Teaching Tricks: Fetch

4 Dec

Fetch is a game enjoyed by all types of dogs.  However, contrary to popular believe, this trick does not come naturally to dogs, and requires you to teach them how to play.  This skill is the process of your dog retrieving their toy and bringing it back to you.  After they do this, you may use the ‘give’ or ‘drop’ commands if you want to throw the toy again.  This step will not be included in the following steps, as the focus will be on getting your dog to simply retrieve or ‘fetch’ the toy.


Fetch can also become much more than a game.  Once your dog has mastered the basic concept of this skill, you can move on to teaching them to fetch specific things. This can help to exercise your dogs brain by learning to distinguish exactly what you want from them.  It can also add a level of convenience for your life depending on what you teach your dog to fetch.  A common use for this trick in every day life is teaching the dog to fetch your slippers.  You can begin the process of teaching your dog all these fun and useful tricks by following these simple steps.
Step 1
Begin with your dog, a favorite toy and some treats readily available.  You want to use a toy your dog will be motivated to fetch, so pick a favorite toy.

Step 2
Get your dog interested in the toy.  Shake it around, squeak it, do whatever you have to do.  Once you have their attention, throw the toy a couple of feet in front of you.  Your dog will most likely run after the toy.  If not, there are a couple things you can do to capture your dog’s interest.  You might want to change the toy in use to one your dog is more interested in.

Step 3
Once your dog has successfully ran after the toy and has it in their mouth, you can give the ‘come’ command.  Your dog, toy in mouth, will come back to you.  Once they do, praise them “good fetch” and give them a treat.  Your dog will drop the toy to get their treat, and you can get the toy to throw it again.

Step 4
As training goes on, you can start using the command ‘fetch’ right before you throw the toy.  If you are attempting to teach your dog to fetch something specific by name, use the command ‘fetch’ followed by the name of the object.  Try and keep the name simple and relatively short, preferably 1 or 2 words.

Step 5
As you practice and perfect this trick, you can increase the distance you throw the toy.  You can also begin to add in levels of difficulty.  Try to get your dog to fetch a specific toy, or the newspaper or your slippers.

You will need to practice these 5 steps a few times a day for as long as it takes.  Practice as much as you can with your puppy until they get it.  However, make sure you do not push your puppy to far or expect too much too fast from them.  Teaching your puppy tricks can be a fun and enjoyable activity for you and your dog, so do your best to keep it that way!

Breed Description: Australian Cattle Dog

10 Nov

Breed Description: Australian Cattle Dog
Height: 17-20 inches
Weight: 30-35 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
Color: blue merle, red speckle, blue-mottled, blue speckled, blue
Coat: short, coarse and weather-resistant double coat

General Description: Australians Cattle Dogs are medium sized, working dogs.  Their tail is held low, curving to the side and is slightly shorter than the length of the body.  They have a short coarse coat with a dense undercoat.  Their medium sized ears are wide-set and prick up when alert.  These are very hardworking dogs, and will do best in an environment that provides them tons of mental and physical stimulation.  This can be accomplished by supplying them with a job, just as herding.  They are natural herders, and may nip and peoples’ heels in an attempt herd them unless trained not to do so.  They are very intelligent, and very easy to train, but require almost constant  occupation to keep from getting bored.  Boredom will almost definitely lead to behavior problems such as dominance and dog aggression. They will make wonderful pets as long as you supply their daily mental and physical stimulation and provide firm leadership.

Temperament: These loyal dogs are very versatile in the roles they can play.  Their intense loyalty and obedience abilities make them suitable for companion dogs.  However, they will only be happy companions if you have enough time and energy to make sure they get the daily exercise and stimulation they need.  Their intelligence make then ideal for agility training or herding trials.  These types of jobs keep both their mind and body busy, and they excel at them.  With this intelligence also comes dominance, and without firm and proper training from a young age, they can become aggressive and dominant among other behavior problems.

Grooming: Coat needs very little care, and only requires brushing when necessary if coat has gotten dirty or matted.  The coat is shed about once or trice a year.

Exercise Needs: Australian Cattle dogs require a lot of exercise due to their herding breed status.  They require more than a short daily walk to satisfy their natural instinct to walk and explore.  They will also need something to occupy their minds daily, as they will not be content to lay around and do nothing.  If both their physical and mental exercise needs are not met, it will lead to serious behavior problems in the future.

Health Concerns: hip dysplasia, PRA, deafness

Breed Description: Pomeranian

9 Nov

Breed Description: Pomeranian

Height: 7-12 inches

Weight: 3-7 pounds

Life Expectancy: 12-16 years

Color: red, orange, white, cream, brown, blue, black or parti-colored

Coat: double coat consisting of soft, fluffy undercoat and long straight outer coat

General Description: Pomeranians are a small, compact dog breed with a distinct fluffy coat.  They have an excess of fur around their neck, giving them a thick ruff that frames their faces.  Their pointed ears are set high and stand upright.  Their trademark feathered tail is held high and lies curled onto their back.  Pomeranians have an alert, intelligent expression that is sometimes described as being fox-like.  They have a very animated and energetic disposition, and are natural extroverts.  Pomeranians’ high intelligence and their devotion to their owners make them easily trained.  They thrive on intellectual stimulation and learning new tricks and commands.  Their devotion also make Pomeranians great companion dogs, as they love snuggling and cuddling as much as playing and learning new tricks.

Temperament: Pomeranians are energetic and lively extroverts.  They are confident dogs, and at times can be cocky, acting bigger than their size.  They are active and curious dogs, and love to explore and investigate their surroundings.  They are very smart dogs, but can acquire small dog syndrome and dominance problems is not properly trained.  Pomeranians make excellent watchdogs, as they will bark whenever a stranger approaches the house, but have to be trained not to bark excessively, as they can indulge in recreational barking.  Despite their lively energy, Pomeranians are very affectionate and devoted to their owners.  They are typical lap dogs, and love to curl up and cuddle.  Pomeranians are very intelligent dogs, and will be easily trained.  This intelligence can also become a problem, if you don’t develop dominance roles from the beginning.  If left untrained, you may end up with a little dog who controls you, instead of the other way around.  However, if properly trained and given concrete boundaries and limits by a confident pack leader, Pomeranians are delightful and loving pets that are a joy to have in your life.

Grooming: Pomeranians require regular grooming to prevent matting of their long fur.  Starting at the head, brush towards the tail and the hair should fall neatly back into place.  Their undercoat sheds once for twice a year, but their outer coat shed continuously.  This may mean you will need to brush daily to remove any excess fur.

Exercise Needs: Pomeranians will take care of most of their exercise needs by playing and staying active in the house.  However, like all dogs, this does not take care of their natural instinct to walk.  To fulfill this need, Pomeranians will need a daily walk.  Without this daily walk, they will be more likely to display behavior problems.

Health Concerns: patellar luxation, open fontanel, hypoglycemia, shoulder luxation, PRA, entropion, tracheal collapse, PDA, dislocated patella, alipped stifle, heart problems, eye infections, skin irritation, toos decay and early loss

Teaching Tricks: Drop

8 Nov

The ‘drop’ command is a very versatile trick.  This command tells your dog to release or ‘drop’ whatever they have in your mouth.  There are numerouse scenarios when this trick could come in handy.  It can secure the safety of your dog, if they happen to get a hold of something potentially harmful.  This skill can also be used in teaching your dog other, more complicated tricks.  For example, having the ‘drop’ command at your disposal makes it easy to teach your dog to play nice during a game of fetch.  Follow these steps to teach your dog this useful trick.

Step 1
Start with your dog nearby, and treats and a toy on hand.
Step 2
Get your dog interested in the toy.  Play a little game of fetch or tug so they really want to have the toy in their mouth.  Once your dog has the toy in their mouth you can move onto step 3.
Step 3
Give the command “drop it” and offer your dog a treat.  Your dog should drop the toy in favor of the treat.  If your dog seems more interested in the toy than the treat, experiment with what your dog prioritizes.  Maybe start with a less desired toy, and reward with a favorite toy.  The dropped item and the reward can be whatever you choose, as long as the outcome is your dog dropping what they have in their mouth.
Step 4
As soon as your dog releases the toy and drops it, praise them and give them the treat.
Step 5
Repeat steps 1 through 4 until your dog drops what they have in their mouth without needing a treat incentive.

You will need to practice these 5 steps a few times a day for as long as it takes.  Practice as much as you can with your puppy until they get it.  However, make sure you do not push your puppy to far or expect too much too fast from them.  Teaching your puppy tricks can be a fun and enjoyable activity for you and your dog, so do your best to keep it that way!

Teaching Tricks: Heel

8 Nov

Heel is another very important skill you must master with your dog.  While training your dog to heel, you will also be training yourself to be the master and pack leader. By taking control of your dog during your walk, you will be taking another step towards being the dominant pack leader to your dog.  The heel trick is successful when your dog walks besides you during walks, and does not try to pull ahead of you.  Your dog will follow your lead, instead of trying to control the direction the walk takes. Eventually, you will be able to give the ‘heel’ command to your dog while off leash.  Follow these simple steps to achieve a more relaxed and controlled walk with your dog.


Step 1
Start with your dog standing at your side on a short leash.  Have treats ready and one in your hand.

Step 2
Give your dog the ‘heel’ command in an assertive and confident voice and start walking forward

Step 3
Hold the treat right in front of your dogs nose as you start to walk.  This will encourage them to follow the treat and stay by your side.  Your dog may ignore the treat and start to run ahead, excited for a walk.  If your dog does this, stop immediately, and don’t start walking again until your dog stops pulling on the leash.  Start back at step 1 each time your dog runs ahead and you have to stop.

Step 4
Eventually, your dog will realize they won’t get anywhere if you run ahead.  As soon as your dog starts walking by your side, give them a treat and tell them “good heel”.  If your dog continues to successfully walk besides you, treat and praise them every so often, gradually increasing the time between treats.

Step 5
Keep repeating steps 1 through 4.  Once your dog walks perfectly in the heel position with a leash, you can try repeating the steps without their leash.

You will need to practice these 5 steps a few times a day for as long as it takes.  Practice as much as you can with your puppy until they get it.  However, make sure you do not push your puppy to far or expect too much too fast from them.  Teaching your puppy tricks can be a fun and enjoyable activity for you and your dog, so do your best to keep it that way!

Teaching Tricks: Come

6 Nov

The next step after making sure your dog stays where you want them, is to get them to come when you call.  This can come in handy when visiting the dog park.  Once your dog has mastered this trick, they can be allowed greater freedom that comes with off the leash privileges.  You can always be confident that if your dog ever gets away from you that you will be able to call them back to you.  The ultimate goal of this command is the immediate reaction from your dog to come to you as soon as they hear your command every time they hear your command.  This can be difficult to achieve, but will be the most important skill you will ever teach your dog if you stick to it.

Step 1
Begin with your dog standing in front of you.  You can set up for this with your dog in either the sit, down or stand position.  Eventually you can train your dog to come from any of these positions.  Have treats ready nearby and one in your hand.
Step 2
Next you will give your dog the “stay” command.  This will tell your dog to stay put no matter what you do.
Step 3
After your dog is firmly stay, you can start to slowly back away.  This can be uncomfortable for your dog, being stuck ‘staying’ and you walking away from them.  So to make sure your dog doesn’t get frustrated and jump up to follow you before you call them, start with short distances.
Step 4
Now you can call your dog to you.  Say your dog’s name follow by “come” and get ready to welcome them with a shower of love.  You can clap, pat your lap or whatever you need to do to encourage your dog to come to you.  As soon as they get to you, give them their treat and praise.
Step 5
Once your dog reliably comes when you call them you can increase the difficulty of doing so.  Start by increasing the distance between you and your dog.  After you can get successful results from a fair distance, try telling your dog to come when they aren’t expecting it.  This will require you skipping over Steps 2 and 3.  You can also begin to slowly add in distractions.  Call your dog when they’re playing with a favorite toy, or when they run over to greet a new person.  Practice and repetition will be the keys to success with this skill.

You will need to practice these 5 steps a few times a day for as long as it takes.  Practice as much as you can with your puppy until they get it.  However, make sure you do not push your puppy too far or expect too much too fast from them.  Teaching your puppy tricks can be a fun and enjoyable activity for you and your dog, so do your best to keep it that way!

Teaching Tricks: Stay

6 Nov

Another necessary skill for any well-behaved dog is the ability to stay on command.  Being able to let your dog know they need to stay put adds another level to the control of both the ‘sit’ and ‘down’ commands.  It will be necessary to train your dog to stay in a variety of situations, so you can implement this command wherever and whenever you and your dog go.  You can also use ‘stay’ to ensure the safety of your dog, by giving the command before your dog crosses a street so they don’t dart out into traffic.

Step 1
Start with your dog standing in front of you.  Have treats available nearby and one ready in your hand.
Step 2
Give you dog the command for the position you wish them to stay in.  This can be sitting, laying down or just standing.  You can teach your dog to ‘stay’ separately in each of these positions.
Step 3
Immediately after they perform the command, praise them and give them their treat.  Tell them “good stay” while you praise them.  Since you praised them immediately after they followed your initial command, they didn’t have any time to move, and therefor stayed.
Step 4
Gradually increase the time between the dog following the initial command and praising them for staying.  This will allow them to stay in position for as long as you choose.
Step 5
Once your dog can stay in the position they were told for about 10 seconds reliably, you can start giving the command.  After completing Step 2, hold the treat between your thumb and pointer finger with your palm facing your dog’s nose.  Say your dog’s name followed by “stay” in a firm and confident voice.

You will need to practice these 5 steps a few times a day for as long as it takes.  Practice as much as you can with your puppy until they get it.  However, make sure you do not push your puppy to far or expect too much too fast from them.  Teaching your puppy tricks can be a fun and enjoyable activity for you and your dog, so do your best to keep it that way!

Teaching Tricks: Down

5 Nov

Once your dog has mastered the sit command, you can start working on ‘down’.  ’Down’ is the next level in obedience training to gain control and dominance over your dog.  A finished down command will consist of your dog laying with their belly on the floor and their two front paws out in front of them.  As with the sit command, ‘down’ will enable you to have control over your dog in a variety of situations.  You can force a rambunctious puppy to calm down, have your dog wait while you get them food or have them be in a submissive position when meeting someone new.  To successfully treat your dog to lay down on command, follow these simple steps.


Step 1
Begin by having your dog in the sit position.  Have plenty of treats nearby and on in hand.

Step 2
Hold the treat with your thumb and pointer finger with your palm facing the floor.  Have the treat right in front of your dog’s nose so it holds your dog’s attention.

Step 3
Slowly lower the treat to the floor.  Your dog will follow with their nose and eventually their entire body so they’re laying down.  If your dog doesn’t lay down right away, be patient with them.  They will eventually lay down, even if by accident or frustration.

Step 4
As soon as your dog’s belly hits the ground, praise them and give them the treat.  Tell your dog “good down” so they learn to associate the word ‘down’ with the action of laying down.

Step 5
Once your dog reliably lays down when you lower the treat to the ground, you can start implementing the command.  Start saying your dog’s name followed by “down” in a firm and confident voice right before guiding your dog into the down position.  Eventually you will not need to guide them, and they will lay down when you give the command.

You will need to practice these 5 steps a few times a day for as long as it takes.  Practice as much as you can with your puppy until they get it.  However, make sure you do not push your puppy too far or expect too much too fast from them.  Teaching your puppy tricks can be a fun and enjoyable activity for you and your dog, so do your best to keep it that way!


Teaching Tricks: Sit

5 Nov

Teaching you dog to sit on command can be one of the most useful skills your dog will ever learn.  It will be one of your most used commands since it has to many valuable applications.  You can implement this command to calm down an excited puppy, or to make sure they are safely out of your way when necessary.  Having the ability to sit on command, your puppy will also be able to go on to learn many more complex tricks and skills.  Follow these five simple steps to teach your puppy the most basic and important of commands.

Step 1
You will need to begin with your puppy standing in front of you.  Have a bunch of treats ready, and one in your hand.

Step 2
Hold the treat with your thumb and pointer finger, and your palm facing the ceiling.  Hold the treat in front of and slightly above your puppy’s nose.

Step 3
Slowly raise the treat up and back in an arc towards your dog’s tail.  If all goes well, your puppy will follow the treat with their nose, and they will sit in order to do so.  Try to avoid pushing your dog’s behind with your hand into the sit position, as this will train your dog to think pressure on their rear is part of the command.  You want your puppy to sit all on their own.  If they absolutely refuse to do so, and instead jump up or back away to follow the treat, try placing your puppy in a corner to limit their options.

Step 4
As soon as your puppy’s behind hits the floor, praise them and give them their treat.  Praise them by saying “good sit” so they start to associate the word ‘sit’ with the action of sitting.

Step 5
As soon as your puppy can reliably sit whenever you do step 3, you can start including the command of ‘sit’.  Before you so step 3, begin saying your dog’s name followed by ‘sit’ in an assertive and confident voice.  Eventually your puppy will not need you to move the treat in an arc, but will just sit on command.  Make sure to praise them extra whenever they sit on command!

You will need to practice these 5 steps a few times a day for as long as it takes.  Practice as much as you can with your puppy until they get it.  However, make sure you do not push your puppy to far or expect too much too fast from them.  Teaching your puppy tricks can be a fun and enjoyable activity for you and your dog, so do your best to keep it that way!

Safety Tips for Dogs on Halloween

28 Oct

Halloween can be a great night of fun, costumes and candy.  But a lot of what we consider festive can be dangerous to puppy if you’re not careful.  Follow these simple tips to ensure that both you and your dog have a fun and safe Halloween!

  • no candy any candy given to your dog can be harmful to their health, and at the very least lead to an upset tummy.  Do not give your dog any candy, and make sure to keep any candy you have around the house out of reach.
  • no plants decorative plants, such as pumpkins and corn, can look like colorful toys to your puppy.  Do not let them chew on these.  While they are generally nontoxic, they will definitely lead to an upset tummy.
  • cord care cords from lights and other decorations can also be tempting for your dog to chew on.  Make sure these are out of reach of your dog, as they can cause cuts, burns or even electrical shock.
  • far away fire carved pumpkins can make a great decoration, but if you put a candle inside, make sure the pumpkin is out of reach of curious dogs.  The pumpkin can get knocked over and start a fire, or the dog may burn its nose investigating.
  • caution with costumes only put a costume on your dog if you are sure they like it.  Halloween can already be a stressful night for your dog, with all the strangers coming to their house, so don’t add to their stress by making them wear a costume they hate.  If you do choose to put a costume on your dog, make sure there are no small pieces that can be chewed off and choked on, and nothing that can get twisted around a leg, neck or tail.  Your costume should comfortably fit your dog, and not restrict movement, hearing, barking or any of their normal activities.
  • stranger danger is it inevitable that there will be strangers coming to your house all night on Halloween.  Unless your dog is very social and loves meeting a ton of new people, you may want to consider keeping them in a back room, so as not to cause stress.  Do not leave your dog outside, as there can be instances of tauntings, poisonings and pet thefts on Halloween.
  • IDs make sure your dog wears an ID tag at all times or is micro-chipped.  This can secure your dogs safe return home should he dart out when a trick-or-treater comes to the door.

If you follow these simple guidelines, you and your dog can enjoy a fun and stress free Halloween!