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Friday, December 31, 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 "by product" following the meat.  Next, I don't want to find corn in the list of ingredients.  If Wolfie's food fails these two tests, it is like our fast food.  We all know what that means.  If you aren't sure what kind of food might be best for Wolfie or where to get that food, please contact us and we will be happy to provide you with some suggestions.

Let's starting to get out to see some of our favorite movies, get to that play that we always wanted to see, cheer for our favorite sports team.  Let's do anything that gets us out of the house and into the "real world".  What a wonderful thing to start for our lives in 2011!

This is a great thing, but (again) let's make sure that Wolfie has the opportunity to enjoy the same quality of life.  Let's make sure that we start to socialize Wolfie with going to Panera Bread or your local outside Bistro. Let's take Wolfie to the local Doggie Day Care for a morning or afternoon of socialization.  I bet that Wolfie would love to go with us to pick up our kids or to get the laundry.  All these things are entertainment diversions that we can share with our favorite pet.  Let's make sure that we put them in motion and enhance Wolfie's lifetime experience!

These are some great ideas to get both you and your best friend into shape!  Start working them and you and your pup will be the better for it!

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

Saturday, December 25, 2010

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 collar (no choke chains or prong collars), and a strong leash (no extension leashes).
  • He should have a few toys such as Kong Toys, plush toys, or fetch toys.  Do not give him tug of war toys or toys that make that high pitched squeak.  This will only encourage bad behavior.
  • Begin crate training him as soon as possible.  We humans think that crates are cruel.  This is completely wrong.  Crates, when properly introduced, become their place of safety and refuge.  They are always happy and relaxed in their crates and it is also a place that they don't want to soil.  This means that the use of a crate will deter the possibility of their pottying in the house.
  • Puppies need lots of play time.  Make sure that you get him out often for a lot of interactive play.  All puppies are different and they will tell you when they are tired and ready to come back inside.  Do not jog or run with him until your Vet has told you that he has developed sufficiently for those types of activities.
  • Puppies are very curious and their mouth is one way of exploring.  If your puppy is biting your nipping you, try spraying Bitter Apple on what he is biting.  This unpleasant, yet completely safe, taste can deter such activities.  Be sure to have an appropriate toy to offer him in place of his nipping.
  • NEVER HIT YOUR PUPPY WHEN HE IS MISBEHAVING.  This could easily lead to aggression and mistrust as your puppy grows older.  Instead, you must teach your dog the appropriate behavior through proper guidance and feedback.  In this way, you are building a bond of respect and leadership with him.
(And now a plug for ourselves!)  Being a new puppy owner with a new puppy, the best thing you can do for both of you is to receive the appropriate, professional training.  Right now you have the opportunity to do everything right and experience a lifetime of happiness with your new puppy.  A professional dog trainer can assure your success.

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

Sunday, December 19, 2010

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 is another Plush Toy that you have given him.  There is no need for Wolfie to start eating the furniture.
  • Things that they can chew are great for them. If Wolfie is a chewer, let's direct that action to something that will maintain our rules and that we actually instigate.  A rubber bone is an example of a toy that will fulfill this requirement.
  • A Water Bottle.  Believe it or not, dogs love to play with the empty water bottles that we recycle every day.  Just make sure that you take off the paper, remove the top, and clip off the plastic ring around the bottle's neck.  Now, give it to Wolfie.  He will have a blast with this.  He might paw it around the ground, throw it in the air, chew on it, or even use it as a floaty in the pool. 

Now, let's talk about some "bad presents":
  • Tug-of-war toys are not good if you are going to use them for tug-of-war. Long story short, we almost always loose the tug-of-war, even with the little doggies.  This is not good because when we loose the game, we are increasing Wolfie's position in the pack.  Since we want to be the pack leaders, this is not good.  If someone does give Wolfie a tug-of-war toy this Christmas, you can use it for a fetch toy instead.
  • Squeaky Toys are not good for Wolfie.  The "squeak" makes the same sound as a dying or wounded animal.  When you give Wolfie toys that make this sound, you run the risk of increasing his aggression and general excitement.  Although this is not always the case, I always recommend eliminating these toys or only allowing one or two Squeaky Toys in Wolfie's toy basket.  If you can remove the squeak device from these toys, they are fine for Wolfie.
Of course there are many other suggestions that one can give for Christmas presents for Wolfie.  These are only a few.  If you use common sense, you will probably do fine and Wolfie will have a great Christmas!

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

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

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 some of Wolfie's toys and a water bowl.  Also, make sure that you have brought enough food for Wolfie to last the entire trip up and back.  You might not be able to find his same food on the road or at Uncle Al's.
  • If you are going to a cold weather destination, make sure that Wolfie has what is needed to keep him warm.
  • If you are going to stay overnight on the trip, make sure you find a dog friendly hotel and call ahead to confirm that Wolfie will be a welcome guest.
  • On the morning of your trip up, feed Wolfie several hours earlier and make sure he gets out to go to the bathroom before you leave.
  • Stop regularly on the road to let Wolfie out to go to the bathroom and to get some exercise.
  • If you stop for the night, get Wolfie out immediately to go to the bathroom.  Feed him as soon as you arrive so that he will go to the bathroom again before bed time.  Try to have someone with him in the room at all times.  This is a strange environment and we don't want Wolfie to display any destructive or annoying behaviors that might have the hotel ask you to move on.
  • When you arrive at Uncle Al's, have everyone come out to meet Wolfie.  We want to get all of his "stored adrenaline" drained outside before we all to in.
  • Make sure that Wolfie is with someone at all times.  We don't want him wandering off and doing something destructive out of boredom.
  • Be acutely aware of who is in the house and their temperament towards dogs (and Wolfie).  If we have a family member who is afraid of dogs, we want to make sure that they remain separated.  If we have a family member who likes to play roughly with Wolfie, we don't want that to happen.
  • Maintain the same rules with Wolfie at Uncle Al's as you had at home.  You must maintain your consistency to portray your leadership to Wolfie.  Remember, you are in a strange place and Wolfie is looking towards you for leadership and safety.
  • Set aside plenty of time to interact with Wolfie and get him outside to run and jump.  This will keep him calm while in the house and minimize any issues you might have that would be caused through boredom.
  • Wolfie will still have to go to the bathroom at Uncle Al's.  Make sure that you have the potty pads near him or take him outside using the same schedule you used at home.
  • DO NOT FEED OR ALLOW FAMILY MEMBERS TO FEED WOLFIE HOLIDAY FOOD AND GOODIES.  The same food that makes the Holidays special to us could be poisonous or very upsetting to Wolfie's stomach.
  • If Uncle Al is throwing a Holiday Party, keep Wolfie away from the general area until most of the guests have arrived.  By then, things should have calmed down.  Bring Wolfie out on a leash and guide him around the room.  Do not allow him to jump or bark.  After you see that Wolfie is calm, you can then let him join the festivities.
If you follow these simple steps, the Holidays will be great for you and Wolfie.

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

Thursday, December 2, 2010

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, nipping, and pulling pillows off the sofa.  He never did this before.  What happened?

Up until the hoard of people descended on your home, you were consistent with Wolfie in what you expected of him.  Whenever he did something that "broke the house rules", you were right there to correct and show him the right way.  Wolfie expects this from you each and every day.  For the last few days this wasn't happening.  You didn't have time to work with Wolfie and correct him when he would break your rules.  Everyone else would do whatever Wolfie wanted and he saw that he could get away with anything.  In Wolfie's eyes, you had become bad leaders and it was reinforced that he could do whatever he liked.

Don't worry, this is easy to fix.  The first thing I would suggest is to drain some of that "play with me" adrenaline that Wolfie has built up.  Take him to a doggie day care a few times a week.  Let him drain his "I want to play! I want to play!" with other doggies.  When he comes home, he won't be demanding the play from you.  Once this occurs, you should jump back into performing obedience and behavioral exercises with him on a daily basis. 

Also, remember your rules and as soon as Wolfie tries to test you and break your rule, correct him so that you can show him what is right.  You must do this every time Wolfie tests.

In a very short period of time, you will re-establish your leadership and Wolfie will understand that his role is to obey you and be a great and non-demanding member of your family.

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