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Can Spaying And Neutering Change Your Dog’s Behaviour?

Can spaying and neutering eliminate bad behaviours in dogs?Are you considering spaying or neutering your dog to change their behaviour?

You may hear a buzz of conflicting rumours about sterilization surgery. You may have heard that it could solve your dog’s behavioural issues, or you might be concerned that your dog will be worse off, never to be the same again.

Fortunately, the effects of spaying and neutering on dogs has been studied extensively for the past couple of decades. There’s no simple answer to this question, but we can help you understand the science behind it so you can make an informed choice for your dog.

How Will Spaying Or Neutering Change My Dog’s Behaviour?

Studies are conflicted about how dog’s behaviour is influenced by sterilization surgery.

One source, which included data from over 10,000 dogs, showed a strong positive correlation between spaying and neutering and aggression, fear and anxiety. Dogs who were fixed younger than 12 months seemed to be at an increased risk of behavioural issues.

If your dog already has a behavioural issue, whether they’re showing signs of aggression, anxiety or seem difficult to train, spaying or neutering is not a reliable, or even promising solution. While these issues can, in part, be influenced by hormones, there are so many factors and possible underlying causes.

Work with a professional trainer who uses positive reinforcement methods for behaviour modification. Healthy Houndz dog training in North York and Toronto uses modern, science-based methods to help dogs feel more confident and resolve common behavioural issues.

Can Neutering Stop Urine Marking?

There is evidence that neutering before puberty can reduce urine marking. However, a male dog who is neutered before puberty can still mark. It’s even possible for female dogs to develop a habit of lifting a leg to mark objects with their urine. Intact males may have a stronger urge to mark inside your home.

However, urine marking, alone, is not the best  factor to base your decision on when and if to neuter your male dog. This unwanted behaviour can be resolved through training. In the meantime, a belly band will prevent your dog from urinating indoors.

Does Spaying And Neutering Make Dogs Lazy or Overweight?

There is a strong, well-known positive correlation between spaying/neutering and weight gain.

That does not necessarily mean your pet will gain weight after surgery, at least not if you’re not careful. Your dog’s hormones affect their metabolism, appetite and activity levels. You can encourage your dog to stay active by going for longer walks and setting up indoor activities.

What We Recommend

The best choice for your dog depends on your unique situation and your priorities.

When you get your dog from a shelter or rescue, their policy may be to only adopt out dogs that have been spayed or neutered. So, you may not have a say in the matter.

If you feel there is a strong chance that your dog will be able to escape your home and mate with other dogs, spaying or neutering may be a priority for population control. Intact dogs have a stronger drive to roam and find a mate. However, even spayed and neutered dogs need to be secured with a leash, a tether, or a real fence – not an “invisible” fence.

If you’re able to keep your dog secure, and you’re able to choose when to spay and neuter, it’s best to wait until your dog is fully grown, if you decide to do it at all. Small dogs reach full maturity by 16 months of age, while giant breeds can take up to 2.5 years to fully mature.

When it comes time to spay and neuter, ask your vet if they offer alternative sterilization surgery options. It is possible for male dogs to have a vasectomy and female dogs can undergo an ovary-sparing spay, so they will not be able to reproduce, though their body can still produce all of the same hormones.

Managing Your Intact Dog

If you plan to wait until after your dog is mature to spay or neuter, you’ll need to take a few simple steps to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Males are fertile as early as 6 months of age, and will continue to be fertile throughout their entire life. A male can sense a female in heat up to 3 miles away, so your male may feel compelled to roam.

Your female may experience her first heat as early as 4 months, though the average is 6 months. You will not always notice blood and swelling until midway through her cycle, though she will be most receptive immediately after the bleeding has stopped. She may try to roam when she is receptive. To be on the safe side, avoid off-leash dog parks, hiking areas and beaches for at least three weeks after the first sign of bleeding.

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The Right Way To Crate Train To Stop Barking And Whining

Positive Crate Training To Stop Barking And Whining And Night

Does your puppy keep you up all night?

Sleepless nights take the fun out of having a new puppy. We’ve all been there!

It takes a bit of patience to teach your puppy to love their crate, but you’ll settle into a bedtime routine before you know it. Our force free methods help you get there sooner, with less stress.

These methods also work for adult dogs who have never been crate trained.

Why You Should NEVER Punish Your Dog For Barking In The Crate

When it’s 3AM and your puppy is barking and whining in their crate, you’re bound to be a bit annoyed. It’s tempting to yell at your puppy or turn to aversive training methods, but that’s always a bad idea.

The problem with punishments is that they deceptively create a “quick fix”. Your puppy might quiet down for a few minutes – but they’ll still feel scared and alone, yet unable to express that. This also means the puppy may continue to bark when nobody is home to punish them.

You want your puppy to feel safe and secure so they don’t even want to bark. When the crate is a part of their nighttime routine, they’ll start to fall asleep within minutes of going inside for the night. If they love their crate, they’ll happily nap when you’re not home, instead of barking the whole time.

Force-free crate training means your puppy will not be afraid to bark if they have to go potty, if someone breaks into your home, or if there’s otherwise something wrong. Your puppy will sleep peacefully in their crate because they feel safe and secure, and they have learned that they can trust you to be there when they really need you.

Preparing Your Puppy-Friendly Crate

Your puppy’s crate will be their safe haven.

Line it with a bed that is thick enough to keep your puppy from sinking to the bottom. Furnish it with enough blankets for your puppy to burrow. You may want to use old towels if you’re concerned about chewing or potty accidents.

Crates are valuable tools for potty training because puppies typically do not go potty in them – if the crate is set up correctly. The crate should be large enough for your puppy to stand, turn around, and stretch out, but not so big that they will use one side as a restroom. Most crates come with dividers to make the interior space smaller, then you can make it larger as your puppy grows.

You can use a crate cover or blanket to block out light and sound. That way, your puppy will be able to sleep peacefully inside, even during the day.

Crate Training During The Day

An 8-week old puppy will need to sleep up to 20 hours per day, broken up into naps. So, you’ll have lots of opportunities to create positive crate experiences before bedtime.

The crate should be open most of the time when you are home. You can hide little treats inside for your puppy to find on their own.

Whenever you play with your puppy, you’ll notice that they get very sleepy after about 30 minutes. Encourage your puppy to go into the crate on their own for naps. If it’s comfy enough, your puppy will seek it out without being placed inside.

You can practice locking your puppy in the crate for 15 to 30 minute sessions during the day. Do this while you are in the room, perhaps watching television or washing dishes.

Try putting your puppy in the crate with a Kong or similar fillable food toy. Puppies have sensitive tummies, so go easy on rich treats like peanut butter. You can fill it with their canned or raw food, or kibble that has been soaked in water.

The goal is to crate your puppy for short periods of time so they do not experience separation anxiety. Realistically, though, your puppy may need to be crated for a few hours at a time when you are not home. This will be stressful for them in the beginning, but most dogs adjust quickly.

Crate Training When You Go To Work

If you work at a full-time job every day, you’ll need to speed up your puppy’s crate training. There are plenty of ways to make it easier.

Before you leave, make sure your puppy has pottied, eaten, and had water to drink. Play with your puppy and/or go for a walk so that they are sleepy. Tuck your puppy in. Within a few weeks, your puppy’s sleeping schedule will be synchronized with your work schedule.

At 8-10 weeks old, your puppy will need to go potty at least once every three hours. Smaller puppies may need up to 4 potty breaks during an 8-hour workday. You can hire a dog walker or pet sitter to let your puppy out or take them on walks.

Puppy Potty Camp from Healthy Houndz is excellent for people who work. Not only will your puppy be on the fast-track to going accident-free, they’ll also learn foundational cues and social skills, while spending time with other dogs who act as role models for your puppy.

To prevent barking when you are not around, try putting some music on. Music has been shown in studies to have a calming effect on dogs, particularly reggae and classical tunes. The music can also help drown out the sounds of passersby, which can keep your dog on alert.

The First Few Nights

A bedtime routine will make adjusting to night-time crating so much easier.

Make sure your puppy goes potty one last time. Play until they get tired. Many puppies get wound up at night and tend to nip. Make sure they run out of steam before even attempting to crate them.

You can use a lavender-based essential oil scent to lull your puppy to sleep. Some essential oils are harmful to dogs, so it’s best to use a calming spray that is made for pets.

What To Do If Your Dog Starts Barking In The Crate

A little bit of barking and whining is to be expected at first.

Your first response to crying should be to take your puppy out and give them a chance to go potty. Regardless of whether they “go” or not, they will need to wind down again once they go back in the crate. Tuck them in again. Wait for those little eyes to close.

If you’re certain that your puppy is “empty,” they might be lonely. Place the crate right next to your bed, if possible. Your pup might settle down if they can cuddle with an unlaundered t-shirt that carries your scent.

You could also try emulating the warmth and sounds of sleeping with littermates. A ticking clock and a heat source like a microwaved sock full of rice can help.

Sometimes, puppies bark because they’re bored. If your puppy is awake with the late night puppy zoomies, they may need more exercise during the day. An overstimulated puppy is the hardest to put to bed; it’s better to spend a few extra minutes playing than to let them bark and bark for hours.

Help For Sleep Deprived Puppy Parents

Crate training is one of the hardest parts of having a puppy. If you stick through those first few weeks, though, it’ll be so worth it. And you don’t have to go at it alone.

At Healthy Houndz, we’ve overcome every imaginable puppy problem without using force, pain or fear. Get in touch today to hop on the fast-track to a happy, well-rounded dog.

How To Make 2019 Your Dog’s Best Year Yet

Ways To Improve Your Dog's Life In 2019

Here’s to another wonderful year with your canine companion! While you’re setting goals for your own health and enrichment, you’ll find that you can often set mutual resolutions that benefit you and your dog at the same time. Here are some simple ways you can make big improvements to your dog’s training, behaviour and health in just one year:

Track Your Dog’s Progress In 2019

When we don’t set goals and take notes, it’s easy to fall behind on our dog’s progress. How long has it been since you taught a fun new cue? Has your dog been struggling with leash reactivity with no success in the past year? Simply set up a new calendar on your smartphone with goals and reminders to stay on top of your dog’s care.

Add More Fresh Foods To Your Dog’s Diet

At Healthy Houndz, we recommend a raw food diet, but we realize that it is not practical or affordable for everyone. Instead, use fresh foods as treats and food toppers. Watch as your dog’s eyes light up when you offer bites of scrambled eggs instead of bland biscuits for their training rewards.

Fresh fruit, veggies, fish, meat and eggs are packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Superfoods like blueberries fight cancer, while fatty fish like salmon (cooked and deboned, as raw salmon can contain parasites) can prevent or help relieve symptoms of arthritis. Remember, grapes, raisins, onions and garlic are toxic to dogs.

Go On More “Do Nothing” Walks In 2019

If you already take your dog for a daily walk, you might not enjoy it as much as you once did. Circling the block and waiting for your dog to finally poop can get tiresome. Try a new route, and strive to go on an extra long adventure at least once per week. If you can, drive to a park that you do not visit often, or explore a different neighborhood. New sights and smells are a wonderful way to stimulate your dog’s mind, giving them both physical and mental exercise they need for better behaviour and overall improved well-being.

Though you cannot imagine the vivid landscape of scents your dog is experiencing, you can actually take time to de-stress with a mindful, meditative dog walk. Don’t wait until you’ve had a tough week or a bad day to treat yourself to a mindful dog walk – they are an essential part of self-care that you should set time aside for on a regular basis.

Sign Up For Something New Together In 2019

Joining a new activity has a powerful impact on your bond with your dog. Commit to an agility class, try nosework, or even register for a 5k. A new activity can be as simple as learning a new trick each month at home. That one-on-one time and ongoing commitment will help you discover what it means to team up with your dog to work towards a goal.

While dogs do not realize that they are working towards a faster time or a longer distance, they get so much joy in getting special attention from you. Do not let breed stereotypes stop you. You might be amazed at how long your Chihuahua can go on a hike, or how quickly your Shih Tzu progresses in agility. Give your dog a chance to surprise you!

You Don’t Have To Tackle This Year Alone

The biggest mistake dog owners make is putting off getting help for easily solvable problems. The longer your dog practices habits like bad leash manners, pottying in the house, and destroying your home due to separation anxiety, the harder it becomes to change them.

If you have a new puppy, start positive training from the very start. It’s never too early to start learning! Potty training camp from Healthy Houndz sets your puppy up for success. You’ll save so much time and energy when you work with us.

Call 647-749-8731 or contact Healthy Houndz to set up your dog training consultation. We can’t wait to meet you!

5 Indoor Games To Play With Your Dog On Cold Days

Indoor Games To Play With Your Dog When It's Too Cold To Go Outside

Brr!! It’s getting too cold outside to take your dog for long walks. While some breeds adore the snow, many dogs would rather go for quick potty breaks, then come back inside.

When you can’t spend as much time outdoors with your dog, they can start to gain weight. In the winter, their metabolism slows down, and with less activity, they’re burning fewer calories.

No matter how cold it is outside, dogs need consistent physical exercise and mental stimulation year-round. With fun indoor games, you can keep your dog’s mind and body active through the winter.

Hide And Seek

Playing hide and seek is a great way to reinforce recall.

Have your dog sit and stay – even better if you can use their crate as their waiting area so their crate is always a fun place to be. To start, you may want to hide behind a piece of furniture across the room – somewhere they can easily watch you hide and quickly find you. Then, call your dog using your recall word of choice. “Puppy, come!” works well. You can also use hide-and-seek to train different recall cues. Try teaching your dog to recall with a whistle, too.

Once your dog gets the idea, try hiding in more difficult spots. You may want to drape a blanket over their crate so they can’t see you hide. If you’re just starting to teach recall for the first time, you may need a family member to make sure your dog doesn’t peek.

Every time your dog finds you, give them lots of praise and a yummy reward. When the snow melts, you can try playing hide-and-seek outdoors to help teach a solid recall in open spaces.

Nosework

Signing up for nosework classes is a great way to keep your dog’s mind sharp, but it might not be practical for you. You can also practice easy nosework at home.

The most simple way is to hide a piece of smelly food (like a liver treat or a piece of cheese), encourage your dog to “stay” and then “find it!”

If you’d like to up the ante, teach your dog to detect non-edible scents. Essential oils like clove or eucalyptus are commonly used in nosework classes. You can use three identical containers and put the scent in just one of them, that way your dog will learn to use their nose, not their eyes, to find the target.

Encourage your dog to sniff each box, then give them lots of praise and a yummy reward immediately after they find the target scent. As your dog develops a positive association with the scent, you can start to have them sit or speak when they find the scent, or even just make eye contact.

Monkey In The Middle

This is a great way to get your dog excited about toys if they normally ignore them. Simply toss a toy back and forth between you and at least one family member. Between throws, squeak the toy and shake it close to the ground near your dog, then toss it.

To avoid frustration and to keep the game fun, let your dog get the toy once in a while. During this game, you can also start to teach drop it or give cues to get the toy back so you can play again.

Family Name Game

You can teach your dog to identify family members by name – and even use this trick to eventually have them act as a courier, passing notes between family members throughout your home.

Start by forming a circle with your family members, and make sure everyone has a few treats. Tell your dog to “go to Emily,” while Emily encourages the dog to go to her. At first, your dog will need a lot of guidance, but if you play this game often, they’ll pick up on it. Soon, they’ll be able to go “find” your family members by going from room to room.

Indoor Agility

Some portable agility equipment is compact enough to set up in your living room. You can also get creative with foldable tunnels, books, boxes, hula hoops and other household items to create your own mini agility course. Most agility equipment is bright blue or yellow because these colors are easiest for dogs to see, so you’ll want to use those colors when creating highly visible targets and checkpoints.

Challenge Your Dog This Winter!

Need more ways to keep your dog on the move this winter? There is so much to learn with Healthy Houndz – dog training in Toronto and North York. We only use positive reinforcement methods, and we show you how to communicate better with your dog to help them reach their greatest potential – or just learn to stop counter surfing! Call us today for your free consultation.

How Music Affects Dogs

How Music Affects Dogs

While you won’t catch them rocking out or singing along in the car, dogs really are influenced by music.

With their amazing sense of hearing, we can’t say we’re surprised.

Dogs use 18 muscles to turn their ears towards sounds, helping them locate noises more precisely than humans.

They can also hear a frequency range of 40 to 60,000 Hz, while our range is only between 20 and 20,000 Hz. This allows them to hear both lower and higher pitches than we can, allowing dogs to hear a much more vivid range of sounds than we can ever imagine.

Keep in mind that dogs are also more sensitive to volume, and can suffer hearing damage at volumes that sound normal to us.

What Researchers Are Discovering About Music And Dogs

Multiple studies have shown us that music has a measurable, observable effect on dogs.

A 2012 Colorado State University study, “Behavioral effects of auditory stimulation on kenneled dogs,” observed the effects of different genres of music on dachshunds in a rescue kennel.

Regardless of the genre of music played, the dogs barked less than during silent control periods. They were the most quiet when they listened to classical music, specifically Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Classical music made the dogs so relaxed that they were more likely to sleep.

The dogs trembled when they were exposed to heavy metal music. Headbangers, you may want to use headphones around your dog.

The Scottish SPCA conducted their own study in 2014 with similar results. Regardless of genre, the participating dogs were more likely to lie down when listening to any type of music.

Their dogs, however, showed a strong preference for reggae, with soft rock coming in close second. They also noted that dogs seemed to have individual preferences.

How Music Can Calm Your Dog

Music is excellent for reactive dogs. Soft, calming music can take the edge off of your dog’s anxiety so they can be calm enough to learn how to react appropriately to their triggers, for example, if you’d like them to go to bed when they’re overwhelmed by houseguests.

You can also play music when you’re away to help your dog with separation anxiety. Music can drown out noises that they hear outdoors, like passersby, and fill the lonely silence that they may experience when your family is not home. Music can help ease your dog into a new routine, so they’ll be able to sleep when you’re away.

Always play music during a potentially stressful interaction, like nail trimming or a bath. Not only will your dog feel calmer, you’ll relax, too, making it easier for you to set a good example for your dog. You can also ask your veterinarian and groomer about playing music at their facility to help dogs relax.

You can even use calming music to overpower the sounds of booms during thunderstorms and fireworks displays. Combined with counterconditioning and desensitization, music can make those scary experiences actually fun for your dog.

Help Your Dog Find Their Happy Place With Positive Training

Music helps a lot, but it’s not a quick-fix for behavioural problems and fear-based issues. Seek a trainer that uses behavioural science based, reward-oriented training methods to change the way your dog processes events – rather than covering up issues with punishments that don’t change your dog’s behaviour in the long term.

Contact Healthy Houndz for positive dog training in Toronto and North York.

Is Your Dog Reactive? How To Tell, And What You Can Do To Help:

Is Your Dog Reactive?

Is your reactive dog wearing you out?

If you’re always worrying about the next trigger, rushing across the street every time you encounter another dog, dreading visitors, cutting your outings short – you’re probably not enjoying dog ownership as much as you expected. It may be tiring, frustrating, even embarrassing when it feels like your dog is out of control.

By understanding what your dog is experiencing, you can start to drive positive change in their behaviour.

Remember, a reactive dog is not a “bad dog”.

Reactive dogs are scared. With a combination of factors that may be genetic, based on past experiences, due to a lack of positive exposure or based on diet and exercise, your dog truly does not know how to handle certain situations. With your guidance, your dog can learn to react appropriately to their triggers.

What’s The Difference Between “Normal” And “Reactive” Dogs?

Most dogs get excited when they see another dog, or a squirrel, the mailman, or a guest in your home. Every dog reacts.

But some dogs overreact. You may find it impossible to divert their attention when they’re overreacting. They may ignore cues and treats. They might even be harmful to themselves or others.

Every time a reactive dog has an episode of reactivity, they experience a spike in the stress hormone known as cortisol. A little stress is not a bad thing, but too much of it can actually lead to physical health issues down the road. In the short-term, the more cortisol produced in your dog’s blood, the more they will continue to produce it in excess, making it even harder for your dog to relax.

Managing Your Reactive Dog

First, identify your dog’s triggers. Be specific! If your dog goes nuts around other dogs, take note of when that happens. Your dog might be perfectly fine in small groups at the dog park, but will act up when meeting face-to-face on lead. They might bark uncontrollably at strangers that enter your home, but happily greet strangers on the street. Context is key.

Do your best to keep your dog out of triggering situations, or at least manage their intensity. For example, cross the street when you’re about to be approached by another dog. We tend to linger when stopping to meet other people walking their dogs, and this is a big mistake. On-lead meetings are very “in your face.” The dogs are instantly nose-to-nose with a stranger with no way to escape.

Managing triggers for your reactive dog does not mean becoming a hermit for the rest of your dog’s life. When you have guests over, a baby gate can do wonders in keeping your dog distanced from the front door so they can meet your friends once everyone has calmed down and settled in.

Avoid situations that lead to trigger stacking. Trigger stacking is when a dog is bombarded with too much at one time. At a family party, your dog might be overwhelmed by: the doorbell ringing, your guests, their dogs, their kids, plus the sounds of loud conversations, being stepped over, and the sensation of being pet by people they don’t know. All of these triggers, stacked together, can cause your dog to do something they normally wouldn’t, like bite.

Changing Your Reactive Dog’s Mind About Triggers

Most people are tempted to yell at their dog and may resort to punishments like painful corrections to get their dog to stop misbehaving.

While these punishments may seem to work, they take away your dog’s voice. If your dog is scared, they need to be able to bark or growl to let you know. A punished dog can seem calm on the surface, but may lash out unexpectedly because on the inside, they’re still fearful.

You cannot control how your dog reacts. But you can teach them to feel neutral, even good, about their triggers through counter-conditioning and desensitization (CC/DS).

Simply put, CC/DS is when we expose a dog to their triggers in small, manageable ways while offering them something they already enjoy, like a treat. For example, if your dog goes nuts when the mailman comes, we’d give them something very yummy when the mailman is down the road – far enough for your dog to just start to notice them, rather than waiting until they are right at your doorstep, because by then, your dog will be too overwhelmed to accept a treat.

On your own, you can make simple changes like carrying treats on walks or keeping a treat jar by your front door. That way, you will always be ready to create a positive association when your dog encounters a trigger.

Working on reactivity, though, can be a bit advanced. It’s easy for the average dog owner to expose their dog to too much, too soon, creating a stressful experience that can make reactivity worse.

Healthy Houndz offers reward-based, behavioural-science based dog training in Toronto and North York. Our years of experience of working with reactive dogs allows us to recognize body language and signs of progress that can be hard to notice on your own – especially when you’re juggling treats, a lead, and your sanity.

Get in touch with us today – we’d be happy to help your dog enjoy a happier, calmer life.

Your Second Dog And Beyond – Tips To Keep The Peace In Multi-Dog Households

Getting A Second Dog - Training Tips For Multi Dog Households

What’s better than one dog? Two dogs!

When you have two dogs, they always have a playmate. Bonds between dogs can be incredibly strong – they often mourn when their adopted siblings pass away.

Not every pairing is a match made in doggy heaven. Carefully selecting your dog’s new sibling can make it easier for both dogs to adapt and get along. You’ll also need to learn about keeping the peace in your household. With that knowledge and a little luck, your dogs will be be best friends in no time.

What’s The Best Age To Adopt?

It is not recommended to bring home littermates, as two puppies may be more likely to bond with one another than their human family members.

If your current dog is a senior with limited mobility, a high-energy puppy might not be a great choice, unless you’re certain that your old friend will get plenty of peace and quiet while you tire out the young pup.

Your second dog will pick up habits from your current dog – both good and bad. So, it makes sense to wait to adopt until your current dog is completely house-trained and has good manners.

Boy or Girl?

In a 2011 AVMA study, 79% of instances of aggression between dogs that lived together were of the same sex; 68% of cases involved 1 or 2 females. So, it seems that it would be ideal to have a male and a female or two male dogs, while having multiple females is less than ideal. Even so, this was a small study, and does not necessarily mean that you cannot possibly have a whole household full of ladies. But you may want to factor in gender when you’re choosing a new doggy housemate.

What Size Should My Next Dog Be?

Dogs of all sizes can be good friends. However, there are definitely more risks to having two dogs of drastically different sizes. Even the most gentle giant can accidentally step on their tiny friend when they’re playing. A weight difference of no more than 12 kg can prevent size-related injuries.

Bringing Home Your Second Dog

Your dogs’ first meeting should be on neutral ground. Your current dog may act out if a new dog suddenly appears on their territory. Ideally, you should go visit the shelter, breeder or foster home and take both dogs for a walk together before you make any final decisions.

Some dogs take to their new siblings right away, but it’s not unusual for there to be some tension in the beginning. If you have any doubts, use baby gates and crates to separate the dogs at first. Allow them to get used to one another’s’ scent without the risk of a physical altercation.

When you feel the time is right, let your dogs loose in a wide, open area like a fenced yard. They should have room to escape if they feel cornered or overwhelmed.

Dogs bond by exploring scents together. Surround them with lots of fun toys and engage them with activities to ease off the pressure of directly interacting with one another until they are ready.

How Dogs Communicate With One Another

Brush up on your knowledge of canine body language to help you understand how your dogs “speak” to one another.

Look for loose, happy play, and watch out for tight, stiff body language. It’s normal for dogs to be loud and growly when they play. It’s not okay for one dog to bully the other. Be ready to interrupt overzealous play by calling the dogs away from each other for a break so they can cool down.

Resource Guarding And Jealousy

Dogs do not have a strictly structured hierarchy – one dog won’t necessarily become the Alpha of the other. Hierarchy is fluid – sometimes, one dog will growl when the other comes near their bone. The other might growl when the other tries to take away their toy.

Never punish your dogs for growling at one another. This is one of their primary forms of communication. Usually, the recipient will know to back off. It’s okay to calmly call them away if they are invading their sibling’s space.

It’s best to prevent resource guarding from ever happening. If you give one dog a big, juicy bone, their sibling should get one too. They should have separate eating and sleeping areas, and separate toys.

Also, make sure to give each dog equal attention – that’s why we have two hands! Spend time together as a family, and try to make time to take each dog out individually. Joint hikes and training sessions can be fun, but you should also carve out individual time so you can bond with each dog.

What To Do If Your Dogs Can’t Get Along

Feuds between family dogs can range from mildly stressful to life-threatening. If either of your dogs’ lives are at risk, it would not be humane to keep them together. Even careful management with crates and gates can eventually backfire.

It’s perfectly normal if your dogs aren’t best friends, as long as they can live together peacefully. Not all dogs like to snuggle and play together. Dogs typically prefer the company of humans to that of other dogs.

A positive reinforcement based dog trainer can help you identify any fear or anxiety-related issues, learn your dogs’ triggers, and create a plan for managing and modifying behaviours. Aggression is often caused by fear – fear of losing resources, for example. It is possible to resolve these fears with controlled behaviour modification, but this should only be done with the help of a trainer – sometimes, misguided efforts at fixing behaviours can actually make them worse.

If you need help keeping the peace in your multi-dog household, contact Healthy Houndz today for progressive dog training in Toronto and North York.

Why Every Dog Should Be Muzzle Trained

How To Muzzle Train Your Dog

Muzzles – they’re only for bad dogs, right?

Actually, even if your dog wouldn’t hurt a fly, it’s beneficial to train them to happily wear a muzzle. Even the most gentle dogs may have to wear a muzzle at some point, and preparing them for that moment will greatly decrease the amount of stress they may have to endure.

Why Every Dog Should Be Muzzle Trained

There are many benefits of training your dog to wear a muzzle. The most obvious is to prevent a bite. Any time your dog is scared or in pain, they experience an adrenaline rush and go into “fight or flight” mode. If your dog cannot escape, they will have no choice but to try to bite. If your dog causes a severe enough bite, there is a chance that you may be forced to put them to sleep. Muzzle training can actually save your dog’s life.

Vet visits become less stressful when your dog is muzzle-trained. Blood draws, vaccinations and other potentially painful procedures are easier when your dog voluntary wears their familiar muzzle from home, rather than being forced into one at the vet’s office.

Your dog may also need to be muzzled during grooming, particularly nail trims, whether you do them at home, or at the vet’s office or groomer’s. While it’s best to teach your dog to accept nail trims with positive reinforcement, they may still need to be muzzled as a precaution.

A muzzle can also keep your dog from eating trash outside. Certain dogs, particularly retrievers, will eat almost anything, even rocks, and end up needing expensive surgeries to remove foreign bodies from their digestive tract. Blockages can cause internal bleeding, and are sometimes fatal.

When your dog wears a muzzle, the uninformed public may think that they are dangerous. This can be a perk on walks if your dog is ever rudely approached by people and their children. Wearing a muzzle means your dog will likely be left alone.

Your dog can also wear a muzzle during play-dates if they tend to break skin with their overzealous play bites. It is common for thin-skinned breeds like Greyhounds to wear muzzles when they play to prevent injuries. Of course, muzzles do not protect your dog from getting bitten.

There are many, many other reasons why an ordinary dog may have to wear a muzzle. If your lost dog is ever picked up by animal control, or if they are rescued during an emergency, they may be muzzled. Your dog may also be required to wear a muzzle on public transportation.

What Kind Of Muzzle Should You Get?

Every dog should have their own basket style muzzle. It should be fitted so that your dog can open their mouth, pant, drink water and accept treats while wearing it. Baskerville is a popular brand. The muzzle can be made of plastic, metal or leather.

Cloth and mesh muzzles are often used for short periods of time, especially in emergencies. They do not allow your dog to open their mouth and pant. This can be dangerous for your dog if worn for long periods of time. However, you may want to keep one of these simple muzzles in a first aid kit or in your car in case of an emergency, and teach your dog to wear it, too.

How To Muzzle Train Your Dog

When you first buy the muzzle, leave it on the floor and allow your dog to approach it at their own speed. Reward them for going near it.

Then, take out the muzzle and give your dog a treat so that the very sight of it is a positive experience. The muzzle is a mask of fun times.

Hold up the muzzle near your dog’s face, and reward them heavily for getting close to it. Do not put it over your dog’s face. Instead, deliver a rapid-fire of tiny treats through it, or smear something yummy like cheese or peanut butter on the inside. Your dog should enjoy a few seconds of nonstop yumminess for a few seconds while they have the muzzle close to their face – then the treats should stop when you pull the muzzle away. Soon, your dog will want you to bring the muzzle to their face.

You may have to condition your dog to get used to the sound of the fastener, the feeling of the muzzle being adjusted, and then actually wearing it. All of these things should be introduced gradually. Always work at your dog’s pace and use lots of rewards. Soon, you can put on your dog’s muzzle immediately before going for a short walk – so they’ll not only associate it with treats, but the excitement of going on an adventure.

If you need help finding a muzzle, fitting it properly, and teaching your dog to love wearing it, Healthy Houndz can help! Get in touch today for positive reinforcement based training in Toronto and North York that prepares your dog for real-life situations.

Got The Puppy Blues? What To Do When You Regret Getting A Puppy

Puppy Blues... What To Do When You Regret Adopting Your Puppy

Bringing home a new puppy should be the best thing in the world… so why do you feel so awful?

It’s not unusual to feel annoyance, frustration, even regret after getting a new puppy. It’s okay to think about whether your puppy is a good fit for your household, or if you may actually need to return or rehome them.

The truth is, you’re probably not going to love your new puppy right away. It can take a long time for the chaos to die down. It might be months before your puppy adapts to your household and you fall into a comfortable routine again. By the time your puppy is a year old, they’ll likely be housetrained, they’ll no longer be destructive and you probably won’t be able to imagine life without them.

But you don’t have to feel helpless until that happens. There are many things you can do to soothe the puppy blues.

Puppy Problems Really Do Pass

Does potty training feel like it’s taking forever? Is it impossible to play with your puppy without getting your fingers bitten? Is your puppy chewing on everything you love?

So many puppy issues are temporary. While your training methods may feel like they’re not working, if you’re consistent, your puppy will eventually get the idea. Remember, they’re just a puppy – a baby. Puppies do not misbehave to spite us. They have short attention spans. They are experiencing everything for the first time.

The worst thing you can do is make choices out of anger or frustration. Shouting, spanking or angrily putting your puppy in their crate for a “time out,” can all lead to fear-based behavioural issues down the road.

We almost always expect too much, too soon from our puppies. When something isn’t working, take the time to re-examine the way you’re teaching your pup. Take a few steps backwards. Start fresh.

Get Help From A Professional

No matter how many puppy books you read, nothing beats having customised, in-person help from a professional dog trainer. Modern dog trainers use behavioural science to pick up on the communication issues and natural processes that are causing your puppy’s unwanted  behaviours. They use rewards to modify your puppy’s behaviour and actually help you learn to better communicate with your puppy.

Healthy Houndz offers modern, reward-based dog training programs, board-and-train and daycare-and-train programs to set your puppy up for success. Ask us about our professional dog services in Toronto and North York.

When To Rehome Your Puppy

Sometimes, a pet simply isn’t the right match for a household. This can happen to anyone – and it’s not your fault. If you must rehome your puppy or return them to the breeder or shelter, try to do it as soon as you can. The younger your puppy is, the easier it will be for them to find a new home.

You should seriously consider rehoming your puppy if:

  • The puppy is not compatible with your kids. If there is any risk of your puppy or your children seriously injuring one another, you will likely need to rehome your puppy. Nipping during playtime is normal and your puppy will grow out of it, but if your puppy shows real signs of aggression, or your child is having trouble learning to be respectful of your puppy, it’s best to rehome before a serious bite can happen.
  • The puppy is not compatible with your older pets. It is normal for your cat, older dog and other animals to have trouble adjusting at first. But it is possible for your puppy to kill your cat, or for your older dog to kill your puppy. If there is a chance that any of the animals’ lives could be at stake, it is not humane to keep them together.
  • You truly don’t have time to devote to your puppy. Even with the help of daycare and training programs, there are no shortcuts – you need to spend time training and bonding with your puppy.

How To Safely Rehome Your Puppy

If you acquired your puppy from a shelter or breeder, you may have signed a contract that will tell you what you should do if you have to rehome your puppy. If you do not know, give them a call. It is possible that you are not legally permitted to rehome the puppy on your own. Breeders, in particular, would rather have the puppy back if you cannot keep them.

If you cannot return your puppy, you will have to rehome them on your own. Do not turn to local Facebook groups, newspaper classifieds ads, Kijiji or Craigslist. These ads are notorious for attracting all sorts of shady buyers. Some people buy cheap puppies to use in inhumane backyard breeding businesses, use puppies as bait for illegal dog fighting or to flip puppies for a profit.

You can contact your veterinarian, who might have another client who is looking for a puppy like yours. They may also be able to recommend no-kill shelters and rescues in your area. A shelter or rescue might be able to take your puppy off your hands, or allow you to keep your puppy as a foster until they can help you find a new home for them. Shelter and rescues have networks of potential adopters and usually have protocols to ensure that your puppy is going to a good home.

Is Your Dog A Good Judge Of Character?

Can Dogs Be A Good Judge Of Character? What To Do When Your Dog Does Not Like Someone

Do you believe that your dog can sniff out a good person?

Some dogs seem to love everyone they meet, while others take forever to warm up to anyone. You might notice that you and your dog always seem to get along with the same people… or, you might wonder why your dog has a bone to pick with your best friend.

Though dogs are not always able to tell us who we should and shouldn’t trust, we can’t underestimate how perceptive they can be. New research gives us some interesting insights on how dogs judge people and what influences the way they behave around strangers.

Dogs Are Constantly Reading Facial Expressions

In 2013, researchers at the University of Vienna taught dogs to look at a screen and evaluate photos of human faces that were either angry or happy. The dogs were able to easily identify facial expressions, even if the facial features were isolated – dogs could perceive not only smiles and frowns, but more subtle details like tension around the eyes or a relaxed face.

Can Dogs Actually Smell Fear?

Have you ever been told that if you were afraid of a dog, they would smell your fear and become more likely to attack you? It’s unclear where this belief comes from, but it surely has done nothing to help people feel comfortable around dogs.

Researchers tested this idea by collecting sweat samples from people while they were experiencing happiness, sadness and fear. Dogs exposed to the “fear sweat” samples actually became more stressed. Their heart rates increased, they avoided contact with a stranger and sought reassurance from their owner.

So, it’s true that dogs can smell fear. However, they will not necessarily respond with aggression. They may simply be more timid around people who are anxious. If you’re anxious around someone, your dog will probably react accordingly.

Dogs Notice How Other People Treat You

Another interesting behavioural study showed evidence that dogs can judge people based on their body language and their actions. In this setup, the dog’s owner would try to open a container. A person next to them, a stranger to the dog, would either help the dog’s owner open the container, or turn away, refusing to help. After the stranger either helped or didn’t help the dog’s owner, they offered the dog a treat.

When the stranger was helpful, the dogs happily accepted the treat. When offer a treat by an unhelpful stranger, however, the dogs often hesitated or refused the treat.

Do You Think Your Dog Is A Good Judge Of Character?

These small studies suggest that dogs can use their ability to read facial expressions, understand social interactions and even their sense of smell to judge people. Even so, some dogs struggle with anxiety around strangers and may not be able to settle down long enough to make a fair judgement.

So, do not feel bad if your anxious dog does not warm up to your favourite people right away. A combination of genetics, socialization and training will determine how your dog will react to different people.

Also keep in mind “trigger-stacking”. Meeting a stranger is at least a little bit stressful to most dogs. If that stranger is their new veterinarian, who might look scary in their white coat, and your dog is surrounded by anxious dogs in the waiting room, plus picking up on your own nervous scent… all of these triggers can make your dog more likely to act fearful or act out aggressively.

Do your best to minimize triggers when introducing your dog to new people. It might be easier for your dog to meet people in public places than at home. Allow your dog to warm up to people at their own pace, rather than rushing an interaction.

Powerful Dog Training Starts With Behavioural Science

If you’re working on socializing your dog, reducing problematic behaviours, or teaching new skills, it’s important to understand how your dog thinks. Modern, reward-based training techniques revolve around creating positive experiences and setting your dog up for success.

Ready to learn more? Contact Healthy Houndz today for positive dog training in Toronto and North York.