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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Things to Consider Regarding Your Dog and the Back Yard

I just let Wolfie out in the back yard and he should be able to take care of himself, right?

As a good dog owner, you always need to make sure that your doggie is safe, healthy, and happy.  The back yard can be a great place for your doggie, if you have prepared it for him.  Here are some ideas on making sure your back yard is ready for Wolfie:
  • FENCE:  Make sure that your back yard fence does not have any holes or gaps that would allow Wolfie to get out.  This also helps to make sure that anything can't get in the back yard also.  Check to make sure that there aren't any gaps at the bottom of the fence or loose boards that could easily be "nudged" to make a door.  Putting a little chicken wire at the bottom of the fence and having it lay on the ground is a great way of eliminating any digging issues to allow Wolfie to take advantage of any low lying areas of escape.
  • POISONOUS PLANTS:  Walk around your back yard to make sure that there aren't poisonous plants in your garden.  Click here to get a list of many of the common plants that are toxic to dogs.
  • LAWN CHEMICALS:  Many times you or your gardener will put down chemicals such as fertilizer or weed killer on your grass.  It is very important that you do not let your dogs out on the grass for several hours up to a day after the material has been applied.
  • SIDE GATES:  This might not seem like a big issue, but we have found that more dogs get out of the yard because of a gate being left open than anything else.  Make sure that you have hinges that automatically close when anyone does through the gate.  Check the gates once a month to make sure that they are still functioning.
  • THE POOL:  Make sure that Wolfie knows how to get out of the pool if he falls in.  Even if he doesn't like the pool, he should know how to get out if something happens and he slips.
  • Toys:  It is always important to have "stuff to do" for Wolfie while he is in the back yard.  Balls, rope toys, kongs, Frisbees, and cow hooves are just a sample of toys Wolfie might like to have in the back yard.  I always suggest that you have both outside toys and inside toys.  This is to make sure that those "dirty toys" don't get into your clean home.
  • Water:  It is always important to hydrate Wolfie while he is running around in the heat in the back yard.  Leave a bowl of water out in the shade with some ice cubes in it.  Since metal bowls heat up so quickly, I would suggest that you use a plastic water bowl.
  • SMALL DOGS:  If Wolfie is under 8 pounds, NEVER leave him unattended in the back yard.  We have a very large hawk population in South Florida and they are always on the prowl for their next meal.  We have heard of dogs up to 8 pounds being picked up by hawks and taken away.  When in doubt, always look up.
I hope this gives you some good ideas in keeping Wolfie safe while he is in the back yard.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Puppy Training 101 --- Remember Cute Little Wolfie Can Get Big

Oh, it is so much fun to have Little Wolfie jump on me and then he runs after me and chases me and I chase him all over the house.  What's wrong with this?

I always have this problem with my clients who have cute, little puppies that are going to grow into very big dogs.  They want to have them jump on their legs, nip their feet, run after them, and do a whole lot of other active play activities.  This might be cute and fun with your ten pound Great Dane puppy, but not your one hundred and eighty pound Great Dane dog.

Whatever you teach your little puppy now, he will remember when he gets big.  If he is always used to jumping on you, he will also find it perfectly acceptable to jump on everybody when he gets really big and it now hurts.  These dogs are normally called "out of control dogs" and will many times find their way to the local dog pound.

So here are a few things that you should not encourage your little puppy to do:
  • Jump on you or anybody else.
  • Encourage him to bark by getting him excited.
  • Have him chase you or you chase him.
  • Play tug-of-war with him.
  • Teach him to give you "paw".
These are all cute when he is small, but very annoying, embarrassing, and painful when he gets to be a big boy.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Puppy Training 101 --- Out and About

Wow!  I just got Little Wolfie and I want to take him everywhere in the car with me!  It is really fun!

I have talked about this in the past, but if you are a new puppy owner with Little Wolfie, you just might need to hear it again.  Let me try to make this very clear to you, the engineers in Detroit did not design our cars for dogs, they designed them for humans!  Because of this, we have to make sure that our best little friend is safe while he is in the car with us.  An open window or air bag is unsafe and could actually lead to our puppy's injury or death, if not properly managed.

I go nuts when I see a driver with their puppy in their lap when they are driving.  I hate it when I see a dog owner allowing their dog to stick his head out an open window when the car is traveling fifty or sixty miles an hour.  These are two examples that are just not right for your puppy in the car.  Please read my safety suggestions below:
  • Never let your puppy ride in your lap while driving. 
  • Never let your puppy stick their head out the window while the car is in motion.
  • Never let your puppy in the front right seat of your car unless you can turn off the passenger seat airbag.
  • Always keep your puppy properly secured while they are in the car.  Even if the car is stopped, your puppy should still be secured.
  • Always provide a "trip diversion" for your puppy to keep them engaged and focused.  One of his favorite toys or a bone are two great examples.
These are just a few rules that I feel are important when you and Little Wolfie are traveling in the car.  Follow them and you are off to a great start of motoring with your pup!  For more information on dog safety, please contact us at  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Puppy Training 101 --- It Is All About Boundaries

Little Puppy Wolfie loves to wander all over the place and he gets into all sorts of trouble.  What is the deal here?

All dogs roam their territory to check things out, sniff, explore, etc.  The problem with puppies is that they have a heightened level of exploration, inquisitiveness, and play.  This can lead to things happening in other rooms that you just don't want to take place.  Things that you may find are:
  • Potty accidents
  • Damaged furniture
  • Papers all over the floor
  • Plants pulled out of their containers
  • "Stuff missing"
  • ... and a whole lot more
Just like we managed our children when they were young, we have to do the same with our new puppies.  The one and only rule that you must remember is to always keep little Wolfie in your sight.  If he begins to do anything wrong, you have the opportunity to correct him immediately while he is in the act of his misbehavior.  In this way, little Wolfie will learn what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in your house.

Life happens and sometimes we can not always focus on little Wolfie 100% of the time.  If that is the case, use baby/doggie gates to make sure you can manage where little Wolfie can roam.  If this is not possible, you will need to crate him or place him in a small room, such as a laundry room.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Remember, just like our children when they were small, we must know where little
Wolfie is all the times in order to keep him safe and allow us to teach and socialize him.  If you have further questions, please contact your local Bark Buster Trainer.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Puppy Training 101 - All About People, Places, and Stuff

So I just got a new puppy and have never had a dog before in my life, not even as a little kid!  Are puppies different than dogs?  Where do I begin?

Isn't Wolfie cute?  How could he do anything bad or do anything that would be annoying.  The breeder said that all he wanted to do was to give me love and happiness!

Well, that is a wonderful thought, but we are now Wolfie's parents and as such, have a large responsibility to Wolfie to make him feel safe, loved, and part of our pack.  Puppies have additional training requirements than dogs that are two and three years old.  This is the first of several training blogs that will discuss training that is unique to these super cute "bundles of canine joy".

Today we are going to talk about "socialization" for Wolfie.  Simply stated, this is the act of getting him used to the environment around him.  That environment is made up of people, cars, the market, the vet hospital, strangers, other animals, the vacuum cleaner, and on and on and on.  Since he is a puppy, all these things are new to him and could easily frighten him.  What we must do is to put him in a situation where he can learn that all these things are fine and he should feel safe around them.

First, let's look at a partial list of things to consider:
  • People with...
    • Canes
    • Crutches
    • Wheelchairs
    • Baby Stroller
    • Shopping cart
    • Luggage
  • People doing...
    • Jogging
    • Working
    • Limping
    • Driving
    • Swimming
  • Home Environment
    • Phone ringing
    • Doorbell
    • Vacuum Cleaner
    • Dish Washer
    • Hair Dryer
    • Repair people
    • Pool Man
  • Environments
    • Vet Clinic
    • Car
    • Kennel
    • Groomer
    • Pet Store
    • Crowds
    • School
  • Vehicles
    • Motorcycles
    • Trucks
    • Cars
    • Bicycles
  • Sounds
    • Thunder
    • Fireworks
    • Loud Noise
    • Siren
These are just a few people, places, and stuff that, as a puppy, will be new to Wolfie.  Depending on Wolfie's temperament, he may or may not need socialization with one or all of them.  Now, let's discuss how we socialize.  I will give you two examples:

Vacuum Cleaner:  One of you will have Wolfie at one end of the house on a leash with some toys and/or goodies.  Another person will have the vacuum cleaner at the other end of the house on a long extension cord.  Turn the vacuum cleaner on while distracting Wolfie by giving slight tugs on the leash and playing with toys.  As you see that Wolfie is calm and giving you focus, slowly (and I mean slowly) move the vacuum cleaner closer to Wolfie.  Constantly keep Wolfie's focus on you and watch that he is not becoming pensive or timid.  If he is, stop the exercise and start again tomorrow, always trying to get closer until the vacuum cleaner is moving around in the room with Wolfie.

Car:  All we want to do is to make sure Wolfie is calm in the car.  We initially do this by having Wolfie sit in the car while it is in the driveway.  Have some toys and goodies for Wolfie while he and you are in the car.  Have the engine running and radio on. 

After a few days of this, back the car out of the driveway and drive around the block.  If this is going well, take Wolfie with you on longer trips to the store, school, park, etc.  If, at any time, he begins to become frightened, timid, or overly distracted, slow it down and back up one level.

Also, and this is very important, you must be sure that Wolfie is properly secured while in your car.  Get a harness for Wolfie.  When you put him in the car, take the seat belt and insert that through the harness, clicking it to secure the seat belt and Wolfie.  Wolfie can only ride in the back seat unless the passenger seat has a method to turn off the air bag.  Wolfie is never allowed to ride on your lap or in any manner that would allow him to stick any part of his body out the window.

Remember, the most important part of "socialization" is to get Wolfie used to the world around him at an early age.  Successfully accomplishing this will make him feel far safer and happier.  It will also make your life a lot easier.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.