Announcement: Basic Training, Part 1 – Teaching Your Dog to Sit

Having a well-mannered pet is the dream of every dog lover. However, dogs don’t come with instructions and they aren’t born knowing how to behave in every setting. Teaching your puppy or adult dog the basics of sitting, staying, and laying down not only keeps her safe if she’s outside in your yard, it also makes her a better companion when she’s at home in your house.

Basic training for your dog starts with you, and your willingness to work with your pet regularly.

Basic Training, Part 1
Teaching Your Dog to Sit

Place a leash or halter on your dog or puppy and make her stand on the ground in front of you. Step on the lead so that your hands are free and she is not able to run off. Make sure all of your pet’s attention is focused on you by talking to her, calling her name, or holding one of her favorite toys in your hand.

When she is closely watching what you are doing, hold a doggy treat just out of reach of her nose so that she is tilting her head slightly back to look at the treat.

As your dog looks at the treat, say “Sit” in a firm, but kind, tone and move the treat toward her forehead so that she is forced to sit back on her haunches.

If she sits, immediately give your dog the treat and praise her, petting her for good behavior. If she chooses to grab for the treat, move the hand holding the treat behind your back and use your other hand to make her stand quietly in front of you again.

You may need to gently push down on her haunches to show her what to do several times before she understands. 

Repeat placing the treat in front of her nose and saying “Sit” until she accomplishes the task several times in a row. Reward your dog and praise her immediately every time she sits on command.

As you train her to sit, gradually start removing the treat during sessions, using just your hand and voice commands. Eventually, you won’t need the treat at all to make your dog obey.

Don’t make your teaching sessions longer than 20 minutes at a time. Canine behavior experts for the ASPCA state that to train dogs for longer than 20 minutes causes them to lose their attention span and they won’t retain as much information as they do during shorter time periods.

Remember that training your dog or puppy is just like training a human baby. Your pet is going to make mistakes and there are going to be setbacks. Practicing patience, consistency, and kindness while working with your furry companion gives you the best chance for success. 

Announcement: Is Your Dog Overweight?

Are you concerned about your dog's weight? If you suspect that he's getting a bit chubby, there's a good chance you may be right. But what can/should you do about it? Before we answer that, there's a more important question that needs answering…

Is your dog overweight?

Here are 3 easy ways to tell if your dog is chubbier than he ought to be:

  • Standing above your dog, look down and check for a "waist." Dogs at the proper weight will have a visible indentation behind their ribs.
  • Place both hands, palms down, lightly on your dog's ribs. You should be able to easily feel and count the ribs, but they shouldn't be sticking out. If you cannot feel the ribs, chances are your dog is overweight.
  • Overweight dogs also commonly have pouches of fat in the groin area between the hind legs.

Still not sure if he’s overweight? Ask your vet.

What to do if your dog is overweight?

Obesity is probably the most common nutritional disease among adult dogs in Western countries, and excess weight creates a high risk for other medical problems. If your dog has been diagnosed as overweight, implementing the following tips can support healthy, successful weight loss:

  • Cut out all treats and table scraps during the weight loss period.
  • Because the primary reason for obesity in dogs is overeating, you should divide the daily food allowance for dogs into two to four small meals a day. Do not use "free-choice" feeding.
  • Weigh your dog at the same time of day at least once a week. Keep a weight record.
  • Feed your dogs separately, one at a time. A dieting dog may move to the bowl of his housemate to get more food.
  • Feed dogs before you eat and keep them in another room during meals to discourage begging.
  • Restrict your dog's unsupervised outdoor activity so that he may not scavenge for food when outside. Make sure that indoor and outdoor garbage cans have secure covers.
  • Tell your neighbors about your dog's weight loss program, to avoid their feeding him.
  • Always provide plenty of clean, fresh water.
  • Dogs should be taken to see their veterinarian at least once a year. The vet may recommend testing for certain diseases—such as decreased thyroid gland function—that can encourage weight gain and that may make weight loss difficult.
  • Exercise your dog on a regular basis, starting slowly with short activity periods, and gradually increase the exercise time. Begin with walking and, when your pet shows signs of increased fitness, move to games that require running, such as "fetch."

Because weight and overall health are so tightly connected, it is always recommended that you consult with your veterinarian if you suspect your dog is overweight, and for expert guidance in weight management that’s personalized for your dog.

Announcement: Crate Training Tips for New Dogs

Anytime your new dog or puppy is in your house and not in your yard behind an invisible fence system, she needs to be house trained for your family’s sanitation needs. Crate training your pet provides the quickest – and cleanest – way to make that possible.

Make sure and purchase a crate that is large enough for your puppy or dog to stand up, turn around, and sleep in comfortably. Particularly with younger, more active dogs, the ability to move around during crate time keeps their minds alert and developing muscles tuned. Note that a crate that is too large for your dog allows her to eliminate in the kennel away from her bedding and water and contradicts the entire purpose of crate training.

 You will want to line the crate with old newspapers to absorb any “accidents.” Use only the black newsprint – not the slick ad pages – because newsprint absorbs water, while colored print pages do not.

Give your pet a doggy bed or a pile of old blankets or towels to lie on while she’s in the kennel. You might also want to throw in some of her favorite toys to keep her occupied while she’s there.

If she’s only going to be in the crate a short time – maybe an hour or two – you don’t need to leave her any water. A longer stay requires that she have a full water bowl to keep from getting dehydrated. Placing several ice cubes in the bowl so that she can lick them as they melt helps in preventing spills.

Knowing the approximate age of your dog tells you how long you can leave her in the crate. The American Animal Hospital Association states that puppies should only be kenneled for one hour per month of life. That means a 2-month-old dog should only be crated for two hours at a stretch. Adult dogs that have already been house-trained can stay up to 8 hours comfortably, providing they have adequate water.

Take your dog or puppy outside immediately before she goes in the crate and immediately after she gets out. Praise and pet her when she eliminates outside both times. Consistently doing this teaches her not to “potty” in the house, and to wait until she’s outside to “go.” If you allow her to walk around the house after she gets out of the crate, you need to expect accidents.

Remember, accidents will happen regardless of crate training. Don’t spank your pet with a newspaper or “rub her nose in it.” This only serves to make her fearful and possibly aggressive. Being kind and consistent with any training method teaches her good manners and makes her your loving companion for life.

Need a crate?  Click here to visit our online store – we offer several sizes and styles.

Watch It's Me or the Dog Saturdays @ 8pm! | For more, visit animal.discovery.com | Victoria provides tips on how to identify true separation anxiety and how to deal with the problem at hand.

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