Category Archives: Training

Training: Going Potty in a Certain Spot

If you don’t want to go scooping poop every time your dog relieves himself in the backyard, the simplest solution to keeping your yard poo-free is to train your dogs to go in a certain area, like right along the edges of your property or fence! This makes clean-up much easier and you don’t always have to watch your step when trying to enjoy the great outdoors.

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Best Dog Collars for Pulling

Many dogs who were not properly trained pull on their leashes. This behavior can be dangerous for both humans and dogs; dogs can get loose, choke, and strain or pull muscles and people can injure themselves. Along with proper training, there are products to help curb this unwanted issue, starting with the collar. A dog’s collar is the most important thing when training a dog to properly walk on his leash without pulling. Here are three suggestions to consider when choosing the proper collar for pull-free walks with your pooch.

Martingale No-Slip Collar

Martingale No-Slip Collar ($8-$15)
The Martingale style collar is affordable and discourages pulling. The double ring system tightens around the dog’s neck if he pulls; when the dog stops pulling, the leash loosens. The dog will quickly associate pulling with the unpleasant feeling and will automatically be relieved when he stops pulling. It’s better than a traditional collar because it is loose and comfortable when the dog isn’t pulling; you actually slip it on and off the dog’s head (no clips). Read more about the Martingale collar here.
Buy it at PetSmart, $9.99

easy walk harness

One of our fosters, DJ, in an Easy Walk Harness

Easy Walk Harness ($20-$30)
This harness is great for training dogs who constantly pull on their leashes, especially medium to large breeds. The leash clips to the front of the harness, meaning when the dog pulls on the leash, it turns them to the side and ultimately, all the way around to you. It does not go around the dog’s neck, so it’s impossible for the dog to choke or gag. This is great for moderate-strength to strong dogs, including Labrador Retrievers, American Pit Bull Terriers and German Shepherds, but works just as well for smaller dogs. Read more about the Easy Walk Harness from Premier, the makers of the harness here.
Buy it at Pet Expertise.

foster dog

Gentle Leader Headcollar on our foster dog, DJ

Gentle Leader Headcollar ($15-$20)
This collar attaches around the dog’s mouth, like an open muzzle. It isn’t a muzzle; dogs can eat, drink and pick things up with the Headcollar on. This is my favorite of the three collars to stop pulling; this will stop every breed from Chihuahua to Rottweiler. Some dogs can get easily frustrated and upset with it on, especially when they aren’t used to being muzzled. Every dog is different and for some dogs, it calms them, reduces anxiety and even curbs barking. This collar applies pressure to the back of the neck instead of the front of the throat and will not choke the dog– much like a horse collar. It can be a great distraction for especially aggressive dogs but is not a muzzle and should not be used to prevent biting. Read more about it here.
Shop for the Gentle Leader at Nextag.

Is there a collar you recommend to stop the pulling? What do you use? Tell us below!

Tips to Curb Food Aggression in Dogs

Scarlett eats; Roory drinks

A dog who displays food aggression can be embarrassing, annoying and dangerous, especially if little ones or smaller pets are around. Here are my tips to stop food aggression in dogs, so everyone can live safely and peacefully.

1. Don’t leave food out all day long, especially in a household with multiple dogs. This can cause food aggression because dogs will become protective of the leftover food. To avoid this, leave the food down for a set period of time (no longer than 20 minutes; smaller dogs may need up to 40 minutes). Dogs who are used to having food out all day may not eat it all at first and that’s ok-they will learn quickly and soon clean their plates.

2. Do not feed multiple dogs/pets in close spaces. Place one bowl in the kitchen and the other around the corner or at least on opposite sides of the room. This will reduce chances of confrontation between dogs. If you have cats, they should always be fed at an elevated space where the dogs can not access.

3. Always give the dominant dog his food first.

4. Before putting the food down, make the dog sit and stay. Don’t allow them to rush the bowl when you place it down; if they do, pick it up again and turn your back to them for at least one minute. Once you put it down and are out of the way and they are still staying, allow them to eat. This can take lots of repeating.

5. Once they have been eating for three minutes, pick the bowl up and turn your back to them. Be very careful to not get bitten; if they start to snap, give them a firm “no”. Keep your back (and the food) turned away for one minute, or until they calm down. Turn back around, put down and allow them to eat again, provided they sit and stay. Never allow them to rush the bowl. Repeat this every five-seven minutes until your dog is finished with his meal.

6. Repeat as necessary, until your dog no longer snarls, snaps, growls, or otherwise tries to “protect” his food.

Harley used to be very food aggressive, snapping at people, dogs, the cat- sometimes even at my boyfriend and me. We did this with Harley for about three days until he completely stopped because he just wanted to eat without being interrupted. If your dog(s) display food aggression, I hope these tips help you! If your dog does not improve, consult your veterinarian. It can be very dangerous when small pets or children are around.

Introducing a New Dog

Our first off-leash experience together in the backyard!

When bringing a new dog to a home with existing dogs, chaos can ensue if steps are not taken to make proper introductions. Dogs who are not introduced the right way can become hostile and aggressive towards each other, making training much harder for you and putting unnecessary stress on the dogs. Proper introductions do not guarantee the absence of hostility or aggression but will probably not be the trigger that causes it. Here are some tips on properly introducing your new dog to his canine family so everyone can live happily together. Please note the rules for introducing highly aggressive dogs or dogs with a history of fighting are much more complex and require consultation with a certified professional–a veterinarian, trainer or animal behavioral specialist. When in doubt, seek professional assistance.

1. Understand your role. You are there to provide brief positive reinforcement yet be the first to step in and correct the moment things start to turn sour. Your job is also to protect the the dogs, especially the new dog when bringing more than two dogs together. By consistently showing you will not accept aggressive behavior, your dogs will trust you will take care of them.

2. If you have more than one existing dog in your household, introduce each one to the new dog separately.

3. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! Do not introduce the dogs at your house! To your ‘old’ dog(s), the house belongs to him/them; to your new dog, it’s a scary new place. Instead, take them somewhere neutral, preferably somewhere they’ve never been before but a location close to your house (you can walk home with all of them after. Of course, a short ride works just as well!). In a new setting, no one is territorial; the park you take your dogs to everyday is their park. *In some situations, a backyard is an acceptable setting but you should only do this if you have no other option and if the new dog is completely submissive. Aggressive dogs? Take them away from the house!

4. Keep the dogs on leashes the first time they meet. Keep the leashes loose. If you are the least bit worried about aggression, consider using a breathable muzzle.

Because of the size difference, when Scarlett showed aggression, she was muzzled. She forgot about the aggression and was just annoyed with the muzzle.

5. Allow them to sniff and interact with each other but be ready to stop anyone who steps out of line. Do this with a firm yet calm ‘no’–do not jerk the leash. Lead the dogs away from each other. If you show fear or tense up, the dogs will sense it, misinterpret it and react in a way you don’t want. They can size each other up, circle, sniff and hopefully they start to play but be ready to stop any aggression, including growling, baring teeth, raising shoulders, tensing body, staring each other down or any other form of hostile body language (you’ll see the change). Again, do not jerk the leashes; say ‘no’ and lead them away from each other for a few minutes. Dogs who want to play will put their front paws and shoulders down, butt up and probably wag their tag or playfully lunge. This behavior is good; let them get comfortable. Some dogs respond to this negatively, so be sure to watch body language of both dogs.

6.If you have more than one dog, now is the time to bring them together. Repeat step 5. If, at any time, things tense up, separate the dogs and try again after they’ve cooled off. Do not continue trying after two attempts or things could get worse and aggression could increase. Instead, keep the dogs separated and seek the help of a professional.

7. Now, it’s time to walk or drive them home! Once you get there, take them through the side yard to your backyard, if possible. First unleash the veteran dog(s) and then unleash the new dog. Let them play freely but supervise them closely. Be ready to intervene and constantly watch their body language. If they are getting along, great! If they ignore each other, that’s alright, too. Continued aggression or hostility requires separation. Do not force continued interaction, as things will just get worse.

8. When the dogs have played and are responding positively to each other, you can take them inside. If they are aggressive or hostile, separate them with the use of crates. The new dog should go into the crate and the existing dog(s) should be allowed out. Allow the dogs to walk up and sniff the new dog but do not allow aggression from either side. Do not let the dogs gang up on the new dog. Then, put the old dogs in their crates and let the new dog out. Don’t neglect one group; be fair to the new guy and the old guys! Consult a professional as soon as possible to help you address the problem.

By taking these steps to properly introduce your dogs, you will help their relationship start off on the right paw. Good luck to you, your veteran pups and your new dog as you welcome and integrate him into your family!

Do you have tips for introducing new dogs to their canine counterparts? Let us know below!


This is how I’ve introduced my dogs for years. Both the ASPCA and Humane Society offer similar approaches:

Humane Society: Introducing a Dog to Other Pets

ASPCA: Introducing Your Dog to a New Dog