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What You Should Ask a Dog Trainer (and What Their Answers Should Be)


Before you hire a dog trainer, you want to do your homework to make sure that you and your dog will be in the right hands. Training is an important part of dog ownership as it can keep your dog safe in certain situations, help them cope with stressful experiences, and builds the trust needed for a strong human-canine bond.

The dog training industry is unregulated, meaning anyone can call themselves a professional dog trainer, behaviorist, dog whisperer, behavior consultant, or pet expert. Unfortunately this has led to a regression in the types of dog training methods used to teach our furry friends, as uneducated and uncertified "trainers" are not up-to-date with the latest behavior science, humane methods, and are not held to any standard of business practice. These "trainers" tend to rely on the outdated alpha, pack theory, or dominance-based philosophies even though these have been shown to actually increase fear and aggression in dogs

Before signing up for a puppy class, group obedience class, board-and-train, or hiring a dog trainer for a private in-home lesson, you'll want to interview them to make sure they are qualified, use humane and science-based methods, and are the right match for your learning style. Below are questions that you should ask when interviewing a dog trainer:

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Topics: Puppy, Training, Dog, Behavior

Alphabet Soup: What Does That Dog Training Certification Mean?


As you're interviewing a dog trainer to work with you and your dog, one of the questions you should be asking is if they hold a certification in professional dog training or canine behavior consulting. For more questions, you should be asking, read "What You Should Ask a Dog Trainer (and What Their Answers Should Be)."

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Topics: Puppy, Training, Dog, Behavior

10 Boredom Busters for Your Dog


Is your dog barking for no apparent reason? Have they started digging up your flower beds? Is your puppy chewing up your shoes or the couch? Constantly bugging you to interact while you're trying to get some work done?

In many cases, there is a simple explanation: your dog is bored! Dogs get bored just like we do, so it's important to provide them with exercise, training, interactive toys, and brain games to keep them busy and entertained. Giving them appropriate ways to burn that extra energy also means your flower beds, shoes, and couch won't become unfortunate casualties. 

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Topics: Puppy, Dog, Behavior

Alert Barking: The Dog Equivalent to "Get Off My Lawn!"


Does your dog have to let you know about any and every person or animal that passes by your home? There are many reasons a dog barks, and we call this kind of barking "alert" barking or territorial barking – something that we humans originally preferred dogs to do, and we bred for it in the domestication process.

I personally prefer that my dog bark once or twice to let me know that someone is approaching my door. However, alert barking becomes a nuisance when your dog is constantly reacting to everyone they see or hear walking by your home. Many apartment dwellers deal with alert barking (and frustrated neighbors) when their dog barks any time someone passes by their door, gets out of the elevator, or closes their own apartment door. The proximity of all the noises can be tough in an apartment setting for a dog. In this article we’ll talk about what you can do to teach your dog not to bark at people or things they hear passing by or see through the window.

There are a few different reasons dogs will bark besides alerting to someone or something outside. It could be due to boredom, anxiety, fearful reactivity, or they’ve learned that barking gets them attention (even if this is just you yelling at them to stop), which is called "demand" barking. First you have to figure out what is causing your dog to bark, which then determines how to approach this problem behavior. A certified dog trainer can help you determine the trigger for your dog's barking if it isn't immediately obvious, and a wifi-enabled pet cam can also help. The most useful one for barking dogs is the Furbo Dog Camera. It will send alerts to your smartphone when it detects barking, has two-way audio so you can get your dog's attention, and has a fun treat-tossing option that can be pre-programmed or done directly from the app.

Alert and territorial barking is a normal dog behavior. Plus, it's very reinforcing for your dog.

Just imagine what they're thinking: "I barked to tell that person to go away, and it worked! I've got to do that again next time!" Your dog doesn't understand that the person was going to pass on by whether they barked or not. Does this sound like your dog? Read on for tips on how to teach them to be quiet instead. 

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Topics: Puppy Training, Puppy, Training, Dog, Dog Behavior, Alert Barking, Barking

How to Use Music to Calm Your Anxious Dog


Does your dog get scared during thunderstorms or fireworks? Do they suffer from separation anxiety? Does hearing noises outside make them nervous? Turning on some music or some form of "white noise" for your dog can help relieve their stress.

Recent studies have shown that playing music reduces stress in dogs at animal shelters, with less barking, lower respiratory rates and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as the effect music has on human emotions has been a subject of study for quite some time. Music therapy is used as a natural anti-anxiety remedy and to help with sleep disorders, and it’s easy to use the same technique for your puppy or adult dog.

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Topics: Puppy, Dog, Separation Anxiety, Behavior

Getting Your Dog Ready for the 4th of July


While July 4th celebrations can be tons of fun for us humans, the loud bangs and other fireworks noises can be downright terrifying for many dogs. Even dogs who don't suffer from thunderstorm phobia or other noise aversions can become stressed by all the hubbub and flashing lights in the sky.

Dogs may show anxiety or stress in a variety of different ways. Pay attention and learn to recognize these signs for what they may mean. Signs of stress can include: panting, trembling, drooling, pacing, hiding, trying to escape, decreased appetite, potty accidents, dilated pupils or wide eyes, and whining or barking.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help your dog through the fireworks and lessen their stress and anxiety. Let's look at things you can do ahead of time to prepare your dog, as well as things you can do the actual day of July 4th to lessen their stress!

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Topics: Dog Safety, Dog, Fourth of July, 4th of July, Fireworks, Sedatives, Noise Phobias, Acepromazine, Thunderstorms, adult dog tips, puppy tips, supplements for dogs, noise aversions

Should You Pluck Your Dog's Ear Hair?


Have you ever looked in your dog’s ears and seen a bunch of hair growing inside? Some dog breeds naturally grow hair inside their ears, such as Shih Tzus and Poodles. I’ve noticed that as my Corgi has gotten older, she has thicker fur growing inside her ears than she used to — I call it her “grandpa ear hair.”

Hair inside the ear can make it more difficult for your dog’s immune system to keep levels of yeast and bacteria at a manageable level, can block the flow of air that keeps the ear canal dry, and trap dirt, excess ear wax, and debris inside. So if you’ve noticed that your dog’s inner ears are getting a bit overgrown, what should you do about it?

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Topics: Dog Health, Puppy, Dog, canine care, Grooming, Ears, Ear Cleaning, Ear Infections

What to Do When You Find a Lost Dog


Being able to reunite a lost dog and their owner is a rewarding feeling, but it’s also not always an easy task. Sometimes the dog won't come near you, or for other reasons you can't catch the dog. In this case, taking a photo or writing a description and posting on social media with the location can go a long way in helping someone track down their lost dog. 

If you see a loose dog and feel you are prepared and able to help, and if it’s safe to do so, here are some tips to help you find their owner as quickly as possible:

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Topics: Dog Safety, Dog, Finding lost pets, Lost Pet

Camping With Your Dog

 

What’s better than camping with a dog? The correct answer is: nothing!

In addition to the awaiting adventure, relaxation, and more smells than could ever be smelled in one lifetime, camping with your dog also comes with a fair share of challenges. What should you pack for your dog? How do you get there without a stressful car ride, and how to be safe when you set up camp?

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Topics: Dog Training, Puppy, Training, Dog, Dog Behavior, Pet Travel Safety, Come When Called, Hiking, camping

Hiking with Your Dog — Preparation and Trail Tips


Hitting the trails with your dog is a wonderful way to explore the great outdoors and reap the benefits of being outside and physically active. Hiking not only provides your dog with much needed exercise, but also gives their noses and brains a work out too. Plus, studies have shown that spending time outside surrounded by green space reduces human stress levels and has other medical benefits.

Going on an adventure together as a team builds the bond you share with your dog and makes your relationship stronger. Before you take your dog on a hike or on a longer backpacking or camping trip, take these steps to ensure your pup’s safety while on the trail and you can reap the benefits of a fun trip together.

Want to learn more about your dog's behavior and get some training tips? We've  got 101 more for you here!

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Topics: Dog Training, Puppy, Training, Dog, Dog Behavior, Pet Travel Safety, Come When Called, Hiking

Photo Credit: Preventive Vet

Please do not ask emergency or other specific medical questions about your pets in the blog comments. As an online informational resource, Preventive Vet is unable to and does not provide specific medical advice or counseling. A thorough physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinary-patient-client relationship is required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet is having an emergency or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic medical conditions, please contact or visit your veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

Please share your experiences and stories, your opinions and feedback about this blog, or what you've learned that you'd like to share with others.