Dogs & Car Rides

I’ve been thinking about one of our dog’s favorite pasttimes quite a bit lately. The warmer weather is here and our dog’s heads are hanging out the window, no doubt capturing each and every scent. The problem is there’s nothing safe about this scenario. You would never let your child run free in the back seat (or gasp! the front seat).front seat dog

Your dog poses an amazing distraction to you as a driver. I hear time after time how Poochie has to sit up front. Don’t forget how dangerous the air bag is! If you are in a wreck and the air bags deploy with such force, you are risking your dogs life!

While it’s not the perfect way to transport your dog, a car approved harness that was scientifically tested by the Center for Pet Safety can be one option. It helps strap your pup in the backseat safely. No air bags, no roaming, no distraction. Studies have shown that these offer less than ideal safety but they are always improving. Seat belts work by attaching a car approved harness to the seatbelt. It is probably the best option for larger dogs who can’t be crated in a vehicle.

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The hands down best option is to be crated safely in the back. According to the Center for Pet Safety,  prices range from $150 to $1000. Wire crates will be damaged in an accident. Do not use them. Visit Check out Gunner Kennels to save your dogs life.

And for the record, NEVER, and I mean NEVER, let them ride in the back of the truck bed.

Visit the Center for Pet Safety’s website to find a safe product.

Happy driving!

Let’s Play: Interactive Toys

My dog destroys every toy he can get his paws on… well, just about. There are a few toys that have stood the test of time in our pitbull lovin’ home and many are interactive toys that can provide hours of self entertainment for any breed.

First on the list is The Buster Cube!
This glorious cube shaped toy has not only lasted years in my home, it’s also been a great resource for keeping my dog busy. Fill with dry food or your favorite treats and watch as your dog gleefully rolls the toy around to make the goodies inside slowly fall out. You can purchase one for around $15 from here! Do note that these toys come in two sizes – mini and large. If you’re in doubt about what size is appropriate, get the larger toy.

Next up is the Kong. As I described in my blog post, this Kong toy is big chewer approved. Check out my post for some fun and creative ways to fill this toy for tons of entertainment. Easy ideas include a swipe of peanut butter or cream cheese but can include just about anything that is dog safe. These keep my Tank busy for a looong time! You can purchase from Amazon here.

Raw marrow bones can be another great choice. They are an excellent way to keep teeth clean and can be a safe way to chew away boredom. Watch your dog carefully the first few times to make sure your dog isn’t taking chunks of bone off. Chewing can also help relieve stress in dogs. Do be sure to give in a crate or on another easily sanitized surface. I have found these available for purchase at speciality the butcher pet boutiques, pet stores, and even my grocery store.

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Home made toys can be another fun option! Check out some of these great ideas from BarkPost. Home made toys tend to be less durable but are fun and inexpensive to make. Picured at left is an easy to make treat dispenser from a few pieces of PVC found at a local hardware. Get out your drill and voila!


Take a moment to comment and tell us what are your dog’s favorite toys!

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.

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Let’s Play: Find it!

Find it! is Tank’s favorite game in 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!
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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.
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!

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.

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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!

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