Potty Training Tips!

With puppies, potty training is one of the first things you work on AND one of those constant headaches until you get a good rhythm. Here are some tips:

- Have a crate for your puppy that is their size! Enough room to turn around and stand up, but not big enough to run around or play. If it is too big your puppy will potty on one end of the crate and sleep on the other!

- How old is your puppy in months? Now add 2 hours to that and voila, that is how long your puppy can hold it before they need to go out to potty. So, if your new puppy is 8 weeks old (2 months old) they can only hold their stuff in for 4 hours before needing a potty break. (Yep, you've got to wake up in the middle of the night and come home during the day - or pay someone too!)

- During your nightime potties, do not play with your puppy! It's all business- go potty, back to bed. If you get them playful they will want to keep you up! Keep your puppy on a leash so they don't turn potty time into "run around and chase leaves" time!

- Your puppy needs to potty within about 30 minutes of eating or drinking. So that means, you can't just feed them and go to work - you need to wake up early to get a routine of:

Potty (pee definitely, poo maybe)
Feed (through training)
Play (10-15 mins)
Potty (should see pee and poo)

Before you leave for work, if you have time, potty your puppy twice before work- especially, if they drink alot of water!

- When your puppy is having playtime, they need to pee more frequently. Take them out every 15-20 mins during playtime. 

- If your puppy naps and wakes up, take them potty. They always need to go out anytime they wake up.

- If you need to put your puppy in their crate to leave, take them potty first. Anytime they are coming out of their closed crate, take them potty right away.

- Stop all food by 6pm and take up water by 8pm. Feed your puppy 3 meals per day - when you control how much goes in, you know when to expect waste to come out! Do not free feed your puppy, or they will be eating and pooping all day long and you'll never get potty training down.

- If you can't watch your puppy, put them back in their crate. When your eyes are off of them they WILL potty in the house. Heck, they will do it infront of you too - so keep your schedule!

- Don't use a doggie door with your puppy. They will not learn how to build stamina holding their bladder. They may also go out and not do anything! You need to be there to see that they have pottied, and most importantly REWARD them for going outside!!!!

- If you take your puppy out and they don't potty, bring them inside and put them in their crate. 10-15 mins later, take them back out again. Repeat this until they potty outside. (People make the mistake of letting puppy run around after they go out but don't do anything, and immediately the puppy potties inside! They don't want to potty in their close space, so back into the crate!)

- Make sure your puppy gets a poo in before bedtime.

- DO NOT PUNISH YOUR PUPPY FOR ACCIDENTS IN THE HOUSE! If your puppy potties in the house, it's your fault - not theirs. They need you to stick to their routine! Be prepared for some accidents while you guys get in a rhythm - be patient and calm. Reward them when they potty outside! Remember, you invited this tiny baby creature into your home :)

On my Instagram, I have a saved IG story about Puppy Training featuring our chocolate lab puppy Dewina, when she first got here! ⬇️



How do you introduce a dog to other dogs?

“My dog hasn't been around many dogs. She's an 80 lb American bully and don't wanna just throw her in a dog park and see what happens, as she's very strong! What to do? Thank you! “

I am so glad you asked this question! A lot of people wonder the same thing - how can I safely introduce my dog to other dogs? 

I am glad you have reservations about just jumping into a dog park, because for many folks - that ends badly. At dog parks, and even some doggie daycares, there are often many situations where dogs are HIGHLY aroused and apply a lot of physical and social pressure on other dogs - without much influence from humans. Too much physical pressure could look like a dog getting pumbled, body slammed, or even "jumped" by another dog - which can feel threatening and send a dog who doesn't have much social experience into a defensive mode.

Even well meaning friendly dogs can make other feel uncomfortable in the situations, if they spend too much time trying to engage in play with a dog who is unsure or uncomfortable with a dog they don't know in their space. Many young and adolescent dogs LOVE to play in a full contact, wrestle mania, way - but for a dog who is uncomfortable with dogs in their space or a dog like yours, who just hasn't had much opportunity for any off leash socializing, the full throttle play can create tension OR send your dog into crazy romp mode that she doesn't know how to control.

Not to mention, many dogs like to be the assertive ones - and if someone pushes too hard, corrects, or tries to throw the same play style back - you could have a fight. Also, some dogs at dog parks just shouldn't be there because they are not dog friendly (most doggie daycares temperament test before, but bad things can still happen if a sensitive dog is smothered by a pushy dog or dogs of different sizes/energy levels are in the same social sessions).

The reason all of those scenarios can happen, is because there is often not a human advocating for all of the dogs in the yard - OR if there is, as many doggie daycares are supervised, they are limited on what they can address/correct. Most daycares don't allow humping (so if your dog humps, they are put in time out or removed from the group which is a good thing, because humping is inappropriate and conflict starting) but they won't correct or realize a dog is smothering another dog - maybe a friendly/well meaning dog putting too much play pressure on a more sensitive dog or, in the case of all day play, a dog is hot and resting and a new less tired dog pressures for play and the tired dog begins getting irritated and feeling annoyed snaps or lashes out. We see so many dogs have bad social experiences when they are over pressured by other dogs...in the obvious way of getting literally attacked, but also by being pressured too much by well meaning "friendly" dogs.

So! What does that mean for your Bully, who has never actually played with another dog? First, I'd work on calm existance on a walk past other dogs. Work on your heel and make sure your dog can calmly, and non aggitated or aroused walk by other dogs (and sure some dogs are live wires and may make her more excited, but creating a calm - non pulling heel is an exercise of control for you and impulse control for her - so work on how to keep her focused and in tune with that level of distractions). Do NOT let your dog meet any dogs on leash - just calm walking by and with (if you have friends who have nice dogs on leash that want to walk with you) other dogs.

After you've had some success in creating a more tuned in walk, I would ask your friends if they have nice, calm dogs. Not even playful dogs yet - just some very gentle and calm dogs who would make for nice neutral social experiences. If you don't, you may need to reach out to a trainer who likely had access to a "balanced pack of dogs." Then, those calm dogs can be off leash in a fenced in area and your dog can be on a Long Line - and you approach the gate. Let your dog sniff through the gate, and read that body language. Does she tense up? Are her hairs all standing up? Is she barking? Does she snap? All of those things tell me that you may need to reach out to a professional for assistance because she is feeling some tension about the experience, and as you said -- she is strong and I know your concern is being able to control her.

If her body language is loose and wiggly- perfect! If it's excited and playful, that's not bad BUT beware that could escalate into HER being the gladiator of clobbering out there, that we don't need either...so that's why she is on the long line so we can remove her from trampling others with excitement!

If her body language was of the last two, ask your friend or another person to call their dogs away from the gate so that you and your dog can walk through without walking into the crowd of dogs. One of the ideal places for a dog fight at a dog park or daycare is at the entrance point - dogs are all jazzed up and about to collide head first as you enter. By having people move dogs away, it gives you an opportunity to get through the portal of excitement without the collision.

Now, your friends can let their boring calm pack move around off leash and you hold on to the long line and walk around a bit. Use movement to encourage your dog to move around and explore the yard, not get fixated on the other dogs quite yet.

Human rules for socializing dogs: KEEP MOVING AND DON'T PET THE DOGS. Movement keeps things from getting stagnant and dogs crowding infront of folks (which can lead to guarding and conflict) and petting can get dogs over stimulated AND create a crowd of dogs all wanting to get pet, tha can again lead to guarding of people, conflict, and a fight! With dogs who don't have a social relationship together, we want to limit as many conflict moments as possible!

In addition to humans moving around the yard to keep the dogs in motion, you also want to monitor dog proximity because spacial awareness is important. If a dog is sniffing a bush beside the fence, another dog investigating could make dog #1 feel crowded and defensive- BOOM correction or, if #2 doesn't take corrections well, dog fight. As I mentioned before, crowding people is a great dog fight waiting to happen - as is crowding a communal water bowl or all dogs circling the new dog in the yard. One dog playing "chase me" can also trigger a fight because the pursuing dogs get more and more in drive and loose more and more control of their arousal. We see it ALL the time!

So! You're in the yard with your Bully and she's sniffing around and ignoring the other dogs - awesome! Keep moving and keep the long line in your hand, relaxed - not tight. Slowly start to offer more distance. Monitor closely the first sniff greeting with another dog - ready to guide your dog away if she gets to tense or explodes, but also ready to let her play bow or roll over to be sniffed if she is being polite and submissive.

If your Bully is instead jazzed up and trying to barrel into the other dogs, it's a bit more delicate of an interaction. She could be playful, but a bulldozer - as many Bully's are, OR she could be in a more predatory mode (you likely washed out predatory earlier based off her response at the gate, however if you have any doubts you can ALWAYS muzzle train your Bully before these social sessions)! Either way, if she goes in HOT and clobbers the other dogs, you need to remove her with the long line. Likely, she wants to play, but her arousal is sky high and she is going to smother these dogs. If you friend has a calm dog who gives an fair correction, awesome - maybe that dog will let your dog know quickly it needs to cool it. However, never just "let them work it out" use the long line to remove your Bully if she continues to smother - even if she was corrected by the other dog.

At this point your Bully's arousal is off the charts and going to make socializing challenging. Loose and wiggly body language is good, but fast, tense, and choppy body language often means arousal - which can make other dogs uncomfortable fast or cause your dog to escalate their play to WAY too rough, very quickly- especially since she doesn't have practice regulating her play style with other dogs.

So! If your dog is in the jazzed up and wild category, we need to get her arousal down. The "pet convincer" is compressed air with a trigger that can work great for interrupting arousal. A firmer leash pop (before she interacts with the other dogs) can help her de-escalate that crazy excitement (like how you've been working on your calm walks), if your dog is e-collar trained, recall to remove her from engagement OR simply and interruption with the collar for being too out of her tree will help "bring her back to earth." There are many ways to de-escalate arousal, but it often needs to come from the human as a message to the dog. If you're struggling with how this can be done, reaching out to a trainer could be very helpful. Unfortunately, letting her go in - guns a blazing - may overwhelm the calm dogs which won't necessarily lead to conflict, but with the "wrong" dog could make her a target for getting her booty kicked by another dog for being rude and invading their space so intensely. That correction "could" put her in her place, but that correction could also make her defensive and cause her to fight back...we just don't know because she has never been in the situation before. SO! That's why, we the human want to correct the arousal, not the other dogs :)

And, on a final note - no matter if it is her fault or the other dog's fault for whatever conflict ensues...due to her breed, it will "always be her fault" - you know what I mean? She could be smothered by a rude golden retriever until she snaps - and she's labeled the aggressive one, when the golden puppy was in the wrong because it didn't leave her alone when she didn't reciprocate the play. This is why humans must advocate for each dog in social, and why, unfortunately, many dogs struggle in dog park situations.

I hope that helps!


Is it Purely Positive Training when the solution is Euthanasia?

Positive reinforcement is awesome - it should be an important part of ANY training or teaching approach! However, is that the whole conversation? Should we really just reward the good and ignore the bad?

And when that doesn't work, does that mean there is no hope? Does it mean that no matter how hard you try, if purely positive training can't resolve the problem, that's it?

Does that mean a life of being put in the back yard or a crate for a rowdy dog?
Does that mean having to re-home or get rid of your dog?
Does that mean euthanasia is the only other option?

OR can we have a conversation about having a conversation with our dogs that lets us not only tell them what we like, but also address and correct what we don't, or let our dog know that something is inappropriate?

What if rewarding the sit still doesn't stop the jumping? What if ignoring the bouncy and turning your back only gets you scratched up even more?

What if rewarding the quiet still doesn't stop the barking?

What if rewarding your dog under threshold is hard, because your dog is rarely ever under threshold in every day life?

What if no matter how tasty the treat is, the thing that your dog is chasing is more rewarding and of value to them than what you have when you say "come"?

What if the instructions to "stop walking when your dog pulls" mean you can't get anywhere or much exercise for your dog because they continue to pull, over and over, anyway?

What if someone told you to put down your dog, because a methodology of "never say no" said your dog was too far gone?

If you're trying so hard with your dog in one style of training - if you're frustrated - if you're scared - if you're ready to give up - please know there are other methods, techniques, tools, and approaches out there.

I believe that NO ONE gets a dog with the intention to become frustrated, discouraged, and defeated when the training style they are dedicating themselves to isn't working. No one who loves their dog and has dedicated so much time, effort, emotion, and heart wants to give them up or (worst case scenario) put them down...but when folks are told that they have no other options or a different training style is going to "make things worse or ruin their dog" folks feel like they have no hope.

Positive reinforcement is amazing and should be part of every training program - but it's only part of the conversation. There's 4 quadrants of learning - let's use them all!

Crosby, the border collie mix, is one year old and was told to be euthanized by a trainer that implemented strictly positive reinforcement and, like many, discouraged any type of correction or training tools.

With a balanced training approach this guy is learning how to be a dog again: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2111675182234549&id=334437879958297

bordercollie aggression

Struggling with your dog paying attention to you in public? Be the reward!

Did you know that letting the public pet your dog can slow down your training progress and affect your dog's bond and trust with you? 

If you have a dog who gets nervous or snaps at strangers, you more than likely are advocating for your dog and the general public by discouraging people you don't know from petting them. (And if you arn't, it's time to start - your uncomfortable dog will not become less shy or reactive by having people enter their space, even with good intentions...in fact it can often make then worse! Your just want to be invisible and observe, while knowing you will advocate for them and guide them through the big scary world!)

Now, if you have a dog who loves people it can seem harder to turn away someone who wants to say "hi!" Often times owners feel rude saying NO to people who ask, so again and again people pet our dog...and again and again our dog's attention is reinforced by the environment and not by their handler 😕 It may not seem like a big deal, but petting outside of the family unit while out in public does a few things that are likely setting back your dog's training and manners.

First, a lot of the dogs we see for training come to us because they get SO EXCITED with new people! Some of the biggest issues these owners are having involve their dog pulling like crazy towards people, jumping up, whining/barking, and not being able to stay sitting or laying down (or anything close to calm) when a person is close by. When we allow people to pet our dog who is acting like that, we're reinforcing two things: excitement about people and having their attention anywhere but on us!

Even if your dog is laying at your feet at a restaurant, if you see them soliciting attention with playful body language and some sneaky "roll over and maybe someone will rub my belly" invitations, that means your dog's not very present with you...they're looking elsewhere for satisfaction! When you think about it, one of the most challenging things for owners to do is to have their dog's attention when distractions are around - if we allow high value distractions to engage our dogs, those people become your dog's priority...not us!

So what can we do to get our dog's attention back? 

First things first, no more petting from the public! You know your dog is friendly, so there is no need to continue to meet new people - the biggest issue you're likely having now is how excited or easily distracted your dog gets! By saying NO to people petting your dog in public, you and making sure that the environmental reinforcement stops - this opens the door for you to be the reward! 

My motto is that when my dog is on a leash with me, we're connected and a family unit - it's time for more people who are trying hard with their dog's training to start doing things that promote that! Not to mention - I don't know about you, but I really just want to enjoy a lunch on a dog friendly patio or a stroll through the park with my dog, not have to stop what we are doing to let someone have their "doggie fix" :) I know people love dogs, and I do too...but, please admire them from a far without expectation of petting, or maybe just toss a compliment to the owner about their lovely pup! 

Before you head out to a people filled place to work on your dog's focus, it's important to be shaping it at home and in lower distraction environments through basic training! Simply having your dog work for their meals allows you to become the source of reinforcement. "Being the reward" starts by working on obedience commands, and paying your dog for staying in position, giving food feed back when a person walks by (or another big challenge happens) and they look to you! This stuff all encourages handler attention, awareness, and bonding. When you are a wealth of guidance, leadership, reward, and value, your dog will choose YOU!

So, next time you're out with your pup, take some time and see where your dog's attention is. Are you reinforcing outward engagement through strangers petting or (a big no-no!!!) allowing other dogs to say "hi" when your dog is on a leash?

In the long run, your dog prioritizing you is much more important than letting the general public get their doggie fix! You can control when your dog gets to greet people at your home, but in crowded and public areas, I want my dogs using their best manners and as tuned-in to me as possible while we navigate through all the things this crazy world has to offer!

If your dog struggles to be calm in general, why make if harder on them by having people petting thrown into the mix! Let's just get them good at holding it together politely in public before even discussing the added distraction of affection from others ;)

If you're looking for a nice way to tell someone that they can't say "hi" or pet your dog, always lead with the interrupter first:

🤚 "NO! I'm sorry, but he's in training. Thanks!" 😊


Is that a sad dog, or a calm one?

Far too often we've been conditioned to think a happy dog is one with a wagging tail and forward posture - and a dog who is sad keeps their head down and doesn't wag their tail.

Dogs who are alert and in arousal will have that flashy look to them, and dogs who are calming down will have a more relaxed and subdued look.

It's not a matter of happy or sad dogs - it's a matter of what state of mind is your dog in, and what state of mind promotes the right behavior for your dog at the time.

Flashy and alert behavior is excellent for obedience drills, tricks, cute pictures, and performance/play. Calmer more relaxed body behavior is preferred for dogs who need to be cool, collected, and behaved in busy environments and in situations that would likely trigger an excited or explosive outburst.

Your dog can hopefully do both of these! Be aware, however, that you may unintentionally start psyching your dog up if you think they are looking "sad" (when really they are actually just calm). Let your dog get lots of practice resting in that calm state - most need more practice with that skill because they struggle to be relaxed around many of life's triggers... and are REALLY good at keying up and being alert (and subsequently impulsive and explosive!) 🙂


Forward ears: Cute for Pictures, Bad for walks

While working on our off-leash heel with the long line, Lola the GSD would occasionally set sights on a squirrel - sending those big Shepherd ears towards the sky and sending ME a message that she is thinking about chasing them!

When you think about how a dog behaves on a walk, you often find that certain things grab their attention and bring their ears forward and alert! What people often don't realize is that constant or steady environmental alertness (fixating or reacting to things around you and your dog) leads to an impulsive reaction. Whether it is lunging towards a dog, diving after a squirrel, blowing up at cars as they pass, barking at a stranger, or jumping on someone as they walk by.

Forward ears (and a wrinkled brow) are usually a big red flag to a chain reaction of events about to happen: lock, load, explode! Basically, the ears are the first thought of "hey, look at that thing" and the longer they look, the harder they stare, the closer "it" is, and all of a sudden you're struggling with your dog.

Instead of going through that unfortunate sequence of events, let your dog's ears tell you what they are thinking! If their ears are forward/alert more than briefly it's time to assess immediately your plan of action: correct, interrupt, move away, and/or re-engage!

Forward ears are so cute for pictures, but are a sign of struggles to come on your walk!

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Big and Littles: Things to be aware of when socializing dogs of different sizes

When it comes to socializing dogs, there are many things to be aware of to keep everyone safe!

Learning how to read body language, de-escalate arousal, address over excitement or bullying, advocate for each dog, and match good social partners are all important foundation skills as you start working on socialization. You have to basically play lifeguard to a sea of dogs!

What some folks may not realize is that size of dog should be taken into account in socialization, as well!

I'm sure we've all see the "small dog section of the dog park" and not questioned it, because it has a shorter obstacle course, smaller water bowls, and appears to be calmer at times (fyi, I don't recommend dog parks at all but the fact that many have a small dog section is commendable!). Have you ever seen a small dog in the big dog section, though?

First off, be very aware that some larger dogs have strong prey drive and view little dogs as something to hunt - just like how they go after cats, squirrels, possums, etc. Predatory behavior is very strong in many breeds. Be careful!

The reality is that many small dogs can "hang" and hold their own with the big guys and isolating them from bigger pals just seems like overkill. That said, the humans responsible for socialization need to be very aware of how much influence they have over their group of dogs at all times, but especially when there is a small dog in the mix.

At first glance it's easy to look and think - well yeah, they're much smaller than the other dogs so getting stepped on or run over during play will be very rough and possibly cause an injury. That's so true! If play gets out of hand, a little could get hurt.

But what if your little doesn't really play and minds their own business? That certainly keeps physical interactions down, but always be aware of what is going on around them. Dogs use body language, growls, snaps, barks, etc to communicate with each other, and if there is a scenario where a little dog snaps, barks, or lunges at a bigger dog (maybe asking for space or possibly guarding something and being possessive) and the bigger dog doesn't take the hint and sees them as "fighting words," you've got a serious problem.

In both of the above scenarios, whether it's a little playing or a little trying to communicate in the yard - if an injury happens (or maybe they just get scared or overwhelmed), they may vocalize/cry - which immediately becomes a safety issue. The crying/yelp of any dog, but particularly a small dog can set off the prey drive of others. Before you know it, you've got instinct taking over and dogs trying to go after the crying dog. I know it sounds gruesome, but the reality is they are dogs...why do you think they love squeaky toys so much? It's because they are designed to click into their predatory instincts by replicating the sound of injured prey! Never forget, dogs are apex predators living in our homes. Owners must be smart and aware about interactions with others!

This doesn't mean that bigs and littles can't coexist or even play well together - what it does mean is that the human responsibility for this "puppy party" needs to be matching appropriate partners (not just every dog can be with any dog), know how to identify and address potential conflict or high arousal situations, and have influence and respect of all the dogs present.

Be smart and aware about socialization so you don't put your dog in a situation to fail!

little dogs prey drive

The problem with feeling guilty about using a crate

When it comes to crating your dog, many people feel very guilty or uncomfortable with a few things - typically the amount of time their dog is in their crate when owners work away from home, if the dog has to go back in their crate if their owner wants to go back out of the house again, and on top of all of that, their dog sleeping in their crate.

Crate training and predictable behavior from your dog while unsupervised go hand and hand! It's not uncommon for folks to feel so bad about the 6-8 hours of crate time while they are at work, that they get home and leave their dog out of their kennel while they run to the store for errands or go out to dinner. Unfortunately, many times people return home to a variety of things - like chewed up furniture, things missing from the trash can or counter top, pee and poop in the house, etc - things that are easily controlled and prevented with their dog's crate training routine, but are given the green light when left out of the kennel.

A similar pattern can happen with dogs who spend time out of the crate overnight. Not to say some dogs won't simply rest on their dog bed in your room, but many dogs (particularly those not mature enough or have not earned the right by general improvement in their behavior and state of mind) will make mistakes or get into trouble while they are unsupervised as their owner sleeps.

If you are giving your dog an opportunity for exercise and potty relief a few times per day, kennel time isn't really that much different than your dog laying somewhere else in your house. The only difference is that when they are done with their nap in their kennel, they may wake up and eat their provided food or chew on their dog toy because those are the options - on the flip side, your dog outside of the crate has more opportunity to make mistakes and get into things they shouldn't.

Utilizing a kennel when you can't supervise your dog helps set your family up for success, and that's why most trainers encourage puppy and dog owners alike to help create routine and boundaries in their home with crate training.

They're going to do a lot of laying down anyway, why not make sure it is in a controlled and safe place? 

All these pups look pretty comfortable - crate or not :)