Dog Behaviour & Care

Adopting a dog is a rewarding and life changing experience. Understanding your best friend, reading the signs and ensuring you have a polite, well-behaved puppy or dog can be challenging. Animal Welfare League Queensland (AWLQ) has experts in behaviour training so that you have the resources you need to help your dog settle in your home and be well behaved in public.

Below you will find a range of guides addressing common issues both new and existing dog owners face. From crate and toilet training to destructive behaviours and separation anxiety, we want to help you and your dog become the best of friends. Training can be an extremely rewarding and fun experience for you and your dog, helping you to bond. Mental stimulation, as well as physical exercise, are just two of the keys to a happy, healthy dog


The information and training guides we have provided can also be great tools to help your puppy learn how to behave in the home and fill confident about their place in the world. If you help your puppy develop good habits early, you will avoid problems later.


Basic training advice


This information is intended as a general guide only

If your dog is pushy, bossy, or rude, hard to motivate, disinterested, or has its own agenda (or even if it isn’t),  hand feeding your dog for a short time during the initial stages of training will improve your relationship.

Why Hand feed my Dog?

From the day your puppy was born, his mother controlled a resource that kept him alive: food. When mum appeared, so did dinner. When mum left, so did dinner. It was critical that the pups knew where she was at all times and that the litter remained close to her. They would die if they didn’t. Puppies are careful not to bite mum too hard or act disrespectfully to her, because if they did she would leave abruptly – and so would their life line.

Hand feeding your dog for a short time means that every morsel your dog eats throughout the day should come from its leader- you.

Hand feeding will improve your dogs work ethic, manners around food, regard for your leadership, ability to drop everything and come when called.

Rationing meals and making delivery contingent on a selected behaviour increases value of the reward and your importance in the dog’s life. Suddenly your dog’s world revolves around you – he’s looking for ways to please you instead of demanding what he wants for free. He WANTS to work! He WISHES you’d call him!

Not forever, but to set the stage and get the training ball rolling…
For the first week of training (or longer if you have a hard to motivate or bossy dog) stop feeding your dog from a bowl and use the dog’s entire day’s ration for short and frequent training sessions throughout the day. At the end of the day whatever is left in the container can be fed in the dog’s bowl – but be aware that this amount reflects just how little training you did that day! In the weeks to come you will gradually use less food in training and will go back to regularly scheduled meals, but you must still deduct the amount of food that you will use in daily training sessions from what goes in your dog’s bowl so you don’t create a fat dog.

Measure out the day’s ration each morning and put it in a container and leave it in plain view or put it in a bum bag or pocket and carry it with you.

This will Make sure you make time to practice and keep you from over or under feeding

The following will upset the balance of your training and relationship – avoid:

  • Free feeding – a full bowl on the floor all the time
  • Responding to begging or bossy barking –don’t train when you are eating- no food from your plate.
  • Doling out goodies (and attention) for just being cute.
  • Letting the dog dictate when it needs to be fed, played with, petted, and played with – and when it’s through. That’s your job!

Food is not free
You control the food and hence the behaviour that earns it. Reward, don’t bribe. The food appears AFTER the dog has earned it. Don’t show the dog what you have to offer before giving a command. (You may show him what he missed if he doesn’t and then leave or ignore him!)

Always call the dog for a training session when he isn’t bugging you – don’t let him decide when it’s time. Polite dogs get to work! Work will become reinforcing in itself!

Sometimes call the dog when it is engaged in doing something else but only if you are sure he will respond. If he doesn’t, don’t bribe him. Run away, play with a toy, and become more interesting than what he was doing at the time. NO NAGGING. Never call him to do something he finds unpleasant.

Give a simple command or two and then dismiss him – don’t respond to impolite pestering to continue. Gradually call him away from more interesting activities as his responses become more reliable. This is how you teach him to come no matter what!

Food rewards and the picky eater
If your dog is a fussy eater, reluctant to take food from your hand or has to take it off and examine it to make sure you aren’t trying to poison her, try putting her on a ‘hand feeding’ regime to increase her desire and motivation for the food. Instead of feeding her from her bowl, measure her day’s ration into a plastic bag and tuck it in your pocket. Randomly call and have her sit and give her three or four pieces of kibble and then send her away “all done” and ignore her. If you offer it and she declines, fine. Wait awhile and call her again and make a big whoop de do and offer her another three or four pieces of kibble like you are giving her gold. It’s her choice if she doesn’t want them, don’t beg or try and cajole her into eating. Probably by tomorrow, she’ll be taking them more readily and by day three of turning down more than she eats, she may be really excited about those few pieces of kibble!

In summary

Using hand feeding in your initial stages of training is a great way to encourage attention from those dogs that seem to have selective hearing, or simply ignore the owner. The more you train your dog and interact with him in an appropriate way the easier it is to be able to change undesirable behaviour to desirable behaviour.

How to house train your dog


Learning to be clean in the house is one of the first things you’ll want to start teaching your new dog. Those of us with adult rescue dogs may need to go through the same training process as we do with puppies. Rescue dogs often haven’t had the same opportunities as little puppies to learn the correct places to eliminate and may not have spent much time inside a house before.

House training will take a month or two of intense effort on your part. It may involve changing your routine with your dog. However, doing the job correctly and thoroughly from the start is much preferable to a half-hearted attempt that goes on much longer and creates confusion and uncertainty for the dog, to say nothing of damage to your carpets!

Can’t I just rub his nose in it?

Modern thinking about how best to house train a puppy is quite different than what was recommended years ago. Punishment for mistakes is no longer considered either necessary or helpful.  Delayed punishment is cruel and simply doesn’t work. If you discover a pile or puddle in the house that the dog left minutes or hours ago, it is too late to react. The dog cannot figure out why you are angry, and cannot learn from the punishment. If you catch the dog in the act of relieving itself in the house and punish it, the immediacy of the consequence means that it can learn, but what it learns will probably be  its bad to eliminate in the presence of my owner, rather than it’s bad to eliminate in the house.

YOU and your actions are much more relevant to the pup than the location inside the house.  You might wind up with a dog that hides behind the sofa or in the guest bedroom to eliminate.

As you’ll see below, you want the pup to eliminate in your presence in the correct location, so punishing it for performing in the house is not helpful.

There are two keys to successful house training:

  1. Reward for elimination in the correct location
  2. Prevent accidents in the house


The idea is to catch your dog doing something right so you can reward it and thus strengthen its likelihood of doing the same thing again in the future.  First decide where you want the dog to eliminate.

For most people, this will be a handy corner of the back garden. Some people train their pups to eliminate on newspaper in the house, but most experts recommend teaching the dog to eliminate outside the house from the very beginning, rather than trying to paper train it and then retrain it to grass.

Housetraining your dog - toilet trainingYou must accompany your dog, on leash, to the elimination spot quite often.  When you get there, stay with it but do not play with it, just let it wander around on lead and sniff the ground.  As soon as it begins to eliminate, praise softly.  When it has finished, give it couple of special food treats from your pocket and play with it. Rewarding the dog for performing in the correct location time after time helps it learn where you want it to relieve itself.

You will need to take the dog to the chosen location quite often and at the time that you can reasonably expect that the pup will need to eliminate. When a pup is very young, it may need to urinate as often as once per hour during the day.

Other times you can be pretty sure the pup will need to eliminate are immediately (IMMEDIATELY!) on waking up in the morning, 10-15 minutes after eating or drinking, after waking up from a nap, after a vigorous playtime, when something exciting happens like the arrival of a guest, and last thing at night.  Many also need to relieve themselves in the middle of the night until they are mature enough to hold for seven- eight hours.

When the puppy is getting the idea of eliminating soon after you take it to the toilet spot in the garden, you can begin to put toileting on cue.  Start to repeat your cue word (like busy or do it) as the puppy sniffs and begins to eliminate. Eventually the puppy will become more likely to eliminate when it hears this cue.

If the dog does not perform after three minutes in the garden, you may bring it back inside but put it in a crate (see below) then take it out again in 30 minutes for another try.  If you are not using a crate, confine the dog in a play pen. When you are pretty sure that the pup is empty, you can let it loose in the house for a short time while closely supervising it.


While teaching the dog to eliminate outside, you must do everything in your power to prevent accidents in the house. This means anticipating when the pup may need to relieve itself, and taking it outside to the designated spot in time.  It means watching the dog 100% of the time it is loose in the house, and putting it in one of two safe areas if you cannot watch itIf you are not prepared to do this for a while, get used to cleaning up accidents.  If at any time you see it circle, sniff the floor, or start to squat, immediately INTERRUPT it by calling it urgently to the door to go outside with you to finish its business.

Keep a supply of treats handy so you’ll always have some for quick trips to the garden! Your two safe areas will be a crate and a puppy play room, as described below.


House training your dog - crate trainingDogs are naturally clean and will not usually foul their immediate sleeping area. You can take advantage of this tendency by putting the dog in a very small area such as a dog crate (with soft bedding and a chew toy like a Kong stuffed with kibble and peanut butter or canned dog food) when you cannot watch it.

It will probably hold while in the crate, then you can take it outside immediately after coming out of

the crate.  This helps you create an opportunity to reward the dog for a correct elimination while avoiding accidents in the house.  A young puppy should not be crated without a toilet break for more than an hour at a time (except at night).


The playroom is for longer safe confinement, if you have to be away for several hours. It might be a small bathroom or laundry, with a washable floor.

First puppy proof the room by removing ALL objects a puppy might chew, damage, want to wee on, or be hurt by (like towels, shower curtains, electric cords, waste baskets, rugs, and household cleaners.House training your dog - playroom

Put the puppy’s bed in one corner and a small toilet area in the opposite corner.  If you want the dog to get in the habit of eliminating outside, the toilet area should be a few square feet of turf.  Also put a bowl of water and several stuffed Kongs in the room. This will keep the puppy occupied while you are away, and allow it to eliminate in an acceptable location while learning that grass = toilet’.

If your garden is fenced and you have a doghouse or sheltered area outside, the alternative to a playroom is to put the puppy outside when you cannot watch it.  Chew toys are still recommended to keep the dog occupied and less likely to get up to mischief while alone.

The disadvantage of time outside is that when you do bring the pup into the house, you don’t know whether it’s just relieved itself or is just about to need to relieve itself, so preventing accidents requires even more attention. The advantage is that the pup has fewer opportunities to toilet inappropriately in the house (that is, in the wrong part of the play room).

If the dog sleeps inside the house, put it in its crate or playroom last thing at night after a late visit to the garden.  A 3:00 or 4:00am toilet break may be needed the first week or two if the dog is crated, then gradually move the time later until the pup can make it through the night. It is also useful to take away pup’s water before bedtime.

When there is an accident in the house, clean it up thoroughly with a special deodorising product obtained from your pet store or veterinarian.  Don’t use ammonia based products. Then ask yourself why the accident happened and how you should revise the toilet schedule or become more vigilant to prevent it happening again.

Puppies or new dogs should NEVER be unsupervised in the house. You wouldn’t give an 18 month old child unsupervised run of your home, would you?  Close doors to keep the pup in the room with you so you can keep an eye on it.  When you can’t watch it like a hawk, use the crate, playroom, or fenced yard.

Download a print friendly copy of ‘How to house train your dog’ here

Children and dogs


The information in this handout is intended as a general guide only.

young boy and his dogLearning to respect, understand, care for, and successfully control a dog gives a
dramatic boost to any child’s self-esteem. But these benefits do not come by magic. Children and parents alike must realize that cartoon dogs are fantasy, and Lassie was several well-trained dogs. In the domestic environment, both dogs and children must learn how to act around each other. All dogs must be taught how to act around children and all children must be taught how to act around dogs.



To improve children’s confidence and self-esteem, it is vital their puppy/dog training efforts succeed. Success depends upon adult planning, participation and direction. First, adults must teach the puppy or dog how to act in a controlled manner and second, adults must teach children how to control the puppy or dog. Adults should use treats to lure- reward train the puppy to ‘come’, ‘sit’, ‘lie down’, ‘stand’, and ‘roll over’. These are the basic control commands; ‘Stand’ and ‘Roll over’ are the best commands for examining the dog’s body.

Provide children with tasty treats (in addition to kibble) and instruct them how to lure- reward train the puppy. The puppy will quickly learn that training is fun and being trained by children is especially fun. Families without children at home must invite children to meet, handfeed and train the puppy during his first three months in his new home.

Young puppies are impressionable, cute, and non-threatening. Invite family, friends and neighbours with children (i.e. children the puppy is likely to meet as an adult). Instruct the children how to use kibble and treats to lure-reward train the puppy or dog to come, sit, lie down and roll over. By approaching and sitting close, the dog voluntarily accepts and enjoys the children’s company. By sitting, lying down, and rolling over, the dog acknowledges and respects the child’s requests. In other words, the child asks and the dog agrees. Or we could say, the child commands and the dog willingly complies. Moreover, by rolling over on request, the dog shows voluntary and happy appeasement.

young girls with dogsQuite frankly, willing compliance and happy deference towards children is the only workable solution for pet dog training. Additionally, as a major beneficial side effect of lure-reward training, the dog grows to like and respect his trainer: “Wow! Children are fun; they give lots of treats!” All owners should seek family puppy training classes, in which puppies are allowed off-leash to socialise with children.

New Baby

Dogs can be taught to enjoy the presence and actions of babies; the solution is classical conditioning and preparing your dog for the arrival of a new baby in the house long before the baby actually arrives. The AWL Qld’s Pregnant Paws Program includes an in-depth booklet on this subject, titled Pregnant Paws: A guide to Keeping Companion Animals, Pregnant Mums and Babies Together and Safe in the Home. For more information on the Pregnant Paws Program, or to obtain a copy of the booklet, email


Teach your children how to teach a puppy or dog before you get a puppy or dog! Observe a puppy class so your children may learn training skills. Many class instructors will welcome children’s participation, since socialising puppies with unfamiliar children is a major reason for puppy classes.

Additionally, observe an adolescent or adult dog class, so you can preview the predictable problems you are going to encounter (or better, prevent). Most importantly, make sure your children have ample opportunity to test-drive a variety of puppies and adult dogs. When selecting a puppy or dog, make sure all family members, especially the children, love the dog, feel completely at ease around the dog and are able to easily control the dog before you decide to welcome him into your home. Teach children to train and control the dog using training techniques they can master—classical conditioning, lure-reward, and reward-training techniques. By using brain instead of brawn, even three and four-year-olds can master these exercises.

Sit with your children, holding the food bowl and jointly handfeed the pup’s first few meals. Instruct your child to occasionally offer treats (tastier than the dog’s kibble) and your puppy will soon learn to love the presence of children.

Baby girl with big dogWarn children never to approach any dog without supervision. Teach children how to train puppies to approach them. Instruct children to stand still, to always speak softly and to keep one hand in their pocket while luring and rewarding the dog with the other hand.

Any child who cannot get a puppy to come, sit and lie down, should never be allowed to play with that pup unsupervised. A single child (or adult, for that matter) with no control can ruin a good puppy within minutes. Insist on training before

playtime. And in no time, the child will be play-training the puppy. Children feel great because they can control puppies with verbal commands and hand signals. Puppies are ecstatic because they have discovered that sitting is the secret command that trains children to stand still and deliver treats on cue. Adult owners feel relieved and deservedly proud to know that their soon-to-be adolescent dogs are congenial and compliant with children.

Download a print friendly copy of ‘kids and dogs’ here

How to play with your dog


The information in this handout is intended as a general guide only.

Control the games, control the dog . . .

The kinds of games you play and how you play them will directly influence your dog’s

behaviour. A large number of behaviour problems seen in adult dogs can be traced back to the games they played as puppies. Do the games you play with your puppy encourage grabbing, biting or chasing?

“Having a dog is largely a matter of teaching the dog self-control. A good dog – and a safe dog around children – sits when he wants to jump, resists when he wants to take, and releases what he wants to hold onto. Anything you can do to foster that kind of control is for the best. Everything you do with your dog teaches him something! Make sure that the games you play foster the behaviours and attitudes you want … Good games promote cooperation and control.” – Sarah Wilson, Good Owners, Great Pets

Don’t over-stimulate your dog – avoid competing for the prize

Avoid any action that might be mistaken as a challenge or teasing. Don’t hover and pounce. Avoid games of ‘keep-away’, taunting the dog with the toy before it is thrown, wrenching it out of the dog’s mouth after a momentary game of ‘tug-of-war’ and dangling the toy out of reach or behind your back to keep the dog from grabbing it away from you. These games increase dominant, pushy behaviour. These might be good ways to entice a shy dog to play, but should be avoided with a highly motivated, confident dog. A dog who enjoys playing these games with the adults in the family cannot possibly know that it isn’t the same game when the five-year-old holds his peanut butter sandwich above his head. Tug-of-war games become merely annoying when clean laundry is ripped from the clothesline – it’s a dangerous game when the adult dog plays it with a passer-by on a bicycle, or snares a running child.

Dog plays with Kong chew toy Your dog should have two types of toys
Pacifier toys
 – chew toys (i.e. the ones he should choose instead of your shoes or furniture), ‘Kongs’ and treat balls are great pacifiers.

Interactive toys – balls, squeaky toys and tug toys (i.e. the ones that he enjoys with you).

You are not a toy!
Don’t use your body or clothing as part of any game. The most certain way to tell your dog that you are a littermate or a lower pack member is to act like one. You are not a dog. Do not get down on your hands and knees and growl at your dog, or play pushing, wrestling games which encourage biting.

Dog playing with childrenUse your voice effectively
High pitched squealing makes you sound like a squeaky toy (i.e. a wounded animal), which brings out the predator in your dog. Whining makes you sound like another puppy – a playmate, not a pack leader. Children and women are usually the most prone to high pitched tones. “No-o-o-o-o! D-o-o-n’t! Mum!” If you are giving a command or a reprimand, use your voice effectively. Lower your voice, be calm and matter-of- fact. Tell, don’t ask. Give direction (i.e. Stop that, do this).

Use your body posture as well as your voice
If your dog isn’t taking you seriously, stand up so you are taller than your dog. Look down on him as you give a command. If the dog is trying to steal something from you, whether its his favourite toy or your T-bone steak, use your body language and voice to let him know that he doesn’t stand a chance. Don’t squeal, don’t pull away or raise the item above your head; this will encourage a chase response. Move toward the dog, hug the item close to your body and make eye contact. Lower your tone of voice.

The winner keeps the trophy
Control all access to interactive toys. Squeaky toys, balls, Frisbees, tug toys are stored out of reach, not left on the floor. You select the toy. You decide when the game starts, what the rules are, and when the game ends. The dog should never be allowed to wander off with the toy when the game is over. It is your toy and you allow the dog to play with it when you say so.

You make the rules
Retrieving games can teach control. Start with short throws on-leash. Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game. “Sit – good sit!” “Stay” (toss the toy) “Get it!”- or-“Fetch!” “Bring it here!” “Sit”-“Out.” The delivery and release of the toy are very important. The dog should remove himself from the toy. Don’t allow the dog to initiate games of keep-away or tug-of-war. Stop the game when the dog is still eager to play, not when he decides to quit. Take the toy; “Out” (You might trade for a treat). Tell him, “OK, that’s enough, good game!” – “Leave it.” Place the toy in plain sight for several minutes. He may not touch it once you say the game is over. When he has resigned himself to the fact that he can’t have it, quietly put the toy away until your next play session. Never allow your dog to shove toys at you or bark at you, demanding that you play his games.


Control games help teach commands and reinforce good manners – the rules are black and white.

No going for the toy until the “get it” command is given (Stay!) No leaping for the toy when it is in the owner’s hand (Leave it!) No jumping up (Off!)

No Barking (Quiet!)

No leaping or lunging (Off/Sit!)

The reward for following the rules is getting to play!

Creative dog treat and kong stuffing ideas


The information in this handout is intended as a general guide only.

Kongs are wonderful enrichment toys that are readily available at the shelter or pet stores. The idea of the Kong is to stuff it with food and leave it for the dog to work on during the day. It works especially well as a boredom breaker for days when your dog must be left alone in the yard/house. Make sure you have the right size for your dog and REMEMBER; food toys can be a problem in households that have more than one dog. Make sure you supervise the first time you use food toys.

In addition to your pet’s regular dry dog food and dog biscuits, as well as canned versions of dog food, following are some human foods that you might consider stuffing inside your dog’s Kong toy. [Each of these food items appears in one or more of the Recipes which follow.]

Apples Applesauce Apricots Baby Food
Bananas Beef (cooked) Salami or cabanossi Black Olives
Bouillon Bran Cereal Bread Broccoli (raw)
Carrots Cashews Cauliflower (raw) Celery
Cheerio’s Cheese (Cheddar) Cheese Spread Chicken Soup
Cream Cheese Croutons (plain) Dried Fruit (bananas, apricots, apples) Eggs (cooked)
Honey Liver (Freeze dried) Macaroni & Cheese (leftovers) Nectarines
Peanut Butter Oats (cooked) Vegemite Pasta (cooked)
Peaches Peanut Butter Potatoes (mashed, no skins) Pumpkin (cooked)
Ravioli Rice Rice Cakes Steak (scraps)
Tomatoes Tortellini Tuna Turkey (leftovers)
  Wheat Germ Yogurt (plain, low-fat, unsweetened, unflavoured)  

Kong Fillings

Personal Favourite

  • Smear some peanut butter on a slice of bread. Fold up the bread and cram it into the Kong. Freeze & serve.
  • Use your finger to line the inside of the Kong with something sticky (like peanut butter or honey) then toss medium-sized dog treats inside — the kind that barely fit inside the hole and are hard to get out.
    Try microwaving the peanut butter or cheese first – this makes it runny and easy to pour into the KONG and leaves very little to waste. Then layer with another food item. Then freeze. Microwaving the peanut butter and cheese fills every crack and crevice inside the Kong, acting as glue around the other ingredients making it much more challenging for your dog.
  • For the simplest Kong treat of all, just smear a little peanut butter or honey around the inside of the Kong. You’d be surprised how long your dog will work at this simple little treat.

Dog-Friendly Kong Recipes

These Kong stuffing recipes feature unique combinations of your dog’s own kibble, dog treats, and other pet-friendly foods.

Put some Kong Stuff ‘n product in the small hole first. Then toss in some dry dog food and/or small dog treats — broken in pieces.  Top with some canned dog food mixed with dry dog food and/or peanut butter smeared around the entire inside of the larger hole. Place a dog biscuit into the large opening, and leave about 1/3 of it sticking out. Freeze. (Or not)

Moisten your dog’s own food, and then spoon it into the Kong toy. Freeze.

Cram a small piece of dog biscuit (or freeze-dried liver) into the small hole of the Kong. Smear a little honey (or Kong Stuff ‘n product) around the inside. Fill it up with dry dog food. Then block the big hole with dog biscuits placed sideways inside.

Combine your dog’s favourite treat with some moistened dry dog food.

Tasty Kongs Recipes using ‘Human’ foods

The following Kong stuffing’s are made with one or more human food ingredients:

CHEESY ELVIS: Combine a ripe banana, 3 spoonfuls of peanut butter, and a slice of cheese. Mix until blended well. Fill the Kong and freeze.

MONSTER MASH: Instant mashed potatoes (without the salt) — or leftover mashed potatoes from dinner — mixed with crushed dog biscuits.

DOGGIE OMLET: Combine a scrambled egg, some beef, yogurt, cheese and mashed potatoes all together

FIBER CRUNCH: Combine bran cereal with some peanut butter.

KONGSICLE JERKY POPS: The equivalent of a Popsicle… Seal the small hole of the Kong toy with peanut butter. Fill to the rim with water and a pinch of bouillon (or just use chicken broth instead). Place a stick or two of beef jerky inside. Freeze. (This one gets messy in a hurry, so it’s recommended only for outdoor use.)

FRUIT KITTY NOODLES: Mix together some dried fruit, cooked pasta, banana and dry cat food.

BANANA YOGURT: Plain yogurt and mashed bananas. (You can also add a little peanut butter or other fruits.) Then freeze it.

PEANUT BUTTER GLUE: Fill Kong 1/3rd full of dog food. Pour in melted peanut butter (after it has cooled from microwaving). Add more dog food, followed by more melted peanut butter until the Kong toy is full. Freeze until solid.

ROCK-HARD KIBBLE: Combine some of your dog’s regular food with cream cheese, which acts as a cement, keeping everything inside.

STICKY BREAD: Smear peanut butter on a piece of bread. Fold it over and stuff inside the Kong. Mix together plain yogurt with some fruits or vegetables (carrots, celery) and pour inside. Freeze. The yogurt sticks to the bread holding everything together.

APPLE PIE: Squeeze a small piece of apple into the tiny hole. Fill the Kong with a small amount of plain yogurt. Add a few slices of mashed banana, more apple, yogurt, and banana. End with a slice of banana and chunk of peanut butter on the top.

CRUNCH ‘N MUNCH: Combine crumbled rice cakes and dried fruit with some cream cheese and plain croutons.

KIBBLE-SICLE: Put a glob of peanut butter into the Kong first. Then add some dry dog food. Pour in some chicken broth. Add some more peanut butter, followed by some more dry dog food. End with another glob of peanut butter at the very top. Freeze until solid.

OLD STANDBY: Soak some of your dog’s regular food in water (or chicken broth) for a brief time before placing it inside a Kong, then freeze.

FROZEN BONZ: Mix up some bananas, unsweetened applesauce, oatmeal, peanut butter, and plain yogurt. Freeze.

CHEEZY DELIGHT: Combine small chunks of cheese (or cheese spread) with some dry dog food and microwave until the cheese melts. Let it cool completely, and then pour into the Kong toy. Freeze thoroughly.

CARB DELIGHT: Combine some canned dog food with pasta noodles, rice, mashed potatoes, and some of your dog’s dry dog food. Freeze.

NUT CRUNCH: Take 2-3 dog biscuits and crunch them a bit into very tiny bite-sized pieces. Add a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter. Then add a couple spoonfuls of plain yogurt. Mix in bowl until soft, but not runny. Stuff inside Kong.

FRUITOPIA: Combine applesauce with chunks of fruit. Freeze.

PUPPY TRAIL: Fill the Kong with some cashews (unsalted) and freeze-dried liver bits. Add some dry dog food and/or dog crushed dog biscuits. Drop in a spoonful of peanut butter, followed by some dried fruit. Finally, top it off by using a piece of ravioli or tortellini to close the large opening.

RED ROVER: Smear the inside of the Kong toy with peanut butter. Put a tiny piece of apple into the small hole, and then drop some more apple pieces in next. Drop in a scoop of peanut butter (or cream cheese), then drop in some dog food or broken dog treats. Add another scoop of peanut butter (or cream cheese), then more apples. Plug the large opening with a final scoop of peanut butter (or cream cheese) and freeze.

FROZEN TUNA SALAD: Mix together well: 1 6oz can of light tuna, 2 T. plain yogurt, and 1/4 C. grated carrot. Spoon into KONG toy. Freeze.

ICEBERG KONG: Mix some dry and wet food together and stuff into enough Kong’s to hold your dog’s supper (use different sizes & strengths to make it fun). Put them into an ice cream bucket. Mix a few squirts of dog gravy (from the pet store) with enough water to cover the Kong’s. (If you really want to spoil your dog, toss in a small handful of dog treats!) Freeze the whole thing — usually takes overnight. These are great for dogs who don’t each much, especially during those hot summer months. When it is frozen, run it under hot water to loosen it from the bucket and serve — outside, because it’s messy.

Potentially toxic foods for dogs

  • Avocado
  • Fruit pips
  • Potato peelings and green looking potatoes
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Mouldy/spoiled foods
  • Alcohol
  • Yeast Dough
  • Coffee grounds, beans & tea (caffeine)
  • Hops (used in home brewing)
  • Tomato leaves & stems (green parts)
  • Broccoli (in large amounts)
  • Raisins and grapes
  • Cigarettes, Tabocco, Cigars
  • Cooked bones
  • Corn cobs
  • Chocolate
  • Onion and garlic
Getting ready to go to the dog park


The information in this handout is intended as a general guide only.

There are many things to think about before you take your dog to an off lead dog park. Here, Karin Larsen Bridge of Get S.M.A.R.T dogs explores many of these points.

Why visit an off lead dog park?

Four dogs playing with the same stickThere are many obvious reasons why thousands of dog owners visit dog parks every day.

Dog parks can provide:

  • Opportunities for dogs to socialise unrestricted with a variety of other dogs and people
  • an easy way for busy people to provide a degree of physical and mental stimulation for their dog
  • an easy way for owners with physical limitations to provide physical and mental stimulation for their dog
  • a safe space (hopefully) for off lead running
  • an outlet for natural dog behaviours such as running, chasing, playing and barking – with the result that the dog is less likely to engage in such nuisance behaviours at home. Quiet dogs ensure happy neighbours.
  • opportunities for people to socialise with other owners, sharing information and the enjoyment of watching their dogs run and play.

Why not visit an off lead park?Two dogs playing in the snowTwo dogs playing in the snow

Sadly, there have been incidences of dogs being injured or even killed in off lead areas. Less obviously there are also dogs whose behaviour deteriorates from unrestricted off lead play with other dogs. In some cases rough play is continually practiced and reinforced until the dog becomes the equivalent of a schoolyard bully.

In other cases, timid dogs have learned that attack is their only means of defense as chatting owners fail to notice their dog‟s distress. It can be hard to tell the difference between friendly, vigorous play and intimidation

Too much dog play at the expense of interactive play, recreation and training can lead to a dog that prefers canine company to yours. Dogs that get to go to an off lead park everyday may become so obsessed with the “pot of gold at the end  of the  rainbow‟ that they literally drag owners  there as though they were dead weights on the end of the lead.

Once at the park the dog learns he can ignore  commands and plays “can’t catch me‟ instead. In such cases  it may be better to restrict dog park visits and replace them with some long lead walks, interactive games or training sessions.

What to consider before going to an off lead park.

1. The personality and condition of your dog
Not all dogs are suitable for off lead running with other dogs. Some dogs that should be excluded are:

Aggressive dogs
This may seem obvious and most people with dogs that attack everyone and anyone have  the good sense  to stay  away. “Aggression‟ however is not a clearly defined term. Many dogs are friendly to most dogs just not to puppies, or LWFs (Little White Fluffies) or big black Labradors or males, or bitches or some other specific breed or type. Any dog that has left a puncture mark on any dog –ever– should not be allowed into an off lead area.

Easily aroused dogs whose play quickly escalates into assertive aggression.

Bully dogs who engage in one way play and persistently intimidate more submissive dogs.

Territorial dogs who consider the park to be part of THEIR territory. These dogs often charge at any new park arrival and – depending on the dog‟s sex and reaction – may or may not allow them to play.

Resource guarding dogs. Some dogs are  very “protective‟ of their toys, food bags or even their owners in general. Fights have been known to break out when one dog retrieves another’s ball.

Bitches in oestrus. As well as putting a bitch at risk of pregnancy, the scent of a bitch in season is likely to change the interactions of every canine visitor to the park to some degree increasing urination, defecation, arousal, attention and conflict.

Puppies, prior to final vaccinations.

Dogs with any signs of infectious disease such as Kennel Cough.

Any dog who does not seem to WANT to be there. Dog parks are not compulsory and there are many dogs that simply outgrow the desire to play with strange dogs after adolescence or even a few who simply prefer the company of humans.

While all dogs should be carefully supervised to ensure safe and happy interactions special attention should be given to:

Un-desexed male dogs. Statistically they are more likely to engage in dog/dog aggression particularly with other entire male dogs.

Adolescent dogs under one year of age. Good and bad experiences at this time are likely to have  a big impact on your dog’s future behaviour. You want your young dog to learn good play habits and grow in confidence, not become fearful or alternately learn to intimidate.

Small dogs. Small dogs are particularly vulnerable to injury in off lead areas because their small bones are more easily injured by friendly but boisterous, heavier dogs and because some dogs that are generally well socialised see small dogs as prey animals (e.g. rats or rabbits especially when they run) rather than other dogs. Usually introducing the dogs slowly and initially on lead will convince the larger dog that the small dog is indeed a fellow canine.

Shy, timid or defensive dogs must not learn that aggression is the only way to move other dogs away and feel  “safe‟. If your dog feels  threatened move him away, leave the park or even pick him up. (See Keeping Your Dog Safe below).

Older dogs who may be suffering from arthritis, deafness, poor vision or other age related diseases should be protected from the rough play of younger dogs.

2. Your attitude and ability to ‘read’ dog play
Not all owners are suitable for off lead parks either! Consider this checklist:

Are you fearful or anxious about what might happen to your dog? If you are, your fears will transfer to your dog. It may be better to introduce your dog to others in a more controlled way, in a friend’s  backyard with chosen  playmates rather than risk high anxiety levels at a park filled with unknown dogs.

Are you able  to read  “Dog Play‟? When does play spill over from happy rough and tumble to inappropriate intimidation? Some people create problems by mistaking genuine play for aggression and reprimanding their dog unnecessarily. Others fail to recognise when play becomes too rough and should be interrupted.

Learning to interpret dog play is an important function of a good puppy class where owners as well as puppies are able to learn about appropriate play.

Are you able to call your dog? A fence may keep your dog from running on the road, but is not a substitute for effective training. There will be many times when you will need to call your dog to you for his safety and/or the safety of other dogs and people.

Are you willing to accept responsibility for the safety of your dog and the safety of others rather than let  the dogs “work it out”?

Are you willing to supervise your dog at all times? Dog parks are not babysitting areas for dogs. Reading the paper on the park bench or worse still dropping your dog off while you go shopping is unacceptable.

Do you want your dog to play with other dogs? Not everyone does. Your dog can learn to be polite and friendly to other dogs without being allowed off lead play.

Many classes now teach a “say hello  and let‟s go exercise”. This exercise involves teaching on-lead  dogs to greet others with a quick sniff „hello‟ and move on. The idea is that other dogs are no big deal – not scary and yet not the ultimate ecstasy. While off lead play with other dogs provides easy mental and physical stimulation for many dogs, if you are willing to provide it in other ways such as long walks, runs or regular training – there is nothing wrong with that.

Planning Tips
Ok, you’ve decided you and your dog are  suitable candidates for a dog park. Your dog loves to play and is eager for a romp. You have a basic understanding of dog body language and can cope with watching dogs play, chase and gently chew at one another. You’re prepared to keep  an eye on your dog and to interrupt when and if play gets out of hand – whether your dog is the victim or the instigator and have the ability to call him to you.

Before you go
Choose a suitable dog park for YOUR dog

  • Does your dog primarily want to play with other dogs or to run free and explore? For dogs who are less interested in play, a larger park with fewer dogs at a low usage time is the best answer. For a young dog searching for a playmate try a busy park on a weekend. What times are busiest or quietest at your local the park?
  • Does your dog have a group of friends who tend to come at the same time each  day? Is there a time when  a “wilder‟ crowd runs that may intimidate your dog?Choosing wisely can sometimes make all the difference between an enjoyable outing and an upsetting incident.
  • Ensure your dog is wearing a collar with name, phone number and address just in case he somehow gets lost.
  • Ensure your dog is not wearing a choke chain or anything else that could get caught on another dog, shrub or piece of equipment.
  • Take a container of fresh water and plenty of poo bags.

Keeping your dog safe
When you arrive, take a quick mental note of the dogs already in the park. All dogs have different play styles. For example, Labradors tend to approach dogs with gusto and be very accepting of rough play. A typical herding dog by comparison is very conscious of personal space (bred to control and move stock by constantly adjusting distance) and may object to an over the top greeting. Be aware of these different play styles and how they may relate to your dog.

Arrival at the park and first introductions are a times of high excitement for your dog and others. Avoid entering the park near a large group of dogs as your dog will be the “outsider‟ – better to introduce your dog in a more spacious area.

Ask your dog to sit before releasing him to play. Free play is such a great reward – why give it away for nothing. During your visit, regularly call your dog to you and reward him for “checking-in‟ with a small treat and permission to “go play‟ again.

Be aware of new dogs entering the park and watch for any signs of intense attention or interest toward your dog. Don’t allow your dog to bowl over new arrivals. Some dogs take over friendly greetings as an assault and may retaliate.

Be aware and avoid any dogs that appear to be particularly obsessed with their toys or constantly circling their owners. They may be prepared to fight for them.

Pick up your small dog if necessary, to keep him safe however do so in a nonchalant way with no obvious signs of emotion. Do NOT be tempted to mollycoddle your dog nor to act aggressively to the other dogs present. This could inadvertently teach your dog to be fearful and/or aggressive. An unemotional pick up until the risk has passed is simply a way of preventing a bad experience and helps to keep your dog safe and confident.

Dog Parks are NOT Compulsory
For some owners attending the local dog park provides so much pleasure that it is a high priority when choosing and training a dog. For others it is a task they dread rather than desire. It is possible to have a happy, well adjusted dog without allowing it to run free with other dogs. While some dogs do crave and benefit greatly from free play, there may be an equal number who are either unsuitable or who have a limited desire to do so.

Dogs who are overly aroused by play, have poor bite inhibition, are very timid, who find adolescent dogs annoying rather than fun or who simply prefer the company of people may not want to go to a busy off lead park.

Walking a bush track or even hitting the pavement around the neighbourhood might be a much happier alternative for these and other dogs. Ultimately the thing that matters most is not where you go but the time you spend together.

Reading Dog Play
Dogs communicate primarily through body language and scent. Though we will never be fluent in “dog talk‟ here are  a few important points to look for:

Good Play

  • Starts with polite greetings – dogs stand side-to–side, nose to tail.
  • Soft fluid movements such as swishy tails, soft backs and bent elbows
  • Play bows – the doggy equivalent of “do you want to dance/play?‟ The Play bow suggests everything that follows is all in good fun.
  • Role reversals – both dogs take turns being on “top‟ and “being on the bottom‟ and being  the “chaser‟ and the “chased‟.
  • Both dogs appear to be having fun, soft “smiling‟ mouths when play interrupts.
  • After a short break are both dogs keen  to play again or is one saying “whew  thank goodness that’s over?” Some dogs will tire of play much  quicker than others. Like kids quit before they get cranky.

Dogs getting in to a fight at the dog parkPoor Play – intervention required 

  • Starts with intimidating greetings – one dog trying to lean their head over the other dogs shoulders (particularly if male to male).
  • Stiff rigid, slower movements, hard  stares,
  • Attempts to push one dog to the ground and keep it there
  • No role reversal – one dog always on the bottom, always being chased.
  • One dog far more boisterous/active than the other.
  • What is the reaction of the second dog – is it fearful? Signs of fear include a tail tucked tightly, hiding behind legs, perhaps even snapping or teeth baring with weight shifted back away from the other dog.

If intervention is required stay cool and calm, simply separate the dogs, add more distance and give them time to settle.

Crate training your dog


The information in this handout is intended as a general guide

Why do we Crate Train a Dog?
Crate training helps teach your dog to have bladder and bowel control. Instead of going whenever she feels like it, she learns to hold it and go at convenient scheduled times. Dogs are clean animals and do not like to toilet where they sleep.

Short term confinement to a crate is intended to inhibit your dog from eliminating when confined, so that she will want to eliminate when released from confinement and taken to an appropriate area.

How do we Crate Train?

The first thing we need to do is make the crate a safe, comfortable place for the dog – where lots of praise and good things happen.

We must ensure that there is enrichment in the crate for the dog, such as food filled Kong toys etc.

The crate needs to be small enough that the dog cannot sleep at one end and toilet at the other with a huge distance in between.

If we take the dog outside to eliminate and she doesn’t go, we then confine her to her crate. After 30 minutes or so, we then take her out to the place where we want her to toilet and wait with her until she goes. When she goes, we praise and reward her with treats. After she has eliminated, she can have free, but supervised, run of your house.

If she does not eliminate within the allotted time period, simply return her to her crate. When she does toilet, then immediately reward her with praise, food treats, affection and play.

For young pups, after 45 minutes to an hour, take her to her toilet area again. Never give your dog free run of your home unless you know without a doubt that her bowels and bladder are empty.

Your dog should only be confined to a crate when you are at home. Except at night, give your dog an opportunity to relieve herself every hour. Each time you let her out, put her on leash and immediately take her outside. Once outside, give her about three to five minutes to produce.

Crate training should not be abused; otherwise the problem will get drastically worse. The crate is not intended as a place to lock up the dog and forget her for extended periods of time. If your dog soils her crate because you left her there too long, the house training process will be set back several weeks, if not months.

If you ever find an accident in the house, just clean it up. Do not punish your dog. All this means is that you have given her unsupervised access to your house too soon. If accidents occur, it is best to go back to the crate training. You need to more accurately predict when your dog needs to eliminate and she needs more time to develop bladder and bowel control.

Do you have a stray or escaping dog?

Make your backyard fund and enriching for your dog


This information is a guide only

Environmental enrichment

It is interesting that many people will comment on an animal pacing in a zoo exhibit and think it must be bored. Those same people probably do not think that their family dog may have even less stimulation in their backyard. They don’t see that the animal pacing in a zoo may be doing so for the same reasons their family dog destroys items, digs holes and barks at anything and everything. Zoos have come a long way in terms of making sure their animals have appropriate stimulation and housing so they are less stressed and lead comfortable lives.

We need to make sure that our family pets have the same consideration when it comes to their environment.

With our busy lifestyles, many dogs can be left to their own devices for hours each day. This isolation can lead to social and behavioural problems in our dogs. We have to provide both physical comfort and mental stimulation for dogs to be happy and healthy.

Dogs are social animals and need to have quality interaction with their human family every day. This can include training, going for a walk, play, grooming and massage or just sitting and patting the dog.

For those times when we can’t be with the dog we need to make sure he has an interesting environment to amuse him in our absence. Normal healthy dogs sleep for a good part of the day so it is important that they have appropriate places to rest where they are not exposed to excessive heat, cold or weather conditions. They need food and plenty of fresh water.

For those times when they are not sleeping, eating or drinking we need to supply some ways to occupy their time and attention.

Before using any of the suggestions in this handout or any other enrichment source, check to make sure it is appropriate for the type, size and age of your dog. First and foremost you must be sure that the toys and activities that you give your dog will not harm him in any way.

Toys and more toys!dog playing with toys

There are many great toys on the market that are designed to keep dogs occupied.
Individual dogs will enjoy different toys. Just like children, dogs get tired of the same toys. Make sure you rotate the toys by gathering up at the end of the day, washing them and putting new toys out the next day. Any broken toys should be thrown away and new ones bought to replace them. Make sure you have the right size toy for your dog, too small toys can be swallowed and cause choking or injury to the dog. Better quality toys last longer and so are cheaper in the long run.

Take your dog for a ride.

Take your dog with you on those short trips to shops or to drop the kids at school, this way he gets to see the world outside his backyard.

Make sure he is secured with a proper dog car harness.

DO NOT leave him in the car even for a few minutes in the hot weather – dogs die in hot cars very quickly.

If your dog rides in the back of your ute or truck make sure he is properly secured with a flat collar (not a check chain) so he can not jump or fall out of the back. REMEMBER on hot days your dog is fully exposed to the sun in the back of your truck and he is getting additional heat from the reflection of the metal body of your vehicle. Don’t assume because he has the wind in his face that he is not overheating. Make sure he has plenty of drinks or better still have a cover built for him.


Great for those hot summer days!

You can freeze any number of things in an ice cream container of water. You can put in pieces of fruit (if your dog enjoys fruit) or suitable food scraps, toys like Kongs, cotton rope hanging out, or you can flavour the ice with gravy.

You can hang it by the rope or just leave it for the dog to work on as it melts.

Room with a view

If your dog doesn’t get over excited by outside stimulation, you can provide peep holes in the fence for him to view the outside world, or build a platform so he can see outside his yard.

Wading Pooldog swimming in wading pool

Children’s wading pools are a great way for dogs to cool off in warm weather or they can provide digging pits when filled with sand.

Make sure the dog can get in and out of the pool. You can float toys or pieces of vegetable like carrot in the pool as an added attraction. Make sure the pool and water is kept clean and free of debris. If the pool is used for a digging pit you can bury items in the sand to keep the dog busy.


Kongs are wonderful toys that are readily available at the shelter or pet stores. The Kong is stuffed with food and left for the dog to work on during the day. Make sure you have the right size for your dog.

REMEMBER that food toys can be a problem in households that have more than one dog. Make sure you supervise the first time you use food toys.

Check out the website for recipes and ideas.

Buster cube/ Treat ball

Buster cubes are another type of food activity toy. You can place dry food in the opening then the dog has to roll it around to get the food out. Some dogs need to

learn how to get the food out so you may have to play with the dog and the cube until he gets the idea. You can also smear peanut butter or cheese near the opening to encourage him to look for the food – and of course a big cheer squad for when he succeeds!

Recycled plastic bottles

Be sure to remove the bottle top and the plastic ring for your dog’s safety!

Punch some holes in the sides, big enough for dry food to fall out. Fill the bottle with dry food for hours of fun.

Swinging tyre

Hanging an old tyre in a tree can be a good way to entertain a boisterous dog.

Place toys or treats in the tyre so the dog is interested and gets a reward for playing with the tire.

Make sure the anchor point is strong enough so the dog can not pull it down on himself or get caught up and injured. has a great hanging “Home Alone Toy” check it out!

Treasure hunt

Instead of giving the dog his dry food in a bowl, go out in the yard before you leave home and scatter the food over the grass. That should keep him busy for a while. If he is used to having a Kong try hiding that for him to find.

Recycled Marrow bones

Get your butcher to cut the ends off the large marrow bones. When the dog has finished getting all the marrow out you can recycle it! Wash the bone then smear peanut butter, cream cheese or mince in the open end, fill the hollow centre with dry food and seal the other end with the peanut butter etc. This will keep him occupied for quite some time.

Dog walker

See if there is a dog walker in your local area and book your dog in for a walk. Make sure you check the walker’s references and that your dog is comfortable with them before you decide to use the service.

dog playing with other dogsDoggy mates

If you have friends who have dogs that are compatible with your dog, you might like to take turn about and have them visit.


Doggy door

Dogs that have access to the inside of the house often spend much of their day inside feeling safe and snoozing.

Some more enrichment ideas:

Remember: make sure the enrichment is suitable for your dog’s size, age and breed!

Environmental enrichment:

  • Old balls – football or soccer balls
  • Rope toys
  • Cat food
  • Frisbee
  • Tunnel
  • Hanging toys
  • TV or Radio on timer
  • Grass and herb garden
  • Old clothes that small like mum and dad
  • Barrels
  • Boomer Ball
  • Flying fox on timer
  • Tennis ball “spewer”
  • Taped animal sounds
  • Timed food dispensers
  • Sprinklers on timers for hot days

Behavioural enrichment:

  • Training sessions – can be tricks
  • Dog sport – agility, tracking, earth hunting, fly ball
  • Doggy Day Care
  • Doggy Visitors
  • Companion dog
My dog digs too much


This information is intended as a general guide only

Does your dog do a great impression of a D9 dozer? Does he think he knows how to landscape better than the professionals? If this is your dog then read on.

Why do dogs dig?
Digging is natural dog behaviourThere are many reasons why dogs may dig, these may include:

  • Some simply enjoy digging as a normal activity
  • To bury items or uncover something they think is buried.
  • They may be digging to find a cool spot to rest, particularly on hot days in a barren backyard.
  • They may be anxious or attempting to escape.
  • Bitches may be displaying “nesting’ rituals
  • Marking their territory

It will help if you can identify the reasons your dog is digging – this will assist in managing the behaviour. Observe your dog to see when and where it is digging. You may be able to see immediately why the dog is digging – e.g. he only digs holes under the shady tree in the corner of the garden.

If you are not sure why the dog is digging perhaps you could try some of the suggestions in the handout and see if the behaviour improves.

“I dig because I enjoy it!”

In these dogs it is hard to reduce the behaviour because they get so much joy from the game. Young dogs sometimes dig to entertain themselves and to explore their environment.

You can try to give them a place to dig, like a sand box and encourage them to use this area by half burying toys in the area. Giving your dog or puppy good quality toys can also distract them from digging.

A word about toys
Just like children dogs do get tired of the same old toys. Keep a cache of toys in a place where the dog can’t help herself. Rotate the toys that the dog has access to. Change the toys regularly and wash and store the used ones in the toy cupboard to be utilized later.

Burying behaviour – “I might need this bone later!”Dog burying his toy

The dogs’ ancestors buried food and bones if there was a surplus. They could then come back to them if food got scare. Even though you feed your dog enough food his instincts may prompt him to bury some bones for later. If there is more than one dog in the family a dog may not bury his bones as the other dogs may find it.

Only give your dog one bone at a time. If given multiple bones they are more likely to bury some. It is better to give bones that are easily consumed at one sitting. Larger bones may be “stored” to enjoy later if not completely eaten.

Uncovering items – “What is that sound or smell?”

A dog’s sense of smell and hearing is much more sensitive than humans. Dogs can hear ultrasonic sounds made by underground insects or mice and detect odours through many layers of soil.

The dog may be digging to locate the source of the interesting sound or smell. These dogs might like to do a more appropriate activity like tracking or retrieving.

Squeaky toys may help in masking interesting sounds or you could keep a radio playing in areas where the dog shows more interest.

Temperature regulation – “I need a cool/warm spot to rest!”

If your dog digs only on cold days and curls up in a tight ball in the hole he has dug, he probably needs more protection from the cold weather. Wild dogs have thick coats to keep them warm, many modern dog breeds do thinner single coats and feel the cold.

If your dog lies stretched out on newly exposed soil, probably under a shady tree, then he is trying to find relief from the heat.

In both cases the dog needs to be provided with adequate, appropriate shelter and clean bedding in a variety of places so they can be comfortable in a variety of weather conditions.

Dogs digging togetherIf you live in a warmer climate you can also provide a small wading pool for the dog,
access to cool shaded areas. You can also give the

dog plain or flavoured ice cubes for him to lick on hot days. You can also stuff a Kong and put it in the freezer overnight to give the dog the next day.


 A word about shelter
An appropriate size dog kennel is fine for yard shelter, however, remember that your dog is a social animal who likes to be near his pack. If you put the kennel in the furthest corner of the yard from the house or in the middle of a barren backyard exposed to the elements, your dog will probably not use it! It needs to be near the house, on the verandah is best, where he can feel he is part of the family group. Putting your kennel near the house also means you are more likely to keep it clean and free of vermin.

Anxiety – “Yikes! Was that thunder I heard?”Dog digging a hole

Many dogs are badly frightened by thunderstorms and/or fireworks and other loud
noises. It is very important that if you are going to be away from home when a thunderstorm or noisy event is to occur, that your dog is contained in a safe place. The garage or laundry are both safe places, as long as you make sure there are no toxic materials the dogs can eat. Give your dog a box or something that he can hide in and leave a radio playing. If the dog suffers from separation anxiety or if the noise phobias are severe you will need to consult a qualified veterinarian behaviour specialist.

Dog digging under a fenceEscape behaviour – “I have nothing to do; I think I’ll go and visit Fifi down the street”

Have a good look at your yard and your interaction with your dog – be honest.

Are there plenty of opportunities for your dog to occupy himself? Does he have places to get away from the heat or cold? Perhaps the sights, sounds and smells he detects outside his environment are more interesting than his boring barren backyard.

If you have a male or female dog that is not desexed they may try to escape to find a mate. The answer to this problem is easy … Desex your dog!

Nesting behaviour – “I need to make a nice place to lie or have my puppies”

Dog digging in a backyardNesting behaviour is normal for bitches who are pregnant or experiencing a false pregnancy.

The dog’s ancestors dug dens to keep their puppies warm and safe. This nesting behaviour is instinctive in domestic bitches.

If your bitch is pregnant then you should have already provided her with a suitable whelping box in a place where she feels safe and comfortable. The box should have adequate material for her to express her need to make a nest.

For bitches that are going through a false pregnancy, it is best not to make a fuss. Keep her occupied with other activities and seek professional veterinarian advice if the condition persists. If you do not intend to breed with your bitch get her desexed once the behaviour has stopped.

Territorial marking – “Just want to let you know that this is my place!”

Dogs will sometimes scratch up the earth with their rear legs. This usually occurs around an area where they have urinated or defecated. The intensity of the behaviour may vary depending on the dog’s age, gender and confidence.

The scratches mark or highlight a particular spot with scent and visual signs to let other dogs know that a dog has been there. This is not usually a big problem as the dog does not actually dig a hole. This behaviour is more common in undesexed males and occasionally females.

A word about gardening

Freshly tilled soil is very interesting to dogs and if you add your scent to the scene then it makes it even more interesting. When digging up garden beds for new plants, your dog is very likely to want to see what you have buried. It is best if you can keep the dog away from the new plantings for a while as he may be encouraged to undo all your good work!

Why punishment is rarely effective in stopping dogs digging
Punishment is generally ineffective as it is almost impossible to catch the dog every time he begins to dig. Punishing the dog after he has dug the hole is ineffective as the

dog does not associate the punishment with the digging behaviour.

He will see you as a very unpleasant person because every time you go into the backyard, you yell at him. This just creates anxiety in the dog and may lead to other unwanted behaviours.

Even if the dog is “caught in the act” your negative attention may be rewarding, especially if this is the only attention he gets from you. He may also realize that you only punish him when you are present so he will keep digging when you are absent.

In all things, prevention is better than trying to fix a problem once it has started. Look at your dog’s environment and your interactions with him and see if you can improve you and your dog’s life.

My dog has separation anxiety


This information is a guide only

Puppy looking for his owner out the windowMost dogs would prefer to have their owners around all day but adapt well to most situations if they receive sufficient exercise, playtime and attention. However, some dogs do not cope at all and this can be a real problem.

Separation anxiety is a behavioural problem that occurs in dogs that become highly attached to an owner or another dog in the family, and become extremely distressed in their absence.

What are the signs of separation anxiety?

The signs include destructiveness, barking, urinating or defecating inside, escaping, or sometimes subdued inactivity. Often signs of fear or anxiety start as the owner prepares to leave the house, jangling keys and turning off lights. Affected dogs start panting, trembling, and following the owner around. Owners report that dogs don’t eat food left out for them in the morning, but will eat at night after the owner’s return. They cry and whine while the owners are out.

Why would my dog have separation anxiety?

There are several reason for these dogs to develop separation anxiety, and it depends on breed, lifestyle (some re-homed dogs may have undergone previous traumatic separations), age (older dogs), and a change in house or routine which causes stress (including children leaving home, or separation of partners). Some re- homed dogs bond very strongly with new owners who show them love and affection.

How is separation anxiety diagnosed?

Other canine behaviour problems have similar signs and must be differentiated from separation anxiety. House-soiling may be related to medical conditions and these must be ruled out. Other reasons for house-soiling are marking, inadequate house training, and prolonged time periods without access to proper elimination sites.

Barking may be part of territorial displays. Young dogs with limited outlets for play may be destructive and chew. Dogs that attempt to escape may simply be bored and are inadequately contained, or they may suffer from a backyard phobia or panic disorder. Noise phobias to such things as thunderstorms may initiate destructive behaviour.

A detailed behavioural history, physical examination, and a good description of the signs and when they occur are necessary to reach a diagnosis of separation anxiety.

How do you treat separation anxiety?

Treatment of separation anxiety often involves the use of anti-anxiety medication. Used correctly, medication may significantly decrease the time taken to train the dog to be less anxious when left alone. Initial prevention of the problem could involve the use of dog- sitters, taking the dog to a friend or neighbour who is at home during the day, or boarding it. Punishment is ineffective and may well increase anxiety.

It may be possible to allow your dog access to the house in your absence with an electronic dog-door. If it must stay outside, provide it with a secure enclosed area containing some old clothes that smell of the owner.

If your dog can be distracted from your departure by food or toys, anxiety may not develop. Try interactive toys that hide food, such as Kong toys, or ones that are designed to require manipulation and work to obtain the food reward.

Training your dog to get used to your absence.

Desensitisation to your pre-departure routine is part of the retraining procedure. It is very important to move slowly through the steps listed below. Only progress to the next step when you have mastered the previous one with a calm dog. Make sure you reward the calm behaviour and remain relaxed yourself when you return.

  • Pick up the keys and walk to the door, then return. Reward the dog if he is calm. Repeat many times.
  • Put on then take off your coat (or whatever other thing you always do before you go out). Reward the dog if he is calm. Repeat many times.
  • Open then shut the door. If your dog remains relaxed, reward him. Repeat many times. When successful with these practices, move on to actually (pretending to) leave.
  • Getting your dog used to your absence is a lengthy procedure that takes a lot of time and effort on the part of the owner and is best done with collaboration with your vet or an animal behavioural specialist.
  • The key is lots of practice and getting the dog used to short,  happyperiods alone.
  • Go through your normal leaving routine, shoes, keys etc. Give your dog something GREAT to chew on and leave for 1 minute. Come back calmly, and ignore the dog. After a few minutes you can  quietly pat or praise if the dog is behaving. Then pretend to leave for 2 minutes. Leave the dog with something yummy that takes a while to chew. Come back calmly and ignore the dog. After a few minutes, you can quietly pat or praise if the dog is behaving.
  • Repeat pretending to leave for 1 minute until the dog can remain happily alone. Then pretend to leave for 2 minutes. Leave the dog with something yummy that takes a while to chew. Come back calmly and ignore the dog. After a few minutes, you can quietly pat or praise if the dog is behaving.

The aim of this exercise is to desensitise the dog to the cues of your departure, and to teach the dog that nice things happen while you are gone. You should aim to increase the times in the practices very gradually. Don’t increase the time while the dog is still fretting.  

Dog enjoying his toy

How do I stop my dog being so clingy?

It is also important to try to reduce the dog’s dependence on the owner. Do not give exuberant greetings, and sharpen up obedience skills to gain better control over your dog. Don’t reward attention-seeking behaviour. Ignore your dog if he follows you around or demands attention; reward him when he sits or lies quietly. Provide him with a quiet, secure rest area, and teach him to use it. Provide him with more stimulation in your absence.

Remember, in extreme cases, it may be necessary to discuss medication with your vet. Anxiety relieving medications can help get the dog calm enough for the behavioural practices to have an effect.

My dog dashes out of the door or gate


This information is a guide only

Does your dog watch for the slightest opportunity to squeeze through the tiniest gap, rush out the door or gate and the ground running? It’s time to start Boundary Training and get a little door control!

Teaching doorway manners

Why do dogs want to dash out the door?Dog waiting at the door

The biggest reason is boredom and lack of exercise. His own house and yard are boring and his need for mental and physical stimulation is strong. He needs to stretch his legs and go investigating new smells. Take him for more walks, on your terms! Sometimes it’s simply the challenge of beating the system. Implement a little leadership and work to earn.

It’s Fun!

Bursting through with your people hot on your heels, taking them on a fabulous adventure, far and fast; dodging, dashing, being faster and more agile, outsmarting the hollering humans at every turn – It’s worth chancing a scolding at the end!

He’s so hard to catch!

Even when he’s seen enough and is ready to come home, he still comes just close enough and then dashes off again. Why? Because he’s learned that being caught is sure to be punished.

Getting grabbed and dragged and scolded is certainly something to be avoided for as long as possible

NEVER Punish the dog for coming when he’s called!

The infraction happened when he rushed the door. Now that he is out and he’s trusted you enough to allow you to take hold of his collar to take him back home, PRAISE HIM! If you punish him now, it’s not only too late, but it will make catching him next time even more difficult.

Put on a happy face and say your mean things in a happy tone of voice, all the way home. You can’t punish him for door dashing blocks away and many minutes after he crossed the threshold. Consequences are only effective within seconds of the infraction. The only association he will make is the behaviour he performed right before the punishment – allowing himself to be caught.

It’s time for PRO-ACTIVE training!Dog sitting at the door

Teach door manners. The following should become cues to your dog to GET BACKSIT and WAIT:

  • The sound of the doorbell
  • Reaching for the door knob or gate latch
  • Turning the knob
  • The door or gate opening

Create a paired association and a strong chained behaviour sequence:

Spend plenty of time at each step until the dog is proficient at that level before moving on. Implement 100% management from here on out – there should be no chances to practice door dashing!

1. Teach “get back”
shuffle into the dog’s space so he backs up a step, mark with a “yes” or “click” as the dog moves away, deliver reward by tossing BEHIND the dog – cue “sit” – mark and reward the sit – release (give permission to move).

2.  Repeat.
This time cue “get back” – shuffle til dog is the distance from the door you are aiming for – cue “sit” – mark the sit with a “yes” or “click” as his rear touches the floor > release “ok” and toss the reward BEHIND* the dog.

3. Jackpot if dog moves back before you shuffle or sits before you ask. The long term goal is for the dog to eventually “get back” and sit automatically as you approach the door, without being told. You may choose to provide a target to “go to your place” and sit on – like a bed or rug.

Add “wait” in varying lengths between the sit and the release.

*NOTE: Tossing the reward behind the dog strengthens the dogs desire to stay away from the door. The dog will gravitate to the point of food delivery. You might also use a ball or favourite toy.

Pair the new behaviour with the door as the cue:

Approach door – “get back” – cue “sit” – mark and reward the sit – wait – release.

1. Approach door, touch knob – “get back” – cue “sit” – mark and reward the sit – wait – release.

2. Approach door, turn knob – “get back” – cue “sit” – mark and reward the sit – wait – release.

3. Approach door, open door a crack (be ready to slam it quick should dog start to bolt- put dog on long-line for insurance at this step) “get back” – toss reward behind dog if necessary at first – cue “sit” – mark and reward the sit – close door – wait – release.

4. Spend time at this level opening the door wider and wider until he can remain seated while you open it all the way.

5. Add a greeting “Hi! Nice to see you!” This is a difficult step – don’t move ahead until you can greet imaginary guests with gusto without him breaking before you release him.

6. Next, touch the screen door latch, turning the screen door latch, as above until he will stay while you open the screen door. [Put your dog on a long line attached to something heavy during this stage. You can’t take any chances of an accidental escape.]

7. Ring doorbell – “get back” – toss reward behind dog if necessary – cue “sit” – mark and reward the sit – close door – wait – release.

Dog at the door8. Increase length of “wait” following the sit. Reward intermittently for longer waits holding the sit position. Over time you want to teach the dog to be able to wait in the presence of distractions, until the dog can hold position when you take mail or pizza, or people enter, etc. This level will take a long time and lots and lots of practice. If you can’t provide the practice opportunities, you can’t expect this level of training finesse!

9. Add distractions and difficulty gradually. Start with well known family member standing on other side of screen door within view. Family member rings bell, you repeat “get back” sequence til fluent. Then add door opening, person coming in or delivering imaginary pizza.

10. Long term distractions: exciting friends, unknown visitors, pizza guy, mailman, UPS deliveries (remember that the rumble of the truck and big knock are also stressors and a huge leap in difficulty). You will need to train for doors held open wide enough for accepting big boxes, people who fling the door open before you are ready, etc.

Management / “life insurance” plans:

  • Keep a leash by the door and attach it before you answer the door for safety’s sake.
  • Put a note on the door that says, “Do you know where the dog is?”
  • For confirmed door dashers, leave a trailing long line on until you are certain that the dog’s training is reliable.
  • When guests are expected, tether the long line to something heavy so the dog runs out of line at the threshold.
  • Keep the screen door locked so no one can open it from the outside before you know of the dog’s whereabouts (this is especially important for the silent ones who lie in wait for the chance to bolt and for families with children).

Is your dog aggressive with guests?

If your dog is aggressive to guests, teach him to “go to your room” at the sound of the doorbell. Choose a room that is handy with a door that can be closed. Repeat the above pattern of training until the dog hears the doorbell and automatically runs to his room to await his reward. Toss the reward into the room and close the door. Now you can admit your guests or pay for that pizza without worry.

Dog behaviour and training issues?

My dog barks too much


This information is intended as a general guide only

People and dogs are social creatures, and both people and dogs use verbal sounds (language) to communicate. Dogs bark to communicate different things in the same way that people do.

Barking is a natural behaviour for dogs, with certain breeds and individuals being more inclined to bark than others. Most wild dogs and wolves do not bark excessively as this would alert their prey to their position.

Interestingly it is humans that have accentuated barking in dogs through selective breeding. Humans wanted dogs to alert them to intruders and to bark to move stock or scare out game. So you see humans are actually responsible for the barking!

Why do dogs bark?

Dogs bark for many reasons, just as people speak for many reasons. It could be to communicate to another dog or person, as a display of excitement, warn of an intruder, as a request for something, to gain attention or because he is bored.

You must remember that barking is a “self rewarding” behaviour – the dog feels better when he barks as it either reduces stress and tension or it gets us or another animal’s to pay attention.

Understanding why your dog barks and why he finds it rewarding will help in finding solutions. Some of the common reasons dogs bark:

  • Territorial/protection
  • Boredom
  • Attention seeking
  • Anxiety/fear
  • Playtime enthusiasm


If your dog barks when other people or animals come close to the boundaries of your property or barks when visitors arrive, then he is barking to tell others that this is his place and that he will protect it.

Dogs are social creatures and they see their family (both people and other animals) as part of their social group. Part of the responsibility of being a group member is to alert and protect the other members to potential intruders. This protective trait is one of the main reasons people own dogs.

The dog also sees the family home property as being part of the group’s territory, and will therefore feel he should defend it.

Barking is a way of warning intruders they are trespassing on the group’s territory and to alert other members of the group of an intruder.

Most other animals and people who don’t belong will leave the territory when a dog barks at them. This is very rewarding for the barking dog as he has made the intruder retreat and has reduced the built up tension he felt when he detected the intruder.

This is the reason why dogs continue to chase and bark at the postman every day. In the dog’s mind the intruder (postman) came near the dog’s territory and when he barked the postman “ran away”! Job done, he repelled the noisy interloper.

You must be a good leader of the social group so that the dog does not feel he has the sole responsibility of protecting the group. This means you must be fair, consistent, a good provider and not put any member of the group in danger.

Yelling at the dog is only going to encourage him to bark more, he thinks you are adding your voice to deter the intruder!

How to train the dog to stop barking:

You need to provide something that makes it more rewarding for the dog to stop barking, like a toy or treat.

You need to acknowledge that he has done his job, and then tell him it is okay to stop. To do this you need to go right to where the dog is barking, tell him “good boy to tell me someone was there” then show him the treat or toy to get his attention.

Say, “okay” or “enough” or “quiet”, when he stops barking, reward him with the toy or food.

Encourage him to come with you back to the house and reward him for coming with you. If you do this consistently you will eventually be able to call the dog back from where ever he is barking.

This same training can be used when visitors arrive. You can ask the dog to “sit” quietly until the visitors have come inside the area. You have to remember that “visitors” are an exciting situation for the dog so you must make sure you reward him well for containing his excitement.

Remember, barking is “self rewarding” so you must continue to reward the dog for responding to the “stop barking” word.

If your dog is barking at people or dogs walking past your yard, you might consider restricting the dog’s access to these areas when you are not there to call him away. A barrier where he can’t see the passing distractions is best.

If the dog ignores people walking past reward him even if you haven’t asked him to do anything. You will be rewarding him for being quiet when people are going past, which is the behaviour you want.

Your dog can suffer from boredom if his environment is lacking stimulation. Even a big back yard can just be a very barren prison if the dog spends all day every day in it.

If your dog is an “urban prisoner” he can become quite stressed. He can’t read a book, flick on the television, go visit a friend or go for walk to relieve his stress as people can.

Barking can be an expression of the dog’s dissatisfaction and a relief for his pent-up energy.

Management ideas for boredom:

  • Refer to the “Fun Backyards” section for enrichment ideas.
  • Do some daily positive training with your dog. This can be simple manners or trick training. It doesn’t have to be for long periods, lots of small sessions are best, as like children, dogs don’t have a long attention span. This will stimulate the dog both physically and mentally.
  • Take the dog for a walk so he can experience new sights and smells. You can include some short training sessions on the walk and/or play for a while in a safe area. This is best done before you leave the dog for the day as he is more likely to snooze after some physical activity.
  • Dogs enjoy physical contact as they are social creatures. Patting, grooming and massaging the dog will help him feel more content.
  • Regular access to other friendly dogs and his friends will help.
  • Divide his meals between morning and night. This way he will feel more content about you leaving in the morning.
  • Leave him things to keep him occupied, large raw bones (never cooked bones) Kongs or chew toys.
  • Access to part of the house, via a doggy door, will help him feel more settled.

By allowing him access to the house he will see it as part of his territory and be a deterrent to intruders.

Attention seeking
Being a social creature dogs enjoy company and are not overly content to be left alone a lot. Barking generally gains attention and dogs soon learn that if they bark enough someone will interact with them. Even yelling at him is gaining your attention. Any attention, even negative attention, is better than no attention in the dog’s mind because you have interacted with him.

Management ideas for Attention seeking:

The main issue here is to pay attention to the dog when he is not barking. If we give him attention for being a “good dog” he is less likely to want to gain our attention by prompting us with barking.

If you miss the opportunity and he starts to bark do not pay him any attention. Remember attention barking is different to alert barking and is treated differently. When the dog is quiet then go and interact with him. If you regularly interact with the dog he will have less reason to bark for attention.

If the dog is an outside dog and contained in a pen you need to let him out before he starts to bark. By assuring the dogs social, mental and physical needs are met the likelihood of attention barking will be reduced.

If your dog follows you everywhere when you are at home, if he complains when shut away from you, then he may be too dependent on you. Letting the dog become too dependent on you can cause him to be anxious when you are away.

This anxiety can lead to barking as a way for the dog to reduce its stress. Dogs who display severe “separation anxiety” need to be seen by a qualified veterinary behaviour consultant, who will develop a program to assist you and your dog.

Management ideas to prevent anxiety:

  • When you are going to be away from home make sure the dog has plenty of doggy enrichment to keep him occupied.
  • Prepare a meal and give him this as you leave. Better still make him up a Kong or food dispenser as this will keep him busy for longer.
  • Leave on a TV or radio to give the impression of company.
  • Gradually get your dog used to being separated from you for an increasing length of time while you are at home. Put his bed in an area where he can see you moving about and install a child’s door barrier to stop him from following you.
  • Keep your arrivals and departures very low key – don’t make a big fuss at these times.
  • Reward the dog, calmly, when his is quiet and relaxed and/or playing with appropriate items.


Management ideas for playtime enthusiasm:

  • The main point here is to reward the dog for calm, quiet behaviour and stop play if he becomes over excited and barks excessively.
  • If he doesn’t stop put the toys away and try again later.
  • Reward him with a treat when he brings toys back to you. Don’t try to pull it off him as this encourages him to try to keep it for himself.
  • Keep your games to reasonable level of excitement; don’t let them escalate to high intensity. Play is about interaction not over excitement.
  • Make training part of your play sessions, teach him to drop or give his toys to you. This has to be done with treats as he has no reason to give up his play thing for no reward.
  • Train him to settle during play session by teaching “sit” and “down”.
  • Tug games should be kept to a minimum and children should never be encouraged to play tug with dogs.

Hunger/Thirst/ Shelter

Many behaviour issues can start if your dog is not given the basic requirements for normal comfortable living conditions. He requires appropriate food, plenty of clean water, appropriate shelter from the heat, cold and extreme weather conditions and needs appropriate social contact.

It is your responsibility as his care giver to make sure he has these things.

If your dog’s barking is a problem for your neighbors, it is best to let your neighbors know that you are aware of the problem and that you are working to solve it.

If you have a good relationship with your neighbors you may be able to enlist their help by asking them to reward the dog when it is not barking. Make sure your dog is introduced to your neighbors so he is familiar with them and happy to be rewarded by them.

Barking is a frustrating behaviour, however you must understand that there are reasons for dogs to bark. If you are observant and willing to work with the dog you should be able to reduce the instances of unnecessary barking.

My dog demolishes my house


This information is intended as a general guide only
Washing pulled off the line? Favorite plants shredded? Shoes with custom made tooth marks?

In the middle of the mayhem is a very “guilty looking” dog. You think he obviously knows he’s done something wrong because he “looks” guilty, his ears are down and his tail is between his legs.

Guess what? He is not showing signs of guilt or defiance; he is reacting to your body language, tone of voice and obvious distress. From the dog’s point of view he has just been playing with the lovely things, that have your scent and you left for his amusement. When you turn up you are displaying abnormally aggressive behaviour and it seems to be directed at him. The dog has no idea why you are angry at him, he only knows he needs to try and make you happy, so he grovels and jumps and licks to try to appease you.

Dog has destroyed a toy

Why does my dog destroy things?

Destructive behaviour can be the result of:

  • Lack of training
  • Boredom
  • Attention seeking
  • Playtime enthusiasm
  • Health Problems
  • Hunger/thirst/lack of shelter

Lack of training
It is unfair to complain about destructive behaviour if you have not taught your dog what is, and what is not, appropriate to play with. He will not know the difference between your best shoes, and the old sand shoe you gave him to chew on.

Just as a child doesn’t know the difference between not touching grandma’s doll collection when they have dolls as play things.

Some management ideas:

  • Teach and show your dog what things he can play with.
  • If he picks up something that belongs to you, make sure you have a tasty treat handy and tell “leave” and present the treat. He will spit the item and take the treat. Then give him something he can play with, a toy or a dog biscuit.
  • Make it clear by praising him when he interacts with his own toys or chew toys. Remember that

dogs may not know how to play with toys, so make them interesting by playing with the dog to get his attention on the toy.

  • Restrict the dog’s unsupervised access to those items that are dangerous or which he is not allowed to play with and supervise him while training him that those items must not be touched.
  • Provide alternatives – if the dog has nothing to interact with he will look for things to amuse himself. Praise him whenever he ignores “banned” objects.
  • Clear your yard and house of things that are at puppy level. Good excuse for a spring clean! Leave things about that he is allowed to play with.
  • Teach your dog to be confined to areas such as a pen or particular room. He needs to have all the things he needs to be comfortable, food, water, toys and a bed. In this way he can be comfortably confined while left unsupervised.

Boredom is the result of insufficient mental and physical stimulation. Just like young children, dogs can suffer boredom if their environment lacks stimulation and this leads to inappropriate behaviour.

Even a big back yard can be a large prison if he has all day, every day to get to know every inch of it. Your dog can not relieve his boredom by reading a book, flicking on the television or visiting a friend. If the environment you provide the dog lacks interesting things and variety he will start to look for things to entertain himself.

To enrich your dogs environment refer to ideas in the “Dog Friendly Back Yards” section.

Attention seeking
Dogs are social animals and enjoy company and they are not overly content when left alone a lot. Your dog may find that playing with you favourite items gets him some of your attention – even if it is the wrong attention! Your dog will soon learn if he plays with your things he gets your attention.

If you pay little attention to your dog he will try any possible way to get you to notice him. Even yelling and chasing him is better, in his mind, to getting no attention at all.

Management ideas for attention seeking:

The main issue is to pay more attention to the dog. This attention can take the form of training or appropriate play.

Try and anticipate the times he is about to gain your attention and divert him first by doing a short training session or giving him a toy he hasn’t had recently.

Your dog needs daily interact with you to fulfill his social needs and you need to put aside some time to do this.

If he is a yard dog you need to go out and interact with him, play with a toy, do some training, take him for a walk, groom him or just sit and pat him.

Dog has anxietyAnxiety
Does your dog follow you everywhere you go in the house? Does he complain when shut away from you?

If your dog is too dependent on you this can lead to anxiety when you are away. This type of anxiety can cause the dog to be destructive to relieve his anxiety. This can be a problem with dogs that have been abandoned or gone through the trauma of being left at a shelter. They fear that you will also abandon them.

If this problem is severe you will need to consult a veterinary behaviour expert to develop a program for you and your dog.

Management ideas to prevent anxiety:

  • When you are going to be away from home make sure the dog has plenty of doggy enrichment to keep him occupied.
  • Prepare a meal and give him this as you leave. Better still make him up a Kong or food dispenser as this will keep him busy for longer.
  • Leave on a TV or radio to give the impression of company.
  • Gradually get your dog used to being separated from you for an increasing length of time while you are at home. Put his bed in an area where he can see you moving about and install a child’s door barrier to stop him from following you.
  • Keep your arrivals and departures very low key – don’t make a big fuss at these times.
  • Reward the dog, calmly, when he is quiet and relaxed and/or playing with appropriate items.

Management ideas for playtime enthusiasm:

  • The main point here is to reward the dog for calm, quiet behaviour and stop play if he becomes destructive.
  • If he doesn’t stop put the toy away and try again later.
  • Reward him with a treat when he brings toys back to you. Don’t try and pull it off him as this encourages him to try and keep it for himself.
  • Keep your games to reasonable level of excitement; don’t let them escalate to high intensity. Play is about interaction not over excitement.
  • Make training part of your play sessions, teach him to drop or give his toys to you. This has to be done with treats as he has no reason to give up his play thing for no reward.
  • Train him to settle during play session by teaching “sit” and “down”.
  • Tug games should be kept to a minimum and children should never be encouraged to play tug with dogs.

Health problems
If the dog suffers from fleas, skin allergy, or has a dental problem this could make him irritable and more likely to be destructive. If he has fleas or an allergy he may scratch on his bed causing the bedding to tear and become a target for the dog’s attention. Dental problems can cause the dog to chew on things to relieve the tension and pain in his mouth.

Management of health issues:

This problem has a very obvious answer – make sure your dog is in good health, free of fleas and is regularly checked by a veterinarian.

Hunger/Thirst/ Shelter
Many behaviour issues can start if your dog is not given the basic requirements for normal comfortable living conditions. He requires appropriate food, plenty of clean water, appropriate shelter from the heat, cold and extreme weather conditions and needs appropriate social contact.

It is your responsibility as his care giver to make sure he has these things.

My dog is hyperactive


Hyperactive dogDon’t give up! The exuberant and energetic dog can be taught to control himself. We can use positive training techniques to teach puppies and adults that good things happen when their feet are on the floor!

Puppies are naturally noisy and hyperactive. They are exuberant when greeting, playing and when showing friendliness.

Adult dogs that haven’t  been taught appropriate manners can show the same behaviours. Unfortunately, those behaviours are no longer cute or excusable in a 30 kg hyper dog!

We also need to remember that a sedate 20 minute stroll around the block may satisfy our human adult exercise needs, but the adolescent, working type dog will need to expend a lot more energy than that. It is unreasonable to expect an animal to ignore its basic need for appropriate exercise.

Step 1 – Exercise

Most young dogs need energetic play and exercise daily. Make sure that your dog has ample opportunity to let off steam in an acceptable way. Throw a tennis ball or frisbee at the off leash park, do yo – yo recalls between family members in the yard. Formalize “crazy time” – train your dog to jump for bubbles, or play tag and chase your dog around the house. REMEMBER- the sedate “round the block”  walk is NOT ENOUGH.

Step 2 – Focus

Confused dogA well exercised dog is much more able to focus and learn new behaviours.

The first step to getting the hyper dog to settle is to teach it to focus on the handler.

Have the dog on a leash next to you.

Have some really tasty treats hidden in one hand (and have more close by). Without saying or doing anything, wait for your dog to look at you. It might take a while!

The INSTANT the dog looks at you, say “YES” in a happy voice and feed the dog a small tasty treat. Repeat several times. The dog should start to get the idea that looking at you is a good thing. This activity can be practiced anywhere, anytime. Walking the dog, during TV ad breaks, waiting in the car to pick up the kids, waiting for the kettle to boil.

Step 3- Ask for a bit more…

Have your dog on a leash next to you

Have tasty treats close by

Without saying or doing anything, wait for your dog to sit. It might take a while!

The INSTANT the dog’s bottom hits the ground, say “YES” in a happy  voice and feed

the dog a small tasty treat.

Take a step forward.  Don’t say anything. The “hyper dog” will bounce, pull, dance twirl etc. IGNORE everything until the dog eventually sits.

“YES” and treat. Step forward, wait for the sit. Reward. Repeat until the dog gets the idea that being calm and sitting next to you results in lovely treats and positive attention.

Step 4 – ask for longer attention

Repeat the steps above but begin to progressively increase the delay before offering the treat. Maybe count the seconds in “good  dogs”; “Good dog one, good dog two,” then treat. Step  forward, wait  for the calm  sit, count to three this time, then reward.

If your dog breaks the sit and turns „hyper dog‟ again, simply turn your back on him, take a three second time out, and then repeat from the beginning.

Build up the time until soon you are  able  to count out 20 ”good dogs” as he sits and waits calmly for his reward, looking up at you expectantly.

Practice this exercise while moving between rooms in the house. When walking your dog, stand still every 25 metres or so, wait  for him to sit, “YES”, treat and continue to walk.

Jumping Up
Jumping up deserves a special mention because it is such a common cause of frustration. Right from the beginning, teach your dog to sit when greeting people. Dogs can’t sit and jump at the same time! However, it is often difficult to teach your dog to sit when greeting people because he is so excited that he can’t even hear what you say. Consequently, you will need to troubleshoot his training.

First practice sit (as described above) in locations where your dog normally greets people, e.g. on leash outdoors, and especially indoors by the front door, or back door. Then invite over  ten friends for  a  dog  training party. Today, your  dog’s  dinner will be hand fed by guests at the front/back door and by friends on a walk.

Be prepared with your dog under control and focusing on you BEFORE the first friend takes a step into the room. Get him to sit as the guest enters the room. While the dog’s bottom is on the floor, praise gently and have the guest supply a treat or two. Then ask your friend to leave and re-enter. In fact, repeat the whole process until the dog can greet the guest calmly 3 times in a row. Then repeat the process with the other nine guests.

In one training party you could practice over 100 calm greetings. Next, ask your guests to leave one at a time and walk around the block. Put your dog on the leash and walk towards  your  friend. As you approach, get your dog’s attention on you,  and then instruct him to sit. Praise the dog calmly and have your friend offer the dog treats while the dog’s bottom is on the ground. Practice with all of your mates. Now you will be better prepared to greet strangers at the door and in the street!

Calm dogRemember – if the dog breaks the sit – turn your back on him, have a 3 second time out and repeat the sequence again.

In Summary
Be smart. Be kind. Provide opportunities to use up that energy appropriately. Anticipate when the “hyper dog” is likely to burst  out. Be prepared to encourage, and then reward the calm behaviour you want to see more of.

My dog jumps too much


This information is intended as a general guide only

Jumping up on people is a very common, natural dog behaviour that most people find difficult to prevent.

Why do dogs jump?
Before you can manage the behaviour it is important to understand why jumping is a natural behaviour for your dog.

Puppies lick the mouths and faces of their mothers, and other adult dogs, as an appeasement. They are indicating that they are babies and are no threat to the older animals.

Puppies transfer this behaviour to their human companions but as we are much taller the dogs need to jump up to try to reach our faces.

Most people can’t resist a cute and cuddly puppy and allow them to crawl up on them. We reach down to pat him when he paws at our shins or lift him up to our level to cuddle him. This of course reinforces the puppy and he assumes that climbing on his human companions is okay. Once he becomes bigger this same behaviour, that we have told him is okay as a puppy, causes problems for the owner.

The puppy has been rewarded for this jumping behaviour so he continues to do it as he gets older. In the dog’s mind he is getting rewarded with attention and is appeasing his human family.

Why you shouldn’t use punishment for jumping
Punishments such as stepping on the dog’s toes, yelling at him, and smacking him, although intended to dissuade him, usually cause him to jump more. He thinks you are annoyed or frustrated with him and therefore tries harder to “appease” you by jumping in an attempt to lick your face.

As a social animal dogs see even negative attention as better than no attention. Physical punishment can create other behavioural problems as the dog doesn’t know whether you are going to use your hand to smack or pet him. This confusion can lead to a fearful dog that may feel he needs to defend himself.

Children in particular can suffer the consequences of this method as they often wave their hands about and the dog can misinterpret what they are doing. This could lead the dog to believe he needs to defend himself against the child.

Humans punish with their hands, dogs punish with their teeth, far better for the dog to learn that humans are friends not foes.

What should you do?
With all undesirable behaviour, it is better to reward the dog for a different desirable behaviour that makes it impossible for the dog to continue the unwanted one.

In the case of jumping, rewarding “four feet on the floor” will make it more desirable for the dog not to jump. Having his feet on the floor gets him the attention he needs and jumping gets him no attention.

It is best to use simple, non-threatening methods to deter the dog from jumping.

These methods give the dog attention on your terms rather than his and fulfill his need for social contact. You need to set the dog up to succeed and make sure whenever possible jumping is not rewarded either intentionally or unintentionally.

Some ideas to assist you with your jumping dog
Remember that all members of the family must be involved and consistent with the “no jump” training. If the dog is allowed to jump on some members of the family it will undo all the good work of the others.

  • Turn and ignore
  • Reward “four on the floor”
  • Teach the dog an alternative behaviour

Turn and ignore
The simplest way to let the dog know that jumping is not a behaviour you want is to ignore him when he jumps. Any reaction from you will be seen by the dog as attention and rewarding.

Don’t speak or look at the dog, fold your arms and turn away. The dog will learn pretty quickly that jumping gets him no attention. Once he has settled and is sitting or standing with all four feet on the floor you must reward him.

When rewarding him it must follow quickly after he has done the desired behaviour so he knows that feet on the floor is a good behaviour. Make sure you praise him calmly and feed him a treat. Bend down to reward him so you do not encourage him to jump up to get the food.

If the dog jumps on visitors you may need to keep him on a lead when they arrive, until he has been rewarded enough to understand that keeping his feet on the floor is much more rewarding then jumping. The lead is NOT to jerk the dog away from visitors; it is just to contain him until he understands that visitors as well as the family cannot be jumped on.

Explain to your visitors that you are training the dog to be polite around visitors and enlist their help. Ask them not to speak to the dog until you have the dog’s feet on the floor, and rewarded him. Ask them to approach quietly and calmly praise the dog for being good.

Visitors are very exciting so it will take the dog some time to understand that he will only be able to interact with them if he keeps his feet on the floor. Make sure that he knows you have a very tasty treat when visitors arrive so he is more likely to want to behaviour as you wish.

If the dog is a small puppy it is better to get down to his level when patting him so he does not have to jump up on you to get attention.

Dalmation on his back legsTeach an alternate behaviour
Teaching your dog to “sit” will also assist in reducing jumping – very hard for the dog to jump when his butt is on the ground. Sit should be taught as a separate behaviour and can then be incorporated into the “no jump” training.

Remember  – Jumping is rewarding for the dog as he is looking for your attention, you must therefore reward strongly for not jumping.

The more you train your dog and interact with him in an appropriate way the easier it is to be able to change undesirable behaviour to desirable behaviour.

My dog bites and is extra mouthy


The information in this handout is intended as a general guide only and relates to normal puppy play-biting and mouthing.

This information is not intended to address aggressive behaviour in dogs. If your dog has shown aggressive behaviour towards yourself or other people you should consult a qualified dog behaviour expert.

Mouthing and/or play-biting is usually associated with puppies or young dogs. This behaviour is normal behaviour in puppies and young dogs.

If you watch dogs play together, they mouth each other with mock bites. As part of the dog’s social group they will often play with humans in the same way.

Why play biting is not acceptable behaviour
Puppies have sharp teeth but a weak jaw, this means that his puppy bite may be uncomfortable but not do any serious damage. As an adult dog your puppy will have larger teeth and a relatively strong jaw. While other dogs, that have tougher skin than humans, may not be hurt by play bites people can be damaged.

It is essential that puppies learn not to bite while they are still small. What may look cute when puppies play-bite each other, it has more serious consequences to people as the pup gets older.

Why do puppies play bite?
When puppies are still in a litter they start to come in contact with their litter-mates as they move around. As they grow they begin to mouth and bite each other. They spend a lot of time play-biting and grabbing each other with their mouths – they don’t have hands and so mouths are a good way to interact and play.

Litter-mates learn not to bite too hard. If you watch them play you will see that if one pup gets bitten too hard he will yelp and stop playing with the offending pup. This teaches the pup that if he wants to play with his mates he needs to be softer when he bites. This is called “bite inhibition”.

When puppies become part of our social group they use their natural doggy behaviours to “play” with their human friends. This is a normal extension of how he played with his litter-mates. We have to teach the puppy that this is not acceptable with his human litter- mates.

Playing “rough house” with puppies just encourages them to bite and it will not be his fault if he thinks he can play like this with anyone who comes near him. Do not play these types of games with young dogs or pups, particularly if they come into contact with children.

What can we do to stop the pup/young dog biting?
There are different ways you can teach the pup to inhibit his bite:

  • “Ouch”! That hurt!
  • Withdrawn attention
  • “Leave”
  • Settle or calm

A combination of these methods works best and they must be used every time the pup bites. If you do not consistently use the methods the pup will learn that he can bite, sometimes. All members of the family have to be taught and use the same method otherwise the pup will be confused and the behaviour may increase.

Combined method
Just like the pup’s litter mates you are going to tell the pup that when he bites that is not acceptable.

When the pup touches you with his teeth, say “Ouch” in a high pitched loud voice. You must do this as soon as you feel his teeth and make it loud enough to cause him to withdraw his mouth. When he removes his mouth, take your hand away from him and ignore him for about 10 seconds.

In most cases the pup will startle and try to appease you by licking your hand. If he does this you can continue to play with him.

It may take repeated sessions for the pup to understand “Ouch”, as you are trying to overcome natural dog behaviour.

Withdraw attention
If the pup continues to bite you will need to withdraw your attention altogether. Turn your back and ignore him for several seconds to see if he will settle. If does not settle within a reasonable amount of time remove him to a room or you go elsewhere for several seconds and let him settle. Five or ten seconds is usually enough to get the pup to settle. Leaving him for longer periods will not help as the pup could then become confused and develop other behaviour problems.

He needs to understand that it is the bite that we don’t like and so you must be immediate in your response, then continue your interaction with the pup once he has settled.

This is a training exercise that needs to be taught to the owner by a qualified positive trainer.

Puppies and young dogs need to be taught appropriate behaviour around humans. Dog owners need to go to a qualified trainer to learn how to implement the correct methods to train their puppies and dogs.

Why you shouldn’t use physical punishment to stop puppies or young dogs biting

Some people will tell you to smack the pup’s nose if he bites you, or to grab his muzzle (very hard to do to a pug!) and hold it shut and “growl” at him.

These methods may deter the pup in the short term, but can cause problems in the long term. It makes the pup unsure of what your hand means – are you going to smack him or pat him? If he thinks you are going to smack him he may try and defend himself and become aggressive as he sees humans as a threat.

Children in particular can suffer the consequences of this method as they often wave their hands about and the dog can misinterpret what they are doing. This could lead the dog to believe he needs to defend himself against the child.

Humans punish with their hands, dogs punish with their teeth, far better for the dog to learn that humans are friends not foes.

Points to remember:

  • You MUST react EVERY time you feel the puppy’s teeth
  • If the touch is unexpected use “Ouch”
  • ALWAYS supervise children when they are with the pup or dog.
  • Do not play “rough house” games with the pup and do not let ANYONE else play this way with the pup.
  • Do not let other people “discipline” your pup. If you think someone may do this, remove the pup from the area.

Any pup or dog can bite if given the right circumstances; it may be due to the dog misunderstanding human actions and/or humans misunderstanding dog behaviour.

My dog urinates whenever it's excited or someone comes to the house


This is often known as submissive urinating and it is not a house training problem. It has to do with some normal canine behavior patterns that you can and should deal with in a positive way.

Dogs are instinctively programmed to accept the authority of creatures (animal and human) that they consider to be superior to them. They seek the approval of their superiors and are eager to please them. Many dog owners prefer a dog who is submissive to people and eager to please, and selective breeding has produced many domestic dogs with this characteristic.

Some dogs are more submissive than others. Very submissive dogs, shy dogs that lack self- confidence and often young pups will urinate when in the presence of more dominant dogs and humans. It’s their instinctive way of telling the superior “You are my Supreme Master. Your wish is my command. Please don’t hurt me!”

Puppies usually outgrow this behavior as they mature. Dogs who are naturally shy, insecure, extremely submissive, or who have been abused may continue to exhibit submission in this way even as adults. It is generally an involuntary, subconscious reflex. The dog isn’t deliberately trying to do it. As a matter of fact, he may not even be aware that he’s doing it at the time!

Many dog owners mistakenly believe that this type of urination is a housetraining problem, and try to correct it with discipline. To their dismay and frustration, rather than improving, the dog’s problem gets worse!

Because the message he’s sending is misunderstood by the owner, the dog is caught in a vicious cycle – his instincts tell him to urinate to please his superior by showing submission. But when he does, he is punished. He then tries harder to please by urinating even more. This results in more punishment, and still more urination. After a time, the dog may become so confused and insecure that he urinates at the mere sight of a human being or another dog.

If discipline won’t solve the problem, what will?

Your task is to take the excitement and stress out of the periods that previously triggered submissive urination. Get cooperation from all members of the family. When you first get home or when visitors come to the house, you

can anticipate that the dog will get excited and urinate – so you need to minimise the excitement.

Instead of an enthusiastic greeting to your dog, quietly walk in the door and go about your business. Let him outside to wee as usual, but without any fanfare. If you talk to him at all, just say “Hi Rover” in a calm, casual tone of voice. Don’t make eye contact with him or pet him. After he settles down, very gently crouch down to his level presenting to him sideways (this makes you very non-threatening), then calmly and quietly praise him and tell him he’s good.  Be sure to tell your family and visitors to do the same.

Do everything you can to boost your dog’s confidence
As he becomes more confident, he may feel less of a need to display extreme submissive behavior.

Positive reinforcement obedience training does wonders for a dog’s confidence! An untrained dog is doesn’t know how to communicate with humans or how to behave, but the trained dog understands what’s expected of him, and the words you say to him. He’s confident because he has the tools with which to please his superiors.

Socialisation at training classes, dog daycare, at the park, or just going with you on errands and to visit friends can do wonders for your dog’s confidence. Have guests over who are willing to help out with this problem.

Train your dog
Agility training is another wonderfully fun way to boost your dog’s confidence using physical obstacles and mental stimulation as well as new human words to understand and obey.

Incorporate basic obedience (Sit, Stay, Fetch, Come, etc.) into your daily life and when your dog obeys, he gains confidence through your praise. Just don’t overdo the praise (this can result in a puddle!). A simple “Good boy” and gentle pat is enough.

Minimize the occasions your dog makes you want to scold him; think about what your dog does that causes you to scold him. For example, does he get into the trash, steal your children’s toys or chew on your sneakers? By simply putting a lid on the trash can or putting it into a closet and requiring your family to pick up after themselves, these situations can be eliminated. The easier you make it for your dog to do what you want, the quicker he’ll learn and his confidence will grown. On the other hand, discipline, scolding and physical punishment will simply reduce his confidence and worsen your submissive urination problem

Use helpful body language
Dogs, especially shy or submissive ones, are very sensitive to body language and tone of voice. Bending over a dog is a “dominant” posture that may provoke an accident. Instead, get down to your dog’s level by crouching or kneeling,  preferably at his side rather than head-on.

These dogs are often intimidated by direct eye contact as well. Look at your dog’s face without looking directly into his eyes, and only for very short periods.

If you are expecting guests, take your dog for a walk and get his bladder emptied ahead of time, and restrict water consumption for an hour before your guests are to arrive.

When speaking to your dog, use a calm, confident, moderate tone of voice. Avoid very high or low extremes in pitch. Don’t “coochy-coo” or baby talk to your dog either. These tones can create excitement that results in submissive urination.

REMEMBER – Don’t scold or punish your dog for urinating submissively. It will only make things worse.

He can’t be held responsible for something he doesn’t understand or even know he’s doing. Instead, use these methods to get to the root of the matter: His basic insecurity and lack of confidence. When he’s made progress in these areas, submissive urination often disappears on its own. How long will it take? Every dog is different and it’s impossible to say for sure. With most dogs, following our directions will show a noticeable difference within a short time. Solving the problem altogether depends on your hard work, patience, consistency and willingness to stick with it. Good luck!

My dog won't come back when it's called


This information is intended as a general guide only.

Why do some dogs refuse to come back?
Dogs don’t come back because whatever it is they are doing is much more rewarding than coming back to you – simple as that. You need to change this so for your dog, coming when he’s called is a command worth obeying!

“Come” is one of the most important things you can teach your dog!

Dogs learn to repeat activities that are rewarding, and avoid activities that are punishing. Do you call your dog to come at the off leash park so you can take it home? Look at it from his perspective – ending all the fun of playing and sniffing in the park is a form of punishment in the dog’s eyes. Many people unknowingly punish their dogs

for coming when called. Do you call “come” and then shove a pill down its throat, cut his toenails or give it an unwelcome bath? Do you call your dog repeatedly and when it finally wanders over, grab it and chastise at it for running away? The dog thinks it is being punished for coming to you (the most recent thing it did), not for ignoring the first few commands, which it did some time ago.

There are two secrets to teaching a reliable “come”

  1. ALWAYS make coming to you pleasant
  2. ALWAYS make sure the dog will come on the first command.


Making coming to you pleasant

  • Start by teaching come-for-dinner. Dinner is usually a very pleasant experience for a dog! Every time you feed the dog, have someone hold it a distance away from you and the food. When you call “come” in a cheerful voice, they let go. When the dog arrives, give it dinner immediately. You could even extend this exercise by having each person give the dog portions of the dinner- holding the dog until the other person calls “come”.
  • Another way to make coming to you pleasant is to praise the dog the moment it starts to come to you (even if you had to help to get it started.)
  • When the dog does arrive, give it something it really wants (more praise, patting, food treat, ball or other toy) immediately when it gets to you.
  • You can also make coming to you pleasant by releasing the dog to go and play again.
  • Use a happy tone to call the dog, and always praise on the way in.
  • For a small, young or timid dog, crouch down to make yourself less frightening for it to approach. Don’t lean over it, grab at or manhandle a dog that has come most of the way to you, or it will learn that coming within arm’s reach is unpleasant.
  • Play recall games up and down a hallway, then from room to room within a house. Call the dog from one family member to another, each giving the dog a treat when it comes to you.
  • Use the treats or toys the dog loves BEST for rewarding your dog for coming to you. Use the treats as rewards after they come to you, not lures before the fact. That is, don’t show the dog the food or toy BEFORE or as you are calling (except maybe the very first few times). Instead, get the dog to come, then produce the reward immediately after the dog arrives.

Make sure the dog comes
The “come” command cannot be taught to a dog that is off lead and distracted (e.g. sniffing or playing with other dogs at the park) – the owner simply gets hoarse and frustrated from fruitless calling and the dog learns that it is safe to ignore the owner. Don’t call “come” at the park or off leash until you are sure the dog will comply.

Coming to you must be taught in gradual, successful increments.

Successful ways to practice
Start in a quiet place such as your back yard;

  • Walk along with the dog on lead, either a short one, or a long retractable one.
  • Get your dog’s attention. ( Make a noise, shake the lead, say the dog’s name)
  • Run backwards a few steps while calling “COME” in a cheerful, inviting but definite tone of voice. If necessary, give a light tug on the lead to get the dog turned toward you and coming in.
  • Praise all the way in, reward, then resume walking.
  • Repeat 10 – 20 times around the back yard

On your daily walk practice the same routine

Plan a graduated series of more and more distracting environments in which to call your dog, help it come and be rewarded. For example, try in a neighbour’s yard, or a fenced in tennis court before moving on to a dog park.

At the park:

  • Let the dog sniff around on the long lead, get its attention, call it, praise it and then release it to explore on the long lead again.
  • Repeat many times
  • Gradually increase the level of distraction (e.g. let it play with another dog,) still on a long lead then make sure your dog comes when you call

If you are having success on the long lead, graduate to a long light rope. PLEASE don’t sabotage your progress by moving to a situation where your dog can go back to ignoring you!!!!

At the park on the light, long (approx.10 m) rope, follow the same steps;

  • Get attention first, call “come”, tug on lead/rope if necessary, praise, reward, release.

Points to remember:

While you are teaching your dog to come to you, NEVER call it when you are not in a position to help it comply. If the dog is running loose and not likely to respond to your call, KEEP SILENT or you will undo a lot of your training.

One way to attract a loose dog without calling is to turn your back on it and run away, then perhaps squat down with your back to the dog and pretend you’ve found something fascinating on the ground. When the dog wanders over to see what you’ve got, give it a bunch of interesting treats and catch it in a pleasant and low key way so there is no punishment associated with coming to you.

Now ask yourself why let your dog run without dragging a light line, in a situation you couldn’t control.

After you’ve graduated from the retracting lead and light line, if at any time the dog should ignore a “come” command, GO GET IT. Do not allow the dog to ignore you.

Continue to praise and reward successful recalls, though you can gradually cut down and reward every now and then, instead of every time.

My dog is aggressive towards other dogs


This information is intended as a general guide only

It’s not uncommon for dogs to have problems when approached by other dogs. Often these problems are based in fear or anxiety.

There are a couple of things a dog can do when approached by another dog that worries them:
1) run away
2) lunge, bark, and threaten in order to drive the other dog away.

Both of these actions achieve the same end – the dog is able to increase the space between itself and the other dog that is worrying it.  Leashes largely remove the run away choice, so an aggressive response becomes more likely when a dog is on lead, especially a short or tight lead.

The most common handlerresponse when their dog lunges at or threatens another dog is to yank on the lead and yell at their dog.

This is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Yanking and yelling might build up the dog’s courage to attack the other dog (Look at it from the dog’s point of view: “My owner is right behind me, I can feel him on the other end of the leash, and he’s barking at this strange dog too!”).

Also, if the dog finds the leash corrections and yelling unpleasant, then it becomes even more convinced that other dogs are bad news. Whenever another dog approaches, not only does the dog feel stressed about this potential danger, but it learns that abuse is forthcoming from its own handler. In the end, the dog becomes more worried and defensive about other dogs, and a vicious circle is created.

Dogs that try to run away from another dog in fear are less socially unacceptable, but are still stressed and uncomfortable about other dogs. Handlers of these dogs often try to reassure them with petting and cooing, but this can have the effect of strengthening the display of fear. The dog learns that if it shows fear, Mum will make a fuss of it, take it away from the other dog, or pick it up for a cuddle, so it continues to display fear.

In many ways, the approach to working with a dog that is either fear-aggressive or just fearful about other dogs is the same. There are three steps involved:

STEP 1: Prevent the approach of other dogs, or control approaches to a distance at which the dog feels relatively comfortable.

Every time a too-close approach triggers an aggressive or fearful response, the response becomes stronger and more likely to happen again. The dog gets to practice the response and learns that it is an effective way to get the reward of relief from the stress of a close approach.

While you are working on the problem, try to control 100% of the approaches by other dogs to a level your dog can handle without displaying either fear or aggression. Turn and take the dog away before the other dog comes too close.  Be sure you can control your own dog as well as the approaching dog.

A strong or very excitable dog should probably wear a head halter to give you the control you’ll need. Try to keep the leash as loose as possible while taking you dog away, as tight leads tend to increase anxiety and reduce options.

STEP 2: Change the emotional response of your dog to the approach of other dogs.

The dog has learned to be anxious when another dog comes near.  It can’t help that anxiety response, any more than you can stop yourself cringing when you see a huge spider or snake. But what if someone handed you a one hundred dollar bill every time you saw a spider? Your emotional response to spiders would become more positive!

For most dogs, the quickest way to induce a positive emotional state is to feed them. Eating is incompatible with fear. So, arm yourself with lots of tasty treats and go for a walk.

When you see another dog in the distance, as soon as your dog notices it but before it can become reactive, start feeding treat after treat and praising madly. Keep enough distance from the other dog that yours doesn’t go on full alert, and keep feeding. Turn and move away before the other dog is too close.

When the other dog recedes into the distance, stop feeding and start ignoring the dog. Repeat many, many times.  Eventually, the dog will learn to be more relaxed about the approach of another dog, as it predicts wonderful food treats that are not otherwise available.  Gradually, your dog will tolerate the other dog being closer, as its anxiety is replaced with happy anticipation.

STEP 3: Teach the dog to focus its’ attention on you.

Like people, dogs have only a limited amount of attention.  If they are paying attention to one thing intently (you), they have little or no attention left for other things (an approaching dog).  So teach your dog to direct its’ attention entirely to you, to make and hold eye contact with you or to touch its nose to your hand.

Heeling with eye contact is a great focusing exercise, as is sitting and gazing at the handler.  Teach your focusing exercise away from other dogs at first, then in a variety of locations with interesting but not scary distractions, then when another dog is approaching but in the distance.

Very gradually build up your dog’s ability and desire to stay focused on you even when another dog is walked by fairly close to it.  Use positive reinforcement with praise and food treats to build the dog’s willingness and ability to pay attention to you.  Reward attention generously as another dog approaches, then turn and take your dog away from the other before it gets too close as an additional reward for sustaining calm focus.

Practiced diligently, these three activities will gradually reduce your dog’s anxiety about other dogs.  Your dog may never become a social butterfly that is eager to meet any and all dogs, but it can learn to be more comfortable and less likely to lose it in the presence of other dogs.

Note that very similar steps can be used to desensitise dogs to other fears, such as fear of men or fear of loud trucks.  Ask your instructor for more advice.

My dog pulls on its lead


The information in this handout is intended as a general guide only

Does Your Dog Pull On Leash?

It’s not just your dog; it takes two to pull! Dogs do not pull if there is no one dangling at the end of the leash. Both you and your dog need to break old habits.

“Your dog pulls because someone, somewhere at some time, took a step forward when he put tension on the leash

He continues to pull because it continues to be a rewarding experience. He pulls, and he gets to the car. He pulls and he gets to greet that other dog in class. He pulls and the neighbor lady across the street tells him how lovely he is, even though he is now not JUST pulling but is also climbing up the front of her with his muddy dog paws, to which she replies, “it’s ok, I don’t mind!”

“What gets rewarded gets repeated”

Here is the elusive answer to the ever present question of “how do I teach my dog not to pull?”

Don’t walk forward if there is tension on the leash.

Lets Practice!

Be prepared with lots of treats in your hand to give your dog when they do the right thing!

Start somewhere quiet like the backyard or in the house (Your dog is more likely to learn when there are fewer distractions).

Walk forward with the dog on your left. When the dog begins to pull on the lead –

  • Stop
  • Be a tree
  • Wait for the dog to look at you and loosen the leash
  • Take another step or two until the dog starts pulling again.
  • Stop
  • Be a tree
  • Wait for the loose leash, then reward.
  • Repeat this process over and over.

The loose  leash  “magic” spot next  to your leg should  be the best  place in the world for your dog to be. Using rewards and praise will make staying near you more rewarding than pretending to be a sled dog!

Sounds too simple doesn’t it?

Simply STOP every single time you note that the dog is about to put the slightest tension on the leash and the pulling will go away. (Yeah, right) No, honest – It really, really works! The truth is, that if you tire your dog out first with a good game of fetch and then take him for a walk in a quiet, non-distracting place every day this week with only ONE goal – to walk without tension and you absolutely refuse to take a single forward step when you feel tension on the leash – he will discover that pulling is “broken” and that the tension is a cue to slacken the lead. You will see the light bulb go on when he realizes this. If you are consistent and don’t give up, he will learn it. He will have good days and bad, but if you are diligent he will figure it out.

Part of the problem is that YOU want to get where you are going as much as your dog does.
Responding to your dog’s pull has been rewarding to you, too. You are probably thinking right this instant: “How will I ever get to the car, the park, the house, by standing still for heaven’s sake?”

Next we must break YOUR habit!
It is as much an ingrained habit to you as it is your dog. He cues you to take that step by putting tension on the leash and you dutifully obey. He has trained you to respond and you are fluent in the art of following his lead. You do it without thinking. He pulls without thinking.

Be consistent.
Don’t have a great training session and have super results and then mess it up and undo all the hard work you’ve done by allowing your dog to drag you to the car when you are late to leave for the park, or class. You must never move forward when the leash is tight. Put all your supplies in the car first so you aren’t juggling your purse and can concentrate on your dog. Do one step- wait for loose leash, one step –wait for loose leash, one step –wait for loose leash all the way to the car if necessary, but DO NOT allow your dog to drag you where he wants to go.

Try not holding the leash with your handNo, that doesn’t mean turn your dog loose to run in traffic -TIE THE LEASH SECURELY

TO YOUR WAIST OR STRONG BELT – or better yet, use a waist leash, and go hands-free. This will keep you from pulling. The only thing in your hand is your food reward or a favourite toy hidden in your pocket. These items will be delivered when the dog makes the right choice. If you “feel” your dog decide not to pull, PRAISE AND REWARD lavishly!!! Reward any lessening of the tension by proceeding forward. Deliver the reward at the seam of your pant leg as you step in next to your dog to reinforce that magic position.

But he keeps pulling when I stop

Stop for a couple of seconds and wait, if your dog continues to strain like a maniac, turn abruptly and walk away from your dog (imagine you are facing 12 on the clock, you are going to turn and head for 4 o’clock.) The diagonal direction will set him off balance and he will turn toward you, as he catches up. PRAISE and deliver a treat in heel position next to the seam of your pant leg (this assumes that the dog is walking on your left side. If he is on your right, you will turn and head for 8 o’clock), then continue on your way.

Manage the pulling
It is very important to teach your dog NOT to pull. However, while you are working towards change, there are ways to manage pulling.

There are several helpful products available in pet shops, vets or the AWL shop.

The “Halti‟ and “Gentle Leader‟ are  both halters which fit around the dogs nose and neck and work in the same way as a halter on a horse. They work very well in most  dog breeds. They don‟t fit very well on dogs with small faces (such as pugs).

Dogs wearing the halters are still able to eat, bark, and play – they just  can‟t  pull!

There are several types of harnesses which fit under the dogs legs and attach between the shoulders. They are also helpful in preventing pulling.

Remember: Be consistent. NEVER move forward when the lead is tight.

This is a battle you CAN win!

Dog Health Care

You should always be mindful of your dog’s overall health. Knowing the warning signs and what to look out for just might save your dog’s life and excessive vet treatments, if you notice any of the below signs in your dog contact your vet – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What to examine What to look out for
Eyes Pupils dilated, different sizes or sunken eyes
Ears Redness on the inside of the ear, yellow, flaky, bad odours with excessive wax or pus
Mouth Ulcers, foreign bodies or problems with teeth
Chest Abnormal lung sounds, abnormal heart sounds or beat
Abdomen Swelling, lumps or bumps
Temperature Normal is 38 degrees celsius
Overall condition Flaky or greasy skin, any bumps or excessive hair loss, severe weight change
Behaviour Not eating/drinking, change to temperament, quiet/lethargic

Foods to avoid

  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Chocolate
  • Cigarettes, tobacco & cigars
  • Coffee grounds, beans & tea (caffine)
  • Cooked bones
  • Corn cobs
  • Fruit pips
  • Hops (used in home brewing)
  • Mouldy/spoiled foods
  • Onions & garlic
  • Potato peelings and green looking potatos
  • Raisins and grapes
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Tomato leaves & stems
  • Yeast dough

If you are notice any of the changes listed above or you are concerned for your dog’s health, contact your vet immediately. You can also book an appointment at one of the AWLQ Community Vet Clinics.