Dog Training

Most people have a picture in their head of dog parks. Before I get started and I get accused of “throwing shade” on parks, let me say that we treat our dogs as close to members of our family as possible and it is my opinion that many times, Dog parks can be a bad place for your canine buddies. Dog parks are a great idea. In a perfect world, everyone could take their pets there and let them have a blast playing with other dogs. However, many times that isn’t what happens.

I will just touch on a few negative things that can happen. They’re many but I won’t be the blogger of doom and list them all. You can get the jest of what I am trying to get across.

1- Diseases- unless we know the other people and dogs at the park, we don’t know if those dogs have been vaccinated or what that dog may be carrying. This is my biggest fear going to the parks.

2- Aggressive dogs - we have dogs coming to our training company all the time that have been attacked at dog parks. Since most of these pets are older and have memory of negative experiences, this can be horrible for your puppies emotional behavior. We have helped dogs that have become dog aggressive from these attacks and also ones that have become very afraid of all other dogs making it very difficult for owners to take them places. I am a huge proponent of socialization being a lifetime effort for our dogs but negative socialization is worse than none at all.

3- Bad habits - Most dogs are not trained to the levels of behavior that they should. Dogs pick up other dogs actions and behaviors and will emulate them if left unchecked. It is always best to train a good behavior before a chance of a bad behavior can arise. Dogs picking up bad habits can lead to more issues and training problems than most dogs normally come with.

Everyone knows that dogs need socialization and exercise. Having other dogs to play and interact with can be a great time for both owners and dogs. With that said, look for other friends that have dogs that you know have taken care of any issues that needed to be. Look for groups and activities that may meet up with other dog owners. Visit a dog park without your pup and check it out beforehand.

If you do decide to take your dog to a dog park -

1- Look to make sure other owners have picked up waste. This is trouble waiting to happen if they haven’t.

2- Monitor who your dog is playing with. Watch for signs of normal dog play and signs that the dogs are not getting along well.

3- Determine if they are too many dogs there. Too many dogs will possibly overwhelm your pup and inhibit you from being able to keep a watchful eye on them

4- Are the fences and gates secure to keep dogs inside and also keep strays out.

5- Golden rule - It is our job to protect our dogs. It is always best that if we sense that our dog is scared or uncomfortable that we remove them from the situation immediately.

If you are not comfortable going to the park or you can’t find friends or a group to have your dog play with, remember that you are your dogs best friend, bff if you will, and that they will be just as happy getting outside and playing with you!

We humans are always being preached to about the benefits of exercise. Whether its our doctors and spouses or the constant assault on TV and social media. What if I told you that they're even more benefits for our pets to get some activity in. I am not talking about running a 5k or signing up for some kind of Doggy/Human Bootcamp class, if that even exists. If it doesn't, that may be the next business venture. No, not really. I'm speaking of oldies but goodies like a good walk or fetch. Something of that speed.

1- Exercise helps unleash pent up energy. I'm sure most of you have seen dogs just start running around the house or jump on people for no reason. This could be an example of your dog needing to get out and burn off some of that energy. I went to a farm in Kentucky once to see a friend's horse. It had been kept in its stall for a few days and when the gate was opened, you would have thought the Kentucky Derby had just began. That horse sprinted back and forth across the field repeatedly for about 15 minutes. When I asked the owner what was up, he said she was just burning off energy that piled up.

2- Our pets look up to us and love us. Sometimes they are similar to our families and just want some attention. Going for walks and playing with toys is a good way to spend time with our pets and work on that bond.

3-Walks in different environments help with your pets socialization skills. Every walk is different. Our pets need constant and different situations to build trust and comfort in all surroundings. One tip though- when approaching other dogs out in the public, it is our responsibility as our pup's humans to watch out for them and vet other dogs from interacting with them. I, myself, am very guarded with allowing unknown dogs come up to my dogs. I have no clue if that dog is aggressive or has some type of bug. Now if you see your neighbor's dog that yours has played with before, let them have fun!

4-Just like with us humans, it helps our pet's digestive system to be active and go for walks. I don't think any more explanation is needed there, so on to the next point.

5- It helps with weight control. Simple concept and the oldest...Calories burnt need to be more than calories taken in. My Boxer's love of chewing up any TV remote can look like he is having fun when he is busted but doesn't compare to the calories burnt during a good walk at my fast pace stride.

6- One of the naughty behaviors our dogs have when they don't get the exercise amounts they need is digging! And they don't have the common courtesy to put the expelled dirt back into said hole when finished. I feel like Bill Murray in Caddyshack trying to catch them so I can correct it. It is difficult though. I think the pug is always on watch out for the bigger dogs to let them know when I am coming. Yes, I need to practice what I am blogging better myself.

7- You should have known I was coming back to this but the final benefit is that its good for US! No, we don't have to worry about catching the wife digging a hole out back by the tree like the dogs but it will keep us active when its so hard to get out of the sedentary lifestyle we live so often. Any time not spent in an office chair or on the couch but out walking or playing is a good thing.

Our furry canine friends are just like us in terms of loving that Fall is here and temps are dropping. Gone are the "Dog Days" of summer which left everyone's tongues panting including ours, here in the Carolinas. Just like Summertime, Wintertime holds certain risks for our pets that need paying attention to.
1- Even though our Winter temps in the Carolinas pale in comparison to our Northern friend's winters do, we need to pay attention to how much time is spent outside when temps are cold.
Just because they are coated in fur, that doesn't mean they don't become acclimated to being inside out of the cold. Certain short hair breeds such as Boxers and Pugs are even more susceptible to losing body heat due to not being as furry as maybe a Golden Retriever.
2-When spending time outside in cold temps, remember that dogs bodies pull blood from the extremities to the center of their body to stay warm. This means that even though your dog may be rocking an awesome Christmas sweater, blood is being pulled away from the ears, paws and tail leaving them highly susceptible to frostbite.
3- Keep them boys and girls dry! Any moisture from standing water in the yard to sweat from frolicking around can make their body temperature plummet. Avoid letting them out after a bath until they are completely dry.
4-How cold is too cold? A good indicator of temperature is that if its too cold for you to stand outside your door without a coat, it's probably to cold for your dog. Let's handle our business doggies and get back inside!
5-Enjoy when the sun is out. Our dogs are like us, they need exercise in the winter months. (As always, this will help keep them calm and not get cabin fever). When the sun is shining, get outside and go for a walk, play fetch or any fun activity that will get the blood pumping and burn some energy.
6- Just like we like to have an extra layer on our beds on cold nights, give your pooches extra bedding this time of the year too. Avoid letting them sleep on cold wood or tile floors. Those plastic trays in crates can get very cold also. Throw them an extra towel or blanket in to snuggle with. They will thank you!
7- Dogs will often seek heat during cold weather. Keep them away from heat sources such as space heaters and fireplaces. Also, if you have baseboard radiator covers, you can install covers to protect them.
8- Hydration. Keep water readily accessible just as in warmer months. It is just as easy for a dog to get dehydrated in Winter as it is Summer.
9 - Stay inside as much as possible. Enjoy outside time but once you get cold and need to go in, bring the dogs in too.
10- Don't overfeed. Feed normal healthy food amounts. The only extra layering our pets need to put on in winter are those sweet sweaters as I referenced before.
11- Keep their paws clean. Salt can stay on roads and sidewalks long after the snow is gone. Check paws and clean as necessary.
12- Lastly, remember the senior pets. Cold weather is harder on us older human's; arthritis and snap, crackles and pops. Older pups will have the same aches particularly arthritis. There are some good natural joint supplements out there to help keep their joints lubed up. Also, exercise as much as possible.
Our pets depend on us to keep them safe and healthy. Remember, few things will help keep you warm on a cold winter night as a dog (or 5 in our case) snuggled up with you on the couch!

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 www.fluffsofluv.com. 

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:
http://www.wikihow.com/Potty-Train-Your-Puppy-Using-a-Bell

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 www.fluffsofluv.com. 

...pet 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 www.fluffsofluv.com.

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

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

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