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Housetraining your puppy: 5 tips for success

Housetraining your puppy: 5 tips for success

How to house train Bulldog PuppiesPotty training a puppy or new rescue dog takes dedication, a plan, good timing and lots of love and patience. Remember, your puppy is a member of a foreign species that has no way of understanding that her potty is outdoors until you show her very clearly. If she makes a mistake, don’t get mad, and don’t correct.  Assess what YOU need to do better and then work with her according to a well thought out plan. Here are some quick and easy tips for puppy potty training will help you get your new puppy or new rescue dog on the right paw for a lifetime of good habits.

  1. Schedule all food, water, potty time. Take her out about every hour at first.
  2.  Confine with a crate or tie her near you or to you or supervise all the time. She should spend the majority of the time interacting with you, not alone in her crate.  Remember:  She will sniff the floor very briefly right before she potties. This is when you need to hustle her out. FAST!
  3. When she gets outside, you must go with her with food rewards. Run with her to the same spot every time. she will forget why she went out. Don’t play with her until after she potties. When she goes, praise her dramatically, give her food (important!) as you praise. Then play with her for a few minutes before you go back inside.
  4.  Keep her off the carpets! Thoroughly clean up any accidents with an odour neutralizing cleaner like white vinegar. Don’t worry, the vinegar smell goes away.
  5. Don’t scold for accidents! Just interrupt with a loud (don’t scare, interrupt) noise Silently hustle her outside. Clean the accident up when you get back. She is just performing to natural, unconscious (like a toddler)bodily functions. If you scold she will get scared and not want to go potty in front of you. Which will be a problem when you try to get her to potty outside.

Reactive Dog? Aggressive Dog? What’s the difference?

Reactive Dog? Aggressive Dog? What’s the difference?

Aggressive dog snarlingThe terms, “Reactive” and “Aggressive” are sometimes used interchangeably. Neither word defines the dog, but both words describe behaviour which is very often rooted in fear, and rarely, in dysfunctional social skills.

The only way to fix reactive dog behaviour permanently is to change the emotional response of the dog to the scary thing is by carefully applying a program of progressive counterconditioning and desensitization and having the dog practice self control through specialized interactive games. Changing reactivity to non reactive, calm behaviour requires changing the dog’s emotional response to a perceived threat, whether we are dealing with leash reactivity, resource guarding, or any other situation where the dog becomes aggressive.

Why not just correct the dog with a tug on a training collar, or another physical or verbal correction when he acts aggressively? There are several good reasons not to correct your dog for aggression. The first is that most dogs will figure out that when scary things approach, you become aggressive and confusing. This will stress a dog more, and the dog will often learn to associate the scary thing with stress and getting a physical correction. Then when you aren’t around, the aggressive behaviour tends to increase, and new anxiety related behaviour may show up. Science has shown that dogs who are trained through the use of corrections are more likely to show an increase in aggressive behaviour. Since the early 21st century, at least two published studies have found that dog aggression and anxiety behaviours increased when punitive training methods were used.** Meghan Herron and her colleagues from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania reported in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science that using punishing techniques when training dogs tends to increase the aggression in the animals, rather than decreasing it.** Not surprisingly, dogs trained using corrections don’t learn as quickly as dogs trained using positive reinforcement with a scientifically designed training protocol. One study even found that most owner directed aggression would cease when the dog owner stopped using physical corrections in training.

The only long term, effective approach to training a reactive dog is always to use a counterconditioning and desensitization protocol.

How long will it take? The time it takes to thoroughly fix any behaviour problem depends on the individual dog, owner compliance to the training program, and how many times the behaviour has repeated itself successfully before the training program began. While improvement is typically seen after the first session, each repetition of the new, calm behaviour will help to make the threat response disappear for good. It can take up to 3 months of practicing controlled repetitions before the new, confident, controlled and relaxed emotions are solid enough to be reliable.

** Dog Training Methods: Their Use, effectiveness and interaction with dog behaviour and and welfare, EF Hibey et al, Journal of Animal Welfare (2004)
**Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors Meghan E. Herron *, Frances S. Shofer, Ilana R. Reisner, Journal of Applied Animal Behaviour (2009)

5 tips to help keep senior dogs healthy and happy

5 tips to help keep senior dogs healthy and happy

Senior dogs can stay active and healthy as they age.  Although there are definitely genetic components to aging, here 5 tips to help your dog to stay healthy and happy during their senior years. Please click on the links for even more information!

  1.   Keep her physically active.  Walks can become several short jaunts at her own pace instead of one long hike.   You might find she still likes to zip around a bit off leash, so go to the dog park when there aren’t a bunch of young dogs there.  Play a little fetch if she likes to play fetch.  Besides walking, older dogs can benefit from doggy exercises like a sit/stand sequence, and mild pedestal exercises. Exercises like these help to keep the hip joints active and limber, so your dog can stand up more easily.
  2. Help her to stay mentally active with interactive games, tricks, and even puzzle toys and chew toys.  Staying mentally active helps to keep dementia at bay.  Your old dog might not be up to going for a run anymore, but she will certainly appreciate any chance to show off her mad skills at “high-five”.  Check out theses activities from
  3. Keep her from gaining too much weight.  Excess weight is really hard on the joints and organs like the heart.  There are many senior diets available that are lower calorie and protein than the ones made for all life stages.  You may find that switching to one of these diets helps to keep the pounds from adding up to excess.  If your dog is on a raw or home cooked diet, adjust the ingredients as necessary by adding more fresh vegetables.
  4. Keep toenails trimmed.  Some senior dogs become sensitive about nail trims.  If this is the case with yours, your veterinarian can very likely assist with this.
  5. Take her to visit the veterinarian.  A veterinarian can give her a thorough check and make sure bumps and lumps aren’t cancerous tumors.  Your vet might prescribe a non steroidal anti inflammatory (like Metacam)to help your dog feel more comfortable.  More vets are prescribing CBD oil for dogs, which is proving to be effective for many of the ailments caused by the aging process.
10 Dog Training Tips for Success

10 Dog Training Tips for Success

Here are 10 dog training tips that will help you to get the best out of your dog.

  1. Have a basic routine and always be consistent with training and rules. Don’t allow the dog on the bed sometimes if you don’t want the dog on the bed at other times.
  2. Keep training sessions short and sweet.  Aim for 3-5 minutes per session, 4 or 5 times per day.  Short dog training sessions will help your dog to stay focussed and interested.  Like they say in show biz: “Always leave them wanting more!”
  3. Think of the behaviour  you want rather than the behaviour you don’t want.   Use positive reinforcement to create positive associations with doing what you want.  Don’t let him self reward for behaviour you don’t want by preventing this behaviour while you teach the one that you want.
  4.  Be assertive, not dominant.  Just forget about dominance. Your dog doesn’t want to be your boss and could care less about Alpha status.  He just wants to get what he wants the easiest, most efficient way.  If he can get a sandwich when he steals yours, he will steal your sandwich. If he can get you to give him a treat just by lying down and waiting, he will lie down.
  5. Set goals for behaviour. Work in baby steps to reach the goal.  If your dog fails at one step more than twice, go back to the last step and repeat it a few times before trying the more difficult progression again.
  6. The harder the behaviour we want from the dog, the higher value the reward should be.
  7.  Be a slot machine, not an ATM.  Start with frequent, small rewards, and as soon as you get the behaviour 10 times in a row, start to make the treats intermittent.
  8. Keep your treat pouch behind your left buttock. Then it won’t distract your dog.
  9. Always reward on and off leash check-ins, at least with a really happy greeting and sometimes with a food reward or game.
  10. All training starts with creating a positive association with attention to name.  Practice saying her name and rewarding a few times a day.

Dog behaviour problems: How to easily get a dog to stop jumping on you

Dog behaviour problems: How to easily get a dog to stop jumping on you

Dog behaviour problems: Get your dog to stop jumping up

dog behaviour problems with pitbull
Dog behaviour problems: Don’t over-think common issues like jumping on people

Want your dog to quit jumping on you and your guests?  Lynne Fedorick demonstrates how to teach your dog to greet people in a calm and gentle manner, quickly and easily.

For More dog training tips, check out our website:

How to Get Your dog to come back in the house


Holiday tips for dog owners

Holiday tips for dog owners

Merry Christmas from Go Dog Go!

Holiday tips from Go Dog Go! Dog Training

We hope you and your four footed family members enjoy a peaceful, merry and bright holiday with family and friends.  Here are a few holiday tips for dog owners to help make this happen for your dog and your family.

1:  The Christmas Tree:

  • Set the Christmas tree up in a corner where it is less likely to be knocked down. If you have a cat, or a really rambunctious pup, tie the tree in place
  • Water the tree every day, and don’t use any additives, just in case your dog wants to take a drink.
  • No tinsel!  Tinsel can get all over the place, and it can be very damaging to a dog’s digestive system.

2:  Good Treats for Good Doggies:

  • The holiday season is not a good time to introduce new foods to pets, who may already be upset by changes in routine.
  • Turkey meat, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, and even brussels sprouts are all good for dogs in reasonable quantities and can help them feel like they are part of the family.  Turkey skin and bones, butter, cream, gravy, chocolate, raisins, alcoholic beverages are all really bad for dogs. Rawhide treats are never a good idea due to the chemicals used to  process the hides, but the chance they could be ingested and cause a digestive blockage is enough to warrant a ban on them in any household .
  • Bully sticks, chew hooves, and homemade dog treats are great stocking stuffers for doggies. Puzzle toys will also help to keep him busy and happy.
  •  Get your dog a gift and wrap it!  Dogs like to unwrap presents just as much as you do, (and they will never be disappointed with their gift! ).  Having your dog involved in the family activities will help to strengthen your bond and get him wanting to do what you want him to do. Don’t put it under the tree until Christmas eve.  On Christmas morning cue a “Stay” while you get his present from under the tree to give him.

Have fun with your pet over the holidays.  Take plenty of long walks and enjoy the season together.

How to get your dog to come back indoors

How to get your dog to come back indoors

Earl the German Shorthaired Pointer
Do you have trouble getting your dog to come back in after you let him out in the backyard?

If you have a dog who dashes out the door and runs whenever someone is coming or going and then blows you off when you try to get him to come back, here is a quick and painless cure for door-dashing that will leave him happily racing back into the house, or (better yet!) not even darting out to begin with.   

Never scold your pup for not coming back in fast enough or running out and playing “catch me if you can!” Instead, prevent any such activities by beginning teaching new skills using a longish leash attached to a regular buckle collar.  The dog can drag the leash while you practice this set of skills, and if for some reason he bolts the first time or two, you can always quickly step on the leash.   Practice these steps until your pup hurries back into the house every time with no leash at all.  Believe me, it won’t take long!

  1. Before you let your dog out show him an extra special treat (like a whole hot dog, if he’s a large dog!) let him watch you place it near the doorway (inside).  
  2. Then let him out and call him back as soon as he is out the door.  When he comes back, make a big deal about it and give him  the whole hot dog.  
  3. Repeat  and notice how much faster he gets each time!
  4. That’s it. Except just one little thing.  The reward has to be extra super special.  Don’t try to pass of hard biscuits as special enough.  They aren’t and it won’t work with biscuits.  Be sure to us  something moist and soft and smelly (turkey, bison or beef pepperoni, and natural hot dogs or a big chunk of Polish sausage are perfect) that he never gets at any other time.

It may be a few weeks before you can stop using the big food reward, and just have it once in a while.  Remember, if the dog thinks training is a fun game that he invented, he will obey willingly and happily every time, so make it fun!

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Hormones and dog aggression

Hormones and dog aggression

What makes some dogs calm and chill, while other

Pitbulldogs flip out when they are in the presence  of dogs, people or other perceived threats in their environment?  Scientists all over the world are unravelling more and more mysteries of dog behaviour.  As a dog nerd, I was excited to find out that  recent research  at University of Arizona led by Evan MacLean linked the presence of two different hormones in the blood to behavioural changes.


MacLean and his collaborators looked specifically at oxytocin and vasopressin — hormones that are also found in humans — and found that they may play an important role in shaping dogs’ social behavior.

Why is this important to us dog owners? Well, Oxytocin (the love hormone) is found in higher levels in non-reactive dogs, in this case service dogs with no history of aggression.  Aggressive reactivity is found in dogs with elevated Vasopressin levels.



Blood levels of Oxytocin can be increased through bonding, food rewards and other positive experiences. In order to help aggressive dogs get on the right track with behaviour, veterinary scientists may soon be exploring ways to suppress the vasopressin system, so it doesn’t create as much of that hormone. But for most dogs, vasopressin can reduced, and oxytocin increased, simply by positive interactions with people.

“Previous work shows dog-human friendly interactions can create a release in oxytocin in dogs, and when dogs interact with people, we see that their vasopressin levels go down over time,” MacLean said. “These are bidirectional effects. It’s not just that when we’re petting a dog, the dog is having this hormonal response — we’re having it, too.”

Combative, dominance oriented approaches to treating dog behaviour simply don’t work unless it is repeated constantly over the life of the dog.  What a miserable way to live for both dog and human.


Evan Maclean’s studies of Oxytocin levels in dogs with aggressive behaviour will hopefully help to dispel some common mythology surrounding dog behaviour and training.  When we get dogs to calm down by using compassionate and kind training methods that include game based, bonding exercises, we can actually affect the levels of the hormones that cause bonding and aggression.  How cool is that anyway?

5 Things you must know before you hire a dog trainer

5 Things you must know before you hire a dog trainer

I’ll admit it:  Choosing a dog trainer can be really confusing.  There is nothing to stop anyone from calling himself/herself a dog trainer, or worse yet, a behaviourist.  For dog trainers, it’s kind of like the way it was in the 1800’s before someone needed formal education to teach children. Welcome to the Wild West, abounding with both well meaning people, Certified trainers, people who say they are certified dog trainers but aren’t,  and snake oil dog trainers who say  can cure any behaviour through (insert mysterious sounding buzzword here).   Choosing the wrong person to train your dog can be hazardous for both you and the dog.  Choosing the right dog trainer can lead to a well behaved, confident dog who really listens to you.  Here are a few tips to help you navigate the minefield that is modern dogtraining.

  1. Look for  CPDT-KA or CPDT-KSA certification.  This certification means the trainer has passed extensive formal testing in dog behaviour and training, passed reference checks from a vet, a fellow dog trainer, and a client, and has at least 300 hours of practical experience.  They have to practice under professional guidelines, which are aimed at excellent customer service and humane and ethical treatment of the dogs in their care. There is no other certification that is equal to Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers Certification.  Furthermore, if a dog trainer says they are certified, ask for their number, and look them up on the certifying body’s website.
  2. A professional dog trainer who is worth your time and money will always carry insurance.  Ask to see a copy of their insurance certificate.
  3. Dog trainers with a sound knowledge of behaviour will not ever suggest or demand you drop your fearful/reactive/aggressive dog off for a board and train, or (shudder) boot camp. Dogs with these problems are best trained in the familiar surroundings of their home environment.  A dog trainer that wants you to leave your dog with him/her to train, wants to train your dog behind closed doors (who knows what they are doing back there).  Board and train of reactive/fearful/aggressive dogs is a BIG RED FLAG!!!
  4. Observe dogs with the trainer.  Do they cringe with back hunched, ears back, tails down? Or are they happy, confident, and wanting more?  Does the trainer smile and use animated body language when training?   Does he/she frown, in an exaggeratedly tall posture, like a schoolyard bully standing over a kindergarten kid? (Back slowly away until it is safe to run if you see this).
  5. Watch out for these mysterious and made up buzzwords:   “calm submissive”, “red zone”,  “whisperer“, “dominant”, “pack leader”, “alpha”, “energy” etc. Also watch out for this frequent phrase with trainers with no formal training in behaviour: “we train dogs when no one else can”.  Really?  No one else can?  Doesn’t that mean the owners have taken the dog to all other trainers who have all tried and failed?  I call B.S..  Dog trainers with a working knowledge of behaviour use these buzzwords:  “reactive”, “Reinforcement”, “reward marker”, “stimulus”, “rate of reinforcement, “behaviour modification”, “quadrants” .  They can effectively define words like “negative punishment”, “positive punishment”, correction, positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement.  Good trainers are also quiet when training dogs.

I hope this helps anyone who needs help with a badly behaved dog.  For more great tips on dog training like our Facebook page at:

Cesar Milan's worst bite- Did he ask for it?
Click here to watch a good description of dog language.

How food bowl guarding can be dealt with safely and effectively.