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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!

How To Train Your Dog To Walk Beautifully On A Leash

How To Train Your Dog To Walk Beautifully On A Leash #Looseleash #positivetraining #dogtraining

Picture this: you’re strolling through the park with your companion walking politely at your side.

The leash is slack between you in a loose “J” shape. Your dog may indulge in the scents and scenery around you, but they quickly return their attention to you when asked.

If every walk feels like a battle, this might be hard to picture. But it really is achievable.

Even if your dog acts like a Tasmanian Devil on a leash, you can train them to walk in-sync with you with just a few simple changes.

The Right Walking Gear

When you’re walking with your dog, your main avenues of communication should be your body language and your voice.

People who depend on their walking gear to communicate with their dog always tug and tug at the leash to get their dog’s attention. With a prong collar, this means painful corrections throughout the walk. Even a regular leash and collar can become a crutch for people who have not learned to communicate with verbal and nonverbal cues.

You should think of the leash as insurance to keep your dog safe in case they try to dash off. It should stay slack most of the time, not constantly tightened and loosened.

If you have trouble keeping your dog under control, you may want to invest in no-pull walking gear, such as a front-clip harness or Gentle Leader. These tools do not cause your dog any pain; they simply make pulling less rewarding for your dog. When your dog tries to pull ahead they will be directed to face you, not the trigger.

A regular flat collar can be used for loose-leash walking, but you may want to use a comfortable harness instead to prevent choking and spinal injuries if your dog does pull. Small dogs can suffer from tracheal collapse from pulling on a flat collar.

Use a 6-foot nylon or leather leash. Retractable leashes can be difficult to lock when your dog suddenly pulls. They have also caused injuries to humans and dogs by wrapping around the extremities. Retractable leashes can actually teach your dog to pull because the spring-loaded reel is always taut while in use.

How To Start Training Loose-Leash Walking

Whether you’ve just gotten a new puppy or you have an adult dog with awful leash manners, you can use this simple daily routine to start training them to walk on a loose leash.

Allow your dog to exercise before your walk. It’s very difficult for dogs to walk nicely when they’re full of pent-up energy. You may have them chase after a ball inside your home or in a fenced-in yard. They don’t have to be absolutely exhausted before your walk. You just want to take the edge off. Depending on your dog’s energy levels, they will need an hour to three hours of physical stimulation each day.

Mental stimulation can also help your dog blow off steam so they’ll be happier and easier to train. Puzzle toys, a stuffed Kong and training games can all challenge your dog’s mind and sharpen their focus.

Short Loose-Leash Practice Sessions

Aim to spend five minutes each morning and afternoon practicing walking with your dog, on-leash, in a low-distraction area. You can start indoors if you have trouble getting your dog’s attention outside.

Teach your dog to follow a food lure at your side. A food lure can be a treat that you hold in your hand. If your dog is too short to reach your hand, you can smear peanut butter or canned food on a long spoon and use this as a lure target to guide them into the correct walking position.

There’s no need to use a cue like “heel!” You want your dog to walk by your side by default, not only when asked. You may decide to add cues like “left!” “right!” and “turn!” to your walks after you’ve made progress with the basics.

What To Do When Your Dog Reacts

It’s not unusual for dogs to get distracted while walking, but if they become uncontrollable whenever they see a squirrel or other dog, they might be reactive. Your dog might become so overstimulated that they will not be able to stop reacting to accept a treat.

You can train your dog to keep walking when they spot a trigger, but training becomes impossible once your dog is overstimulated or “over-threshold.” You will need to work on training them before that happens.

For example, your dog might just start to react when they see another dog 10 meters away. Instead of walking closer to the other dog, you would change directions before your dog goes over-threshold. Make a u-turn and give your dog a treat whenever they see a trigger. Soon, they’ll learn to associate the trigger with a reward, and will look to you for a treat instead of going nuts.

Exercises To Master The Loose-Leash Walk

If your dog pulls forward, whether they’re after an interesting trigger or just excited to move forward, you must stop moving. Only move forward when the leash is slack. Wait a few seconds for your dog to give in to the leash pressure and return to your side. You may need to encourage them by patting your hip.

Moving forward is a reward in itself, and may be even more rewarding than a treat, so you do not necessarily have to bring treats on every walk once your dog has learned the basics. You can even reward your dog by picking up the speed. Remember, dogs are naturally faster than us; that’s why they pull. If you can turn your walk into a brisk jog, they may find the outing more fulfilling.

Teach your dog to look back and check-in once in a while. Reward them when they do this without prompting. You can also teach the “watch me” cue by holding up a treat before your eyes.

Once you and your dog have gotten pretty good at loose-leash walking without distractions, you can up the challenge. Leave their favorite toy in your path, or have a friend hold up a treat or toy nearby. Again, only move forward if the leash is loose, and stop if the leash becomes taut.

Stop Struggling With Loose-Leash Training!

Loose-leash walking is tough to train on your own. It always helps to have an experienced trainer who can assist you with changing your  body language and sharpening your timing to make sure your communication with your dog is crystal-clear.

Get help tailored to your dog’s needs with Healthy Houndz. Walking your dog should be fun and relaxing – we’ll help you get there with our one-on-one loose leash walking sessions. Contact us today to get started!

How To Train Your Dog To Walk Beautifully On A Leash #Looseleash #dogtraining #positivetraining

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