Dog Training Blogger All about training, health and behavior

Isn’t it a huge pain when you’ve just planted a gorgeous garden and your furry friend of the house comes along to dig it all up? Or building a new fence to find that Spot already knows how to get around (or more literally, under) it?

Dogs are instinctually driven to dig, but that doesn’t mean you can’t train them to respect your yard.

First of all you should ask yourself why your dog is digging. Is he bored? If this may be the case, look into investing in more chew toys or treat dispenser toys that dogs have to play with to get food out of. You want to create a doggy Disneyland using tug toys tied to fence posts, a tire swing and anything else you feel will occupy your dog

Aside from boredom, stress may be making the dog misbehave. Before you proceed any further on fixing this behavior, ask yourself if there are any recent changes in your lifestyle or home life that might be making your pet act up. Are you remembering to take him out often enough? Are there any other stresses that may be affecting him? If you still aren’t sure about what the problem is, try these tips to getting them to stop digging.

The most obvious method that people use to try and stop digging is to catch their dogs in the act and scold them. While this may work while you’re around to enforce it, many dogs will just wait until their owner is gone and go right back to digging.

A better idea is to make your dog think you are not involved in the consequences they receive after they dig. Use a throw toy like a soda can with some pennies in it. The noise will distract your dog, but don’t let him see you throw it.

A similar idea to this is to have a sprinkler set up near the area your dog likes to dig. If you can, turn on the sprinkler when you see your pet tearing up the ground. This works especially well if you can leave on the sprinkler for short periods of time while you are away. Once again, they will not realize where the correction is coming from; they’ll just know they don’t like it.

One really good trick to keeping your dog from digging is to place their own feces in the holes they like to dig. Dogs do not like the smell of their own droppings (remember, it must be THEIR feces, not any other dog’s), and will refuse to dig in the hole anymore if they smell them.

If you are having problems with a dog digging under a fence, make sure there are no gaps in the fence. Lay down concrete in any holes or put chicken wire from the bottom of the fence to the ground. If there are no gaps, consider laying concrete blocks along the bottom of the fence.

Digging is a huge pain and certainly doesn’t improve the looks of your yard. Remember to keep your puppy entertained and find ways to encourage him to play in positive ways over destructive ones.

About a week ago I had a potential new customer call to schedule an appointment for my “Surviving Your Puppy” lesson. The dog was 12 weeks old and needed some help with housetraining and play biting. I took all the dog owners information and scheduled an appointment for the next day.

While we were talking she mentioned that the puppy had just been released after spending 4 days at the vets’ office. I asked what had been the problem and she said the most horrible 5 letter word any dog owner can hear “PARVO”. Yes the dog had only been home for 48 hours after spending 4 days being treated for parvo. I quickly told her I would call her right back.

After making a quick call to my trusted vet my suspicions were confirmed. I called her back and explained that I could not be around her dog for at least 30 days. I could actually pass it on to other dogs as well as my own. Of course we cancelled the appointment.

The very next day one of the local vets was on the 6 o’clock news warning everybody about a huge increase in Parvo in our area. In fact, if you adopted, rescued or bought a dog in the last several days, watch for signs of parvo and have you dog checked by your vet.

It turns out my lady had been told by her vet that the dog would be contagious for 30 days and would need to come in for a check up and an all clear.

Please everybody exercise responsible pet ownership and keep other dogs and their owners safe from your pet when it has a contagious disease.

I just have to share my favorite new gadget with you….and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it is a Roomba…yes, the robot vacuum cleaner. My husband (he’s a Dog Trainer/ Canine Behaviorist) had gone to a client’s home and spotted this round disc-like thing on the floor. The lady of the house explained to him that it was her Roomba and proceeded to show him how it works….Being a “gadget” man, he came home and told me all about it….Well, we have a perfectly good vacuum cleaner – I really didn’t see the need for another one, plus I have a cleaning lady who comes every other week….I mean, for the cost of the Roomba, I could fill my gas tank 5 more times!!!

Well, Wayne (my husband) insisted that we get one and try it out. I ended up paying $280.00 after using a Linens ‘N Things coupon ( you can get one at Costco for the same price without coupon)….SO WORTH IT.

What has been the best thing about my Roomba? Well, for starters…no more fur-balls in the corners. We have a Pug, and if you don’t know, Pugs are the #1 dog shedders. You would think as much hair as they lose daily, that they would be bald! Our hardwood floors always had remnants of “Bennie”…You could see exactly where he laid because of his shedding. If you have a Pug, you learn quickly to ignore dog hair…it is just becomes a way of life when you own a dog.

Here’s the best part….with the model that we purchased, the 560, you can program it to vacuum at a specific time of day, every day! Now, every night, while we lay sleeping, Roomba rhumba’s through our house, working it’s magic over our hardwoods and carpet. When we awake in the morning, I see all these vacuum cleaner marks in my carpet ( Ladies, you know what I’m talking about)….it is the most beautiful sight…freshly vacuumed carpet to wake up to….who needs Folgers?

I have a new best friend….and his name is ROOMBA!

I’d like to thank my lovely wife for letting me use this article from her blog and letting you know how to eliminate all that loose dog hair .

Dog parks are not for everyone and certainly not for every dog. Personally I’m not a dog park person but many of my clients enjoy taking their dogs to the dog park for interaction with other dogs.

Dogs are pack animals and accordingly, enjoy running and playing with other dogs. If they are available in your area, dog parks are a great place where your dog can run off leash and socialize with other dogs. Not only do they please your furry companion, but you can feel like a good owner in knowing that your dog is getting their social needs met. As an example, Nashville, Tennessee, has several fenced in dog parks where your dog can be let loose to run and play.

Even though dogs are allowed to be off leash, they must still, obviously, be supervised by their owners. The dog park environment seems relaxed and in the dog’s favor, but you still have the potential to maintain teaching your dog to be obedient. Many dog park guests simply sit on the bench and wait for their dog to wear themselves out so they can leave. Doing this is neglecting your responsibility to your position as your dog’s master and teacher.

In such an atmosphere, there is the potential for your dog to cause problems that you might not notice if you allow yourself to disconnect from your animal while they are at play. To prevent such skirmishes and to remind your animal that they are still to obey you, take the time to do the following steps the next time you are out at the dog park. Making sure your animal is still listening and obedient, even while excited and at play, will ensure their safety and fun while out.

  • Practice periodically leashing your dog and removing him from the fenced area. Go over a few basic commands he is used to, such as sit or stay, and reward him before returning him to playing. This technique reminds your animal that obeying you is still important, even when he is having tons of fun or is distracted.
  • When dogs are loose and at play, dominance aggression is sometimes an inevitable occurrence. Social canine aggression can lead to dangerous tiffs in which your dog, or someone else’s dog, could get injured. You can minimize the potential for aggression cropping up by reminding your dog and nearby dominant dogs that you are in control of him. Do this by calling to your animal by name while they are at play, having him come to you and petting him before allowing him to return to the other dogs.
  • Be careful to keep a close watch on your dog and to dissolve or remove him from bad situations with negative behavior. Red flags include tense or aggressive body language, mounting, intense staring, snarling or nipping. While in a pack, as is the case in dog parks, dominant dogs have a tendency to single out submissive ones. If your dog lies on their back, tucks in their tail or begins to urinate, make sure to remove him immediately, as this is a sign of being overwhelmed by stress and fear.

Good trips to the dog park can be a great experience for both you and your dog. Remember a tired dog is a happy dog and playing at the park can give your dog the much needed exercise he needs.

The frustration that leads frazzled pet owners to abandoning their dogs to shelters the most is a lack of effective house training. Remember that your dog is a family member, and as such, is worth the time and effort required to properly house break them, so that you can be a happier pet owner and your dog can be happily in their family’s arms, not in a shelter.

The house training method we’ll be going over in this article is crate training. I consider crate training a great gift to your dog. As a den animal, your dog will learn to love his or her “den”. Their crate will become a safe place, their sanctuary when they are stressed or just when they want some peace and quiet. Crate training is the house breaking method of choice for any good dog trainer and is widely considered the best way to train your animal to do their business outside.

Crate training begins with an initial 4 week process. During this process, your dog should be in one of the following places at all times:

1) in their crate

2) on the grass

3) in front of you

It may sound harsh, but remember that this is only for the first four weeks of training. Dogs develop a preference for where they do their business; we want that to be the grass.

The first step to good crate training is to keep in mind what size crate is needed. Make sure the crate is just large enough for the dog. Dogs will not soil the area where they are going to sleep or stay, which is what makes crate training effective. But, if you purchase a crate too big, the dog will be able to do its business in one side of the crate and still be able to comfortably lay in the other end. We want to teach the dog that it can control itself while in the crate and can “hold it” until you are able to let him outside. Also, remember to not put anything absorbent in the crate, such as a towel or pillow – this may allow the dog to soil the object and still be comfortably out of its own mess.

The first four weeks:

So that it can’t make messes in inappropriate places, whenever you aren’t supervising your puppy, he or she should be in their crate.

The first four weeks of training will require frequent trips outside for the pup: Immediately after you provide food or water for your puppy, take it outside to the grass. Also, immediately after it wakes from a nap or gets excited, take the dog out.

Do not forget that you MUST pay attention to your puppy’s every move when it is outside of the crate. A good tip to remember is to attach your puppy’s leash to your belt so that it is always close by.

Remember that consistency is the key – teach all family members these steps and to not allow your dog to do its business inside the house. Without consistent crate training, it may develop a preference for using the restroom on carpet or tile over grass.

If you’re going to get a dog there are several things you need to think about first. Buying the wrong dog could be a bad decision that you’ll regret for a long time to come. Just keep these things in mind and you’re sure to find the best dog at the best breeder.

The first thing to consider is the breed and size of dog you’d prefer. These things will be dependant on the type of dog that has the look you want. Also, remember that your family needs to have some input, and that certain dogs have health problems that you might not want to take a risk on.

Many dogs that are larger (like Golden Retrievers) are more prone to getting things like hip-dysplasia. This is a disease that negatively affects the hip joints of the dog. As the dog gets older their hips won’t be able to sustain their weight. This is a sad thing, but it will affect their ability to walk and stand. Surgery is one option that you may or may not want to consider down the road.

You might be thinking that if large dogs have these problems you might just opt to get a small dog instead. Unfortunately, they come with their own problems. If you get a dog that is in the ‘toy breed’ category then you may find breathing problems. These are dogs like the Pug, Pekinese, and Lassa Apso. The reason for these problems is because of their small muzzle and lack of sinus and nasal development.

If all dogs have their problems then where are you to turn? The best thing you can do is gather information to make an informed decision. One idea is to ask a friend or family member who has experience with the type of dog you are considering. Whenever you get into a conversation with someone ask them if they have any dog experience. You’ll find that people love to talk about their pets.

Another amazing resource for dog information is researching on the Internet. You can search by dog breed and find a wealth of information that you never thought possible. Print out and highlight key information that you’ll use in making your decision.

Additionally, you can buy books on the breed to learn all you can about them. These books are often a fascinating read and can uncover a lot of information you didn’t know before. If you fill yourself with information before heading off to the breeder you’ll be a lot more likely to make the right decision.

When you are ready to go to the breeder be sure to come with a list of questions in hand. These breeders should be very excited and willing to answer your questions. There are some things you should examine about the environment as well.

  • Are the dogs clean?
  • Are the kennels clean?
  • Are they well cared for?
  • Are the mother and father well cared for?
  • What type of food are they eating?
  • Have the puppies had their shots?

You’ll find that a good breeder will go above and beyond to make sure that their animals are top notch and well loved. If you can find a good kennel that meets all of these criteria you’re a lot more likely to find the perfect dog.

Do be careful! There are breeders out there who are just in it for the money. They do not pay close attention to what the dogs need, so long as they bring in money at the end of the day. Avoid these breeders because you will just find ill dogs. Many breeders will sell puppies as early as 5 or 6 weeks old, don’t buy from them. A good breeder will not remove the puppy from the litter until 8 weeks.

If you want to make sure you’re well protected you should find a breeder that has a 72-hour return policy. This is enough time to take the dog to the vet to make sure everything is in order. You should also get a 2 year OFA guarantee with breeds that are prone to hip problems.

Researching your dog and finding the right breeder are surefire ways to make sure that the dog you come home with is the right one.

A new client of mine named Charlie has a small Yorkie dog and they’re best friends. He takes the dog to the park to play and often finds a stick for his pup to play with. Charlie tries to make sure the stick is small enough that the Yorkie can catch it. He asked me if this is OK to do?

If you own a small dog you might have questions just like this swirling around in your head!

Having a small dog has its perks. They are often cute, cuddly, and full of affection. Due to their physical size there are some things you should be extra careful about. One of them is finding safe toys for small dogs. Just like Charlie is starting to wonder about the sticks he throws his Yorkie, you should consider if you know enough about small dog safety.

The first thing to realize is that dogs need toys and need to play. When they are out in the wild they are often playful and even make a game of finding their prey. While you take care of your dog’s food needs, that instinct to play doesn’t go away.

The trouble is that there are so many choices. Go to any pet supply store and you’re likely to find several walls full of dog toys. These include rope toys, balls, rawhide chews, squeak toys, treat puzzles, and the list goes on. Since you’re an educated consumer it’s time to learn about the best toys for small dogs so you can make sure your little one will stay safe for a long time to come.

General Safety Guidelines

There are some general dog toy rules to consider first. For example, no matter what the size of your dog you should never give him toys with missing parts. The stuffing or other pieces could come out and choke your dog. Things like small glass eyes are a particularly big problem.

Even squeak toys are often a no-no because they can trigger a dog’s natural sense of “search and destroy.” Use your best judgment and supervision on this one. Remember our friend Charlie the Yorkie owner? The answer to his stick dilemma is that they are potentially dangerous because of the risk of them breaking off and becoming lodged in your dog’s throat. This is an even bigger risk with smaller sticks because they are generally more fragile.

Beyond those guidelines you need to be careful that the toys or objects you give your small dog are not toxic. There are some household items (like socks) that are not safe for your dog no matter how safe they may seem. There are small fibers or other unseen things that can really be harmful.

Temperament Specific Guidelines

As a pet owner you’re probably well aware that different dogs have different temperaments. Small dogs are well known for being quite playful but you’ll want to check with other dog owners or your vet to learn about your specific breed.

Beyond knowing about the breed, it’s important to know all about your dog’s individual personality as well. Just because most of a certain kind of dog are one way doesn’t necessarily mean that they will all be. There are different personality types for dogs and it’s important to figure out which one matches your dog.

You might have a low key dog. These are classified as only wanting to play for a little while, then getting bored or going to sleep. You can give these small dogs things like stuffed toys and squeakers because they aren’t likely to get too worked up over them.

You might have a medium key dog. These dogs might want to play for an hour or so but then take a rest. They are generally more hyper than low-key dogs and play more roughly with their toys. You might want to stick with things like rope toys, balls, and rawhide.

If you have a high-strung dog (as many smaller dogs are) you’ll want to be extra careful with its toys. Nylon bones and treat filled toys (like Kongs) are a good idea.

Toy Suggestions for Small Dogs

Balls (large enough so they can’t get lodged in your dog’s throat)

Kongs or other treat filled toys

Rope Toys

Nyla Bones

Have a Backup!

There are times where your small dog will scoot right by you and find something they’re not supposed to get into. In this case you’ll want to make sure you have a backup plan. If you cannot easily get a toy or object away from your dog you need to get a treat out and entice them away with it.

Then you can grab the object and put it away. Otherwise even the friendliest of dogs could get mad and harm you in some way. The simple reason for this is that their natural instincts of protecting the object might kick in.

If your dog is constantly getting into things and showing true possessiveness over his toys you might want to see a trainer to correct that problem as soon as possible.

It’s that time of the year again, here is some information you need to know.

Most people know that it’s important to stay away from ticks. Part of the reason for this is that they can carry many different diseases. What people might not be aware of is that ticks are multiplying in number all across the United States.

Experts agree that as the number of ticks in the world increases so do the chances that your dog will be infected with the diseases ticks carry. This is a very scary thing for those who love their pet and don’t want to see anything bad happen.

One reason that many more ticks are popping up is because woods and farmland are being developed. This leaves ticks with nowhere to go but on your poor pup. Another reason for the increase in ticks is because of global warming. Ticks like this new, warmer climate.

In fact, the warm climate means that whereas ticks would be almost nonexistent at some points during the year they are incredibly prevalent during other parts of the year. These days they are around all year long in some locations. That means that certain diseases are around all year long as well.

These changes in climate are not just affecting dogs. It is also changing the way that birds migrate. People are taking advantage of the warmer weather by taking the whole family, and their dogs outside. This means more exposure to blood sucking ticks.

Ticks can carry many different diseases. One of the most common is Lyme’s disease. Deer ticks often carry Lyme’s. Other diseases to lookout for are Mountain Spotted Fever, and Canine Ehrliciosis.

When ticks start their life they are larvae. This larvae hatches from eggs and then they want to find a host to attach to. Some of the first hosts are rats. These larvae then fall of, feeding on the decay on the ground. After the larvae are ready it will become a nymph and try to feed from a smaller animal. Finally, it is ready for more as an adult.

For this reason there are many deer that are affected. In fact, deer are a main reason that there are so many ticks. These animals give the ticks the blood they need to thrive.

There is not much you can do about the increasing tick population but there are things you can do to protect your pet. Veterinarians recommended using tick protection year round for your dog. It is a good thing that many heartworm medications also prevent ticks. Make sure you double check because you don’t want to take any chances.

The number of ticks in the United States is rising all the time. The best thing for you to do is to keep your dog safe. Check yourself and your dog thoroughly and you’ll be doing all you can to protect against ticks.

Bark in the Park in Lebanon, TN

Join us this Saturday for Bark in the Park and enjoy an afternoon of contests, vendors, food and fun for dogs and their people! There will be a pet photo booth, a microchipping ID clinic, “Pawcasso” paw print paintings, great silent auction items and much more!

Admission is just a $5 donation, and kids 12 & under are free! Plus, the first 500 people through the gate get a special goody bag. Proceeds benefit the Humane Association of Wilson County.

Bark in the Park will be held on Sat. May 3rd from 1- 5pm at the Wilson Bank and Trust on West Main Street in Lebanon.


1st Annual Dog Lovers’ Singles Mixer, Sat. May 17th from 2-5pm.

Miss Kitty’s Bed & Bath presents the 1st Annual Dog Lovers’ Singles Mixer to benefit the National Canine Cancer Foundation (

Bring your pooch pals and come enjoy live music, wine, hors d’oeuvres and hay rides along 22 beautiful acres. Walk along meadows, woods and let your canine companions splash in the creek as you mingle with other animal-friendly singles!

A $10 donation is requested at the door.

The mixer will be held at 2953 Spanntown Road in Arrington, TN on Sat. May 17th from 2-5pm. Call 292- 1900 for details, or visit Miss Kitty’s online at .

Yesterday I wrote about when you should start training your dog, at what age. I told you that the perfect age was 16 weeks or four months old, but actually, I fibbed a little bit. There’s another time that you can start training your dog, and that’s any time after eight weeks old. It’s called puppy imprinting.

Puppy printing is all motivational and all fun. It’s not considered formal training. At eight weeks of age your puppy’s mind is like a little sponge, he wants to learn new things. We use treats or even pieces of his kibble to teach him some different exercises that include the sit, the down and coming when you call. Keep in mind that this is fun and there are never any corrections. If your puppy does it wrong, we do it again till he does it right.

At my dog training facility Canine Behavior Specialists in Brentwood, Tennessee we actually offer a program called Surviving Your Puppy. In that program, we discuss all types of things the new puppy owners should know. One of the things we discuss is puppy imprinting. We actually show our clients how to implement the puppy imprinting program. Over the years I’m always amazed when it’s time for formal training at the difference between the dogs that did the imprinting and the dogs that didn’t do the imprinting. The difference is amazing.

When you get your next puppy, find a good trainer in your area to teach you how to do puppy imprinting, you won’t be sorry.

Brain Training For Your Dog

Interested? Find out more here