pet owner’s worst nightmare.  Sometimes, pets are never recovered, but microchipping your pet increases the odds of being reunited with your lost pet. According to PetFinder.com “Only about 22 percent of lost dogs that entered the animal shelters were reunited with their families. However, the return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was over 52 percent (a 238 percent increase). Less than 2 percent of lost cats that entered the animal shelters were reunited with their families.” 

Little girl reunited with her dog

Microchipping your pet increases the chances you will be reunited if they are ever lost.

What is microchipping?

A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. This electronic chip is enclosed in a glass cylinder and when a scanner passes over the chip, the chip is activated and transmits an identification number unique to your pet. It is inserted under your pet’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades, through a hypodermic needle. There is no surgery required and it should not be any more painful than a normal injection.

What Information Does the Microchip Contain?

Your pet’s microchip will contain an identification number and is registered with a microchip registry where your contact information is stored. If your pet should become lost a veterinarian, shelter or rescue group can scan your pet and contact the microchip registry to notify them that they have your pet. The microchip registry will then contact you. Your contact information is not shared with the rescuer.

Cat being scanned for microchip

If your lost pet is found a veterinarian or rescue will scan for a microchip.

Do Microchips Have GPS?

No, microchips are not the same as GPS and do not have the capability to track your pet.

Do I Still Need Identification Tags if My Pet is Microchipped?

Yes! Identification tags are the quickest way for you to be reunited with your pet. While a microchip is a permanent identification that cannot be tampered with, having an identification tag attached to your pet’s collar makes it easy for the person who finds your pet to contact you immediately. However, if your pet’s collar is removed or lost, a microchip may be the only way you will be reunited with your pet.

Are Only Dogs and Cats Microchipped?

No, all kinds of pets are microchipped including rabbits, horses, cows, ferrets, reptiles and many more.

At What Age Can my Pet Be Microchipped?

Most Shelters and veterinarians will microchip your dog or cat once they are 8 weeks old. It is actually the size of your pet that determines when they can be microchipped.

What Are the Risks of Microchipping?

Complications from microchipping your pet are very rare. There have been cases of a pet developing a cancerous tumor at the microchip site, but those cases are very rare. The benefits of getting your lost pet back far outweigh the risks. 

Veterinarian injecting microchip into a dog.

Microchipping can be done by your veterinarian or local shelter.

How Do I Get My Pet Microchipped?

Your veterinarian or local animal shelter can microchip your pet for you. If you adopt a pet from your shelter or local pet rescue it will most likely already be microchipped.

How Much Does Microchipping Cost?

The average cost is about $45 however, your local shelter or Humane Society will usually offer microchipping at a discounted price. The price is a one-time fee. If you are adopted your pet from a local shelter or rescue, it is likely that your pet is already microchipped.

Do I have to Register My Pet’s Microchip?

Yes. When your pet is microchipped the shelter or veterinarian will provide you with the information you need to have your pet’s microchip registered. If you move or change phone numbers, you will need to update your contact information.

May is National Chip Your Pet month. This is a great time to get your pet microchipped if you have not already done so. This is also a great time to have your pet’s microchip checked by taking them to your local veterinarian to have them scanned.

Is your pet microchipped? Tell us what type of pet you have and why or why not you have chosen to have your pet microchipped.

 

What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs? Does Your Dog Suffer From It?

What is separation anxiety in dogs? Does your dog suffer from it? Here is my experience of living with a dog with separation anxiety, the signs to look for and what you can do to help your dog if you suspect he or she is suffering from separation anxiety.

Dog looking out window

Dogs with separation anxiety may chew through walls to get out and find you.

Many years ago, I adopted a beautiful four-month-old puppy from a couple who kept him in a dark, hot garage 24 hours a day. They rarely let him out, even to relieve himself. It was four horrible months for this little guy, so when I brought him home he was immediately attached to me and panicked every time I had to leave him. The first two weeks weren’t too bad as I had taken vacation time to help him adjust to his new life with me, but I did notice that when I left the house, even for a brief time, he would panic.

I once ran up to the local store, leaving my puppy gated in the kitchen, only to receive a call from my alarm company stating my alarm had been triggered, again. This time the poor guy had pulled the microwave off the counter. One of the previous times he had knocked over the cabinet where I kept my china. He ate through the drywall by my front door and urinated and defecated all over my house, no matter how many times I took him out. All because I left him.

A well-meaning friend suggested I crate him. He turned that crate into a twisted mass of metal. It was incredible he didn’t physically hurt himself. I cannot imagine what torment that poor dog went through.

I hired a trainer to help me help him, but he needed more than a trainer. This was 30 years ago, before I was a trainer. Today, trainers, veterinarians, and behaviorists know so much more about how to help dogs with separation anxiety. This is not to say that there is an easy fix for separation anxiety, there isn’t. But you can help your dog if you are willing to put in the work.

What are the symptoms of separation anxiety?

  • Getting upset as you are getting ready to leave.
  • Overly excited when you return.
  • Urinating and defecating in the house while you are away even though they have had ample opportunities to relieve themselves before you left.

    Dog destroying item

    Dogs with separation anxiety may become destructive

  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Panting
  • Excessive salivation
  • Destructive behavior
  • Vomiting

What you can do to help:

  • First things first, see your veterinarian in order to make sure there isn’t some underlying issue that is mimicking separation anxiety.
  • Feed your dog just before leaving the house. This can help your dog associate something positive with your departure.
  • Keep your departures and arrivals low key.
  • Provide your dog with lots of interactive toys to keep them occupied.
  • Sometimes adding another dog to the family can help, but there is no guarantee.
  • There are medications that may help, but they are not long-term solutions.
  • Hire a dog walker or pet sitter to keep your dog company while you are away.

    Sad dog

    A dog with separation anxiety may be helped if you are willing to put in the work

One or more of the solutions above may help your dog cope with their separation anxiety. Be patient, it may take some time to figure out what works best for your dog.

Do you think your dog suffers from separation anxiety? Contact us to see how we can help.

What Leash is Right for You?

As professional dog walkers, we are very particular about the types of leashes we use. We do not walk dogs on retractable leashes or bungee type leashes. But why? Isn’t it nice to let your dog have a little freedom out on the walk? If you are using one of these types of leashes let us give you a couple of scenarios and then you can make a more informed decision about the type of leash you want to use.

The Retractable Leash

You are out for a morning stroll when an off-leash dog charges your dog. Your dog runs circles around you trying to escape his aggressor. Suddenly, the cord from the retractable leash is wound so tightly around your legs you can’t move, and your dog can’t move because he/she has used up the length of the retractable leash trying to escape. You are helpless to rescue your dog or to even help yourself. If you are wearing shorts there is a possibility that the cord from the leash will cut into your skin. Ouch!

Dogs meeting on retractable leashes

Retractable leashes limit your control over your dog.

Maybe you and your dog meet other dogs on leash, but in the chaos of greeting, the dogs’ leashes get entangled, the dogs panic and a fight ensues. Using a retractable leash makes it so much more difficult to keep leashes untangled than a standard leash.

Or, what if you are out for a walk with your dog and you accidentally drop your retractable leash? The leash retracts, and the plastic handle of the leash hits your dog sending her into a panic. As your dog runs the plastic leash handle continues to hit your dog sending her into more of a panic.

Bungee Leashes

If the snap on this type of leash breaks while the leash is stretched it can snap back hitting you in the hand, face, eye or some other part of your body. Again, Ouch!

Standard six-foot leash

I personally use a six-foot leather leash. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive, but you get what you pay for. Leather leashes last, they are more comfortable in your hands, they don’t collect dog hair. Leather leashes are great for strong active dogs. You can also purchase a nylon leash, but make sure you test the feel in your hands. I find nylon leashes harder on the hands. Nylon leashes can collect dog hair and while they can come in fun colors, those colors may fade over time.

Retractable leashes

Retractable leashes can get tangled or caught on something.

The type of leash you use is important for your safety and the safety of your dog. Choose wisely.

 

What type of leash do you like to use? Let us know why you like it.

Running With Your Dog

Jogger running with two dogs

Running with your dog can be fun for both of you.

If you want to run with your dog you should take a few precautions before you get started:

Before You Start

1. Before you start a running program with your dog, make sure he or she is healthy enough for the endeavor. A trip to the vet should be first on your list before starting.
2. Once your pooch is cleared to start running, don’t take off on a 10-mile run. Just like people, dogs need to be conditioned. Start slow and build up your dog’s endurance.
3. Training is important. Your dog needs to learn how to run alongside you so that you can both enjoy the time together.
4. Not all dogs are meant to be runners. If your dog is older, short-snouted, or just too small to keep up, leave them at home when you go for your jog.
5. DO NOT run your dog if it’s hot outside. Dogs do not disburse heat the way we humans do. Keep some of these things in mind: [Read more…]

The Importance of Picking Up After Your Dog

 

Every day I am out walking dogs and every day I see piles left by dog owners who don’t pick up after their dog. I get it! Sticking my hand in a bag so I can pick up a warm pile of dog poop is not exactly on the top 10 list of my most favorite things. But what are the consequences of not picking up after your dog? Well, there are many. Here are just a few of the things that dog poop can contain:

  • E-Coli
  • Salmonella
  • Parvovirus
  • Roundworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Cryptosporidium

[Read more…]

Travel with Your Dog: Tips and Tricks

Dog in car

Travel with your dog can be a lot of fun

Recently my dog Kensi and I took another road trip to the mountains of North Carolina. This is becoming an annual event for us. I rent a beautiful cabin and we go hiking every day. It really is my bliss, hanging out in the woods with my dog. But there is a stressful side to this travel with your dog thing, how do you keep your dog safe when you are on the road? [Read more…]