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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Keep Your Dog Safe and Protected from Thieves

I have heard horrible stories of dogs being stolen and never found again.  What can I do to protect my dog from being stolen?

In recent years there has been an increased level of dog theft.  Some organizations have indicated that dog theft has increased by as much as 32%.

People steal pets for a variety of reasons:
  • Some are simply looking for a dog and don't want to pay the price charged by the breeder or pet store.  
  • Others are looking for dogs that they can sell.  Dogs can easily sell for up to $3,000 or $4,000 on the open market. 
  • Others steal the dog and then wait for the reward posters to be placed in the neighborhood.  It is amazing how often Fido just happens to wander into a stranger's back yard with no tags or other form of identification.
  • Dogs are stolen to use in fighting clubs. This is probably the most disturbing and distressing of all the reasons your dog is stolen.

Having a dog stolen is horrendous for both the owner and the dog.  A once well behaved dog, if found, can turn into a fearful/aggressive animal.  They can become aggressive around people or other animals.  They might attack with no warning or sit, shaking with fear, in the corner of the room.  Your once, happy companion, has returned to you with a level of anxiety and fear that might never be reversed.

So what can you, the pet owner do to try and minimize your pet being stolen?
  • Make sure your dog is micro chipped and has a collar tag.  You also might think about a GPS locator on their collar.
  • Never leave your dog in a public place.
  • Never leave your dog alone for any length of time in the back yard or front yard.
  • Be aware of any strangers who take too much interest in your dog.  If they are asking too many questions regarding your dog's breed, age, lineage, health, temperament; they might "be shopping".
  • Make sure that you have thoroughly checked the background of your dog walker.  Are they bonded? What are their references? Does your vet know anything about them?
If your dog has been stolen/missing:
  • Make sure that you contact the police or the appropriate local animal control authorities.
  • Make flyers with your dog's picture and canvas the neighborhood.  Place flyers in vet hospitals, doggie grooming stores, pet stores, supermarkets, etc.
  • Contact the local radio and TV stations to see if they have places on their web sites to post your dog's information.
  • Contact and check the local dog shelters to see if your dog has been surrendered.
  • Check Internet Databases such as to register your dog and to see if anyone has listed him as found.

Having anything stolen from us, especially our family dog, is a terrible experience. Getting them back is very difficult and many times, impossible.  The best solution is to proactively take the appropriate precautions outlined above.  Keeping your dog safe and secure provides for their well being and is just the smart thing to do.  As always, you can contact your local Bark Buster Dog Trainer for more information and suggestions at Best Dog Training in SouthFlorida.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Dog Pulls and Goes Crazy on A Walk

My dog walks pretty well most of the time, but sometimes he sees something and just goes nuts.  He is jumping, charging, standing on his two back paws, and barking like a crazy dog.  Is there any special technique I can use to fix this problem?

We see this walking problem a lot with many dogs that are a little overactive and aren’t clearly attentive to their owners.  The normal “walk next to me” exercises are actions that you must initially use for proper, obedient walking, but this problem requires that you will take the next step. 

Don’t worry, the “next step” does not mean that we are going to use choke chains, chock collars, or anything that would scare your dog.  What we must do is to actively enforce the fact that your dog must constantly provide you with focus and attention on the walk.  By doing this, your dog is submitting that you will take charge of any “strange distraction” you might encounter and it is not his responsibility to do all those annoying and embarrassing actions.

Here are some things you should do:
  • I would first think about using the right collar for the walk.  When I have to guide him with the leash, I want my dog to experience a quick tug/snapping sensation.  I do not want him to simply experience a continual pull.  We recommend the use of the Bark Busters Training Collars.  These allow you to create that quick tug/snap and also provide an audible correction sound.  If you can’t get one of these collars, try using the Martindale collar.
  • Give your dog more leash than normal when you go out for your walk. 
  • As soon as he begins to walk in front of you or his gaze begins to wander from you or the path directly in front of him, give the leash a quick tug (it might take several of these actions) until he returns to your side and is focusing on you.
  • If he continues to walk ahead of you, stop walking and allow him to continue until he reaches the end of the leash.  Just as he reaches the end, give the leash a firm tug/snap for him to look back and see that you are far away from him.  Continue your walk in the opposite direction.
  • Stop multiple times while you are walking and have him sit.
  • Change directions while you are walking.  Give the leash a quick tug/snap as soon as he is not attentively changing direction with you.

Do not start this process during “busy times” in your neighborhood.  The whole purpose of this exercise is to enforce your dog’s need to constantly “check in with you”.  Start off when it is quiet so that you can constantly provide him with the proper instruction.  Ramp up the exercise by walking at progressively active times.

We just finished this program with a very large Pit Bull that wanted to go after neighbors and their animals while on a walk.  After a few sessions using these techniques, the dog was great.  If you have any additional questions regarding this technique, please contact us at Great South Florida DogTrainers.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Walking In The Woods With My Dog

I don’t get up in the woods a lot, but when I do, I love taking my dog for walks in the hills.  I love having him off leash and having just a great time with all the great smells and “woodsy-things”.  What do I need to know to keep the whole thing safe for my dog and myself?

It might just be me, but I love the opportunity to have my Sheppard and Springier Spaniel up in the woods; up a back road; hanging out with us at a rustic cabin.  They love going out and are very good at staying nearby and listening to my commands.  We have a great time and everyone is kept happy and safe. 

Please understand that this is not something you can do right away with your dog.  It might be something you may never be able to accomplish with your dog.  In order to accomplish this, you must take on a specific and possibly lengthy process in order to assure your success.  As I stated earlier, some dogs are just too high strung or too easily distracted to engage in this activity.  Let’s look at some of the things we must do.

Before we even think about getting up to that backwoods cabin, we must perform a good amount of work back at home:
  • You must work on on-leash and off-leash recall/come.  Your dog must be able to return to your side when you command him from up to twenty yards.  You must be sure that he can do this while there are natural distractions commanding his attention and even when you can’t directly see him.
  • You must be able to have your dog sit and stay while you walk thirty yards away.  He must stay there until you release him and he must run straight to your side.
  • You must gain off-leash attentiveness control where your dog is walking near you without a leash and always change their direction, based on any change in your direction.
  • You must practice the “drop” or “leave it” command with your dog so that he will not place anything harmful in his mouth.
  • Your dog must be able to instantly sit and give you focus on command.

These are a lot of things to accomplish, but they are the minimum needed to assure a safe walk in the woods.  Now, let’s think about our walk in the woods.  Here are some things to think about:
  • Before you take your dog for a walk, go out alone first.  Follow the course you plan to take, looking for poisonous plants, areas where you may experience animals, areas of standing water, steep inclines, tight spaces, etc.  Pick a path that minimizes these issues in order to maximize your ability to keep your dog as safe as possible.
  • Place a leash on your dog before you start.  You don’t have to hold the leash, just let it drag behind him.  If you need to step in quickly, it gives you one more tool to safely control him.
  • As you walk, always scan the area for anything that might distract him or draw him away from you.
  • Keep your dog engaged and focused on you by calling him to you, having him stay as you walk a short distance down the trail and calling him to you, encourage him to walk next to you by patting your leg as you walk, etc. 
  • If you see that your dog is tiring, finish your walk.  You don’t want him to just stop or “decide to take a shortcut home”.
  • Never let your dog wander off in high grass or through thickets.  This just increases the possibility for fleas and ticks.  Oh, by the way, make sure that all the proper flea and tick medicines have been applied.  Also, consult with your vet if any additional medication might be needed for the area you will be visiting.
  • Take your own water for the walk.  Standing water is not good and you are never sure what might be upstream in that pretty country stream.
  • Have your dog return to you immediately and hold the leash if encounter a person or animal on your walk.
  • When you return from your walk, check your dog for any fleas, ticks, burrs, etc. 
  • If he still has some energy, play fetch around the cabin for a few more minutes before you come in.

Once you and your dog get back inside the cabin, you will probably see him take a long and very happy nap.  If you have any further information or clarification, please contact Your Great South Florida Dog Trainers.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Keeping My Dog Safe From Poisons

With the kids (and me), there are always things left around the house that our dog might get into.  What are the things that I should watch out for to protect him?  I don’t want something that I left out after the game to make my doggie sick…

All dogs, but especially young dogs, are naturally curious creatures.  This is why we advise dog owners not only to know and be vigilant about potential poisons in and around the home, but also to learn to recognize the signs indicating a dog has eaten something poisonous, and then know what actions to take.  Just because something is safe for people to eat doesn't necessarily mean it is safe for our dogs to eat.

By following these tips, you can help protect your dog from accidental poisoning:
  • Toxic foods include chocolate, avocado, onions, garlic, raisins, grapes, alcoholic and caffeinated drinks, macadamia nuts, and chewing gum or candy containing xylitol (a sweetener that is safe for humans but toxic for dogs).
  • Serious danger to pets continues from antifreeze/coolant, even though animal-friendly products-made with propylene glycol, not ethylene glycol-are now available.  Always wipe up antifreeze leaks or spills of any size. Pets are attracted to the sweet taste and can die from kidney failure if they ingest even a small amount of this highly toxic substance.
  • Store poisonous baits used to rid your home of pests (rodents, snails, insects, etc.) in places that your dog cannot access.  Like antifreeze, some baits smell sweet but are very toxic to pets, causing severe internal bleeding.
  • Keep pets away from common household cleaners (the fumes can be noxious) and heavy metals (such as lead) found in paint chips and linoleum.
  • Consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog any vitamin, herbal supplement or medication made for humans.  Even small doses of medications of any kind-whether for humans or pets-can be lethal to pets.  Keep all medicines well out of your dog's reach.
  • Many plants-even dead or dried-are toxic to pets. Whatever part of the plant may be dangerous (leaves, fruit, seeds), learn about the types of toxic plants that may grow in your home and surroundings (both cultivated and wild), and keep your pets away from them or remove them entirely.
  • Keep your pets off lawns or gardens that have been treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides.  If your dog has walked on treated lawns, wipe his feet clean as soon as you get home to avoid the possibility of him licking his paws and ingesting the poison.  Store all such chemicals in places your pet can't reach.
  • Other toxic substances found outside include mushrooms and garden mulch.
  •  Ask your veterinarian for a detailed list of all potentially poisonous items, substances and plants found around your home. 

Possible Symptoms of Poisoning (Toxicity) in Your Pet:
  • Vomiting/upset stomach
  • Labored OR shallow breathing
  • Drooling
  • Increased OR decreased heart rate
  • Fever
  • Hyperactivity OR sluggishness/lethargy
  • Increased thirst OR lack of thirst or hunger
  • Dilated pupils
  • Stumbling or staggering
  • Seizures or tremors
  • Loss of consciousness

If you think your dog has ingested a dangerous substance contact your veterinarian or local animal hospital immediately.  If you are advised to bring the dog into the clinic, be sure to take along the packaging of the suspected substance or a sample of the plant you think your dog may have eaten. This can help the veterinarian know how best to treat your pet.  For more information or clarification, please contact us at Great South Florida Dog Trainers.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Preparing Your Dog for The Start of School

School time is just around the corner and the kids have been playing with our family dog all summer long.  What happens when our dog is left alone all day?

This same scenario happens every year and is something that is easily solved if you prepare for it now.  Two big problems that your dog could experience are boredom and separation anxiety.  Both of these could lead to inappropriate behavior such as destruction and continued, crazy barking.  Here are some tips to work on now before your kids go back to school:
While dogs naturally sleep a lot during the day, when they wake up, they want something to do. Seek out toys and activities that can keep your dog entertained, even when you're not at home.
  • Scatter food.  Dogs are natural foragers who enjoy sniffing out food on the ground. Before you leave the house, scatter a variety of foods -such as bits of raw vegetables, dog kibble, and other foods that won't attract wasps-around the yard or house. Hide a few ultra-tasty treats, too, so your dog spends extra time looking for them. Be sure to provide fresh, clean water to keep your dog well hydrated.
  • Toys.  Dogs love toys, but they can get bored with or destroy them.  Buy high-quality, virtually indestructible puzzle toys that your dog will always enjoy, especially those that hold treats like the Classic KONG.  Every week or so, rotate what toys are available to your dog to give him something new and fun to hold his interest.

Separation Anxiety
With everyone away from the house all day, dogs left alone can become stressed. This stress can result in destructive behaviors and endless barking. Follow these tips to help reduce the potential anxiety of separation.
  • Start early.  A few weeks before your children return to school, get your dog used to being alone.  Begin by separating him from the kids and the rest of the family.  For example, if you frequently take your dog with you to run errands, leave him at home instead.
  • Pay less attention to your dog.  While your dog may be the center of attention when the kids are home all day, you need to change this scenario before they return to school so that he can adjust more quickly to the quiet time. About a week before school starts, pay increasingly less attention to your dog each day.
  • Practice leaving the house.  Go through the motions of leaving the house.  Pick up your keys and go out the door, but then come right back in again. The dog will cease associating the routine of your leaving the house with your departure.  This will help him to be more relaxed when you actually leave.
  • When you leave When the last person leaves the house for the day, don't confuse your dog by saying soothingly, "Don't worry, Wolfie-we'll be home soon. Be a good boy." If he is feeling concerned that you're leaving, your sweet-toned voice can make him think its okay to feel anxious. Dogs are animals that instinctively rely on a defined social structure, and so they expect their leaders to be strong when they leave the group. Therefore, ignore your dog for about 10 minutes before you leave.

As I mentioned earlier, it is important that you start this new routine BEFORE everyone starts back to school.  This allows you the time to work with your dog to acclimate him with your new “school-time” routime. As always, if you have any questions or need additional information, please contact us at Great South Florida Dog Trainers.