January is National Train Your Dog Month

Why is January National Train Your Dog Month? Well, when the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) enacted the Train Your Dog campaign back in 2010, no other month seemed more appropriate than January. Why? Because of all the dogs that are purchased or given as gifts during the holidays! January is often the time when there is a sharp influx of brand new dog owners – many of them seeking guidance for training their dogs. But unfortunately, that also means there is an increase of dogs being surrendered at dog shelters.

People often have the best intentions when buying or adopting a dog, but when reality sets in with the little pup, sometimes they’re just not prepared for it. Handling a new dog (especially puppies) can be a daunting task that comes with many challenges that owners are simply not able to handle. Problems with destruction, house training, and many other behavior issues may arise and overwhelm new pet parents and leads to owners feeling like they have no choice but to put their new pets up for adoption because they don’t know what to do.

Which is where National Train Your Dog Month comes into play. The hope is to spread awareness to new pet parents about the importance of proper training for their new dogs. Investing the time, energy, and money into training can create a happy and healthy environment for not only your pet, but for the entire family as well. Dogs thrive in the security of proper training – and it’s not only the dog that receives this training. Human family members need it just as much. Once you learn what you’re supposed to be doing when interacting with your dog, it’ll help form those strong, healthy bonds.

Be sure to take the time to find a trainer that’s a good fit for your family. Do your research to make sure you find a reputable one that has the proper credentials. Talk to your friends and find out who they’ve used and trust. Read reviews. Look for trainers that have proved themselves to know what they’re doing and have a good reputation. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of training sessions and see for yourself if they’re what you’re looking for. Don’t forget to pay close attention to how they interact with the dogs – do the dogs seem happy, well trained, and healthy? Is the trainer covering all the topics you’re interested in? Do you feel like you will benefit from what they have to offer? Are they willing to answer questions and take the time to make sure all their clients are comfortable with the material covered? If so, they might be the trainer for you! However, if you’re not feeling comfortable with them, keep looking. Nothing is more important than creating a good foundation with your dog than the training.

In case you’re wondering, training is not just for puppies! If you’re looking into adopting an older dog, it’s still just as important. Whether your dog has received training in the past, and you’re looking for a bit of a refresher for you both, or your new bud seems to be lacking all manners entirely, dog training is a great tool to strengthen your relationship and build trust and structure. Your dog will appreciate knowing what is expected of him and understanding his or her boundaries.

Happy training!

Get Your Pet on the Path to Wellness in 2017

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A healthy dog is a happy dog

Just as in humans, health is the first step to happiness for your pets. Good pet health requires many of the same things for your pets as it does for you.

Your pet’s health is dependent on genetics and lifestyle. Lifestyle is under your control, and you can make the best of your pet’s genetic strengths and weaknesses by providing an optimal lifestyle for your particular pet.

Overall health encompasses physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Your Pet’s Health Depends on:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Absence of disease
  • Emotional Wellness
  • Mental health

Finding the Perfect Diet for Your Pet

A good diet is the wellspring for good health. If your dog has itchy skin, a change in diet can lessen or eliminate that condition. Some dogs don’t tolerate grains, while others seem to thrive on foods with grains. Quality is important, but it can take some time to find the right commercial, homemade or combination of foods that are best for your pet. A pet nutritionist or veterinarian can help you create the best diet for your particular pet.

Getting Appropriate Pet Exercise

Exercise is an essential building block of good health. It helps to keep your pet at a healthy, fit weight which in turn lessens the likelihood of excess weight induced lameness or disease. Whether your dog needs to run miles or your cat just needs 20 minutes of intense play depends on age, fitness level, temperament and ability.

Regular Professional Health Care Can Prevent Diseases in Your Pet

Whether you choose a traditional or holistic veterinarian, it’s important for your pet to have regular check-ups to catch any irregularities in your pet’s health early.

Ongoing pet healthcare can include massages, chiropractic, acupressure and energy balancing. Some veterinarians provide these modalities in their clinics, or you can use an independent practitioner.

Keep Your Pet’s Emotions Healthy by Eliminating Stress

Stress elimination can take many forms depending on your particular pets. Some pets need more exercise and play, while others need more quiet time. If your dog is stressed while going for walks because of dogs barking behind fences or loose dogs in your neighborhood, your pet may get more out of ‘nosework’ –sniffing out treats that you’ve hidden in your home or yard, or learning tricks through positive reinforcement in the safe environment of your home or yard.

Proper socialization of puppies can help dogs to understand dog language and not become reactive around strange dogs and people. However it’s very important to introduce your pup to balanced dogs and humans, so that they aren’t frightened by aggressive or reactive dogs – which can create an aggressive fear response in your pup. If you’re not sure how to socialize your pup, find a positive reinforcement trainer who may have puppy classes to give your pup a good start at becoming a balanced, emotionally healthy dog.

Dogs and Cats Need Mental Stimulation to Keep from Becoming Bored and Destructive

Cats and dogs are hunters by nature. They naturally like to rip and chew particularly when they are young and teething, so giving them appropriate, safe toys and objects to gnaw and shred can save your furniture and provide the chewing stimulation they need.

If your pets are ‘thinkers’ you’ll want to provide puzzles for them to solve. This can involve ‘nosework’ as described above, puzzle toys with treats as motivations, and treat dispensing toys which can keep them busy licking and thinking about how to get the treat hidden inside the puzzle.

Providing adequate mental stimulation will keep your pet emotionally and physically healthy.

Give Your Pets a Hale Pet Door for Their Health and Happiness

When your dogs can get outside regularly, they’ll stay healthy in all 3 areas of their lives because they’ll be getting all the physical, emotional and mental exercise that they need.

Check out our Hale Pet Door products

 

 

 

How to Really Love Your Pet

ValentinePups

February is the month of love, and you know how much love your pets add to your life. You want to return that love to let them know how precious they are to you. But have you thought of what your pet needs to be truly loved?

Give Your Pets What They Need

It’s only natural for people to give their pets the things that they would appreciate receiving, but pets are different species, so they have different needs and desires.

Dogs are pack animals, so your presence is the best present you can give your dog. Exercise and playing with you simulates hunting with the pack—a necessity for your dog’s mental, emotional and physical health.

Cats are usually more solitary types, but they appreciate play that simulates hunting. Short bursts of intense physical activity followed by a snack and a nap is the cat’s meow.

Give Your Pets What They Want

There is one constant between humans and pets. The desire to be near and to interact with loved ones. Give your pets your time. You may not have large blocks of time to spare, but there is truth to “quality time” even if it’s a few minutes at a time.

A peaceful environment where pets feel safe is another gift you can give your pet. Take time for training, so your pet knows what acceptable behavior is. Pets don’t understand punishment, so catch them doing the right thing and praise that behavior. Instead of yelling, “No!” which raises your blood pressure and confuses the animal, give him something to do – go lie down in his bed or safe spot with a small treat or favorite toy.

Be consistent with your expectations for your pet. If you like your dog to jump up to greet you when you have your sweats on, remember that she will also jump on you when you’re wearing your good clothes too. You can have it both ways by teaching your dog a cue to give you a hug when appropriate and a different cue for staying down.

High quality food, a comfortable place to rest and good company are the ways to show love to your pet. Don’t forget to get a Hale Pet Door  so your pet can go outside when necessary and come back into the house again.

Getting in Shape with Your Pets

Jack Russel Terrier lifting weights

Let your pet be your fitness coach

New Year’s Resolutions come and go, but this is a great time of year to resolve to let go of that extra baggage – for you AND your best friend.

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that Americans and their pets are too well fed, resulting in overweight and obesity. Carrying too much weight can cause health problems from diabetes to heart problems to bone and joint damage for people and their pets.

Try some of these ideas to burn calories and build strong muscles and bones. Always consider your and your pet’s health and conditioning before beginning any exercise regimen. If you’re not sure that you or your pet is healthy enough to workout, contact your physician or veterinarian.

Too Cold and Icy for a Run?

If you live where winter becomes an impediment to your outdoor exercise schedule and your gym doesn’t allow dogs, consider a brisk walk in the park instead of running along icy roads. When you walk in snow, you’ll be using more energy than on a smooth road, so your walk can turn into a calorie burner for you and your dog.

Turn Training into Indoor Fun and Exercise

Whether your dog needs to learn Stay and Come commands or could use some practice, you can turn training into a game while you both get some exercise.

If you have carpeted stairs you and your dog (or cat) can get some extra aerobic exercise. Just ask your dog to Stay while you race up the stairs (or down the hall, or across the yard) then call her to Come. Praise her lavishly while you reward her with a treat and repeat until you’re both breathing hard.

When your pet gets good at Stay, you can turn it into a game of Hide and Seek by using the Stay command or distracting him with a few treats while you hide then give the Come command or whistle to get him searching for you. If you have helpers at home, they can hold or distract your cat or dog while you hide then give the Find and your name command to teach another behavior.

If your pet is in better shape than you, a game of fetch can stretch out muscles and create those feel good endorphins that will make your pet happy and relaxed when the game is over.

Make Getting in Shape Fun

Just the thought of exercise can make you tired, but if you make working out a game for you and your pets, you’ll both enjoy getting in shape.

And don’t forget to get a Hale Pet Door to make sure that your pets are healthy and happy in 2014!

Don’t Forget Your Pets in Your Back to School Plans

Include your pets in your back to school plans

Going back to school is an exciting time. Buying new clothes, school supplies and looking forward to the new adventures that the school year brings becomes the focus of your family’s activities.

Just as it’s important to gradually change your students’ schedules, getting your pet accustomed to being alone all day or without their playmates can be crucial too.

Anticipate Behavior Problems to Prevent Them

When your pet is used to having someone home with them most of the day, the sudden change of being alone can create anxiety. Sometimes that anxiousness creates unwanted behavior like chewing shoes or furniture, howling or excessive barking or even self-mutilation.

If you condition your pet to being alone gradually, most of these behaviors can be prevented.

Take It One Day at a Time

When you gradually leave your pet alone for longer and longer periods, he’ll be used to being home alone when school starts, so there will be no anxiety or restlessness and the accompanying negative behavior.

Tips for Transitioning to Fall Routines

  • Exercise your pet before you leave for school or work – she’ll probably sleep most of the day
  • Give your pet something to do while you’re gone – toys that hold treats will keep attention and give positive reinforcement
  • Keep your departure low key
  • Provide your pet with a special treat or toys that he gets only when you leave so he’ll look forward to your departure
  • Get a high quality pet door so your pet can get out into your fenced yard to answer the ‘call of nature’
  • Be ready to walk your dog or play with your cat when you get home to provide some much needed exercise and stimulation

 

Keep Your Pets Healthy and Happy with a Hale Pet Door

Pet doors can be installed in doors, walls, screens, and even right in glass! Because Hale Pet Doors are available in 11 sizes, there’s a Hale Pet Door to fit your pet and your home.

Check out your dog door options to find the perfect place in your home to keep your pets happy and healthy for the school year and beyond – Hale Pet Doors

Train Your Shelter Cat to Live in Harmony with You

Play 'cat and mouse' with your cat every day to keep her physically, emotionally and mentally fit

We hope that you’ve taken advantage of the nationwide “June is Adopt A Shelter Cat Month.” Many shelters created great opportunities to adopt their cats and kittens at reduced prices.

Although dogs and cats have been human companions for thousands of years, there are strong differences between the species. Understanding cat behavior can help us train our feline friends to live in harmony with us.

Cats are solitary hunters unlike dogs who evolved from pack hunting wild dogs where hierarchy and ‘team work’ is paramount. Submission isn’t a natural part of a cat’s behavior, so the only way they learn is through positive reinforcement.

The first step in training your cat to do what you want her to do and not do is to find out what motivates her.

A cat’s primary sense is smell. Their sense of smell is 40 times stronger than that of humans. Often great smelling treats are a strong motivator for cats as their sense of taste is weak compared to that of humans with only 473 taste buds versus our 9,000 taste buds.

Cats live in the moment. Punishment after the act doesn’t work for cats because they don’t think about what they did a minute ago. So if your kitty just jumped up on the table during dinner and jumped right down again, it’s too late to chastise her when she’s on the floor. Even if you catch your cat “in the act” more than likely any negative response on your part will only teach her to not do the behavior when you’re within shouting distance.

If you want your cat to stay off counters, you have to make the experience uncomfortable or at least without reward. That means keeping food and toys off the places you want to keep as cat free zones. Battery operated motion detectors that make an unpleasant or ultrasonic (inaudible to dogs and people) noise can make the counter a bad place for the cat to be.

Other things most cats don’t like are citrus and cologne smells, so you can leave some towels sprayed with citrus or cologne where you don’t want your cat to be, and she’ll learn that the counter isn’t such a great hunting ground after all. Try dusting the wood furniture with citrus scented dusting spray. Double stick tape creates an unpleasant surface for sensitive cat paws. Attach the tape to cardboard and place it on the horizontal surfaces that you want your cat to avoid. After she has had a few ‘negative’ experiences on her own, she’ll avoid those places—unless you make it worth her while to try again by leaving food out.

Cats are wilder than dogs. Dogs have a larger frontal brain lobe than cats. Scientists suspect that this evolutionary development was caused in part by dogs’ longer history with human habitation and cooperation. So remember that your sweet kitty is really a solitary predator with great hunting skills and has needs that go along with those skills. Give your cat things to chase, from balls to laser pointers, so he gets the short, intense bouts of exercise that he would get if he was hunting his dinner.

Are you training your cat, or is your cat training you? If your cat is vocal and you respond to his ‘words’ you’re encouraging your cat to meow. If that is your intention and you want your cat to nag you, then by all means, keep up the good work. If the cat wakes your baby or day sleeping spouse with his opinions, the best way to discourage his conversation is to simply ignore it. Remember, punishment doesn’t work with a solitary hunter—they just attack or become afraid and run away. If you’ve already trained him to be loud, don’t be surprised if the retraining takes longer than the training. Think about your cat’s behavior and how you react to it. If your cat is skittish and afraid of you, it’s important to figure out what you need to do make him trust you. If your cat is demanding and you satisfy those demands, you’ve taught him that you’re his servant—and if that works for you, good. But if you’re frustrated by his behavior, you’ll need to change your own for the good of your relationship.

How have you solved some of your cat’s behavior problems? Please comment below.

Have a Timid Dog? Train them to use the Pet Door

How do I train my timid terrier to use the dog door?

Timid dogs may need extra training to use a pet door

Timid dogs may need extra training to use a pet door

Some dogs have no problem using the dog door the minute they realize it’s a way for them to go outside and get back into the house. Other dogs take a bit of convincing that this contraption holds a positive experience for them.

The most important thing is to make the experience a positive one. NEVER force – by pushing or pulling – your dog to go through the dog door. If your dog is afraid to come near the door, you can make it a comfortable and desirable place by sitting on the floor or a short stool near the door and calling the dog to you with a treat or favorite toy.

Once your dog feels the area near the dog door is a safe place, you can start to introduce the idea of going through the door. If you have a Hale Pet Door, you can order the optional training flaps that are slit vertically and have no strikes to stick to the magnets on the frame, so your dog doesn’t have to push on the solid flap. You can also securely fasten up the flaps (with blue painter’s tape to avoid wall damage), so they’re completely open or remove the flaps. Put the dog’s toy or a treat on the frame, so your dog will put his head partway through the opening to retrieve the reward. Continue doing so until your pup is willingly leaving his head through the opening. Don’t ask for anything more if he’s pulling his head back quickly or moving away from the door to finish his treat or play with his toy. Just continue playing with your dog at the pet door until he’s relaxed and feeling safe. Keep your sessions short and sweet with lots of love and praise.

After he starts to willingly go through the door with the flaps open, gradually let the flaps touch his back gently to desensitize him to the flaps touching his back as he goes through. Go slow; you don’t want him to be scared by the flaps. Keep your attitude and the whole experience positive.

Here are some other tactics to try and things to consider:

  • If your dog has a “doggie friend” who is used to using a pet door, invite the pooch over so your pup can see another canine use the dog door. This experience can encourage your dog to use the door if he follows his friend outdoors to play. Keep the experience positive so your pup will want to use the pet door.
  • Make sure the pet door is the right size for your dog. If you have a short-legged dog and he has to jump up to get through the pet door, he may get caught on the frame and get scared. Also consider the drop on the outside of the door as it may be lower to the ground outside. If so, you may need to make the landing area higher with a wooden box or bricks or a Hale Pet Door Ramp to help your dog feel safe as he goes through the door to the outside.
  • Adjust your attitude. Keep it friendly and smile. Don’t take it personally if your dog doesn’t want to use this great new thing you’ve bought him. If he doesn’t want to use the door, it’s because he’s scared of it for some good reason in his dog brain.
  • Remember that learning doesn’t happen in fearful situations. First your pup needs to feel safe and comfortable before he can learn to use the dog door.
  • If your dog will occasionally use the dog door when there’s an incentive, such as squirrels chattering in the yard, but asks you to let him out and back in most of the time – it may be that he has you trained as his human doorman. The only way to break this pattern is to ignore his requests until he uses the dog door regularly. Use a cue such as, “Doggy door,” in an upbeat voice when your dog uses his door to encourage him to go through the pet door. Think of ways to motivate your dog to want to use the dog door – go outside while your dog is inside and call him out to play or get a treat. Then do the same while the dog is outside.

A pet door can make both you and your dog’s life easier and more convenient. Your dog will be healthier when he can answer nature’s call when necessary instead of only when you’re home.

House Training Tips

How do we house-break a 3-month-old Yorkie? We keep her in a wire crate with its door opened to the Hale doggy door so she can only go outside and not come into the house as such. If we were to let her come into the house she would leave her calling cards on the puppy pads and not save up to go outside. We need to get her little mind associated with the idea of going potty outside but have no idea about how to get the great outdoors of the fenced-in dog run associated with going potty there.  Any ideas? –N.J.P., Prescott, AZ

Yorkie dogTo train your puppy to go outside when she’s not crated you must train your dog just as you would if you didn’t use the crate.

This is accomplished by taking the pup outside when she wakes up and after eating. This involves a lot of bonding time with your pup, and she will accept your leadership.

A typical training scenario goes like this:

  • Puppy wakes up, and you call her to the door and go out together. As she sniffs around, take her to the area of the yard where you want her to go. Watch her behavior as she’ll give you clues that she’s about to potty. When she starts to go, say a word that you will use as a cue to let her know what you want her to do. Remember that dogs hear only the end of words, so use a command that ends in a different sound than other commands that you’ll use. When she’s finished, praise and reward her.
  • After the puppy eats repeat the above steps.
  • Take your pup out in the evening right before bed.
  • Take your puppy out first thing in the morning.
  • Your pup will let you know when she has to go by sniffing and circling, so get her outside as soon as you see these behaviors.

Do not have puppy pads in the house. The puppy pads attract your pup to them to eliminate, so using them in the house just encourages her to urinate in the house. The pads will be more useful if you put them out in the run where you want her to relieve herself.

Most puppies usually can start to control their elimination around four months of age depending on breed. Some youngsters have a few accidents in the house, and it’s important to treat it as an accident and never punish your pup. If you catch your puppy in the act, pick her up and run her outside to the toilet area.

Be sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect any accident spots, so your pup doesn’t smell the urine and think it’s a good spot to go. Avoid cleaners with ammonia because these cleaners smell like urine to dogs and can encourage urinating in the house. To eliminate urine odor, you can use vanilla extract to cover the smell.

It’s necessary to keep a watchful eye on your pup at all times. If you find that your puppy is still having accidents, you can fasten a leash to your belt so your puppy is close by at all times.

If you’re consistent with your training and your pup is physically mature enough to control herself, the time you invest in training will determine how fast your puppy learns where it’s appropriate to relieve herself. Be sure to get everyone in the household involved in this first training.

When you’re looking for a pet door, be sure to check out the best pet doors made in the USA at Hale Pet Door.