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Health and Grooming your Dog

Free Dog Training Tips

What is spay/neuter?

When a dog has a litter of puppies, it is sometimes difficult to find homes for them. Most people cannot care for all the puppies without help. Pups are turned over to the Humane Society, the SPCA, (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), or left stranded without any care. Pups without homes get lonely, tired and often, very sick. You can be a part of a solution to this problem of overpopulation by having your female dog spayed and your male dog neutered.

This is an operation that removes the organs of a dog that make it capable of having puppies. The operation is done at the vet's office, while the dog is under anesthesia (the dog is asleep) so he/she feels no pain. The operation does not hurt! Your dogs will be healthier, happier, and more obedient if they are unable to produce puppies.

Pets and poisons

Thousands of animals are accidentally poisoned every year. How would you know if your dog or puppy was poisoned and what would you do. If your pet got into some of your medicine...or chewed on the leaves of a poisonous plant...or drank something harmful found in your garage, garden or home?

Florida Poison Control Center/Tampa handles many calls about pets exposed to potential poisons or harmful substances. Just like people, pets can be protected to prevent accidental poisonings. Your home and your pet's world can be safe and healthy. Look closely at the places your pet wanders in your home. With a systematic approach, take time to safeguard against poisonings by keeping products that could be harmful out of reach. Examples: medications, cleaning products, household plants, chocolate, nicotine/tobacco, mothballs, batteries, antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, paint, pesticides, flea powders.

Animals do not always know when something is bad for them.

It is up to us to provide a safe environment for them. FLORIDA POISON INFORMATION CENTER/TAMPA 1-800-282-3171

My what big teeth you have!

Teething starts at about 4 months, but does not end at that time.

You may have found 28 small, sharp, white teeth lying around on your floor, at any given time. One here, one there, or you may have stepped on one or two.

Don't panic! Pup will grow 42 permanent ones! Provide him with plenty of chew toys. Rotate the toys regularly to prevent boredom. Ice cubes are a wonderful, soothing treat.

If you notice a double row of teeth, contact your veterinarian. It is possible that some of the baby teeth have been retained. They will need to be surgically removed.


All dogs need to learn to be bathed and brushed, to have their nails trimmed and their ears cleaned out.

As soon as you bring puppy home start handling his feet and toes. Smear some peanut butter on your fingertips; or let him nibble a crunchy treat. This gives pup something yummy to associate with grooming.

So next time you begin touching his various body parts, he will be more relaxed.


Treats for training

I use plenty of treats and praise for training. They are especially good for trick training. Unfortunately, many people rely to heavily on treats, and overlook the most important part of the training.

Treats are used to shape certain behaviors, step by step. Dog sits, dog gets treat, over and over again. But can you guess what happens? Dogs won't pay attention unless a treat is in your hand, AT ALL TIMES!

You are nothing but a snack machine. That special bond needs to be formed by showing your dog his proper place in your "pack" by using the commands without food after he learns them.

After a training session, start up a game of fetch or hide-n-seek using a favorite toy as the reward for a job well done. Keep the special toy out of the dog's reach, until it is reward time. If you leave it lying around, it will lose its appeal.

Sit for what you want

Teaching a pup to sit is very simple. It is essentially a hands free command. All you need is a treat and a little bit of gravity:

Say the puppies name and hold the treat just to his nose. Draw a line from pup's nose, back between his eyes, and down his back. As pup's head and nose lift up and back, down goes his bootie. Just as pup's bootie is hitting the floor, command "sit". Praise "good sit", and treat. With a bit of practice, and consistency, he will be sitting automatically.

Come when called

The most important thing to understand about training your dog to come reliably is that dogs learn through cause and effect. When you give the command "Come!" to your dog, it is vital that you be prepared to show the dog what his response to this command should be.

Every time you give your dog a command in which you don't have a way to show him the right way to respond to your command, you are going in the wrong direction. Let's say your dog is off leash. You see a small child approaching and you think to yourself that you had better get Fido under control because he has a tendency to jump on toddlers and shower them with kisses. You call your dog and he doesn't come. You call him again, a littler louder. Surely he would have come if he had heard you. Now he's running in the opposite direction. Now he's got the toddler pinned on the ground and he's enjoying the leftover oatmeal on her shirt. Now you're calling, "Don't worry! He's friendly!" to the furious mother of the toddler. Sound familiar?

The problem is that you just taught your dog how to run in the opposite direction when you say "Come!" This is surely the opposite of what you intended to do. Dog's learn by demonstration. They see cause and effect. When we teach them to sit for the first time, we say "Sit!" and then maneuver them into a sitting position. See, Fido? This is called a "Sit." We don't expect Fido to read our minds and we are willing to gently show him what we mean the first 100 times or so. It is exactly the same with the Come command. We need to show the dog what he should do when he hears the Come command. There is no way we can do this without having him on leash.

House Training

Housebreaking a dog can be quite simple, if you understand some basic principles and follow some simple rules:

Dens & Rooms
Dogs are naturally den animals, so a dog does not want to go the bathroom where he lives. Unfortunately, most of us live in homes that are so big, that the dog does not equate our entire house with his den. Therefore, it is important to keep a dog that is not housebroken in the room you are in. If you let him leave the room, he will equate this with leaving the den, and think is acceptable to go to the bathroom. If you are in the bedroom, shut him in the bedroom with you. If you go to the kitchen, take him with you. If it is not possible to shut a door, put up a gate, or tie him in the room with you.

Activities, Not Clocks
Don't watch the clock to determine when your dog needs to go outside, it is his activity that causes him to need to go to the bathroom, not the time that has elapsed. Every time your dog changes activities, he should be taken outside. If he wakes up, take him out, stops playing, out he goes, stops eating, out again. Take him out before the accident occurs.

Watch for Signals
Do not think it is the dog's responsibility to let you know when he needs to go out, try to watch for his signals to that he needs to go outside. The signals may be subtle like walking toward the door or sniffing and walking in circles.

If your dog goes to the bathroom in front of you, make an exclamation of disgust and take him outside. ("No" or "Bad Dog" is sufficient) It is not necessary to drag him to the mess or rub his nose in it.

Crate Training
Since a dog does not want to go to the bathroom where he lives, when you cannot be with him, he needs to be confined to an area that is small enough that he chooses not to go to the bathroom. You might try a laundry room or small bathroom, but we recommend a dog crate. A crate provides your dog with a small den of his own that he will be motivated to keep clean. Furthermore, if you leave him in crate when you are away from him, you can be sure that nothing you care about will be chewed or destroyed while you are gone.

You may be thinking that if you keep your dog in a crate while you are at work, and again while you are sleeping, he will spend two-thirds of his life in a crate. That may be the case with a new dog that is not housebroken, but this situation won't last long. Soon you will trust him and be able to allow him more freedom when you are not around.

Once he is able to keep his crate clean in your absence, try leaving him in a slightly larger area like a laundry room, porch or kitchen. If he keeps that clean, again enlarge his area. Eventually he will understand that your entire house is his den and will work to keep your home clean. being confined for a few months of training is a small price to pay for a lifetime of enjoying a trained dog!

A Few Closing Thoughts
If your dog is going to the bathroom in one location in your home, this is again a sign that he is attempting to keep your home clean, however he has established and indoor bathroom. Try feeding him in that location for a few days. This will cause him to reconsider his established bathroom. Most dogs will not go to the bathroom where they eat.

Problem Solving

Techniques to help avoid dog bites

Dogs can't speak English, but they can communicate quite clearly with body language. Read the following descriptions and start noticing the dogs you meet in your everyday life. You're apt to see these behaviors daily from dogs you don't know and, quite possibly, even your own.

Aggressive Posturing
Dogs try to appear larger by holding their tails and ears up and raising the fur on the backs. A stiff tail wag is not the same as a friendly tail wag. Dogs showing these signs are excited but not friendly. They should be avoided.

Dogs who are afraid try to appear smaller by crouching down low. Their head, ears and tail will be down. Their mouths will be tense and closed. If you approach a dog showing these signs, he might become aggressive out of fear and he should be avoided.

Friendly Dogs
Friendly dogs are relaxed. They stand with their heads in a normal position (not to far up or down); their ears may be forward or back; their tails will be relaxed. Usually their tails are wagging in greeting and are below the line of the back but not between their legs.

Angela will be happy to speak at your child's school, or your club, about dog safety. Contact Angela for more information.

Puppy Selection

Picking out a puppy

B.Paws-itive Pet Dog Training does not recommend giving someone a dog or puppy during the holiday season. It's a very hectic time. If you'd like to give a pet to someone as a present, why not give him or her a certificate explaining that together you will go ahead and select the pet after the holiday? A great idea for Hanukkah is to give a pet care item for each of the eight nights. Items such as leashes, collars, treats and toys can be unwrapped and waiting for the pup upon his arrival! B.Paws-itive Pet Dog Training even offers gift certificates for training. This way, everyone can concentrate on the awesome task of welcoming a new family member.

The first step is to do all your homework. Choose a breed to suit your lifestyle. Next find a reputable breeder, or better yet, adopt from your local animal shelter. Community Concern for Animals (813-920-4007) is a great place to start. This doesn't mean you have to be looking at a litter of purebreds, it just means you are confident the breeder or caretaker if the litter has the dog's best interest in mind. When you meet the litter, try not to fall in love with the biggest and boldest puppy. Many a dog owner has "let the puppy pick them" only to discover they have adopted a dominant handful. If you think about it, he was acting dominant even then, but his behavior was interpreted in a human way instead of canine way. If all of the puppies but one runaway from you, don't pick up that puppy either. Chances are great that this puppy too is extra shy, and it just isn't obvious yet.

How are normal puppies of friendly breeds likely to behave when you visit the litter? They'll probably crawl all over your feet, tug at your shoelaces, lick your face, and generally be cute as buttons.

Stand and observe the litter. Watch how they interact with each other. Is one extra submissive? Is one bossy? Who is the most daring? The best single piece of advise I can give you about picking up a puppy is to stay away from the extremes. For most people and families, the best dog for them is neither the most dominant nor the most submissive. Middle of the pack is most likely to net you the dog of your dreams.

B.Paws-itive Pet Dog Training now offers a puppy selection kit, and gift certificates for training. Check out our Products Page to find out more.