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Should You Let Your Dog Lick Your Face?

Should You Let Your Dog Lick Your Face?

For some people, wet, sloppy kisses is the best part of having a dog. For others… not so much

Whether or not you let your dog lick your face is a  personal preference.

Here are some things you need to know if you’re unsure if you should allow this habit to continue.

Why Your Dog Licks Your Face… It’s Not Always A Kiss!

Is a lick from a dog simply their version of an affectionate kiss? Sort of, but not always. 

A lick can definitely be a display of affection. Your dog might run up to you and lick your face, with flailing tail, when you arrive home. Or, they might wake you up with “good morning” kisses.

These types of licks mirror how a feral puppy or wolf cub would lick the corners of their parents’ or older relatives’ mouths when they come back from a hunt. Their parent would then regurgitate tasty, predigested meat from the hunt for the pups to eat. 

You might notice that your dog licks your face more around their mealtimes. It’s no coincidence! Dogs may still carry over that instinct to use licking as a way to get food.

Patricia McConnell, PhD, applied animal behaviourist, has discovered another interesting reason why dogs lick: she calls it a “kiss to dismiss”. Dogs may use facial licking as a way to get a person or another dog to go away. 

For example, if your dog feels uncomfortable when you put your face close to theirs, they may lick you as a gentle way of getting you to give them space. 

Can I Get Sick If I Let My Dog Lick My Face?

Though dogs do carry zoonotic bacteria in their mouths, meaning bacteria that can be passed from dogs to humans, it’s rare for people to actually get sick this way. 

Even so, it’s best to turn your face away when your dog licks you so they don’t lick the inside of your nose or mouth. That way, you can prevent bacteria from entering your bloodstream. You should also keep wounds or open sores covered for the same reason.

Should You Let Your Dog Lick Your Kid’s Face?

Kids are low to the ground – and may have crumbs or smudges of food on their face – making them an ideal target for sloppy dog kisses. 

While a lick on the face is unlikely to harm a healthy child, it might not be safe for very young children whose immune systems are not yet fully developed. 

The biggest concern, though, is that children are not yet skilled at knowing when a dog wants to give kisses, and when a dog should be left alone. 

If you let your kids make a habit of getting kisses from the dog, they’ll be at greater risk for getting bitten. 

Statistics show that when dog bites happen to children, about 32 percent of the time, they occur on the face and neck. This is likely because of the way kids tend to lean in for hugs and kisses. Teach your kids about dog body language early on, and instruct them to stay away from dogs while they are eating and sleeping.

How Do You React To Your Dog Licking Your Face?

Dogs lick us to make us react, or because we seem to like it. 

If your dog licks you while you’re snuggling, you can give them a different way to show affection. You can offer them your hand to lick instead, if you don’t mind that. 

If your dog licks you when you come home, it can be helpful to discourage jumping. You can also teach your dog to greet you by bringing you a toy. 

Overreacting by shouting or pushing your dog away can actually turn licking into a fun game. It’s better to just turn away, and ask for an alternative behaviour. The less you react, the less fun you are to kiss!

Learn New Ways To Communicate With Your Dog

There are so many ways to show affection, communicate, and bond with your dog besides licking. Positive training sets a strong foundation for your relationship, and makes it easy to replace unwanted habits with good ones. 

For professional, private dog training in Toronto and North York, get in touch with Healthy Houndz. 

Should I Let Strangers Pet My Dog?

Does your adorable dog make everyone stop and stare? 

Are people always asking to pet your dog – or even  taking it upon themselves to reach down without asking?

Even grown adults sometimes forget their manners when they see a cute dog. If your dog is friendly, that might be okay. 

But you have little control over these interactions. Some people do not realize that not every dog is comfortable around strangers. They may tower over, corner, or sneak up behind a dog, creating a scary situation. 

Others may lean in for a kiss or hug. Wouldn’t you be startled if a stranger did that to you?

Scary interactions can turn a friendly dog into a reactive one. Even the friendliest, most well behaved dog can get scared and bite.

What To Do When A Stranger Wants To Pet Your Dog

Watch your dog’s body language carefully any time someone asks to pet your dog or starts to approach. 

If your dog has a loose, soft facial expression, an open-mouthed “smile,” and starts to walk towards the stranger, they probably would be okay with getting pets. If you’re okay with this, it’s perfectly fine to allow it. If you want, tell the stranger about your dog’s preference for ear scratches, or offer them a treat to pass to your dog.

However, even if your dog loves strangers, it’s perfectly fine if you want to decline it anyway. 

You may be working on loose leash walking. You may prefer your dog to focus on you, rather than constantly seeking attention from strangers. Or, maybe you just don’t have time or the social energy to deal with this on walks. 

Remember, it’s your dog. You don’t have to have a valid reason or excuse to decide that you do not want to let people pet them.

What To Say When You Don’t Want To Be “Rude”

Ideally, people will leave you alone if you just say, “please don’t pet my dog”. You don’t have to explain yourself. 

But some people will ask questions, or insist, or even get angry. Unfortunately, some people believe that all dogs in public should be free for petting.

Offering a quick explanation can make it easier to get rid of people who don’t take “no” for an answer.

You can try:

  • My dog’s nervous around people
  • We’re in a big rush, we have to get going
  • We’re working on training and can’t have distractions

Tips For Letting Strangers Pet Your Dog

If you do want to let people pet your dog, you should be prepared to speak up if your dog’s body language has changed, or if they’re overstepping boundaries. 

Be especially careful of children, as they often get bitten because they do not yet recognize body language, and they do not realize that dogs don’t enjoy tight hugs and kisses on the face. 

For kids, it’s best to preface the interaction with “please move slowly, stick your hand out for her to sniff, please don’t pick her up, no hugs or kisses please”.

Be wary of kids who run up to your dog without their parents’ permission. It’s best to only allow kids to interact if they have a watchful parent closeby who is also advising them on polite doggy manners.

Prevent Unwanted Petting Before It Happens

People may be less likely to reach for your dog if they’re wearing some type of gear.

Try a harness like one from the Julius K9 brand, on which you can attach patches that say “do not pet” or “I’m nervous” or “in training”. This is not to fake the appearance of a service dog – just to lessen the chances that your dog will be approached.

The Yellow Dog Project is a movement that promotes the use of yellow ribbons to signify that a dog needs space.

Adding a yellow ribbon to your dog’s leash, or using a yellow leash and collar, can be helpful. Not everyone knows what the yellow means, though. You may want to get a yellow leash that says “caution” or “nervous”.

Lastly, you can offer alternative ways for people to enjoy your dog. 

You can show off your dog’s tricks instead of letting people approach. 

You could even let people give your dog’s treats, but only if it does not make them nervous. If your dog is nervous about taking treats from a stranger’s hand, encourage people to toss the treat down instead.

More Help For Nervous Dogs

Taking your dog for a walk should be fun. If you’re having trouble enjoying your walks, you can get there with lots of positive reinforcement and help from a professional trainer. Get modern, positive reinforcement based training in Toronto and North York from Healthy Houndz.

What To Do If Your Dog Doesn’t Like Toys

dog doesn't like toys

Toys aren’t just for puppies – they’re a powerful tool for training and bonding for dogs of all breeds, ages and sizes.

You can use toys as a reward so you don’t have to overload your dog with treats every time you want to work on training.

You can also use toys to redirect excess energy, and to build upon your dog’s ability to pay attention to you around distractions.

But none of this is possible if your dog doesn’t like toys.

No worries – dogs who don’t like toys can be taught how much fun they can be.

Why Doesn’t Your Dog Like Toys?

There can be an underlying reason why toys are not capturing your dog’s attention.

If you recently adopted your dog, they may need some time to acclimate to your home and start to bond with you before they will be relaxed enough to play.

If your dog is older, and never played with toys as a puppy, you can still teach them how to play – it just might not come naturally, at first. With a little time, you can unleash your dog’s inner puppy.

Sometimes, a medical issue may cause pain or lethargy, which can keep your dog from wanting to play. Check your dog’s teeth – grabbing a toy can be painful if your dog suffers from tooth pain.

About 80 percent of dogs will have some form of dental disease by age three. Brushing and chewing on raw meaty bones can keep plaque off, while you may need to see your vet for a professional cleaning if your dog has swollen gums, yellow or brown tartar, or loose teeth.

And while it’s normal for dogs to slow down as they get older, most dogs are playful into their senior years. Keep an eye out for arthritis, heart disease, Cushing’s disease, and other chronic illnesses that can be treated to lengthen your dog’s playful golden age.

Some breeds are more playful than others, but all dogs love to play. Your Yorkie might be a cuddly lap-dog, for example, but they still have those terrier instincts that make them chase after small, fuzzy objects.

Finding Your Dog’s Favourite Toys

Every dog has a unique taste in toys. Some like rubber balls that bounce, others prefer fuzzy toys with long hair that they can grab. Try toys of different sizes, textures and fabrics. Some big dogs actually like small toys; just make sure each toy is large enough that it cannot fit entirely in your dog’s mouth to prevent a choking hazard.

There are even toys made out of real rabbit pelts that attract even the pickiest dogs. They are rarely found in stores; you may have to shop online.

Your Dog Needs You To Play

Dogs typically do not play with their toys on their own. Bring the toy to life! Start by waving it around, moving it slowly within reach, and quickly whipping it away as it catches your dog’s gaze.

Try hiding the toy under a blanket, then move it around like a mouse. Most dogs cannot resist checking out the mysterious lump.

Dogs are also very receptive to social cues. If you make it seem like you’re enjoying the toys, your dog will want to try them too. Try playing with your dog’s toys nearby, but don’t look directly at your dog or interact until they come over to see what the fuss is about.

Games To Play With Dogs And Toys

Unstructured play with toys is a great way to bond with your dog. However, your dog might be more interested in learning skills that involve toys.

Find it! At first, pat the toy and give your dog a treat when they touch it. Then, start to hide the toy in easy spots, and treat your dog for finding it. Once your dog gets the concept, you can add a cue like “find it!” or “search!”. As your dog gets even better at this, you can use it to practice “stay” while you hide the toy in another room for a challenging toy hunt.

Fetch! Encourage your dog to pick up their toy and give it to you from a very short distance – even just beside them. Reward them for any attempts to pick up the toy and place it near you. It’s okay if your dog doesn’t get it right away.

Clean up! Once your dog learns to fetch, you can encourage them to place their toy in their basket instead of giving it to you.

Tug-o-war! Tugging comes naturally to most dogs. Contrary to what you may have heard, it does not lead to aggression or behavioural issues. It’s just a good way to exercise the muscles in your dog’s legs, neck and jaws. Just be sure to keep your dog’s paws on the ground – lifting them up by the teeth while the latch on can cause a back injury.

For More Fun With Your Dog…

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5 Things Your Dog Wants You To Know About Separation Anxiety

What Your Dog Wants You To Know About Separation Anxiety

Though nothing beats staying at home with your dog, you’ll need to leave them home alone at some point.

Your normally well-behaved dog may act much differently when you’re not around. But it’s not as though your dog waits for you to leave to indulge in making messes.

We’re all our dogs know. We’re their family, their entire social life, and their sole source of entertainment. We’re their whole world. Of course they get upset when we leave.

Separation anxiety is incredibly common, but it’s also one of the most manageable behavioural issues. Take away the anxiety of being left alone, and your dog can actually enjoy quiet time when you leave.

1. Your Dog Might Be Showing Separation Anxiety In Different Ways

Do you ever dread coming home to your dog?

Maybe you’re hoping you won’t get another note from your neighbour, whose baby couldn’t nap because your dog barked all day. Or maybe another set of throw pillows will have “exploded” all over the house.

Or your house-trained dog may be having messy accidents again. Maybe your dog typically takes out their anxiety on herself, chewing raw spots on her paws or tail.

These are all signs that your dog is feeling stressed when you’re away.

However, they’re also common signs of medical issues, or other behavioural problems. For example, if your house-trained dog is having potty accidents, they may be suffering from a urinary tract infection. A dog who is chewing at their skin may actually have allergies.

Before moving forward, discuss your dog’s symptoms with your veterinarian. You will need to rule out any medical issues before proceeding with training.

Once you rule out any underlying medical issues, you can start working with a professional trainer who specializes in anxiety-related behavioural issues. Healthy Houndz is a professional dog training company serving Toronto and North York. Get in touch to get started on finding the root cause of your dog’s symptoms.

2. Some Dogs Are More Likely To Experience Separation Anxiety Than Others

Your dog did not only inherit floppy ears or spots from their parents. They also inherited a predisposition to certain behavioural issues. Your dog’s personality is determined by their past experiences, family history, diet and environment.

Highly social dogs, like the Labrador Retriever, Bichon Frise, Chihuahua, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Yorkie are all bred for companionship, which means they do not always adapt easily to being left alone.

Working breeds like the Border Collie and German Shepherd are highly intelligent and high-energy, but that also means they can easily become bored or understimulated if left alone.

Even so, no dog breed is immune to separation anxiety. Rescue dogs, especially those with an abusive or unknown past, can also be prone to anxiety issues.

Separation anxiety is not a sign that you’ve loved your dog too much. It’s not a sign that your dog is spoiled. It’s usually not anyone’s fault, though it can be prevented and treated.

3. Your Home Environment May Make Separation Anxiety Worse

When your home is empty, it’s a different place for your dog. In a quiet home, your dog can become more alert to outdoor noises. They may feel especially stressed when a perceived threat passes by, especially when you’re not around to tell them how to react appropriately.

Certain genres of music have been shown to help relieve anxiety in dogs. Playing music while you’re away can also overpower outside noises that can put your dog on alert.

You can also get window cling film to blur out the sight of people and other animals who pass by. While you may wonder if window-watching could be a way for your dog to pass time, it’s actually a huge source of stress. Every time someone passes, your dog’s heart rate accelerates. If many people pass your home throughout the day, your dog can never truly relax.

When your dog no longer spends time by the window, they’ll break the habit of watching and waiting for you to come back. Just as a watched pot does not boil, time will go by faster when your dog is distracted or napping when you’re gone, rather than staring and looking out for your car.

4. Crating Can Help Reduce Separation Anxiety

If your dog is destructive while you are away, crating is critical for their own safety. It could be very dangerous if your dog ingests pieces of furniture, shoes, children’s toys, or anything that is not designed to be chewed. That said, most chew toys, like antlers and Nylabones, can crack teeth or cause choking, so they are best used with supervision.

If your dog has potty accidents, crating will likely reduce their occurrence. Dogs typically do not like to mess where they sleep, though some anxious dogs do have accidents in their crates.

Your dog’s crate should be their happy place. If your dog is not crate trained, you’ll want to work on that before leaving your dog crated while you’re away.

When combined with a regular routine, crating can actually eliminate separation anxiety. In a crate, your dog has few choices: they can play with any toys or food puzzles you leave inside, or they can sleep. They can’t pace, make messes or otherwise practice bad habits. Over time, your dog will actually relax the moment they go into their crate.

5. Boredom Can Lead To Separation Anxiety

Dogs sleep about 12-18 hours per day. So, if they get all of their naptime in while you are home, they will not be able to sleep when you go away. Going for longer, more vigorous walks right before you leave can help your dog nap instead of waiting up for you.

If you don’t have enough time to get your dog tired before you leave, you can provide activities to occupy them instead. Food toys like the Kong can be filled with moist food like peanut butter, yogurt, pureed fruits and veggies, scrambled eggs or ground beef. You can freeze a filled Kong so it lasts longer.

When Your Dog Has Severe Separation Anxiety

The steps above will work for mild cases, but for dogs with severe separation anxiety, or for those who have been struggling for a long time, professional help might be necessary.

A positive reinforcement trainer can show you how to break patterns and create new, healthy habits to make separation anxiety easier for you and your dog.
Contact Healthy Houndz today to start making meaningful progress by working on your dog’s emotional health and sense of well-being.

How To Manage Excessive Barking

Does your dog bark at everything? Are they so noisy that it’s disrupting your life, and making your neighbours complain?

Excessive barking is one of the most common reasons people surrender their dogs. The problem can range from mild annoyance, to having your landlord threaten to evict you.

Many people feel they have no choice but to turn to harmful training methods like bark collars to get their dog to stop barking. Their intentions are not necessarily cruel, but a last resort chosen out of desperation.

Unfortunately, bark collars tend to make the problem worse. Barking is often rooted in fear, and when you add an unpleasant stimulus to a scary experience, your dog’s urge to bark will only become stronger than the need to avoid punishment. This leads some people to resort to increasingly harsher punishments, which bring on negative side effects such as destruction, aggression or extreme fearfulness.

On the bright side, positive reinforcement is an effective way to control barking. You can keep your dog and your home without resorting to harsh training methods. The best part? Your bond will be even stronger once you’re through.

Why Dogs Bark

Whether your dog is barking on walks, or in your home, the root cause is usually fear.

When your dog barks at the mail carrier, the mail carrier disappears. Of course, we know this is because the mail carrier has continued on their route. In your dog’s eyes though, they were able to make the perceived threat go away by barking at it.

Your dog also barks to alert you. This is especially true if you have a “watch dog” breed. You may not be surprised if your Doberman, Rottweiler or Great Pyrenees feels the need to protect your property.

However, small breeds like most Terriers, along with Chihuahuas, were also bred to alert their owners to trespassers. Even tiny dogs can help deter home invaders, so you should not aim to erase your dog’s bark.

How You May Be Contributing To Excessive Barking

Whether your dog is barking to protect your home, or because they’re concerned about other dogs or humans on walks, you can greatly reduce the severity and length of their barking spells by changing the way you react.

When your dog barks, you may naturally want to carry them away from the window, or tug them away on their leash. It’s not unusual to feel embarrassed, annoyed, or even angry with your dog.

You too, will feel better once you change your perspective. If your dog barks, you can acknowledge them and even thank them for being alert. This can be enough to greatly reduce the length and severity of your dog’s barking spells.

At first, your dog may be so worked up that they may not be able to divert their attention to you. In that case, you’ll want to manage your dog’s exposure to triggers – not forever, just during the training period.

If your dog barks at dogs and people on walks, you can walk during quieter hours. You can change up your route, and cross the street when your dog sees someone or something they don’t like. Your dog may still react, but it’ll be much easier to work on their reactivity at a greater distance.

If your dog barks excessively at home, you can use calming music, put frosted window film at your dog’s eye level, and use baby gates to keep them away from high-stress areas like the front door.

Training Your Dog From The Inside Out

Have you ever tried to distract your dog with treats while they were in full-fledged barking mode? It probably didn’t work. But, that does not mean that rewards cannot be used to successfully reduce barking.

When your dog is overstimulated, their “fight or flight” response is at work. Their digestive system actually shuts down. They cannot accept treats, and may not even hear you trying to get their attention.

Your dog cannot learn when they’re in “fight or flight” mode. This is why we increase distance and reduce distractions before working with the dog.

Timing is everything. Try creating a fun, positive experience the moment your dog notices the trigger – before they start to bark,  before they go into fight or flight mode.

If you miss the window between your dog noticing the trigger, and the start of a barking episode, you may have to wait it out or create more distance between your dog and the trigger. Stay calm and positive, and praise your dog once they do stop barking. With practice, it’ll take less and less time to regain your dog’s focus.

Is Excessive Barking Always Linked To Fear Or Anxiety?

Barking is a symptom of many different emotional conditions. It could be caused by reactivity, boredom or even excitement.

The tips above might not help reduce your dog’s barking, depending on the actual cause. We’ll cover tips related to different issues in the future, but if you need immediate help, feel free to reach out to Healthy Houndz on Facebook or send us an email.

Help With Excessive Barking

Managing barking is tough, especially if it’s been going on for a while. You’ll make much faster progress with the help of a professional positive dog trainer.

Call Healthy Houndz today for dog training in Toronto and North York, or send us a message through our contact form.

How To Keep Your Dog Happy Without A Fenced Yard

Are you moving with your dog from a house to an apartment? Or wondering if you should get a dog if you don’t have a fenced-in backyard?

As it turns out, your dog’s happiness and well-being is not dependent on whether you have a yard or not. In fact, many apartment dogs have more fulfilling lives than those who live in houses with yards.

Why Your Dog Doesn’t Need A Yard To Get Exercise

A fenced yard is a wonderful thing – but it’s not the only way your dog can get exercise and mental stimulation.

In fact, dogs do not necessarily get adequate exercise from being let out into a yard on their own. It’s not unusual for dogs to find destructive ways to entertain themselves in a yard. For example, they may develop a habit of “fence-fighting” or barking aggressively through the fence with a next door neighbour’s dog.

Not having a yard means you will need to actively take your dog outside and interact with them. You can go on a long, relaxed walk, or go for a quick jog when you’re short on time. You can even use a step tracker app on your phone to track your dog’s daily activity.

Entertaining Your Dog Indoors

You can play all of the games you’d play with your dog in a yard in your own living room. It will just take a bit of creativity while you work with a smaller space.

Hide-and-seek, nosework and free play with toys are all fun to do indoors. Remember, you do not always need to use strenuous physical activity to provide mental stimulation and lessen unwanted behaviours. You can also fill your dog’s schedule with long-lasting chews, puzzle toys, and teaching new tricks.

Alternative Ways To Get Off-Lead Time

Though your dog may get plenty of exercise on walks, you can use safe, fenced-in areas to practice recall and play fetch. Off-lead time is also a good way to give your dog an opportunity to sniff and explore freely.

Playtime At The Dog Park

Dog park experiences are hit-or-miss. Your dog could make wonderful new friends. They may enjoy playing with other dogs. But just one scary interaction with an aggressive dog park visitor can lead to fear-based issues like reactivity.

If you’re going to go to a dog park, you may want to go when there are no more than two or three other dogs around. Dog parks tend to be very crowded on weekday afternoons and weekends. You can get up early and  try taking your dog before work, or going on your lunch break.

Make sure you’re well-versed in dog body language before taking your dog to play. If your dog is bullying other dogs, or has become a bully, be prepared to leave right away.

Stay Safe With A Long Line

Some areas have posted signs that specify that your dog must be on a standard length lead, while others do not specify. To give your dog more freedom without the risks of going off-lead, you can use a long line, a lunge line, or a few leads clipped together.

Use your long lead in a wide open area where you won’t risk getting tangled. No matter how friendly your dog is, be careful of letting them run up to people and other dogs. Dog-friendly beaches, fields and other open spaces are perfect for using your long lead.

Need Help Getting Your Dog To Adjust To Apartment Living?

Having a dog in an apartment does come with its own unique challenges. Your dog may not be used to the sounds of people moving about the building, and they may bark while you’re away, leading to noise complaints from your neighbours.

Not to worry – you don’t have to do this on your own. Working with a positive trainer is the best way to understand your dog’s issues and help them learn to love living in your new space. Contact Healthy Houndz for positive training in Toronto and North York.

How To Foster A Dog

Are you interested in fostering a dog?

It’s a wonderful way to help a dog in need while bringing a big source of love into your home.

Research shows that even short-term fostering reduces stress in shelter dogs, helping to bring out their truly unique, lovable personality and giving them a better chance at finding a family.

In return, you’ll have more opportunities to love dogs, and to learn about them. Here’s how you can become a fantastic foster to a lucky shelter dog.

How Does Fostering A Dog Work?

Shelters are often overrun with animals and have no choice but to euthanize to make room for more intakes. By allowing you to keep a dog until they are adopted, the shelter can free up a kennel for another adoptable pet.

You can also foster for a rescue. Some private rescues are not actually facilities, but a network of volunteer foster families.

The shelter or rescue typically provides medical care, and you will usually have to fund day-to-day costs like food, a bed, and toys. You’ll treat your foster as a member of your family, going for walks, doing basic training and providing love and attention.

You typically do not have to worry about finding the dog a home, though you can help by having the dog wear an “adopt me!” collar or bandana when you’re out and about. The shelter or rescue will screen out adoptee applications and communicate with you to find the perfect forever home.

Increasing Your Chances Of Getting Approved

Every shelter and rescue has their own set of requirements for foster homes. You may be required to have a fenced-in yard, for example. They may have guidelines for people with children and other pets. Your children may need to be older than a certain age, and your pets may need to be spayed/neutered and up to date on vaccines.

Do not be discouraged if your application is not approved. Though you may not have a fenced-in yard, for example, you may be willing to walk the dog several times per day. A private rescue may have more lenient requirements than your local city shelter.

Bringing Your Foster Dog Home

Taking your new foster dog out of the noisy shelter and into your warm, comfy home will be a great source of stress relief. Even so, it will take them at least two weeks to fully adjust to your home – maybe longer.

Your family, including your own pets, may be excited to greet your new foster. Allow your foster to acclimate at their own pace. You should give your foster their own, isolated space to eat and sleep, either a crate in a quiet room or an area sectioned off with baby gates.

Once your new foster is settled in, you can start bringing them to public places. Socialization is important for fosters of all ages. A friendly dog will be more likely to find a home.

Another way to give your foster dog a better chance of finding a family: teach them to walk calmly on a leash.

While teaching tricks is fun, foundational skills are more important for helping your foster get adopted. If you need help with potty training, loose leash walking, or other skills, use a positive trainer like Healthy Houndz.

Foster dogs are especially prone to fear-based behavioural issues, but compassionate training brings out their hidden talents and their enthusiasm to learn.

We provide humane, positive training in North York and Toronto. Contact Healthy Houndz today to get started.

Alternatives To Fostering

Have you discovered that fostering a dog is not right for you? There are many other ways you can help dogs in need.

Can you foster a dog for a limited period of time? Look for organizations that support military families who may need care for their dog while they are stationed for a few months. Another option is to seek out a homeless shelter or women’s shelter that does not allow pets. You could care for a dog while their owner gets back on their feet.

Also consider becoming a puppy raiser for a guide dog organization. During the first year of the puppy’s life, you’ll teach them basic commands and provide early socialization. Then, you’ll return the puppy to the organization, where they will graduate to advanced training to later become a service dog for a disabled person.

If your life or your household does not have room for a dog, you can also try volunteering at a shelter. It can be as simple as taking a dog out for a walk once a week.

How To Safely Introduce A New Cat To A Dog Home

Safely introduce your cat to your dog home

Do you want to bring home a new cat , but worry that they’ll fight like, well… cats and dogs?

As it turns out, you can safely enjoy the best of both worlds.

A University of Lincoln questionnaire study found that the majority of cat-dog households are relatively peaceful. Keeping in mind that the results come from a self-reported survey, animal behaviour experts were not available to actually observe the households. Even so, the results of the survey are helpful to prospective cat parents who already have dogs.

What We Can Learn From Cat-Dog Households

The survey, which included answers from 748 people, found that 64.9% of cats and 85.8% of dogs were said to be “rarely” or “never” uncomfortable in the other’s presence. It also showed that 20.5% of their cats and just 7.3% of their dogs were uncomfortable with one another at least once a week.

Naturally, dogs are typically larger and more powerful than cats, so it makes sense that dogs are unlikely to feel threatened by their feline housemates.

Another study, conducted by Tel Aviv University, included video animal behaviour reviews with experts, and illustrated that two thirds of cat-dog relationships were actually positive. They found that adopting the cat first, and introducing the animals before maturity – prior to six months of age for cats, and one year for dogs – greatly increased the chance of a positive relationship.

Adopting A Dog Compatible Cat

You’ll want to adopt a cat under six months of age, or one that has been known to have a good relationship with dogs in their previous home. Many shelters and humane societies conduct temperament for compatibility with other animals.

If you’re buying a cat from a breeder, consider looking into breeds that are known to be dog friendly. Large cats, like the Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat, tend to get along well with dogs. Affectionate, laid-back breeds like the Ragdoll, Birman and American Shorthair also tend to like dogs.

How You Can Help Your Cat Feel Safe

The successful cat-dog relationship is usually,dictated by your cat. If your cat feels safe and secure, they will not feel the need to attack your dog or race around in a way that starts up a chase.

Make sure your cat has plenty of high up areas that your dog cannot access. Cat trees, cat shelves, and windowsills can all make good kitty havens that your cat can use if they are ever feeling overwhelmed by your dog, or just need some space of their own.

Your Cat’s First Days Home

On your cat’s first day home, you may be tempted to let them loose and let your pets “sort it out”. This is the worst possible scenario because your dog may become territorial upon a strange creature entering their home, while your cat will already be anxious, and would be flooded by the stress of all of the new sights and smells, plus the attention from your curious dog.

Keep your new cat in a safe space with their litter box. Confined to one room, like a bathroom, they can slowly get to know your home while your dog starts to pick up on their scent. After a few days, you can introduce your cat to other parts of your home, while your dog is contained with a baby gate, but able to see and smell your cat through it.

It’s normal for both animals to be curious around one another. Look for signs of stress or stimulation overload, like barking, lunging and heavy panting from your dog, and puffing, hissing or hiding from your cat. You can offer treats to each animal to help them feel less stressed while they are spending time near one another.

If both animals seem tolerant one another – they don’t have to be best friends right away – you can put them in the same room, supervised, with your dog on a leash. Do not walk your dog right up to your cat, as it would be overwhelming to force them to be face-to-face in an unnatural way.

Encouraging A Healthy Friendship

A large bed placed in the direct path of a midday sunbeam can become a popular communal cuddle-zone. You can also try training your cat and dog alongside each other to create a positive experience.

When it comes down to it, you cannot make your cat and dog become friends. It’s not unusual for them to merely tolerate one another for their entire lives.

As long as your cat has safe spaces, and you keep your dog out of the cat’s food bowl and litter box, they should feel content in your home.

Need Help Training Your Dog To Leave Your Cat Alone?

Even with precautions, your dog may still bother your cat. This can be due to boredom, prey drive or even fear. Using positive training techniques, we can teach your dog to feel differently about your cat – no punishments needed. Punishments can actually create negative experiences for your dog that they will associate with the cat’s presence, which can make bad behaviour worse.

Call 647-749-8731 or contact Healthy Houndz for positive dog training in Toronto and North York.

How To Feed Your Dog For Better Behaviour

How to feed your dog for better behaviour

Have you ever noticed that when you start your day with a healthy breakfast – rather than with a doughnut – you’re able to focus much more easily at work?

Your dog’s diet, from their meals and snacks to bones and treats, affects their ability to pick up new skills, control their impulses, and stay focused on you.

Dogs also focus better when they eat well.

What’s For Dinner?

There is little data that shows the correlation between a dog’s diet and their behaviour, despite anecdotal evidence of dogs showing improvements in focus, lethargy, anxiety and aggression when switched to a fresh diet.

What we do know is that your dog’s gut health affects their entire body and their well-being. Adding even small amounts of fresh food to your dog’s processed kibble diet can help their beneficial gut bacteria flourish for improved mood, focus and clarity.

You can also support your dog’s gut health with probiotics. Yogurt and kefir are full of probiotics and safe to give your dog in small amounts, but it’s even better to use a dog-specific probiotic or goat’s milk kefir, which is easier for dogs to digest than kefir made with cow’s milk.

We also know that amino acids like tryptophan and tyrosine help your dog’s body create dopamine and serotonin, hormones that affect your dog’s mood. You can find these amino acids in processed foods, but they’re uncompromised and more bioavailable in fresh protein sources like red meat, eggs, chicken, turkey and fish. Contrary to popular Thanksgiving myth, turkey does not contain especially high levels of tryptophan – you’ll find this amino acid in all fresh meats.

Omega-3 fatty acids also support mood and brain health. You can use fish oil supplements to increase your dog’s intake. Whole food sources like tinned salmon or sardines (packed in water, low sodium) are another powerful way to keep your dog sharp.

While it’s wonderful if you’re able to switch to a raw or cooked, fresh food diet, simply replacing 10 percent of your dog’s kibble with fresh foods can make a difference in their health and behaviour.

When To Feed Your Dog

You might have tried training your dog on an empty stomach to increase their motivation for food rewards. Though a hungry dog definitely has more of a reason to perform well to receive treats, a University of Kentucky study suggests that dogs can focus better after they’ve had a meal.

A hungry dog may make more mistakes in rushed attempts to get food. They may be focusing too readily on the treat, rather than the task itself.

Remember to wait 30 minutes before and after feeding your dog to allow them to exercise. Exercising right before or after a meal can cause bloat, a deadly condition in which the stomach twists and fills with gas.

If you’re doing a lot of training, you can still use parts of your dog’s meals as rewards. You may just want to allow them to eat a small portion beforehand so they won’t be too hungry.

Are Your Treats “High Value”?

When we say to use high value treats, we mean rewards that your dog absolutely loves.

For most dogs, the yummiest treats are smelly, meaty and high in moisture. Dry, cookie-style treats are typically too bland for most dogs to go crazy for, and they just contribute carbs that will make your dog feel sluggish, and in the long run, gain too much weight.

The best treats are made mostly of meat, fish or eggs. To keep them healthy, you may want to look for low fat options. Even so, high quality proteins are a wonderful fuel source that will keep your dog motivated. To maintain your dog’s weight, check out our healthy, high value treat ideas.

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What To Do When You’re Frustrated With Your Dog

What To Do When You Get Frustrated While Training Your Dog

Do you ever feel annoyance, resentment or even anger towards your dog?

Do you ever feel annoyance, resentment or even anger towards your dog?

It happens to everyone. Even though your dog can’t help making mistakes, it’s normal to feel frustrated at times.

Getting frustrated does not make you a bad dog owner. It just means that it’s time to take a step back, take a breather, and try a new approach to your training problem.

Why Do You Feel Frustrated?

Just as we have to consider the underlying causes behind our dog’s behaviour issues, we should be just as patient with ourselves. Try to figure out why you’re feeling so frustrated.

Is it because you set the bar too high? Are you comparing them with dogs in videos, your neighbor’s dog, or simply expecting too much of them?

Or, are you actually feeling embarrassed by your dog? Do they make a dramatic scene in public? Do you ever feel like they make you look like a bad dog owner? Maybe your family members, neighbors, or complete strangers are complaining, giving you judgemental comments or overwhelming you with unsolicited advice.

These are all valid reasons for feeling extra stressed about training your dog. You may need to work around them. It may be necessary to lower your expectations, or explain to those around you that your dog is still in training.

How Frustration Affects Your Dog

Dogs pick up on our frustration. They can actually detect stress levels through the odour of your sweat, and they are also highly skilled at picking up facial expressions and body language.

Some of your dog’s frustrating behaviours can actually be signs that your dog knows that you are stressed. At times, your dog may appear to be ignoring you, when in reality, they’re giving off “calming signals”.

Dogs use “calming signals” to diffuse situations, to appear non-confrontational. For example, your dog may sniff the grass, yawn, walk away, or refuse to make eye contact. They may seem uninterested and disengaged, when in reality, they’re becoming afraid of you. Your dog is not ignoring you, they’re just trying to appear non-threatening so you’ll calm down.

How To Rewire Your Mindset

When you catch yourself becoming frustrated, especially if your dog is showing calming signals, it’s time to take a break to decompress.

In the meantime, try breaking down your goal into easier, more manageable steps. Try going back a few steps and reinforcing related behaviours that your dog already knows.

Both you and your dog will feel better with those small “wins”. Always end each training session on a good note, even if that means simply asking your dog to “sit” and rewarding them with one last treat. Training sessions should leave you and your dog wanting more, not totally drained and unmotivated.

How To Succeed In Dog Training

To increase your chances of reaching your dog training goals, always set your dog up for success.

Make sure they understand what is being asked of them. If you can’t seem to communicate clearly, try setting up the lesson in a new way. You can use obstacles, a target stick, stickers, markers and other props to guide your dog without the use of physical force or lots of trial and error.

A simple treat upgrade can make a huge difference in the speed of your progress. High-protein treats like meat, cheese, fish and peanut butter are the most motivating. Look for healthy, high value treats that won’t make your dog gain weight.

Work With A Positive Dog Trainer

Healthy Houndz positive dog training serves North York, Toronto and surrounding areas.
You can always vent to us when you’re frustrated with your dog. We get it. We are committed to finding humane, force-free ways to teach dogs, and along the way, we can show you exactly how to break down the communication barriers that cause frustration. Give us a call at 647-749-8731 or contact us today to get started.