• Q: My girlfriend and I are getting ready to adopt a dog and we keep hearing about the “matchmaking process.” What is the most important thing to consider when determining whether or not an animal is “the right match?”

    A: I’m so glad you asked this question, because making the right match is extremely important and I think it’s smart to educate yourself on the process. Typically, when adoption organizations talk about making “the right match,” they are generally thinking of specifics such as making sure that an animal matches your energy level (ex. if you are not home for eight hours every day than an adult pet may be a good option); or making sure you pick a dog that gets along with other dogs if you want to take your dog to dog parks; or ensuring that your pet is relaxed and tolerant if you have to children.

    While all these things are important, I believe the most important question adopters should ask themselves before adopting is what their expectations are. They can do this by making sure they really understand their needs, their negotiables, and what kind of lifestyle they can accept with a pet.  Very often people forget to think about what they are willing to compromise on before they bring a pet into their home.  It’s very likely that their life will change significantly once they bring home a dog or cat and it’s helpful to think about your sleep patterns, your social life, your finances, and your tolerance and patience for bumps in the road. There will be accidents and chewed shoes, and while the benefits far outweigh the sacrifices for most, it’s important to have realistic expectations. If you have realistic expectations about life with a pet, a shelter employee can help you find a wonderful companion to match your lifestyle and personality.

    Visit Bideawee’s training section to learn more about your dog’s behavior and training needs.

  • Q: Now that summer is here, I would love to bring my dog to the dog park to exercise and socialize, but I’ve been told it can be a dangerous place for some dogs. Should I be concerned?

    A: Dog parks can be a fun place for you and your companion during the spring/summer months. Being outside, in the fresh air with friends can be a pleasant experience for everyone involved. Recently, however, there has been some debate about how good or appropriate dog parks are. The reason for this debate is not necessarily about how big the dog park is, how much grass it has as opposed to concrete, or even the breed or size of the dogs there. It has mainly to do with what the humans are doing at the park. Recent studies have shown that the best dog parks are the ones where people are involved and are actively engaged with their dog and the rest of the environment.

    Even experts would concede that we (humans) do not always know exactly what our dog's intentions are during "play", so the most important thing to do is to give your dog feedback while they are in the act of playing. Simply telling your dog "good boy" when he is playing gently and nicely or an "ok, that's enough" when your dog is playing a little too rough can have a tremendous impact on your dog’s behavior. So, when looking for a dog park, try to find one where the people are walking around the park, attending to their dogs, as opposed to chatting on their phones, or engaged in something other than their dog.

    Once you have found what looks like a good place for your dog to interact with other dogs, have a game plan on how you will introduce your dog to the park. Before bringing him in the enclosed part with the other dogs, it may be a good idea to walk your dog around the property, away from the dog park fence for about 10-15 minutes so your dog can acclimate to his surroundings. When you are ready to enter the park, see if the owners can help call their dogs away from the gate, so your dog is not rushed by the others. Giving your dog some space when entering the park can help them feel more at ease. Once your dog is hopefully walking around, sniffing the other dogs and interacting, it is a good idea to call your dog back regularly to check in with them and to avoid over stimulation. Practicing the come command with your dog should help give you some reliability when you need to call them back if there is a need (you need to leave, one dog is acting aggressively, another dog is scared, etc.).

    At the end of the day, introducing your dog to the dog park is not that much different from any new experience. You want to make sure that you communicate with your dog, and are mindful of your external surroundings. Every dog is different and some prefer the park more than others, but if you take precautions and pay attention to your dog and the environment, you can ensure a safe and pleasurable experience for your dog.

    Visit Bideawee’s training section to learn more about your dog’s behavior and training needs.

  • Q: How can I teach my dog to play frisbee? Or swim for the first time? I've seen other pets take to these activities right away but my dog seems frightened/ uninterested.

    A: Now that the weather is becoming warmer (fingers crossed), doing outdoor activities with your dog is much easier and fun for both owner and pet. When deciding on what kind of games to play with your dog, there are a few things to consider such as: "will my dog be nervous in the water?"; "Can he catch a frisbee?"; "what do I do if he has no interest in the activities I try?"

    The first step is to figure out what motivates your dog. Some like to chase a ball; others prefer swimming, playing tug, agility activities, finding hidden objects, running, or an assortment of the above. Sometimes it can be challenging to initially identify what motivates your dog, but there is not a single dog out there that lacks motivation for something. Once you find out what that something is, you’ll want to begin thinking about conditioning and obedience training.

    Conditioning is basically the idea of getting your dog used to something, typically in a positive manner (especially if they are scared). So, for example, if you want to get your dog to swim for the first time, you might want to consider getting a small kiddie pool, filling it with water, and gently placing the dog in the shallow water (the person can be in the pool with them) while giving high level treats to positively condition the dog to water. This is better than the alternative of throwing your dog in the pool and hoping they do not get scared. Over time, some dogs are quick to warm up to the idea of being in deep water, where others take longer. Either way, positively conditioning your dog to new things is always a good idea, slowly progressing to the ultimate goal.

    Obedience training is part of the equation when doing things such as playing with a frisbee or playing fetch with a ball. Essentially, you are teaching specific actions and putting them together. Certainly there are some dogs that seem to be naturals at these activities, but if your dog is not, that doesn’t mean they cannot learn. You can use obedience training to teach your dog to catch a frisbee by first teaching them to "grab" the frisbee from your hand, then tossing the frisbee from a very short distance to teach them to grab out of the air, then eventually tossing from a further distance, and so on. Fetch would work similarly. First, teach your dog to "take" the ball out of your hand, and then teach them to "drop" it out of their mouth. Once your dog becomes accustomed to these two actions, you can begin throwing the ball short distances, telling the dog to "take" the ball, "bring" it to you, and then "drop" (you can first give them a treat when dropping the ball in front of you). Repeat this process, and you are officially playing fetch! If you approach training step by step, you can accomplish a great deal. Remember to take your time and have fun!

    Visit Bideawee’s training section to learn more about the training services offered at Bideawee’s Manhattan and Westhampton locations, or call 866-262-8133 to set up an appointment today.

  • Q: I leave the house for work a few hours earlier than my husband, and my dog, Willoughby, won’t let my husband sleep in. He paws and barks at him to get him up, despite the fact that he doesn’t have to go to the bathroom (he uses a wee wee pad inside the house). Once up, he just seems to want to lay down with my husband in the living room, but doesn’t want my husband to lie in bed and go back to sleep. Any idea how we can break him out of this cycle?

    A: Well, the good news is that your problem is not unusual. Many people face the same issue with trying to get their dog on an appropriate schedule. Many times you see this when the dog reaches adolescence because they have more energy and become more confident. There are a few things that can be done here to help the situation.

    First, we have to make sure Willoughby's needs are satisfied so he is not looking for one of his basic needs (eating, elimination) to be met at 6:45 am. Since he is able to use his wee-wee pad, it is not likely that he is waking Lawrence up to eliminate, so it looks like you have that main issue already under control. It is also unlikely that he is waking Lawrence up to eat, unless he is feeding Willoughby when he goes into the living room with him (if he is doing this you will need to stop that right away).

    It is hard for me to gauge why your dog has a desire to get Lawrence up to go into the living room, but my guess is that he is getting something out of it. Whether it's being fed, going out for a walk, or just attention and petting, it is likely one of these things. Because I have worked with your dog before, I have the sense that he is waking him up to get attention. Even the act of looking at Willoughby, walking into the living room and acknowledging him is enough to keep this cycle going. So, the question is, what are your options?

    There are a few ways you can approach this situation. The first option would be for you to take him on a quick walk outside for some physical and mental exercise before you go to the gym (10-15 minute walk), and then give him something to do such as a stuffed Kong on his bed so he is occupied, hopefully letting Lawrence sleep. If there is no time for a walk that early in the am, then just giving him a stuffed Kong or a chew toy before you leave may be enough. You could consider giving him his allotted am meal in his Kong during this time. Make sure that if you go with this plan, that you are doing it while he is not barking or demanding attention, otherwise you will be left with the same problem, only it will be earlier in the morning.

    The other option would be to not change your routine at all, but make sure that Willoughby is not getting any attention when trying to wake Lawrence up. Easier said than done, but Lawrence would literally have to lie in bed and pretend to not hear the dog at all (ignore him completely). This means, not talking to him, looking at him, or even moving at all, so as to make Willoughby understand that his actions are for nothing. Eventually (probably a few days), he will cease to do this altogether.

    Any of these options are appropriate, but I find that some kind of middle ground works well. I usually let the owner decide what is right for them, but giving him a chew toy or something to do before he is demanding attention and barking is a good way to go. Either way, he has to be taught that he will not be “rewarded” for inappropriate behavior, otherwise the cycle will continue. In time, you will find a routine that works well for you, your husband, and Willoughby.

    Visit Bideawee's training section to learn more about your dog’s behavior and training needs.

  • Q: Why does my dog play with a dog at daycare all day and then growl at the same dog in the parking lot?

    A: Every social animal depends on the surrounding environment when it comes to how they react in any given situation. Dogs are obviously no exception. One could argue that dogs are more sensitive to their environmental changes than people are, although I will say that cats seem to be even more dependent on environmental stability.

    This is very evident in how dogs react to other dogs. Every time your dog is in a different environment, the meaning of a command ("sit", "down"), a social interaction, a sound or a familiar face takes on a different tone to them. Although they do still know the commands, recognize their friends, and even remember hearing those typical sounds (car honking, people talking, birds chirping), how they interpret this information changes greatly depending on where they are experiencing it.

    My guess is that your dog feels comfortable with the other dog in daycare when playing off lead in the daycare facility. There is likely a familiarity in the play area, and a consistency in the environment that your dog has become accustomed to that he does not experience in the parking lot. In my opinion, a good dog daycare will make sure that the area is clean of strange animal smells, has a regular staff that the dogs get used to, introduces new dogs to the group slowly, and minimizes random variables like noise from cars, sirens, etc. This allows your dog to let his guard down some.

    Also, when a dog is on a lead they tend to be more reactive and defensive. Certainly it's easy to understand why, as a lead inhibits the dog’s ability to use his flight response if he feels threatened. Although the other dog may not be intentionally threatening to your dog, the importance of being able to "leave" if necessary is still a very important aspect to dog behavior. When dogs are playing, there are a ton of subtle cues and body postures that we as humans do not see easily. When your dog is playing with this other dog, there may be a time when he is not enjoying the play at that very moment, but is able to "walk away" when he needs to, and usually the other dog obliges and leaves him alone and waits for him to be ready another time (this is considered proper dog etiquette).

    So, the problem is, how can we make our dogs feel more comfortable when they are on lead (and reduce barking, growling, etc.)? It's not as though we can let our dogs off lead in a parking lot. In my group classes, this is one of the most important topics we discuss. The first week of class usually consists of dogs barking and lunging on lead (playfully). Part of what we have to teach the dogs in class is to how to behave when on lead if other dogs are around. This is where good, solid, obedience training comes in. Basically put, teach your dog to "sit" every time he sees another dog, and allow him to approach the other dog on lead to say "hi" if it is deemed safe. It can take some time, but with work and consistency, most social and friendly dogs can learn this. So you have to be specific, and go through the motions teaching your dog exactly what he needs to do in that parking lot, and then eventually in different areas also. Finding a good group obedience class can be very effective for this.

    Be careful, and have fun. Remember, our dogs have incredible senses which are hard for them to ignore, but consistent training can, and will encourage new behaviors. Visit Bideawee’s training section to learn more about how you can instill healthy and safe behaviors in your four-legged friend.

  • Q: My dog Jake seems to be more energetic, destructive and disobedient than usual. I'm not sure what is causing it. I haven't been able to take him out much during the winter due to the cold weather. Could this be causing the problem?

    A: Many dog owners in the northeast and other parts of the country with cold winters face similar issues, so your inclination may be correct. However, it is important not to assume this automatically. Any time a dog seems to be behaving differently than he typically does, a trip to the veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical problems is a prudent thing to do. More often than not, the symptoms of what you are describing usually have behavioral reasons, but also knowing that your dog's body is working at 100% will give you piece of mind. So, especially if it's been a while, always visit you veterinarian to rule out anything medical.

    Once any medical reason is ruled out, it's time to problem shoot the situation from a behavioral perspective. The interesting thing about the majority of dogs is that they are not complicated. Destructive behavior, high energy, and overall "disobedient" actions are not a result of your dog trying to get "under your skin" or "take advantage of you". It is pure boredom. So, it is possible that Jake has had a bit of a long winter, and the walks and playtime you were able to give him when the weather was warmer is sorely missed.

    When a dog does not have enough physical and mental stimulation, they are going to replace it with something else that is sometimes not favorable for (destructive chewing, excessive barking, etc.). So, in the case of your situation with Jake it may be a good idea to take a mental inventory of what you are doing with him and attempt to be more well-balanced. Most would agree a well-balanced dog is generally walked 3-4 times a day throughout the neighborhood, is allowed to run hard at least once a day, is regularly challenged with obedience commands (a game of fetch for some), and is given chew toys such as Kongs during downtime (just to name a few things). Of course, there will be differences from dog to dog as to what they prefer, but as long as you keep it interesting and varied, dogs seem to do pretty well. Certainly there is some formal obedience training that an owner needs to understand to make sure they are rewarding the "right" behavior, but in most cases if you have a well-balanced dog, it is much easier for everything else to follow. Visit Bideawee’s training section to learn more about your dog’s behavior and training needs.

  • Q: My dog has been great over the year that we have had him, but recently he growled and showed teeth (did not bite) when I went to move him off the couch. What should I do?

    A:  The priority when dealing with an issue like this is safety, so it is a good idea to get help from a professional.  We live in a time where information is readily available from anyone with an opinion and a computer, and it’s important, especially where safety is concerned, to seek out the help of a qualified and accredited professional. 

    Generally speaking, when a dog growls, shows teeth, lunges toward a person, etc., it is exhibiting threatening behavior that is meant to issue a specific warning to the individual. Dogs will normally act in this way to avoid a confrontation or a bite.  In your case, the dog could be thinking anything from "I am uncomfortable when my owner grabs me on my neck/collar" to "this is the spot where I sleep, why is it being disturbed, that's not the agreement."  So, some of the general things I tell people to do whether or not they are experiencing a problem like this one is to make sure they are providing an area that the dog can go to so he or she feels safe and can have some distance from people when necessary.  It is every animal's right, whether it be human or canine, to be able to go somewhere where they feel safe.  So, a "bad" place for this would be your couch or an area that is frequented by people traffic.  Encourage your dog with food, praise, and chew toys. etc. to establish an area that makes sense and is off limits to people, (his crate for example).  It is not usually necessary to close the dog in the crate or "safe area" when they are in it, just as long as all the humans know to leave the dog alone while he or she is in there.  

    The dog’s reaction could also be based on a perception that when they are being physically moved from something that a bad event is about to take place (yelling, reprimand, etc.).  Many of the dogs I see have come from environments where we do not know how they were treated and what they were conditioned to.  It can be difficult to know how a dog is processing a particular experience. Fortunately, with a little work, dogs can be trained to behave in new ways. Teaching "come", "leave it", and "go to your spot", using positive reinforcement techniques, are commands that modern dog trainers use all the time to provide the dog the ability to "avoid" a conflict.

    It’s important to remember that dogs don’t want to exhibit threatening or aggressive behavior. When they do, it is an indication that they feel scared or threatened in some way. With the help of a professional trainer, you can learn to communicate more effectively with your pet so that you both feel happy, healthy and safe.

    Visit Bideawee’s training section to learn more about your dog’s behavior and training needs.

  • Q: Over the last couple of weeks, our dog seems to be exhibiting signs of insecurity. He stays close to me or my husband, rubbing against a leg when we sit, following us as we move from room to room, or even resting his head on my leg while I am watching television. This isn’t typical behavior for him and we’re not sure what the cause may be or what we can do to alleviate his anxiety. Any ideas?

    A: Thanks for your question.  As dogs get older, we do tend to see some patterns of insecurity and over-bonding that were not obvious before. As always, when you are dealing with a new behavior issue or pattern, it is a good idea to make sure your dog has a clean bill of health.  Once it is confirmed that he is healthy, then you can proceed in dealing with the problem.  When it comes to dealing with this, the most important thing to consider is there any risk of him hurting himself physically?  If the answer is no, then the best thing to do is to simply act normal.  You have to remember, dogs have an amazing sense of smell and hearing.  There could be something else in the environment that he perceives that you do not.  Either way, the best thing you can do to help your dog feel secure is to make him feel like everything is fine.  The hope here is that your dog will see that you are not bothered, and thus learn that the stimulation in the environment is nothing to be concerned about (desensitization).  If the behavior persists, than a call to a behaviorist or trainer may be worth looking into.  Hope this helps!


    Visit Bideawee’s training section to learn more about your dog’s behavior and training needs.

  • Q: I went to adopt two puppies from another rescue organization and they told me that it was not advisable to adopt two puppies from the same litter. What are some of the reasons for this?

    A: I’m glad you asked this question. There is some debate as to whether or not it is appropriate to adopt out littermates together.  Although Bideawee does not have a hard and fast rule about this practice, we acknowledge the challenges, and assess every situation on a case by case basis.
     
    Taken from the perspective that the ultimate goal is to raise a dog that is first and foremost social with people, having a bonded litter mate in the picture can pose various challenges. It is natural for pups that grow up together to bond heavily with one another. After about the 12th week of a pup’s life, they begin developing bonds that are hard to break.  If an adopter takes two siblings, they would have to train them separately to develop proper social bonds with people.  If this training is not done, there is a risk that the dogs will gravitate toward each other and eschew the company of their human companions.  This behavior seems innocent on the surface, but we know that if dogs do not develop proper sociability with people, they can become fearful and aggressive.  
     
    With that being said, the main issue is one of logistics.  If the adopter can make an effort to do a great deal of separate training and socialization away from the other litter mate while they are young, then theoretically the problem would be avoided.  Unfortunately, most people have to attend to other parts of their life, so proper training can be hard to do. Essentially, the time you would need to spend training your dogs would double, as you would be training two separate dogs. In my experience, this training isn’t impossible, but it’s difficult, and should be discussed before someone adopts two puppies from the same litter. I hope this answer sheds some light on your question, and best of luck with your adoption search.

    Visit Bideawee’s training section to learn more about your dog’s behavior and training needs.

  • Q: Whenever my boyfriend and I go to hug or kiss, my dog always barks, jumps up, and tries to get in between us. Why does he do that? And what can I do to help?

    A: This is actually not an uncommon question and it’s one that often comes up when I am working one on one with clients. With Valentine's Day approaching, which happens to be a time when humans tend to show this kind of affection, this issue seems to surface quite a bit. There are a few different reasons why your dog may be doing this, but typically, it's for one of two reasons.

    1) Your dog is trying to protect you from the close proximity of another person, whether it is for the prospect of a hug, a kiss, or even a handshake. Your canine companion doesn't want anyone else near their person (in essence this can be considered a form of resource guarding or territorial behavior).

    2) Your dog is upset because he or she thinks there is a conflict. In the animal world, a proper greeting consists of much more indirect contact. This is why many times two dogs won't approach directly (head to head) when greeting one another. Dogs are more likely to sniff the other dogs' rear, give appropriate space, and provide various communicative signals from a distance to indicate comfort levels. Overall, there is a misunderstanding about the way we greet each other as opposed to the way a canine greets one of their kind.

    When your dog sees you embracing another person, they may perceive this as an attack on you, and will naturally become upset. As a result, often times barking and intervention follow the hug or greeting.

    Like many undesirable behaviors, obedience training is often the best way to treat the issue. Having your dog sit or lie down in a particular spot, or go to his/her bed, when you greet or hug someone is a good start. While you hug, you and your partner will want to reward your dog when he is sitting in his spot by tossing treats to him, paired with praise. This not only gives your dog a more desirable behavior to practice while you greet your guest, but it will also begin to condition them to human embracing. With consistent time and effort, your dog may start to associate hugging guests with positive rewards, and this may begin to change their tune altogether. Soon, it will likely become much more comfortable and enjoyable for your dog to see you hug and kiss. The more you practice these acts of human interaction (good excuse to show your partner some affection!) in the presence of your dog while reinforcing their positive responses, the more acclimated and comfortable your dog will become with the behavior.

    Please keep in mind that each dog is different, with both their reason for intervening, and their motivations (it is important to try to understand this in order for successful treatment). It is always best to consult a professional dog trainer when working with behaviors that can sometimes be of a threatening or aggressive nature. Always remember that we have a different language then our canine friends, even when it comes to the language of love. Bideawee’s training and Behavior Department offers classes and one-on-one training to help you communicate effectively with your four-legged loved ones.

  • Q: Why does my dog seem to show favoritism toward my husband even though I am his primary caretaker?

    A: It can be upsetting when the person who does the majority of the husbandry (feeding, walking, taking care of, etc.) perceives the other people in the household (or outside of the household) to be more favored by the dog. Believe it or not, this is a fairly common occurrence, and there are some good reasons for this.

    The main thing the majority caretaker (owner) needs to understand here is that a social dog who generally likes people, also likes variety. Every time a friendly dog sees a person they are not used to or do not spend a lot of time with, it's exciting and can lead to high social body language (jumping on the person, tail wagging, vocalization, etc.). The idea of making a new bond is the core objective of a very social dog. So, essentially the dog is used to you. Even though the bond is deeper to the main owner than the other people involved, it does not always come off that way in the body language. Not to worry, though, the dog is aware of who really takes care of him.

    Finally, all dogs retain a vivid memory of their early experiences. From the time that a pup is born, to approximately 5 months of age, everything they learn and experience is typically carried with them for the rest of their life. It is possible that before you adopted your pup a male person was mainly taking care of and socializing him. Since his earliest experiences may have been mostly around a man, this could be a reason for your dog’s favorable response to your husband.

    As you can see, there are a number of potential reasons for this differential behavior and body language. I can assure you, though, that your dog understands who is truly important to them.

    Visit Bideawee's training section to learn more about your dog’s behavior and training needs.

  • Q: When we adopted our dog, Lucy, she was 90% housetrained and seemed to be on her way to 100%. Now that the weather has gotten colder, she has been reluctant to go outside and has started having accidents on the floor. Any idea why this is happening and what we can do about it?

    A: During this time of year, I receive numerous calls and e-mails from people with this problem. In your case, if Lucy was going to the bathroom outside and was 90 % housebroken, it can be easy to assume that she either is not adjusting to the sudden drop of temperature and/or something specific happened in the environment that scared her and now she is not letting that "fear" go. In many of these instances, it can be hard to know exactly why this happened. The good news is, it almost doesn’t matter why it happened, because how you deal with this is pretty standard either way.

    If you are crate training your dog, it is a good idea to continue using the crate for short term confinement, making sure it remains a positive space for your dog (give her toys and food in the crate including stuffed Kongs, new chew toys, give her meals etc.).

    Additionally, we tend to assume that the dog "prefers" to go to the bathroom outside when they are mostly doing it, but we can be mistaken here. Many times dogs will go outside because the owner puts the dog in a good position to do this by proper supervision and crate training. Thus it is REALLY important that you give a high level food reward to the dog immediately after going to the bathroom in the spot you want her to go (very small piece of liver treat for example). This "special" reward should only be used for going to the bathroom outside in the specific spot where you want her to go.

    Finally, if this is a matter of her having a hard time dealing with the cold or possibly being nervous from a specific event that scared her, the process would likely be the same. No matter what the reason is, when a dog resists going somewhere or does not act like they normally do, you want to use positive reinforcement that will help them make a positive connection with the area. You can try playing with her on lead a little when she is outside with a toy or ball (preferably after she has eliminated), or giving her more attention and praise for the act of simply being outside (consider using some food reward when doing this as well). You could consider putting a sweater or coat on the dog especially if the dog is very small, but if the temperature is reasonable (not under 10 degrees Fahrenheit), this is not normally needed (especially if you are out there for a short period of time). Your dog may just need to get used to the feeling of cold weather.

    Anything you can do to make sure your dog is enjoying being outside, and is getting rewarded for eliminating in her outside area, as well as properly using her crate, will help acclimate your dog to your preferred routine and help incentivize behaviors that will be beneficial to your both.

    Visit Bideawee’s training section to learn more about your dog’s behavior and training needs.

  • Q: Now that the year is coming to a close, I find myself thinking about the usual New Year’s resolutions. As I think about these, I can’t help thinking about my dog, who is such a huge part of my life and daily activities. What kind of resolutions can I make for him to ensure that he stays happy and healthy in the new year?

    A: That’s such a great question and I don’t think I’ve ever been asked it before. Our canines are such a big part of our lives and it makes perfect sense that we would want to include in them in any efforts to maintain or enhance our health and happiness. Below, I’ve included some resolutions you can set for your dog, as well as some resolutions that both you and your dog can participate in together.

    Exercise: Many of our standard resolutions include getting more exercise, losing weight, getting healthier, etc. I can't speak for anyone else, but I have probably tried this at least half of my years on earth, with little to no success. Taking a walk or run by yourself can get boring for many, and we end up not following through. It does, however, seem to be much more palatable if we are running or walking with a dog. So, for the coming 2015 year, commit to walking or running with your dog at least three times a day for 15 minutes if you aren't already (do more if you and your dog are up to it). You can burn off some of those Holiday calories and make life a little more enjoyable for your dog.

    Daily Games: Especially in the upcoming cold months, it can get boring for dogs in the northeast. Making a resolution to play at least one game with your dog daily can help tighten your bond, as well as keep the dog mentally sharp. "Games" include something that will get the dog to think. Some examples are, hiding toys or treats throughout the house and having your dog "find it", teaching or perfecting obedience commands, providing interactive toys such as Kongs or other food puzzle toys, creating makeshift tunnels made of sheets and chairs for your dog to maze through, teaching your dog to jump through a hoop, or playing hide and seek. Just try to make a point of doing something fun and interesting with your dog every day. You'll be surprised by how creative you can get.

    Pet Therapy: If you have a dog that likes people, is gentle and outgoing, you may be eligible to get your dog certified to do Pet Therapy. These dogs go to children's hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc. with the sole purpose of making someone happy and brightening their day. A New Year's resolution to get your dog certified to do pet therapy and making weekly visits to a hospital is a great idea. Feel free to contact Bideawee for more information about the Pet Therapy program.

    Diet: Yes, the dreaded diet resolution. Although it can be to the detriment of our dogs, we as a society tend to overfeed them. Make a resolution to properly measure out your dog's food daily, so they are getting the proper nutrition and avoid over doing it. Your pet will likely be healthier in the long run, and your wallet may thank you as well. If you are not sure if your dog is getting too much or the right kind of food, reach out to your veterinarian.

    Health Checkups: Getting your dog to the vet at least once a year for a wellness exam and vaccinations can help prevent disease and keep your pet healthy and strong. If you haven't done so in a while, bring your dog to the vet and have them checked out. It will give you peace of mind knowing your dog is protected from illness and is healthy. If you are looking for compassinate and knowledgeable vets, come meet our Animal Hospitals at Bideawee staff in Manhattan and Westhampton.

    These are just some of the New Year’s resolutions that one can consider for their dog. As it is with us, it can sometimes be overwhelming when thinking about all these things. "Which should I do?" "Do I have time for this?" When in doubt pick one thing, stick to it, and then try the others. It's all about making progress, being committed, and being realistic. With a little effort and motivation, you and your dog can look forward to a happy and healthy 2015.

    Need a little more guidance? Learn more about Bideawee’s training services or call 866-262-8133 to set up an appointment today.

  • Q: I have a lot of relatives coming over for Thanksgiving, and my dog is nice with people, but very big and strong. He likes to jump up when people come in and I am afraid that he might hurt someone. What should I do to stop this? Do I need to board him?

    A: With the holidays approaching, it can be both exciting and stressful. I, for one, am particularly sensitive to this issue. Growing up I had a dog that my family and I loved, but who was difficult and sometimes aggressive around people. As luck would have it, my house was the Thanksgiving gathering place for our relatives. It’s no surprise that the holiday created a great amount of anxiety for my parents as they wrestled with the decision whether to put him on leash, put him in a crate, board him, etc.

    At the other end of the spectrum, having a good-natured, poorly mannered dog that jumps on people also creates stress when grandma comes to visit, but treatment of this particular issue can be highly successful. As hard as this is to believe, you need to understand that what your dog is doing is great in the long run. This behavior is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the aggressive behavior my childhood dog exhibited.

    A social and friendly dog can be worked with using basic obedience training. Teaching your dog how to greet people is the first step towards resolving this issue. There are many ways to go when it comes to teaching your dog not to jump, but the one consistent imperative is to make it clear to your dog that jumping will not result in a social interaction with that person or people. This starts with you. When you see your dog, they are understandably excited and usually learn at an early age that jumping is the fastest way to get your attention. So, ignoring them COMPLETELY when they jump on you is a great way to go about 80% of the time. Simply ignore the dog, wait for a behavior that you find acceptable (not jumping, sitting, lying down), and then reward the behavior by looking at, talking to and petting the dog. It can take up to a couple of weeks for a dog to truly get this (especially if they were used to jumping for a long time), but the behavior will likely cease. When your dog sees other people, have them ignore the dog as well, wait for the proper behavior ("sit") and then allow them to pet your dog, give a treat, throw a toy, etc.

    In the case of specific events, such as the holidays, this practice of "no attention until you do the correct behavior" is a good start, but there are other commands that can prove to be helpful. The "sit" and "down" commands should be practiced heavily, as well as the "leave it" command. Having your dog "sit" or lie "down" at a moment’s notice can stop an unfortunate event like jumping on a small child, trying to run out the door, or just generally becoming overstimulated. The "leave it" command is especially important with all of the human food that is around, as well as holiday decorations and new toys the kids receive during the coming holiday season.

    Another command that I think is important to use around the holidays is a "spot" (or "go to your spot") command. This command can teach your dog to go to a neutral area like his bed or crate when you say it. Obviously, this is ideal because you can tell your dog to be away from the door (where most of the nonsense happens), and go to this area instead. Also, if you have an excitable dog, you can say "go to your spot" if you see things getting a little too out of control. This avoids confusion, yelling, screaming and frustration when all the dog is doing is trying to play, albeit inappropriately.

    The earlier you begin teaching your dog these commands, the better. Being prepared is the most important and effective part of dog training.

    Good luck, and have fun. With your help, your dog can make the holidays that much more joyous. Learn more about Bideawee’s training services or call 866-262-8133 to set up an appointment today.

  • Q: I have been off from work as a teacher for the summer and my children and I will be going back in a few weeks. My puppy is now 6 months old. What should I do when leaving him alone for the day (about 8 hours)?

    A: Back to school can be a stressful time for the pet and family. This is especially true if your dog has gotten used to having the family around all the time. To begin socializing your dog to the change in your family’s routine, you should start incrementally, by allowing your dog some time to be by himself. For example, leave him in his area (crate or gated off area if you feel he might be destructive) with a chew toy (stuffed Kong) for about 30 minutes and leave the home. When you come back, do not make it a big deal, as this could reinforce anxious behaviors about you not being there all the time. If you notice that your dog has done well with this short period of time apart, then you can sporadically leave for longer periods of time, until you get to your goal (8 hours). Make sure to leave a high quality chew toy such as a stuffed Kong (stuffed with some peanut butter and regular food are good ways to go) so you can keep your dog busy and associate leaving time with a positive experience.

    Also, it is a good idea to start your feeding and exercising time around what your schedule will be in a few weeks. So, if you plan on leaving the house at 7AM when you go to work, it may be wise to feed him at 5:30AM (obviously let him relieve himself first), let him rest for 20 minutes, and take him on a nice long walk/run so he is good and tired before you leave. Similarly, if you get home from work at 4PM, then start giving him a good walk/run around 4PM, and feed him at 5PM so his body will be prepared. Routine is a big part of a dog's life, and although they can be resilient to change it’s always better to give a dog some time to adjust to a new routine.

    On the weekends make sure to do something fun and enjoyable with the extra time you have. Some good examples are going to a dog park, the beach, on the boat, a training class, walk in the woods, or some creative agility courses in your yard. Don't worry, if your weekend schedule is different from your weekday schedule. This isn’t likely to cause a problem as long as sleeping and feeding times are relatively consistent.

    As always, whether dealing with new situations involving people or pets, planning and preparation is the key to success. Visit Bideawee’s training section to learn more about how you can train your pet to be a loving, loyal and balanced companion.

  • Q: I just adopted an 8 week old kitten, and I want to make sure she will be friendly and social when she gets older. I loved my last cat, but she was always scared and hid from people. What can I do to make sure my new kitten will be social and friendly throughout her life?

    A: This is the season when many shelters and Animal Hospitals receive calls from people who have found kittens in their yard, garage, at their workplace, in a parking lot, etc. At the Adoption Centers at Bideawee it’s known as kitten season. Luckily for these adorable little animals, there are many people who want to adopt them as pets. When I am talking to a perspective adopter, one of my main questions to them is: What kind of life do you see your cat sharing with you? The answer to this question gives me a good general idea as to what may be a proper match for this individual and the specific cat in mind. Some people have large families, others are more solitary, and many people are somewhat in between (a couple that sometimes has friends over but there is not too much traffic on a regular basis in the household). Thus, depending on what the persons needs are, you try to point them in the right direction of a kitten or cat that is very playful, moderately playful, more solitary, etc. In my experience, most people want their cat to be friendly and social, no matter what their situation is.

    In the field of animal behavior, it is well known that socialization is crucial for a puppies development. People have long been taught to get their puppy used to different types of people, places, and things and familiarize them with positive touching (paws, tail, muzzle, etc.) to make sure that the pup grows up tolerant of handling.

    Unfortunately, this still seems to be lacking in the cat world, but it is equally important to socialize and handle your kitten thoroughly while she is still young. Doing things like having friends and family members handling and gently holding your kitten is a good idea, just make sure they are making the kitten feel safe and comfortable. You should actually make a point of having people come over the house so your kitten will get used to different types of people. There is also some research and real life experience to suggest that when your kitten is young (up until about 16 weeks of age), you should safely take them to different places in a carrier so they can get used to different environments, noises, etc. Obviously, most would suggest that your cat should always be indoors, and I agree with this, but when they are young they can benefit from safe exposures to different environments. For example, many years ago my friend and I took a trip with 3 bottle feeding kittens to Florida in a car. I went to visit a college buddy of mine, and thankfully he allowed me to bring the kittens over to his home. Many weeks and months later, I realized that these kittens were particularly comfortable with people, noises handling, etc. (my friends were really into holding and playing with the kittens while I was there). Bottom line is, you do not have to take a trip to Florida with kittens to make sure they grow up as social adults, but it is a very good idea to think about socialization and daily handling of your kitten (touching their paws, picking them up, etc.) to put them in the best position possible down the road. It is not always a guarantee that your cat will be as social and playful when they are older as when they are kittens (very often they are not), but they do learn early and take much of this knowledge with them for the rest of their life.

    So, have fun, socialize, handle, love and prepare your kitten for what they may be facing the rest of their life. They depend on your for this! If you are interested in learning more about cat and kitten behavior visit our Training section and for specific questions, submit your question to Bideawee’s trainer.

  • Q: Now that the weather is nice, I am doing more things outside with my dog. I have had him for about a year, and he has played with other dogs, but has never gone to a dog park. What are some of the things that I should be thinking about before taking my dog to a dog park?

    A: Finally! It is nice outside. The weather in the northeast has been brutal this winter and many of us, including our dogs, were starting to get cabin fever. Now that the extreme cold has broken, many of us are eager to enjoy the outdoors with our dogs. There are many activities that you can enjoy with your four-legged friend, such as playing ball in the yard, taking a ride in the car, and of course, going to a dog park. However, are dog parks for everyone?

    It seems to be difficult to answer this question with a resounding yes. Certainly, it is easy to understand what the benefits are; physical exercise, socialization with other dogs, different smells in the environment, meeting new and different people (dogs have owners), etc. But, there are many things that happen at dog parks that can result in a negative experience for you and your dog. For example, just because dogs do not hurt each other does not mean that they are having a good time. If we took this approach with children playing at the playground, it would be like saying "no one got a bloody nose, therefore it went great!" Dogs can bully each other just like children can. It is really important for the owner to actually know their dog well, and to listen to their dog by reading their body language and determining whether or not the dog is having a pleasant experience.

    Much of this depends on the dog park as well. How do we know what makes a good dog park? There are some conflicting opinions on this, but the general consensus is that dog parks are only as good as the owners are attentive and engaged. You want to look for dog parks that include interactive owners who give feedback to their dogs. You usually can see this immediately before you enter the park. If you see many owners sitting together, not paying attention to their dogs, on their cell phones, etc. while their dogs are pinning each other down, bullying one or two specific dogs, then you may want to consider going to a different park or going at a different time (many groups meet at the same time so their dogs will have a consistent playgroup that they can trust). A good sign at a dog park is when you see most people standing up, walking around, talking to their dogs and giving consistent feedback.

    If your dog has never gone to a dog park before, there are a few things that you may want to consider. Try to go at an off time (usually a weekday afternoon) when there are fewer dogs there. This will give your dog the ability to get accustomed to the environment at a lower stimulating time. If there are a few dogs in the park, first walk your dog around the outside of the park (not too close to the fence as you do not want to encourage threatening or aggressive fence behavior), and work on doing basic commands such as "sit", "down" or "come" to make sure you have some ability to get the attention of your dog. What you are trying to avoid is having no control over your dog once he is eventually in the park. Wait until your dog seems to be calm, and less stimulated before entering the run. If he seems ok, and you are able to bring him to the gate, then it may be time to let him in. It is not a bad idea to talk to some of the owners who are already in the park with their dogs (without your dog with you) first so you can get a feeling as to how the owners communicate with each other. After all, if a dog fight does break out, communication is essential.

    Finally, if all goes well and your dog seems to be safe in the run, make sure you do a "check in" with your dog every few minutes or so. Certainly, this may prove to be difficult in the beginning. Your dog is having a good time, running with another dog, so he may be very distracted. Do not give up if your dog does not come right away. Keep calling him, and when he finally comes to you give him some verbal praise, pet him lavishly and then let him "go play" with the dogs again. Eventually your dog will realize that when you call him it is not to always leave, but to just "check in" with you. When dealing with the uncertainty that a dog park can bring, having a good recall with your dog is vital.

    Always remember to listen to your gut feeling. If you feel that your dog is getting bullied by another dog (the other dog will not leave your dog alone despite your dog giving warnings, your dog is looking scared, shaking, not engaging in any play, etc.) then it may be time to call it a day and leave. This does not mean that your dog is not cut out for dog parks; it may just mean that he needs short intervals at the park to become more comfortable or you may need to go at a time when there are less dogs. Hopefully your dog will slowly become more comfortable and develop some positive relationships with other dogs, but this is not always the case.

    Only time, experience, and training will tell if the dog park is right for your dog. If you are not sure if your dog is good with other dogs, it may be worth considering hiring a professional dog trainer or set up an appointment with Bideawee’s training staff to help you figure this out.

  • Q: I have been looking to adopt a dog for a while now, and was considering adopting a puppy. While I was looking online, I noticed a fair amount of dogs that caught my interest in the 6 month to 2 year age range. How much different would it be for me to adopt a dog of this age as opposed to a puppy under 6 months?

    A: There are many people who look to adopt a dog that have questions or are confused about what it means to adopt a puppy as opposed to an adult dog (or young adult). One of their first questions is “at what age is a dog considered an actual puppy, and at what age are they considered an actual adult”? Most would agree that puppies are dogs under the age of 6 months. When dogs are this young, much of what an owner should be doing is centered on socialization (getting your pup used to things in the environment, people, etc.) as well as teaching basic fundamental obedience commands, rules of the house, etc. Once a dog is over 6 months, they are no longer puppies. However, a 6-24 month old dog is probably not considered an adult either. These dogs are adolescent dogs, and many shelters are full of them. There are many reasons for this phenomenon, but usually it has something to do with a well-intentioned owner getting a puppy around 8 weeks of age, not fully realizing what needs to be done with the dog, and then all of a sudden the dog is a big, powerful, energetic adolescent dog that is hard to handle. It is no coincidence that many shelter dogs fit into this age category.

    The benefit of adopting a dog over the age of 6 months is largely is that it provides you with a dog that while learning how to deal with the world, it is usually more stable in its temperament. Puppies (dogs under 6 months) still have the potential to change temperament over time due to this being the biggest point of their development. What they learn during this part of their life can and usually does have lasting consequences. So, when considering a puppy, one has to be very sure that they are committed to shaping and molding the pup for future success (which certainly can have benefits if done properly, but can be difficult if one does not have the time). A dog around 1 year old (and older), however, is mostly past the point of shaping their temperament easily, so you have a better chance of knowing what you are getting into. Things that these older dogs may be known for (jumpy, energetic, lack of obedience) in the adoption center are typically things that can be worked with and treated with a high degree of success. If you go into an adoption center, and you see a 2 year old mix dog that is jumping and barking at you in the cage, do not be so quick to dismiss this dog as a possible companion. Many of these dogs just want attention, and have not been shown how to properly communicate this to people, but have good, solid temperaments. A sound adoption center will be able to help show you the difference between a dog that is barking and jumping in their cage with threatening (fearful) intent, as opposed to a dog that is doing this for attention (seeking the attention of the person outside the cage). Also, a proper and modern adoption center will also give you advice and post adoption help in the form of training for dogs that need some obedience work. Many of these dogs turn out to be great, long term companions.

    It is always important to choose the pet that is right for you and your family, whether it be a puppy, adolescent or adult dog. Try to keep these things in mind when selecting a dog, and make sure to reach out to the adoption center for help.

    Make sure to visit Bideawee Training department for more training tips that can help ensure your best friend’s good behavior.

  • Q: The weather is starting to get colder, and my dog seems to be getting into a lot of trouble (chewing furniture, jumping and barking more often than usual)? It is too cold to take him on long walks. What should I do?

    A: It is not uncommon for dogs to become a little more exercise-deprived in the winter. Both icy sidewalks and frigid temperatures prevent us from taking our dogs for longer, or more frequent, walks throughout the day. Some owners are nervous of the salt used on the roads causing irritation to their dogs' paws. During the fair-weathered seasons, it is easy and enjoyable to take leisurely strolls and provide dogs with the aerobic exercise that they often crave. When dogs have frequent access to the outside, they can socialize, sniff, and enjoy the great outdoors. When we start to limit channels of stimulation, our canine companions often become frustrated and have pent up energy that they are itching to release. The issue is that dogs and their people often have conflicting ideas of appropriate ways to keep busy. Your dog will find no issue chewing your couch to keep busy, but you may disagree.

    However, there are many creative things that you can do during the cold season to keep your dog entertained and keep their need to exercise satisfied. You may want to consider using interactive toys throughout the day. Kongs are a wonderful toy to utilize to keep your dog hard at work. They are nearly indestructible, and you can stuff both their regular food and special treats into them. Your dog will be spending time chewing at the Kong and trying to figure out how to get the food out; it becomes both a mental puzzle and a meal. Similar to this, there are other products out there that can be stuffed and given out (Buster Cubes, Busy Bone products, and the like). If you're looking for a home-made remedy, you may want to consider making ice-treats. Depending on the size of your dog, you can freeze a combination of water, broth, treats, meat, cheese, and so on into cubes and hand them out through-out the day for your pooch to chew on. It's also a low-calorie way to keep them busy. Many dogs love empty soda-bottles (with plastic rings, caps, and label removed) and will happily entertain themselves with them. You may also want to consider designating a room of your house for indoor play activities, such as fetch. This should be a safe place, and be sure to be specific and only engage in play in that area. Finally, I would recommend taking some time to teach your dog basic obedience. Many pet stores and local shelters offer economic training packages. If your dog is already obedience-savvy, work on new tricks or ask them to utilize their skills more often. Asking your dog to sit before going outside, receiving their Kong, getting fed, meeting a guest, or sniffing a doggie friend is a great way to have them use their mind. Teaching new tricks (even "paw") will help to keep them busy as well. Finally, one of my favorite games you can play with your dog is "find it". Simply start out by having your dog follow you throughout the house and toss treats or toys (or other things they like) under beds, blankets, tables, and in closets as you say "find it". This will give your dog the basic understanding of this game. After doing this for a few days, hide the toys and treats throughout the house first, and then let your dog "find it", without much help from you (unless they get lost or very frustrated than you can help them- remember, it should be a fun game). You can also be specific if you want, such as saying "find Kong", "find ball", or "find treat" for example. You would only reward the dog if they find the specific item you ask for (more advanced). If you combine all these ideas, your dog is sure to be much more tired at days end, and won't be keeping themselves busy with undesirable behaviors. Keeping your dog’s brain busy is just as important as keeping their body busy. A (mentally) tired dog is a good dog.

    For more information about Bideawee’s training department, click here or call 866.262.8133.

  • Q: I am thinking about bringing my dog with me to my parent’s house for the holidays, but am not sure how to do it as he is not used to traveling. What should I be doing to help him have an easy trip? Should I just board him?

    A: First of all, I think it is fantastic that you are thinking about the well-being of your companion during the holidays. It is nice to see people who are making huge efforts to be with their pets as well as their families on important days. It is becoming increasingly normal to see this as our pet companions are truly a part of our family in this day and age. Like most cases when people decide to take their dog or cat into different environments, much of what you should expect will depend on the particular animal and what they are used to. With all factors considered and with the big holidays approaching, there are a couple of things you should think about starting to do immediately to help ensure a minimally difficult endeavor for your pet.

    Whether you have a dog or a cat; try to get them used to the traveling crate (or carrier) that they will be in for the car ride. Many people also like to bring a carrier or a crate with them if they are staying at a relative's house for a few nights as some animals like the familiar feeling of their crate. If your dog or cat has little experience in a traveling carrier and you need to use this for safety, then you definitely need to condition and desensitize him to this. The way to easily do this is to have the crate or carrier open somewhere in your house (put a nice bed or blanket in there). During the next few weeks, do things in this enclosure that your dog or cat likes. Doing things like feeding them in there, giving toys, randomly throwing in treats, and making it a pleasant spot that they can go in and out of will go a long way. It is important to keep it open, allowing them free and easy access without the fear of being closed in. When it is time for you to take your trip (or do a test run in the car), you will be closing the animal in, but you need to build up to this.

    Also, if you are not sure about how your dog or cat will do in the car, do some short test runs. Start out with just hanging out with your pet in the car without driving for a few minutes, then driving a short distance (around the block) and eventually a 10-15 minute drive that ends with a play session at the dog park, or a real special dog or cat treat. How quickly you build to taking long drives will depend on how your pet does with each step. It is important to note that success largely depends on your ability to stop the drive when your pet is still enjoying himself (do not wait until he has a meltdown). The idea here is to keep them wanting more. Make sure to bring your pet's favorite toy(s) with you to keep them occupied for the drive.

    However, if you think that the trip will be too stressful for your pet, then it may be a good idea to hire a pet sitter or board him. Try to have the pet sitter meet your dog or cat a few times before staying over. This way they will be familiar when it is time. If you are going to board your pet, go to the facility without your dog and ask for a tour. Any good boarding facility will allow you to do this and answer any questions that you may have. Some people also bring their pets (particularly dogs) to the boarding facility a few times before leaving them there to get used to the surroundings and workers.

    Try to have fun with your pet during this time, and remember even if they are slightly stressed, they usually end of being very happy to be with you. If all else fails, then it is important to understand that the safety and well-being of your pet is most important, so boarding or pet sitting can be a good way to go. Most importantly, be proactive and prepare. For more information about Bideawee’s training department, visit http://www.bideawee.org/Programs-Training or call 866.262.8133.

  • Q: My cat seems to want to go outside, but I am afraid that it is not safe. Is it a good idea to teach him to walk on a leash? - Frank, Queens

    A: Modern day care of pet felines has had some interesting repercussions. It is widely agreed upon that the safest and most appropriate place for a pet cat is in the house. Obviously, being in a home leads to less chance of disease and accidents. The average life expectancy of a cat that lives indoors is much higher than one that lives outdoors (or indoor-outdoor). The problem arises when you have a cat that seems to be very focused on getting outside, typically eager to experience what the outside world has to offer (grass, birds, leaves, etc.). The truth is no matter how much enrichment you provide your cat, you cannot completely manufacture what the outside environment has to offer. Certainly, kitty teasers, scratching posts, catnip and other toys are highly recommended to keep an indoor cat happy and content. Unfortunately, you do run into cats once in a while that will still be intent on going outside, so a compromise is potentially needed.

    First, when considering taking your cat outside on lead, make sure that you have thought this through properly. There is an element of opening "Pandora’s box" when you take your cat outside. Once you do it, your cat may expect it. Secondly, make sure your cat has appropriate vet care history (up to date on vaccinations, has flea/tick preventative, etc.). Additionally, make sure you have a means to safely walk the cat outside. Although leashes attached to collars can be appropriate for a dog, they are usually not good for cats. A body harness can be physically safer for a cat to wear and also more secure. Start the process of taking your cat outside with first getting him used to wearing and walking around the house with the body harness on, a little at a time. Do not rush the process. It is not uncommon for many cats to become averse to a new feeling or stimulus if rushed. As most of us know, if you force a cat to do something, you can lose them completely, so daily introductions to the cat body harness is recommended. Once you think you and your cat are ready to go outside, it is a good idea to take him out in carrier first, so he can acclimate to the environment in the safety of the carrier. How long you do this will depend on your cat's reaction. Eventually, you can take your cat out (in a safe area like a backyard), with the leash and harness on and carry him around (if he lets you of course), and ultimately touch the ground and start walking. Due to the fact that even well-adjusted cats can spook easily, it is advised to keep the outside walking to a yard or right near your house for safety (bring the carrier with you the first few times you do this so you can put him back in if need be, and never let the cat off the lead and harness). Some people are even able to bring their cats to friends’ homes and use them for pet therapy, although the ability to do this is usually dependent on how well the cat is socialized when he is a young kitten (under 12 weeks of age).

    In summary, it usually a better idea to try to keep your cat content while indoors, but if you are thinking about taking your cat outside, it is advised to talk to a professional first if you do not have experience. Be careful, and have fun!

    For more information about Bideawee’s training department, visit http://www.bideawee.org/Programs-Training.

  • Q: With the holidays approaching, I’m worried about how to prepare my dog for more time indoors, as well as for holiday guests. Any tips?

    A: : Thanks for your question.

    As the weather starts to change and the holidays approach, there is a feeling in the air of impending holidays, parties, guests, and an overall change of routine from our normal life. Not only are many of us going back to school or work during this time of year, there are events approaching that greatly affect our pets as well as us.

    Summer is a great time for our pets. We spend time with them playing, running, going for long walks, etc. When we change this routine it can be difficult for some of our dogs to get used to, often leading to inappropriate behaviors such as barking, chewing, and being destructive. To make matters worse, the holidays, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, will be upon us quickly and they present many variables that can stress out our pets and put them in harm’s way.

    There are many things to consider during this time of year, but the two major difficulties I receive from clients are their dog's destructive behavior (eating human food off tables, etc.), and inappropriately greeting guests (jumping at them, barking, etc.). Much of what you do to curb these behaviors depends on the individual dog, but there are a few things you can do across the board that can help.

    First, you need to make sure that you are keeping your dog(s) busy and giving proper daily enrichment. Try to stay consistent. Although you may not have the same amount of time you did during the summer to interact with your dog, make sure you are giving him at least 3 good (15-20 minutes) walks a day. Letting him out in the yard does not constitute a walk. Yards can be boring and lead to inappropriate behaviors such as destruction, digging, barking at neighbors, etc. Of course, a nice game of fetch in the yard can prove to be beneficial. When you are busy or not home, a food puzzle toy such as a Kong is a very good idea. Remember, it is ok for dogs to like food, just try to get them obsessed with their Kong as opposed to the bread on your kitchen table.

    Start cleaning up your obedience commands with your dog. Make decisions on how you would like your dog to greet your guests and start training now. Whether you want them to "sit", lie "down", or go to a designated "spot" before greeting a guest is up to you. Bottom line is, you have to prepare. If you are having a hard time with your dog's obedience, a good group training class is recommended.

    One specific command I highly recommend dog owners get a good handle on before the holidays is the "leave it" command. It is important to teach your dogs when they can have something ("leave it", "take it"), as well as what they can have (treats in Kongs, food out of their bowl, etc.). Being specific is the key to dealing with a dog that steals food. Remember, most human food is not going to hurt our dogs if given once in a while, but there are things that can hurt our pets such as chocolate (Halloween!) and other foods such as onions and grapes (among others). Even some flowers can be poisonous. So, if you are occasionally going to give human food to your dogs during this time of year, be sure you are giving proper food at appropriate amounts (small) and are making the dog work for it (obedience commands, putting in a Kong, having them go to their spot for it, etc.).

    Overall, think about how you would like your dog to behave, as opposed to just thinking about how you would like to rid your dog of the behavior you don’t like. Then make the appropriate preparations. Your dog will thank you. Visit Bideawee’s training department and learn how to take the first step in improving your dog's behavior.

  • Q: My dog has been barking excessively whenever I leave her alone to go to work or even to the store. I have tried everything from bark control devices to bark collars to medication. I am at my wits end. Can you help? - George, Manhattan

    A: : Thanks for your question.

    This is one of the more difficult problems to deal with. When a dog is barking excessively while people are not home or when they are alone, the first conclusion that many people jump to is that "my dog must have separation anxiety". While this very well might be the case, it is important to make sure it is not something else first, like boredom. There is typically no "one fix" for this problem. Many people try bark collars, control devices, and medications, to no avail. Before looking at this behavior people have to understand a few things.

    1) Barking is a normal dog behavior.

    2) If a dog does not get enough exercise or mental enrichment (obedience training, games) then they will do other    things to satisfy their internal needs, like barking.

    3) Even if it is separation anxiety, bark collars, control devices not only usually do not work, they can cause more of a problem by confusing the dog and increasing anxiety.

    It is very important that you make sure that you are doing all the basics. Feed your dog out of a Kong toy or some other kind of food motivational toy instead of feeding him out of his food bowl. You will need to keep your dog busy and associate being left alone with good things, such as food or special toys, that he does not get unless left alone.

    Make sure that you are walking him outside around the neighborhood at least 4 times a day for 15-20 minutes at a time. Having playtime in a yard is not the same as a walk (the yard gets boring, the walk presents new and interesting smells and things to observe).

    Run or play ball (aerobic exercise) for at least 30 minutes a day. You can split this up into 2-15 minute sessions if more convenient. Bottom line, you have to get him to run or move daily.

    Consider enrolling your dog in an obedience class. Not only will this be enjoyable for you or your dog, but a good class will give you the ability to put behaviors on command (like barking!) so you can possibly control them better.

    If your dog does bark, do not scold or punish him over it. Again, this will either reinforce the behavior that you do not want, or make the dog more anxious and cause him to bark more (out of anxiety). As difficult as it is, you are better off ignoring the behavior unless you have taught him "speak" and "shush" (obedience training).

    If you are doing all of these things, then you have a good foundation, and may be dealing with something a little more severe in nature. Before ever considering medication, you should consult a trainer or behaviorist, as we know that medications don’t work without some additional training

    It’s important that you actually know the facts around your dog’s behavior before making any plan of action. From my experience, most neighbors do not give an accurate account of how long a dog was barking. I hear people say things like "the dog barked all day" and come to find that the dog was barking in 15 minute intervals 3 or 4 times a day. If you have not done so already, it may be a good idea to tape record the home when you are gone so you can review it and actually know what is really going on. For more information about Bideawee’s training department, visit http://www.bideawee.org/Programs-Training

  • Q: About three weeks ago I adopted a 1 1/2 year old female dog from a shelter. She is very friendly with people and other dogs; however I cannot get her to stop play biting with me. This usually happens in the evening. I have tried substituting a bone and ignoring her and walking away without much success. How do I get her to calm down and listen? - Deborah, Queens

    A: When a dog is past the juvenile stage of their life (after 6 months), it is not typically appropriate for the dog to be "mouthy" (although it does not necessarily mean that they are aggressive either). "Mouthy" behavior can mean many different things and can have many different causes. For example, some dogs use their mouth on their owner for attention (not biting), while some use their mouth on their owner to let them know that they do not like something or they are scared (warnings).

    Either way, it is important to have the "mouthy" behavior diagnosed correctly. Due to the fact that you have only had this dog for 3 weeks, there is still a lot that you are going to uncover about his behavior. It typically takes about 2-4 weeks (sometimes longer), for a dog to adjust to his new surroundings. In your case, it does seem on the surface that it may be attention seeking behavior. So, be careful if you decide to keep proceeding in the direction that you are. Unknowingly, you could be rewarding the behaviors that you are trying to extinguish if you give her something like a bone or toy when she is being mouthy. Ignoring her for the behavior that you do not want is a theoretically solid approach, but if you have a dog with a lot of energy you need to be proactive. Timing is very important for dealing with a dog like this. You need to make sure that you are doing the things that she likes, when she is acting calm. So, walk her, play ball, give a stuffed Kong, etc., to keep her busy when you notice preferable behavior, this way she is less likely to act out, and thus get rewarded for behavior that you do want.

    Again, I highly recommend that you have a professional assess the dog, because it is important to understand what you’re dealing with. If it is just mouthy behavior due to attention seeking, than good old fashioned hard work is usually the right way to go. If it is mouthy behavior due to threatening behavior or aggression, then treatment can be tricky and unsafe if not done appropriately. For more information about Bideawee’s training department, visit http://www.bideawee.org/Programs-Training

  • Q: I am looking to adopt a calm dog for my family. I have 3 kids, ages ranging from 3-9. Should I get a puppy, or a calmer, adult dog?

    A: . It is truly a big decision when deciding to adopt a dog, especially when there are others in your house that are still growing and developing. Children tend to do things that adults do not typically do, such as move joltingly, raise their voices unpredictably, poke, stare directly at a dog's eyes, etc. When you really think about it, we expect our pets to deal with more difficult situations in their short life span, than most people could deal with in their entire life. So, with that being said, you should be mindful of certain important things when making the decision to bring a pet into your home.

    First, when people say calm, they typically mean they want a dog that is not too hyper, can hang out in the living room with no issue, and are satisfied with having only a moderate amount of exercise per day. Unfortunately, if you are not careful, you wind up adopting a "calm" (scared) puppy, or a "calm" (fearful and inhibited) adult. Even though it may seem counterintuitive to adopt a puppy that is jumping all over your kids, or an adult dog that wants to lick you in the face and jump in your lap, you are typically better off with this type of dog. Most would agree that sociability is an important predictor of whether or not a dog will end up scared or aggressive. If a dog has a good temperament, but is unruly, this can usually be treated properly with obedience training. If your puppy is scared, or the adult dog is fearfully aggressive, it can be very difficult to treat, and possibly dangerous if you have young children. Of course there are such things as "calm" adult dogs or puppies in the way most people think of, but you need to be careful that you are not confusing "calm" with scared or fearful.

    When people have young children, they often think that getting a small breed dog is a good way to go. Again, there are many small breed dogs that could be good with children, but it is important to note that the size of the dog is usually irrelevant (unless the dog is unusually large or unusually small). If you adopt a dog that is social and has good temperament and you do all the proper things, you are usually going to be ok.

    So, overall it is important to adopt your puppy or dog from an organization that evaluates them to some degree. It is possible to see behaviors in a puppy that indicate that when he/she is an adult they will have a good chance of being appropriate for a home with children, or not. Scared adult dogs or fearful puppies can usually find the right homes, they just have to be that; the right homes. I know that many people think that it may be overkill to temperament test a puppy as "it's just a puppy", but these puppies already have behaviors that start to become part of their future personality. It is the responsibility of every adoption center to evaluate their puppies so they can do their best with getting them in the right homes. Bottom-line, ask many questions when going to adopt a dog or puppy. If you are not getting the answers you are looking for, try another organization. Remember, you will hopefully have this dog for 10-18 years; it needs to be the best match possible. For more information about how Bideawee’s matches people with pets and how behavior evaluations play a critical role in this process, visit http://www.bideawee.org/Adopt-The-Bideawee-Difference and http://www.bideawee.org/Programs-Training

  • Q: I would like to take my dog to the dog park this summer, but am not sure if he gets along with other dogs. What's a good way for me to know, and how do I get my dog acclimated to this?

    A: Your question is one shared by many, especially people who live in urban areas who have to be creative when it comes providing a large outside area in which their dogs can run loose off lead. Typically this comes in the form of a dog park. Dog parks have been the source of much discussion over the last few years in dog training circles. Are they good, are they bad, is my dog good for this, etc? One thing for sure, you can't just throw your dog into a dog park and expect everything to be ok, especially if he is not used to socializing with other dogs. It is important for dog owners to socialize their dogs when they are puppies, with other puppies around the same age so they can learn and understand the social cues that other dogs will give. If they do not learn this, it can be hard for them to navigate these types of situations. Many people do a great thing when adopting from shelters, but they may not know how their dog will do with other dogs. So, one thing to consider is taking your dog to an area (on lead) where there tends to be some other dog traffic (other dogs walking by on lead). Just sit on a bench and watch how your dog acts when other dogs pass him by. If he seems calm and relaxed, perhaps reward him with food and praise. If he seems agitated, then move away from the dog traffic a little bit, so he can still see the other dogs, but will be further away so it is not too overwhelming. Again, reward with food and praise when the dog is calm and relaxed. Even try doing some obedience commands (like "sit") when other dogs walk by so you can gauge the reliability in which your dog can do a command when seeing another dog. Eventually, when you start seeing some calm, relaxed, reliable behavior, you can do some on leash interactions with people who you know that have dogs that have a history of positive experiences with other dogs.

    The idea here is to gradually introduce your dog to other dogs. Dog parks are sort of the final frontier when it comes to dog socialization, due to the variety of dogs that one would encounter when in a dog park. Some are friendly, others scared, some may bully a little, etc. So you would want to know that your dog can handle himself appropriately, as well as be reliable when you want him to do something like come when called (in case you need to leave for any reason, or to "check in" with your dog). No matter what the situation, you have to be able to get your dog to stop and come to you when he is interacting, it can make a huge difference when avoiding a possible unexpected fight. If you do not have good off leash control of your dog, than a dog park may not be the best place for you.

    If you still are unsure about how your dog would be in a social situation with other dogs, consider contacting a professional.

  • Q: My family is thinking about adopting a kitten. How old is a kitten and what is the best age to get one?

    A: This question is perfectly timed! In the next few weeks, many shelters including Bideawee will likely be bustling with kittens of different ages and personalities. There is much confusion on how young a cat needs to be considered a "kitten". Although there is much debate on this topic, most would agree that a juvenile kitten is somewhere around 4 months old or younger. Cats older than this tend to be considered "adolescent" cats, neither a juvenile nor a mature adult (adult is around 2 years). It is important to think about what age cat is right for you and your family as some of a cat’s behavior and personality may change based on age.

    Typically, most shelters do not adopt kittens less than 8 weeks of age. This is usually true for two reasons; a kitten needs to be with his/her mother up until this time and it needs to be around this age to get spayed or neutered. So, if you want to adopt a kitten that is as young as 8 weeks, you need to have the time and patience to do so. Kittens that are this young can be mouthy, are still learning to use their claws properly, learning to play appropriately, and need continuous socialization and handling exercises. Basically, you are helping to form the kitten's personality. So what they learn at this age tends to stay with them, good or bad. This is a lot of work and responsibility, but if done right can make for a great long term companion.

    There are advantages to adopting an older kitten (4-12 months) or an adult cat. When a cat is around 6 months of age, its personality begins to stabilize. Although behavior can change over time, the most important phase of learning and conditioning for a cat is complete. So, depending on the cat, the difficult behaviors that come with juvenile kittens tend to dissipate (mouthing, scratching, destructive behavior, etc.). The older the cat, the more mature, and the less surprises one usually encounters.

    There are millions of homeless cats and to help them loving homes this month Bideawee has no adoption fee on any cat 6 months of age and older. So feel free to feel good when you adopt, no matter what the age. Just think about these things before you do. Remember, it is not unusual for a cat to live until 18, so don't be afraid to adopt a cat that is a little older. Bottom line, do what is best for you, your family and your new companion.

  • Q: My 3 year-old pug scratches non-stop. No vet can figure out why. What can I do to help him?

    A: It was a good decision to bring your dog to the vet when he was excessively scratching, and I am happy to hear that he is healthy. When dealing with any behavior that seems abnormal, it is important to rule out a medical issue first.

    So, why is he scratching if it is not a medical issue?

    This can be a hard question to answer, but there are a few things that you can do to try to help. First of all, this can be a habitual problem that may have been formed a long-time ago. Sometimes a dog will exhibit a certain behavior and get rewarded for it unknowingly by the owner (given a treat, praise or attention at the same time he was scratching). Once a dog thinks they are being rewarded for a certain behavior, they may repeat it to get the response they are looking for. Some people will try to soothe their dog when they are doing things like this (coddling), and the dog can interpret it as a reinforcement or reward. So, as long as it is not a medical issue and he is not hurting himself, you should ignore the behavior. It may resolve after a few weeks.

    As well as making it clear to the dog that he will not receive any reward for scratching, it is also important to mention that you should not scold, punish or yell at the dog when doing this. If he is doing this out of anxiety, this can make it worse.

    Make sure to give your dog plenty of exercise, interactive toys (Kongs) and enrichment daily, as this could help if the scratching is boredom or anxiety (stress). Keeping in mind what your dog's basic needs are can help resolve many issues.

    It may be a good idea to seek help from a professional if the behavior does not resolve after trying these basic suggestions.

  • Q: My cat will not stop peeing on the couch. Sometimes, she even poops. The vet knows about the issue and says a UTI can be ruled out, that it's purely behavioral. But I still don't know what's causing the issue or how to stop it!

    A: Thanks for your question Natalie. There are many phone calls that I get every month in regards to a cat with "inappropriate elimination". This is an important issue for people to understand thoroughly, as it leads to poor relationships between owner and cat, and sometimes ultimately relinquishment to shelters who already overburdened with cats.

    The first thing that anyone who is experiencing this problem needs to do is get a thorough checkup from their vet. This typically means basic blood work and urinalysis. If everything comes back ok, then we go to behavior.

    There are many reasons why behavior could cause this problem in cats. First and foremost, the owner is strongly advised to not scold the cat for urinating or defecating outside the box. This could lead to more anxiety, which could trigger an episode, then more punishment from owner, etc.. Thus, it can create an ugly cycle. So, we know that stress can create this problem. If you think that it is stress related, then typically you would want to focus on eliminating the stress from the environment. Doing things such as trying to be more relaxed around the cat, having others being aware of their behaviors when the cat is around, having play sessions with the cat, etc., could help. In some cases, it has everything to do with the cleanliness of the box (make sure you are scooping daily, use unscented clumping litter, and completely clean with soap and water about once a week and filling the box with fresh litter). Some cats need their box to be in a calm, secluded area, some like having multiple boxes, where others do not like covered boxes or liners. Finally, if the cat is having "accidents" around the house, you have to make sure you are cleaning with something that will get the smell completely out such as Nature's Miracle or a white vinegar and water solution (in the case of marking this is especially important). In some cases, eliminating the cat’s ability to access and urinate or defecate in the typical area (your couch for example) is advised for at least the duration of time when you are trying to fix the problem and create good habits.

    I know this can get tricky. What should you do first and how do you know what is working? My advice is to keep it simple. Start out by making sure you are scooping daily (maybe even twice daily), and cleaning the box completely once a week, as this is usually a first step that is easy for most people to do. If that is not working, add another box in a different location. Next would be trying a different type of litter, and possibly taking the covers off the boxes (some cats do not like the smell that can get trapped in the covered box), as well as taking the liners out. Overall, take a step by step approach while trying to create a calmer environment for your cat. Many people have success when taking this approach, and are surprised when they find out it was as simple as cleaning the box a little more, or trying a different type of litter.

    Have a plan and follow it. If you are still having trouble, you can ask a professional who can talk you through the process.

  • Q: Isis, our 3-yr old black lab mix that we brought home from Bideawee on E. 38th Street is a quirky pup. She has two head-scratching habits. VERY frequently we will give her a trachea/chewy/bully stick and instead of eating it she'll bury it somewhere in the apartment, which is not all that strange. However, she will move it around from place to place over the course of weeks whining when she can't find the perfect spot to hide it. She can go on for 30 minutes or an hour or so running from room to room. Her other strange behavior is that sometimes she will just stare at a corner or a wall or a random place in the apartment and whine or bark at something that isn't there. Nothing, we check every time and there's nothing there to cause this behavior. I will say that she gets a TON of exercise so I can't blame any of this behavior or lack of stimulation. Any thoughts?

    A: Thanks for your question. This is one of the many things that I love about dogs. Sometimes, as much as we think we know about dog behavior, there are still some things that we still can't totally explain. However, I will give this my best shot.

    Hiding high value bones and items (typically digging a hole and burying something), seems to be an innate dog behavior. They do this without even thinking. Obviously, one could surmise that a dog would bury a high valued item that they are not ready to consume, so they will be able to have it at a later date, while keeping it from other animals.

    Why does she keep moving the item from place to place? My thought would be that she can't decide on a place right away due to having many second thoughts about the spot in which she left it. She may feel that the item is too vulnerable in the particular spot, and is continuously trying to find a "better" place for it. You can try giving her more options to hide things in, such as access to closets or by piling up blankets in a corner of a room (or in her crate/sleeping area), so she can hide them in "better", less vulnerable spots. This may enable her to find a spot faster. Of course, dogs may tend to change hiding areas for high value items a lot anyway, as doing this may "throw off" the other animal trying to find it. Again, these are innate behaviors that dogs are predisposed to, so it is very likely that they don't even realize they are doing it.

    As far as Isis staring at the wall(s) and barking, this is hard to say. First off, dogs have very acute senses. So, she could be hearing something that you can't hear, it may be outside or in another apartment. Also, there could be shadows hitting the wall or pipes that may have running water, small animals, spiders, bugs, dust, etc. inside the wall, that she may be sensitive to. If you are not sure what is causing this, and she is medically healthy and you are giving her enough daily stimulation, you may want to ignore the behavior so she does not get reinforced for it. Hopefully she will realize it is a fruitless behavior, and it will happen less as time goes by.

  • Q: My dog continuously jumps on people when they come into my house. I have tried everything; including putting him on leash when people come over, but it does not seem to work. Do I need to crate him when I have guests?

    A: This is one of the most common issues that I hear from dog owners. This is also what I usually call a good problem to have. It’s a good problem to have because unless the dog is charging at people when they come in your door in an aggressive or threatening manner, you have a social dog that may be a bit overzealous, but indeed likes people.

    Keep this in mind when dealing with this "problem". There are a couple of things that you should try immediately to help curb the jumping behavior. The first step is to make the dog "sit" or "lie down" when you greet him, especially when you first interact with him in the morning and when entering the house. Second, make sure that every time your dog says "hi" to someone, you have him do something such as "sit" or "lie down". This may take some time, even a couple of weeks or so, but eventually if you follow through with this, your dog will start to understand the quickest way at an interaction with a person is by "sitting" or "lying down"- or whatever alternative behavior you decide to teach your dog to default to when meeting someone.

    There are other, more intricate ways of dealing with this, such as having your dog go to a designated "spot" when someone comes in the house, thus teaching them to not run toward the door. In cases where there is aggression and threatening behavior, having your dog do this is especially valuable. Either way, if you feel that your dog is acting aggressive or threatening to a person coming in your house, you should seek professional help.

  • Q: We just moved to NYC, and since then, my dog Dixie has been bristling and barking at just about any dog that walks by or tries to get on the elevator with us. We try to remain calm, remind her to "leave it" and keep walking. Even if that works to keep her from barking, the hair prickling up on her back doesn't lie -- she is in full on panic mode. Once she takes the time to get to know a dog, she likes to play, but now that takes about 15 minutes of sitting and walking together. She is extremely affectionate otherwise, but this fairly large dog is developing a bad reputation around our neighborhood as a bad seed! Can you help?

    A: Not unlike most animals, many dogs are very sensitive to environmental changes. So, when Dixie moved from her past home to NYC, this was likely quite a change for her. Even when dogs have a history and tend to be good with other dogs, this can sometimes depend on other factors like where they are when meeting other dogs, how many there are at one time, as well as other correlating factors such as strange people and noises in the environment. In other words, dogs do not generalize well. They are very specific. Just like how we (trainers) recommend that when training a dog a command like "sit" one would want to do the command in many different environments, as "sit" can actually mean different things to the dog if they are being asked to do the command in the house as opposed to outside. So, meeting another dog is not as simple as it seems. If you were to have your dog interact with another dog in your house, on the street, or at the dog park, you would likely get three different outcomes. So, depending on how long you have been in NYC with Dixie, the first thing you need to do is get her used to her new environment by conditioning her to it. Try not to over complicate this. Take her out to an area outside that is not too intense (I know, it is NYC, so do the best you can do), sit with her for 10-15 minutes at a time. When another dog walks by (from a distance), give her a food reward and praise her immediately. This will help get her to understand that good things happen when other dogs walk by, as well as desensitizing her to the new environment she lives in. Having her deal with this in the elevator is difficult, as smaller areas tend to bring about more anxiety in a dog when facing a tense situation. Unless you live on the 15th floor, I would consider taking the stairs for a little while until Dixie gets used to her new digs. Also, if she does obedience commands well, try to have her focus on this as you are bringing her outside, taking the elevator, or when she passes another dog on the street. Typically, having her "sit" is a good way to go. Make her "sit" when in tense situations so you are directing her to do something that is an alternative to barking or acting out. You could also use food/treats to help her focus her attention on you. Saying, "leave it" is also fine, but make sure she really understands the command. What you should be aiming to do here is to get her to calm down a little quicker as time goes by. At this point you stated it takes about 15 minutes until she is calm. As long as this amount of time is going down every week or so, you know that what you are doing is working. If it is getting worse, then a change needs to be made and you may want to consider help from a professional. Always remember to be safe as you expose Dixie to other dogs in her new home and think about the fact that she can learn to be calm around other dogs even if they are at a distance; so create distance between you and the other dogs when you can for safety and effectiveness of training. Trying to "force" the issue by having her go right up to dogs she does not know to "see how it goes" can be risky. Of course, if she has shown to be good with other dogs in the past you can consider allowing her to interact with other dogs when she is calm and when the other owner makes it clear that their dog is friendly. Hopefully you will be in NYC for a long time with Dixie, so be safe and take your time.

  • Q: Why does my 7 month old puppy always jump on me?

    A: Typically, when a dog or pup jumps on a person, it means they are social and desire attention (unless it is done with threatening behavior such as growling). It is important for a dog owner to understand this, and act appropriately. What many owners do unknowingly is punish the dog for being social, such as kneeing the dog or pushing the dog down in an effort to cause minimal pain (hopefully), and so the dog will know that their may be a bad consequence for jumping on the person. One has to stop and think for a moment if this is a good idea. Would you knee a child who gets excited to see you and jumps on you? Of course you wouldn't.

    The idea is to teach the dog what they need to do in order to get what they want. In this case, human attention is something that we all want dogs to desire, as a social dog makes for a great companion. It takes work, but it is as simple as teaching the dog what to do when "asking" for attention. So, when your dog jumps on you, ignore him. When he stops jumping, make him "sit" then give attention. Repeat this exercise every time you interact with him, and before you know it, he will "sit" without asking.

    If you think that your dog is jumping on you in an aggressive way, seek professional help immediately.

  • Q: My new puppy, Emma, seems to hate leaving our apartment to go outside. How can I show her it is okay?

    A:  Typically it takes a couple of weeks for most dogs from a shelter to acclimate to their new home. There are so many different, new and interesting (sometimes scary) things that they are exposed to in the new environment. The smells, sounds, people and situations cause a flood of new information that the dog does not know how to process appropriately yet. Depending on how old the dog is, and their temperament, it can take some time for the dog to become desensitized and conditioned to the stimulation around them. In some cases, like yours, having another dog in the home can help the new dog get acclimated quicker (if they get along of course), as one dog can gain confidence from watching another be comfortable in situations. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

    The best thing to do is to allow time to pass, and use a positive conditioning approach when introducing her to new and possibly scary things. In most cases, you can use food to help make those positive associations to the things that make her scared (going outside, when cars go by, when meeting or seeing people, etc.), by simply giving her the food reward at the point in which she makes eye contact or is aware of the stimulus. Of course, you can use praise, petting, toys, and anything else your dog seems to have a positive reaction to help you along.

    One of the key things here is to take your time, and try to end on a positive note. So, in this case, if the moment you take your dog outside she shakes and is scared, try to keep the interaction short (5 minutes), and then go back in the house. You are usually better off exposing the dog to a scary stimulus many times a day for short periods of time, so you do not overwhelm the dog in one shot. So, 4-5 trips outside for 5-10 minutes; will likely be a better idea than 3 trips outside for 20 minutes at a time. As the days and weeks go by, you will hopefully see the dog's body language get more comfortable and you will be able to expose the dog for longer periods of time. Also, keep it simple at first when you are outside. Try just sitting on a bench and allow her to watch the world go by as you feed her kibble or high level treats.

    You can use this basic approach (associative conditioning) throughout her life to help her navigate things that you encounter that she shows fear towards.

    As far as Emma playing with Ellie, it may take some time. Dogs are usually pretty good at dealing with these things, and will normally come to an understanding. Will she play with her? Only time will tell. It is always a good idea to keep them separate in the beginning when you are not supervising them (it will also allow Emma to have some relaxation time).

    A consultation with a trainer may be a good idea if she is not responding in a few weeks.

  • Q: How can I train my dog to behave while walking on a leash?

    A:  Walking your dog on a leash can, and should be, an enjoyable event that helps build a positive relationship between you and your pet companion.  The issue that people have when their dog pulls on the leash and does not listen is usually due to multiple factors.  Working through these factors is good for the mental well-being of both the pet and the owner.

    Here are a few things to consider that will help you have a more enjoyable walk:
     
    First, make sure your dog is being walked on an appropriate collar or body harness.  A regular buckle collar and leash can be used, but if this is not working, there are some body harnesses that will help curb pulling like the easy walk body harness, and in some cases if the pulling is really strong a head halt can help.  It is important to note that these tools alone do not teach the dog to walk beside you; that comes from proper training and technique.  It is advised to try these things when you feel that the dog could pull you down or hurt you from pure strength.  Make sure to have a professional help you when fitting these tools. If they are not fitted or used properly it could result in injury or the dog getting away.
     
    It seems as if your dog, like many dogs, is very interested in his environment.  To counteract this, make sure to work on getting your dog to look at you first before trying to use commands like "heel".  Simply call his name while you are walking him, and when he looks at you, give a food reward and praise.  This should help your dog get used to the idea that if they are looking at you and paying attention, good things can happen.
     
    Try making your dog "sit" when outside.  More than likely your dog will need to be conditioned to all the outside stimuli that cause him to pull.  Practicing getting him to "sit" when in vicinity of the stimuli will help get the dog to understand what you want him to do when faced with these challenges.  Of course, you will have to reward the behavior appropriately, depending on how difficult it is for your dog to do.
     
    Try to change your direction and speeds sporadically when walking.  Many people fall into a trap of walking at the same pace and in the same direction every time they walk the dog.  When you change directions (gently) and speeds frequently (gently) you are in essence giving the dog the information that they need to watch where you’re going, not the other way around.  It can take time, but when you see your dog moving with you when you change speeds and directions, reward the behavior (food and praise).  This will help you on your way to actually "heeling" your dog.
     
    In some cases, a professional trainer can help and should be considered in difficult situations that may be unsafe and unusual.
  • Q: My dog has recently been growling when I take away his toys, should I be concerned?

    A: This question is one of the most difficult and misunderstood situations an owner can experience with their dog. Growling is something that a dog does typically when they are concerned about something, whether it is related to fear or something in the dog's head will depend on the situation. Growling itself does not tell the whole story. Of course, it can be even more confusing, as some dogs growl when they play. So in this case, is the dog growling to try to engage you to play or telling you "back off" from my toy "or else"?

    The answer depends on your particular dog and the item it has in its possesion. For example, if your dog is used to playing tug with you, then he could have been trying to play as you were taking the toy away, but would never do any harm. However, if it is an object that never has anything to do with play, then it could be resource guarding. Resource guarding is a very broad term used for when dogs guard their objects or resources. Some typical forms of resource guarding are towards food, bones, sleeping areas and people.

    In most cases, the dog will freeze when you go to take the item away (or when you approach their sleeping area), and if the person persists, the dog will usually growl, show teeth, and in some cases snap or bite. It is very important that if your dog displays any behavior like this that you cease what you are doing to avoid an explosive situation with you and your pet. If your dog is guarding something that could hurt them or that is important to you (such as your cell phone), try to give them something in exchange that they really like so they will drop the item, such as a treat or a squeaky toy.

    It is important to understand that these behaviors can become habitual in nature, so situations where the dog will be likely to guard should be avoided. Normally a combination of counter-conditioning and obedience training is needed to treat and manage resource guarding. Having success safely when dealing with these issues will depend on the severity, and in most cases help from a professional is recommended.

  • Q: Do all dogs swim?

    A: It’s Never Sink or Swim for Your Dog!

    As the summer is nearly upon us, there are a number of people who cannot wait to splash around or just hang out in the pool with their dog. Even for breeds that are adept at swimming, going in the water for the first time can be a scary thing. Whether it is at the beach or at your own pool, there are a few things you should keep in mind when attempting to introduce your dog to the water.

    First and foremost, keep it fun! Remember, this is not a contest. It is okay if your dog does not go in the water the first few times you go to the beach or sit out by the pool. Especially when at the beach, there are so many other things that are happening around them, that even just getting them used to the surroundings (sounds of the waves, splashing, all the people, etc.) can be a challenge. Try just hanging out with the dog near the pool or the water. Play a game of fetch or give him some treats for positive reinforcement. It is very important that you try not to make the initial experience a frightening one, as this can make things more challenging down the road.

    Once you feel that your dog is used to the environment, see how close he will go to the water without pulling or jumping away. If, for example, the dog is stopping a few feet before the water, try just hanging out at that point for a while. When he seems calm and relaxed, then it may be time to try to go move closer to the water. If he is still stressed out after a few minutes, you may want to call it a day and try again tomorrow. The constant repetition will help the dog get comfortable at a reasonable pace.

    Eventually, go in the water with your dog. If it is a pool, see if your dog will sit on the steps that have shallow water. If at the beach, try walking with your dog into shallow water and wait for a while, see how he does with every depth. It is a good idea to guide your dog by carrying him in the water and letting him swim on his own a little at a time so you know he's got it. Make sure the dog has access to get out, so he will not be nervous. Just as before, try to make the actual act of going in the water a fun event by trying to play a game such as fetch. Before you know it, your dog will gladly jump into the water to cool off and to go after his favorite toy.

    So, this summer season, make sure to be safe and have a good time with your dog. Remember that not every dog is like the Lab on TV, jumping into deep water without any care in the world. Some need guidance from their best friend: You!

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