Showing posts from 2010

New Years Resolutions for You and Wolfie

You know all those New Years Resolutions that you make every year and never keep?  A great way to make sure you keep them is to have a friend help or to help a friend.  Why not engage Wolfie in the process?


"I am going to exercise and loose those five extra pounds this year!  This is a great idea, let's do it with Wolfie.  Start taking long walks with him.  Get out in the back yard and throw the Frisbee or just throw tennis balls.  If your Vet approves, go on bike rides with him (no, he does not have his own bike!) or roller blade with him.  This builds your bond and gets you both into shape!

The new year is a great time to start respecting what we put into our bodies, as well as Wolfie's.  Get rid of the chips and the cookies.  Stop making the fast food drive through your restaurant of choice. 

On the same thought, look at the ingredients in Wolfie's dog food.  I want to see a meat as the very first ingredient and I don't want to see "…

Wolfie Jr. Has Arrived! Our New Christmas Puppy is Now Home!

Oh Boy!  We just got a new puppy and he was so much fun to play with at the Pet Store!  He is now home and things should be just fine...  Really?

Many times, especially for first time puppy owners, we don't understand the responsibilities and challenges owning a new puppy entails.  He was great at the pet store, we see other people with puppies having a great time, and they are always fun on TV shows.  These are all the fun times.  We have to understand that we now have the responsibility to manage them and teach them how to act in our family.

Here are some tips that you should start today:
Make sure that you are feeding your puppy a high quality dog food.  The rule of thumb is that anything you buy at a super market is not high quality.  Read the side of the dog food bag to determine the appropriate amount to feed and do not over feed.  Put the food and water down for the meal and then pick both up at the end of the meal.Be sure that he has a good food and water bowl, a well made co…

What to Give and not Give Wolfie this Christmas

Oh boy, it's Christmas time and all my friends will give my Wolfie presents!  (Watch out!)

Presents are always a good thing, but there are some presents that are better than others.  Let's first talk about the "good presents":
Any toy that stimulates Wolfie's brain and keeps him engaged is a good toy.  An example of this is a Classic Kong toy.  Kongs are designed for dogs by their weight.  Find the right weight range on the Kong and you have found the right size for Wolfie.  Now, get some peanut butter and fill the little hole on the bottom with peanut butter.  Now freeze it and then give it to Wolfie.  It will keep him entertained for up to an hour! I have found that Doggie Plush Toys are also great for them.  The big thing that you have to watch out for is that the Plush Toy is not the same color or looks like the pillows on your sofa or other furniture.  If you are allowing Wolfie to chew on the Plush Toy, he might become confused and think that your sofa pillow …

Surviving the Trip Home for the Holiday's with Wolfie

How many of us look forward to the trip home for the Holidays?  Before you answer that, think of a car full of kids, presents, suitcases, McDonalds bags, and Wolfie for a 22 hour drive.  After that, think of Wolfie going nuts in Uncle Al's house and then the 22 hour drive home...  Change your mind?

Put the phone down!  You don't have to call Uncle Al and make up an excuse why you won't make it up there this year.  With some planning and common sense, it will all be just fine.  Here are some points to remember:

Plan out what you are going to need in the car ahead of time and pre-pack.  (You don't need to pack the suitcases, they can be empty.)  The point here is to see if there is enough room for everyone (including Wolfie).  Put everyone in the car and drive around the neighborhood for a few times.  Maybe go and get some gas or drive through McDonalds.  This is to make Wolfie calm with the situation he is about to undertake.Make sure that you have included so…

A Quick Idea On a "Calm Wolfie" this Holiday Season

The Family and your of town friends just left after being here all Thanksgiving weekend and Wolfie is going nuts!  What is going on?  He was fine before!

Let's say that you have been working with Wolfie so the he knows you are the great leader, you are consistent, practice with him regularly, and are building the trust, bond, and relationship that epitomizes an appropriate dog/owner relationship.  Life is great!

Now come the Holidays.  You have had the extended family with their extended friends over for the last few days and everything went great.  Wolfie was having a great time by having everyone play with him, giving him goodies, and bringing him presents.  Wolfie always had something to do and someone to do it with.  Now everyone packs up their stuff and heads out to their own respective homes.  Life is quiet again and you can take a big sigh of relief.

But something has changed with Wolfie.  He used to obey and listen.  Now he is always pushing toys in your laps, barking at you,…

Going to Your Relatives with Fluffy

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and some of us have found a way to get a free dinner at the relatives'.  Of course, we will bring Fluffy along too.  It is always fun at Uncle Al's, I am sure that Fluffy thinks so too!  Really?

Remember, Fluffy is a dog.  Things that stimulate and entertain Fluffy are not necessarily the same things that stimulate and entertain us.  Things that give Fluffy a sence of safety and security while we are away from our house can be very different than how we percieve safety and security.  So, what does Fluffy really think of Uncle Al's house (full of strange people and possibly other dogs)?

First, let's think of what we are walking Fluffy into.  Here is a new house "strange territory" filled with all sorts of unfamiliar people, smells, sounds, and other dogs.  We normally think "Oh, let's put all the dogs in the back where they can play".  Several things have just occurred here. 
First, we have abandoned Fluffy in a strange are…

Let's Not Play Tag in the Living Room

"Don't play tag in the living room!"  Well, that makes perfect sense to us, but what about Fluffy?

The answer is, it depends.  (Don't you just hate when I do that?  But let me explain why...)

Playing with Fluffy is always a lot of fun.  The exercising, the bonding, the good times... are all reasons why we decided to become dog owners.  The important thing is to let Fluffy understand where he can play.

As humans, we have the ability to understand that when we are home, by ourselves, it might be OK to rough house inside.  When we have a dinner party with guests wearing nice clothes, we understand that it is not a good idea to go "nuts".  We can understand "We can go nuts except when we have guests over". 

Now we come to Fluffy.  Fluffy can understand "We can play rough inside".  Fluffy can understand "We can not play rough inside".  Fluffy can not make the distinction of "We can play rough inside except...".  No matter how…

Traveling with Fluffy

Over hill and dale, off to Grandmother's house we go (with Fluffy)...

It is getting to be the holiday season and many of us will be traveling to family festivities with our dogs.  How do we make this a good experience for everyone in the car?  Here are some pointers:

First, let's talk about Fluffy's "happy time" in the car.  If Fluffy doesn't like to be in the car, "hill and dale" can be an eternity.  Here are some training tips:
Start walking Fluffy by taking him out to the car in the driveway.  Have him sit for a few minutes, have some toys and other distractions there, and then walk him back in the house. Repeat this for several days.Next, open the car door.  Have fluffy walk to the car and jump in the back seat.  You might need to have some toys or other enticements in the back seat to have this happen.  As soon as he jumps in, praise him.  Wait a minute or two and have him come out and go back in the house.  Repeat this for several days.Repeate th…

How Dogs Learn

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?  Or, is it that you can only teach a new dog old tricks?

The answer is that it doesn't matter the age of the dog or really what you are trying to teach him.  Dogs learn in a very specific way and if you are willing and able to follow the process, you will have a trained dog.

First, dogs learn through consistency.  Whatever you are trying to teach Rover, you must perform it in the exact manner every time.  For example, if you are teaching Rover to walk, always walk him on the same side of you.  Make sure that everyone else in the family who is walking Rover is walking him on the same side.  This simplifies and streamlines the learning process by removing unneeded variables in the training.

Next, dogs learn through repetition.  You must practice with Rover between fifteen and thirty minutes every day to reinforce the action you are trying to teach.  Think of when we were learning our "times tables".  We would practice every day with our fl…

A Quick Halloween Tip

Let's not make our dogs nuts this Halloween!

If you haven't already checked out our regular Halloween Safety Tips, please visit Bark Busters of South Florida Halloween Safety Tips.  After that, I want to add one more for your review.

Here is what we do on Halloween to minimize the Halloween stress on our three dogs...

We take a table and chairs and set up a "Halloween Booth" at the end of our driveway.  We have all our candy and goodies ready for the kids along with all our regular skulls, pumpkins, ghosts, etc.  Being out by the sidewalk is a great way to see everybody and also to keep an eye on the "trick" side of trick or treat.  When we are out there, our neighbors tend to spend more time chatting than when we had everybody come and ring the doorbell.

This is also a great thing for our dogs.  Instead of having the doorbell ring over and over again, it is nice and quiet in the house.  Instead of having strange ghosts, pirates, monsters, etc. enter our home, …

Do I Walk My Dog on the Left or Right?

I was always told to walk my dog on the left side of me.  Is that right?

(I love this answer...) It depends. 

Unless you have a dog that you are going to enter into dog shows, it doesn't matter.  In a dog show, you always walk your dog counter clock-wise around the judge.  Because of this, it is best to teach your dog to walk on your left side.  This will keep your dog on the side of you where the judge can observe and grade.

If you don't plan to have your dog entered into dog shows, it doesn't matter what side of you your dog walks.  With that said, let me give you some pointers regarding walking:
Pick a side that you want to walk your dog.  Left or right, it doesn't make a difference.  The important thing is that he is always walked on that side.  This helps to build his perception of "where he should be" on a walk.If you have a "big dog", pick the side where you and the rest of the "walkers" have the most strength.  If you need to correct …

Who Started What?

Is it really important to think about who started something or who said "Let's do this"?  I don't really care...

I know for a fact that the personal/animal that made the above statement was a human and not my dog, Fluffy.  In a family, anyone can say "Let's go to the movies", "Let's go to the mall", "How about getting a bite to eat".  We (humans) don't care who's idea it was.  If it is a good idea, we do it. 

Remember that Fluffy is a dog and not a human.  Different behaviors, different instincts are going on inside Fluffy's canine brain.  In the dog world, the animal that says "Let's do this", is the Leader of the Pack.  The Alpha Leader is the one in charge and the one who says "Let's go".

So why is all this so important?

What we don't want to do is to constantly be telling Fluffy that he is the leader of the pack.  This means that we are telling him that it is his job to be our protecto…

Calm and Still

When Fluffy is running, jumping, and barking all around me, how can I stay calm and still?

Our initial training visits with our clients normally last three hours or more.  We cover a lot of information and demonstrate a great deal of techniques to get Fluffy to be a great dog.  I have often thought that if I only had a moment to give a dog owner some useful and productive training advise, what would it be. 

I keep coming back to the simple credo of "Calm & Still".

Eighty percent of the communication between Fluffy and myself is body language.  The most important part of body language, in my opinion, is the ability to portray a sense of confidence.  Everything is OK, I am in control, I will take care of you...  This is done by remaining calm and still while engaging the situation at hand.

Humans are emotional animals and we get so mad at Fluffy when he is going nuts.  We raise the level of adrenalin through our screaming and running when we are trying to calm Fluffy down.  I…

Do We Train Guard Dogs...

We are often asked "Do you train guard dogs?"  The answer is "It depends".

And what do we mean by that?  Most people think of a guard dog as that big German Sheppard with the spike collar that is always barking and trying to bite you if you jump the fence onto someone else's property.  They stay outside all day and their only purpose in life is to go after anyone that enters that yard, store, lot, etc.  Well, we don't do that, we don't train dogs to be overly aggressive.

A better question would be "Would the dogs you train protect their family if a dangerous situation arises?"  We would then answer "yes".

When Fluffy and your family, are properly trained, everyone knows their appropriate position in the family.  They know their roles and responsibilities as well as everyone else's roles and responsibilities.  Fluffy understands that it is not his responsibility to be the protector of the family.  That is the responsibility of Mommy …

How Do You Know You Are a Responsible Dog Owner?

I think I am a responsible dog owner... How can I tell?

First of all, let's remember that we aren't talking if you are the "leader of your pack" in this discussion.  We are discussing if you are a responsible dog owner.  Let's go over some simple ideas that I feel are important:
Get your dog spayed or neutered.  They live longer and have healthier lives.Provide proper identification.  If Fluffy gets out, you have a far better chance in getting him back if he has a dog or electronic tag.Get training for you and your dog.  This will help build the bond, trust, and respect between you and Fluffy.  Both of you will be better for it.Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian.  Catching issues early will provide Fluffy with a far better life and will cost you far less in the long run.Make time for Fluffy.  Schedule play dates and include him in your regular family activities.  Fluffy is a part of your family.  Make him feel as such.Give Fluffy regular exercise.  E…

Adding a Little Zip to Rover's Meal

What if you only could eat corn flakes, toast (no butter), or crackers?  Pretty boring, right?  Well, how do you think Rover feels when you put that bowl of dry kibble in front of him?

The answer to "zip up Rover's meal" is really very simple.  First of all, we always suggest that you feed Rover a high quality dog food.  Now, take a spoonful or two of regular cottage cheese and mix that with the food.  Cottage cheese is natural, provides calcium, and dogs love it. 

Thoroughly mix the curds of cottage cheese with the kibble and then provide Rover with his new dinner.  Wow!  He will love it.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

My Dog is Marking in Our House!

What can you do when your Fluffy is constantly picking up his leg in your home?  Move?  No, I have a better idea!

What we first have to ask is why Fluffy is marking in your home.  The answer goes back to the idea that Fluffy thinks he is part of a pack of animals and your home is part of their territory.  What Fluffy is doing is making sure that the territory smells like him.  In essence, he is leaving his calling card.  The bad news is that this natural instinct can be very strong in some dogs and that this behavior will naturally occur and continue to occur.  The good news is that there is a very simple way for us to take control of the situation and "manage" the smell.

Remember that Fluffy wants the territory (your home) to smell like him.  All we have to do is to make sure that the smell is something pleasant to us and natural to him.  What we are going to do is to use a lavender smell in the home and to have Fluffy gain a very slight smell of lavender.  Now your home and …

Keeping Your Doggie Happy When You Go Back to School

School has just started and my dog had gone nuts!  What happened?

After a long summer of playing and being with the entire family, school starts and Fluffy's world is thrown for a loop.  Dogs don't like sudden changes and the dramatic schedule change that school brings can place a great deal of anxiety on Fluffy.  Let's talk about some things you can do to minimize this.

The biggest thing you can do to assist in this matter is to minimize Fluffy's separation anxiety.  This can lead to destructive behavior and endless barking.
Pay less attention to Fluffy - A week before school starts, ignore him for increasing amounts of time each day so he gets used to not being the center of attention.Start early - Several weeks before school begins, get Fluffy comfortable with being alone by separating him from the family.  If you often take him with you to run errands, leave him at home.Practice leafing the house - Gather your gear, exit the door, but then come right back in again.  F…

When Your Dog Pulls on the Walk

It is really amazing how many of our clients' dogs pull them down the street... Even the little five pounders!

I would like to provide you with a quick and easy thing to try when your dog is pulling your down the street.  Simply turn around 180 degrees, walk in the opposite direction for about 10 feet, and turn around again 180 degrees.  Just keep walking like nothing happened.

One of the things that is going on when your dog is pulling you down the street is that he thinks that he is in charge of the walk.  He is in charge, he sets the pace, direction, etc.  Well, he is not in charge, you are!  (I hope you are.)  To let your dog understand that you are in charge, you need to make drastic course corrections that will require your dog's immediate response.  Turning around is a simple and very effective course correction.

After doing this a few times, your dog will understand that you are the one in charge of the walk and will start to provide you with more focus and attention.   H…

Some Quick Pool Safety Tips

Can you teach my dog to swim?


Some dogs are Olympic swimmers and some can just do the "dog paddle". That is up to them. What we can do, as good pet owners, is to assure their safety in the pool. Here are some tips.
MAKE SURE YOU PERFORM ALL THESE STEPS IN A CALM ENVIRONMENT! NO SCREAMING KIDS (OR ADULTS) IN OR AROUND THE POOL!Don't assume that your dog "wants to swim". Some water dogs hate the water and others can't wait to jump in. If you force your dog into the water, you will create a negative, physical experience that could harm your dog as well as his trust and respect for you.Have your dog on a leash and slowly coax him into the water.Hold him next to you and keep him calm.Slowly guide him around the pool and back to the steps.Repeat the above process several times.Now, when you are in the water with him, gently let him go so that he can swim under his own power.Passively guide him back to the steps to get out.Repeat this process several times.…

Here are some "Real Life" Doggie Traveling Tips

Right now we are in the middle of a two week trip with our three dogs. While we are "living this experience", I thought it might be worthwhile to review some "doggie travel tips" we are living right now...

Traveling with your "best friends" is not hard. The biggest thing that we forget is to prepare and observe. We must prepare what our dogs will need for the trip and observe their needs and their environment while we are traveling. Here are some quick tips:
Be sure that your dogs will have secure locations in the car. This can be a crate, leash/safety belt, or any other location where they will not "be propelled" in sudden stops "lane changes".Do a "practice pack" of the car ahead of time. This will assure that your dogs will actually have the space they need. Get your dogs into their "places" to make sure that they are comfortable with them.If your dogs aren't comfortable with car rides in general, start …

When Your Dog is Really Bugging You -- Here's an Idea

The other day a client asked me a question about their dog constantly "bugging them" to play with a toy. There are a lot of "official Bark Buster" replies, but I decided to give them an idea that worked with me. Shush! Don't tell our Home Office, but let me share this with you...

When I was out in the back yard, my dog, Millie, would bring Frisbees to me all the time and bug the heck out of me to throw it for him. I would practice the passive dominance with him (ignore the behavior) and he would push and push and push. The "human side of me" became annoyed and angry at him and he picked up on this. He would simply continue and step up his campaign on "throw the Frisbee".

I then came up with an idea of taking charge and eliminating the initial request ("I am the Alpha") from Millie. The next time he brought the Frisbee to me and began to bug me to throw it, I ignored him, picked up the Frisbee, and put it in the barbecue (off, …

Keeping Summer Safe - Rules of the Road

It drives me crazy when I see dog owners transporting their dogs in an unsafe manner. This could cause a bad situation, even death. It doesn't have to be that way!

An unrestrained dog in a vehicle is dangerous to everyone in the car, including the dog himself. Secure your dog in the back seat with a safety harness or in a per carrier fastened to a seat belt. Another option is to install a pet barrier to keep the dog in the back area of your vehicle. Dogs riding in the front can be seriously hurt if the airbags deploy.

Here are some other important hints:
If you must transport your dog in the bed of a pickup, be sure he is restrained, preferably in a crate or carrier secured to the truck.Avoid allowing your dog to hang his head out the car window - he could suffer eye injury from flying debris.When stopping the car along the way, attach a leash to the dog's collar before opening the door so he can't escape. Use a leash to walk your dog.It is hot! Never leave your dog un…

Keep it Slow and Easy

Isn't it always good advise to keep it slow and easy? In that way, things will probably work out better?

Just to let you know, the answer is "yes". We humans hate that answer because we love to get things done fast. I will text you, drive through the teller window at the bank, take the express way, fast forward, etc., etc, etc. (see, I didn't even write out the entire word "etcetera")....

Let me give you a hint. That doesn't work for dogs. One of the biggest training problems that we run into is when our clients try to push too fast with the training process. They try and teach their dog something too quickly, not paying attention that the dog has no idea what they are asking. The dog doesn't respond, the owner becomes frustrated, and the entire situation becomes a non-learning event, inconsistent event.

Here is what you do:
Stop thinking like a human! There, I said it. Now let's continue.Dogs learn in a consistent and repetitive manner. …

What to do on the 4th of July

My dog goes crazy on the 4th and I have no idea what to do! Don't worry, here is the scoop...

Here are some ideas to keep your dog safe and happy on the 4th of July:
If you are going to a fireworks display, leave your dog at home where he will be the most safe and comfortable.If you go to a holiday event, never leave your dog in the car. A partially opened window does not supply sufficient fresh air, and it creates an opportunity for your pet to be stolen.Always keep the proper identification securely fastened to your dog's collar in case he gets out. Talk to your veterinarian about implanting a universal microchip in your pet, and make sure that your veterinary clinic and animal shelter have your correct contact information in their databases.Don't leave your dog outside. If you cannot bring him inside, cover his dog house with a blanket to protect him from the bursts of bright lights and loud bangs. A dog's sense of hearing is acute --- about four times more sensi…

Preparing Your Doggie for the Veterinarian

Visiting your veterinarian is essential to keeping your dog healthy and happy, and it is an important part of being a responsible pet owner. However, a routine checkup can sometimes be distressing to our canine companions. It doesn't have to be that way...

When you consider what a vet visit entails, you can begin to appreciate why your dog may become so overwhelmed and (sometimes) hard to control. Not only will he encounter dozens of new smells, but he may also hear barking dogs, meowing cats, and strange voices. He may be handled by vet staff in unfamiliar ways that could add to his apprehension.

Help your dog feel more relaxed and even enjoy his vet visits by following these tips:
Take the dog to the vet clinic for brief visits prior to your appointment. Introduce him to the clinic when it is quiet to get him used to the smells and sounds of the new environment so it won't be entirely strange to him when you actually go for the exam. Let him meet the wonderful people who …

Proper Exercise in the Summer Heat

Wow! It is really getting hot out there and it is only the middle of June!

We always have this old idea that when it gets to summer, we all get outside and have fun. Well, that is the case if is doesn't feel like 100 degrees at 10AM in the morning. Because of the heat, we are spending more and more time inside. The same goes with our dogs. We don't walk them as much, we don't throw the Frisbee as much, we don't "roll in the grass" as much.

Exercise and entertainment are required activities to maintain a healthy and well behaved dog. I have recently experienced several clients who are keeping their dogs inside, without the needed "play time" and "exercise time". They start to misbehave and become "bored-destructive". The answer to this is simple. You must proactively manage a consistent "play time". Here are some ideas:
Get up early and take your dog for a walk in the cool of the morning. The sun is low and there…

Why Extension Leashes are Bad

I hate extension leashes!!! ...And let me tell you why...

We Americans love things with buttons and gizmos, widgets, etc. An extension leash has a handle with a button. Button! Wow! I have to have that! No you don't. Bad, Bad dog owner.

When we are walking our dogs down the street, in the mall, at the park, etc., it is our job as dog owners to keep them safe. Our dogs need to understand that. They need to keep their focus on us so that if we change the direction of our walk, they will too. If we speed up or slow down, they will too. If we stop, well, you get the point.
In order to maintain this focus, our dog must always have an eye on us and we must have an eye on them. The only way we can accomplish this is if they are by our side. If they start to stray from our side, we must be able to appropriately guide them back to their proper position. When this takes place, we are providing the proper consistency and repetition of our actions to communicate to our dog "don't worry,…

A Tip on Good Doggie Food

I feed my doggieBeneful because it looks so good on the TV Ad.... He always seems to be wacko!!! I have never tried to pretend to be a nutritionist, but I would like to share some "rules of thumb" guidelines when looking for your dog's food. Feeding your dog a good quality food can definitely help to extend their life. Just as we are encouraged to eat healthy, so should our dogs. Feed your dog a dry food. Unless you are prepared to brush their teeth on a regular basis, wet food can lead to accelerated tooth decay. When you are looking at the dog food ingredients, make sure that the meat is the very first ingredient. You do not want to see the word "by-product" following the meat. This means that it is a part of the animal that is normally thrown away. This is not healthy. When reading the ingredients, you don't want to see corn, corn meal, maize, or any other corn derivative in the list. Corn can not be digested and simply passes right through your dog,…

Bark Busters Offers Tips for Guests at the Door

Bark Bark Bark.... Jump Jump Jump.... Crazy Crazy Crazy!!!! After our guests ring the door bell, this is what we hear next. I don't think this is part of your door bell chime! Most dogs are always excited when new people are coming into the house. We really don't want to eliminate this behavior because it can also act as a defensive/protective mechanism. What we do want to do (at least I do) is to not be embarrassed when anyone enters our house because they are constantly attacked by my doggies. The best way to accomplish this is to nip it at the bud. Here are some tips: If you know that you will be having guests, put your dog(s) on a leash. As their arrival time approaches, make sure that they are fully engaged with toys or other distractions.If you are in a community where you receive a phone call before your guest's arrival, grab your dog's leash a few moments after you have "beeped your guest in".If you are in a community where your guests need no…