Category Archives: Dogs

Puppy Training 101: Part Three – Leash Training

Puppy Training 101: Part Three.

Since training our new Pet Circkles Mascot Maya from 8 weeks old, we thought this would be a good way to walk people step by step through the process, techniques and tips for successful puppyhood for dog and owner. Maya is currently an 8 week old English Mastiff, and because mastiffs are known for their stubbornness and difficulty in training, she makes a good example of the right and wrong way to train a willful pup, because mastiffs are nothing if not willful. Incidentally, the mastiff breed is not recommended for just anyone, because of their nature, they must be trained properly from the puppy stage or they can become too difficult to handle as adults.

puppy lunging on leashLeash Training.

Training a dog to walk on a leash can often be the most challenging task of training. You always see examples of owners being dragged down the street while “walking” their dog on a leash. Teaching a dog to heel is the profound wish of most any dog owner, but it is the most difficult to get a dog to understand why they need to be on a leash and cannot just roam free all the time like when they are at home.

If you are starting a puppy, get them used to the feel of a collar right away. Even if you are not taking them anywhere, let them wear a collar around the house at least once a day to get them used to the feel of it. The reason many dogs fight leash training is simply because they do not like the feel of something restricting around their neck. It is in their nature to fight to get free of anything that is restricting them physically. It’s a matter of life and death to them. Keep this in mind and you will have a better understanding and compassion when it comes to asking your companion animal to be tethered to you on occassion.

You would be surprised how much animals learn from other animals. Often a puppy will vigourously fight a leash until they see other dogs on one and how they behave. After your pup seems comfortable wearing his collar around the house withoug scratching to try and get it off, put a leash on them and walk them around the house and yard and see how they behave. Start out leash training in an environement they feel comfortable in first, to see how they will react before you get them out in public. If they pitch a fit over the leash, find a way to reward them for being on one, such as taking them outside on a leash – if they like to be outside – or for a walk, then take it off right awayas soon as they get outside. The idea is to let them know being restricted is only temporary and for their own safety, and they will have their freedom back quickly. Gradually build up how long they are on the leash.

If you can take your puppy to a dog park that requires leashes, or the vet, or some public place where dogs are allowed only on a leash, let him see how the other dogs are acting nice and calm on a leash, and your pup will quickly see that it is not something to fear but is normal practice in the dog world.

If you are trying to get your dog into a car, a building, or some other place they have never been too and are scared of and you are doing it by putting them on a leash, they will associate going some place they don’t want to with being put on a leash. You don’t want them to associate the leash with fear or being forced to do something they don’t want to or they will definitely fight it. This is why it is important to get them comfortable with a leash and collar before you ask them to do something they don’t want to . Give them many rewards and praises for doing what you ask on a leash or for just putting it on to begin with. If the only way your dog can go for a walk is on a leash because you live in the city, this part of leash trainging will be made easier for you because the dog will want to be on a leash so they can go outside. It is the second part of this article that will be your challenge.

rottweiler with leash in Getting Your Dog to Heel:

Once your pup gets comfortable with a leash, the next step is teaching them that they cannot drag you everywhere they go. This is the hardest for them to understand because you are trying to teach an animal that is used to going pretty much anywhere they want, when they want, and how fast they want, that they will have to have patience while waiting for you. Patience is not a puppy’s strong suite. In fact, it is not even in their vocabulary.

Often a pup will be more willing to stick close to you in a strange environment they are not used to. This is when taking them to a public place that allows dogs on a leash may come in handy. A new place, with new smells and sounds can be a bit intimidating to a puppy ( or not, it depends on the pup), and if they are acting more cautious and sticking to your side, this is a good opportunity to take advantage of and teach then to heel while you are walking around this strange place with them on a leash. If they cling to your leg, even better. Walk them around slowly, get them to focus on you, tell them to heel and when they do it naturally, praise and reward them. Keep doing this until it wears off and the pup is no longer intimidated by his surroundings. Then try it again very soon after this experience in another strange place. The goal here is that he pup will associate security (being close to you) and safety while being on a leash.

Chock chains are now a big pet No-NO! Veterinarians claim they can cause neck damage and damage to the throat. If a dog pulls hard on them, they can choke themselves, hence the name, so now many conscientious pet owners use a harness. Harnesses are very comfortable and safe but do nothing to help train a dog to heel. They actually give them more leverage to pull and struggle against. So….you have to find a more creative way to get your dog to stick by your side and heel. Pulling them back constantly and saying “heel” is not the answer; a dog can do that all day long and you will end up with a very sore arm and shoulder.

To teach a dog to heel, you first will have to teach then to sit on command. Once they have the sit command down, put them on a leash, walk a couple steps with a treat in your hand holding it just out of reach in front of their face to keep their attention on you and so your hand positioned in front of them keeps them from bolting off. They can only go as fast as you go with your hand in front of their face.

Go a few steps, tell them to sit, give them a reward. Walk a few more steps, tell them to sit, give them a reward and repeat this process until they start to sit every time you slow down and face them with the treat. Do not bend over while doing this, but try to stay in an upright walking position and just bend at the knees to reach them with the treat so they know you are not just stopping but plan to continue forward movement. You don’t want to confuse them with every other time you make them stop to do something, the goal is to keep them walking but right by your side. They will pick up on your body language before anything that you say to them.

Next, go a few steps, act like you are going to slow down and give them the treat and tell them to heel. Keep them walking slowly at your side while giving them word-association by telling them to heel. When it looks like they are automatically slowing down every time you do, keep saying heel and eventually they will get it. Don’t expect a dog to heel forever though. Walks should be fun and if you ask your dog to heel all the time, they will not want to do it. So…get them to stay within shouting distance, call them back when they get too far ahead of you then make them heel, but set them free again as soon as possible. If you are walking on a road with traffic, this is a good beginning to getting them to come to you and heel whenever a car is passing you. Eventually they will associate the sound of a car coming down the road to running to your side; which is what you want.

Puppy Training 101: Part Two

Puppy Training 101: Part Two.

Since training our new Pet Circkles Mascot Maya from 8 weeks old, we thought this would be a good way to walk people step by step through the process, techniques and tips for successful puppyhood for dog and owner. Maya is currently an 8 week old English Mastiff, and because mastiffs are known for their stubbornness and difficulty in training, she makes a good example of the right and wrong way to train a willful pup, because mastiffs are nothing if not willful. Incidentally, the mastiff breed is not recommended for just anyone, because of their nature, they must be trained properly from the puppy stage or they can become too difficult to handle as adults.

Stopping Bad Habits Like Biting, Aggressive Play Etc.

Many pups will bite at your legs, heels, hands to entice you to play. However, once those little puppy teeth start coming in they are like Parana teeth and can be quite painful when they catch the skin. Puppies don’t know this though, because they are used to sparring and biting and wrestling with their litter mates who have much toucher skin then humans and fur. So when you start to complain or yell when they get too rough, some pups see this as a challenge to play even harder. They don’t know they are doing real damage so easily to our fragile, furless skin.

The ultimate goal is to train your puppy to stop mouthing and biting people altogether. However, the first and most important objective is to teach him that people have very sensitive skin, so he must be very gentle when using his mouth. Every now and then, a pup will bite his playmate too hard. The victim of the painful bite yelps and usually stops playing. The offender is often taken aback by the yelp and also stops playing for a moment. However, pretty soon, both playmates are back in the game. Through this kind of interaction, puppies learn to control the intensity of their bites so that no one gets hurt and the play can continue without interruption. Puppies can learn how to be gentle from each other and their mother, we have to teach them the rules with people-play because they don’t know them yet.

puppy grabbing shirtAs long as a puppy is mouthing you gently, act relaxed, but usually this won’t last once they get bigger and play for them becomes more intense. Whenever they bite too hard, give out a yelp (or yell OW!) very loudly and suddenly to startle them so they stop immediately. Tell them “No biting” and once they calm down, you can resume play. They will forget however, and will bite too hard again. Keep being persistent about not allowing them to bite too hard and if yelling does not do it, stop playing with them immediately, get up and walk away but stay within their eyesight. Tell them in a stern voice, “no biting.” Make sure they are looking at you, watching your reaction and unwillingness to play with them while you reprimand them. This is how they will make the association that if they bite you too hard, you will quit playing – which is the last thing a puppy wants- and he will learn that if he wants to keep playing with you, he will have to modify his behavior. Once he calms down, and especially if he sits, play can continue in a more relaxed, calm manner. Repeat as needed, which will probably be often because pups engaged in play are usually too excited to really pay attention and remember what you just told them 2 minutes ago. As they get older, if you continue to discipline them this way, they will eventually grow up and understand it as their attention span gets better and they get to know what you consider acceptable behavior and what you don’t. They have to learn everything about how to interact within a human world and you have to be their teacher.

NEVER, punch, slap or hit a puppy for biting too hard. This does not register in their minds as a reprimand and with some breeds, this can make them even more aggressive; like a mastiff. They see hitting as biting and a signal to ramp up their aggressive game, which is the last thing you want. It is best to remain calm, alpha dogs (or lead dogs) are always calm educators and discipliners which is how they earn the respect of the rest of the pack. Never lose your cool with your dog or they will lose respect for you. Be firm, talk in a controlled but stern, distinct voice with short commands and be consistent. It may take a few times, but your furry playmate should catch on quickly and as they mature.

Puppy Training 101: Part One – Housebreaking

Puppy Training 101: Part One.

Since training our new Pet Circkles Mascot Maya from 8 weeks old, we thought this would be a good way to walk people step by step through the process, techniques and tips for successful puppyhood for dog and owner. Maya is currently an 8 week old English Mastiff, and because mastiffs are known for their stubbornness, she makes a good example of the right and wrong way to train a willful pup, because mastiffs are nothing if not willful. Incidentally, the mastiff breed is not for just anyone because of their nature, they must be trained properly from the puppy stage or they can become too difficult to handle as adults.

Housebreaking a Puppy: Tips and Techniques.

When a pet owner brings home that furry, cuddly, cute bundle of paws, the first task at hand is usually potty training and housebreaking their new pup. Most puppies are a bit shy and insecure for the first couple of weeks in a new home and with strange people, but after a few brief weeks, they will quickly overcome this to become little Tasmanian devils around the house – chewing, destroying, biting and out of control little balls of fur.

Potty Training is the first task to tackle, and let’s just say, not all pups catch onto it the same way or in the same time frame. Some pups will get it after just one accident on the floor, others will take weeks or months to finally grow up enough to mentally get it, and what may work for one pup may not necessarily work for another. How quickly they catch on to going potty outdoors also has a great deal to do with how they were brought into this world and housed before you got them. A pup from a pet store will be the most difficult to potty train. This is because they have been taught to relieve themselves where they sleep and eat because they are kept in small cages and pet store windows before they are purchased and they have no choice but to potty where they sleep and eat. Most dogs do not like to soil their living quarters, but since pet store dogs have no choice, it becomes a very difficult habit to break them off right from the start.

The most important thing to keep in mind when housebreaking a pup is that an 8 week old puppy is still growing and its organs are still developing and thus they just don’t have the bladder control an adult dog has. An 8 week old pup will have to urinate about every two hours, so cut them some leeway because accidents are bound to happen until they get a little older and more developed. Sometimes, they just plain forget to go outside to go. Everybody would love a pup that only takes one or two tries to be housebroken, but when you get a puppy, you take on the responsibility that this may not be the case. Set yourself up for the worst-case scenario and you may be pleasantly surprised when they catch on quicker than you thought they would. This sets up a more pleasant puppy experience for everyone.

Another important thing to keep in mind to be successful at potty training is to understand that it is in a dog’s nature to not want to soil their living area, or at least the area where they sleep and eat. Keeping this in mind, and using this one fundamental understanding of canine behavior to your advantage will spare you a great deal of time and effort in housebreaking.
Let’s start with this basic understanding of canines. I’ve had two dogs that were housebroken in one day, a couple dogs that took 3 or 4 tries, and one dog, a Jack Russell which is a breed that is suppose to be smart, that just didn’t get it and it took months to housebreak. I got her from a woman who bought her from a pet store then realized she didn’t have time to train a puppy because she had just started her own business. I had to literally make the Jack Russell an outdoor dog until she got old enough to hold her urine for several hours, which was until she was about 6 months old. Luckily I got her in the summer and already had a big fenced back yard she could live in until that happened. When she was first introduced to the house, all the usually potty training tricks had absolutely no affect on her. When she had to go, she went right where she was, because that was what living in a pet store had taught her.
The two dogs that were potty trained in one day came from breeders whose mother had free access to go outside whenever she wanted. Puppies learn how to behave from their mothers, so if momma is able to go potty outside, the pups quickly learn that that is the place to go.
Maya, our example puppy mascot, is somewhere in-between. Her breeder raised her in a specially built wooden box in her barn that she used for litters. It was about 5×5 feet in one corner of the barn and had a sand floor – like a big sandbox; which made it convenient for the breeder as far as cleaning up after litters of puppies, but did not help to teach the pups to relieve themselves outside of their living area. I suspected I was going to have to potty train Maya the same way I had trained pet store pups because basically her environment up to that point was quite similar. She had never seen the outdoors until I purchased her, so it took about a good solid persistent week to get her housebroke, and there were a couple accidents along the way when she got so involved in discovering something new or playing that having to go pee took her by surprise and her little bladder didn’t quite make it to the door to go outside before she had to go.

potty training a puppy has accidentsQuickest way to housebreak a puppy: If your new pup is going potty in the house, it is because they have not yet recognized your house as their house. They need to realize that the whole house is now their living area and belongs to them. Once they feel like su casa is their casa, they will not want to soil it and will want to please you by not dirtying the communal living space.
How do you get them to call your home their home? Many people will crate pups while they are at work for their own safety and to stop them from going on the floor, but this only reinforces the cage-mentality that it’s okay to relieve themselves in a confined space because they have no choice. Many pet owner get frustrated that the crate technique does not work the way trainers recommended it should.

For a very young puppy (8-10 weeks old) keep them confined to the smallest room in your house first, like a laundry or bath room. Puppy proof it by removing anything they can chew on, get into, get hurt on or destroy as much as possible. Some people say to put newspaper on the floor in this space, but many pups will just play with the paper because they don’t know it’s for going potty on. You can try it if it makes you feel better, just don’t get disappointed if the pup doesn’t automatically know what to do with it.
Put a blanket or dog bed in one corner, their food dishes in another and a few of their toys so they get the idea that this new room is their home. Makes sure you can take them outside every couple of hours, especially right after they wake up and about an hour after they eat. Always take them out the same door, on a leash if you need to, so they learn the way to the outdoor potty area so they can tell you when they need to go later on. Give them a treat and positive praise and say something like, “Good boy go potty outside” while you pat them and praise them. Then they will know they are doing the desired behavior for you and will start to associate it with the words, “do you need to go potty?” for the future.
If you work for a living and this potty-training schedule does not work for you, the best thing to do is set up an area outside for your pup while you are away so they are not forced to relieve themselves in the house just because you are gone for long hours. Then work on the housebreaking method above on the weekends or the days that you don’t have to work. If it is too cold to leave them outside for many hours, you may have to sacrifice your garage, but it is still separate enough from the house that most pups will understand it is still not going potty in the house. Truly, if you don’t have time to train a puppy, it is best to pay someone else to do it for you rather than doing it half-hazardly which will only frustrate you and make you hate your new pup instead of enjoying them.

Once your pup starts to catch on to the route and routine for leaving their small living space to go potty outside on a scheduled and regular basis (you will know when this happens because they should start automatically heading for the door you have been taking them out of without you leading them much), then you can graduate them to a little bit bigger room of their own in the house, and then gradually to maybe half of the house that they have access to, and eventually the whole house. Place their food dishes in one room, their bed in another, play with them and their toys throughout the house, and continue to take them for scheduled potty breaks outside through the same door every time. Eventually they will tell you when they need to go outside by sitting or standing in front of the same door until you open it and let them out. Take them on a leash in and out of the house the first few times until you can trust that they will come back to the house when they are done doing their business outside. Give them a treat to encourage and reinforce that they are doing the right thing by going potty outside, and tell them “good girl or boy for going potty outside” so they start to associate “going potty outside” as words so later, when they get more mature, you can ask them, “Do you need to potty” and they will know what that means and either tell you yes by standing by the same door they’ve been going in and out of, or by wagging their tail or jumping up and down, some expression that that is what they want. Then….you are well on your way to having a happy, housebroken pup and companion animal life.

Stop Chewing!

Stop Chewing!

Prevention Is Your Best Option. As with most dog behavior problems it’s much easier to prevent a bad habit from starting rather than trying to break the habit later. Puppies need to chew because they are teething or bored while you are away. Give them something acceptable they would prefer to chew on rather than anything else, raw bones are excellent. Not rawhides, as puppies can choke on them.

– Puppy proof your home (take away the temptation). Keep your puppy in a safe and confined area while you are away from home. Most puppies actually prefer to be in a confined space while you are away because it makes them feel more secure in a strange environment. This could be a dog crate, kennel run, laundry room, or any small secure room in your house. Of course you should provide a few chew toys or bones in this area and ensure that there are no dangerous objects present or hazardous things they may get into, like laundry soap, cleaners etc.

– Provide your dog with lots of exercise, both physical and mental when you are at home, such as games, obedience training, walks, tricks etc.,

How To Stop Existing Dog Chewing Problems. Always keep in mind that your dog can’t tell the difference between a $200 pair of shoe’s and a leather or cloth toy. And your dog is not chewing to be naughty, they chew because that’s what dogs need to do to keep their teeth in shape. It’s perfectly normal for them.

– If your dog has a particular liking for a certain object like a furniture leg, you can try coating the object with a foul tasting substance (non toxic) such as bitter apple, cayenne pepper or tabasco sauce.This method can be effective but because it doesn’t actually teach your dog to stop chewing, it may mean that your dog simply chews on a different object. Of course, if you put some tasty raw bones in the area, the chewing behavior will hopefully shift straight over to the bone. We haven’t seen a dog yet that prefers a table leg to a raw bone and raw bones keep their teeth clean and provide them with needed calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other nutrients. Make sure the bone is raw, not cooked: cooked bones can splinter in their stomachs. And make it a softer, easy-to-chew bone like a flat rib bone or small lamb leg bone so they don’t get discouraged by not being to actually eat it and go find something else to chew on. Those big, round femur bones from cows are too big for even giant breed dogs to actually chew, and they will discard them. Smaller bones that are just big enough to keep them busy for a while are key, but that they can still break chunks off of to satisfy their needs.

– If you catch your dog in the act of chewing something inappropriate, give a firm “No!” and replace the object with a tasty bone. Let the dog keep a couple bones laying around the house that they can get at any time they want. Give your dog praise when he starts chewing the bone. Never ever reprimand your dog if you don’t actually catch him in the act of chewing. If you don’t issue your correction within about two seconds of his inappropriate chewing behavior, he won’t have a clue what you are disciplining him for.

© 2013 Redstone Promotional Communications/

Bad Pet Food Still Coming From China.


In 2007, there was a huge nation-wide pet food recall on several brands of cat and dog food coming from China. Further investigation determined what is now called, “Protein Adulteration” as the reason for many pet deaths from products that used corn, wheat or rice gluten in the ingredients coming from China. Protein adulteration is the adulteration and contamination of food and feed ingredients with inexpensive melamine and other compounds such as cyanuric acid, ammeline and ammelide. These adulterants can be used to inflate the apparent protein content of products, so that inexpensive ingredients can pass for more expensive, concentrated proteins. Melamine by itself has not been thought to be very toxic to animals or humans except possibly in very high concentrations, but the combination of melamine and cyanuric acid has been implicated in kidney failure. Reports that cyanuric acid may be a widely-used adulterant in China have heightened concerns about human health as well ever since the FDA findings of the tainted pet food being used to produce farm animal feed and fish feed. The FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture discovered that some animals that ate the tainted feed had been processed into human food. Government scientists have determined that there is very low risk to human health from consuming food from animals that ate tainted feed. All tainted pet food, animal and fish feed, and vegetable proteins continue to be recalled and destroyed.
As a result of the FDA and USDA’s comprehensive investigation, on February 6, 2008, the FDA announced that two Chinese nationals and the businesses they operate, along with a U.S. company and its president and chief executive officer, were indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a scheme to import products purported to be wheat gluten into the United States that were contaminated with melamine.

However, it didn’t end there; in fact, it hasn’t ended yet with China’s blatant disregard for pet health and apparent poisoning of pets. The latest reports of sick and dying pets involve chicken jerky treats by brands such as Waggin’ Train or Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats or tenders, both produced by Nestle Purina PetCare, as well as Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by Del Monte both of who use ingredients coming from China., has an online petition asking top retailers such as Safeway, Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Costco to stop selling Waggin’ Train brand white chicken jerky treats. One San Francisco pet owner, Dana Moskowitz said she witnessed her dog, Bella, almost die of kidney failure after she fed her Waggin’ Train jerky she bought at a Safeway store. The petition, started by Rita Desollar, an Illinois woman who said her dog died a week after eating two pieces of Waggin’ Train chicken jerky, has more than 60,000 people who have signed it at the time of this article, yet nothing is being regarding jgggkkkgga recall.
Keith Shopp, a spokesman for Nestle Purina PetCare Co., said the company has no plans to voluntarily remove its chicken jerky treats from store shelves, and most of the big retailers, when contacted, said they have no plans to pull the chicken jerky treats in question off their shelves either. This is partly because The FDA, which began its investigation into Chinese chicken jerky treats in 2007, has been unable to conclude that the treats were responsible, but has issued a warning to pet owners “to stop feeding the jerky pet treat product” if their pets show signs of poor health.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that since early 2011, consumers have reported 2,200 cases of pets that became ill and 361 reports of pets that died after eating the popular chicken jerky treats.

How long does it have to take and how many pets have to die before stores will pull these products off their shelves? When asked why, a few large retailers actually admitted that they won’t do it simply because it involves a lot of brands and they don’t want their shelves to look empty. Shame on them for thinking that the appearance of their stocked shelves is more important than a pet’s life. If any store owners are reading this here’s my advice: if you want to impress your customers and have return business, pull these products off your shelves now regardless of how it “looks.” Put up signs on your shelves explaining why they look empty and your customers will actually respect you more for it. From a marketing and PR standpoint, this will do you more good in the long run than not pulling harmful products. Seriously, I sometimes really wonder about the PR ability of some store owners and their marketing teams.

Alternative: The best way to give your dog safe, more nutritious treats is to give them what raw food diet users give their dogs: (raw chicken or turkey necks, chicken drumsticks. or raw beef bones etc., ) The bones MUST BE RAW and not cooked. Cooked bones become brittle and splinter which could puncture an animal’s stomach. Raw bones have been fed to dogs for years by raw food diet advocates with very little incident. After all, this is what dogs would eat in the wild. Often you can get raw treats directly from your butcher that are much less expensive than purchasing them from a grocery store.
For cats, a viable raw treat is tuna in water in a glass jar which can be resealed and kept in the frig for at least a week. Or raw, peeled shrimp, which can be bought by the bag and kept in the freezer for months. Thaw out just enough shrimp to get you through a week and keep them in the frig so they are handy. Keep the rest frozen until needed. A bag of shrimp can last a very long time and not be grossly expensive if you only give one shrimp as an occasional treat. It beats the heck out of the alternative, which is a dead pet or thousands of dollars in vet bills.

Photos from top: Waggin Treats, one of the brands involved, 2.) map of China. 3.) Arusha Brand is a company in Canada promoting raw treats and foods for dogs.