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Things to Consider Before You Get A Pet This Christmas

Cute pets wearing Santa Hats

Should You Really Get Pet This Christmas?

It seems perfect, right? The family has been talking about getting a pet why not surprise them? The kids need more responsibility, a pet would be the perfect way to give them that. But it’s not always perfect. Here are some things to consider before you get a pet this Christmas.

#1. Does Everyone Want A Pet?

Before you set out to get a pet you might want to make sure everyone is on board with the idea. Everyone should also agree on what kind of pet your family might want. While you are thinking of a cute little kitten, your family is thinking more along the lines of a Golden Retriever.

#2.  Aren’t you Already Busy?

Christmas is a very busy time of year for everyone. There is shopping to do, presents to wrap, parties to attend, and family to entertain. And what about after the holidays? There is work, school events, afterschool programs, and so much more. Puppies and kittens require a lot of work! Are you going to able to add that to your schedule? Puppies need training, playtime and frequent potty breaks. Kittens need playtime too, as well as training (yes, I said training). Routine is important for any animal, so make sure you can keep your pet on a regular schedule before you get a pet this Christmas.

#3. Holiday Visitors

Christmas is a particularly hectic time with family and friends dropping by to celebrate and exchange gifts. Your doors will continually be opening and closing. This is the perfect opportunity for your new puppy or kitten to get lost in the shuffle of Christmas celebrations.

#4. Cost

Those cute little furry kittens and puppies can cost a lot of money, so make sure you take all costs into consideration before adding a puppy or kitten to your home. Here are a few things to think about:

Veterinary care – From initial vaccinations to monthly heartworm treatment. There is also the accident or illness that may happen. And don’t forget your pet requires a yearly check-up just like you.

Supplies – There’s food, toys, beds, carriers, treats, leashes, bowls, collars and so much more.

Daily care – If you decide to get a puppy what will you do with that puppy every day that you are at work and the kids are in school? Puppies need to get out to go potty and eat in the middle of the day. If you can’t come home during the day, you will have to hire a dog walker to come in to care for your puppy while you are at work. Kittens also need a lot of personal interaction and feedings, so unless you already have other pets in the house and open feeding your kitten will need attention during the day also. A pet sitter is a great way to socialize your kitten as well as provide much-needed playtime and food.

This list only scratches the surface of the costs that can arise.

#5. Are You in It For the Long Haul?

So you get a pet this Christmas, but it will be with you for many Christmases to come. A dog or cat is a long-term commitment. Our shelters are overflowing as it is and after the holidays it gets worse. Pets are not something to play with on Christmas break and the discard at the animal shelter when it gets too difficult or costly.

Cats and dogs can live for 20+ years. Are you willing to make that commitment? What are your future plans? Are you moving? Traveling? Planning a family? How will your pet fit into your life not only now, but in the future?

#6. Do You Have Other Pets?

Before you get a pet this Christmas, take the pets you already have into consideration? Christmas time is very stressful for everyone, including your pets. It might be a good idea to wait until after the holidays, when everything has calmed down, before adding another pet to your family. How will your current pets accept a new pet into the family? Remember, most of your pet care costs are going to double when you add another pet to the family.  

Final Thoughts

If you have decided to get a pet this Christmas, please consider adopting from your local rescue or animal shelter after the Christmas holiday. This will give your pet time to adjust to its new environment and you will be saving a life. Millions of unwanted pets are euthanized each year across the United States. These unwanted pets are wonderful animals (I know I have six) who just need a family to love them. Most rescues and shelters offer gift certificates and you can make it a fun family outing after the holidays, while still giving the kids something to open on Christmas day.

How can Dances with Dogs help? Our Professional Pet Services can take some of the pressure off your busy schedule as well as help you with training your new dog or cat. Contact us!

 

 

 

 

Halloween Safety Tips for Your Pets

dog wearing bee costume

Halloween safety tips that will help you keep your pets safe and calm.

Halloween is right around the corner and while we are planning what costume we will wear and what treats we will be handing out we also need to think about our pets. Here are a few Halloween safety tips for your pets.

Walk with Care

The Halloween decorations start showing up on our neighbor’s lawns a month before Halloween. Some of these decorations can be very scary for our dogs. Whether it’s an inflatable skeleton riding a motorcycle or a giant inflatable pumpkin, for our dogs those things can be terrifying. This is the time to make those walks as positive as possible. If your dog is too stressed out by those novel Halloween decorations it might be wise to skip your walk until the decorations are gone or contact a professional dog trainer who can show you how to make those decorations less scary for your dog.

Six children in costumes trick or treating at woman's house

Keep your pets away from open doors. People in costume can be scary for your pets.

Keep Them Calm and Secure

Halloween can be a very stressful time for our pets. Doorbells are ringing, there are lots of knocks at the door, there are strange people coming to the door dressed in costume, children are yelling “Trick or Treat!”. It’s all very stressful on our pets. The best thing you can do for your pets on this stressful night is put them in another room with the door closed and either turn on a radio, television or white noise machine. Do not leave your pets outside.

Identification

While you want to keep your pets confined and away from open doors accidents happen. Make sure your pets are wearing a collar with an identification tag attached. Collars can get lost, so your pet should also be microchipped.

Tire Them Out

Before the Halloween festivities begin, get your dog out for a nice run or game of fetch in the backyard. Breakout your cat’s favorite toy and get them playing. By tiring your pet out, you should be able to reduce some of their stress.

Ceramic pumpkin filled with Halloween Candy

Halloween Safety Tips for Your Pets Include Keeping All Candy Safely Out of Reach.

Keep Candy Out of Reach

Chocolate is toxic to both dogs and cats and can cause symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, rapid breathing, and even death. The darker the chocolate the more toxic to your pets it will be.

Xylitol is found in many types of candy and gum. Xylitol can cause liver failure, a drop in blood sugar, and seizures in dogs. If you suspect your pets have ingested chocolate or any candy it is best to be safe and get them to the veterinarian.

two bernese mountain dogs dressed up like clowns on white background

Have “dress rehearsals” if you want to dress up your pets for Halloween.

Let’s Play Dress Up

Not all pets like to be dressed in costume. If you want your pet to wear a costume on Halloween practice “dress rehearsals” before the big day. When getting your pet used to wearing a costume make it a positive experience and if they are uncomfortable, don’t force it.

Are Your Pets Ready for Halloween? We Would Love to See Pictures of Your Pets in Costume!

 

 

All About the Pit Bull

Blond pit bull close-up

October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month. Here is why we love the breed.

Pit Bull Terriers have been getting a bad rap (pun intended) for a very long time, but why? There are so many falsehoods about the breed that have been told for so long that it has become hard to separate fact from fiction.

The breed was originally brought to the United States in the mid to late 1800’s with their British immigrant owners. Around that time the breed was named the Pit Bull Terrier or the American Pit Bull Terrier.

The term “Pit Bull” refers to dogs with the same physical characteristics and personality traits. These include the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and dogs that are mixes of both.

Personality

Pit bulls are active and intelligent, playful and funny. Their intelligence can get them into trouble. Once they set their mind to something they give it everything they’ve got. So, if your dog is determined to scale your 6-foot fence then be prepared. Pit bulls don’t usually throw in the towel.

Trainability

Because of their intelligence, they are quick to respond to training. Their intelligence is also the reason you should start training your pit bull as soon as possible. Since pit bulls can be unfriendly to other dogs if not properly socialized at a young age, once your puppy has the proper vaccinations a group obedience class or puppy class can be a great way to expose your pit bull to other dogs.

Exercise Requirements

Pit bulls generally require a good amount of exercise, so if you are a couch potato a pit bull may not be the right dog for you. If your dog does not get enough exercise they will find their own way to expend that excess energy and you may not like the results, so get your pit bull out for some daily exercise.

Grooming Requirements

Because the Pit Bull has a short coat, grooming is easy. A daily brushing with a rubber curry brush, followed by a quick wipe down with a clean cloth will remove the dead hair and skin cells and stimulate the natural oils in your dog’s coat, leaving your Pit Bull’s coat looking healthy and shiny.

Breed Specific Legislation

Unfortunately, many cities have banned the breed. This breed-specific legislation bans all dogs of a certain breed regardless of each individual dog’s temperament. The fact is, any dog can bite from the smallest chihuahua to the largest St. Bernard and these breed bans are, in my opinion, unfair and ineffective. Thousands of dogs are euthanized each year, just because they are a certain breed. Most of these dogs are not dangerous and have no history of aggression.

If you are in a city where Pit Bulls are legal, and you want a smart, charming, funny, energetic dog that requires a lot of exercise, but little grooming then consider the Pit Bull.

Do You Have A Pit Bull in Your Life? Please Let Us Know Why You Love Your Pit Bull.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?

Dog lifting weights wearing blue hat, blue shorts and gold chain

How much exercise your dog needs depends on several factors.

Owning a dog carries a lot of responsibility, food, water, veterinary care, love, and exercise. But how much exercise does your dog need? Generally, dogs need between 30 minutes and 2 hours of exercise per day. How do you know where your dog falls on that timeline though?

Dogs need to get out and explore their world so daily walks are important for not only their physical health but also their mental health. Walking, however, is not always enough. Here are some things to consider when thinking about how much exercise your dog should get and what type of exercise is right for them.

Health Advantages

Just as exercise is good for your waistline, exercise is also good for your dog’s waistline. Exercise will help keep the weight off, keep muscles toned and help extend the life of your dog. Exercise is also good for the mind. If you have ever experienced a bored dog, you know they can become destructive as a way to burn off excess energy.

Age

No matter whether your dog is young or old, they need exercise. But the age of your dog will be one of the determining factors in how much exercise your dog needs. Age is also a factor in what kind of exercise your dog should be getting.

We all slow down as we get older. While our senior dog will always enjoy getting out to sniff and stretch their legs, take your dog’s advancing age into consideration before setting out on a long, strenuous hike. Old creaky bones are not going to enjoy a high impact run through the neighborhood either.

Dog’s under one year of age should also avoid high impact exercise as their bones are not fully developed. Young puppies will not have the stamina to go very far either.

Breed

Some breeds are higher energy than others and require more physical exercise. Other breeds are much lower energy and require much less exercise. So, while some breeds will only require 30 minutes of exercise per day, others will require 2 hours of exercise per day.

A word of warning for owners of brachycephalic dogs such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Boxers, Boston Terriers, etc.: These dogs are prone to heat stroke, so use caution when exercising your flat-faced breed.

Types of Exercise for Your Dog

While walking is a great way to exercise your dog, it is not the only way.

Letting your dog out into your yard to exercise himself will usually not work. Running along the fence line barking at the neighbor’s dog may get some of his physical energy out, but it is most likely not good for his mental health. And expecting him to run around by himself is something most dogs don’t do. If you have more than one dog and they are close in size and age, then you usually have a built-in dog park. Dog play can be a great way to expend energy, but keep in mind it is difficult to know how much exercise your dogs are really getting, so it is best not to count this as the main way they are getting a workout.

If your dog likes to retrieve, then playing ball can be a great way to get some of that pent-up energy out.

Training your dog is the perfect way to exercise your dog’s body and mind. A few short training sessions a day will not only improve your dog’s health but will improve your bond together.

Before Getting Started

Before you start an exercise program with your dog it is a good idea to talk to your vet. Your veterinarian will tell you whether your dog is ready and how much exercise you should begin with.

How Can Dances with Dogs Help?

Our dog walking service can get your dog out when you are working long hours, not physically able to get your dog out for a walk or you just don’t have enough hours in the day. Our training program is perfect for people who want a better-behaved dog, have limited time but can squeeze in a few short training sessions a day, and want to further strengthen their bond with their dog. Contact us if you would like to learn more.

Destructive Behavior in Dogs: Causes and Solutions

Golden retriever ripping up bed

Destructive behavior comes in many forms.

Chewing, digging and playing are all very normal behaviors for dogs, but sometimes they can get out of hand and become destructive behaviors. One of our dogs destroyed two sofas in a day. Any destructive behavior can be very frustrating, but there are things you can do to help your dog and correct these behaviors.

Why is your dog destructive?

There are several causes for destructive behavior. Here are a few of the more common ones.

  • Separation anxiety – This cause deserves to be at the top of the list as it probably the most common reason a dog exhibits destructive behavior. Dogs with separation anxiety can exhibit behaviors such as tearing through walls, urinating and defecating in the house, excessive vocalizing, and other destructive behaviors. These dogs are so attached to their families that they frantically greet their owners when they return home and may follow their owners from room to room. There are a lot of reasons for a dog having separation anxiety from a death in the family (human or another pet) to a move to a new home. 
  • Boredom – if your dog is not getting enough social interaction or exercise her or she may expend that excess energy on your furniture.
  • Teething – If your puppy is chewing on things it shouldn’t be, it may be because they are teething and their gums are painful. Chewing can relieve the discomfort.
  • Attention-getting – Sometimes negative attention is better than no attention. If you are not reinforcing your dog for being good, but reprimanding your dog for being bad, your dog may be being destructive just to get attention from you.
  • Fear – If your dog is afraid of loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms your dog may be trying to escape which can be destructive. Besides your doors, walls, windows and door frames being damaged this can be particularly dangerous for your dog. A panicked dog that is trying to escape can be severely injured.
  • Barrier frustration – Some dogs, like some people, don’t like to be confined to small spaces. So, if you are confining your dog to a crate, bathroom or laundry room they may be destroying things because of being confined in such a small space. Dogs with separation anxiety are prone to dislike being confined.
  • Investigating – Dogs investigate by using their mouths and paws. Your dog’s destructive behavior may be caused by him or her checking out something new or unfamiliar to them.
  • Playing – Your dog’s normal play behavior may result in damaging objects. Dogs love to dig, chew, run, shred, but they may be shredding your sofa, chewing your shoes, or digging up your garden.
  • Hungry – If you are inconsistent in feeding your dog you may have a dog who is destroying things because they are hungry and in the search for food.
  • Not feeling well – Just as with teething puppies an adult dog with gum issues may take to chewing to alleviate the discomfort. Dogs with pica will eat non-food items. Make sure to talk to your veterinarian. 

What you can do to help curb your dog’s destructive behavior:

For dogs who are bored or left alone for long periods of time you can hire a dog walker to come in while you are away. A professional dog walker knows how to alleviate the boredom and give your dog some much-needed exercise and mental stimulation.

If your dog is destructive because they are not getting enough exercise, get out there and walk or play with your dog. If you don’t have the time you can hire a professional dog walker or pet sitter to come in and tire your dog out. A tired dog is a better-behaved dog.

Keep your dog on a regular feeding schedule to help prevent him or her trying to make their own meals.

If you have a teething puppy make sure you are providing enough appropriate things for them to chew on.

For more serious issues such as separation anxiety, fears or phobias please consult with an animal behaviorist.

And if you suspect your dog’s destructive behavior is caused by a medical issue please consult your veterinarian.

Does your dog exhibit destructive behavior? Contact us for more information on our dog and puppy training as well as our dog exercise programs.

When You Can’t Play Outside: 6 Indoor Activities for Dogs

English bulldog lying down white background

Is your dog bored? These fun indoor activities for dogs should brighten their day.

Getting our dogs enough exercise can sometimes be a challenge when you are both stuck inside. It may too hot during the summer months and the summer thunderstorms can certainly hamper outdoor activities. But our dogs need to be engaged both physically and mentally. Here are six indoor activities for dogs that will certainly keep them entertained.

Golden retriever playing tug with rope toy

Playing tug is one of the great indoor activities for dogs.

Tug of War

A good game of tug can be played just about anywhere and is a great way to tire your dog out. There are several tugs toys on the markets. Try to get a tug toy with a handle and that is long enough to keep your hands safely away from enthusiastic teeth.

Dog sniffing wooden box

Find it is a great indoor activity

Find It!

Hide your dog’s favorite treats around the house. Make sure your dog doesn’t see your hiding palaces and keep the treats small to avoid having your dog eat too much. You can also do this with your dog’s food. This is a great way to keep your dog’s mind engaged and satisfy his natural instinct to forage for food.

Dog with paws over eyes

Hide and Seek is fun and a great training game too!

Hide and Seek

You read that right. Hide and seek is a fun way to play with your dog indoors while letting them use their nose to find you. It is also a great way to strengthen their come when called. How to play: Put your dog in a wait and then go hide. Get creative hide behind doors or furniture, in closets or bathrooms. Call your dog’s name once and have him come to find you. Reward him mightily when he finds you and you will be reinforcing him for coming when called. Hide and Seek is a perfect way to train your dog while having fun.

Blue treat dispensing dog toy

Using an interactive treat dispensing toy can be used to feed your dog their meal too.

Interactive Toys

There are many interactive toys on the market. These toys can be stuffed with treats or your dog’s food and your dog must figure out how to get the food out. Some of these toys can be filled with fresh fruit, canned pumpkin, yogurt, canned dog food, peanut butter, etc., frozen and then given to your dog. These frozen treats will keep your dog busy for quite some time.

Small dog with yellow ball in mouth

Playing ball indoors can expend some of your dog’s pent-up energy.

Let’s Play Ball!

Ball? In the house? Yes! All you need is a hallway or an open area and a ball. Toss the ball down the hall for your dog to retrieve.

Westie up on hind legs with girl

Learning new tricks is fun for your dog.

Teach Them A New Trick

Learning never stops for us or our dogs, so take this time to teach your dog a new trick or use this time to freshen up already learned behaviors. Either way, your dog will be working their body and brain.

These are great indoor activities for dogs that will keep your dog entertained inside when you can’t play outside.

What are your favorite indoor activities for dogs?

The Importance of Early Puppy Socialization

Two puppies on gravel surface

Puppy Socialization needs to start early

As the owner of a rescue dog who was not properly socialized at an early age, this subject is near and dear to my heart. Because of my dog’s lack of early socialization, he is fearful and reactive. Maybe I am being wishful, but I can see the amazing dog he would have been if he had been socialized early. Don’t get me wrong, he is a wonderful dog, my husband and I love him very much, but if he had been socialized early I think his life would be so much richer and much less stressful.

What is Puppy Socialization?

There is a critical socialization period for puppies that happens between 3 and 12weeks of age. This is when puppies learn about the world and how to become part of it instead of letting it be a big scary place. This is the time when your puppy determines whether people, in general, are good, whether men with beards or wearing hats should be avoided, that children are fun, wet grass is okay to walk on, other dogs are friends, cats are cool, and the list goes on and on. Any experience the puppy is exposed to should be approached so that it is a positive experience for the puppy.

Why Should You Socialize Your Puppy Early?

Small white dog barking while on leash

Puppy Socialization can prevent reactivity.

Socialization is important for so many reasons. Dogs that are not properly socialized tend to be generally fearful of anything new. A leaf blowing down the street or a bicycle left lying in the grass could be enough to make your dog try to run away in fear. Fearful dogs are reluctant to move toward anything new. If you want your dog to enjoy adventures such as a trip to Starbucks for a Puppuccino or to your nearest home improvement store, socialization is extremely important. If a dog was not handled during that all-important socialization period it makes prove difficult to do such common things as grooming and veterinary exams. Fearful dogs can become reactive dogs. A trip to the dog park? Not if your dog wasn’t properly socialized around other dogs. Puppies need to be exposed to a lot of different dogs in a positive way in order to sharpen their dog body language skills. That dog you see on the street that is barking lunging and growling is usually so afraid they just want you to move away from them. It’s the only way they know how to deal with what is scaring them.

At What Age Should Puppy Socialization Begin?

A puppy should start being handled for very short periods of time when they are just days old, but if you don’t have the opportunity to visit your puppy from the time they are born socialization should start as soon as you get your puppy home. While a lot of training facilities offer puppy kindergarten classes they require puppies to have all puppy vaccinations before starting their puppy class. If your puppy has not yet received all of their puppy vaccines check with your veterinarian to see if they hold or know of a puppy preschool class in your area. Puppy preschool classes are for puppies that have not yet had all of their puppy shots. These classes are held in very clean, controlled conditions to limit the risk of exposure to disease.

How to Start Socializing Your Puppy

Two puppies playing in a kiddie pool fill with plastic balls.

Puppy Socialization should be fun for your puppy. Introduce them the lots of new things in a positive way.

While you want your puppy to be comfortable in a variety of scenarios and around lots of different people, dogs and items you must make sure that every exposure is a positive one. Get your puppy enrolled in a puppy class or contact a certified dog trainer to help you with socialization. Expose your puppy to new things slowly. If you want your puppy to have doggy friends, make sure those dogs are fully vaccinated and friendly. Handle your puppy daily, touching all parts of their body including their ears, paws, and nails. Gently lift the flaps of their gums and inspect their teeth. Expose your puppy to new surfaces such as grass, gravel, concrete, sand, tile and laminate floors, carpet, etc. While you want to introduce your puppy to lots of new people, never force your puppy to meet someone or do something as this may actually increase their fear. Use lots of really yummy treats to make each new experience a positive one.

If you would like to learn more about our puppy socialization program, please contact us.

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.

How to Train Your Dog to Sit

English bulldog sitting next to a person looking up at them.

Sit can be the basis of other behaviors you can train your dog to do.

Whether it is your new puppy or older dog, teaching them the sit command is an important lesson for them to learn. It is also, usually, one of the easiest commands to teach. Here is an easy way to train your dog to sit.

Having your dog sit when asked can come in handy in a variety of situations from sitting before going out of a doorway, sitting at the veterinarian’s office, sitting for a nail trim, to sitting beside you at an outdoor café. The sit command is a versatile command and will serve you and your dog well throughout your years together.

What is the Best Training Method?

Here at Dances with Dogs, we only use positive reinforcement training. What does that mean? We only use treats, toys, and praise. We ignore bad behavior and reward good behavior. Wouldn’t you work harder if you knew that every time you got it right something great was going to happen? How hard would you work if you knew that if every time you got it wrong something bad was going to happen?

Why Should You Train Your Dog to Sit?

Having your dog learn the sit command is essential, so this is one of the first commands they should learn. It is also the base for other behaviors they should learn, so learning the sit command is the start of great learning experiences for your dog and great training experiences for you.

How Long Will It Take?

Each dog learns at a different pace just like people, so be patient. Learning sit is a fairly easy command for dogs to learn, so it shouldn’t take too long. It also depends on how much time you invest in the process. You want training to be fun, so it is important to keep your training sessions to about 10 minutes in length. If you try to train your dog for longer periods of time you run the risk of him/her getting frustrated, distracted, bored or just tired.

How to Train Your Dog to Sit 

Before you get started, you need lots of yummy treats. These treats should be small (pea sized) and something your dog finds incredibly delicious. Some things that work well are small pieces of cheese, cooked chicken, dried liver, a dog food roll cut into small pieces, cut up hot dogs, etc. You want something that really keeps their attention and doesn’t take too long for them to eat. If your dog is not motivated by food try using their favorite toy or praise. 

Step 1 

Hold a small piece of treat in your hand, so that your dog can smell it and then slowly raise your hand up and back over their head so that they have to look up. This should cause them to have to sit down. If your dog tries to jump up to get the treat your hand may be too high above their head. Lower your hand a bit and try again. 

Black and tan puppy lifting his head up and beginning to it.

When starting to train your dog to sit, hold the treat just above his head so that he must lift his head. This should cause him to sit.

Step 2

Just as your dog sits say “yes!” or “good” or whatever word works best for you and pop the treat in their mouth.

Step 3

Once your dog is consistently sitting 5 times in a row during your practice sessions you can then put a command word to it. So, say “sit” as you raise your hand above their head and as soon as their rear end hits the ground reward and praise.

Step 4

Once your dog has the behavior down, you can phase out your treats by only giving them occasionally. Mix it up. Sometimes give your dog a treat every three sits, then every 5 sits, then every two sits. Keep them guessing, that is part of the fun.

Step 5

Always have fun and end on a high note. Always try to end your training sessions when your dog has done the behavior correctly. Even if your dog is having a great training session don’t be tempted to push it. You want every session to be fun.

Things You Should Never Do

Never push on your dog’s back end to get them to sit. You could do physical harm to your dog and it does not help your dog to learn to sit.

Never repeat your command. In other words, ask your dog to “sit”, but never say “sit, sit, sit,” if your dog doesn’t sit after the first request.

Never yell or shout at your dog. If you are getting frustrated it is time to call it a day. Try to end your training session on a positive note even if that means asking your dog to do something they already know like fetch a ball or give kisses. But, if you are finding yourself raising your voice it is time to take a break.

Papillon surrounded by dog toys

When you train your dog to sit you may find that toys motivate your dog more than food does.

Troubleshooting

If your dog just won’t sit there could be several reasons. Make sure it is not medical. Does your dog sit on her/his own when not being asked? If not, a trip to the vet may be in order. Are your treats yummy enough? Make sure you are using very high-value treats when teaching a new behavior. If your dog still isn’t interested in treat maybe food isn’t his/her thing. Try using a ball, toy or praise as a reward instead. Are there too many distractions? If there is a lot going on when you are trying to train it might be a good idea to move to a quieter area.

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