Monday, December 3, 2012
Teaching your rowdy dog to enjoy his playpen now could save your holiday party.
If your dog is a perfect angel amidst the chaos of a holiday gathering, you can skip this installment of my Weekly Yip—unless you happen to know someone else whose dog’s behavior is less than exemplary in such situations. Teaching a dog to resist stealing hors d’oeuvres off the coffee table, leaping into the laps of guests uninvited, jumping up to greet each new guest as they arrive and how to wait patiently while humans take forever to eat dinner at the dining room table takes time—but the holidays are coming up fast. My advice, if whipping your dog’s manners into shape before your holiday gatherings seems like a tall order, is to focus on management and busy work this year. You can plan to work on overall manners as a New Year’s …
Monday, November 19, 2012
Does your dog appreciate your love and care?
- PATCH'S HOUSE & HOME
- Bette Yip
Monday, November 19, 2012
Owners of rescued dogs often tell me they think their pets really do understand how lucky they are to have been taken into a good home, and that they seem thankful to their adoptive families. I can relate to that sentiment. My adopted borzoi, Skylar, is the epitome of the “thankful adopted dog.” He seems to exude thankful cheer in nearly every situation (except bath-days.) A treat? Oh, my gosh! Thank you so much! A car ride—again? Could life get any better? Breakfast and dinner, too? I’m the luckiest dog in the world? A snuggle up? I could just burst with joy! Yes, I’m guilty of anthropomorphizing my dogs, which may seem odd coming from a professional dog trainer when so many modern dog experts discourage it so vehemently. But what does …
Monday, November 12, 2012
Try out these recipes to keep your dog happy during your Thanksgiving dinner.
Stuffable puzzle toys for dogs are a saving grace around the holidays! I consider the equivalent of setting a young child up with a coloring book and crayons as busy work when guests are over. One of the most classic dog puzzle toys around is the Kong, a durable rubber toy with a hollow center which comes in a variety of sizes and strengths, to suit nearly any dog on the planet. How I often wish that I had been the inventor of this brilliantly simple, yet ingenious design! As much as I consider the Kong the foundation piece of a new dog’s puzzle collection, some owners complain to me that their pet sadly showed no interest in this iconic dog toy. My reply? You must not have introduced it in quite the right way yet. I always think back to …
Monday, November 5, 2012
Confessions of a dog mom with a guilty conscience, some regrets and a dollop of hope.
I know what I’m about to say won’t sit well with many American pet lovers, but I’m going to come clean anyway: I resisted spaying my first borzoi, Toffee until she was about three years old. The week of her operation, I cried every day and apologized to her repeatedly for what I had to put her through. Although it usually only takes a female dog a couple of weeks to recover after being spayed, it still seemed like a horribly invasive procedure to me—especially when I know that if we had stayed in Japan instead of coming home to the U.S., I could have avoided having her entire uterus removed along with her ovaries and just opted for a doggy birth control implant, instead. The reason I know this to be true is that while I lived in Japan, I …
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Your family, friends, neighbors—even strangers can bolster or unravel your best training efforts.
I’ll admit that I’m often guilty of it, too, even though I know better. Someone else’s cute little puppy jumps up on my leg and I reach down to pet it, fully aware that doing so is reinforcing a canine habit many humans hate, but powerless to resist the powerful draw of puppy love for a moment or two until I come to my senses. It’s something my dog training students frequently complain about. Other people unintentionally have a tendency to cause setbacks to such training goals as teaching a dog not to jump up. Although they work hard to set their puppy up to learn alternate greeting behaviors that they like and make sure that they always “shun the jumping puppy,” just one person can cause spontaneous recovery of the habit by responding in …
Monday, October 22, 2012
Have a safe holiday whether your dog joins in on the fun or sits this one out.
There’s a lot to fear around Halloween with regards to safety and your dog. Here are some of the top threats as well as some things you can do now to prevent a ghastly scene on October 31st. Halloween decorations and dogs don’t mix. Holiday decorations may look like fun play things or chew toys to dogs, so keep these out of your dog’s reach lest they cause an emergency room visit or worse. Make sure your dog doesn’t trip over or chew on power cords. Keep your Jack-o-lanterns out of reach, especially if you have a fruit and veggie loving dog like my borzoi, Tatsuya, who’d happily munch down a whole, raw pumpkin if given the opportunity. While pumpkin isn’t toxic to dogs, eating too much of it could cause stomach upset, and knocking a lit …
Monday, October 15, 2012
Before you plunk down a deposit, be sure this choice is right for you.
How timeless is the image of the Christmas puppy surprise? I have to admit that it was always a dream of mine growing up—waking to sounds of playful barking from under the decorated tree. Nowadays, getting a Christmas puppy is a much frowned upon practice, and with good reason. Too often, many families have succumbed to the emotional tug of the Christmas puppy tradition without really considering how much of a commitment it is to bring a young life of any species into the family. Puppies are cuddly, cute and irresistible. Adolescent dogs, not so much. For that sad reason, in the spring and summer months, animal shelters often see an influx of surrendered adolescent and adult dogs that were once cherished holiday hounds. I, personally, …
Monday, October 8, 2012
You can use food as a dog training reward without ruining your pet’s health.
We “cookie trainers” get a lot of flak from people who don’t understand the right way to use food as a motivator in rewards-based dog training. Opponents assert that dogs trained our way are doomed to suffer an unhealthy future, but that doesn’t have to be the case. I encourage my students to make sure that none of their dog’s daily calories are given out for free. That’s when many of them tell me that they already ask their dogs to sit and wait before they put the food dish down. That’s a decent start, but what if we were to put most of our dog’s kibble into our training bag and dole it out piece by patient piece for good behavior? I should note that it was from training and behavior expert Dr. Ian Dunbar that I first got the notion that …
Monday, October 1, 2012
Is it better to motivate by using rewards or punishment?
For as long as I’ve been in dog training, this has been a topic of debate—and it isn’t limited to just our dogs. This question extends to our relationships with family and friends, and even among nations. Do we get other creatures on this planet to behave in ways we like by showing them how to please us and providing consequences they’ll want to work to get again, or do we let them make their mistakes and then provide sufficiently unpleasant consequences that they’ll work to avoid similar situations in the future? If we use a combination of the two approaches, how do we find the right balance—when do we use which? As I first embarked on my journey towards professional dog training, it was the “sticks” approach that I initially stumbled …
Monday, September 24, 2012
The Liberty Hotel’s weekly event for dogs and dog lovers lives up to its name.
I’ve been intrigued by the rumors about dog-friendly happy hour events taking place in Boston for the past couple of years, and this week, my older borzoi, Skylar, and I got to experience The Liberty Hotel’s “Yappier Hour” first-hand. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Having hosted a number of pet parties over the years for my dog training business, I was familiar with the kind of trouble that can break out when lots of people bring their dogs to a social event in a confined space and are distracted from managing their dogs as well as they might if they weren’t wrapped up in the air of celebration—and that’s without alcohol. As excited as I was to have the company of one of my best canine friends at a “grown up” social event, the dog …