How To Stop Your Dog From Jumping On People

How To Train Your Dog To Stop Jumping On People

Does your dog love people a little too much?

Overly enthusiastic greetings can be cute at first, but it can be annoying, embarrassing, or even dangerous when your dog jumps on everyone, getting muddy pawprints on nice clothes, snagging their nails on ladies’ tights, and knocking over small children.

Dogs just want to be close to us. They jump so they can be on our level, at optimal height for sniffing faces and giving kisses.

You can teach your dog to politely greet people – without breaking their over-exuberant spirit.

How You Could Be Making This Problem Worse

When your dog jumps on you, your first instinct might be to push them back onto the floor, or block them with your knee. Or, if your dog is jumping on your guest, you might pull back on the leash.

Physically moving your dog to the floor can feel a lot like wrestling to your dog. In a hyper-excited state, they’re not understanding “oh, I shouldn’t be jumping”.  Instead, they’re thinking, “this is a fun game”!

That’s why your dog will continue to jump every time they greet someone, rather than sitting politely. Instead of giving them the chance to jump and then pushing them down, you’ll want to prevent the jump from ever happening. The best way to do this is to teach your dog an alternate behaviour – most likely, to sit politely and wait to receive attention.

Using Attention As A Reward

While treats are an effective way to change habits and teach new behaviours, food isn’t necessary when training your dog to sit when greeting people. That’s because you already have a powerful reward at your disposal: attention!

First, you’ll need to teach your dog how to “sit”. This is easily done by luring your dog into the sitting position by holding a treat over their head. Then, add a verbal cue – “sit!” and a hand signal – raise your hand from your side, palm facing upwards.

You might need to use a baby gate or other barrier to keep your dog from rushing up and jumping on you when you get home. There is no need to greet your dog the moment you walk in. Take your time putting down your bags and taking off your shoes. When your dog has calmed down, you can ask them to sit. Once they do, reward them by stooping down to their level and giving them plenty of love.

If you’re expecting guests, leash your dog so they will not have a chance to jump. Put them in a comfortable harness, not a collar that could injure their throat if they do try to jump. Painful collar pops and other physical punishments can actually create a negative association with guests, turning a friendly dog into a fearful one. You don’t want to hurt your dog; you just want to keep them under control until they are calm.

Welcome your guests into your home and let them settle in. Once they do, and they have expressed that they want to greet your dog, allow your dog to walk up to them. Ask your guests not to pet the dog until they sit.

You’ll need some practice before the lesson truly sticks. If your dog jumps on you, simply turn away and do not make eye contact. Avoid engaging with them until all four paws are on the floor. At first, you’ll need to use your “sit” cues. Over time, wait longer and longer before telling your dog to sit. You’ll start to notice that your dog will begin to sit automatically without needing to be told to do it. Affection is a powerful motivator, so your dog will do anything to earn it.

Teaching Your Dog To Leave People Alone

As adorable as your dog is, not everyone is going to walk to greet them. Some people have allergies; some do not like getting fur on their clothes. At times, you may be in a rush and may not want to greet everyone you meet on your walk.

Practice leave it with your dog every time you go for a walk. It’s not just for morsels of food. Your dog can learn to walk past a squirrel, a person, and other dogs. Practice teaching your dog to return their focus on you during walks, no matter what distractions are around. If you play plenty of training games when you’re on walks, your dog will find it easier to focus on you anytime, anywhere.

Get Help With Teaching Your Dog Not To Jump On People And Other Manners

Healthy Houndz is proud to offer positive reinforcement based dog training in Toronto and North York. We not only help you control problem behaviours and teach new skills, but actually understand what your dog is thinking so you can build an even more powerful bond. Contact us today!

Kids And Dogs – How To Prevent Dog Bites

Dog Bite Prevention: How To Keep Kids Safe Around Dogs

When you love dogs, it’s heartwarming to see your kids grow up with a beloved family dog of their own. For some families, the dog is just another son or daughter. We must remember however, that dogs are animals, and all of them, even the sweetest, most tolerant ones, will bite if they feel scared.

A dog bite, even when it’s just a nip, can cause a lifelong fear of dogs. At their worst, dog attacks can be fatal to children. Mild to severe dog bites can lead to the dog being euthanized.

Fortunately, dog bites are usually preventable. By respecting our dogs’ needs and teaching our children to be gentle, kids and dogs can grow up to be best friends with no bite incidents.

Why Dogs Bite Kids

Children love to hug and kiss their family members, and do not understand that dogs can be startled when kids approach them from behind, run up to them, squeeze their neck and get up in their face. We cannot expect young children to fully understand why their displays of affection are not always welcome.

Kids also find it difficult to read a dog’s body language. It’s easier for us to identify a strained facial expression, pinned ears and avoidance of eye contact.

Statistics show 32% of dog bite that happen to children cause trauma to the head, face and neck. It’s not uncommon for it to be a dog that the parents believe to be “good with kids.” Even if your dog normally tolerates hugs and kisses, there  may be times when they are tired or in pain – causing them to snap.

The Myth Of The Nanny Dog

It’s true that pitbull-type dogs have an undeserved bad reputation. It’s not true that they have jaws that lock, or that their bite force is extraordinarily powerful. However, it’s crucial that you understand that they are not nanny dogs. In the past few years, a myth has circulated through articles and memes claiming that Staffordshire Terriers were once used as “nanny dogs” in 19th century England. There’s no evidence that this is true.

While any dog can snap at a child, large, powerful dogs can do more damage in a single bite. That said, a small terrier mix once killed a three-week-old baby. Even small dogs can inflict a lot of damage in a split-second.

There’s no such thing as a “nanny dog”. No dog should be left alone with a child, or forced to tolerate tail pulling, screaming or grabbing. Every child is different. Some could be trusted to be alone with a dog by the time they are ten years old; other kids will take even longer to reliably respect a dog.

Rules Every Kid Should Know

  • Never approach a dog while they are eating. Even if a dog has shown no signs of resource guarding, your kids should be taught to give all animals space while they eat.
  • Never approach a dog while they are sleeping. Dogs can snap if startled awake.
  • No hugging or kissing. Pet the dog on their back and chest, not on the head.
  • Never lean on or ride the dog. Dogs have suffered fatal back injuries after children have been allowed to ride on them like a horse.
  • Do not play games that encourage nipping or chasing. Teach your kids to play with toys to keep the dog from nipping at their hands during play. Kids should not grab a toy while the dog is playing with it.
  • Always ask before petting a stranger’s dog. Never approach a stray dog, and stay away from chained dogs as they tend to lash out aggressively because they may feel cornered and unable to escape.
  • No screaming or running around the dog. Some dogs will chase and knock down children that behave like squealing creatures of prey. Instruct your kids to stop, stand still and “be a tree” if they’re scared of a dog or being chased.
  • Do not attempt to punish the dog. Teach your kids to find an adult if the dog is eating something harmful, stealing their toys or otherwise “misbehaving”.
  • Learn dog body language, and walk away if the dog growls or seems fearful. There are some great resources for this at

Finding The Right Dog For Your Family

A dog with a friendly, easy-going temperament is a good match for you and your kids. Remember, a dog’s temperament develops through genetics, past experiences and training. Be extra wary of shelter dogs that may have been abused, or may have a genetic predisposition to being fearful of children. It’s best to adopt a puppy that you can socialize and teach to play safely with your children, or an adult dog that has a history of being a good family dog.

Unfortunately, not every dog can be trained to be good with your kids. Dogs with resource guarding issues, those that jump on kids or otherwise have harmful habits can often be trained, but training and management can take a while. There’s no “quick fix” that will make your dog a perfect citizen overnight. If your dog poses a danger to your family, you’ll have to be willing to put your human kids first.

Get Your Kids Involved In Dog Training

Dog training is a wonderful way for your kid to learn about your dog’s body language and teach them to interact without kissing and hugging. It can even become a lifelong passion. Contact Healthy Houndz today to find out how we can help you and your family set your dog up for success.

How To Make Your Dog A Therapy Dog

How To Make Your Dog A Visiting Therapy Dog

Does your dog bring you joy every day?

As a therapy dog team, you can share that joy with people who need it most.

A therapy dog visits nursing homes, hospitals, schools and universities to bring comfort to people who are lonely, ill, or going through a stressful time.

What Exactly IS A Therapy Dog?

It’s important that you understand what a therapy dog does, and what they are allowed to do. A therapy dog is usually a member of a therapy animal association and makes group visits, though you may be able to get special permission to make solo trips from your favourite facilities.

Therapy dogs are not allowed in stores or restaurants, nor do they have any special rights regarding housing or travel. Only service dogs, who help their disabled handler navigate through public areas, are allowed in areas that normally do not permit pets.

Emotional support animals (ESAs) only provide comfort to their handler, usually someone with mental conditions like anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder or depression. An ESA is allowed to live in any rented residence, and their handler does not have to pay a pet fee. They are also allowed to fly on planes for free.

Differences Between A Therapy Dog, A Service Dog And An Emotional Support Dog

Is Your Dog A Good Therapy Dog Candidate?

Not every dog can be a therapy dog. It’s a matter of compatibility. If your dog loves attention from strangers, they’ll love therapy work.

Generally, dogs do not like when random people hug and kiss them. Even a good dog may growl or even bite if they are in close contact with someone they do not trust. It’s vitally important that you only prepare your dog for therapy work if they truly love people.

Respect Your Dog’s Needs

Just because a dog is friendly, does not mean they can be expected to tolerate disrespect or abuse from the people they visit. When your dog becomes a therapy dog, you become a therapy animal handler. That means you’re their advocate.

When you’re around children, it’s your job to teach them to respect animals. Do not allow kids to ride your dog like a horse, lean on them, pet them while they’re eating, or run up and hug them. Instruct kids to speak softly, take turns, and gently stroke the dog’s back or chest. Even if your dog is incredibly tolerant, it is important that kids learn how to be polite around animals because the next dog they see might not be so tolerant.

Even the older people you visit may need to be reminded to be kind to your dog. Also, make sure your dog has plenty of space to walk away from any situation that makes them uncomfortable.

Essential Skills For Therapy Dogs

Your therapy dog should be well-socialized. This is easiest if you are able to start socializing them as a puppy. Socialization isn’t just about meeting lots of people, it’s also about teaching your dog to stay calm in many different environments. Introduce your dog to people in hats, tall people, short people, and people of different ages and ethnicities.

Walk your dog in loud and quiet areas, and wherever pets are permitted. Some public places like hardware stores and restaurant patios allow dogs, but you should always ask the manager before you bring your dog. Give your dog a treat whenever they experience something new or potentially scary to help them build positive associations and make sure they can focus on you no matter where you go.

Your dog should know basic cues like sit, stay and come. Work with a professional dog trainer to make sure your dog is fluent in these skills, and will respond to you even around distractions.

Some therapy dog programs require that your dog pass the Canine Good Neighbour test. Even if it’s not required, it’s an achievement that you can be proud of, and proof that you have a very, very good dog.

Other Requirements For Therapy Dog Teams

You may want to bathe your dog before therapy visits, especially if you’ll be visiting patients who may have a compromised immune system. Clip their nails and round them off with a nail file or nail grinding tool.

Some therapy dog programs do not allow raw-fed dogs because they feel that pathogens may affect some patients. If this is the case, you may want to switch to a dehydrated or freeze-dried diet. If you’re permitted to work with a raw-fed dog, make sure to feed them at least 30 minutes before you arrive, and wipe their mouth and paws.

Some programs require your dog to be a year old before they can start working. During puppyhood, your dog may experience what we call critical fear periods. Your puppy’s personality is still developing during the first year. They may be deeply affected by inevitable accidents like a child stepping on their tail, and could develop a lifelong fear of children that way.

Therapy Dog Program Websites

Visit the program website and speak with the program manager to learn if you and your dog are a good fit.

Pet Partners

Caring Canine Toronto

Therapeutic Paws Of Canada

St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs

Socializing Done Right

If you don’t know how to do it properly, your efforts to socialize your dog could actually create near fears. Never use treats to lure your dog into an uncomfortable situation. Socialize them at their own pace, or you could do more harm than good. If you need any help building foundational skills or socializing your prospective therapy dog in Toronto or North York, contact Healthy Houndz.

High-Value Dog Treat Ideas That Won’t Make Your Dog Gain Weight

Healthy, High Value Dog Treats That Won't Make Your Dog Gain Weight #positivetraining #dogtreatrecipes

Dogs love to learn, but that’s not enough to motivate them to develop new skills and break bad habits.

Tasty, highly motivating tidbits, or “high value treats,” are absolutely essential to rewarding your dog for their efforts. In fact, food has been shown to elicit a powerful, positive emotional response – meaning it actually makes your dog happier while you’re training; it can even change the way your dog feels about a scary situation when you use treats to modify fear-based behaviours.

On the other paw, varied sources tell us that between 40 percent and 60 percent of dogs are overweight. Weight is distributed differently on dogs than on humans, and we’re used to seeing dogs that are overweight, so it can be hard for us to gauge when our own animals need help slimming down. Their short lifespan means that they are more quickly affected by weight-related chronic illnesses like diabetes and kidney disease, so it’s vitally important that your high value treats are not putting your dog’s health at risk.

Fortunately, you really can offer your dog high-value treats they love that won’t make them gain too much weight.

What Makes A Treat Unhealthy?

Dogs are easily able to metabolize animal proteins and fats for energy. Though they can digest carbohydrates, carbs are more likely to be the culprit of weight gain. So, it’s best to give your dog single-ingredient, meat-based treats whenever possible.

If your dog eats dry kibble, they’re taking in a lot of carbohydrates already, so you will want to steer clear of cookie-type treats made with flour, lentils, peas, rice, potatoes and sweet potatoes. If your dog eats a fresh, raw diet, it’s not such a big deal if they consume treats that contain starch. That said, most dogs prefer meaty treats over dry biscuits.

Try These Healthy Training Treat Ideas

Making your own dehydrated dog treats is the most cost-effective way to get healthy, single-ingredient rewards that your dog won’t be able to resist. A dehydrator can be purchased for as little as $30, and will save you a ton of money in the long run.

Lean meats are best for dehydrating, as fat tends to make jerky go bad faster. Try dehydrating strips of chicken or turkey breast. Flank steak is popular for making jerky, though London broil is just as good, and much cheaper. You can also roll ground meat into bite-sized meatballs and then dehydrate them.

If you only have a few minutes before your training session, you can use boiled chicken breast, scrambled egg, or even cooked salmon. These treats can be stored in the fridge for up to four days.

Prefer to buy your treats? Look for as few ingredients as possible, with meat at the top of the ingredients list. Meaty treats are more expensive because they do not contain cheap fillers like corn, wheat, rice, peas or lentils, but a little goes a long way. Freeze-dried liver is one of the most popular single-ingredient treats, but it’s high in Vitamin A, which can build up in your dog’s liver and cause joint damage. To be safe, vary it up with other treats.

Watch out for jerky that is made overseas, as regulations may not be as strict. Thousands of dogs have gotten sick from chicken jerky made in China before those products were ever recalled.

Do Fruits And Veggies Make Good Training Treats?

Some dogs go nuts for fruits and veggies, but they’re typically not considered high-value treats. Starchy veggies like peas, carrots and sweet potatoes are okay in moderation, but they can make your dog gain weight. Most fruits and veggies are difficult for dogs to digest, and will show up unchanged in their poop the next day. They’re easier to digest if steamed or pureed.

Kale is a superfood that contains a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, can fight inflammation, and may even prevent cancer, but it’s bitter. You can crisp it up into kale chips in your dehydrator, microwave or oven, but you may need to add a small amount of bacon grease or coconut oil to make it truly high-value.

Remember, it’s only high-value if your dog loves it. Your training treats should stand a chance at getting your dog’s attention over a squirrel.

How Big Should Your Training Treats Be?

The smaller your training treats, the longer you can train. However, a treat the size of a grain of rice may be acceptable for a Chihuahua, not a Great Dane. Big treats are absolutely more motivating than tiny ones.

We recommend making your training treats small so you can give your dog a JACKPOT of 3-5 treats when they’ve done an especially good job – for example, recalled even though a rabbit hopped across the yard.

You don’t have to give your dog a treat every time they do something right. Varying up your rewards will keep your dog’s attention better than giving them the same reward each time. Sometimes, you can just say, “Good!” and scratch them behind the ear. Then you can sometimes give them a jackpot of 5 treats in a row. Keep your dog on their toes, and you’ll be sure to hold their attention.

There’s So Much To Learn With Healthy Houndz!

Healthy, delicious treats are just one component of a powerful training program.

Whether you want to train your dog for competitions, or just want them to go potty outside, you can work with us to learn about timing and communication to set your dog up for success.

We work with dogs and their families in Toronto and North York.

Contact Healthy Houndz to get started today!

3 Core Dog Training Techniques – Luring, Capturing And Shaping

Difference Between Luring Capturing Shaping

Though your dog may take five minutes to find a piece of ham that landed on their head, they possess a truly sophisticated mind, capable of learning an incredibly wide range of skills.

Your dog can learn almost any trick, so long as they are physically capable, motivated with a reward, and you communicate clearly by using the right training technique for the task. Most tricks can be taught with one of three core dog training techniques: luring, capturing or shaping.

What Is “Luring”?

Luring is when you guide your dog by holding a treat in front of their nose. The most effective way to use luring is to use the food lure to steer the dog into the desired position for the first few attempts, then transition the luring motion into a hand signal, and then add a verbal cue.

It’s important to fade out the food lure as soon as you can, or the dog will only perform the behaviour when they have a treat in front of their nose.

Luring is probably the most popular dog training technique. Beginner dog trainers may depend on it heavily, while advanced dog trainers aim to avoid it when possible.

You’ll typically use luring to teach “sit,” and “down,” and to teach your dog to use agility equipment like weave poles and ramps.

Luring is similar to targeting, in which you would teach your dog to follow your hand or a target stick. With targeting, the food only appears after the performed behaviour. As with a clicker, a target is only used while teaching a new trick.

What Is “Capturing”?

Capturing is when you teach your dog to perform a natural behaviour on cue. You simply wait for your dog to perform the behaviour without any prompting or guidance from you, and mark and reward them immediately afterwards.

For example, maybe you love the way your dog stretches after a nap, and want them to do on the cue, “stretch!”

You’ll keep a few treats on hand and wait for your dog to stretch. As soon as they do, you’ll mark the behaviour by clicking with your clicker (or using a verbal marker like, “Yes!” or “Good!”) then give them a treat.

When you consistently reward a behaviour, your dog will perform it more often. When you notice your dog is stretching in front of you to get the treat, you can start to add a hand signal and/or your verbal cue.

Capturing only works with behaviours that your dog does on their own. You can “capture” your dog when they sit, yawn, stretch, scratch, tilt their head, bark or sneeze. It’s best to start with a super simple, common behaviour to help your dog understand that they’ll be rewarded when they perform a behaviour that you like.

What Is “Shaping”?

Shaping is when you break down a behaviour into easily achievable steps, and reward your dog for making small steps towards the desired end result.

For example, let’s say you want to teach your dog to step inside a box. You would put the box on the floor and reward your dog just for going near it. Upon receiving an easily earned reward, your dog will be motivated to receive another. You’d raise the bar for the next treat by waiting for your dog to put one paw inside the box. Then, you’d hold onto the treat until your dog puts two paws in the box.

With shaping, your dog is able to make progress at their own pace. A common mistake people make with luring is using food to make their dog move out of their comfort zone too quickly. If you were to use a treat to guide the dog into the box before they have had time to feel comfortable stepping into it, they could become stressed and may even become afraid of the box.

Shaping does not always have to have a concrete end goal. You can also use it to work with your dog to develop new tricks. Let your dog get creative by rewarding them for any interesting behaviours that they may offer.

Shaping is an advanced dog training technique that requires excellent timing and observational skills. Do it incorrectly, and your dog will get frustrated and confused. It’s crucial that you reward tiny steps towards the end goal, and reward at frequent intervals, while giving your dog enough time to use their brain. It helps to watch videos and work with a trainer, in-person, to develop a knack for timing, and learn to understand your dog’s body language so they are always excited to work, rather than frustrated.

Let’s Reach Your Training Goals!

Learning about the different core dog training techniques is just the first step. Now, you’re ready to make a plan to reach your goals, and use what you’ve learned to develop your dog’s skills. Your relationship with your dog, their physical and mental abilities, and your ability to communicate with them will determine how you can best use these techniques.

An experienced, positive reinforcement dog trainer is your best resource for assessing your dog’s skills, avoiding frustration, and making training enjoyable for you and your dog every step of the way.

Contact Healthy Houndz to find out how we can help you and your dog reach your goals and beyond – whether you want to train your dog for agility or obedience trials, nosework, or just a few clever tricks to challenge their mind.

Teach your dog ANYTHING with these three core #positivetraining techniques: luring, capturing and shaping.

Great Places To Take Your Dog In Toronto

Dog Friendly Parks And Restaurants In #Toronto

Are you and your dog new to Toronto, or just looking for new ways to get out of the house?

Most businesses do not allow pets, but there are still plenty of ways you can expose your dog to new environments while working on training and making memories.

Here are some wonderful new experiences your dog can have in the Toronto area:

Daycare and Boarding

Healthy Houndz offers kennel-free dog boarding for dogs who love to play. Next time you go out of town without your dog, they’ll love staying with us and making new friends. We also offer doggie daycare and positive reinforcement based board-and-train programs so your dog can learn new skills in a fun, positive atmosphere. Contact us to learn more.

Dog-Friendly Parks In Toronto

Most parks allow leashed dogs, and a few have off-leash areas where dogs can run free. Only a  few National Parks and wildlife refuges prohibit dogs; this is in order to keep their native wildlife safe. Here are some of the most popular dog-friendly parks around Toronto.

Norwood Park is completely fenced in, perfect for dogs who play well with others.

16 Norwood Rd, Toronto, ON, CA

Silverwood Park is a dog beach, perfect for dogs who love to dig in the sand or swim in the water.

14 Silverbirch Ave, Toronto, ON, CA

Earl Bales Dog Park has a huge fenced-in area, along with trails. Make sure to follow signs and only let your dog off-leash in designated zones.

4169 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON, CA

Dog-Friendly Toronto Restaurants

Dogs are not permitted inside most restaurants due to health codes; they can’t risk getting dog hair in the food. Restaurants with outdoor seating typically allow leashed, well-behaved pets. Your dog should calmly sit or lie down under the table or at your feet. Patios can be a bit cramped, so you’ll need to be considerate and keep your dog from getting underfoot. Do not allow your dog to beg for food or attention from other customers, and make sure they are not in the way of servers carrying plates of food.

Red Rocket Coffee is a small coffee shop at the corner of Homewood Avenue and Wellesley Street offering hot and cold drinks, scones and decadent desserts. Doggy guests are welcome to sit outside on the patio with their owners, and may be offered a treat.

154 Wellesley Street E Toronto, ON

Carmelina is a Mediterranean restaurant serving up exquisite pizzas, pastas and steaks, with an extensive wine list. They have a large, shady outdoor seating area that welcomes furry diners.

7501 Woodbine Avenue, Markham, ON

Belsize Public House has a large outdoor patio and serves up hearty dishes and craft ales and beers from local Ontario craft brewers.

535 Mt Pleasant Road, Toronto, ON

Foggy Dew Irish Pub & Restaurant serves traditional Irish cuisine, pub fare, cocktails, beer and wine. It’s also a great spot to grab brunch with your dog. Doggy guests are welcome on the outdoor patio and may be offered a slice of bacon or a treat.

803 King St. W. Toronto, ON

Finding New Places To Explore

There are so many places to take your dog around Toronto – too many to list here! All walkable city and downtown areas, plus many farmers markets and fairs are great for dogs when the weather is mild. Some of your favorite stores might allow you to visit with your dog if you just ask. As long as you keep your dog close to you, and they don’t mind extra attention, they’ll make a great companion when you’re out and about.

How To Find The Right Veterinarian

How To Find The Right Vet For Your Dog

Looking for a vet you can trust for the best preventative care and innovative treatment? 

There’s so many clinics to choose from. You might have to try out a few before you find “the one.”

Keep in mind that you may need multiple vets: a traditional vet, a holistic vet, and an emergency 24/7 vet.

Here are the questions you should ask at your introductory visit.

Can I call, text or email you with questions?

If you have a quick question, you should not have to go to your vet’s office for a visit, especially if the issue is not urgent.

You should feel comfortable asking questions. If your vet rushes through your office visits and does not seem willing to discuss issues at length, Most importantly, your vet, vet techs and office staff should be friendly and make you feel at ease. When you’re stressed, your dog will notice, and that will make vet visits much scarier for them.

What if my dog needs expensive, life-saving treatment?

Emergency surgery can cost thousands of dollars. Chronic illnesses like diabetes and kidney disease can rack up huge vet bills. Hopefully, you will never have to hesitate to say “yes” to your dog’s treatment because you have no idea where you would get the money.

Most veterinarians take Care credit and pet insurance. They may also offer payment plans. Your vet will be happy to recommend pet insurance plans and answer your questions about financing large bills.

What is the best diet for my dog?

Most traditional veterinarians only trust a few dog food brands like Science Diet and Royal Canin. Many will tell you to only feed commercial dog food and treats and will completely discourage feeding any kind of fresh food.

Dogs, like all animals, thrive on fresh, whole foods, not a processed diet. If you choose to feed your dog a completely raw diet, you will need a holistic vet to help you formulate a diet plan that fulfills all of your dog’s nutritional needs.

If you would rather feed commercial kibble or canned food, your dog can still benefit from fresh meat, fish, eggs and produce. You won’t necessarily need to go to a holistic veterinarian. But a good traditional vet will be able to help you decide which fresh foods to add to your dog’s diet. Steer clear of vets that tell you that all fresh food is forbidden “people food.”

Diet plays a huge role in your dog’s health. It can prevent or even treat some medical issues. While more research is needed to prove the benefits of some ingredients, there’s usually no harm in adding them to your dog’s diet.

Ask your vet if you can add meat, fish and veggies to your dog’s bowl or use them as snacks and treats. If they seem knowledgable about the importance of fresh nutrition, you’ll be able to depend on them to help you make healthy choices for your dog.

Can you help me decide which vaccines my dog needs?

Your vet can help you decide which vaccines your dog needs and how often to vaccinate, factoring in your dog’s age, health, lifestyle, and which diseases that are prevalent in your area.

Generally speaking, vaccinations are effective at preventing life-threatening diseases. You should get your dog vaccinated when the risk of contracting the disease is greater than the small risk of adverse side effects.

In Toronto and most other regions, dogs and cats are required by law to receive a rabies vaccination every three years.

Your veterinarian should be able to help you decide what additional vaccinations your dog needs, and when. You’ll want to do your own research on each vaccine, and your veterinarian should respect that by giving you time to go home and decide, rather than pressuring you to give in while you’re at their clinic.

Traditional Vets In And Around Toronto

VETS Toronto – 24/7 emergency services, surgery, dentals and routine visits.

1025 Kingston Road, Toronto, Ontario M4E 1T4

Usher Animal Hospital – routine visits, ultrasounds, x-rays, dentals and surgery.

29 Chaplin Cres, Toronto, Ontario, M5P 1A2

Front Street Vet – routine visits, ultrasounds, x-rays, dentals and surgery.

548 Front Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 3N5

Chartwell Vet

2339 Brimley Road, Scarborough, ON M1S 3L6

Holistic Vets In And Around Toronto

The Holistic Vet – acupuncture, nutrition, homeopathy

987 Davis Dr, Newmarket, ON L3Y 2R7

Walden Animal Hospital – Traditional and holistic services

11 White Rd, Lively, On,  P3Y 1C3

Why You Don’t Need A Clicker To Train Your Dog

Is A Clicker Necessary For Dog Training?

Have you ever considered using a clicker to train your dog?

It comes in handy when training new behaviours. You “click” to mark the very moment your dog correctly performs the task. It’s a quicker, more consistent way to say, “yes, good dog!”

Even people who regularly use a clicker do not use it all of the time. It’s typically only used during the first few training sessions in conjunction with praise and food rewards. Once your dog understands a new cue, you don’t need to use a clicker to mark the behaviour.

You don’t actually need to use a clicker for any part of your training. Clickers are not required for Healthy Houndz training programs because we find that praise and rewards work just as well for the average dog owner, especially when teaching basic behaviours.

You may find that you can never find a clicker when you need one. They’re like left socks and hair ties. They magically disappear when you need them, and turn up when you don’t.

Holding a clicker can be cumbersome when you’re on a walk. When you’re already holding the leash, poop bags and treats, you’ll need a third hand to hold your clicker. Not to mention, clicker training requires consistency and impeccable timing, which can be difficult to accomplish when you have your hands full.

Marking Your Dog’s Behaviour

When training without a clicker, you still need to “mark” your dog’s correct behaviours with a consistent sound. This can be a verbal marker, like “yes!” spoken in a happy voice. The marker needs to be short, simple and easy to repeat. You can even click your tongue. If your dog is hearing impaired, you’ll need to use a visual marker instead, like a light or a hand signal.

At first, the marker won’t mean anything to your dog. It needs to be immediately followed by a bite-size food reward. Start by saying the marker word, then immediately giving your dog a treat. Then, practice with a simple cue that your dog already knows, like “sit”. The instant their butt hits the ground, say, “Yes!” then give them a treat.

Pretty soon, your dog will associate the marker with a reward, so they’ll understand that it indicates that they have done something right.

The sound of a clicker or verbal marker is known as a secondary reinforcer. It is, in itself, an exciting sound for your dog because it means that a treat is on the way.

Some people skip the marker altogether, and give the dog a treat as they perform the behaviour. The food reward can be a marker in itself because food is a primary reinforcer. It’s tasty and exciting, and your dog will naturally do whatever it takes to get more of it.

We like to use verbal markers paired with treats. To your dog, verbal praise can be as wonderful as a treat, and your positive tone will encourage them to keep learning. You don’t always have to train with treats; you can also pair your verbal marker with a reward like a toy, or the privilege of going outside.

Do Verbal Markers Work As Well As Clickers?

A 2016 study found that dogs were able to learn a new behaviour just as easily whether they were trained with a clicker, a marker word, or treats only.

Dogs are fantastically resilient learners.They can learn new behaviours even when our timing isn’t perfect, when we make mistakes, and when we forget to train on a regular schedule.

What You DO Need To Help Your Dog Learn

Dog training isn’t really about tools, tech and equipment. It’s about communication.

Your cues should be clear and easy for your dog to understand. Dogs seem to understand hand signals better than cue words. You can teach both at the same time. For example, the universal hand signal for “sit” is to raise your palm upwards, arm bent at the elbow. You can say “sit” while you use the gesture to make sure your dog knows exactly what you want them to do.

It’s vitally important that you communicate with your dog when they’re paying attention to you, rather than repeating cues over and over. It helps to teach “watch me” to get your dog’s attention before you ask for a behaviour.

Working with a professional dog trainer will accelerate your training by leaps and bounds. In-person lessons with an expert are the best way to learn to read the dog in front of you.

Get in touch to find out how you can work with Healthy Houndz to teach your dog anything – from potty training basics to the skills they need for competitions and dog sports.

Why Is My Dog Taking Forever To Potty Train?

Why It's Taking Forever To Potty Train Your Puppy

Are you getting tired of cleaning up puddles and messes around your home?

While some dogs develop good potty habits in days or weeks, some seem to take months until they “get it”. It’s not uncommon for some dogs to have accidents throughout their life. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Barring medical incontinence, any dog can be fully potty trained.

Is Your Dog Actually Incontinent?

If you’re struggling with potty-training, you should see your vet to rule out a medical cause.

  • Diabetes and Cushing’s Disease can cause increased water consumption and frequent urination.
  • Spay incontinence is caused by low estrogen levels after spaying. It typically causes your dog to leak urine while she is asleep.
  • Urinary tract infection and bladder stones can cause increased urination and incontinence and can also cause licking around the genital area, cloudy urine and urine with traces of blood.

Is There A Pattern To Your Dog’s Accidents?

If there’s an obvious pattern to your dog’s accidents, breaking the habit is simple. For example, if they always poop behind the couch, you may need to limit their access to the living room for a while. If they always have an accident while you are at work, you can hire a dog walker or crate your dog when you’re not home.

Does Your Dog Know Where “Potty” Is?

Have you noticed how your dog spends a few moments sniffing before squatting down to pee or poop? They use their noses to find their potty area. If your puppy keeps having accidents in the same spots, they might be attracted to lingering scents of previous accidents. An enzyme-based cleaner, like Nature’s Miracle, breaks down the particles that your dog is still able to smell, even if you cannot.

You can create a scent marker in your dog’s designated potty area by soaking up urine from an accident with a paper towel and using it to scent their potty pad or outdoor potty area. Consistently lead your dog to their potty area, and soon they’ll be able to follow their nose to the appropriate spot.

Is Your Dog A Sneaky Pooper?

When a dog is scolded for having an accident, they tend to not understand what they are being punished for. The dog does not have the ability to rationalize “My human does not want me to stain their nice rug, so I better go outside”. They may simply become afraid to pee or poop in front of you.

So your dog may resort to sneaking around and having accidents when you are not looking. They may find quiet potty spots, and you may not find their pee or poop for hours  This is why it’s important to avoid using punishments, or even raising your voice when you catch your dog having an accident. Instead, redirect them to the appropriate potty area.

In the meantime, limit your dog’s unsupervised access to your home. Use baby gates and crates while your dog is unattended. You may also want to try tethering your dog to you with a leash to make sure they do not sneak away from you while you are home.

Set Reasonable Expectations – And Communicate Them Clearly

If your dog is under 6 months old, it might be very difficult for them to control their bladder for hours on end. This is especially true for small breeds, which seem to take longer to develop bladder control and seem to need to go out more frequently even when full grown. Make sure your dog has plenty of opportunities to go outside.

If you are unable to take your dog outside frequently, you may need to use potty pads or an indoor potty system. Though it can be difficult to transition your dog to only potty outside, it’s better for your dog to use a pad then to continuously have accidents indoors.

Some dogs do not realize that they have to alert you when they need to go out. An easy way to do this is to hang potty bells from your doorknob, and encourage your dog to ring them before you take them out. After a few repetitions, your dog will begin to ring the bells to get your attention instead of simply having an accident because you haven’t taken them out in a while.

Remember to praise and reward your dog every time they go potty outside. Make it very obvious that, yes, this is what you want them to do. Throw a potty party! Make it rain treats and praise your dog in that over-the-top puppy voice.

Speed Up Potty Training With Puppy Potty Camp!

A 10-day overnight stay at Puppy Potty Camp at Healthy Houndz is the fast track to establishing and reinforcing good potty habits. Your puppy will be put on a potty schedule to set them up for success, then praised and rewarded as they learn boundaries in our home environment. After camp, your puppy will go home with written instructions to keep them on track.

What To Do If You Think Your Dog Is Dominant Over You

Does your dog act like an Alpha? Here's how you can deal with dominant behaviours.

Do you ever feel like your dog runs your household? Are they pushy, demanding or even aggressive?

In the past, dog trainers, behaviourists and veterinarians would label some dogs as “dominant”. It was a commonly held belief that if you did not assert the “Alpha” role in your household, your dog would take your place as leader by default. In a household with too few rules and boundaries, they would become frustrated and act out.

The idea of the Alpha wolf came from the observations of one biologist, R. Schenkel. In 1947,  Schenkel penned “Expression Studies On Wolves,” in which he described his observations of captive wolves: their social behaviours, territorial behaviours and pack hierarchies.

He noticed that some wolves were always first to eat, while lower-ranking wolves would get their leftovers. The dominant wolves would use aggression to secure their high ranking.

Now, biologists have access to tracking collars and cameras that allow them to observe wolves in the wild. While Schenkel’s captive wolves were an unrelated group of wolves that were forced to live with one another – much like your typical reality TV show – wild wolves rarely show the same “dominance” behaviours.

A wild wolf pack is actually made up of a breeding pair – a mother and a father – and their pups. No displays of dominance are necessary to keep the family in order. The adult wolves hunt and provide food for their puppies. By providing your dog with food, shelter and toys, technically, you’re already their pack leader.

What This Means For Dog Training

In the past, trainers would label certain behaviours as dominant. A dog that aggressively guarded food or toys, darted through doorways ahead of you, pulled at the leash, walked with their ears and tail held high, or even sat at a higher position than you, would be labeled as dominant or Alpha.

The “cure” to these dominant behaviours would be to grab the dog’s muzzle, force them onto their back and pin them down until they stopped struggling (known as an Alpha roll) or use a prong collar to simulate a mother dog biting her pup around the neck. You would even be recommended to eat before your dog, and ban them from sleeping on your furniture.

Now we know that every undesirable behaviour needs to be addressed individually. A dog that pulls at the leash is simply full of energy and not trained to have good leash manners. A dog that guards food or toys can be taught to trust you with fun trading games.

What has always rung true: your relationship with your dog comes first. But instead of creating a fear-based relationship, you can build a trust-based bond that makes your dog want to listen to you – instead of thinking they must obey, “or else.”

What You Should And Shouldn’t Worry About

Your dog will not think they are Alpha just because you let them go through doorways first. However, you may still want to train them to “wait” before going through a doorway so that they do not trip you, and so you are able to keep them from dashing out if they are not wearing a leash.

You do not need to eat before your dog eats. You can allow your dog to sleep on your bed if you want. And you definitely do not need to do anything to prove your role as your dog’s leader.

Force-free training with positive reinforcement does not mean being a pushover. Some of the strictest dog parents set boundaries by training with rewards. Dogs really do excel when they have rules, boundaries and routines, and you don’t have to use fear to earn their respect.

Want To Learn More About Becoming Your Dog’s Leader?

Healthy Houndz offers professional dog services in North York and throughout Toronto. We can help you accomplish any of your training goals with positive reinforcement based training that you’ll feel good about – and that your dog will love. Contact us today to get started!