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Tips Archive



This page is dedicated to providing tips and tricks about many subjects, ranging from training tips to how to handle the loss of a pet. This page will be updated regularly, so be sure to check it frequently. Each time this page is updated, the previous topic will be placed on the Tips Archive page so you can refer to previous topics.

Pet Peeves Stopping Problems
Protect Yourself You Can't Teach Nothing!
If Dogs Were Teachers Dog's Memories


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     A Loan From God

God promised at the birth of time,
A special friend to give,
His time on earth is short, he said,
So love him while he lives.

It may be for eight or ten years,
Or only two or three,
But will you, till I call him back,
Take care of him for me?

A wagging tail and cold wet nose,
And silken velvet ears,
A heart as big as all outdoors,
To love you through the years.

His puppy ways will gladden you,
And antics bring a smile,
As guardian or friend he will,
Be loyal all the while.

He'll bring his charms to grace your life,
And though his stay be brief,
When he's gone the memories,
Are solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,
Since all from earth return,
But lessons only a dog can teach,
I want you each to learn.

I've looked the whole world over,
In search of guardians true,
And from the folk that crowd life's land,
I have chosen you.

Whatever love you give to him,
Returns in triple measure,
Follow his lead and gain a life,
Brim full of simple pleasures.

Enjoy each day as it comes,
Allow your heart to guide,
Be loyal and steadfast in love,
As the dog there by your side.

Now will you give him all your love,
Nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call,
To take him back again?

I fancy each of us would say,
Dear Lord, thy will be done,
For all the joys this dog shall bring,
The risk of grief we'll run.

We'll shelter his with tenderness,
We'll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we've know,
Forever grateful stay.

But should the angels call for him,
Much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes,
And try to understand.

If by our love we've managed,
God's wishes to achieve,
In memory of him that we have loved,
And to help us while we grieve;

When our faithful bundle departs,
This earthly world of strife,
We'll get yet another pup,
And love him all his life.

Author Unknown





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A Dog's Pet Peeves

1. Blaming your farts on me ... not funny ... not funny at all.

2. Yelling at me for barking ... I AM A DOG!

3. How you naively believe that the stupid cat isn't all over everything
while you're gone. Have you noticed that your toothbrush tastes a little
like cat spit?

4. Taking me for a walk, then not letting me check stuff out. Exactly
whose walk is this anyway?

5. Any trick that involves balancing food on my nose ... stop it.

6. Yelling at me for rubbing my bum on your carpet. Why'd you buy carpet?

7. Getting upset when I sniff the crotches of your guests. Sorry,
but I haven't quite mastered that firm handshake thing yet.

8. How you act disgusted when I lick myself.  Look, we both know the
truth, you're just jealous.

9. Dog sweaters. Hello ... have you noticed the FUR?

10. Any haircut that involves bows or ribbons. Now you know why we
chew your stuff up when you're not home.

11. When you pick up the poop in the yard. Do you realize how far
behind schedule that puts me?

12. Taking me to the vet for "the big snip," then acting surprised when I
freak out every time we go back.

13. The sleight of hand, fake-fetch-throw. You fooled a dog! What
a proud moment for the top of the food chain.


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Protect Yourself!

Be careful when you walk your dog. A few years ago I worked with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department on a case. Evidence indicates the fellow was walking his dog in a rural area when 5 dogs belonging to a new neighbor attacked his small dog. To prevent injury to his dog, the fellow picked it up. The loose dogs caused so much damage to his body that he died.

I was recently retained in a similar case. Since the bite victim survived, we know what happened. A young woman was walking her dog when it was attacked by a loose dog. She picked it up to hold it away from the attacker, and she sustained severe injuries resulting in loss of hand use and permanent disfigurement.

People, DO NOT PICK UP YOUR DOG TO SAVE IT FROM ATTACK. Not only will this act NOT stop the attack, it will include YOU as a target. It’s hard to stand by while your dog is being attacked, but picking it up or getting between the attacker and your dog will likely lead to severe injury to you.

I always carry a deterrent when I walk dogs off my property. An ultrasonic transducer, a citronella spray device, even just a coach’s whistle to startle an approaching dog is better than nothing. I also DO NOT TOLERATE loose dogs. If you do, shame on you. You invite an incident.

If you have no deterrent and a dog attacks, drop the lead and stay away from the fracas. I KNOW how hard this is to do. But if you leave your property with NO deterrent, you’ve already chosen to be impotent in case of attack. I don’t know why you’d choose to be unable to defend yourself or your dog against attack, but if you make that choice, do not blame only the aggressing dog. For all you know, he/she was just defending his/her territory against your dog’s intrusion. He/she may be defending puppies or a new baby in the home. Since you cannot know whether or not this is true, be prepared. But DO NOT PICK UP YOUR DOG. The only thing worse than having your wonderful dog injured or killed is to have you injured, disfigured, or killed. You can take steps to prevent that. Please do so.


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Click here for A Dog's Prayer

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If dogs were teachers, you would learn stuff like.....

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.
Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
Take naps. Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout... run right back and make friends.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle gently.

And finally, never trust anyone until you sniff his butt.


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 Stopping Problems

 Since your dog doesn't know what you intend to accomplish, it will take your training message literally. You enjoy far greater success if you give some thought to exactly what it is you want the dog to learn.

Rewarding compliance maintains behavior. When you reinforce your dog for obeying your SIT command, it is likely to continue to sit when you tell it to do so. That's the definition of reinforcement; it strengthens the preceding act and makes it more likely to recur.

But your dog often gets a very different message than the one you intend to teach. If he jumps up onto you and you wish to stop that, a common approach is to punish his jump and say "Good OFF!" as you get him off you. But that method teaches many dogs that they are rewarded for getting off of you, and he can't get off of you until he's on you. I've worked thousands of dogs that have been handled this way, and years later they still jump onto people. When you reward him for getting off you, you reward his compliance or tolerance of your force. But many dogs learn that they cannot earn the "Good OFF!" praise until they jump, so it continues. They willingly tolerate a one-second reprimand to get 5 second of praise.

Using a harsher reprimand is not the answer. A dog cannot jump on you until he's approached you. Harsh reprimands discourage his approach, not his jump.

Always first decide what you want. Do you want him to get off of you (or your visitor, sofa, bed, counter) when you tell him to, or do you want him to not jump on you or it in the first place? If you don't want him to jump on you, don't teach him that getting off after he jumps up gets him rewarded.


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 No, I'm not saying you're incompetent! I mean this literally: You cannot teach NOTHING. Learning requires only normal neurological function. If a dog's senses and brain function normally, it will learn something from everything that happens to it. "Did I teach it anything?" is never the question. The real question: "What did I just teach this dog?"

 Did you teach it to respect you or ignore you? Did it learn you will enforce your directive or that you'll give in if it resists? That working with you is fun, pleasant and positive or dull, boring, harsh work? If you use forceful physical corrections, did you teach it that force and violence succeed? Did you teach it that a correction means pain or terror, and therefore to trust you less from now on? Does it now know that you're a boss or just a bully? Do YOU know the difference between them?!

 You're always teaching SOMETHING. If you're not sure exactly what it is, don't work with it until you're confident what the lesson will be, and that you in fact want it to learn that. What you teach a dog is up to you - even if you don't know that learning is happening. Don't teach it what you don't want it to know. It sounds simple, but anything simple is also simple to mess up. Be mindful, aware, careful, and respectful, because that wonderful critter is ALWAYS learning.


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 For years I've heard that a dog's memory is only 3 or 5 or 10 minutes long, and then they forget what you just taught them. HAH! After being away from people all night, must you re-teach your dog its name every morning?

 Notice how this type of drivel always comes from an absolute authority on learning, memory, and animal neurological acquisition system functions? SURE! 

Something must be learned before it can be remembered, and it must be perceived to be learned. If at a lecture I'm so distracted by a stunning dog or a gorgeous human that I didn't hear the last remark, I will not remember it because I never heard it, so I never learned it in the first place. And some things the speaker says will have more impact on and relevance to me than others, so my increased interest in certain things makes them far more likely to be retained in my memory.

Some things powerfully enhance learning and memory. Trauma, for example. You're not likely to forget something you learned that badly traumatized you when it happened. And it doesn't have to happen often. Trauma is a very powerful memory enhancer. Do you really want to strike, choke, or hang a dog?

Joyful fun also enhances memory. You likely learned the alphabet at almost the same age you learned the times tables, from the same teachers, in the same school, with the same classmates, and both subjects were given equal importance. But - don't lie! - you remember the alphabet much better than the times tables. Why? Because you not only learned the letters, you COLORED them and SANG them and PLAYED them and WORE them and ACTED THEM OUT! You were the A and Billy was the C and Sally was the T and together you spelled CAT! But you DRILLED the times tables. "Six times eight is forty-eight! Six times nine is fifty-four!" No fun there. Unless your work entails mental multiplication, you likely were anxious to put the times tables behind you right after that final exam!

That's not unique to humans. Many years ago when I was first taught how to train dogs, I noticed that dogs learned faster during our play sessions following the classes! It might take several minutes, or even several sessions, to make sure they knew the correct responses to commands, but they learned the difference between "ball" and "ring" and "rope" NOW! They were FUN, PLAYFUL things! I realized I was teaching more quickly and efficiently during our play sessions than during the classes! So, not only did I end up (hopefully) teaching them something, they taught me a great deal. 

I've been fortunate to have many fine teachers. Most of them were animals.

Don't underestimate canine memory. If they forgot where the good hunting spots were 10 minutes later, they'd have gone extinct millions of years ago. Enhance retention with fun, playful repetition and dogs will impress you with their incredibly long memories!


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Drugs and Behavior Problems

 Thanks to research, we have drugs today that can help us help our pets over some behavior problems caused by stress, anxiety, and seizures. Such drugs make it possible to help more animals than ever before. My own dog, and several client dogs, suffer seizure disorders, so I know first hand how valuable certain drugs can be. But they should be used correctly.

A major consideration before using drugs:  They're not a "magic bullet" to solve problems. Many people are satisfied when the dog just appears to be better. When drugs get rid of the symptoms, why bother to treat the problem? There are cases on record where a permanent improvement resulted from drug use, whether or not we understand why. Let's face it: Some things just get better, and treating the symptoms during that process isn't bad! But don't confuse drugging the symptom with solving the problem.

Some dogs suffer such extreme stress or anxiety that implementing effective behavioral procedures won't work. The dog is simply not receptive due to severe stress. Extreme stress also inhibits new learning, so it's hard to teach the dog a new way to behave when its ability to learn is compromised. It's just such cases where meds can serve best - not to cure the problem, but to make the dog receptive enough to your therapy to have you succeed.

Drug use for behavior problems is best done in addition to proper behavioral methods, not instead of them. If necessary, use the drug to facilitate the success of your behavior therapy. Don't rely upon the drug to solve the problem.

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"That's What Dogs Do!"

We're often told that it's alright to do a particular thing to correct or punish our dogs or pups because "that's what dogs do to each other" or "that's what wolves do." Therefore, because "it's natural" and "they naturally understand what you mean," it's correct for you to do it to them.

This approach is wrong for several reasons. First, is this in fact what wolves/dogs do to each other or their pups? If wolves/dogs use their mouths and you grab with your hand, that's NOT what wolves/dogs do; they don't have hands. You doing that with your hand is NOT the same thing. Canines kill with their mouths, but nothing ever taught your dog that humans kill with their hands. How many of you have killed something with your bare hands in front of your dog?

You're also told to pin your dog down by the scruff of its neck to "show it who's boss" because that's a "natural" canine act of dominance. A dog rolling over to avoid being severely injured when a dominant dog grabs it threateningly by the neck is NOT the same thing as forcibly pinning your dog by the scruff of its neck. One is voluntary, the other is brute force and violence. Have you ever tried to pin a sizeable dog by the neck just with your grip? A difficult task. If a dominant canine pins another against its will by the scruff of its neck, why is there never any neck wound? Don't believe everything you're told about wolf/dog behavior or how to mimic it.

Second, this implies that there is no value difference in any behavior based upon the species that commits the act. This means wolves/dogs infer the exact same value whether the act is performed by a bear, a mountain lion, a human or another canine. Nonsense. No living creature we've ever studied applies the same value to all species.

Third, this suggests your dog cannot tell the difference between a human being and another dog, or between a mouth and a hand. If your dog is that stupid, return it.

A major point: You're often told to induce or force your dog to submit to you to "show it who's boss" or to demonstrate to your dog that you are the "alpha" animal in your pack. Fact: Most dog bites against humans are committed by submissive "fear biters." Submission is the underlying cause behind many bites; it's pathogenic - it causes problems. Inducing dog submission increases the likelihood that it will someday bite someone; it contributes to the motive behind most bites. Inducing submission INCREASES the number of human injuries. Why pay a "professional" trainer to induce, or teach you how to induce, your dog's submission? You want your dog obedient just as a combat commander or emergency room physician or head nurse wants their staff compliant and responsive. But no one needs, respects or values submission. You want your dogs to listen to you, not wimp out and submit. Submission is BAD; it causes problems, including bites. If you're paying a "professional," demand more expert treatment, care and methods than that. Make sure they know the difference between a boss and a bully. If ANYONE tells you to bully, pin, jerk, hang or scruff your dog, get out of there NOW and DON'T PAY THEM.

The same goes for powerful equipment. If a trainer suggests you use a collar with metal prongs, head halters, or electric shock collars, you're dealing with the wrong trainer. The stronger the equipment, the weaker the handler. Your trainer's job is to get your dog responding well to you  while it's on or off conventional equipment. If they cannot do that, they're not worth your money.


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Adding A New Dog

Having two dogs is easier on you than having just one. Your sole dog looks to you to
fill every one of its needs, including play, boredom and social. Having two dogs gives each
of them a buddy to play and socialize with. And feeding two takes only seconds longer than
feeding one.

But here's an important consideration: The more alike dogs are, the more likely they'll fight
as adults. The critical areas are age, sex and temperament. Although an effective temperament evaluation can only be done by a competent professional, age and sex are obvious. For best
results, keep them some years apart in age, mix genders, and avoid getting littermates or blood relatives.

If you already have a dog - or if you had two but recently lost one - you might automatically
decide to add a second dog. Your present dog's age should influence that decision. If it's
12 years old, adding a new dog could cause it far more stress and discomfort than having it
your only dog until it's gone. A senior dog often suffers pain with vigorous play and relies upon
you more than since puppyhood. Foisting a puppy on an old dog is like sticking Grandpa with
a new baby! Sure he'll cherish it, but is he truly capable and willing to raise a baby? Probably not -
nor should he be forced to do so. If your 12 year old dog has been a fine friend and companion all
his life, why have him sacrifice his golden years, when he needs you most, while you devote your
time and attention breaking in a new one, and endure pain whenever the kid wants to play?
Getting a second dog was your choice, not his; why should he be forced to pay such a large price?

A general rule: Don’t add a new dog if your present one's age is two digits. Except in very rare circumstances, if your dog is 10 or more years old, you and he/she will be better off as a sole
dog until they leave you. Then go get yourself two great new dogs!

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Question : We adopted a 9 month old pit bull from the humane society and we're having a problem with her play-biting us. We always have a toy to give to her when she gets so excited that she wants to bite, but we can't expect everyone else to have one. How do we do this so that she is not fearful of us but understands that she can't bite people?

Answer : Good for you for giving this dog a good home.

At 9 months of age, teething is over. But check her gums thoroughly to make sure she doesn't have an impacted baby tooth stuck in there. If she does, controlling her mouthing will be difficult.

Your ready toy could teach her that she gets toys and play when she's excited and mouthy. Don't inadvertently reward her mouth use with toys and play. A common mistake is that distractions discourage behavior. Toys won't discourage mouth use when they follow mouthing and involve taking the toy with her mouth.

Try this: Teach her to refuse to take something into her mouth using the common words "Drop!" or "Leave!" In minutes she'll learn not to mouth anything when she hears those words. Then, of course, lavishly reward her for refusing to take the object, which may include your hand or arm. "Take!" means she may and should take the object into her mouth; "Leave!" means to refuse to take it or to drop it. Then use the word to prevent her from mouthing when she approaches or when she's excited, and she'll soon stop mouthing you but will not fear or resent you or others.

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Question : We have two dogs and five cats. We have purchased a new home. What can we do in advance and once we do relocate to make this move good for all our pets and us too?
We have two dogs and five cats. We have purchased a new home. What can we do in advance and once we do relocate to make this move good for all our pets and us too?
Our new home is about 1/2 mile from where we live now and we have been taking our two dogs on walks several times each week to the new house. We let them walk and smell all through the home as it's being built and they've "checked" out every inch of their future yard as well. What more can you suggest that we do? Your response is greatly appreciated.


Answer : You've done a lot correct already! Good for you! The more you visit before moving in, the easier the transition will be for the dogs. On a few of the introductory walks, toss one of their toys or balls around in the new yard so they relate it with play. And bring a few treats and give them to the dogs in the new home and the new yard. That'll not only make a positive association, it'll relax them on site also.
When you move the cats, it's much better for them to be kept in just one or two rooms for the first two weeks. Make their presence there as good, secure and comfortable as you can, but keep them in that area. Then give them the rest of the house at the rate of one room per week. The first thing that they should experience in a new room is eating, either a meal or a special treat. You stress cats badly by giving them too much
territory too quickly.
Good luck in your new home! And good for you both for providing such a fine home for your "kids!"

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If you worry that you have not made a difference, you have, for only those who do not worry about it have not. If you feel overwhelmed, if the weight of problems is too heavy to bear, remember it is a shared burden and the strength of numbers can accomplish much. 

If you think society and government are blind, it only serves to remind us that we need to change one mind at a time, one law after another. We effect change by cooperation, not by isolation. If you consider that we cannot save them all, and what difference does one make? You ought to know the joy of the one who is saved. Mourn those we cannot save. It is a eulogy to their being. Do not let their loss be in vain.

Be kind to yourself, remember your needs and those of your family and friends of every species. If you give everything, what will you have left for yourself, or for them? Strive to be happy and healthy. You are needed. Achieving balance in life is a lifelong struggle. We who help those who do not have all that they need should be among the most grateful for what we have.

Be proud of your accomplishments, not your opinions. The quality of your efforts is more important than the quantity. Forgive your own deficiencies -- sometimes your caring is sufficient. Everyone can do something, it is up to you to do the thing you can. A kind word and a gentle touch can change a life.

If seething anger wells up within you because people are the problem, remember your humanity and that people are also the solution. Concentrate on specific needs, pay attention to the individual, they make up the whole. 

See beyond the unlovable, the unattractive, the impure and the wounded --see that their spirit is as deserving as the rest. Help them heal. Their eyes are windows to their soul and the mirror of your sincerity. All species, all beings, share this Earth in a chain of life.

Care more about what makes us alike than what separates us. Policies, rules and regulations are not infallible. Apply them judiciously, interpret them wisely. No decision based purely on money is ever the right one. Listen to your heart.

Sometimes we have to do that which we are most afraid of. Be true to yourself and your beliefs. Family may abandon you, friends may disappoint you, strangers will ridicule you. People shun what they don't understand. Help them to understand -- kindly, softly, gently.

Those who do not respect all life are to be pitied. Often the wrongdoer is as in need of help as his victims. Forgive, then teach by example. 

Educate yourself or you cannot hope to teach others. No action based in hatred is ever right and anger drowns out wisdom. Yours may be a voice crying in the wilderness; make it a voice to be respected. Listen more than you talk, be courteous and reliable. Learn to ask for help. Never waiver from the truth. Know that it takes a lot of strength to cry, and with every defeat, we learn. 

All Creation celebrates that which is in its own best interest. The Children are our hope - nurture them. Nature is our legacy -- protect it. The Animals are our brethren -- learn from them. Your rewards will not be material, but they will be meaningful, and the courage of your convictions can survive anything.

We are small boats cast adrift on a cruel sea, but someday the tide will turn toward a safe harbor. No matter how dark the storm clouds, or deep the pain of heartbreak -- never forget: We are their heroes. 

~ Dedicated to all who have worked for change. May your efforts be blessed. You have made a difference.

Granny Kind, or Yvonne Presley

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Treat me kindly, my beloved master, for no heart in the world is more grateful for kindness than my loving heart.

Do not break my spirit with a stick for though I would lick your hand between blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me do.

Speak to me often, for your voice is the world’s sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.

When it is cold and wet please take me inside for I am now a domestic animal no longer used to bitter elements. I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth. Though you had no home, I would rather follow you through ice and snow than rest upon the softest pillow, for you are my god and I am your devoted worshiper.

Keep my pan filled with fresh water for, although I would not reproach you were it dry, I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food that I may stay well to romp and play and do your biding, walk by your side and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life should yours be in danger.

And, beloved master, should the Great Master see fit to take my health or sight, do not turn me away from you. Rather, hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest… and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I draw that my fate was ever safe in your hands.

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Out of the mouths of babes....
A 10 yr. old dog, "Belker," had cancer. The vet went to the family's home to put the dog out of its misery in its own home. The parents thought their 4 yr. old son, Shane, should witness the experience to help get closure on the pet's death.
After the euthanasia procedure, the vet wrote: "We sat together for a while after Belker's death wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up...'I know why.'
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I had never heard a more comforting explanation.
He said, 'Everybody is born so they can learn how to live a good life - like loving everybody and being nice, right? Well, animals already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.'

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Copyright 1997 Dr. Dennis Fetko
Last modified: May 07, 2008