Stop Time And Melt Stress With Mindful Dog Walks

How To Take Mindful Dog Walks

Everybody says that time flies by.

One day, you’re bringing home a new puppy, and before you know it, they’re grey in the muzzle and you can’t remember what life was like before they came along.

Sometimes, time flies when we’re having fun, but it’s often because we’re spending too much time micromanaging, overthinking, and over-stressing.

Mindfulness is, simply put, living in the moment. It’s about slowing down and taking in your surroundings and experiences without judgement.

Dogs are our greatest teachers of mindfulness. They don’t care how long it takes them to do five laps around the park, as long as they can sniff every tree, leaf and flower along the way.

What We’re Missing When We Walk Our Dogs

Walking your dog provides them with potty opportunities, mental stimulation and exercise that they need whether or not you have a fenced-in backyard. Even if you’re totally disengaged, they’re getting some of these benefits.

When your attention is split between the walk and your smartphone, however, you do miss a lot. You miss the little things that make each walk special. It might be a little moment, like a ladybug crossing your path.

But it might even be a big moment, like the first time your reactive dog notices a cat without going absolutely bonkers, an excellent opportunity to celebrate a step forward in your dog’s behaviour – this could be easily missed if you’re not “in the moment.”

What You’ll Get Out Of Mindful Dog Walks

Mindfulness has been researched in scientific studies to have physical, emotional and mental health benefits. Over time, you can learn to control your emotions so one tiny mishap won’t ruin your whole day. You can become more in-tune with others and better get along with people – and dogs – with improved empathy and compassion. You can learn to manage negative thoughts, ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, and all-around become a happier person.

As a bonus, spending time with your dog has a positive correlation with your physical health. Dog owners have been shown to have lower cholesterol, a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and a lower BMI. 

And yet another bonus, sunlight exposure stimulates your body to produce vitamin D, which can help protect you from depression, keep your bones and your immune system strong, and can even prevent cancer. The amount of sun exposure you need to produce sufficient vitamin D will vary based on the time of day, your skin-tone and the season.

The Trick To Clearing Your Mind On Dog Walks

Do you hate meditating? Many of us have this idea that we have to completely clear our minds. But that’s actually impossible, and not the true goal of meditation. You cannot clear the mental buzz in your brain, but you can manage it by labeling your thoughts.

Whenever your mind drifts elsewhere – what you’ll have for dinner, what you’ll have to do at work – don’t judge yourself. Instead, simply put a label on these thoughts and let them drift away. Then, return your focus to your breathing, your dog’s footsteps, or your five senses.

Just as you have to train your dog to modify unwanted behaviours, you will have to train your mind, over time, to be less cluttered and more focused. Even if you are unable to control your every thought, you’ll become better and better at getting more from your walks every time you make a point to practice mindfulness.

Mindful Dog Walk Exercises

    • Use all five of your senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. Dogs take in interesting odours by sniffing up to five times per second – what happens when you try it?
    • Notice your breathing and footsteps. Also notice the way your dog’s pawsteps as you walk over different textures of terrain.
    • Seek out tiny wonders. Look for interesting bugs, rocks and landmarks, and encourage your dog to check them out, instead of always pulling them away from the things that interest them.
    • Let your dog walk you. Spend a whole walk allowing your dog to choose which way to go. See if they can lead you all the way home.
    • Do a quick body scan. Notice any aches, pains or tension throughout your body. If you feel anxious, notice where the emotion is located and see if you can release it.
    • Stay calm if your dog acts up. If your dog starts to bark and lunge at another animal, focus on keeping your breath slow and even. When the moment passes, praise them for returning their attention to you, and continue your walk. Your reaction will impact how quickly your dog is able to calm down again.

Help Your Dog Find Their Zen

Need help achieving peaceful, mindful dog walks? Healthy Houndz provides professional, positive-reinforcement based training for dogs who need gentle help finding their zen. Contact us today!

Is Your Dog A Lefty Or A Righty?

What's Your Dog's Paw Preference? How To Test If Your Dog Is Right Or Left Pawed

Did you know that your dog probably has a paw preference?

Just like humans, dogs can favour their right or left side. This preference can actually be a clue about your dog’s temperament, though it’s just one indicator of how your dog thinks.

How To Test Your Dog’s Paw Preference

You can’t give your dog a pencil to see which paw they’ll write with, so how can you tell if they’re a righty or a lefty? There are several activities that you can use to assess your dog’s paw preference.

    • Ask your dog to shake or high five. Do they always use the same paw?
    • Record some videos of your dog going down stairs or stepping out of their crate. Do they take their first step with the same paw every time?
    • Watch your dog reach for a toy. Hide a treat or toy under a piece of furniture. Which paw do they use to reach for it?
    • Check hair whorls. The “cowlick” or whorl of hair on your dog’s chest have been found to have a correlation with their paw preference.

Your dog may have different paw preferences for certain activities. They may show no particular preference at all. It is possible for a dog to be ambidextrous, so if there’s no reliable pattern, they’re probably just as happy to use either paw.

What’s Your Dog’s Paw-Sonality?

In humans, there has been research suggesting surprising, though minor, differences in people who are left-handed. Though they only make up 10 percent of the population, left-handed people have been found to have a slightly greater chance of becoming an alcoholic, earn a median of $1300 USD less than right-handed workers, and tend to have more social difficulties. Similarly, some research suggests that left-pawed dogs are different than right-pawed dogs too.

In a University of Adelaide study, some correlation was found between a dog’s paw preference and temperament. Left-pawed dogs were reported by their owners to have higher levels of aggression towards strangers. They scored almost twice as high as ambidextrous dogs and somewhat higher than right-pawed dogs.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the study group was small, consisting of 75 dogs, and the dog’s temperaments were owner-reported, so the findings may not be completely reliable.

A survey of 150 prospective guide dogs for the blind showed that right-pawed dogs were twice as likely to successfully graduate the program.

When it comes down to it, these small studies are fun to read, but they cannot be used to assess an individual dog’s personality or abilities. Each study uses different methods to show the dogs’ paw preferences.

Researchers do not truly understand what could cause the differences between dogs with differing paw preferences. Some say it’s due to the way emotions are experienced in each hemisphere of the brain. Others say it’s connected to genetic factors, or the way the puppy develops in the womb.

A dog’s skills and attitude towards strangers is more strongly connected to socialization, experiences and breed. Traditional guard dog breeds like the Chow Chow, German Shepherd and Rottweiler will typically bark first and ask questions later, however they can be friendly towards new people once they’ve settled down, especially if they have had plenty of positive experiences with a variety of different people during puppyhood socialization.

Managing Fearfulness Towards Strangers

While these paw preference tests are fun, you should always train the dog that is in front of you. Your left-pawed dog may love strangers, while your right-pawed dog may relentlessly bark at your guests. When your dog barks or growls at strangers, it can be scary, but it’s your dog’s only way of telling you that they are scared.

When your dog is out of control, it’s tempting to resort to quick fixes. Shock collars, citronella collars, shake cans and squirt bottles seem to instantly quell barking. However, these methods only startle the dog into being quiet without addressing the underlying problem.This is just like taking the batteries out of a smoke alarm. Without a way of warning seemingly scary people to stay away, a fearful dog may resort to biting “out of the blue.”

Your goal should be to help your dog learn to be comfortable around diverse groups of people. This is easiest while they are still a puppy. Expose them to people of different age groups, in different clothing and in new environments.

Changing your dog’s emotional reactions can be difficult and may take a long time. You may never be able to convince your dog to love strangers. Use baby gates or a crate to keep your dog away from guests until they’ve settled down, and let them approach at their own pace. Never force them to be around people, especially children. Remember that every animal might bite if they are scared.

Train With Your Dog’s Pawsonality In Mind

Fear and aggression-related issues should be handled with care. Not every protocol is suited for every dog. Professional, one-on-one, positive-reinforcement based training from Healthy Houndz allows you to learn more about your dog’s fears, how to manage them, and the best, safest ways to make progress towards your goals.

Schedule your free Meet-N-Greet today!

The No-Fear Way To Trim Your Dog’s Nails

No Fear Way To Trim Your Dog's Nails

If you’re like most dog owners, you dread trimming your dog’s nails and put it off for weeks. But nail trims don’t have to be a frustrating nightmare. They can actually be enjoyable. Training your dog to enjoy grooming is one of the most worthwhile things you can do for your dog’s health, not to mention your bond with them.

Why Are Regular Nail Trims So Important?

The biggest reason to keep your dog’s nails short is to maintain a healthy posture. Imagine if your toenails were so long, they touched the ground while you walked. You’d have to distribute your weight to your heels to avoid feeling your nails painfully digging into the ground. This is exactly how it is for your dog when their nails are long. The awkward posture caused by long nails can also make your dog more susceptible to injury and chronic pain.

Your goal should be to keep your dog’s nails short enough that they do not touch the ground while they are walking. There should be little-to-no audible clicking sounds when your dog walks around on hardwood, tile or linoleum floors.

A dog’s nail consists of a hard, thick outer layer and a blood vessel known as the “kwik.” A pink kwik is visible through light-coloured nails. If you cut too close, you may hit the kwik and your dog’s nail will bleed. It may be impossible to trim your dog’s nails short enough without hitting the kwik. With frequent nail trims at the alternate cut line, the kwik will recede. You may need to trim the nails as frequently as every 3 days to help the kwik recede, and then you can maintain it with weekly or biweekly trims.

Ways To Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Clippers are a scissor-like tool used to cut dog’s nails. Never use “human” nail clippers. With clippers, you can cut off a significant portion of the nail in one quick “clip.” It’s important that you sharpen or replace your clippers before they become dull. Dull clippers may squeeze, rather than cut the nail, and can actually cause the nail to painfully split. After you use clippers to trim your dog’s nails, you may be left with sharp edges that you can file down with a nail file or a Dremel tool.

A scratchboard is a piece of sandpaper mounted on an elevated platform. You can teach your dog to scratch the scratchboard to grind down their own nails. However, it’s difficult to teach your dog to use the scratchboard to trim the nails on their hind paws. The dog will usually not be able to grind all of their nails down evenly, so you may still need to use another method.

Long walks can wear down your dog’s nails naturally over time. In the wild, wolves and coyotes keep their nails short through digging and running after prey for hours. Since your dog is likely not running around in the wilderness all day, you may need to walk them on concrete to help keep their nails at a reasonable length. Walks are typically not sufficient for keeping the dog’s nails from touching the ground, but they can be helpful while you counter-condition your dog to tolerate other methods.

A Dremel rotary tool is a handheld electronic sander that is used to grind down the dog’s nails. There is a Pet Dremel specially designed for nail trimming, but you can also use the general-use model like the Dremel 7300-N. When using a regular Dremel tool, start at the slowest speed and use a medium grit sandpaper band.

The Dremel tool allows you to grind the nail more precisely than clippers. You can use it in combination with the clippers or on its own. Many dogs are afraid of the noise and vibration at first, but respond well to counter conditioning and desensitization.

What Is Counter-Conditioning And Desensitization?

Counter-conditioning and desensitization (CC/DS) are methods that you can use to teach your dog to actually enjoy having their nails clipped, rather than fearfully tolerate the experience.

Counter-conditioning means using positive reinforcement to change your dog’s reaction to a stimulus – in this case, the sensation of having their paws touched, the sounds of the clippers or Dremel tool, or the feeling of having their nails trimmed.

Desensitization means exposing your dog to a low-level intensity version of the stimulus and gradually increasing the intensity at a rate with which they are comfortable.

Let’s say you want to teach your dog to sit calmly in your lap while you use a Dremel tool to trim their nails. If your dog is content with sitting in your lap, you’d start CC/DS by gently handling their paws while petting them and offering treats. You’d progress to holding each toe and touching each nail with your fingertip. Pair the presence of the stimulus with something good – small treats, a peanut butter filled Kong or a chew stick work well.

Then, you might have the powered-off Dremel nearby while your dog sits in your lap. When your dog is comfortable having the powered-off Dremel touch their toes, you might start to desensitize them to the sound by running it near them, without touching their nails. You can actually use your Dremel or clippers on uncooked spaghetti to simulate the sound of a nail trim. Only when your dog is comfortable with the sound, may you begin to Dremel just one nail. During the next session, you might try two nails, and at the next, the whole paw.

Most people move too quickly through each stage, which defeats the purpose of CC/DS. At no point should your dog be so frightened that you need to use force to keep them from pulling away. This does mean that it can take weeks to complete this process. In the meantime, you can walk your dog on concrete or use a scratchboard.

Safety Tips And Tricks

Whenever you use force to restrain a dog during nail trims, you put both the dog’s and your own safety at risk. Dogs can injure themselves while trying to get away, and may bite in a panic. That’s why it’s so important to teach your dog to enjoy nail trims, not merely tolerate them.

Even so, you may want to use a muzzle during nail trims whether or not your dog is likely to bite. You can use CC/DS to teach your dog to like their muzzle, too. Muzzle training is extremely handy for vet visits, especially in case of a medical emergency. Remember, if a dog has teeth, they can bite if they are scared or in pain.

Always stop if you are getting frustrated or annoyed with your dog. Pulling away, growling and biting are not signs that your dog is misbehaving. They are simply communicating their fears in the only ways they can. As a responsible dog owner, it’s your job to reduce your dog’s fears, not teach them to repress their natural reactions.

You Don’t Have To Do This Alone!

Fear-free nail trims are challenging for most dog owners. A professional positive reinforcement trainer will help you safely trim your dog’s nails and guide you through CC/DS.

Are you in North York or Toronto, Ontario? Let’s get those talons down to a healthy length. Contact Healthy Houndz Dog Services today!

When And Where Should Your Dog Be Off-Leash?

Before You Let Your Dog Offleash In Toronto, Ask Yourself These Questions: #toronto #torontodogs #positivetraining

Not even professional athletes can run fast enough to keep up with an active dog’s fully extended stride.

When we walk our dogs on-leash, they’re kindly slowing down for us. Dogs love to run at full speed, stop suddenly to sniff a tree, and then dash off again. Off-leash play is a wonderful way to provide opportunities for your  dog to get exercise and interact with the environment at their own pace.

However, as fun and stimulating as off-leash adventures can be, they’re always a bit risky. Here’s what you should know before you let your dog run free.

Training Your Dog To Be Off-Leash

Dogs are terrible at generalizing. Your dog might be excellent at running when you call them into the kitchen from the living room, but they may ignore you when they’re overstimulated by all of the scents and sounds of the outdoors. You’ll need to practice recall extensively, in many different situations and environments, before you can even think of letting your dog loose.

Use a long line or several leashes secured together to safely practice recall in open spaces. Always reward your dog with pungent, tasty treats when they come back to you. Reward them for coming when you call their name or whistle, as well as for “checking in,” with you without being called. Continue to bring these yummy treats on all of your off-leash adventures.

The Dangers Of Off-Leash Adventures

If your dog does not always come when called, you may not be able to recall them from dangerous situations like chasing wild animals, getting into fights with other dogs, eating garbage or getting killed by a car. It takes time and practice to train your dog to come back to you no matter what.

Even if your dog always comes to you, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t let them off-leash everywhere you go. Some people steal dogs in hopes of making a profit, either by selling your valuable purebred or by getting reward money when you’re desperate to get your dog back.

When Can You Trust Your Dog?

No dog is perfect. Even if you train your dog to recall off a squirrel, there is always a chance that they will simply find themselves overcome with prey drive and be unable to resist a good chase. Even if you have trained a solid “leave it” with kibble on your kitchen floor, your dog may not be able to resist chowing down on raw meat spiked with poison meant for baiting wild animals.

Always be prepared for failures. If your dog does run out of your sight, how far will they have to go before they may reach a busy road? Are they familiar with the area, or are they likely to get lost?

Why You Can’t Rely On Shock Collars

Many people rely on the false security of shock collars to keep their dog from straying. These devices are cleverly marketed by manufacturers and trainers who use them as “safe” and “harmless.” While the electronic pulse, delivered to your dog’s neck muscles via two metal prongs, usually do not cause short-term injury, they must either be painful enough to scare the dog, which causes distress that can lead to behavioural problems such as aggression, or so mild that the dog may ignore the sensation and continue to run.

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Letting Your Dog Off-Leash

  • Is it legal for my dog to be off-leash? Unless you’re in an area known to allow off-leash dogs, assume that you could be fined.
  • Can I supervise my dog closely? You should not multi-task while letting your dog off-leash. If you need to use your phone or watch your children, your dog can easily go missing while your attention is divided. Interact with your dog – bring toys, play games and do some training.
  • Have I trained my dog in this particular area? Being off-leash someplace new can impair your dog’s recall skills.
  • Did I pack my dog’s favourite treats? Always bring treats when your dog will be off-leash, or returning will no longer be more rewarding than chasing a squirrel. Wouldn’t you stop working if your boss stopped paying you?
  • Are there wild animals in this area? Dogs may chase rabbits, deer, and squirrels, or may attempt to play with or fight foxes and coyotes.
  • If my dog and I are separated, where would they go? Is there a busy road nearby that your dog might cross? Will they approach a good samaritan, or run away if approached?
  • Will my dog be a nuisance to other people? Even if your dog is friendly, some people will not want to pet them. Make sure your dog will not trespass on any’s property or chase their livestock. Some people may be training dogs for service work or working on their behavioural issues, and would not welcome your dog’s greeting.
  • Do we have a backup plan in place? Make sure your dog has a collar with up-to-date ID tags inscribed with your phone number and address. You should have your dog microchipped at your vet’s office so they can be identified if they lose their collar. You may also want to invest in a GPS tracking collar that will let you track your dog’s location on your smartphone.

Train A Rock Solid Recall!

Does your dog keep ignoring your commands and running away from you? You’ll get great value from the Rock Solid Recall Training Package from Healthy Houndz. In four one-hour sessions, we’ll help you build a stronger connection with your dog so you’ll finally be able to take them on fun off-leash adventures.

Before You Let Your Dog Offleash In Toronto #toronto #positivedogs #positivereinforcementtraining #forcefreetraining

Where To Adopt A Dog In Toronto, Ontario

Where To Adopt A Dog In Toronto Ontario

Are you making room in your home to adopt a new, four-legged family member? There are hundreds of dogs available locally that can’t wait to earn a spot on your couch. Use these resources to find the dog of your dreams:

Avoid Adopting Or Buying From Classifieds Ads

There’s no shortage of adoptable dogs on Kijiji and Facebook local sales groups. Some users are regular dog owners who need to rehome their dog because they are moving, having a new baby, or otherwise cannot care for their dog anymore. Many others are backyard breeders that sell puppies for a profit. Occasionally, you may see listings from a local shelter.

When you adopt a dog from an ad, the seller may lie about the dog’s health or breed, or may have kept them in unsafe, unhealthy conditions. Puppies are sometimes illegally sold at less than 8 weeks of age. It’s best to avoid these sites altogether because you have so many safer options.

Reputable Breeders vs Backyard Breeders

Buying a puppy from a breeder is a responsible choice, especially if you need a dog with specific characteristics, like a hypoallergenic single coat, or certain traits for sports and competitions. Good breeders use health testing and selective breeding to produce puppies with stable temperaments and few hereditary health issues.

Reputable breeders only have a few litters per year, usually specialize in just one breed, and may also participate in dog shows. Their dogs will have their registry papers, and you will not be charged additionally for them. You should be able to see the sire and dam, and check that the puppies are being raised in a clean, healthy indoor living space. They never describe their dogs as “teacup,” as this is a marketing term used by backyard breeders, not a real subset of any small dog breed. If you are looking for a breeder, the best place to find one is through the Canadian Kennel Club’s Puppy Search.

Shelters And Humane Societies In And Around Toronto, Ontario

Shelters and Humane Societies take in owner surrenders and dogs picked up by animal control. Adopting through them is cost-effective because the adoption fee typically includes vaccinations, heartworm testing and spay/neuter costs.

Toronto Humane Society is a no-kill animal shelter with a wide variety of large and small dogs and puppies.

Toronto Animal Services has three locations that also provide low-cost veterinary services.

Second Chance Dogs is a program from Toronto Animal Services in which adoptable dogs with management behavioural issues are trained with positive reinforcement and prepared for suitable homes that are willing to continue providing consistent, positive-based training.

Rescues In And Around Toronto, Ontario

Rescues are organizations that take in owner surrenders, and may also pull dogs out of shelters. Some are breed-specific, so you can get a purebred dog at a low cost. Rescues have both puppies and adult dogs that will already be vetted and ready to adopt. Some do not have a central location, and consist of a network of foster homes.

Free Korean Dogs is a Toronto-based, not-for-profit organization that rescues dogs from the Korean meat trade.

Jack Russell Terrier Rescue Ontario Inc. (JRTRO) is an Ontario-based rescue group that finds new homes for Jack Russell Terriers.

Team Dog Rescue is a volunteer-based rescue group that rehabilitates and rehomes strays, abused dogs and dogs from high-kill shelters.

Big On Beagles is a Toronto-based rescue group that finds new homes for Beagles.

Coveted Canines is a network of foster homes, focusing on rescuing dogs at high risk for euthanasia.

Other Ways To Find Your Next Dog

You can ask your veterinarian if they know of any dogs that need a new home. You can also check, which only lists adoptable animals from rescues and shelters. If you cannot find the right dog at a shelter, you can ask about facilitated adoptions, which is when someone keeps their dog in their own home until they can find a suitable adopter.

Build A Foundation With Healthy Houndz Training!

It’s never too early to start a training program with your new adoption. Whether you’re adopting a fresh new puppy or an experienced adult dog, working with a positive reinforcement trainer is the best way to get your bond off to a wonderful start. Ask us how you can start training your dog the day you bring them home!

5 Cues Every Dog Should Master

5 Cues Every Dog Should Master

Everyone loves teaching their dog tricks, but your dog isn’t truly well-trained until they can respond reliably to these five basic cues, sit, down, stay, come and leave it even around distractions. These are essential cues you will use for your dog’s entire life. Touch up on them throughout each day, especially when you take your dog somewhere new, and your dog’s listening skills will become consistent and reliable. With this foundation, your dog will develop a love of learning, and will enjoy making you proud.

It’s important to teach the cue by saying it just as your dog performs the desired behaviour. For example, you do not want to start teaching sit by saying “sit!” and then trying to get your dog to do it, because the word doesn’t mean anything to them yet. Encourage your dog to focus on you and use a method such as luring – guiding them into position by holding a treat in front of their nose. Once you have rewarded them a few times for sitting, they’ll offer the behaviour with little guidance. Only then can you start to connect the behaviour with the cue.

Consider teaching a hand gesture to go with each verbal cue. A University of Naples study showed that dogs are more likely to respond to a visual cue than a verbal one. Hand gestures can be used to communicate with your dog in a noisy environment, or from a distance.

  1. Sit

Use the “sit” cue when you need to your dog to pause, relax and control their impulses. You can use it when you’re waiting to cross a street, before you serve their meals and before you open the door for them.

Stick with a simple, one-word cue – “sit.” The universal gesture for “sit” starts with your hand at your side, then raised to elbow level with your palm facing upwards. Aim to have your dog “sit” until you release them, rather than tap their butt on the ground and expect a treat.

It’s easy to teach “sit,” as most dogs will eventually sit if you simply wait. There is no need to press your dog’s butt down. Even gentle physical maneuvering can make your dog anxious about being touched. You can lure your dog into a sit by holding a treat in the hand you are using to gesture, just make sure to fade out luring so your dog will listen even if you don’t have a treat in your hand.

  1. Down

Use the “down” cue when you want your dog to relax. For example, wouldn’t it be great to to have coffee with a friend and have your dog lying down beside you without a problem? Be wary of where you use “down,” don’t make your dog lie down on very hot or uncomfortable surfaces.

If you already use the word “down’ to have your dog hop off the couch, use a short, one-word cue of your choice, such as “flat” or “settle.” The hand gesture for “down” is a flat palm facing the floor, starting at elbow height then going down to your side.

At first, you can teach “down” by starting with a sit, then luring your dog with a treat until they’re in a lying position. Fade out the lure within the first few sessions. Once your dog gets the hang of it, you can experiment with having them “down” from a “stand” without sitting in-between. Also try “down” at a distance, with just the verbal cue, then only the gestural cue.

  1. Stay

When you master a strong sit stay you can bring your dog practically anywhere! Imagine going to a store and having your dog sit and stay quietly while you shop! Powerful!

It’s best to teach an implied “stay” with “sit” and “down,” only having your dog get up once released. That way, it will always be clear to your dog that they need to wait for a release word before they can move around again.

Have your dog sit or lie down, then wait just a few moments before releasing them with a release cue like “okay!” or “free!” A release word is different than a reward marker. You want your dog to know that “good!” does not necessarily mean they can get up again.

To make your dog’s sit-stay and down-stay rock-solid, you need to gradually increase distance, duration and distractions – but only one at a time. Start by having your dog “stay” for just two seconds, then three, then four, then five. Then, have them stay for a short time, throwing a toy or treat as the distraction. Try having your dog stay from a metre away, then two, then three. Practice “stay” while you turn away, walk away, walk in a circle, tie your shoe – your dog should eventually be able to distinguish normal movements from your release cue.

When your dog fails to “stay,” there is no need to punish or scold them. It’s your job to set your dog up for success. Did you increase the duration too abruptly? Were they not ready for that level of distraction? Go back a step and make the exercise a bit easier, then try again.

  1. Come or Recall

Wouldn’t it be nice to go for a walk while your dog explores off-leash, with the confidence that they will come to you at any time? No more worrying about your dog dashing off and getting lost.

Not every release from a “stay” has to be followed with “come,” nor does your dog have to be in a sit-stay or down-stay before you can call them. A strong recall can keep your dog safe if they ever get loose, and in some cases, you may be able to allow your dog to spend time off-leash in safe areas.

You may use several different cues for recall. You might say “Bella, come!” but you may also want to teach your dog to recall when you whistle, which would be easier for your dog to hear over a long distance. You can also teach a hand gesture for recall: hold your arm out, then bring it in towards your chest.

Try to recall your dog when they’re likely to come, not when they are distracted. If your dog does not come when you call them, try offering a toy or treat, or even running in the opposite direction – most dogs can’t resist a good chase. Always praise and reward your dog when they get to you, even if it takes a long time. Avoid calling their name repeatedly to help them learn to come at your first call, rather than waiting until the tenth.

Never recall your dog before doing something they might not enjoy, such as a bath or nail trimming, especially if you have not been able to condition your dog to enjoy being groomed. Also avoid saying your dog’s name in a negative tone. Being called should always be a positive experience.

  1. Leave It

Your dog is about to pick up something disgusting and you say “leave it”. They look up at you and walks away from the disgusting thing without an issue. Doesn’t that sound amazing?

Tell your dog to “leave it” when they’re about to, or currently eating something they shouldn’t, or rolling around in a delightfully stinky odour. You can also tell your dog to “leave it” the moment they notice a squirrel. The goal of a good “leave it” is to have your dog be able to completely walk away from something tempting.

There’s many great exercises for teaching “leave it.” A really easy way to start is by placing a treat in your hand and making a closed fist. Hold out your fist so your dog can sniff and try to lick and nibble the treat out of your hand. Eventually, they will give up. The moment your dog stops nosing at your hand, praise and reward them. After a few tries, they should almost immediately draw back and look at you.

Try putting a treat on the floor and step on it. Say “leave it,” and when they stop sniffing and look up at you, give them a treat (not the one on the floor!). Try this everywhere, tables, chairs… just make sure they do not end up getting the “forbidden” treat, as this would reinforce the unwanted behaviour and slow your progress.

If your dog shows signs of resource guarding, such as growling, “side-eye”, biting or lunging to protect a valuable treat or toy, you should not move forward with the “leave it,” cue. Work with a professional to resolve resource guarding and aggression issues so you and your family will not get bitten.

Want The Best-Mannered Dog On The Block?

Once you and your dog learn these five cues, it’s easy to incorporate them into your daily routine so your dog’s skills keep improving. But it’s tough to make steady progress without a solid foundation and guidance from an experienced professional trainer. You’ll save a lot of time and frustration and get your dog off to the right start when you work with Healthy Houndz through one of our awesome dog training programs. Don’t know which would be best for your smart pup? Get in touch, we’re always happy to help!

Why Socializing your Pup will Change your Life!

The Importance of Being Social


When I talk about socializing it is more than just taking your dog out for a walk. It is having a very confident, well-rounded dog that can handle many situations.

Odin plays ball

I’ve worked with many dogs over the years and one thing that stands out is how unprepared the dogs are with new experiences. Many are very fearful of new experiences, new people, new sounds and new places which cause them undue stress, and this is usually the cause of many behavioral issues. Dogs are very social by nature and love to meet new people and play with other dogs. We, humans, tend to want to protect them from the world. Even though most owners have good intentions with this “protection”, it can easily back fire. [Read more…]

Why Does My Dog Lick Me?


Why does my dog lick me?

Why do dog lick us?

In my business, I get a lot of “kisses” from my doggie clients!! I have always wondered why does my dog lick me. Here are some explanations:


Dogs can mean a lot of different things when they lick.  Believe it or not, licking is a form of communication for dogs, as well as something dogs use for grooming and eating.  So, it can serve multiple purposes.  That makes it complicated and a little hard to figure out at times.


Licking begins in the whelping box, along with most of the behaviors that your dog displays.  A mother dog licks her pups to stimulate them when they’re first born.  Licking encourages their circulation, it rouses them, it removes the membrane covering them when they’re first born, and it stimulates them to nurse.  Later, the mother will lick them to encourage their bowel movements and to wash them.  Of course, to someone observing a mother taking care of her pups, all of this probably looks like maternal love!  And it may be, but it still serves many purposes.


As they get older, puppies will lick their mothers (and other adult dogs) around the lips to try to stimulate them to regurgitate partially digested food for them.  This is quite normal for wolves and wild dogs, but our domesticated dogs can do it, too.  This behavior — licking a mother figure around the face — may be retained later in life.  Perhaps this is the reason why dogs try to lick people around the face?  In some cases, this could be true.

[Read more…]

10 Ways to STOP puppy biting

10 ways to STOP puppy biting:


  1. 10 ways to stop a puppy biting

    10 ways to stop biting

    Physical Exercise – The only good puppy is a tired puppy. Most puppies have energy spurts that can      drive you nuts. The best way to physically exercise a pup is to let them play with other puppies. If you have a puppy daycare in North York, I highly recommend checking it out.

  2. Mental Exercise – A great way to tire out a puppy is to do some mental activities. Simple obedience commands, tricks, toys and scent games can tire your pup out.
  3. Keep a leash on the puppy – I was working with a nice couple once that adopted what seemed like a snapping turtle. This puppy was all mouth, chomping anything within a foot of his mouth. We used a leash to control the biting. We would attach the leash to the door so the pup was in the room but could not bite. A chew toy was provided and we would control the attention we gave to the pup.
  4. Tug Games – Tug has gotten a bad rap over the past few years but it is a great game to play. When your pup starts to bite, substitute your hands with a tug toy.
  5. Understand Unintentional Reinforcement – Ever notice how you get more and more frustrated when your pup starts biting you? You push him away, maybe you give a slight slap on the nose or do a scruff shake. Notice how he keeps coming back for more. This is unintentional reinforcement. You are making the behavior stronger by doing this. Puppies love rough play and this only encourages the biting.
  6. Never slap or hit your puppy – This will only make your him fearful and may lead to an adult dog that is hand shy, a dog that gets nervous when a hand comes close to their face. Some dogs get so fearful they actually bite the hand.
  7. No Rough Play – I once taught a puppy class and watched as a guy spent the entire class pushing his hand in his pup’s face. He would tease him with his hands and kept pushing his head from side to side. His puppy was like a shark when you got near him. Guess what the guy asked me at the end of the class? “How do I stop puppy biting?”
  8. Teach Gentle Mouth – Ever give your pup a treat and he chomps down on your hand? Well, if you release the treat, your dog will continue to do the same thing every time you offer a treat. Every time you offer a treat, make sure your puppy takes the treat with a gentle mouth. When your his mouth comes close to your hand, loudly yell, “OUCH” and pull the treat away. Wait a second and offer it again. Repeat the process if you have to and only let him take the treat when he is gentle.
  9. Be Patient – You have to understand that this behavior is normal, natural canine behavior. If you get frustrated or angry, it is better to give your puppy a time out than to lose your temper. A few minutes in the crate is better than losing your temper and taking it out on him.
  10. Get Professional Help – Finding a puppy obedience class or online course.

Why Dogs Guard Cars


What Experts Are Saying About Why Dogs Guard Cars


Dog guarding car


No doubt you’ve seen a dog in a car somewhere and thought, “What a nice dog.  I think I’ll go speak to him.”  Then as soon as you get close to the car that nice dog goes ballistic.  That dog doesn’t want any part of you — except maybe to take a bite.

Why do dogs guard their vehicles?  Is it really a good idea to go up to a dog in a car or to knock on the window when there’s a dog inside? [Read more…]