Digging is a natural, instinctive behavior in dogs. The most well known reason dogs dig is to bury or retrieve bones or treasured toys. On hot days, some dogs naturally dig and lay in a hole to escape the heat. Breeds such as terriers were bred to dig up and kill rodents and other vermin, and haven’t lost the instinct. In some cases, digging may be a dog’s way of trying to escape either physical confinement or boredom.

While we know digging is instinctive in our pets, we sometimes can’t help but wish they wouldn’t do it. Compulsive diggers and dogs that dig excessively are frustrating. Their owners don’t want to punish their pets for doing what comes naturally, but they also don’t want their yards to be covered by craters. Luckily, there are ways to reduce and even stop dogs from digging.

Before you can treat the behavior, you need to understand your dog’s reason for digging. Does she only dig when left alone? Does she always dig in the same spot? Is she digging under a fence? Does she tend to take her rawhide chews outside the minute you give them to her? Answering these questions can help you determine the right approach to take in training your dog.

If your dog digs only when she is left alone for long periods of time, she is probably trying to alleviate her boredom. A good physical workout before you leave will tire her out so that she sleeps part of the time you are gone. Be sure to equip her with toys that engage her mind as well as her body, so she can stay busy when she wakes up. Pet supply stores have an amazing array of chew toys and dog “puzzles.” These are hollow cubes or balls into which you place small pieces of treats. Your dog will be able to smell the treats inside, and must figure out a way to get to them. Usually, this requires nosing and rolling the puzzle until a treat falls out of one of many small openings.

Another way to deal with a digging dog is to channel her behavior to an acceptable spot. Some dog owners create special digging pits for their dogs. These are small areas of soft dirt in which the owners bury treats. Some are placed deeper than others, so that dogs have to use their sense of smell to find the treats. To make this technique successful, bury treats on an irregular basis, and never let your dog see you placing them in the dirt.

You may have to make an extra effort with very compulsive diggers. If your dog repeatedly digs in a favorite flower bed, you might need to put up a physical barrier to prevent her from gaining access to the spot. Remote punishment is another technique that sometimes works well. This is simply something-a blast of water, for example-that distracts the dog the moment she begins to dig. Some people suggest that the owner distract the dog personally, either with a blast from a squirt gun or by shaking a can of coins. However, this is only feasible if you are with your dog constantly. Your dog may stop digging in your presence, but she will likely continue to dig.

Chewing and destructive behaviors in dogs

There’s a popular saying among dog trainers: “There’s no such thing as a bad dog.” While that may be true, any trainer will admit that there are dogs with very bad habits.

Simply put, behavior is a way of acting and reacting. When a dog acts or reacts to a situation in a way that has a negative impact on her owner or others, the behavior is considered to be “bad.” Yet, to the dog, it’s just what she does.

Eliminating a bad behavior requires training to give the dog a new behavior, or habit.

Dogs Chewing

Another unpopular behavior is chewing. Destructive chewing is most often an chewing and destruction bad behavior dog trainingindication your dog is bored. If your dog chews up the couch cushions or destroys a wicker chair while you are at work, it is probably because she had nothing else to do. If you look up from a book or television to find your dog chewing on your favorite shoes, realize that she is releasing pent-up energy.

Give your dog the chance to exercise her body and brain. Plenty of physical exercise will tire her out so that she naps while you relax.

Pet supply stores carry a variety of toys that provide mental stimulation-doggie puzzles to keep your pooch busy while you’re away. Also, if your dog is a chewer, make sure you give her chewing toys of her own.

It is never a good idea to give your dog an old shoe or sock to chew on; she can’t tell the difference between your favorites and your discards because they all smell like you.

Begging for food

Scenerio 1: You and your family sit down at the table to eat dinner. Your normally well behaved pooch is under the table nuzzling everyone or sitting at the corner of the table whining and begging.

Scenerio 2: You can ALWAYS make your dog come to you by:
1. rattling a bag of chips,
2: opening the refrigerator.

If either of these scenerios fit your dog, you DO NOT have a dog behavior problem. This is a PEOPLE behavior problem.

Dogs learn to beg (and it is a learned behavior) because they are rewarded for their behavior. It is a TRICK they learn very quickly.

Sound silly? – Think about it.

One of the quickest ways to teach a dog a trick is to wait for him to do the desired behavior, and then reward him for it. The “trick” is staring you down and whining at the appropriate time, when food is available. The reward, well, we all know is the treat he gets, and there’s nothing tastier that “people food.”

The fact is, most dogs that eat a given amount of people food become obese, less mobile and die younger, the ultimate result of a trick well learned.how to stop a dog begging at table

Correcting the behavior is really not that difficult if EVERYONE agrees to abide by the rules.

Place a mat or bed away from the table but within your view. Your pet can watch you eat from a distance.
Teach your dog the “down” and “stay” commands and reinforce this “new trick” regularly throughout the day. You can then teach him the “place” command by showing him that “place” means to go to that spot and “down” “stay.” After a while, the “place” command is all you will need.
At meal time, give the “place” command and reinforce it with praise. Don’t scold or correct your dog for getting confused. Remember that the begging was a trick you taught him. If the dog comes to the table, give a firm “NO” and a kind reinforcement of the “place” command.
After you finish eating, release him and feed your dog his regular kibble, away from the table, in his regular bowl. Why feed him last?; Because in pack behavior, the leaders eat first. By eating before your dog eats, you are telling him that YOU are the master.

It should only take a few days for the behavior to be corrected, but remember, EVERYONE must agree and stick to the training. Visitors must also be told not to feed the dog. All it takes is one person to sneak food under the table, and all your work is undone.

Traveling with your dog

Traveling with your dog can be fun and exciting, or it can be disastrous. Planning ahead is the key to a successful trip and these guidelines can help.

“Buckling Up” is not only for people but for dogs, too. Unrestrained dogs can cause an accident by distracting the driver, and in an accident, will become a projectile. Pets also can bolt from a car and get lost in an unfamiliar area or run out into traffic.

Purchase a dog crate or dog seat belt and include their use in your practice runs.

Planning Ahead

Call the Agriculture Department of the state or embassy of the country to which you are traveling for information on the vaccinations, documentation, fees, or quarantine that may be required to bring your dog into the country. Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations. Check with your veterinarian about additional vaccinations which can protect your dog from disease local to where you are traveling,

Consider applying a flea, tick preventative and repellent to protect your dog from diseases such as heartworm, West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease. I am not in the habit of recommending a single product, but in this case, I make an exception.

There are many such products found in stores but in my many years experience as a dog groomer, most of these are not effective. The only products that work ALL THE TIME are the veterinary applications such as Frontline and Advantage. For many years these were only available through your Veterinarian. You can now purchase these products without a prescription online saving you valuable time and money. The newest of these products is called Advantix. This is the one we use and highly recommend. It not only kills fleas and ticks but also repels mosquitoes that can carry West Nile Virus.

Make sure your dog’s ID tag is on his collar. Consider adding temporary tags with hotel information and travel phone numbers, a cell phone number or the phone number of a friend who will be home during your trip.

Book dog friendly hotels, motels, and campsites early and make sure to tell them you are traveling with a dog. Find out what restrictions they have (such as crating all dogs, size limits, etc.) before you book your stay.


Here are the basics to pack for your dog: A few of your dog’s favorite toys, food and water bowls, a leash, food, a first aid kit, medication, water, veterinarian’s phone number, dog’s medical records, blanket or king sized flat sheet, towels, poop scoop or plastic bags to clean up mess, garbage bags and paper towels (to clean up bigger messes), brush and comb (to remove stickers and burrs), and shampoo (for those emergency clean ups).

Bring health and rabies vaccine certificates, particularly if you will be crossing the border into Canada, the US, or Mexico. All three countries allow dogs and cats to enter if they meet strict entry requirements.

While Traveling

Keep to your dog’s regular feeding schedule. You can feed small amounts every few hours during the trip and plan his main meal in the evening or when you arrive at your dog friendly hotel or camp ground.

Once at your dog friendly hotel, spend extra time in the room with your dog until he gets used to his new environment. When you leave the motel room, first try to leave for a short time to see how your dog acts in the room. You don’t want your dog barking and disturbing other guests. Leave the room vent/air conditioner and the television on while you are away to create some white noise and keep your dog company.

Use a blanket or sheet from home (it was in your list of things to pack) on the bed to keep hair off the hotel’s blankets.

Enjoy the time you spend traveling with your dog. We know he will.

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Training Your dog

Obedient dogs make the best companions. Time spent training your dog will reward you with a pet that is deeply bonded to you, respects you and is a joy to have around. Training your dog doesn’t mean extinguishing her unique personality, it is simply a means of setting boundaries-something that makes dogs feel secure.

Some owners unconsciously train their dogs to exhibit bad behaviors. Since dogs are social animals, they are interested in doing whatever gets them attention. Positive attention is best, but if negative attention is all they can get from you, they’ll try to obtain that. This is why yelling at a dog that has had an “accident” in the house doesn’t teach her to not do that. All your excitement reinforces her behavior. The best way to let a dog know you are displeased with her is to ignore her.

Positive reinforcement is the key to training your dog. Basically, this means rewarding desired behavior. A reward might be a food treat, lots of verbal praise in a high voice and/or a good pet or scratch in her favorite spot. Rewarding your dog’s behavior accomplishes two things: it makes her want to repeat the behavior to reap the reward and establishes you as her leader. Some dogs are more assertive than others, and will try to become dominant over you. It is important that you remain the “leader of the pack,” and obedience training helps with that. However, even, and perhaps especially, less assertive dogs benefit from training. Following a leader is instinctive in dogs. Training your dog allows her to employ that instinct to follow someone else, and makes her feel more secure.

There are many training approaches within the realm of positive reinforcement. Some behaviors will be captured-rewarded as they occur-while others can be shaped by gently coaxing the dog into the desired action. Most professional trainers recommend using both a verbal commands and hand signals to communicate with your dog. Besides words/signals for behaviors such as sit, stay, and come, you will need a “release” signal. This is a word or sound that tells your dog she’s done something correctly. The release signal is always immediately followed by a reward, so that the dog comes to associate it with something positive.

You have lots of option as to how you go about training your dog. Libraries, bookstores and pet stores offer plenty of “how-to” training books. You can also find a lot of great information by surfing the Internet. If you prefer to have a professional by your side every step of the way, enroll in a basic obedience class. Major pet supply chains, humane societies and dog clubs usually offer classes. These classes are an excellent way to socialize your dog and educate yourself. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to participate in a class, check your community phone book for personal dog trainers. Most will come to your home on a regular basis, and provide in-depth training custom-tailored to your needs.

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They may seem to be bold explorers, sniffing at and mouthing just about anything, but all dogs have an instinctive fear of anything unfamiliar to them. Fear causes stress on the body, which affects long-term health. To help your dog avoid the negative health effects of stress, it is important to socialize her. Socialization is the process of exposing your dog to a wide variety of places, situations, objects and people. A well-socialized dog is a confident, healthy dog that you can take anywhere.

The things that startle their dogs often surprise owners. Hats, balloons, garden statues, and other mundane things that seem to pose no threat. To your dog, however, it is an unknown. If you are a subdued person, your dog might show fear around a bubbly extrovert. Basically, any situation or object your dog is not accustomed to can create fear and stress in her. It is best if the socialization process begins when the dog is a puppy. This is a key learning time for dogs, so they become socialized more quickly. However, even older dogs that were not socialized as puppies can reach that confident, relaxed state. Socializing a dog that is more than one year old may take a little longer, but the results are rewarding.

Socializing a dog is a very simple process: take the dog to as many different places as you can. Your dog will pick up on your body language and follow your lead, so it is important for you to act confident and relaxed, especially when your dog hesitates. While you are walking about, stop every so often to pet your dog and talk to her in a happy voice. Naturally, feeding her a treat or two will give her a positive association with the environment.

At some point during socialization, your dog will plant her feet and refuse to budge or try to hide behind you to avoid a stranger. How you react in this situation sends an important message to your dog. If you pick her up or talk soothingly while you pet her, you are telling your dog that she is right to be frightened. On the other hand, if you ignore her behavior and go about your business—perhaps walking a different direction to distract her-her fear is not rewarded. Since your goal is to give your dog confidence, not traumatize her, never force your dog to accept a person or situation. Respect her feelings, and try again later.

While you are out and about, remember that you are your dog’s guardian. Keep an eye out for excited children running towards your dog. A good way to handle this kind of situation is to stop the kids verbally about 10 feet from your dog. Explain to them that your dog is just getting used to new places and new people. Ask them to approach quietly and one at a time so that your dog learns that children are nothing to be afraid of. Letting the children feed your dog a treat is sure to help her learn to accept these high-energy, enthusiastic strangers.

Tick Removal

Prompt removal of ticks decreases the chances of getting Lyme disease. The proper and easiest method is to grasp the tick with fine tweezers, as near the skin as you can, and gently pull it straight out. Be careful not to squeeze the tick when removing it which could result in more bacteria being injected.

The tick does not borrow into or under the skin, but attaches itself with 2 pincher-like mouth parts. Do not try to remove the tick with your fingers or attempt to remove with lighted cigarettes, matches, nail polish, or Vaseline.

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Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) transmitted through a tick bite, the majority being a very tiny tick commonly called the Deer Tick, or Black-legged Tick. Often, pet owners do not know this tick is present. Smaller than the head of a pin, these ticks are hard to see! They don’t glow in the dark. They don’t make the dog itch.

Clinical Signs

Clinical Signs of Lyme disease are usually delayed for several months but start to occur about 2 months after exposure and should show up by 5 to 6 months after a dog is bitten by a tick carrying the bacteria. The reported early signs of Lyme disease in dogs are loss of appetite, fever and lethargy. Lameness may occur at the same time or may occur later. In some dogs, enlargement of the lymph nodes occurs. In dogs, skin signs, heart disease, kidney problems and neurological signs are reported to be rare.

In people, lyme disease also causes headaches, skin sensitivity, sensitivity to light and depression. We could assume these symptoms may be present in a dog also. One 5 year old Rottweiler, Murphy, was diagnosed early because of a change in temperament. This normally happy, affectionate dog became grumpy and miserable and even started becoming aggressive. Instead of treating this as a behavioral problem, the owner immediately took Murphy to the vet for a thorough checkup. Lyme Disease was diagnosed and treatment started. The dog’s sweet personality returned within a few days.

If you notice unusual behavior or lameness in your dog, consult your veterinarian. A positive blood test can be diagnostic when appropriate symptoms are present. Fortunately, most dogs treated in the early stages of the disease will respond rapidly.


Prompt removal of ticks decreases the chances of getting Lyme disease. The proper and easiest method is to grasp the tick with fine tweezers, as near the skin as you can, and gently pull it straight out. Be careful not to squeeze the tick when removing it which could result in more bacteria being injected.

The tick does not borrow into or under the skin, but attaches itself with 2 pincher-like mouth parts. Do not try to remove the tick with your fingers or attempt to remove with lighted cigarettes, matches, nail polish, or Vaseline.

Safety tips

Keep your pet safely confined to your home. A wandering dog is much more likely to be injured by vehicles or unkind people. In most cities, by law, your dog may only be off your property if she is on a leash controlled by a person. To prevent escapes, make sure the fencing in your yard is high enough and strong enough to keep your dog from roaming. Frequently check for gaps between the fence bottom and the ground; watch for signs your dog is trying to dig out under the fence. Teach all the members of your family to carefully close doors and latch gates.

If you live in an area prone to natural disasters, keep an emergency pet supply kit with your own. Include a week’s worth of food as well as any medication your dog takes on a regular basis. A photo of your pet is also good to keep with your emergency supplies, in case you are separated from your dog during the event, you’ll have a way to get the word out to locate her.

Every dog, regardless of age or living situation, should wear a collar with an identification tag. Most municipalities require that all dogs wear a collar and tag. To ensure your dog finds her way home if she ever loses her collar, consider having your dog micro-chipped. In micro-chipping, a small silicone chip containing the owner’s contact information is painlessly inserted under the dog’s skin. Most animal shelters automatically scan lost pets to read the owner contact information. However, if your dog is found by an average citizen an identification tag will speed up your reunion.

Dog Proofing You Home

Dangerous PlantsÂ

Dangerous Plants

Dogs, especially puppies, find plants irresistible as playthings. They love to dig in the dirt of houseplants, and seem to enjoy pulling off branches of shrubs. Because of this, it is important to make sure the plants in and around your home won’t pose a health risk to your dog. The following are some common house and landscape plants that are toxic to dogs:

  • Philodendron
  • English ivy
  • Caladium
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Elephant ear
  • Poinsettia
  • Mistletoe
  • Azaleas
  • Holly berries
  • Boxwood
  • Wisteria
  • Hydrangea
  • Oleander
  • China berry tree