When Should I Start Training My Dog?

The second you meet your dog!

Dogs learn on their own every second from every association and every consequence. Whether you like it or not, you’re training your dog from the get go!

You should begin training your puppy the moment you bring him home because he is learning anyway. Use positive reinforcement to teach your puppy to come when called and sit politely for petting. Immediately begin training an automatic sit, lots of eye contact, and response to name. You can begin to train anything right away. Do not wait!

Socialization goes hand in hand with dog training. Do note that socialization does not simply include meeting dogs or a visit to the PetStore. It’s about teaching your dog what’s expected him in certain situations like waiting politely when guests arrive.

Socialization also means very carefully evaluating if you puppy is afraid of something and addressing it with a Certified Trainer. This key socialization period is about 8 to 14 weeks. You can see why its important to get that first set of shots as early as possible!

Please view this link to Dr. Sophia Yin’s excellent socialization checklist!  It’s an oppurtunity to explore the things that you not realize you needed to socialize. Remember that phobias and fears frequently escalate. Don’t hesitate to call me to address the issue.

But what happens when your vet says that your puppy needs all 3 rounds of shots and rabies before leaving the house? Just in case, print out the linked articles for your vet. Ultimately make being an advocate for your dog is the most important part!

The real problem is your veterinarian may not be aware of the guidelines from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB). The AVSAB “encourages veterinarians to recommend puppies be socialized before the vaccine series is complete.”

This is serious business. While veterinarians are appropriately concerned about infectious disease in young puppies, the fact is that behavioral issues—not infectious diseases—are the number one cause of death for dogs under 3 years of age, according to the AVSAB

Then, keep training some more. Your dog continues to learn as he grows up, and you’ll want to keep his skills fresh and his manners polite. Continue to reinforce behaviors you like with attention, pets, playtime, and occasionally treats.

What I Wish I Knew Before Bringing Home a Dog

I don’t want you to have to learn the hardway. That’s why I’m giving away some of the best advice a trainer can give… for free.

(Let’s get this out of the way.)

1. Hire only a Certified Professional.

Don’t give a trainer a penny until you read this.

  • If a trainer does not does not have enough experience and education to earn this certification, it may mean they are not the right choice for you.
  • Check reviews online. If you are looking into a place with more than one trainer, know their reviews are not necessarily trainer specific.
  • Ask for references, discuss professional memberships (and required ethics agreements), and validate credentials.
  • Grill the trainer on their training philosophy. If they use forceful methods such as prong collars, you need to know right away. If they’re vague, move on.
  • Expect the trainer to be insured, a formal contract, and the ability to pay with out cash. If someone asks you to pay cash only, it is a red flag that they do not own a legitimate business.

2. Find the dog that fits your family. 

  • Is the dog social or aloof with people or dogs? Is the dog easily excitable or relatively relaxed?
  • What job was the dog born to do? Dogs that were bred to herd… will herd.
  • Learn about the grooming, training, and veterinary care your dog will need ahead of time!
  • Don’t expect to totally rehaul your lifestyle to fit a dog’s. Try to find a dog that will fit in with your family.

Don’t pick a breed due to its popularity.


This doodle is incredibly high energy and social. Plan to dedicate yourself to training if you bring home one of these cuties!

3. Be prepared to socialize. For life.

  • Begin as soon as your dog receives his first set of vaccines. Don’t wait one second!
  • Socialization is not just exposing your dog to new things. It’s teaching the rules of life, and making new experiences positive.
  • If you kept teaching, you’ll have a better life with your dog!

4. Use a Crate

  • No use it, seriously.
  • Teach your dog to love the crate by practicing teaching him to love and relax in the crate.
  • Use it to prevent unwanted behaviors when you’re not able to supervise.
  • This is the easiest thing to tell your dog “what to do” if a break is needed.

5. Supervise, constantly!pencildog.jpg

Treat your dog like he’s got a crayon and a freshly cleaned wall.

  • Listen, your adult dog is as intellectually developed as a toddler. Treat them like it.
  • Use the crate (or a tethered leash) when you can’t fully supervise.
  • Supervise in the backyard as well!

6. Exercise

  • Dogs need 30-60 minutes a day varying by age, general activity level, size, and breed.
  • Your dog will not exercise by himself in the backyard. If you think this counts, you’re in trouble.

7. Learn to read dog body language.

  • Be prepared to rescue your dog from a situation if your dog displays excessive fear or inappropriate behavior.
  • If you are seeing stress, anxiety, or fear, reach out for help as soon as possible.
  • Learn this information to keep your dog happy in any situation!


8. Don’t expect your kids to do all of the work.

  • Dogs require extensive supervision, socialization, exercise, and training which is difficult for children and teens.
  • Dog training is a family affair. Expect for everyone in the family to be involved! If you aren’t involved too, it will not end well.

9. Create rules for your house and consistently follow them. Here’s a handful of mine.


Tank still hogs the couch.

  • Rule #1 Privileges must be earned.
  • Rule #2 Say Please when you want attention, toys, play, food, anything really.
  • Rule #3 If you don’t ask politely, too bad. Out of luck, kid.

11. Begin teaching loose leash walking immediately.

  • Look into alternative exercise while teaching your dog to walk on a loose leash.
  • Always use a regular leash (not a retractable) with buckle collar with tags (or harness) unless in a safely contained area. No exceptions.

12. Do Happy Visits at the Vet and Groomer

  • Go to the veterinarian and groomer to happily socialize your dog.
  • Desensitize your dog to handling including frequent nail trims and nail grinders.
  • Seek out  a FEAR FREE certified veterinarians and staff such as St. John Animal Clinic


  • If you haven’t trained a puppy before, or its been a few years, it may be time to learn current training methods.
  • Do not rely on Google searches or unprofessional YouTube videos.
  • Ask a professional trainer or veterinarian. We are all here to help.


I’ve learned from my mistakes. Doing so has given me the opportunity to expand my relationship with my dog, Tank. May you seize the opportunity to grow with your dog. Here’s to a better life with our canine partners!

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. Consider buying the black “Extreme Kong” for greater durability.

Continue reading

Easy Tricks to Stop the Jumping!

Teach your dog to never jump again!

“Anytime, anyone is struggling with a dog behavior problem, I ask them one simple question. “Well, what do you want your dog to do instead?” I get a lot of surprised looks! Most of us haven’t actually thought about it that way!”

Andrea Kutzko, CPDT-KA
Waiting for his friends to arrive,

So, let’s teach our dogs to sit instead of jump. They can not simultaneously sit and jump. We’ll use tons of reinforcement to make your dog WANT to sit. He’ll think it’s his idea with a little practice. (If you’re stuck, remember I offer lessons in your own home!)

A note before you start:

  • Your job is to prevent jumping because jumping is FUN and usully, rewarding.
  • Do not reward bad behavior!
  • If your dog makes the wrong choice, break eye contact and walk away.
  • If that’s impossible, I’d personally keep my dog in the other room, relaxing in his crate. More practice is needed.
  • Dogs learn involuntarily every second so make it count.

Teach Your Dog to Sit (or Lay Down)

First, teach your dog to sit and look at you anytime he wants something. You could also ask your dog to down and look at you. This is called “Saying Please”. Not only is this crucial for manners, but it teaches your dog that he should sit… pretty much anytime he’s not doing something else. Be sure to practice inside, outside, and any time there is activity around.

Have your dog sit:

  • Before exiting the crate
  • Before going outside to potty
  • Before meeting people or dogs
  • Before going through the back gate
  • Before exiting a car door
  • Before receiving a meal
  • Before receiving petting or attention
  • Before receiving a treat
  • Before playing a game

Following these rules consistently gives you the opportunity to remind your dog over and over that he should be sitting. Going outside to potty or playing a game are a reward in themselves.

Then, set yourself (and your dog) up for success.

  • Exercise your dog before guests arrive.
  • Have your dog leashed so he can not reach your guest to jump. (EVERY single time he jumps, he thinks he is rewarded. If something gets a reward, your dog will do it again! Prevent it entirely.)
  • Have small training rewards handy. I recommend Lil’ Bitz Hickory Smoked Beef Training Treats (4 oz) for their value and size. You will want to focus on rewarding your dog for making the choice to sit with you.
  • Begin training with familiar guests that may be less exciting.
  • Consider giving your dog a special chew or bone to take his attention off your guest as they arrive. My favorite is a stuffed Kong Extreme Dog Toy.

Let’s set up some rules for your guests.

  1. Have guests text you before they exit the car.
  2. Instruct guests not to knock or ring on the door.
  3. When guests enter, have them 100% ignore your dog.

If you have guests who can’t follow these rules, don’t put your dog in this situation.

Now, your guests are at the door.

After your guests are settled, bring your dog into the room on a leash.

  • On leash, have your dog play with a food puzzle or stuffed Kong.
  • Have your dog sit and stay with you until relaxed.
  • When relaxed, allow him to politely sit for your guest.

Now, if your dog relaxes, work with him to sit politely to greet your guest

“But my dog was horrible…”

If your dog never relaxed, it means he needs more practice sitting with distractions.

Still have questions or need more help? Remember I offer in home services to train this! Just reach out to me in the Messenger box below, or call or text (219) 973-7538.

Dollar Tree for Dogs – The Good, The Meh, and The Never

Let’s get right down to business. You can find tons of great deals at the Dollar Tree – the one where everthing costs $1. You can get swindled, too.

The Good


Practically disposable rope & toys – $1 Image result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny star

These things get trashed fast, even under the best of supervision. At $1, I give them away, and you can stock up for life.

Metal food bowl – $1 Image result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny star

You actually can’t clean all the boogies out of a ceramic or platic bowl. Their surfaces are rough under a microscope and hold gross stuff. Metal is smooth under a microscope and cleans easily.


Treat Container – $1 Image result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny star Lid that screws closed. I’ve thrown it in the dishwasher.

“Cat” toy – $1 Image result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny star Secretly created for dogs, these are a must have to keep your dog busy, exercised, and trained.  Teach your dog to sit, wait, chase toy, get toy, and drop toy. Then you can play again!!!

Tug toys – $1 Image result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny star


Again, totally priced to be abused.

You can go through one of these every week and still not break the bank.

Loose Leash Walking Training Tool – $1 Image result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny star





I’m not giving out all the goodies on this one. But trust me, its neat.












Flea Bath (blue Dawn dish soap) – $1

Image result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny star

This is the fastest way to get fleas OFF your pets!









Antibacterial Wipes – $1 Image result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny star 

These things come in handy for grimy, training treat hands.


“Place” mat – $1 Image result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny starImage result for tiny star



Teach your small dog or puppy to go to “place” to stay out of mischief. (One of the most important things you can teach your dog!)





Ok, this is where things start to fall apart.

The MEH.

Best photo frame ever – $1 Image result for tiny starImage result for tiny star


So, this one is a mixed bag. I initially intended to glue magnets to the back of this. Except, it’s actually not flat, and you can’t hang against a flatwall. But its cute.





Nail Clippers – $1 Image result for tiny star


These are only good for small dogs. They are pretty cheap and can’t withstand tons of pressure. The black piece that holds the cutters open also broke off, immediatly. Never to be closed again. It worked fine with my cat, Bobbi.







The Never… Run. Hide. Scream. No stars.

The Wall of Nightmares  (Food?) – $1

These consumables from the Dollar Tree are terrifying. They’re out of date, from China, made with unnamed meats and digest, and other things known to the state of California…


Poop bags – $1



Skip it. You try to open the roll and the bags just start shredding. Plastic is incredibly, incredibly thin. Just pay the money for these!







Scary, smoked, and out of date “bones” – $1

Do not buy these. From anywhere. These “smoked bones” split and crack and can be accidentally ingested resulting in very expensive, dangerous surgery. They’re also made in China.



So now you know, get some cheapie toys and metal bowls and your life is set. Just buy or make your own foods or treats from highly reputable pet stores.

Surviving Rain & Fireworks

It’s that time of year. Rain. Pouring rain. Oh then a little sunshine—boom!— the fireworks have started. Now is not to late to start preparing your dog for noisy holidays and seasonal storms. If you’ve found your dog hiding in the bath tub, these are not polite suggestions but rather requirements for a healthier dog. Call me for help. Hiding dog

Many practical suggestions for thunderstorm fears also apply to other noise phobias. Today we’ll discuss management, easy ways to prevent stress, and what may help in the moment. This blog is practical advice. Please seek professional consultation if your dog hurts himself or damages property.

Let’s begin by offering the best piece of advice anyone can give – for FREE – right now: exercise your dog more. You heard it here first folks! Exercise before scary events helps dogs relax in advance and can even increase feel good brain chemicals that last beyond the time of exercise. Exercising regularly increases these benefits.

But after you’ve exercised your dog’s body, it’s time to enrich his mind. Mentally stimulating games and toys give you the opportunity to wear out your dog’s brain. What activities make your dog think? Try using puzzle enrichment toys to keep him busy during stress and further tire him out. And of course, teach him new things! Nothing helps dogs relax more than a tired body and mind. Training itself can be a huge boon to dealing with stress but learning new ways to communicate reduces our dogs anxiety while building confidence. All of these are management techniques.

If you have added exercise, mental and physical, and it wasn’t enough, take a step back and make sure you really gave your dog enough exercise. Seriously. Most dogs, like their humans, don’t get enough exercise.

Next, we can evaluate a few over the counter products that can work to relieve anxiety including sound phobia. A personal favorite is the Thundershirt wrap which acts like a hug for your dog. It’s a fabric shirt that has Velcro for easy fitting. It can make such a difference! It’s also worth trying a tight t-shirt in its stead. Note: Be careful to have your dog wear the Thundershirt during calm times as well as stressful.

July Third by Herbsmith

I am am a tremendous fan of July Third which is an over the counter calming chew made by Herbsmith. It’s aptly named – start using the product regularly for chronic anxiety or the day before for specific phobias.

I have used July Third with my own dog on a number of occasions such as extended absences, trips to the vet, storms and fireworks, and when our routine is out of whack. I was sold on this product when we used it during a 6 week long remodel at my house. I’ve been recommending to clients since. Do note that results vary and it’s always a good idea to ask your vet before adding this to your dog’s diet. This one is easy to find on Amazon.

Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAP)

There are a number with pheromones that mimic those given off by mother dogs. I have mixed reviews personally but I have had a number of clients benefit. For best results, use a plug in pheromone as well as a spray product on a collar or Thundershirt type product. Pheromone collars are also available but as this is a chemical product the collar can irritate the skin of some dogs.

Through a Dog’s Ear

This is an easy one. Consider leaving calming music on during stressful times to reduce stress. Be careful not to only play music during stressful times or the music may begin to predict stress. Many people simply leave the radio on and that’s a great choice. Kick it up a notch and play calming music for dogs. Try playing Through A Dog’s Ear any time you want your dog to relax. Available on Amazon. We play this CD during every class at Laurie Tuttle Dog Training.

Veterinary Intervention

Ultimately, I am a huge fan of veterinary intervention. Veterinarians can rule out under-lying causes for behavior such as pain and can identify if medication should be used for fearful behaviors. A veterinarian may suggest prescribing something for your dog. If your vet is not familiar with behavior treatment, he can schedule a phone consult with a veterinary behaviorist. You can refer him to the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists at dacvb.org to consult on your case. Sometimes these consults are free. Remember that a treatment plan including medications may require additional follow up and will absolutely require a Behavioral Consultant or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer as well as a commitment to to following through.

An Important Note: Sometimes vets prescribe acepromazine (or “Ace”) for noise phobia. Acepromazine is like a “chemical straight jacket” as it paralyzes your dog so he doesn’t act out inappropriate behavior. Your dog is still conscious during this process. It increases fear levels because our dogs are consciously afraid but unable to retreat to safety. This drug has a sedative effect where many other medication choices do not.

The key is to find out what works for you and your dog. Adding exercise and mental stimulation is great for every dog. Adding over the counter products may help, too. Ultimately if you don’t see improvement quickly, it is the time to find a qualified vet who knows behavior and will work directly with the Certified Professional Dog Trainer (like me) or Certified Canine Behavioral Consultant. Please message me for vet suggestions.

There’s help! Just remember it takes time and effort!

The Pet Parlor

Hi guys! As some of you know, I started pet sitting for Pat Thompson at the Pet Parlor. It’s an amazing job! I drive to houses to care for furry kids big and small. We always potty, always play, always snuggle, and always photograph. It’s a great alternative to leaving your pet alone all day! Plus, you’ll rest safe knowing your pets are in our experienced hands while you go on vacation or just a night out.

A4D9542D-049E-4EAD-BD6A-43F15A0EFE83Contact Pat at The Pet Parlor at 219-588-3628 or visit online at www.petparlorpro.com!

Riding in the Car

I’ve been thinking about one of our dog’s favorite past times quite a bit lately. The warmer weather is here and our dog’s heads are hanging out the car 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).

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 bags are! If you are in a wreck and the air bags deploy with such force, you are risking your dog’s 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 the best option for larger dogs who can’t be crated in the car.

Dog Safety & Summer Holidays

Summers here and its all about safety and holidays! Get the lawn chair and the kiddie pool for your pup. It’s easy to get caught up in the picnics and festivities, we sometimes miss signs the of stress and the general safety of our dogs.

First, let’s talk signs of distress that may occur during the holidays, storms or fireworks, in a situation with too many kids and adults and even other dogs. Be sure to read the BEET. BEET stands for body, eyes, ears, and tail. It over simplifies canine body language but B gives you a starting point. Look for stiffness in the body or cowering and look at E for eyes, partially white eyes. Then look at E for ears. If they are tucked, your pup may be under stress. Finally the T in tail. A tail waving to high may mean trouble. Just like a tail too low. We want tail about neutral height and preferably wiggly summer time tail! Learn more about canine body language thanks to Victoria Stilwell.

1. Do NOT EVER leave your pet in the car. No, leaving the windows open does not work. Keep them at home or with lots of water and shade WITH YOU!

2. Leash your dog with ID tag at all times. More dogs are lost during holidays than any other time of the year.salty dog kisses

3. Cooked bones are dangerous for dogs. They are usually thin enough to cause choking in and of itself but all cooked bones will splinter.

4. Avoid leftovers. Tons of harmful chemicals lurk in those hot dogs and other processed foods. Not to mention the condiments we slather our food with. Think about the sodium, sugar, and uber fat load. Just skip it.

5. Finally, train them for all summer events. Teach them to not jump on guests, not to beg for scraps at summer barbecues, and even to go to a kennel on cue in the event you or your pup needs break. If you are seeing any of these issues, call me at (219) 973-7538.

Happy Summer!

Why is my pup eating grass?

Its true. Our pups tend to eat that early summer grass. This could be caused by a number of medical conditions from upset stomach, low quality food, or intestional parasites so you should seek out a vet’s advice just in case. A student of mine just contacted me to ask how to get her dog to stop eating grass so let’s help everyone with this frustrating problem!

First off, the simplest answer is usually the best answer. So here goes – your dog probably just likes to eat grass. Which of course changes nothing so we then ask the same question as any problem. If you don’t like what your dog is doing, teach them something to do instead. So of course there are a ton of options but I have a couple of favorites!

Dog eating grass

One is to teach a solid “leave it”. “Leave it” means to “stop what you’re doing and look at me”. It’s a fabulous safety cue but it also allows you to give your dog another cue just in time to stay out of mischief (i.e. “leave it” followed by “sit”). The best way to learn this is in a class setting where a Certified Professional Dog Trainer can coach you through the process.

The other is to take your dog out on a leash and work on loose leash walking skills. You absolutely need a trainer to learn this one but if I had to summarize loose leash walking would be to teach your dog to be at your side offering lots of eye contact. Dogs who know how to walk on a leash will offer plenty of eye contact – so much so they’ll ignore that silly grass.

For more information, check ask about home lessons or our upcoming classes here!

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.

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 6.54.25 PM

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!

One Simple Way to Immediately Improve Your Dog’s Behavior

This is a dog trainer’s best kept secret. Well, the dog is out of the crate now!

Is your dog high energy? What about over excitable with no impulse control? Anxious, shy, aggressive or out of control?

This will help you improve jumping, nipping, stealing food, pulling on a leash, counter surfing, zooming around, stealing food or other objects like shoes, separation anxiety, even aggression and reactivity.

This is as close to a “quick fix” you’ll ever find!

Just be honest with yourself. How much exercise and mental stimulation is your pup actually getting? Are you struggling to keep up?

Let’s fix that immediately to restore peace at home.

Making sure you’re meeting exercise needs (in a way that works with your life) can be as simple as trying these easy ideas!

Keep a log book of how many minutes of exercise, cardio, training, or socializing with a friendly dogs, and even trips out. Then, rate your dogs behavior after every session. It will get better!

Find out just how much exercise you need to provide enough every.single.day.

Dog exercise needs

The Toys That Exercise Your Dog’s Mind and Body – With No Effort From you

Best toy ever. You want one of these. Burn off energy with practically no effort from you. Best reward for training!

Outward Hound Tail Teaser Dog Flirt Pole Toy, Play Wand

You want one of these. It’s called a Flirt Pole and goes for about $14 on Amazon. It is the BEST training and exercise tool out there.

Follow this link to watch a flirt pole in action.

Kruuse Buster Food Cube Feeder, Purple

Put treats or dry dog food in toys. This is one of the best and super durable. I’ve had mine for at least 8 years and it’s still in great shape! Use this to feed meals to prevent eating too fast!





KONG – Extreme Dog Toy – Toughest Natural Rubber, Black – Fun to Chew, Chase and Fetch – For Large Dogs


Start by putting some peanut butter around the room and freeze. Do this until your dog loves this toy! Then check out 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!

Hyper Pet Boredom Buster Slomo – LickMat, Slow Feeder Mat & Anxiety Relief (Perfect for Dog Food, Dog Treats, Cat Food, Cat Treats)[Fun Alternative to Slow Feed Dog Bowl & Snuffle Mat]

The new and improved “Lick Mat”! Soothe your dog and occupy him at the same time. Great with peanut butter, pumpkin, or wet dog food and frozen.



Yoyipet [Second Generation] The Foobler Timed, Self Reloading Puzzle Feeder Ball for Dog Training and Play-4 inches Blue and Orange

This can keep your dog entertained and on his toes for hours. Set the timer to open the door every 15, 30, or 90 minutes. Dings when the food is available. You’ll love watching your dog chase this!




Game Ideas

  • Have your dog search for food! Hide small bowls around your house each containing some of your dog’s dry food or dump it in the grass to search harder!
  • Play Find it! Here’s a few games to get started by checking out this link at my blog. Easy and entertaining!
  • Use your dog’s meal time for short training sessions with dry food as the reward.
  • Take enrichment walks by hiding food along your path – and do some training at the same time.
  • Teach your dog to heel politely with you so you walks can be a workout and fun!

Go Homemade

Image result for pvc dog toy

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!

P.S. Join the “Canine Enrichment” group on Facebook.

One last tip for busy families:

Consider hiring a pet sitter to exercise and play with your dog during the day.

Thanks for reading! Never hesitate to ask questions via comment, phone, text or email.

Andrea Kutzko Dog Training


(219) 973-7538


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!
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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 1986.  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 for YOU

Screen Shot 2019-12-11 at 8.14.31 AMChoosing 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? How will they treat my dog? Just a few of the questions to ask before hiring a professional dog training. Read on to learn what other questions to ask!

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!

I’d start with some alphabet soup. You’ll notice I list CPDT-KA after my name. That means I have been awarded the Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed ccpdt-logo-stacked-web-lgcertificate by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Choosing an independently certified trainer like myself means you are choosing a trainer who was evaluated by an independent body – not a school that may profit from “certifying” students. Finding a certified trainer is easy!

Visit CCPDT.ORG to find a certified trainer near you!

The next part can be a little trickier. Ask a lot of questions and use your gut. Here’s the first 3 questions you should ask a trainer. I’ll post my answers below for comparison.

1) What happens when my dog gets it right?

A positive reinforcement, science based trainer like me will reinforce good behavior. That may mean handing out yummy treats, playing with a favorite tug toy, or praise and petting. I have a number of positive reinforcers in my toolbox! I focus on teaching our dogs behaviors we want them to do (using positive reinforcement) so they learn manners. 

2) What happens when my dog gets it wrong?

Absolutely nothing! When our dogs make mistakes, it likely means we made a mistake. Next time around, we may work harder to set our dogs up for success by reducing distractions in the environment or using better reinforcers like yummier treats! Try exercising your dog before training sessions to prevent bad behavior!Again, my toolbox is full of ways to help your dog get it right the first time around!
A note: Some trainers may respond to this question by suggesting the use of punishment. If so, run for the hills. There is no need for punishment if you set your dog up for success.

3) Is there a less aversive method?

This would be a question to ask if you were speaking with a trainer that uses force and punishment to train. If a trainer uses these techniques, there is always a less aversive way! Be extra cautious if the trainer uses words like “alpha” or “dominant” in their answers. These theories were debunked many years ago and may be a sign that they are not up to date.

Check Online Reviews like Google

google reviews

By taking the time to read reviews from different trainers, you have the opportunity to get to know a trainer before even talking with them. Be sure to read both the positive and negative reviews. Sometimes the positive reviews are so vague that they aren’t helpful. Sometimes the negative reviews aren’t bad at all, sometimes they are truly terrible. Know that business owners simply can not edit, delete, or change comments in any way. All a business owner can do is reply. Look for a trainer that replies to comments and communicates well. 

You can view my reviews on Google by visiting Andrea Kutzko Dog Training on Google.

Grill the Trainer

Keep asking questions! Here’s a few examples, with my quick responses.

Be sure you ask about the following:

Certification: I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). I have been certified by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. I have been certified since 2015.

Experience: I worked with a number of professional trainers prior to opening Andrea Kutzko Dog Training. In 2014, I began training professionally. I have earned

Ask about pricing!


  • Single Hour Session ($75): One hour of time tailored to your dog’s training needs and goals in your home. Includes 15 minute pre-session phone consultation and follow up e-mail with instructions, additional resources, and email support.
  • Package of Four Single Hour Sessions ($250):  Purchase this package and save $50! Stay committed with private one hour lessons in your home. Families can learn so much in 4 lessons! It’s what I highly recommend. With that said, there’s never any pressure to buy a package and you can start a package whenever works best for your life! Includes a 15 minute pre-session phone consultation, follow up e-mail with further instructions, additional resources, and email support.

Don’t expect a trainer to spend more than 10 minutes or so on the phone before scheduling your appointment. Take that time to ask as many questions as you can!

So you’ve done a little research and think you’ve found a great trainer.Wonderful! The trainer answered all the questions right. Does that mean that you’ve found “the one”? Hopefully so!  There’s still a few more things you should discuss. First, does the trainer 11060469-give-me-fiveoffer a guarantee? That’s a big no-no. There are too many variables to offer guarantees in dog training!  Consider if the trainer was patient and thorough when answering your questions. Make sure that they have availability that works with your schedule. You need to feel comfortable with this person and I would leave that last detail up to your gut!

Leave a comment! Tell us how this article helped you find the right dog trainer for you and your family!