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…]

Stop Dogs From Pulling!

8 Tips to Stop Dogs From Pulling On Leash

 That Will Impress Your Friends.

  1. Exercise your dog. Too much pent-up energy makes it
    impossible for you to walk your dog.
  2. Spend five minutes in the morning and afternoon teaching
    your dog to follow a food lure at your side in low distraction
  3. Use a gentle leader for the next few weeks so walks are
    less of a struggle.
  4. Practice changing directions when your dog starts to pull.
  5. Use the right leash. Six-foot leather is the best. It is
    the right length to control your dog and leather is easy on
    the hands.
  6. Practice U-turns. Turning into your dog and doing tight
    circles helps train your dog to focus on you and avoid
    distractions – good for reactive dogs.
  7.  Practice attention exercise before, during and after walks. 
  8. Have a helper hold a ball or treat 15 to 20 feet away.
    Approach and if your dog pulls, do an about face and walk
    away.Once your dog calms, turn around and approach the helper
    again. Forward progress only happens when the leash is [Read more…]

Unusual Holidays to Spend with your Dog

Unusual Holidays to Spend with your Dog

If you are going on holiday within your own country, then taking your dog away with you can be an ideal way to spend quality time with your much-loved pet – and the rest of your family of course!  Many people enjoy exploring new hiking destinations, yet here are a few more unusual options for you and your pet.

For slightly more unusual accommodation, why not try the Dog Bark Park Inn in Idaho? The Inn itself is shaped like a giant Beagle, making it a rather more quirky place to stay. Well behaved pets are, of course, welcome. Check out [Read more…]

Basic Dog Grooming Care

Small Saint Bernard Puppy in a Washtub for Bath Time on White Background

Small Saint Bernard Puppy in a Washtub for Bath Time

Basic Dog Grooming Care

In addition to feeding your dog a nutritious diet and treating his medical and physical needs, you should be certain that you are taking care of some of the basic grooming needs that all dogs have. A dog that is well-groomed and has his basic hygiene needs taken care of will in a much better position to fight off potential infections.

Most of the grooming care needs for your dog can be taken care of at home; however, you may wish to take your dog to a professional groomer in order to ensure that he is groomed from shiny wet nose to the tip of his happy wagging tail. [Read more…]