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Showing posts from 2011

Counter Surfing

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Wolfie loves to counter surf with everybody for the Holidays.  He normally doesn't do it during the rest of the year and I don't want it to turn into a regular thing!


This is the time of the year that we have a whole lot of things going on.  We also have a lot more food out and about that we might not be watching.  We also have guests over who are just leaving stuff around.  Our house has become a giant buffet for Wolfie.

What we have to do is to first understand Wolfie's concept of food ownership.  If food is left unattended for a long period of time (you our your guests have food on a coffee table, but aren't actively eating) or you abandon the food (physically walk away from it), there is no longer a clear picture of ownership. 

Remember, in the wild, the Alpha Wolf would be the first to eat the killed hunt.  The Alpha Wolf would then walk away from the food, indicating that he was done and that the killed hunt is now available for everyone else.  It it is natural tha…

Wolfie, the Holidays, Family Coming to Visit...

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I can just about handle Wolfie when everything is normal, but the Holidays and all my "wonderful family" is coming to visit.  How can I keep my sanity?


The Holidays are always a crazy time, especially for all of us down in South Florida.  It seems that our guest rooms and every sofa in the house now becomes a Hilton for relatives from up north.  All our routines are messed up and our lives are turned upside down for about ten days to two weeks.  Since Wolfie likes things calm and consistent, this is not a good time for him.  Here are some ideas: When your family first starts to arrive, have Wolfie somewhere else during the initial "meet and greet time".  Bring Wolfie in to meet everyone after they are settled and have stopped arguing who gets to sleep where.  This will be a time where the adrenaline is lower and Wolfie will react calmly when greeting everyone. Tell everyone not to "make Wolfie nuts".  No "run-run, yell-yell, jump on me-jump on me"…

Who can Wolfie Jump On?

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I don't mind if Wolfie jumps on me, but it is now the Holiday Season and I don't want Wolfie to jump on Aunt Minnie...



It was always so much fun to have Wolfie to jump up.  He would get so excited and bark and lick!  I didn't care if my clothes got a little dirty with dog hair or I got a little slobber on my pants.  Wolfie wasn't really big as a puppy, so that "blind tackle" didn't really hurt...

Oops!  Wolfie is now big and things hurt!  More importantly, some of my friends and guests don't like Wolfie to jump on them.  Even though Aunt Minnie is a dog lover, she is 90 pounds and 87 years old.  She can break.  What do I do?

First of all, you have to understand that dogs need simple rules to follow.  You must now tell Wolfie that it is wrong to jump on anyone.  Wolfie must understand the rule of "don't jump, period".  No jumping on you, your friends who like Wolfie to jump, and everyone else who would rather Wolfie not jump on them.  Her…

Wolfie Just Doesn't Listen, What Are Some Clues?

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Wolfie just doesn't want to listen when I talk to him.  Is he stupid or deaf or obnoxious or what?  Should I just give him a kick when he doesn't listen?


No, he is not stupid.  No, he is not deaf.  No, he is not obnoxious.  No, do not kick him!

The problem is that you don't understand how Wolfie talks.  There are several levels that dogs use to communicate with other animals (you included), and we are going to discuss one of them now.

One of the ways that dogs communicate is to use their vocal cords.  We use our vocal cords to form words, phrases, sentences, etc.  Dogs use their vocal cords to create sounds.  We sometimes call them "growls" or "yips", or "crys", etc.  In any case, they are unique sounds created by Wolfie when he wants to use his vocal cords to communicate.

Now comes the difference between Wolfie and us.  As I said earlier, we use words and Wolfie uses unique sounds.  We can create and understand thousands of words and sounds to me…

Wolfie Goes Nuts When Family Comes for The Holidays - Help!

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I hate asking family over for the Holidays because Wolfie terrorizes them the entire time they are here.  I have to lock Wolfie in the back room and have to be back there all the time to try and keep him quiet.  What can I do?


High energy or “people unsure” dogs can be very annoying and embarrassing when we have a house full of guests. We are unsure what Wolfie might do (lung, bark, growl, jump) and our guests are uneasy in the Wolfie’s presence. It is critical that you socialize him to understand that you are keeping him safe and secure when other people and animals are in his space. YOU are the care giver. YOU are the cop on the beat.

The one thing that you never do is to have Wolfie with you at the front door when you are greeting your arriving guests. This is a high adrenaline time where you cannot give the appropriate focus and correction to him, when required. Inappropriate situations can escalate quickly as he tries to demonstrate dominance and your ability to regain control coul…

Keeping Wolfie Away from The Front Door with Guests

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Wolfie always likes to run to the front door whenever anyone comes over.  He is just so annoying and bugs many of my friends!  What can I do?


Many dogs like to run to the front door when they hear a knock or a ring.  They normally bark, jump, sniff, nudge, nip, and sometimes run out the front door.  These are all things that we really don't want to happen when we have people over.  It is just rude and embarrassing.  So, what can we do about this? 

We have to make a very simple rule that we can enforce when people are at the front door.  If you think about it, if Wolfie would just stay away from the front door, all those annoying things that I mentioned earlier could not happen.  Great, let's just make sure that Wolfie isn't near the front door when someone comes by.  There are many ways that you can accomplish this, but let me discuss one.  The most important thing with any educational process is that it allows you to maintain focus with Wolfie and that you are calm and col…

Sometimes Wolfie Seems a Little Nervous...

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Sometimes Wolfie appears a little nervous or uneasy.  What can I do to help out?



Dogs are very tactile creatures.  You always see them grooming themselves or other dogs.  This helps to build a bond between them as well as to show a trust that they are all part of one pack.  We have a very simple way that you can emulate that same activity.  Don't worry, I am not going to ask you to "groom Wolfie".

What I am going to do is to ask you to simulate that you are grooming Wolfie.  Think of when you are petting your dog.  Many times this entails patting them on the head or on the back.  We are going to take this activity and modify it so that it emulates your grooming of Wolfie.  Instead of patting him, lightly run your hand over his fur from the back of the neck to the middle of the back.  Do this slowly and repeatedly.  This emulates the grooming process. 

You should see an almost immediate result in Wolfie's demeanor.  He will loose that stiffness in his body and will star…

What To Do When A Dog Charges You

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I was walking down the street this weekend and a dog came out of nowhere and ran at me with his teeth showing, baking like a crazy animal.  I got away just in time and darted into a neighbor's back yard.  Is there any thing I can do to avoid this?
We have all experienced the barking and running dog at one time or another.  The important thing to remember is to how to present an uninteresting target to the dog.  The barking and running dog does not come around the corner and go after the tree or the stop sign.  They are uninteresting.  You, on the other hand, present a very interesting "target".  Let's look at some ideas to make you more uninteresting.
Dogs need to recognize who you are in order to make a decision about how they are going to act.  Many times dogs have a hard time recognizing men wearing dark glasses and hats.  If you see a dog approaching and they seem the slightest bit pensive, take off your sun glasses and your hat.  This will help the dog to recogniz…

How to Help Wolfie When He is Scared and Growling

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Wolfie seems a little scared all the time. He growls at people and when I try and tell him to stop, it just gets worse! What gives?


This sounds like Wolfie is timid and is manifesting that with aggressive behavior. He has figured out that if he snarls and growls at people, they will stay away.

One thing that you must understand is that your normal response of using a strong correction (yelling “NO”, etc.) to address the snarling and growling does not work. All this is doing is showing Wolfie that he has lost his only ally in the house. What you must do is to build a new foundation based on a relationship of trust and respect between you and Wolfie. This, and only this, will earn you the right to have a relationship where Wolfie respects and obeys you.

Start to correct Wolfie in a very matter fact way. To do this, have a leash on Wolfie when people are over. As soon as Wolfie starts his growling and other bad behaviors, pick up the leash and briskly walk in the opposite direction of the p…

Wolfie Has Too Much Energy

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I put in long hours at work and when I get home, Wolfie is always all over me.  I am tired and I can't get him outside to play a lot.  What can I do?

 I see this a lot with our clients.  They work all day and just don't have the time to have a good, hard "play" with their dog when they get home from their ten hour day.  Dogs need to have that time to drain their adrenaline and you and Wolfie need the time to build the Bond, Trust, and Respect that your relationship requires.
We still suggest that you get outside as much as possible, throw the Frisbee, toss the ball, hide goodies and them help him find it, or perform some agility games.  What we now want to suggest is one more thing that will help take up the slack of the time you can't spend with him.
The answer is simple and it has worked wonders for many of our clients who have found themselves in this predicament. Take Wolfie to Doggie Daycare once or twice a week while you are at work.  He will be well cared fo…

When Your Dog Doesn't Seem to "Get it"

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I am working with Wolfie every day, but he just doesn't seem to get it.  What is the problem here?

Like people, dogs need to learn at a particular speed and at a particular level.  Unlike us, they can't "jump ahead" or skip steps in the learning process.  It must be slow, methodical, repetitive, and consistent.

When Wolfie "isn't getting it", it normally means that we are trying to teach him a command at a level or complexity above his current ability to process.  When this happens, we must back up to find a place where Wolfie can succeed in the exercise and then slowly proceed from that point.  For Wolfie, there is no shame in going back a few grades to find a place where he can obey and please us.

Let me give you an example of this process:

Say, for example, I am working with Wolfie on the "Come" exercise.  I had him in the house and was using a six foot leash to have him come to me every time I said "come".  Once in a while, I had to …

Wolfie Always Runs Thru The Door Ahead of Me!

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Wolfie always runs through the door ahead of me!  Even if I am just walking from the family room to the living room, he always has to be the first one in...  It just bugs me!



Guess what!  In the dog's world, the alpha leader must always be out front to check out that everything is safe for the rest of the pack to follow.  As you go from room to room, that is a new place and a new opportunity for Wolfie to do his job and make sure everything is safe for you.  Wolfie thinks he is the leader.  I am not going to delve into readjusting the pack to allow Wolfie to understand that you are the leader today.  What I am going to do is to provide you with the training instructions to allow you to go through first.

Here is what you do:
Put Wolfie on a leash and slowly approach the door.Stop when you are about two feet from the door and command Wolfie to Sit and Wait.Slowly open the door, always making sure that Wolfie is not getting ready to move.  If you see Wolfie getting ready to move or if W…

Some Things to Remember When Walking Wolfie

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Whenever I walk Wolfie, sometimes he runs to the bushes to sniff, sometimes he just wants to look around, other times he wants to pull me down the street...  What should I do?

The big thing to remember is "who is walking who".  Many times, when we go for a walk with our dog, he is walking us.  This is not good.  We need to be in control when we are in public with our dog.  The first thing to remember is that walking is a lot more than just walking.  Let me walk (ha-ha) through a scenario of the pieces of a walk and you will see what I mean:
The Front Door:  You don't want to just open the front door and dart out into the walk.  It is very important that you establish that you are in the driver's seat from the very start.  Have Wolfie sit and stay for you at the front door.  Now you open the front door while Wolfie isn't moving.  Invite Wolfie out and ask him to sit again.  Once everything is calm and Wolfie is giving you focus, begin your walk.  Do this in reverse …

How Often Should I Work With Wolfie?

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OK, I know all about the exercises and I do them with Wolfie every once in a while, but Wolfie just doesn't seem to get it!  What's the buzz?


Remember Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy?  Most of you probably don't, but if you are as old as I am, you will remember the cartoons where Doggie Daddy was always trying to teach his son, Augie Doggie a lesson.  Crazy as it seems, they were spot on regarding how dogs want to learn and how they will retain the lesson.

I am not saying that our Bark Buster methods are based on a 1960's cartoon show, it just so happens that the show mimics the proven methods we use to gain our great results.  So what happened between Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy?  It is real simple...
YOU MUST BE CONSISTENT.  Dogs learn by doing the same thing the exact same way.  In order for us "humans" to accomplish this, we can't spend a whole lot of time every day working with Wolfie.  If we do, we will get sloppy and we won't be consistent.  That …

Getting Wolfie Ready for a Plane Flight

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So Wolfie and I are taking our first trip up to see Grandma up in Ohio this Thanksgiving.... Why do I have to worry about this now?

Getting Wolfie ready to take a long plane trip is something you can't just do with the snap of your fingers. There are many things that you need to prepare and teach Wolfie. Remember that being under the seat of the plane can be a very scary thing, if Wolfie is not properly prepared.

(Please note: I will not talk about putting your dog in the baggage department of a plane. We did this with our dogs once and I will never do that again. I suggest you please follow this same policy.)

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog... So what do I do to prepare for the trip? Here are some quick, initial steps:
You are going to need a proper carrier to transport Wolfie on the plane. Contact the airlines you will be using and ask them for the proper specifications for the dog carrier. Have the airlines confirm that Wolfie is the proper size to be in the passenger sec…

Going Nuts With Your Dog

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Sometimes I just get so mad at my dog, I start screaming and chasing him...   ...But it doesn't do any good!  He doesn't respond to me.  Is my dog just nuts or stupid or what?


Well, there is "someone" stupid and nuts in the group, but it is not the dog.  We have to understand that the way we communicate is not necessarily the same way that our dogs communicate.  We get mad, we yell, we scream, we chase.  What we aren't doing is communicating to Wolfie that he is doing something wrong and that is why we are mad.
Even though the way that humans and dogs communicate is quite similar, it is different enough to breed miscommunication.  Eighty percent of how dogs communicate is with their body language.  When they are looking at us for communication, they are watching our body language very carefully to understand, from their point of view, what we are trying to say.
One of the most important parts of good body language in portraying that you are the leader and should be …

How to Get Wolfie to Eat His Kibble

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I just have the hardest time to get my dog to eat his dry food.  Wet food is expensive and hard to break up with the dry food.  He just seems to pick out the wet food and still leaves the dry.  What gives?
We always had a hard time to get Wolfie to eat his dry food.  Our Vet has always told us to stay away from the wet foods because they will cause tooth decay if we didn't regularly brush Wolfie's teeth.  The one thing I didn't want to do is to spend my evenings being a dental hygienist for Wolfie.  After some thought, we came up with two, really simple answers to get Wolfie to "love" his dry food.
Low Sodium Chicken Broth.  You can normally get low sodium chicken broth in a box from the market.  After you put Wolfie's dry food in his bowl, pour some chicken broth on as a "light gravy".  The dry food will soak up the broth, making it moist and adding additional flavor.  Wolfie loves it!Cottage Cheese.  Get some plain old cottage cheese and add a few t…

It's Raining in Wolfie's Bathroom!

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Wolfie is potty trained, but he won't go outside when it is raining!  He is 75 lbs. and I am not going to try and use potty pads.  What gives?



If is was raining in your bathroom, would that be the most conducive place for you to go?  I think not.  I have had this problem with many clients and have provided them with an idea that just about always works.  Let's think about the issue facing us:
Wolfie has been trained to go to the bathroom outside.Wolfie does not like to go to the bathroom in the rain.The answer is simple.  When Wolfie goes outside to go to the bathroom, it never rains.  But we are in South Florida and this time of year it is always raining.  What do I do?  Here is the answer:
Go to Home Depot and get a few flats of grass.Pick a place on your covered porch where you want Wolfie to go.Put down a drop cloth that is just a little bigger than the flats of grass.Put the flats of grass on the drop cloth.Direct Wolfie to the flats of grass for his potty area when it is ra…

Wolfie in the Pantry

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When I go out, Wolfie always likes to steal food from the pantry.  I close the door and tell him "No!", but he still does it.  What can I do?


The big problem is that you don't understand Wolfie's sense of "food ownership" and what the pantry represents.  In Wolfie's eyes, there is no direct ownership of food, even for the "pack leader".  If you are eating the food, it is yours.  As soon as you walk away and leave the food, it is anybody's, including Wolfie.  You go to the market, buy food, and store it in the pantry.  You then walk away, leaving the food in the pantry.  In Wolfie's eyes, you have abandoned the food and it is anybody's for the taking.

Also, you have left Wolfie with the ability to get the food.  It is unattended food in his territory.  Wolfie sees no problem to go into the pantry and pick out that nice bag of corn chips, take it to his bed, and have a party.  This is a natural instinct and is very difficult, if not im…

How to Talk to Your Dog

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I am trying to get Wolfie to sit.  I say "Sit!  Sit, Wolfie, sit!  Come on you crazy dog, put your bottom down on the ground!  OK Wolfie, now I am getting mad, SIT SIT SIT!"  He's not doing it....


Ya think so!  You have run head long into a big difference in the way we communicate and the way Wolfie communicates.  We have words, languages, punctuation, synonyms, antonyms, abbreviations, and a whole lot of other ways we verbally communicate.  We can describe the same item or action in multiple ways that we all understand and can agree upon.

Wolfie does not have "all those verbals" that we have.  Wolfie does not have the dictionary where the same word might have multiple meanings and a list of ten other words that mean the same thing.  All Wolfie has are the sounds and tones that come out of his mouth.  We might call it barking, yipping, or growling.  That is all Wolfie has when he wants to communicate verbally with other dogs, other animals, and us.

In order to ver…

Wolfie and Your New Baby

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Wow!  I thought I had made this clear to all my clients in the past, but I stand corrected!


A client recently told me that they have a newborn baby that they put down next to their two dogs and the baby pulls their ears and pokes them in their eyes.  "Nothing bad seems to happen", so that must be OK. 

No, it is not OK.  A newborn baby is small, low to the ground, makes quick, forward motions with their hands, and squeals in a high pitch.  These are all actions that aggravate the normal dog into a point of "don't bother me".  When this occurs, the dog will first give off a low growl indicating that they are done with the interaction.

Guess what?  The newborn baby doesn't "speak dog"!  They will continue to poke and squeal and approach.  Now comes the "bad part".  When your dog sees that their verbal communication has not been successfully received, they will ramp it up to a snap.  In your dog's mind, a snap is still a passive action des…

The Summer Heat and Wolfie

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I know that we have talked about playing in the pool to beat the summer heat, but what if I don't have a pool?  Wolfie wants to get outside, but what guidelines should I use?



I have already talked about pools, proper hydration, and several other topics as Wolfie and I deal with the summer heat.  The problem is that Wolfie really needs some good exercise, but in the heat, what is safe?

Wolfie needs exercise and this summer seems to be one of the hottest in recent memory.  These are two inescapable facts.  The solution is to deal with these facts in a safe way.  What I have suggested to many of my clients is to manage the times you get your dog outside.

Down here in South Florida, it is already over 80 degrees by 10AM and can get way over 90 degrees by the afternoon.  Many times, it doesn't get down to the 80's again until 6PM and doesn't drop into the 70's until 10 in the evening.  I provide the following "Play Outside" schedule for my clients:
In the Morning …

The Wee-Wee Pad (Ramp it Up)

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I am trying to train my puppy to go on the wee-wee pad, but he just doesn't pay attention to it!  What gives?



The wee-wee pad was originally designed around the notion that "if it smells like a toilet, it must be a toilet".  The wee-wee pad manufacturer would put a chemical on the paper so that the pad had a slight scent of urine.  We, of course, couldn't smell it, but Wolfie could.  Sometimes, when your pup is not paying attention to the pad it is because the scent given off by the pad is not strong enough to gain his attention.

This doesn't mean that you just put down more pads.  What you need to do is to enhance the smell or "super-size the odor".  Here are three suggestions:
Many pet stores sell "urine odor enhancer sprays".  Get a bottle and spray it generously in the exact middle of Wolfie's wee-wee pad.There is an old wife's tale that the smell of beer enhances Wolfie's potty drive.  Pour a little bit of beer (careful, don'…

Keeping the Start of Your Walk Nice and Quiet

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Every time Wolfie and I go out for a walk, he pulls me through the front door and down the street.  This needs to stop!  What can I do?



Many times we answer our own questions without even knowing it.  Our dogs get all excited about the walkies because we have built up the moment with distracted anticipation.  Of course they are going to go nuts when we open the door and, of course, they are going to run out the door and pull us down the streets! 

What we must do is to manage the situation before it takes place.  We must do two things to regain control of the walkies:

Break the association of "leash means walkies".
Dogs learn by "A = B".  Whenever Wolfie sees the leash, it means "walkies".  Oh boy! Oh boy!  He gets all excited and runs all around the house in celebration.  We, of course, chase him, yelling and screaming, until we catch him and get the leash on.  Can you say "adrenaline rush for Wolfie"?

We must break the "A = B".  Start put…

Wolfie and the Elevator

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What can you do with a dog that is slightly fearful of other dogs and you live in a building and have to use the elevator?


Let me tell you one thing for sure.  You don't want to force Wolfie into a situation where he is placed in a fight or flight situation in a confined environment (like an elevator).  You don't want to let the other dog in the elevator and do something like move to the corner of the elevator and hold him on a very tight leash or pick him up and firmly hold him.  When you are doing these things, you are placing Wolfie in an unsafe situation. 

As the "Alpha Leader", you never want to put your pack or any members of your pack in an unsafe situation.  You are now "telling" Wolfie that you are a bad leader and don't have the ability to keep him safe.  This means that Wolfie will step up to be the leader and will take a more aggressive stance in the elevator (bad!).

We must understand that as the Alpha Leader, it is our biggest responsibility…

Wolfie and Me in the Pool

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I would love to have Wolfie in the pool with me, but I don't want it to be a crazy time...



So, how do we get Wolfie to play with us in the pool while not driving us nuts, jumping on us, and all those bad things?  Well, in fact, we actually have two dogs that play with us in the pool.  Wolfie, who I have always talked about, and Fang, our Poodle.  Here is my secret:

We had to first pick an activity that we would associate with "pool time".  When we are in the pool, this is what Wolfie and Fang will always do.  We found that both dogs have a very strong "fetch" drive.  This is great because it is a "high energy" activity and it drives them away from being on top of us.  We started playing fetch with them while we were all outside the pool.  This allowed us to practice the exercise and to focus on how they would deliver the fetch toy back to us.  It is very important that you make them drop the toy at your feet and to then step back, waiting for you to thr…

Wolfie Going Nuts When We Are In The Pool

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Whenever anyone gets in the pool, Wolfie goes nuts and wants to jump right in the middle of it.  We found this fun when he was small and it was just the family, but we don't want him to "belly flop" on my pool guests!  Any hope?



Oops!  You did the classic "it is so cute when he was small and it isn't any fun now that he is big" mistake.  This problem is just exacerbated because a lot of people splashing, jumping, and yelling in the pool is a really big distraction.  Since most dogs are very social animals, they want to get into the fun too.  This issue really has to be nipped in the bud when Wolfie is still young and the bad habit has not been mistakenly taught to him by you.

Here are some thoughts:
Everything here must be started when Wolfie is still young.Have Wolfie (under supervision on leash) outside, near the pool with you.  You swim around the pool, but don't make a lot of "crazy pool sounds".  As soon as Wolfie starts to react to you, hav…

The Two REAL Tips on Potty Training

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OK, OK!  I know that I spend a lot of time on potty training!  80% of all my clients' puppy issues deal with potty training, so that is always my focus!



Today, I am going to give away one of my secrets.  It really is not a secret, because I teach it in my Potty Training lesson, but most people forget...

Pay attention, because this is going to be quick.  There are normally two reasons why potty training your new little puppy isn't going well.  Are you ready?  Here they come:

Water:  You leave the water down too long.  Always pick the water up after the meal is complete (with the food).  If you leave the water down all day long, you have no idea how much Wolfie has consumed and when he drank it.  This destroys you ability to build a schedule based on planned events.Visibility:ALWAYS keep Wolfie in sight during your potty training process.  If you don't keep him in sight, you will never see when and possibly where he made an accident.  It is critical that you have this informati…

What To Do When An "Off Leash" Dog Runs At You

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I live in a area where a lot of people let their dogs roam free (off leash).  What do I do when I am out on a walk and one of them runs at Wolfie and me?  (I don't want either of us to be bitten!)

We definitely don't want the picture above to happen to us!

It just so happens that this happened the other day while Wolfie and I were out for a walk.  An off leash Pit Bull charged us while we were walking down the street.  Needless to say that I can still type with all ten fingers, so we made it out just fine.  Let me recant what happened...

Wolfie and I were walking down the street (Wolfie was on a leash) when I noticed a Pit Bull on the front porch of a house about half a block in front of us.  I crossed over to the other side of the street and continued to observe the dog.  I noticed no body tension or posturing from the dog.  He didn't seem to have a great deal of interest in us.  I also noticed that Wolfie was also not reacting to the dog in any manner.  Since the body langu…