Tag: Dogs training

Puppy University Program, Partnering Vet Students And Service Dogs In Training, Graduates Its First Class

Graduating college is a huge accomplishment. But for these unlikely puppy university graduates, it means something so much more.

The three pups, named Koda, Esme, and Tucker, are from Saint Francis Service Dogs. They took part in the first-ever Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine’s Puppy University program this past year. .

The program began in 2015 when the college’s Center for Animal Human Relationships (CENTAUR) partnered with Saint Francis Service Dogs – a nonprofit based in Roanoke, Virginia that helps people with disabilities become more self-sufficient and independent with service dogs.

Over the course of year, they spent their weekdays at the veterinary college in a structured program as part of their service dog training. They learned foundational skills like interacting with people and other animals, walking on a leash, and traveling on the bus.


On the weekends, the pups went home with their puppy raisers and learned more socialization and training.

Not only does the program help puppies become service dogs, it also helps the veterinary students learn lessons on the human-animal bond.

So when it came time to finally graduate, the three pups got the full college experience, of course.

They had their very own graduation ceremony – complete with caps and gowns – and received their “diplomas”.

Their training isn’t over, though. They’ll spend nine to twelve months formally training with Saint Francis Service Dogs before going on to help those in need.


We can’t imagine these pups being any less than amazing in their new roles as service dogs. If you’d like to help out Saint Francis Service Dogs, click here.

Why Does My Dog Runs From Me?

Having trouble getting your dog to come to you when called?

Does your pup think it’s fun to run from you when you’re outside?

Have you had problems with your dog running away when they get off leash?

Not Coming When Called is Dangerous


Two of the first commands that successful trainers teach are “Sit,” and “Come here.”

Sit teaches your dog to be calm and stationary. This can be life saving if there is an emergency. 

But, “Come Here” is a truly life-saving command. 

Even if your dog is normally well behaved, all it takes is one run away for disaster to strike. If they are prone to bolting when they manage to get out of your fence, or they slip their collar, they can easily run into traffic. 

Or, they simple run away. 

Passive vs. Standard Disobedience 

When your pup refuses to come to you, they are either being 

Passive: they won’t come to you, but they don’t really run away. They are preoccupied with something else, or are simply sitting there stubbornly. 

Active: They won’t come to you, and they run in the opposite direction. 

Active disobedience can be viewed as play to your dog. Watch how they interact with other pups. They often chase each other, taking turns with who’s the leader and who’s the pursuer. 


If your dog won’t come to you and looks scared or apprehensive, chances are you are the problem. 

Have you punished them after they’ve come toward you in the past? Dogs make quick associations. One bad experience can make them fearful of similar future interactions. 

Re-train your dog to associate coming to you with positive emotions: petting, belly rubs, praise, and treats. 

Dangerous Play

Your dog may run from you because they think it’s fun. But, anytime they move in the opposite direction you risk them being hit by a car, running away and becoming lost, or experiencing a problem with another dog or person. 

Do not run after your dog yelling and making a general ruckus. This is viewed as energetic play. 

  • Instead, run in the opposite direction. Laugh loudly. Once your a few few away, drop to the ground and roll around. 

Basically, imitate a dog. 

Because they’re curious and want to play, most dogs will come running over to check you out. 

If They’re Heading Toward Danger

If you dog is heading for the street or towards source of danger, skip yelling “come here” and opt for “SIT” or “Stop.” Repeat it rapidly if needed. You are trying to break your dog’s concentration and get them to stop long enough to keep them safe. 

Teaching Your Puppy to Walk on a Leash

Bringing a new dog into your home is one of the most exciting, rewarding things you can do. If they’re a rescue, they’ll surely reward your kindness with love, affection, and years of zany antics. If you’ve gotten a puppy or young adult dog (or an adult that was untrained), then getting them to walk on a leash can be challenging.

There is a small school of thought that preaches the belief that dogs walking on a leash should be allowed to roam freely, smelling and barking and playing how they like. There are other who believe that off-leash walking is possible, even in the city.

Don’t buy into it.

Why you Must Teach Your Dog To Walk On A Leash

The reality is that we need our dogs well behaved on the leash, not to satisfy our egos of being a good dog trainer, but instead to:

  • Keep our dogs safe – walking off leash in a city is dangerous, no matter how well trained or well behaved your dog is. Unless you have also trained all pedestrians, bike riders, skateboarders, and drivers, then your dog is at risk
  • Keep other safe – if you have a big dog, it doesn’t take much for them to jump up and knock someone down while out on a walk. This can lead to lawsuits, and your dog will be punished. You also don’t want to be pulled down by an unruly pup. That puts you both at risk for serious injury
  • Bond with your dog – Teaching your dog to walk calmly next to you no matter where you are can expose them to a myriad of fun things: dog parks, trips to the stores that allow dogs, adventures in the city, meeting other dogs at charity events and fundraisers, runs on the beach, etc.

But, how do you get an energetic, monkey-minded dog, especially a puppy, to behave while walking on leash?

Training A Puppy To Walk Good

  1. Don’t Let Their Energy Dictate the Pace

The biggest mistake dog owners make on the walk starts before the leash.

Dogs, especially puppies, become very excited at the sight of their leash. It means walks! Freedom! Friends and cars and people and all the cool smells the wind brings!

They’ll jump. They spin in circles. They’ll run around.

And, what do most of us do? We think it’s cute, leash them up, then start the walk. Before we even get out of the door they’re pulling us like a Clydesdale.

Calm Your Puppy Before The Walk

First, don’t start the walk until they’re calm. This will take patience on your part and theirs. You have to be willing to wait them out. Teach them to sit and wait calmly (it’s an excited calm, but it’s not jumping and running and spinning).

Once they’re calm, attach their leash/harness. Now, this will not happen on the first attempt. They’ll feign being relaxed, then get wild as you begin the leashing process. Back off, re-start. Keep going until they’re calm.

This one challenge will remove many of the behavior problems that occur on the walks. By putting your dog in a calm mental state, you teach them that – yeah, walks are cool, but they’re more fun when we do them as a team.

  1. Choose the Right Equipment

This is a highly individual choice. Rope leash vs nylon vs multiple-handle vs slip.

You’ll have to experiment.

However, a good rule is: if you have a large, powerful, or forceful dog, retractable leashes are not your friend.

A retractable leash will allow a dog to run at full speed before being stopped with a violent pull of their neck or chests. They allow for very little gripping power. Retractable leashes also break easily.

Leave retractable leashes to the Toy group.

  1. Off-Leash Training

If you have a yard, you can use the space to teach your dog that walking next to you is awesome. However, if you live in an apartment, you can try it indoors, too.

Put their leash on (when they’re calm). Walk away. When you’re about 10-feet away, call them with a quick command like “come on,” or “let’s go.”

Be cheerful. Let them know it’ll be fun.

When they reach your side, reward them with treats or affection.

Take hold of the leash and start walking. If she strays, use a gentle pull on the leash to put her back on track. Do not yank. These create negative associations.

Continue this exercise until you can make a lap or two around the yard (or apartment), then take the show on the road.

  1. Expose Them to All the Sights and Sounds

Once on the street, you and your puppy will be faced with many distractions. Exposure to cars, people, other dogs, cats, squirrels, etc. help your dog become desensitized to the stimulus. They’ll acknowledge the car or the other dog, but it won’t cause a negative behavior.

If she’s pulling or getting wild, simply repeat your command (Let’s go, come on, etc.) and walk in the opposite direction. Gentle pulls to get her attention focused on walking.

How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Really Need?

Dogs, like people, need exercise. They crave movement. They need to get out of the house and explore the world.

Unfortunately, most dogs are under-exercised, and are suffering mentally and physically for it.

Lack Of Exercise Leads To Mental Strain

The old school of thinking believed that dogs were playful as puppies, then around a year old, they got lazy and boring. This lead to a lot of unhappy, destructive dogs. And, more sadly, it has led to many adult dogs being dumped in kill-shelters because they weren’t playing like a puppy anymore.

The truth is that dogs are pretty active at all ages. If they’re not sick or injured, a dog wants to move. Sitting in the house every day leads to boredom. Bored dogs become destructive. Or, depressed. They become lethargic.

Again, old school thinking about dogs led to the belief that they’re nothing more than dumb animals. But, the truth is that dogs are intelligent, emotional beings. They need mental stimulation.

Exercise As Mental And Physical Stimulation

Even seen a high energy breed like a German Shepard or a Husky destroy a house or yard? They’re under stimulated. These dogs are working breeds.

Keep a hound from exploring with its nose and you’ll have a sad, destructive dog.

Every breed, even mixed breeds, have things they crave. Exercise helps them satisfy this need.

Movement helps them physically, just as it does for humans. It controls weight, helps with metabolic rate, keeps disease at bay.

Walking Is Key

Waling is the best exercise for most dogs.

Daily walks of 20-minutes is minimal.

Two walks are better.

Know your dog – if you have a high energy dog, you’ll need to either walk more or run with them to use up their considerable energy.

What about dog parks and the back yard?

There are many experts that believe that running around a dog park or your yard is good for exercise but doesn’t provide the same primal mental stimulation that a long walk does. While this is debatable, the best option is to always include a walk whenever possible.

There seems to be something about moving forward, walking, that stimulates your dog’s brain, and helps them release a lot of mental stress. Walking could be tied into the act of searching for food and shelter that is embedded in your pup’s genetic coding.

If you can walk with them, and give them access to a yard or dog park, they’ll get the best of both worlds.

Bad Weather and Older Dogs

What if your dog is older and can’t handle long walks?

What About When It Snows Or Rains?

Do your best to get your dog out walking, even if it is for several short (as little as 5-minute) walks. Finding ways for them to exercise their minds with toys, bones, chew toys is important in these cases as well. If they’re up for it, play games with them. This will get them moving and thinking.

In bad weather, short walks can help. Some experts contend that a walk to the mailbox can help relieve mental stress and boredom. A short ride in the car can help. If you are confined to the house, turn to games using toys, treats, and simply being playful with your puppy can help them burn off mental and physical energy.

A Special Note For Puppies

In general, puppies are like toddlers – they have a seemingly inexhaustible energy supply.

Walking them multiple times per day, letting them run, and playing games with them are all necessary. If that energy is not put to positive use, it will turn negative. If you’d like to keep your couch, curtains, carpet, and shoes intact, get your new baby exercised.

The old adage that “a tired puppy is a good puppy,” holds true.

How to Train Your Dog The Most Important Command

When it comes to training dogs, there are tons of commands and tricks to teach him or her, but there is one command in particular that can end up saving your pup’s life:  COME.

Let’s say you’re on a walk or in the park with your furry best friend by your side, then he gets distracted by something that gets tossed out a passerby car window; he goes to run for the object amidst heavy traffic. This is one of many times when ‘COME’ will be crucial for your dog to know.

If you want to take the extra step to make sure your dog is safe and stays out of harm’s way, ‘COME’ is a good place to start.

Here’s how to get started:

1. Make sure your dog is on a leash.

2. Hold onto your end of the leash and tell your dog “come” once, and walk backwards. You should walk fairly quickly.

3. Continue to move in that direction until your dog finally reaches you.

4. Once your dog gets to you, you excitedly praise your dog for correctly coming.

5. Give him a treat for correctly coming.

6. Repeat, and eventually lose the leash once the action is naturally done, and you’re confident in his understanding of the command.

And don’t forget–practice makes perfect!

Study Confirms, Your Dog Understands What You’re Saying.

A recent study published in Science, by a team of Hungarian journalists finds that your dog understands both emotion and the lexicon of our word

What does this mean for you?

The next time someone gives you trouble for those conversations with your dog you can tell them that science is on your side. It looks like those of us that spend hours talking with our pets aren’t so crazy after all. The bad news,  next time you try and trick Fido by telling him it’s time to go to the vet in a happy voice, he’s not going to be falling for it.

To conduct the study, the team lead by Attila Andics trained 13 different dogs, mostly golden retrievers, and border collies to sit completely still for a 7 minute MRI.

Atilla then played a recording of phrases such as good boy, clever, and that’s it. They were all played in a praising tone, a neutral word in a neutral tone, a praising word in a neutral tone, and a neutral word in a praising tone.

Amazingly, the dog’s reward center only responded positively to both a praising word in a praising tone. This proves that our pets not only understand our expressions and vocal tone but also what we tell them.

So next time you spend some one-on-one time with your pet,  watch what you say. Your dog understands you.

Curing Behaviour Problems In High Energy Dogs

Dog behavior expert Caesar Milan is fond of saying “Every dog needs a job.” Many disagree with Cesar’s methods, but it’s tough to argue with this philosophy.

The reality is, your dog was bred to perform a task. Even mixed breeds have the need to “work.” Many undesirable behaviours: digging, howling, excessive barking, etc. can be attributed to your dog’s need to do its job going unfulfilled.

Your Beagle howls when it spots a rabbit because it has a hard-wired. They need to alert the pack, and the hunter, that it’s found game.

Your Australian Shepard nips at the kids feet when they run because it has a need to herd.

Your small, mixed breed dog suffers from explosive barking fits every time someone walks by your home. This is because it’s job is to alert you that there is a threat approaching.

Exercise Helps Control Dog Behaviour

If you’re losing your mind with your dog’s behavior issues, first know that they are all fixable.

The good news is that walking your dogs will solve a lot of issues. All dogs, regardless of breed, have a need to walk. This is their need for moving forward in search of food and shelter. When you deny a dog this simple task, it can cause a buildup of mental and physical energy and this leads to destructive behaviors.

Two, finding breed-specific tasks is a great way for your dog to realize it’s need to work.

If you have a mixed breed, finding out things she likes to do will not be hard.

Start with Basic Behavior Training

What kind of dog do you have?

Not surprisingly, Labs will enjoy retrieving a ball, stick, or Frisbee and bringing it back to you. You don’t need to duck hunt because your dog is hyperactive. But, finding a way for them to replicate soft-mouth carrying an object to you is an excellent way for them to feel fulfilled mentally and physically.

Playing scent-related hide-and-seek games can be a great way for nose-dominate dogs like hounds (and all dogs, really) to perform work tasks. Hide an object they’re familiar with in your home or yard. Walk them through the finding and retrieval process. Repeat and reward.

No matter what breed you have, toys like Kong that allow you to hide treats or food inside of the toy, leaving your dog to use its brain to figure out the puzzle will help with their mental health and cut down on destructive behaviors.

Swimming, if your dog like water, is an excellent way for your dog to exercise mentally and physically.

Agility training is great for herding breeds, sporting breeds, and small dogs that love to run around. You don’t have to turn your yard into the World Breed Championships. Just a simple obstacle course will be like Disney for your dog.

Training Your New Puppy or Dog

Training your dog is great for your dog and the owner. It will shape their future, and vets will tell dog lovers that a well trained dog is a happy and healthy dog. Sufficient training will shape your dog’s personality and if you want your dog or puppy to be set for life, you should begin training early. Here we list our key behavioral and training tips to get your dog started.

A caveat on our training methods, we believe in positive reinforcement and are providing recommendations using treats as a reward.

Basic Training Commands

There are 4 life-saving commands – sit, stay, come, leave. “Sit and Stay” will teach your dog how to be patient. These commands are required to calm your dog and control their enthusiasm. “Come” is the command to get your dog’s attention and summon them to you. This is very important to stimulate their mind and help them be submissive. “Leave” is the command to temper their bad behavior and is for when they lock on one item. If your dog is able to focus on multiple objects at once then they will develop more cognitive functions.

Learning Their Space Within Your Home

It is essential that every dog has their own chill zone. They should have a space they can maintain and adore. This is usually their bed. Having a place in your home that they can “lair” allows your dog to have consistency. Most dogs will take to this like a duck to water, but some dogs will need to be persuaded. This will occur often when they get a new bed or crate. We recommend that you do a reward for your dog, every time you can coax them to their new spot. Dogs will then naturally develop an affinity for this place.

Teaching Your Dog Boundaries

Dogs react nicely to boundaries, so long as they’ve been clearly outlined. The key to this training method is using your voice. You must be firm. If your dog keeps chewing on your couch, you must be firm with your “NO.” Do not fall for their puppy dog eyes. If your dog climbs on the sofa, then you should firmly get them down but reward them with a treat when they are down so they know being off the sofa is good. The hard part for most owners is that you must be consistent. It is very easy to confuse your dog if you don’t set clear and defined boundaries.

Go Potty

Dogs that are adopted when they are older are generally house broken however that does not mean that they will not have accidents while they try and get used to their new surroundings. The tried and true method of teaching your dog where to go to the bathroom is to walk to the place you desire them to go. When they “go potty” there, you should reward them and compliment them. This is a good time for them to get a treat and if you continually reinforce the behavior, this will provide your dog with structure and create a desired routine.

How to Be Home Alone

Home should not be overly hard if you have managed to train your pup to enjoy their crate or bed. Usually, as you gear up to leave, your dog will approach their crate or bed and will lay down. This isn’t them feeling sad, this is them making themselves feel safe. Puppies are the hardest age to train. They are very needy and look to you as their parent. The best way to train a puppy is to leave for a short time and reward them before you leave and after you return. They must know that you will come back, that is their fear. This a wonderful means to establish trust between your dog and you. They will be more at ease once they start to trust you completely.

Dog Training Tips: How To Stop Your Dog From Jumping On People

Your dogs are happy to see you when you walk in the front door. Puppies will explode into an energetic fit of affection when you come home, when someone enters your house, or when they see a doggie friend. Most consider it cute to see their puppy run around, jumping on everyone, and skidding across the floor in excitement.

But, puppies grow up. Even small dogs can become a nuisance with constant jumping. It’s not difficult for a small or medium sized dog to trip you accidently, or to knock over children.

Bigger dogs are strong, and often heavy enough to knock over furniture, and people when they jump. This behavior needs to be stopped before it becomes overwhelming.

Why Do Dogs Jump On People?

Some behaviorists feel that dogs jump up onto people, trying to get close to our faces, because this is a genetic trait passed down to them by wolves. Wolf puppies greet adults by licking their faces, and mother wolves will often eat then regurgitate the food into the pup’s mouth.

Obviously, modern dogs do not eat this way, but the trait may have been passed down.

Other behaviorists feel that the behavior is simply the expression of excess energy. A way of greeting other dogs (playfully) and of greeting humans. Dogs licking their person’s face seems to go way back into the history of the human-canine bond. Humans ok’d the behavior, and dogs for generations have picked up on that and passed the process down.

Whatever the reason, excess jumping can lead to behavior problems and injury.

Wait Until They’re Calm

This is one of the easiest training methods to implement with dogs of all ages, and sets the tone for all other aspects of training, such as walking next to you on a leash.

Simply being patient and waiting until your pup calms down before showering them with attention is the best way to get them to stop jumping out of excitement.

This isn’t cruel. It can actually be good for your dog. Running around with reckless abandon can lead to injuries (slipping the wrong way on hardwood floors can lead to broken legs, torn ligaments, and muscle strains).

In older dogs, that kind of explosive excitement can cause heart problem (accelerated heartbeat).

How to Practice Patience

This will not be easy. You probably appreciate that your dog is so excited to see you. Waiting until they’re calm may take a few minutes, but you can help them avoid injury, and avoid injury to your guests.

Step 1: Walk in Calmly

One of the biggest mistakes we make is to play into the craziness. Using a high-pitched voice to greet your furbabies, speaking rapidly, jumping around with them, or rough-housing can all elevated their excitement.

Practice walking into your home calmly. If you have a bag, briefcase, or groceries, this is a good way to focus on walking forward, putting your things down, and giving your dogs a minute to let that energy dissipate before playing with them.


Step 2: Say Hello, but Don’t Give Too Much Attention

It’s ok to say hi and acknowledge them, but do so with a calm, even voice then move on. Put your stuff away, wash your hands, then make eye contact. If you’ve taught them how to sit, this is a perfect time to give the command.

Once they’re sitting, you can give attention and affection.

  1. If Excitement Elevates, Back Off

Once they’re calm and you begin petting them, they may become overly-excited again. They may start jumping again. If so, back off, ignore them until they re-calm, then try again.

This may need to be repeated several times.

Do this every time you come home for several weeks. You’ll notice a difference after only a few days, but re-enforcement is key.

Tire Your Dog to Stop Jumping

  1. Take Short Trips

Time is a factor is this process. Being out of the house for 4 – 8 hours while at work gives your pup a lot of time to build nervous energy. To a dog, you’ve left an may never be coming home. Activity is great and trackable with Nuzzle.

Practicing short trips in and out of the house is a good way to reinforce calmness, and teach them that you will return.

Walk to the mail box, the end of the hall, down to your car, out to the store. Start with being outside your house for 5-minutes. Then 10, then a half hour, and so on.

It won’t take long for them to learn.

  1. Get Your Friends On-Board

Having friends, family, and other visitors follow the rules is paramount to success. Teach them to come in, calmly acknowledge your dogs, then wait until they’re calm. Remember, visitors provide your dog with such a great opportunity to cop some extra love and affection. This leads to even more excitement. But, if you have all visitors enter and follow the rules, your dogs will quickly learn that if they just wait, sit, and stop jumping, they’ll be showered in love and attention.

House Training Senior Dogs

Has your  senior dog been having accidents in your house?

Does she frequently forget to tell you it’s time to go out?

Do you notice accidents at a certain time of day? Or, after a you’ve bene out of the house for a certain amount of time?

As your dog ages, she may develop problems with potty training. There are several reasons this happens:

  • A senior dog’s digestive system may not run as efficiently as it did when they were a pup. This leads to an irregular bathroom schedule
  • Your dog may have trouble holding it in. Just as with humans, as dogs enter their golden years, they may have more trouble holding it in while you’re away at work
  • There can be lag time between your pup’s brain tell her “it’s time to go out” and her ability to get to the door
  • Seniors often have to go to the bathroom more frequently than puppies
  • Did you rescue your senior pooch? She may have never been potty trained

First, make sure that accidents aren’t happening because of a medical issue. Take your dog to the vet and have them perform a Senior Blood Panel. This will find any issue with their bladder, kidneys, liver, and other essentials.

  • Once you’ve established that it’s not a medical problem, figure out if the issue is behavioral.

House Training: Puppy vs Older Dog

First, know that unless there is a medical issue, any dog, regardless of age, can be housebroken.

There are many differences in training a puppy vs an older adult dog

However, with both puppies and seniors, the key is consistency.

How to House Train a Senior Dog, Fast

These rules are meant for senior dogs, but you can apply them to puppies and adults as well.

Be Consistent with Their Meal Times

Aim to feed your senior pup at the same time every day. Remove their bowl between meals. The senior appetite is different than that of a puppy. Your senior may only pick at her food at meal time, then go looking for more later. This leads to inconsistent bathroom habits. By removing the bowl, you are letting them know that they can eat their fill – but, only at dinner time.

Feed your dog at the same time every day and take their bowl away between meals.

This will also help set up a routine of eating, resting, going out. All dogs love routine, but seniors especially thrive on consistency.

Keep a Bathroom Schedule

When training a puppy, you set up a bathroom schedule. It helps teach the pup system when it’s time to go. This goes a long way in preventing accidents because the dog’s system starts to process food on with regularity, eliminating the need for surprise trips to the bathroom.

With seniors, this is even more important. Your senior dog’s system isn’t as efficient as it used to be. Consistency in feeding and bathroom break times helps balance their system.

Senior Rescue Dogs: your rescue may not have even been house trained. If so, don’t fret. This can be an advantage because you are only teaching, and not teaching plus breaking ingrained bad habits.

Puppies should go out four times per day, minimum. Seniors should go 6 or more. They won’t relieve themselves every time, but giving them the opportunity cuts down on accidents, and helps eliminate accident-anxiety. 

Be sure to give you senior time to do her business once outside. Rushing your dog will only create more anxiety.

Rewarding Success

When she does her business outside, make sure you’re right there to reward her with treats, praise, play, or a walk.

Startle, Don’t Scare

If and only if you catch them in the act of eliminating (not 5 minutes later!), clap so that you startle them out of what they’re doing.

Then take them outside and offer them praise and treats after they finish eliminating.

Watch Them Closely

Be sure to keep a close eye on your seniors. They may not be able to tell you it’s time to go in time, and they may also feel shame if they have accidents. The best thing to do is to watch them closely, looking for patterns that let you know it’s time to go outside. 

Clean Up

Accidents happen with dogs of all ages, just as they do with humans. Dogs are not machines. When your senior pup has an accident, be sure to clean the area as best as possible to remove the scent which could encourage them to use that spot again. 

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  • Orla O’Keefe

    Most of my day is spent playing with dogs. When they nap, I’m here working on my blog. You’re welcome to reach out and connect with me.

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