Keep 'Em Working

There was a time when every dog had a job. The border collie herded sheep, and the komondor guarded them. The Siberian husky moved the men of the North, while the Alaskan malamute hauled freight.
Depending on geography and game, any number of breeds helped bring home dinner. Meanwhile, back at the homestead, terriers kept busy chasing the fox out of the henhouse and exterminating any vermin that crossed their path.

Today, unemployment has hit the dog world hard. And without work, all too many of our canine companions occupy themselves with destructive chewing and digging. They liven up their days with choruses of barks and howls, and generally worry themselves into a dither. In other words, they are bored and underexercised! The
solution is increased exercise and structured play.


A walk around the block or a ten-minute romp in the backyard several times a day is minimal exercise, and is not enough to meet the average dog's needs. Active breeds (dogs from the sporting, herding, hound, and terrier groups, northern breeds, or any mixtures of these)
and virtually all adolescents (dogs who are six to 18 months old) require much, much more.

Brisk on-leash jogging, race walking, or strolling several miles can tire out Bonkers. Playing Frisbee or retrieving a tennis ball in a fenced-in enclosure is wonderful aerobic exercise. Road working your dog by bicycle or in-line skates can tire out the likes of just about any boxer or Doberman.

Make sure you have veterinary approval for any of these high-level activities, especially if your dog has been the neighborhood couch potato lately. Start slowly to build up your dog's stamina, strengthen his muscles, and toughen the pads of his feet. If your canine is dog friendly, the neighborhood dog run is the urban owner's best friend. What could be better than a safe, fenced-in area where your dog can run offleash with his own kind? But it is important to be sure that you are able to call your dog out of the play group (and
that your dog will respond appropriately) in case there is an emergency and everyone needs to swiftly get hold of his or her own dog.

Structured Play

Base your play on the jobs your dog's forefathers used to perform. Most golden and Labrador retrievers, for example, are naturals at water retrieving tennis balls or nubby rubber bumpers. Corgis and border collies are in seventh heaven when herding a giant boomer ball. Bichons frises and Maltese delight in trick training. Beagles will excel at biscuit hunts around your property.

Many dogs enjoy a rousing game of tug-of-war, but beware: teaching a dog that he is stronger than you can be hazardous to your health! If the dog growls in a menacing manner (as opposed to a play growl) or stiffly stands over the tug toy and snarls, abort the game. This activity is not appropriate for your dog. Perhaps he'll do better with one of the many food-dispensing toys on the market. Make him work for his breakfast kibbles!

Remember that as the leader you must always be in control of these games — when, where, and for how long Bonkers gets to play. Increasing your exercise time together may just add a sparkle to the eye and a spring to the step for both of you!

Information adapted from Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT

Hot Weather Tips

Pets respond to heat differently than humans do (dogs, for instance, sweat primarily through their feet), and fans don't cool off pets as effectively as they do people.  Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body, but if the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels very quickly.

Provide ample shade and water. Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water, add ice when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don't obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat.

Take care when exercising your pet, and limit exercise on hot days. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with short-nosed pets who, because of their short noses, typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet's paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible.

Provide cool treats.  There are hundreds of recipes online for frozen peanut butter, yogurt and fruit treats for your pet.  Switch out your pet's regular bisquits or dry treats to something cool and refreshing during hot months.

hot car warningNever leave your pet(s) in a parked car!  Not even for a minute.

On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85 degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die.

hot carhot car temps

Printable Hot Car Flier

Stop Jumping Behavior

Jumping problems are most often found with adolescents (dogs 6 to 18 months old). Toy, terrier and sporting breeds such as Italian Greyhounds, Poodles, Jack Russells, and Labrador Retrievers are notorious jumpers. Dogs jump up because they want to get closer to someone’s face.

For most, peak jumping behavior is observed around mealtime, when you come home, walk time, out on the walk itself and when friends/relatives come over to visit. This problem can be solved by training. The proper amount of exercise for your dog’s breed type is of great help, too! Lack of exercise results in out-of-control whirlwinds who lack the ability to focus.

What to do:

  • When you see your dog rev up to leap, say “No, off!” and turn away from the dog. Removing your attention (a reward to the dog) is a gentle, effective way to correct the dog. As soon as he has settled either with four feet on the floor or in a sit/down-stay, turn back around, drop to your knees and quietly praise the dog.
  • Give the jumping behavior a name so you can turn it on and off (“leapin’ lizards,” “paws up,” or “feet up”). Teach your dog how to jump on command, then add “no” as in “no paws up” to let the dog know when you don’t want him to jump.
  • Give the dog something else to do. Obedience training is a strong plus when trying to get a jumping problem under control. A dog holding a sit or down-stay is not a jumping dog. When attempting the sit down or down-stay, avoid pushing, shoving, flapping your arms or other fast, excitable movements. Use a lure-reward method rather than physically manipulating the dog. Avoid raising your vocal tone or whining. All extra movements and excited vocalization will incite the dog.
  • To aid the dog in holding his sit or down when visitors arrive, put him on a leash before opening the door.
  • For an unfocused bouncing maniac, give him just enough leash to do a sit or down-stay and step on the rest. When the dog attempts to move, he will correct himself. (This may not work for a 100-pound person with a 200-pound dog, but it works well for most handlers.)
  • Be consistent. Never let the dog jump up without being directed to do so. A dog cannot distinguish between dirty, old blue jeans and a designer suit. He cannot tell which days is it OK to jump on you by what you are wearing or what the weather is like.
  • Be consistent with strangers, too. Don’t let someone confuse your dog by stopping you in mid-correction by saying, “It’s OK, I just loooooove dogs” while stroking him and rewarding him for his misbehavior. There is nothing wrong with not allowing people to pet your dog unless he is on a stay command. Guests to your home are no exception. Warn them beforehand (“I’m training my dog not to jump up unless commanded. I could really use your help. Please don’t pet him or even acknowledge him unless he’s holding his stay.”)
  • For the slow learner, jumping setups are in order. On a weekend or vacation day, arrange for a friend, neighbor or relative to ring your doorbells every 10 to 15 minutes for a couple of hours. Each time, put your dog on a leash, command him to down or sit-stay and open the door and greet your visitor. Sometimes giving the dog a distinct place such as a small foyer rug helps him to focus on his job (go to your place and lie down). Your visitor can give your pup a treat or a tickle if he is behaving, but should ignore him if he is not. Once the dog is under control, the visitor leaves, only to return again in another 10 to 15 minutes. This goes on until Rover understands his job is to stay put until he is told to do otherwise.

What not to do:

  • Remember that your dog is your friend and companion. There is no need to knee him in the chest, hit him on the head, squeeze his front paws or step on his back feet. By teaching him the acceptable behavior and rewarding him for carrying it out, you become the fair, humane leader every dog needs.

Source: Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT

Obedience Training

Obedience commands allow you to teach a dog desirable behavior in any given situation. Practicing obedience skills with your dog is also good exercise for your dog and provides it with mental stimulation. In addition, your dog enjoys constructive social interaction, for which it is rewarded with your praise. Skills should be practiced everywhere, in your home and beyond.

When to begin training

  • The best time is the moment you get your pet. Behavior learned early, desirable or not, is the basis for all future patterns as an adult. This does not mean that adult dogs are untrainable; however, appropriate habits should be instilled from the start regardless of your pet’s age.
  • Once your pet is protected by the basic inoculations against common puppy diseases, puppy classes provide essential training for you and your pup.

Basic obedience commands

  • Five basic commands can be applied to set the limits for acceptable behavior in a variety of situations: sit, down, come, heel and stay.
  • Issue the command the same way each time to avoid confusion. This is particularly important when your dog is first learning to connect your command with an expected action. Always say “come,” not “come over here” or “come here.” Use the command alone, rather than including it in the middle of a sentence.
  • Precede each command by saying the dog’s name in a firm but gentle tone. If the command word is not preceded by the dog’s name, the animal may not realize that you are addressing it.
  • Say any commands in a firm and low tone. You need not shout to make yourself understood to make your dog understand that you are in charge. In fact, raising your voice may only frighten the dog or raise its level of excitement.
  • Exhibit a calm but controlled attitude, conveying authority without anger. There is one exception. The command to “come” should be said in a light and happy tone of voice. Your dog must never anticipate any problems when you call it to come to you, or it could start avoiding you.
  • Inform all family members or other frequent visitors of your rules. Everyone should act consistently to avoid confusing the animal.

Hand signals

  • Consistent use of a gesture in conjunction with a verbal command can be a useful addition to basic training. In hearing-impaired and congenitally deaf dog, hand signals can replace verbal commands. By making the hand signal each time you pronounce the corresponding voice command, your dog will eventually make the association between the signal and its behavior response.

Additional commands

  • Once your dog has learned the basics, you can add commands. Such commands could include “jump” or “off” (to get off the furniture), “hurry” or “do it” (for bathroom time), or “drop it” or “leave it” (for play). Make sure new commands are distinct from each other and consistent in form so your dog will not become confused.
  • Release commands let your dog know when it is acceptable to be at ease. For example, every dog should be taught to sit calmly before it is fed. The dog should be taught to sit calmly before it is fed. The dog should not touch its food dish until you release it from “sit/stay” with the command “okay.”


  • At your dog’s first sign of obedience to your command, offer immediate and generous praise. Do not wait until after your pet has complied. Praise the dog as it begins to obey your command to help the dog associate your command with that action. If you delay or don’t praise, your dog might not understand what is expected of it.
  • Praise may be verbal, such as softly saying “good dog.” Your tone of voice should be soothing. If you excitedly praise your dog for a successful “sit/stay,” your dog will respond to your excitement and break out of its position to jump at you. You also can pat the dog on the head.
  • A food treat can help improve a dog’s motivation to cooperate, but they should not be continually used, particularly for pups. Food treats may help motivate a recently acquired adult dog.

Collar and Leash

  • Nylon or leather collars are adequate for many dogs. For dogs that pull, consider an Emily Weiss Walkie, which can be purchased at Tri-County Humane Society’s store in the front lobby. (All proceeds go back to the animals.)
  • For training sessions, a short training leash is best. A longer leash of 4 to 6 feet can be used if you can control the slack. Retractable leads are awkward and difficult to firmly grip, and provide little control for training.

Daily Training Sessions

  • During the initial phase of obedience training, you should practice obedience commands in one or two daily obedience training sessions of 15 to 30 minutes each. During these formal training sessions, practice the five basic commands in every room of your home.
  • Use a leash at first during indoor obedience reviews so your dog will be more compliant and understand that you are in control. Once your dog is more reliably obedient, you will not need to use the leash inside your home.
  • Practice obedience commands during walks outside. This will teach your dog obedience everywhere, regardless of distractions.
  • Do not feed, walk, brush or play with the dog without asking it to perform an obedience skill. For example, if your dog follows you into the kitchen, call it to “heel” as it walks by your side. Tell it to “sit/stay” as you prepare your snack. Return to your place and call your dog out of its “sit/stay” in the kitchen by calling it to “come” to rejoin you in the other room. Make the dog “sit/stay” before its food dish is delivered. Make it “sit/stay” while you remove its leash.
  • Obedience skills must be practiced throughout a dog’s lifetime so the skills are not lost. View every episode of misbehavior as an opportunity to teach obedience. Do not just scold your dog when it misbehaves. Rather, show it a desirable alternative activity by giving it a command, such as “down/stay.”

Professional Training

  • Obedience training by professional trainers can be a positive experience for both you and your dog. A competent dog trainer can correctly demonstrate the skills that you, the owner, must use to communicate your desires to your dog. The purpose of a dog trainer is to teach you how to train your pet.
  • Group classes also are beneficial because your dog can learn skills in a very distracting situation. If it can demonstrate obedience while surrounded by other dogs and other people in an unfamiliar location, the training should be easier to transfer (with ongoing practice at home) to relatively calmer places.
  • Do not send your pet away to be trained. The purpose of an obedience trainer is to train you so you can train the dog. You are the one who must function from day to day with your dog; it must be trained to obey you.
  • To locate an obedience trainer or training classes in your area, consult your veterinarian or call Tri-County Humane Society at 320-252-0896. And remember, no recommendation can replace a personal visit to the location of the class.

Source: "Canine and Feline Behavior Problems," Stefanie Schwartz

PRINTABLE Basic obedience.pdf


Crate Training Benefits

Crates can be training and safety devices and can benefit dog and owner alike. Crating on a humane schedule teaches puppies bladder and bowel control and limits the amount of destruction a chewing puppy can do to a home. Also dogs that are crated in a car are more likely to survive an auto accident and less likely to cause one.

What Type, Size of Crate

  • The most common types are molded plastic airline shipping crates and the open-wire types that usually come with a metal tray on the bottom. For owners who plan on doing a lot of air travel with their dogs, the molded plastic variety is best. Wire crates are preferred in most other instances.
  • The size of the crate is based on the size of your dog. There should be enough room for him to stand up, turn around in a small circle and lie down comfortably. The crate serves as a place where the dog can rest and chew on safe, appropriate toys. It is not an exercise pen.
  • If you plan to use the crate as a housebreaking aid, size is key. If there is room for the animal to soil and then live away from the mess, the crate doesn’t serve its purpose. If you’re buying a crate for a puppy, keep the adult dog’s size in mind, but excess room should be cordoned off with Plexiglas or another type of barrier.

How Long Should You Crate

  • The rule of thumb for crating is no longer than one hour per each month of age up to nine to 10 hours maximum (the average work day). Each session should be preceded and succeeded by an hour of aerobic exercise. If this is too long for your dog, hire a dog walker to exercise him mid-day.
  • Before you leave your dog for a long stretch, make sure you have him used to the crate. A dog who panics when left alone in the crate could damage it or himself. Never crate your dog while he is wearing any sort of correction collar: It could easily get caught on something in the crate and choke the animal.
  • Crating is recommended as part of the workday routine until the dog grows out of adolescence (at approximately 18 months of age), for dogs who are heavy chewers or are otherwise destructive. Proceed slowly when it’s time to wean your dog off the crate; leave him alone for just a few hours at a time. And thick twice before leaving a curious adolescent alone in your home, even if it’s behaving well during the day.

Puppies and Crates

  • Avoid relying too heavily on the crate for a puppy’s early months. Most puppies three and a half to four months old can be crated overnight for about six hours, even though they probably cannot yet display that kind of bladder control during the daytime. Younger dogs crated at bedtime will need to be brought to their papers or outdoors at least once in the middle of the night.

Source: Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT

PRINTABLE: A Crate can be Great.pdf

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