Prepare Your Puppy for Handling

During your puppy’s life, there will be many times when it is necessary for you or someone outside your family to handle him physically in ways that may seem strange to him. At home, during quiet times, you can help your puppy become more comfortable with being handled in these different ways—and the earlier you start, the more relaxed he will be when these situations actually occur.

Veterinarian Examinations
Gently pat your puppy on different areas of his body while he is in a relaxed state. Mimic how the vet will examine your puppy—touch around his eyes and ears, gently hold his feet and toes, lift his lips and touch his teeth, hold your hand against his chest, gently move his legs, etc. Take your time with this kind of touch, and do it often so that it becomes an agreeable experience for your pup both at home and at the vet. Teach him to sit and lie down while you are examining him; it will make your vet’s job much easier if your pup is not squirming during his examinations.

Take your puppy to the vet clinic at times other than his appointments for vaccinations and checkups (you may want to call your vet’s office first to make sure this is OK and find out when they are less busy). Swing by with him and put him on the scale, then ask the staff if they would like to pet him and/or give him a treat. This way, he will start to associate visiting the vet as a more positive experience.

Groomer Visits
Start early with short sessions at home, using a brush well-suited to your puppy’s type of coat and always brushing in the direction of the hair growth, working in sections. Be consistent, make the experience pleasurable and go slowly. Keep some treats in your non-brush hand to distract your puppy. Stop brushing when he seems more concerned with the brush than the treats.

Get your puppy used to the feeling of water by placing him in a bathtub or shower with a towel in it so he doesn’t slip. After he seems comfortable, gently turn the water on and dab a little on his back with a washcloth. By taking it slowly, you will help him enjoy the grooming experience. Be careful not to use shampoos that may strip the natural oils of his coat.

Tooth Brushing
Proceed slowly, over the course of days or even weeks. First, apply a little doggy toothpaste on your puppy’s toothbrush and place it in his mouth. If he doesn’t like the taste, try another brand. Next, apply toothpaste on your fingers and explore the inside of his mouth, without actually brushing. When your puppy is comfortable with the above, try lightly brushing his rear teeth with his brush, moving forward. Try to use a circular motion, using care to massage but not scour his gums. Your puppy may clamp down on the toothbrush, but resist trying to pry his mouth open. Instead, relax your hand. Eventually your puppy will have to change his bite on the toothbrush. With experience, you can discern a rhythm in your puppy’s oral motions as he opens, licks the brush and clamps down again. When you do, start brushing a few teeth at a time until you are able to apply the paste to all of his teeth—the enzymes in the toothpaste will do a lot of the scrubbing for you.

Nail Clipping
To prepare your puppy for nail clipping, first let your puppy get used to the smell and sound of pet nail clippers and to having his feet held; gently massage between his toes and nails. To start, just touch the clippers to your puppy’s nail to see if he is comfortable with them. This may be enough for his first session.

Following the above steps, trim the smallest possible amount of nail, praising your puppy’s calmness. You may need to “distract” him by holding a treat tightly in your hand while you clip; reward him with the treat when you are done. For some puppies, asking a friend or family member to hold or distract him may also be beneficial. If you opt to continue with do-it-yourself nail clipping, always make very small clips so as not to cut the nail’s “quick” (the area where the nail’s blood supply begins), which is difficult to see on dark nails. If you feel uncomfortable or unsure at all, stop and take your dog to a professional.

Don’t try to do all these activities in one session or by yourself. If your puppy is uncomfortable, just do one task at a time or ask for help from a trusted professional. Be sure to maintain a light and playful attitude; overly reassuring your puppy during the process may make him think there is a reason for him to become anxious. Respect any growls or defensive body language signs from your puppy, and always start with a call to your veterinarian if you suspect your dog is having an abnormal reaction to a situation that should not be causing him pain. Professional dog training will also help you establish a bond with your puppy as he grows in his trust of you and your relationship.

Please note that every puppy has different needs when it comes to physical handling; when in doubt, ask your veterinarian, groomer or trainer for advice or assistance.

For more information, please contact Bruce and Robin Edwards at 954-424-0170 or

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Why People Don’t Train Their Dogs and Why They Should

Many of us consider our dogs to be members of our family. In many ways, they are. We form a special bond with dogs that few other animals share. Some dog owners go so far as to interpret their dog’s every action in human terms. Given this special status, as family member and companion, we naturally start to look at our furry friends through “people-colored” glasses. This is where problems begin.

Often dog owners forego training because they don’t like the way they think the training makes their dog feel, or they feel guilty for setting rules and not letting their dog “be a dog.” This humanizing of a dog’s behavior leads to faulty judgments about what dogs understand, what they need, and what is best for the dog. Dogs simply do not think like people—something many owners do not understand or refuse to accept. Dogs are guided by their instinctive need for social structure, a “pack,” and they expect leaders to act in a certain way.

Misunderstanding of pack structure is often the cause of behavior problems. Dogs instinctually crave leadership and are keenly attuned to the discipline associated with it. However, if dogs don’t sense leadership from owners, their instinct compels them to try to take charge, which can lead to behavior issues such as barking, pulling on the leash, jumping or even worse behaviors.

Learning how to communicate leadership in a consistent way your dog understands is key. There is no reason for your dog to lead you on walks, cut you off on the stairs, run first through open doorways, jump on visitors, or bark every time the doorbell rings or a child walks by your house. Typically, these are things dog do when they think they are in charge.

Discipline and leadership are not enemies of fun. And in no way should training a dog inhibit his playfulness or spontaneity. But that doesn’t mean there should be no rules for inappropriate behavior. In fact, providing your dog with consistent leadership and ground rules for behavior will make him feel more secure and relaxed and make for a more self-assured companion. Dogs must learn who is in charge in a way they understand. A balanced relationship built on a foundation of bond, trust and respect will help your dog enjoy being a stress-free canine member of your happy family.

For more information, please contact Bruce and Robin Edwards at 954-424-0170 or

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What Your Body Language Tells Your Dog

Dogs have a specific way of interacting, which includes an instinctual manner of communication. Learning how to communicate effectively with your dog in a language he understands is the first step in establishing your leadership. By leveraging a dog’s instinctual communication techniques using voice control and body language, we humans can learn a new language that clearly positions us as leaders, which results in a balanced relationship of bond, trust and respect with our canine companions.

Dogs crave good leadership, and if they don’t get it from their owners, they’ll take charge. This can lead to bad behaviors such as barking, jumping, aggression and pulling on the leash—all examples of the dog taking charge.

There are several ways for an owner to establish leadership. It is very typical for an owner to want to go to his dog instead of making the dog come to him or her. This communicates to the dog that he is the leader, as the leader will always have the other members of the pack come to him.

You can also establish leadership by always walking ahead of your dog, whether it is up the stairs, through doorways or especially on walks. In your dog’s mind, the leader always leads.

All requests from your dog must be granted on your terms. When a dog constantly nudges you to be petted, for example, you should break eye contact immediately. When he has given up, call him back to you to be petted or to play. When he responds to you, versus you to him, he will begin to see you as the leader.

Oftentimes owners grab their dogs or, in the case of small dogs, pick them up, to stop them from going somewhere or doing something undesirable. However, when an owner is physical in this manner, the dog has only two options: fight or flight. If a dog can’t run to get away, his next option is to bite. This may not happen in every situation, but the dog will inevitably feel threatened by the action, whether he bites or not. This is not a conducive mindset for a dog to be in when an owner is trying to train, control or protect him.

If you want your dog to come to you, use body language and voice tones that are inviting, crouch down, and call him in a sweet voice, praising him as he comes to you. If he is likely to jump on you when he comes back, make sure you stand up just before he arrives, displaying confident body language.

Gaining respect and trust from your dog is all about establishing leadership, and the most effective way of doing so is by using your dog’s own language to communicate with him. By learning and practicing proper forms of body language and voice control, your dog will see you as his fearless leader in no time, leading to a calmer, more relaxed household for everyone.

For more information, please contact Bruce and Robin Edwards at 954-424-0170 or


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What is Your Dog Learning Today?

Compared to our hectic schedules, our dogs have very little to do or think about every day. Often, our dogs are simply observing the activity around them. They watch us, study us, and learn from us. Our dogs, therefore, become experts in understanding our behavior patterns.

We are creatures of habit so we have routines that we follow, and our dogs learn these routines, usually very quickly. They see a pattern and learn to predict our behavior based on the pattern. More importantly, they learn to use an understanding of our behavior patterns to get what they want.

For example, putting on a certain pair of sneakers may signal to your dog there’s a very good chance you’re going for a walk and he’s coming with you, so you find him waiting attentively at the door. He might learn that when you begin cooking dinner, his meal is soon to follow, so he’ll lay down next to his bowl in anticipation.

Without any conscious effort to teach our dogs what these kinds of signals mean, they learn them anyway and act accordingly. But most dogs will do more than just react to our signals: They try to initiate a behavior from us that they have seen before.

Instead of waiting patiently by the door, Rover might decide a walk is in order and bring your walking shoes to you. Or if he’s in the mood for a snack, he might bark at you from the kitchen to call you.

Whether these more assertive gestures are considered problem behaviors often is a matter of personal preference. Sometimes, they are just downright cute!

It is not uncommon, however, that we find dogs that engage in a long list of behaviors that serve to run the household on their terms. Only when an owner is confronted with a real “problem” that disrupts their enjoyment of their dog are these other controlling gestures identified and fixed.

Sometimes, we teach our dogs things we never meant to teach them. If we take Rover outside while gardening—pulling weeds and digging holes for plants—what do you suppose he’s learning to do? To try some gardening of his own, of course.

With a puppy, what does he learn when we ask, “What’s that? Who do you hear?”—and allow him to rush excitedly to the window to bark at any possible intruder? It’s a fun game at first, but not so much when the puppy grows up believing that he has to defend your home from all of your friends.

For more information, please contact Bruce and Robin Edwards at 954-424-0170 or

Posted in Canine Behavior, General Training, Obedience, Your Environment | Tagged , , , , ,

Understanding and Managing Older Dogs

Our dogs give us so much throughout their lives, including love, companionship, loyalty and protection. As dogs age (in general, dogs aged seven years or more are considered senior), they rely on us to provide a little extra patience, attention and care to accommodate their changing needs.

By letting your senior dog set his own limits, he will help you understand his new needs for care. Avoid pampering him, and allow him to maintain his independence and dignity wherever he can.

Have your veterinarian examine your dog to rule out any age-related underlying health problems. Ask your vet about what to expect with your aging dog and how you can help your dog continue to feel relaxed and comfortable; for example, canine massage, aromatherapy or a specially tailored training program.

Below are some tips for understanding and managing the changing needs of your senior companion:

Loss of hearing

  • Age-related deafness in dogs is relatively common and is often one of the first changes owners often recognize in their senior dog.
  • Tune in to his other senses, like sight and smell, to communicate with him. Introduce hand signals to convey simple commands. Be sure they are always consistent, obviously different from other signals, and visible from a distance.
  • Try to get your dog’s attention with a high-pitched whistle or a handclap.
  • If your dog is totally deaf, try using light to communicate with him, such flicking a lamp on/off or using a flashlight.

Loss of sight

  • As dogs age they can develop sight-related issues, such as cataracts.
  • Dogs with poor or no vision can learn to adjust quickly if they continue living in familiar surroundings. Avoid rearranging your furniture so your dog can continue to navigate in your home.
  • Use your voice to guide your dog to you.

Sleeping habits

  • Realize that your senior dog will likely sleep longer and more deeply.
  • A senior dog may startle more easily if his hearing and sight aren’t what they used to be.
  • To awaken a heavily sleeping dog, gently stroke his shoulder or place your hand by his nose to let your scent gently rouse him.

Stiff joints

  • Allow your dog a little extra time in the morning or after a nap to stretch his legs and work out the stiffness in his joints.
  • Avoid fawning over your dog or coaxing him with treats to get up. He’ll get up to go outside as best as he is able.

Less able to cope with stress or changes to his routine

  • All dogs, but especially older dogs, thrive on structure and routine. Keep your senior dog’s routine in place as much as possible to keep him stress free.
  • Separation anxiety, aggression, noise phobias, and increased vocalization can develop or worsen in older dogs.

Increased sensitivity to temperature

  • Because he may feel the heat or cold more intensely, your dog may change his usual sleeping locations.
  • Place thick, soft beds in his crate and around the house so he can nap more comfortably.

Visitors and household activity

  • Elderly dogs may not enjoy the extra hustle and bustle around the holidays or if workmen come to your home.
  • If your aging dog is cranky around visitors, lead him to a quiet place in your home where he won’t be bothered and can feel secure. Be sure he has a soft bed to lie on.


  • Remind children to be respectful of your older dog. Because of their achy joints and loss of hearing or sight, older dogs are sometimes more wary of children and their high-energy activities.
  • Always provide supervision when dogs (of any age) and kids are together.

Avoid discipline for aging-related behaviors

  • Your aging dog can’t help himself if he accidentally soils in the house or is crabby around children.
  • If he makes a mistake, just tend to the situation—i.e., take him outside to toilet more frequently or guide him to his quiet place in the house—and take steps to avoid such occurrences in the future.

Increased dryness of his coat and skin

  • Brush your dog’s coat more often to help stimulate the production of natural oils in his skin, and use a shampoo specially formulated for dry skin.
  • Ask your veterinarian about dietary supplements (such as fish oil) to help his skin and coat.

Changing dietary needs

  • As his body ages, your dog will need different amounts of proteins and other nutrients.  Talk to your vet about feeding your dog a “senior” formula or one which can meet your dog’s changing nutritional needs.
  • Avoid letting your dog gain weight. Excess weight can put strain on joints and internal organs. Keeping him trim will keep him healthy and comfortable in the years ahead.

Barriers for safety and protection

  • A secured baby gate will prevent your unsteady older dog from risking a fall on stairways and will protect areas of your home from toileting accidents.

Keep his mind, body and spirit sharp

  • Take time to work with your dog on basic obedience a few times a week to help keep him in shape both physically and mentally.
  • Take him on shorter walks and outings to keep him active and encourage his sense of fun.
  • Never push your dog to exert himself more than he is able. Watch his body language and breathing patterns for signs that he may be getting tired.

Many people think that bringing a puppy into the home will help make your older dog feel young again. While this may be true in some cases, remember that your senior dog may not be able to handle stress or new situations very well, and a puppy brings new levels of activity and changes to routine that affect everyone.

However, if your senior dog still enjoys relatively good health and is sound in mind and spirit, a puppy may brighten his days. In fact, some dogs are happy to step up to the task of teaching a new pup the rules and routines of your household.

Your aging dog deserves your unflagging affection, understanding and love. As you continue to care for him, remember that you are giving back to him as much as he has been giving you.

For more information, please contact Bruce and Robin Edwards at 954-424-0170 or

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Communicating Leadership to Your Dog

According to research from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, many pets brought to shelters are surrendered because of behavior problems that their owners believe to be permanent. Approximately 70 percent of these animals end up being “put to sleep,” making death from behavior problems the leading cause of pet mortality, ahead of trauma and disease. This means thousands of dogs are euthanized every year—the vast majority unnecessarily.

Many dog owners buy a dog with the intention that he will be a member of the family, only to discover that the dog becomes the de facto head of the household. A dog’s instinctual behavior is to seek calm, consistent leadership—and to take charge himself if other “pack” members, including humans, do not demonstrate this leadership. This can lead to undesirable behaviors such as charging the door when the doorbell rings, barking, jumping, pulling on the leash and even biting—which are top reasons dogs are mistreated and euthanized.

Bark Busters, the world’s largest dog training company, was started in Australia in 1989 by Sylvia and Danny Wilson, expert dog trainers and authors of several dog training books. Sylvia was head of an RSPCA shelter and studied the behavior and communication methods of dogs for years. She was saddened by the number of dogs she saw being maltreated, abandoned and euthanized for behavioral problems, which she knew was due to a lack of consistent leadership. This became the basis for creating a unique, natural training system that teaches owners how to train their dogs through the use of voice tones and body language, all geared toward putting the owner in control through effective leadership. These techniques have propelled Bark Busters’ phenomenal growth—now with hundreds of franchised offices around the world, including locations in 40 U.S. states.

With more than one of every three households owning a dog in the U.S., thousands of people are looking for help to solve their dog’s behavior problems. Understanding the keys to instinctive canine behavior and following a few simple guidelines can help owners establish leadership and begin changing their dogs’ undesirable behaviors:

  • Because dogs crave strong leadership, if they don’t get it from their owners, they’ll try to take charge. That leads to bad behaviors such as barking, jumping, aggression and pulling on the leash—each examples of the dog taking charge. Owners need to calmly and consistently demonstrate leadership to alleviate their dogs’ perceived need to make decisions for the household—a position that most dogs find stressful and would rather not have.
  • There are several ways to establish leadership. First, ignore all requests from your dog, such as nudges to be petted or played with. To do so, break eye contact. Then, when your dog has “given up,” call him back to you to be petted or to play. When he responds to you, versus you to him, he sees you as the leader. If he misbehaves, such as chewing on a child’s toy, correct his behavior vocally. As soon as he stops, offer pleasant, high-toned praise. The dog can then understand his mistake and learn a better choice from his trusted leader.
  • In a dog’s instinctive social structure, the pack, the leader always leads—literally. Establish your leadership by always leading your dog—up and down stairs, through doorways, and especially on walks. Remember, the leader always leads.

Most dog owners simply accept the disruptive or aggressive behavior of their dogs because they think it’s normal or they don’t know how to change it. Learning about leadership and canine communication is incredibly interesting for most dog-lovers. Gaining a better understanding of the dog psyche strengthens the lasting, emotional human-canine bond, and learning how to communicate effectively with your dog in a language he understands—using voice control and body language—is a critical step in establishing a balance of bond, respect and trust with your dog, which can eliminate many behavioral issues. Through effective training, many dogs can be saved from being abandoned or unnecessarily euthanized.

For more information, please contact Bruce and Robin Edwards at 954-424-0170 or

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Tips for Grooming Your Dog

Whether you opt to take your dog to a professional groomer, use a self-service dog wash, or handle all of your dog’s grooming at home, regular grooming will keep your dog healthy and happy.

In addition to making him clean and sweet-smelling, grooming is a natural task that dogs perform for each other, just as their wild ancestors have done! When you take time to groom your dog, you increase his respect for you as his leader and strengthen your mutual bond. Please note that every dog has different needs when it comes to grooming; when in doubt, ask your groomer or veterinarian for advice or assistance.


Supplies: Choose a brush well-suited to your dog’s type of coat; for example, a rake may work best for a long-haired dog, while bristle brushes are a better choice for your short-coat canine. Ask your groomer for recommendations.

Frequency: Daily for long-haired dogs (to avoid mats); weekly for short-coated dogs.

How to: Always brush in the direction of the hair growth, working in sections. For a long-coated dog, mist his coat with water as you brush to avoid breaking the hairs, which can create matting. Get your dog used to brushing by starting him at an early age. Be consistent and make the experience pleasurable. If your dog is apprehensive about trusting your hands and the brush, go slowly and gently. Keep some treats in your non-brush hand to distract him. Stop brushing when he seems more concerned with the brush than the treats, and stop the treats whenever he looks at the brush.

Notes: Brushing removes foreign objects and parasites, controls your dog’s shedding, stimulates blood flow, and distributes the skin’s natural oils, promoting a healthy shine. It also prevents mats in long-haired dogs. If left intact, a hair mat will tighten until your dog’s skin is pulled and his movement inhibited, resulting in severe pain and infection. NEVER use scissors to cut matted fur—you could seriously injure your dog! Rather, use electric clippers or special brushes, or take your dog to a professional groomer.


Supplies: Use a dog shampoo and conditioner that will be best for your dog’s hair type; for example, there are hypoallergenic shampoos for dogs with allergies, or try oatmeal shampoo if your dog has itchy, dry skin.

Frequency: Depending on your dog’s coat, anywhere from weekly to monthly.

How to: Before a bath, brush your dog well and remove any hair mats. Never bathe a matted dog as this will make the mats worse. Wet him down thoroughly, avoiding his ears, eyes and face. Massage the shampoo into his skin, making note of any lumps, lesions, etc. Rinse his coat completely, then use a wet washcloth to gently wipe his face and the insides of his ears. Towel-dry him all over, including between his toes and inside his ears. Completely dry a long-haired dog to prevent matting.

Nail Trimming

Supplies: Choose from among several types of nail trimmers; some are more appropriate for very small dogs. Use styptic powder (or corn starch) to stop bleeding from accidental clips into the nail “quick,” and have a file ready to remove sharp edges.

Frequency: Weekly to monthly, depending on your dog’s activity level and needs.

How to: Slow, slow, slow! Let your dog get used to the smell and sound of the nail clippers and to having his feet held. At first, just touch the clippers to your dog’s nail to see how he reacts. Trim the smallest possible amount of nail, praising his calmness. You may need to “distract” him by holding a treat tightly in your hand while you clip, then reward him with the treat when you are done. For some dogs, asking a friend or family member to hold the dog or distract him may also be beneficial. If you feel uncomfortable at all, stop and take your dog to a professional. Your dog may feed off your nervous energy.

Notes: Always make very small clips so as not to cut the nail’s “quick” (area where the nail’s blood supply begins), which is difficult to see on dark nails. If you are uncertain of where to clip, check with your veterinarian or groomer. Overgrown nails can split or curl into a dog’s paw pad, causing lameness, pain and possible infection. Also trim your dog’s dewclaw nails.

Tooth Brushing

Supplies: Toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for dogs.

Frequency: Daily to weekly.

How to: Again, proceed slowly. First, offer a little doggy toothpaste on your dog’s toothbrush and place it in his mouth. If he likes the taste, you’re ready for the next step. If he doesn’t, try another brand. Next, apply toothpaste on your fingers and explore the inside of his mouth, without actually brushing. Then start brushing a few teeth at a time until you are able to apply the paste to all of his teeth—the enzymes in the toothpaste will do a lot of the scrubbing for you.

Notes: Tooth brushing curbs foul doggie breath, stimulates blood flow to the gums, removes plaque and tartar, and prevents gum disease.

Cleaning Ears and Other Delicate Skin

Supplies: Cotton balls; water or ear wash (if recommended by your veterinarian).

Frequency: Weekly to monthly, or as recommended by your veterinarian or groomer.

How to: Warm the liquid ear wash or water, then gently wipe inside the ear with a wetted cotton ball (it’s fine if your dog shakes his head—this helps to loosen the ear wax), followed by a quick swipe with a dry cotton ball. Depending on your dog’s needs, you may want to simply use a dry cotton ball to clear away earwax and dirt; ask your veterinarian or groomer about what is best for your dog.

Notes: If left unclean, a dog’s floppy ears (particularly long ears) provide a place for earwax to build up and for infections from bacteria, fungus or yeast to grow. Ear infections are very bothersome to your dog (it itches and/or hurts) and you (it smells really bad!). Certain breeds with areas of delicate skin, such as folds on the face, will also require a regular gentle cleaning.

Helping Your Dog Become Comfortable with Grooming Sessions

Go slow. Don’t try to do all grooming in one session or by yourself. If your dog is uncomfortable, just do one task at a time or ask for help from a trusted professional.

Don’t make a big deal out of a grooming session. Maintain a light and playful attitude. Overly reassuring your dog during the process may make him think there is reason for him to become anxious.

Introduce your dog to running water in the sink, tub or shower where you plan to bath him.

If you have a small dog, you can create a grooming table by laying a towel on top of your washer/dryer or ironing board and then placing your dog on the sturdy surface.

During quiet times when your dog is relaxed and happy, you can help him become comfortable with being handled for grooming. Gently pat your dog on different areas of his body. Touch around his eyes and ears, move his legs, hold his feet and wiggle your fingers between his toes, lift his lips and touch his teeth, etc. Take your time with this kind of touch, and do it often so that it becomes an agreeable experience for your dog.

For more information, please contact Bruce and Robin Edwards at 954-424-0170 or

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Tips for Bringing Your Dog to Your Workplace

More and more workplaces permit their dog-owning employees to make every day “take your dog to work day.” If you are one of these lucky people, strive from the outset to promote acceptance and harmony between your dog and your colleagues.

The key to a safe and successful experience is to prepare yourself and your dog in advance and to learn how to recognize potential problem situations before they arise. The privilege of taking your dog to work depends on you to demonstrate reasonable, consistent leadership and set boundaries for your dog’s behavior.

This leadership begins at home. Before you introduce your dog to the exciting and challenging environment of a shared workspace, be sure he is already in the habit of listening to you. Since workplace expectations may be more stringent than the behavior you allow at home, remember that what matters most is that your dog trusts and respects you as his leader.

Deciding If Your Dog is a Good Candidate for the Office
Know your dog’s temperament. A dog that is shy and fearful around visitors in your home is probably not a good candidate to go with you to work.

Have a good sense of your dog’s timing and needs for toileting. If he is not yet completely housebroken, Call Bruce and Robin Edwards (see below) for quick tips you can implement.

You should have excellent off-leash control of your dog. He should respond consistently to basic commands such as “come,” “stay,” “leave it,” and “kennel-up” or “go to bed.” Your dog should also be able to ignore distractions, especially people (with or without their own dogs) passing by your workspace. Teach and test your dog’s tolerance of distractions in your front yard or at a dog-friendly café or retail store—not at your workplace.

Get an OK from your supervisor ahead of time to leave work early if your dog isn’t ready to handle the new environment. If he becomes too stressed, over excited or inhibited, it’s best to just take him home. Do not opt to leave him in your vehicle while you continue to work.

Preparing to Take Your Dog to Work
Dogs crave good leadership. If they don’t get it from their owner, they’ll take charge. That leads to bad behaviors, such as barking, jumping, aggression and pulling on the leash. Dogs will challenge for leadership in the home (and in the office), just as they would in their dog pack.

Establish a clear leadership role with your dog before you take him to the office. One way to do this is to ignore all of his requests, such as nudges to be petted or to play. Ignore him by breaking eye contact and turning away from him. When he has “given up” trying to get your attention, call him back to you for petting or play. When he responds to your requests and actions, versus you responding to his, he sees you as the leader.

Also remember that the leader always leads. You can further establish your role by leading your dog (going in front of him) up and down stairs, through doorways, and especially on walks. Engaging with your dog in a way that demonstrates your ability to be an effective leader helps him to feel safe and secure and promotes a balanced relationship based on bond, trust and respect.

Supplies for the Office
Help your dog acclimate to the office by bringing a blanket, bed or crate from home. This provides him with a familiar and comfortable smell and texture in the new environment.

Bring a leash (plus a backup) to walk your dog from the car to your office, to take him outside for toileting, and to control him in the office. Even if your dog is used to being off leash, don’t risk letting him go off leash in the unfamiliar surroundings of your workplace.

Bring some food or treats, his water bowl so he can stay well hydrated, and bags to clean up after toileting. Also, bring along treat-rewarding dog puzzle toys such as the Buster Cube® or KONG® products to help him pass the time.

Establish Routines for Your Dog in Your Office
Place bedding in your work area where your dog can feel secure (such as under or next to your desk) in a place that is out of the way of foot traffic. Teach your dog to stay there unless you invite him to do otherwise. Use a baby gate to block the doorway to keep him from wandering; even a well-housebroken dog may mark or toilet in a hallway or unoccupied office.

Schedule break time to take your dog outside for toileting. If you must leave for a meeting, isolate your dog in a closed office or have a dog-familiar friend sit in until you return.

If you anticipate a particularly busy day, it may be best to leave your dog at home or elsewhere (such as at a doggie daycare) so that you can focus on your work and he does not become stressed from being in a strange place without you for long periods of time.

If picking up a ringing phone and starting a conversation triggers your dog to bark or wander, set up learning opportunities to teach him that this is not acceptable behavior. Have a friend or co-worker call you, so you can teach without undue stress or neglect of your work responsibilities. Additionally, enlist a co-worker to walk by your workspace at a pre-arranged moment to teach your dog that you don’t want him to respond to such distractions.

Meeting People and Other Dogs in the Office
Learn how to read your dog’s body language around visitors to your office, especially those who are afraid of dogs—some dogs will respond protectively to human fear. If your dog exhibits this response, you should not leave him unsupervised in your workspace. Training can minimize the likelihood of his acting in response to that fear.

Do not leave your dog unsupervised with other dogs. Remember that other dogs might not be as well behaved as your dog. Learn how to read your dog’s body language around other dogs and watch for any signs of aggression, such as growling, staring, and stiff body posture. Defuse potential conflict by removing your dog from the area. Don’t try to force unfamiliar dogs to “become friends.”

If a dog scuffle occurs, do not lunge in and try to break it up by hand—you could get bitten accidently. Throw your dog’s blanket or a towel over the heads of the fighting dogs. This will confuse the combatants long enough for you to defuse the situation.

A Good Dog-Workplace Experience Depends on You
Your dog depends on you for his basic needs, including feeling safe wherever you take him. Preparing him well in advance of excursions to your workplace can ensure that you, your dog and your colleagues will have an enjoyable experience in the new environment.

For more information, please contact Bruce and Robin Edwards at 954-424-0170 or

Posted in Canine Behavior, General Training, Obedience, Pottying, Safety | Tagged , , , , ,

Choosing a Puppy

How to Make Sure the Puppy You Bring Home is the Right One for YOUR Family

A dog’s age, breed and temperament, combined with your lifestyle and personality, all play an important role in determining what kind of dog is the best fit for you and your family. Adopting a puppy has certain advantages—you will be able to choose a dog with the best temperament for you and ensure he gets a proper education before behavioral problems or bad habits develop. But puppies bring added responsibilities, too. During the first few months, a puppy requires more of your time than an older dog for housetraining, socialization, feeding, and entertainment, as well as additional training as your goals change and your puppy matures.

If you do not have the time for a puppy, consider adopting a full-grown dog that has already gone through the puppy stage. But if you’re sure that you are ready for the responsibility of puppy ownership, you should consider the following:

What Breed of Puppy is Most Appropriate for Your Lifestyle?
Are you very active and outgoing? Do you have a large home, yard or park nearby? If so, a larger-breed dog may be the best choice for your family. But, if you tend to be less outgoing, live in an apartment or condo, or have small children or other small pets, you may want to consider a dog that will be smaller when full-grown. Do your research on the characteristics different breeds tend to display. But remember that while breed can have an impact on a dog’s personality, you should base your decision primarily on what you know about the puppy’s background and what you observe about his temperament.

What is the Right Temperament for Your Family?
Temperament has nothing to do with a dog’s size, breed or upbringing—temperament is something innate in a dog. A dog’s temperament has a lot to do with how easily he can be trained and, while good training can improve certain traits in a dog, training does not change the dog’s temperament.

Even when a puppy is very young, there are clues to what his temperament might be. Within the litter, watch how the puppies run and play to determine where each puppy stands in the litter’s pecking order. More confident puppies act assertive by standing over the other littermates. Less confident puppies act submissive by rolling over or lowering their heads.

If you are considering a puppy at a shelter or rescue that is no longer with his litter, find out as much as you can about his background and behavior from staff members and volunteers who have walked or played with the pup. Ask whether he’s been socialized with other dogs and how he behaves in a variety of situations, such as during feeding, walking, and being put in a crate or kennel.

Also observe the individual puppy you are considering when he’s alone with you. A well-adjusted puppy will follow you freely when you lead him. Drop a soft glove or cloth near the puppy and watch his reaction:

  • A confident puppy will approach the object immediately to investigate. While this puppy could grow up to be a well-adjusted dog, it is likely to be strong-willed and might be a challenge for a soft-natured person.
  • A less confident pup may jump and move away when the object is dropped, but will usually return fairly quickly to investigate. Less bossy than the more confident puppy described above, this puppy will most likely make a great pet.
  • The puppy that takes longer to approach and runs around the object acting as if it is alive and might attack is a little timid, but should still make a wonderful pet with proper, gentle training.
  • The puppy that barks at the object, runs away and crouches down or refuses to return to the spot has a more nervous temperament and could be a difficult pet. More patience will be required during training.

Finally, lift and hold the puppy in your arms. A pup that settles in and remains still is likely to be calmer and more easily trained than one that wriggles and tries to escape.

Training Your Puppy
Once you’ve chosen your new addition to the family, be sure to start training as soon as you bring him home. By introducing the expectations and rules of your household early, he will quickly acclimate and feel more comfortable and secure in the knowledge that he is part of a pack that has a calm, consistent leader.

Just like people, puppies come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments. Do a bit of research first, then visit your local shelter. Determining what breeds and temperaments would be the ideal fit for your family will help ensure that the puppy (or dog) you bring home will become a permanent part of your household.

For more information, please contact Bruce and Robin Edwards at 954-424-0170 or

Posted in Canine Behavior, Children, Dog Selection, General Training, Puppies, Safety, Your Environment | Tagged , , , ,

Working from Home with Your Dog

With the rise of telecommuting and self-employment, many dog owners are able to work from home and don’t have to routinely leave their furry friends for the day. Some dogs ease into this scenario and are able to be with their owners throughout the day with without exhibiting behavioral issues. For others, however, there are a number of behavioral problems that may arise—such as dogs demanding attention by barking or whining, often at the worst possible times. Read on to find out how to address these common issues.

Why do dogs act up in the home-office environment?
Because of the large amount of time spent together in close proximity, these dogs often have increased opportunities to train their owners! They might nudge for pets or climb in laps. They often nap under the table or desk where their owners are working, but when they wake up, they will request attention—and usually get it.

While seemingly cute and innocent, whenever a dog gets to direct the behavior of his owner, he sees himself as being put in the leadership role. And as the leader, a dog may feel he has the right to demand his owner’s attention—often at inopportune times, such as when the owner is on the phone or involved in an important assignment.

Picture this common scene: You are on an important conference call. A few minutes in, your dog starts to bark or even jump on you. The call is important and you can’t afford the interruption, so your dog gets picked up or petted—and your attention gets divided. You can’t have your dog barking during the call, so you give in. This, however, teaches him that barking and whining is rewarded with attention and affection, which leads to more and more demands at times when you are occupied.

What can I do?
The first thing to do is to separate workspace from dog space. Go to work in another room, separated from your dog. Even though your dog may choose to go elsewhere and nap during the day, if he has free access to you, he will most likely come and find you when he wakes up. It’s important that your work area is off-limits and that your dog is confined (either gated or crated in another room) so he doesn’t have access to you. If he barks for your attention at first, you may want to have at least a couple of closed doors between you as he gets used to the new situation. Make sure to give him something to occupy his attention, such as a treat-rewarding Buster® Cube or KONG® toy.

Do NOT to go to your dog’s space if you hear any barking, whining or pacing. Only return when he’s calm and quiet. If you return when he’s acting out of stress, he will learn that making a fuss is rewarded with your attention.

Practice obedience when you do return. Training your dog engages his brain. This will tire him out and help him become calmer. Try asking him to SIT and STAY before you pet him or toss a toy.

Work on your leadership skills. Be proactive in asking for your dog’s attention and focus. Always begin play on your terms; for instance, if he brings you a certain toy for play, take control of the toy and wait until later to bring it out yourself and initiate play.

Time management is important. If you went off to work without your dog, you would only have certain times when you could interact with him. Work on establishing set times for interactions. For example, take a 10–15 minute break mid-morning and again in the afternoon, or a half hour at lunchtime. Do what works for you and also meets your dog’s physical and mental needs. It’s important that you don’t continuously stop what you are doing and engage with your dog. He’ll quickly get used to the cues you give for your set interactions and will settle down quicker during the in-between times.

As he learns that your world doesn’t necessarily revolve around him, he’ll relax and not be as anxious for your attention. His bad behaviors are simply learned behaviors, because they have worked in the past; your dog will only make a different choice if those strategies no longer result in your attention and what he interprets as praise. Be patient, calm and consistent. If you never separate from your dog, he will have a hard time feeling comfortable by himself when you do have to leave him. Practicing separation while working from home or with your dog at the office will help you both be more relaxed and happy, together or apart.

For more information, please contact Bruce and Robin Edwards at 954-424-0170 or

Posted in Barking, Canine Behavior, General Training, Obedience, Your Environment | Tagged , , , ,