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Shared Blog Post: How to Love and Survive Your Teenage Dog – and Keep Your Sanity!

The following article was written by Barbara Hodel for The Pet Professional Guild Australia (PPGA) in 2022. Did your sweet, adorable little puppy seem to turn into an unruly teenager, almost overnight? We are sharing this post because people can be surprised and challenged by the changes in their dogs as they transition from puppy to adult. And it can be a struggle for the dogs too! The practical and empathetic tips shared here will help you truly love and survive your teenage dog. An excerpt: They have forgotten their training… Continued

Bring Your Dog Inside, Have a Better Relationship and Much More Fun

I believe that a large majority of dogs would probably exchange the biggest backyard in the world for quality time with their owners. Yet apartment dwellers are sometimes frowned upon for owning a dog. Here in Australia, however, strata laws are changing in favor of pet owners and renters. Personally, I firmly believe that dogs can live happily in an apartment with appropriate care and enough mental and physical stimulation Dogs are very social animals, they want to be part of the family and they thrive on companionship. These days we… Continued

Having a Bit More Fun with Our Dogs

When I got my first dog as a child no one in the family knew much about dogs, puppy preschool classes were unheard of and the average dog just somehow became part of the family. My father mainly got the dog because I probably pestered him for too long. He was a Dalmatian called Lord, he was not very well trained but loved to run and he ran a lot. He spent a lot of time with us children, he went on holidays, barked at people coming to the house… Continued

Change Is Difficult – We Are Humans After All

As trainers we sometimes talk about owner compliance, or maybe more accurately – in some cases at least – the apparent lack of it. Part of our job as dog trainers is to find ways to motivate our clients to make changes to the lives of their dogs and often this means they also need to change the way they do things too. Change is hard and we humans need good reasons to initiate change, but nevertheless, to change the dog’s behavior, we need to change the owners’ behavior first. I… Continued

What Is the Purpose of a Real Dog?

Labeling normal dog behaviors like barking, digging, jumping up, chasing, growling and others as problems is something my colleagues and I have started seeing more often in our classes and consultations. However, typical puppy behaviors can include mouthing, housesoiling, not wanting to be alone, eating everything in sight, running away, rolling in smelly stuff, chasing moving objects, growling, smelling other dogs’ rear ends or biting and mouthing. These are all natural behaviors, but sometimes a new owner may simply not have fully realized what having a puppy entails. Indeed, our expectations may be high as we… Continued

Expectations, Disappointment And Opportunities

When we get a puppy or a rescue dog, as a first time or an experienced dog owner or as a competitor in a dog sport, we have certain expectations. We hope for the perfect companion or the perfect agility dog. Depending on our level of experience we try to make sure we get it right. We might research first the breeds, then the breeders, look for the best puppy pre-school and best teenage dog classes, join a club or train with our ‘doggie’ friends. However, regardless of how well… Continued

Is Calm Really Just Another Behavior?

What is the most difficult thing to teach our dogs? Coming back or a great recall? While I do agree that this is a difficult behavior, I do think teaching calm is much more difficult. Being calm is not the same as a cued ‘sit stay’ or ‘down stay’. Without becoming too airy fairy: Calm is also not just the absence of arousal, heightened state of alert or stress. For dogs, calm means that they are content, happy, and relaxed. They are able to lie on their bed and watch… Continued

Finding the Underlying Cause for Barking

Go to any online dog forum and the question will come up rather sooner than later: My dog barks, what should I do? The advice then often starts with citronella or even shock collars, rattle cans, and other unpleasant devices such as high pitched noises to name a few. I find it rather scary how easily we resort to punishment; at best doing something unpleasant and at worst something painful and scary to the dog. I am making no excuses; this is abuse plain and simple. There is a reason… Continued

Insecure Teenage Dogs at the Off Leash Park

Recently I got asked: “What should I do when my dog goes over to another dog, puts his head over the other dog’s shoulder and, depending on the other dog’s reaction, they will start squabbling?” So far no one got hurt. The dog is just two years old and has no previous history of aggression. Most dogs go through a phase where they become a bit ‘stroppy’ (as we say in Australia) with other dogs in off leash situations. Anecdotal evidence suggests that male dogs may be more prone to… Continued

Christmas Puppy – What a Great Idea?

Do not get me wrong, I am not talking about giving someone a puppy for Christmas or buying a puppy on impulse. I am talking about a long awaited puppy who, for no other reason but the mother coming into season at a certain time, comes home for Christmas. Or a family deciding to bring a new rescue dog home at this time of the year because they have time to settle him in. Christmas is the time when everyone is very social and off work so by definition it… Continued

Jekyll and Hyde – Social off Leash but Reactive on Leash?

It might be a coincidence but over the last few weeks I have met a lot of dogs who are reactive on leash. They bark, lunge, whine and pull towards other dogs on walks. Some will aggress if given a chance and may even hurt another dog. Leash reactivity presents in at least two forms, dogs who are reactive on leash but fine off leash and dogs who are reactive and do not get on with other dogs off leash either. Despite the behavior looking very similar, the motivation is… Continued

Making It Fun for Performance Dogs

I got told a couple of times lately: Shellbe (my German Shorthaired Pointer who I compete with in Agility) really covered you there! It was in competition or training when I made a mistake and Shellbe did everything she possibly could to make up for it. And she did! Isn’t that what friends are for? I hear it more often in Agility circles but it probably happens in other competitive sports as well: I am getting my next performance dog! I have to say this makes me cringe. What does… Continued

Beware of the Behavior Chain

Isn’t it frustrating, we try to train our dog to not jump up but it gets worse? It is the ‘behavior chain syndrome’. We train behavior chains all the time, sometimes on purpose and sometimes by mistake. Behaviour chains can be great and useful or useless, ineffective or even dangerous. There are lot of behavior chains that are useful, like a ‘go to mat’ cue, ‘come when called and let me touch your collar’, a formal recall or retrieve in obedience. We often train these using back chaining. This simply… Continued

What Makes a ‘Good Dog’ and Do Current Dog Training Classes Teach these Skills?

I define a ‘good’ dog as a dog who is considered part of the family, can stay home alone if necessary but goes places if possible, lives in the house, goes on holidays, gets enough mental and physical stimulation, is ‘cool, calm and collected’ most of the time, takes changes like moving or an new addition to the family in his stride and most important spends his entire life with one owner. As most professionals in the pet industry I try to be an advocate for the dogs and puppies… Continued

Do Dogs Have a Right to Say NO?

Aren’t dogs supposed to do as they are told and follow so-called “commands?” They are just dogs after all. Interestingly enough, only about 20 years ago we took no for a no and children who approached dogs when they were sleeping or eating were in no uncertain terms reminded to ‘let sleeping dogs lie and leave the dog alone when he is eating’. We seemed to understand then that dogs were dogs and had a right to say no. These days it seems we all get really upset when the… Continued

Are You Ready for Your New Puppy? For How Many Years?

Puppies are just too cute, it is almost beyond words! However these cute puppies grow up very quickly and become ‘real’ dogs. The puppy stage only lasts for a few months and the honeymoon phase is often over after a couple of weeks of sleepless nights and urine stains on the carpet. So make sure what you really want is a dog and not just the puppy. Pointing out the obvious, a puppy is a 12 to 15 year commitment and a lot of things can change during this time.… Continued

The Challenges of Teenage Dogs

Dog owners are not always prepared for the challenges of a teen-aged dog: This can include their emotional response and sometimes over the top reaction to certain stimuli, ‘forgotten’ training, increased exercise requirements, need for more mental stimulation, ongoing socialization and training. Many new dog owners will do a puppy pre-school and if the class is well run this will set them up to successfully navigate the first few months; house train their puppies, teach them to sleep in their designated area, get the first steps in training right, socialize… Continued

Socialize Your Puppy but Let Him Play, too!

Fifty years ago not too many trainers or owners talked about socialization. Not because puppies did not need it, but because for the most part puppies ‘self-socialized’, they wandered and roamed the neighborhood, accompanied children to school, hung out with other dogs, sometimes got into trouble with one of them, occasionally a child got bitten or a dog hurt by a car. Even 20 years ago back in Switzerland our dog would go to work with my husband, roam the streets, spend time with strangers, steal sandwiches and come back when it… Continued

Stress-Free Holidays with Your Dog

Easter is just around the corner and what could be better than taking the dog for a short or long break. There is really nothing like a holiday with your four-legged best friend. However to have a stress free time, planning and preparation are essential. Choose a destination that provides entertainment and adventure for you and your dog. Beach holidays are great if there are dog friendly beaches to go to. Most dogs will love to run and play. Or the country side with space to walk and discover wineries… Continued