Dog Training

The Silent Session

We’ve all tried to train our dogs. We reward them with “good girl!” and “good boy!,” a click (if you’ve done clicker training), or maybe even a play session for a job well done. Have you ever dropped all the sound clues and thought about connecting with your dog via body language? Well, a silent training session will do just that.

Action really can speak louder than words, especially when the listener is your dog.

For dogs, the majority of their communication is through body language. As long as you can convey what you mean without speaking, they’ll have no trouble at all keeping up. The hard part is getting convinced you can do it.

During a recent canine good citizen class with my youngest dog, the instructor decided we should try out a “silent session” and see what happened. I was nervous--my three-year-old dog is commonly mistaken as a puppy--she whines, she gets overexcited easily, and she is constantly vibrating with excess energy. I was sure I couldn’t get her to respond. Armed with a handful of hot dog treats, off we went. Once she realized the only way she’d get the treat was to follow my commands, which I wasn’t about to speak aloud to help her, she was in the zone. She didn’t look away from my eyes once. She executed her sits, downs, stays, and comes flawlessly--as if she always “listened” that well. I, on the other hand, was utterly shocked. She had never followed instruction that well--she knows her sits and downs, but the second a better offer comes along (like a bird flying overhead), all her concentration was lost. Not so this time. And to add to the challenge, our first silent session was in the unfamiliar backyard of a veterinary office, surrounded by other dogs and their handlers.

So, really, if we can do it, you can do it. I promise.

Try running through the command your dog knows without saying a single word. If your dog is treat motivated, stick with using treats. If he’s play motivated, continue to reward with playtime--the silent session doesn’t mean no rewards! You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised to see that your dog knows exactly what you’re “talking about.”

If he’s having trouble with it, back up a few steps and start to teach a “look” command--this will reinforce that looking at you is always good. Draw a treat from your dog’s nose to your eye. The second your dog looks at your eye, say “look” and reward! Continue practicing a few minutes at a time. Eventually make the game more challenging by holding a treat out to the side, behind your back, with no food reward at all--but continue to reward for a job well done! Eventually, your dog will glance at you without prompting, if you catch it, say “look” and reward again!

Once you’re back to a silent session, use your body language to communicate. Hand signals that you once used with verbal cues are still fair game, go ahead a gesture for something simple like sit. Continue to run through commands your dog knows. He’ll be watching you by now, completely focused since it’s only up to him to pay attention--he can’t rely on your voice to reel him back in from a distraction.

Watch your body language--are your feet together, do you lean toward your dog, tilt your head, or smile while working with your dog? Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. Does your dog focus more on your when you “feel” like you know what you’re doing? We all know what this feels like--standing up tall, shoulders squared, and you feel in control of the situation. What you’re feeling while subconsciously display in your body Dogs are old pros at reading each other’s--and human’s--body language. Stay aware of how you’re using it.  

By Rachel Leisemann Immel

Many people with larger dogs get walked daily by their pooches. Those who don't know the secrets to happy dog walking. Their dogs are the delight of pet sitters because of their great manners.

Ideally, start off on the right paw with proper dog training so your dog strives to please you in all things and listens when you say "no" to any unwanted behavior. Training the dog to sit, stay, come and drop objects (and more!) should be part of every dog's basic upbringing. Professional dog training may help you if you're not sure how to train a dog.

If you can't run with your dog, give your dog some running time by playing fetch in your yard before a walk. That helps release some of his pent-up energy. It may also help to enlist a dog sitter to stop by and play with your dog so he won't sleep all day while you're at work.

As for walking your dog, don't use a long, retractable leash. They give rambunctious dogs too much lead. Instead, use a shorter one that keeps your dog by your side. Select a collar that fits right.

Very stubborn, hard-to-train dogs may benefit from using a leash attached to a training collar. It exerts pressure when the dog attempts to flee, but releases the pressure when he's by your side. The collar should not be so big as to easily fall off. When put on properly, the collar should attach to the leash on the top of the neck.

Only use a training collar for dog training if he does not respond to positive reinforcement and verbal commands while walking. Some dogs possess a very high prey drive, making training harder.

Do NOT use this collar as his daily collar, but only for walks. Only use a special collar for training if you are absolutely sure you know how to both fit it and use it. Don't use the collars with prongs on the inside. These can hurt your dog's neck.

If you use a training collar on walks, keep his normal collar on, too. In case he gets away from you, you'll want his identification, registration and rabies tags on him. Many municipalities require proof of rabies and registration at all times.

Dog harnesses actually encourage pulling behavior in larger dogs. He's the sled dog and you're the sled. He can pull to his heart's content because the harness enables him to do so. (Of course, small dogs may need a harness for safety; however, they're not capable of pulling their walkers.)

Once you have your dog gear and you're ready to walk, keep the dog on one side of you at all times, not in front and not behind. Try to keep  steady tension on the leash. Hold the loop in the hand opposite of the dog's side, and wrap the leash around the same-side hand a couple times. Allow the extra slack to fall between your hands, not between your hands and the dog.

Continuously talk to your dog to keep his attention on you. Chatter about anything in particular in a positive tone. As your dog starts to dart off, say, "heel!" in a firm voice to remind him of where he needs to be. And if you use a training collar, use it according to the manufacturer directions. Again, if you're not sure how to use it right, don't use it.

As with any dog training, consistency is key to achieving the results you want. Make sure your dog sitter knows of your training efforts so she can become your partner in dog training.

If you still struggle with walking your dog, ask a professional dog trainer to work with you and your pooch for further help.

by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Of course every dog needs adequate exercise outdoors every day. Whether turning her loose in any of the several off-leash dog parks in Charlotte or strolling through your neighborhood, exercise keeps dogs healthy and content. But for when you or your pet sitter are taking your dog out for quick potty time, wouldn't it be great if your dog could do her business ASAP? Instead of waiting for her to sniff every tree, shrub and blade of grass in the yard for the "perfect" spot, she can go on command if you train her to.

As with teaching any dog commands, catching her in the act is the easiest way to link the behavior with the command. Select one word you will use only for prompting urination and one you will use only for defecation. Many dogs will urinate first to mark territory and then select a place where they can dig a little to defecate, so you need a word for each. Don't choose the same word that you use to signal going outside, such as "walk" or "park time" or a term you use to potty training your toddler. Either of these tactics may cause accidents inside for dogs that listen carefully.

Say the chosen word when she performs. Give her a small treat and praise her. It won't take long for her to catch on that good things happen when she eliminates after she hears her special words.

Notice your dog's pattern of elimination. She may not need to defecate every time, so don't push it. Never scold the dog if she's not trying. Harshness may lead to accidents inside. Positive reinforcement yields the best results. 

Let your dog walker know about your training so she can help your efforts. Like other types of dog training, consistency makes a huge difference, so your pet sitting service should partner with you.

by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Fluffs of Luv Pet Care offers an array of customized pet care services, including in home pet sitting, dog walking, cat only pet sitting, overnight visits and cat and dog grooming and more. As the most reputable pet sitters and dog walkers in Charlotte and the surrounding area, Fluffs of Luv has put countless clients at ease by caring for their cherished companions while they were away.  Give Fluffs of Luv a call for a free in home consultation or to set up a grooming appointment 704-421-3492 or visit 

Potty BellsI will never forget the day a close friend asked  “do your dogs ring the bell to go outside yet?”. I was completely dumbfounded by this question. He explained that dogs can be trained to ring a bell when they need to go out. I went online to see if this “trick” was valid, and surely it was. I have had dogs my whole life and I never knew doggie doorbell ringing existed.

I googled  “how to train your dog to use a bell to go outside”  and sure enough a ton of articles and” how to” videos magically appeared on my computer screen. Even though all these success stories were peering at me, I was sure my two 2 month old labradoodle puppies would not master this feat. In fact all I thought was, my adorable dogs will probably eat the bells and I am out 20 bucks.

It turns out the bell ringing is quite easy to teach. There were many varieties of doggie bells online but we purchased the bells at our local pet supply store so we could get this challenge underway. We placed it on our door handle and hoped for the best. When training a dog it is always key to get them to associate the task you want them to do with something else. In this case, they needed to associate the bell with going outside to go potty. There are various ways people imbed this association. We chose the “paw to bell” technique (again, there are a few so google it and see what works best for you and your dog). Whenever we took our dogs outside we would touch their paw to the bell so it jingled and then let them out, we would also say “time to go potty” or “let’s go outside”. Surprisingly it took only a few days for them to begin doing it on their own. My puppies are now just over a  year old and they use the bell whenever they want to go out. 

Ringing the bell is a good trick but more importantly it is a great way to communicate with your dog. It also helps limit accidents because if a dog is sitting quietly by the back door and you are someplace else in your house, you don’t know that he/she needs to go out. This technique alerts you to their needs so you don’t have a mess to clean up.
A link to help you out is as follows:

By Lisa Altman

Fluffs of Luv Pet Care offers an array of customized pet care services, including in home pet sitting, dog walking, cat only pet sitting, overnight visits and cat and dog grooming and more. As the most reputable pet sitters and dog walkers in Charlotte and the surrounding area, Fluffs of Luv has put countless clients at ease by caring for their cherished companions while they were away.  Give Fluffs of Luv a call for a free in home consultation or to set up a grooming appointment 704-421-3492 or visit habits, that is. As much as we love our furry children, some of their behavior is not so lovable. Here are some common habits that make pet parents everywhere want to yank their hair out by the fistful, and ways to stop them.

1. Begging
When it’s dinnertime and your puppy or kitten gets a whiff of that delicious meal you’re getting ready to tear into, they might park themselves right by your feet, wearing the most adorable expressions on their faces. However, if you reward their begging with food, it will happen again, and again...and again. An alternative to letting begging get you down is to put your pet’s food out around the same time you’re eating. This way, they’ll be too preoccupied with their own spread to beg for a bite of yours. 

2. Marking Indoors
Dogs and cats pee inside to mark their territory. This is especially a concern when you introduce an additional cat/dog to your household, which your first pet may see as a threat until they get to know one another. Leaving the area untreated will encourage continued marking, so be sure to use an enzymatic cleaner that will completely eliminate the odor. And if you catch your pet in the act, stop them right away (of course) and express your unhappiness at what they’re doing.

3. Chewing (Dogs)
Dogs (and some cats) love to chew. For dogs, it’s usually shoes, sticks, and furniture. Curbing this particular behavior can be as easy as replacing the thing they’re chewing with a more appropriate item, like a toy or a treat designed to clean their teeth as they chew (e.g. Greenies, Dentastix, etc.) and praising their choice of appropriate item to chew from then on.

4. Scratching (Cats)
Everyone probably has that image of a cat riding down a curtain with their claws out, shredding the fabric on the way down, etched into their brains. If cats (like dogs) don’t have a fixed object of destruction, they’ll find the next best thing. Make sure your kitties have a scratching post (or two), some cardboard, or even a cat tower if you can nab one. They and their claws will appreciate it — and so will you and your furniture.

5. Jumping
Some dogs can be very excitable and will jump on a person (familiar or unfamiliar) to lick their face and get attention. The alternative to pushing them off of you is to turn your back while firmly saying “no.” According to WebMD, "Even eye contact is a reward. Just keep walking, look straight ahead, and don't touch them.” It will likely be difficult not to engage with your fur-baby when they are so excited to see you, but it might help to imagine the goal, which is you walking through the door and your dog showing that they’re happy to see you without knocking you to the ground. 

These are just a few of those sometimes annoying habits our pets have. What are some of the habits you wish your pet would quit? What ways of curbing bad habits have worked for you? 

By Gianni Washington

Fluffs of Luv Pet Care offers an array of customized pet care services, including in home pet sitting, dog walking, cat only pet sitting, overnight visits and cat and dog grooming and more. As the most reputable pet sitters and dog walkers in Charlotte and the surrounding area, Fluffs of Luv has put countless clients at ease by caring for their cherished companions while they were away.  Give Fluffs of Luv a call for a free in home consultation or to set up a grooming appointment 704-421-3492 or visit

The pulling, the tugging, the strained arm muscles—walking your dog isn’t always easy. Often, when your dog pulls incessantly, it’s not even fun. And it should be fun! That’s why it’s important to train your dog how to walk beside you correctly. Not only does it create a balanced dog, but it’s easier on you.

Some dogs have bad habits that are hard to break. That’s why it can be helpful to use a collar that does more than make your pup look cute. The right collar can give you better control, make your corrections more affective and speed up the training process.

Ready to make walking your dog way easier? Here’s a list of three collars that will change you and your dog’s life: Continue reading

Jumping, barking, snarling—it’s never pleasant to meet a loud dog who knows no boundaries. It’s even more embarrassing for owners. So dogs get locked up in bedrooms, sent outside or scolded. The problem is that nothing’s done to correct the bad behavior.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can teach your dog to greet people respectively. It might take some work, patience and positive attitude, but you can do it!

Here are three steps toward creating a respectful pooch:

 1.      Don’t lock up your dog. He won’t learn anything. The best way to teach your dog not to behave disrespectfully is to present him with opportunities to learn. Locking your dog up in his kennel or a room removes him from the situation, which can create anxiety and aggression. It doesn’t stop the barking, whining or growling, does it? Probably not. So, decide to use these opportunities of bad behavior as training sessions instead. Continue reading

People often wonder when the best time to train their puppy is. The answer? If you want a balanced, obedient and happy pup, start right away.

Puppies are smart. While it may seem impossible to resist their cuteness, your puppy has to learn acceptable behaviors early. Luckily for you, puppies are hard-wired to follow a pack leader. That’s you! They’ll learn everything from you—the good, the bad, the ugly. So it’s important that you guide them with consistency and a calm, assertive energy.

Here are four training areas to focus on:

Potty Training: To Crate or Not to Crate? Continue reading

Pulling, barking, peeing on every bush in sight—sound like your dog? If so, don’t fret. There is another way. A better way. A way to make you look good and keep your dog happy, healthy, and balanced. First off, envision yourself as the pack leader and start believing that you’re going to walk your dog—not the other way around. It is-possible. And it starts with three basic ideas:

1.      Make your pooch sit before the walk. It’s all about starting with a calm, submissive dog—not an excited, bouncing, insane beast! No matter how long it takes, make your dog sit and follow you out the door. This sets the tone for the walk and lets your dog see that you are in charge from the beginning.

2.      Don’t let the nose go before your toes. When humans allow dogs to lead on the leash, it lets them become the alpha dog, meaning they make the decisions about where to go, when to stop, and how to react in any situation. Heeling your dog sends a clear message that you’re the alpha dog. You make the decisions. Your dog should be right next to you, with slack on the leash, keeping your pace. Use the leash to correct any pulling (with a firm sideways tug), and relax the tension as soon as your dog is where he belongs.

3.      Keep moving forward. Walking your dog is about exercising his mind as much as his body. Walks shouldn’t solely be for potty breaks and socialization—it’s about giving your dog a job, which helps sharpen his mind and release anxiety and mental energy. But that means you have to keep moving forward. Stopping every now and then is OK, but only on your terms. Moving forward (while heeling and using the leash to correct) can even help prevent barking and aggression, simply because your dog has to keep his feet moving—and that helps refocus his brain.

Need help training your dog? Fluffs of Luv now offers Dog Training classes. For more information, visit or call (704) 421-3492.

By Deanna Morono

YorkieWhen we think of pet sitters we tend to think of our next out of town trip and ensuring your pet gets his favorite sitter while you are away. Although this is essential, here is some food for thought: who cares for your puppy while you are at work? Puppies are like babies, they require lots of love and attention along with training. It can be a taxing yet rewarding job to potty train your puppy given the amount of accidents and frequent potty time outdoors. Most of us work a traditional eight hour day with no time to run home and let your new family member outside for a potty break and snack. When we get home most of our efforts are fruitless with potty accidents and a dirty yet happy puppy. For those of you who crate train, as I have, I know the feeling when you walk in the door to a colorful puppy playing in the lovely soup he has made with his potty accident. If you block off a space for your puppy while you are gone then boy what an even bigger mess to clean up. What this is doing is telling your puppy it is OK to potty in her living space which is very counterproductive. Pet sitters are an excellent resource for all your puppy’s needs while you are out of town or at work. By scheduling a mid-day potty and playtime, your puppy will stay on track with potty training, will get a mid-day snack that is much needed for a growing puppy, and enjoy an afternoon of play. Going out of town? A pet sitter is the perfect solution, with tailored visits to keep your puppy on track you will enjoy all the benefits of having a pet sitter. Most importantly your puppy will avoid all the hiccups boarding may offer. 

By Arianne Ortiz

Fluffs of Luv Pet Sitting offers an array of customized pet care services, including in home pet sitting, dog walking, cat only pet sitting, overnight visits and more. As the most reputable pet sitters and dog walkers in Charlotte and the surrounding area, Fluffs of Luv has put countless clients at ease by caring for their cherished companions while they were away.  Give Fluffs of Luv a call for a free in home consultation 704-421-3492 or visit

We can't wait to play with your furry family member. Call us today for a FREE consultation.

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