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Why Does My Dog Kick Up the Grass?


After doing her business, my dog Sookie will almost always kick up the grass with her paws. And if there's a dog nearby, she'll kick longer and with more vigor. My previous dog, a male Corgi mix named Mikey, would do this whenever he saw other dogs, and I've always wondered if she got the habit from him.

Many dogs do this backward scratching, and many owners assume that it's to cover up the spot they just went to the bathroom or clean their paws. It can be annoying for some people, especially if your dog is kicking up your freshly landscaped flowerbed or leaving divots in your lawn. Or, in Sookie's case, kicking dirt onto passers-by on the sidewalk — that's always fun.

Why do dogs kick their feet after going to the bathroom? Let's look at their true motives.

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Topics: Dog Behavior, Puppy Behavior

Why Does My Dog Get the Zoomies?


After I give my dog Mary Berry a bath and towel dry her, she sprints away as soon as I set her on the ground. She then starts playing “chase” with herself, zooming back and forth around the house. She’ll often head to the couch and rub herself all over it, knocking pillows off and acting like an all-around crazy dog.

Why do dogs get the zoomies? I decided to ask Preventive Vet's certified dog trainer and behavior consultant, Cathy Madson.

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Topics: Dog Behavior, Puppy Behavior

Resource Guarding in Dogs: What to Do (and What NOT to Do)


Resource guarding in dogs, also called "possessive aggression," can be quite alarming and scary for a dog owner to experience. You go to grab a chew that your dog has whittled down to a tiny piece, so they don't swallow it — but are confronted with teeth-baring, growling, or even lunging and biting. Or perhaps you go to sit down next to your dog on the couch and get a hard stare and a low growl. This can — and should — send a chill down your spine.

Resource guarding can happen between pets as well. A dog might act very possessive over their food bowl if another dog walks by. Or they might even guard you from the other dog, especially if there are food items or toys involved. If you've recently brought home a new puppy or adopted dog, your other dog might be showing some new possessive behaviors around their toys and food.

What should you do if your dog is guarding their food bowl, chew toy, or space? Your reaction to the behavior can either help resolve your dog's resource guarding or make it worse. Let's look at why resource guarding in dogs happens, what you should do to prevent it, and what to do if your dog exhibits resource guarding.

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Topics: Dog Training, Dogs, Puppy Training, Puppy Behavior

Reliable Recall: Teach Your Dog to Come When Called


A reliable recall, or come when called, is the most important thing you should train your dog to do. This behavior will help keep your dog safe and, at the same time, allow you to give your dog more freedom throughout their daily life. While your dog's recall is not a substitution for keeping them on a leash or in a fenced yard, it is a training skill that could save your dog’s life.

You must teach your dog that it's worth it to come when called whenever you ask, on leash or off (outdoors or indoors). Even more important, this should be done without the use of force or pain to make it happen. You simply don't need a shock collar to train a reliable recall.  A recently published study shows that dogs trained with positive reinforcement methods outperformed dogs taught using shock collars for the come when called behavior. They learned faster and responded faster than dogs trained using aversive training methods. There are many reasons you should avoid using shock collars altogether for training come when called (and every other dog behavior) — learn more in "Dog Training Aversives: What Are They and Why You Should Avoid Them."

Let's look at how you can teach your dog a rock-solid recall using fun, positive, and humane training techniques.

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Topics: Dog Training, Dogs, Puppy Training, Puppy Behavior

How to Teach Your Dog to Lie Down


Teaching your dog to lie down when asked is an important training skill — it's one of the six things you should teach your dog to keep them safe. Not only is it useful in preventing unwanted behaviors such as door dashing, but it's also a great way to increase calm, settled behavior from your dog. With a trained down cue, you can more easily enjoy sitting outside a coffee shop with your dog while they're settled next to you. Down is also helpful when teaching your dog other behaviors and tricks, such as go to bed or roll over.

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Topics: Dog Training, Dogs, Puppy Training, Puppy Behavior

How to Get Your Dog Interested in Toys and Fetch


If your dog seems uninterested in the brand new toy you bought them, there are a few things you can do to encourage them to play. In some cases, a dog might not like certain toys or play, and that's okay! Other dogs might never have had the opportunity to engage in positive and fun play with toys or with people (especially if they're adopted). No matter your dog's history, personality, or play preferences, you can help them have more fun by teaching them how to play, finding the types of toys they enjoy most, and encouraging lots of goofy fun.

Playing with a dog reduces stress for us humans, but it's also vital for your dog's mental health. Playing together strengthens your bond with your dog and can help with behavior and training issues. Don't despair if your dog doesn't seem interested in toys, fetch, or play! Below are some tips on how to introduce new toys and ways to get your dog interested in playing fetch.

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Topics: Dog Training, Dog toys, Fetch, Puppy Behavior

2 Easy Ways to Teach Your Dog How to Sit


Does your dog know sit? This classic dog behavior is often the first thing people want to teach their dogs. Not only is it the most common cue other people will ask your dog to do when greeting them on the street, but it's a great skill to build up your pup's impulse control and prevent unwanted behaviors like jumping on people or door dashing.

Read on for easy steps to teach your dog to sit when asked. We'll talk about two different ways you can train this behavior, and when it can be helpful in building other training skills. Beyond just the how-to's, learn why asking a dog to sit might not be the best idea depending on the circumstances, and what to do instead. 

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Topics: Dog Training, Dogs, Puppy Training, Puppy Behavior

How to Potty Train a Puppy


When you bring home a new puppy, you'll want to get started on house training as soon as possible. Potty training a puppy might feel daunting at first, but the steps are actually quite simple. It's staying consistent that's the tough part, especially if you have multiple members of your family helping you raise a puppy.

We've got ideas to help you set up a potty training schedule and tips to help your puppy stay on track with house training. And if you've recently brought home an adult dog that's having potty training issues, check out our article "How to Potty Train an Adult Dog" for more age-specific tips!

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Topics: Dog Training, Dogs, Puppy Training, puppy tips, Puppy Behavior

Dog Trainer Tips: Puppy Nipping and Biting


For some people, one of the most frustrating things about raising a puppy is dealing with nipping and biting. The good news is that it’s entirely normal for your puppy to want to nip and chew on any and everything they see — the bad news is that their needle-sharp puppy teeth can really hurt! You don’t want your puppy’s nipping turning into a lifelong habit. But, with consistent training and redirection, you can nip your puppy’s biting in the bud!

Beyond just nipping at you or other people, puppy mouths can get them in a lot of trouble. Puppies live as if nothing is off limits and want to put everything in their mouths. Besides working on nipping behavior as outlined below, make sure you start off with puppy proofing your home to help keep them out of danger.

Read on for tips on curbing puppy nipping, how to keep it from developing into a habit, and how to teach your puppy proper bite inhibition and impulse control.

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Topics: Dog Training, Dogs, Puppy Training, puppy tips, Puppy Behavior

Crate Training Your Puppy at Night


Crate training a puppy takes time and patience. Add in trying to help your puppy sleep through the night in their crate, the whole experience can feel much more frustrating! Even if your puppy is doing well eating their meals or taking daytime naps in their crate, sometimes sleeping in their crate at nighttime seems like a whole new ballgame.

Read on for our tips to help make crate training at night easier for both you and your puppy. We'll cover how to set up a puppy's crate to encourage nighttime rest, what to do if your puppy starts barking or whining during the night, and helpful puppy products. We've also documented the newest Preventive Vet team member, Portuguese Water Dog puppy Finnegan, as he worked through learning to sleep through the night in his new home.

As your puppy gets used to their very own nighttime "suite," you'll soon be getting that much needed shuteye that you've been missing. Having a puppy is, in some ways, similar to having a human infant at home (but thankfully, puppies mature much faster than human babies). Young puppies need lots of naps, can get cranky if they're tired, and lots of potty breaks to succeed at house training. Your puppy is learning all the time. The following tips and video examples should help as you navigate raising a puppy. Be patient and good luck!

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Topics: Dog Training, Dogs, Puppy Training, Crate training puppies at night, Crate training your puppy, Puppy crate training, Crate training puppies, Puppy crate training tips, Crate training schedule, Puppy crate training schedule, Crate training a puppy, Puppy Behavior

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.

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