How to Get the Most Out of Your Kong!

Kong toys are my favorite! They are one of the few toys that my lovely 6-year-old pit, Tank, hasn’t destroyed and can provide dogs with tons of mental stimulation. They can be stuffed in a thousand different ways and have an almost magical ability to keep my dog busy for hours! They can be given to dogs in a crate in a multiple dog home and offer the added benefit of making the crate a HAPPY! place. They can be given right next to your work desk to keep your furry child from saying “Mom! Mom! Mom!” all day long while you try to write a blog post (…or binge watch that TV show).

First, let’s find the right toy for your dog. Kong makes a number of different stuffable food toys. I personally have had the most luck with snow-man shaped Kong Extreme. These toys are designed for epic chewers and have stood the test of time in my house. The company recommends a size from small to XXL based on a dog’s weight. I suggest going up at least one size for extra, anti-chew security. We actually have gone up 2 sizes (to the XXL Kong Extreme) in my house with great success.

Continue reading

Let’s Play: Find it!

Find it! is Tank’s favorite game in the.entire.world. It turns out that it is a great training exercise as well! In find it, dog’s use their nose to locate a hidden toy or treat. It’s an excellent way to begin nosework and can build confidence in dogs!  This is another great idea for a game to play with kids and dogs. Here’s how to start:

Step 1: Which hand? Find it
Start with a treat in one fist, but not the other. Offer both fists to your dog and say “Find it”.When he nudges the fist with the treat, reward him with another treat! Try practicing by switching hands. When your dog catches on, you’re ready to play the next part of this game.
Step 2: Basic Find it
With your dog nearby, “hide” a treat in plain sight. Say “Find it!” If your dog runs to you, show him your open hands. If you spent enough time on the first step, your dog should start looking for the treat right away! If not, go ahead and practice the first step again. Once you are confident that your dog understands the cue “find it”, you can start to make the game more challenging. Try hiding a treat or toy in a single room. Let your dog watch you “hide” the item at first. Always try to set your dog up for success. If they are struggling to find the item after looking, help point them in the right direction!
Continue reading

Kids & Dogs: Keep It Safe! – Part 2

In my previous post, Kids & Dogs: Keep It Safe! – Part 1, I discussed a number of things kids (and adults!) should never do for the happiness and safety of our entire families. It’s time to take a positive spin and discuss fun activities that give kids an opportunity to safely play with pets.
Training!
Kids constantly astound me with their brilliance, patience, and almost natural knack for dog training. I’ve seen it develop confidence in even the shyest of children. With adult supervision, kids can help teach their best friend basic obedience cues and even tricks! “Sit” is a great place to start, especially if your dog already knows how to sit.
If your dog doesn’t know sit:
First, demonstrate these steps for your child. Children often learn best by doing!
1) Put a treat in your right hand. Let your dog smell your hand.
2) Slowly move your hand upwards so that your dog’s head follows. As your dog’s head goes up, his bottom will go down!
3) Do not worry about saying “sit”. After your dog reliably responds to this hand signal, you can add the word “sit” but remember – only say “sit” once.
Tips to remember:
  •  Make sure treats are held in closed fists held against the body to prevent treat snatching and remind children to give treats with flat, open hands.
  • Show children that they need to practice with slow movements.
  • Be patient with your child and dog and offer both lots of praise!

Kids and dogs know that training is really a game! Children in particular are amazed at their new found skills! Try other basic cues such as down or paw next!

Come
Kids can do an awesome job teaching dogs to come when called as long as they remember one rule: Never chase your dog. Have your child call your dog while running the opposite direction for a few feet. Your dog will undoubtedly follow! Have your children deliver a treat (with a flat, open hand) as soon as the dog comes to them! Later, this can even be used to help teach your dog to fetch!
 
Hide and Seek
In this game, your child is the “hider” and your dog is the “seeker”. Instruct your child to find a hiding place. After a few seconds, let your child call the dog. They will giggle with delight when the dog finds them!
 
Find it
Find it is Tank’s favorite game. We play by hiding a treat or toy and then telling Tank to “Find it!”. I start by telling him to “stay” for this but you could easily keep your dog busy while the child hides the item. After your child has hidden the item, tell your dog “Find it” and off he will run in search of good things! If you need more help playing find it, check out my post here.

Kids & Dogs: Keep It Safe! – Part 1

It’s 1987. My parents (who don’t even like dogs) let me “play doggie” and share a drink with this big ol’ dog! They tell me it happened so fast yet someone had the time to get out a camera… Fishy… Cute photo? Sure looks cute. You can’t help but assume it’s where I started my career as a dog trainer. Except…

Except it wasn’t and dangerous isn’t cute. Our job as parents is to keep those we love safe. Once you learn the rules and how to tell if your dog is stressed, you can do everything in your power to prevent dog bites!
The first in my list of rules for child & dog safety starts here. It will be easy for you to implement and follow these new rules once you learn a few tips.

Continue reading

Finding the Right Dog Trainer

Choosing a dog trainer can seem like a daunting task! What’s with the alphabet soup after my name? How do I know which trainer is the right fit for me?

I’ve been there guys. I’ve been delighted to have met some wonderful trainers along the way. I’ve also been taken for a ride, with well known trainers, that definitely set back my dog’s progress. If I could do it all over again, here’s exactly what I’d do!

Continue reading