top of page
Ready to get your read on?!
Browse our list of frequently asked puppy training questions! Click the images of any question and you'll be taken to its article.
What are 5 must-have dog training tools in 2023?
There are so many products available to help you train your puppy or dog that it can make it tough to know where to begin. Here are 5 dog training items I strongly recommend. None of these rely on negative/corrections or punishment and will be sure to help you maintain a great relationship with your dog! 1. Food Puzzles and Snuffle Mats Though food puzzles and snuffle mats are meant to be used more for feeding, enrichment, and mental stimulation, rather than for dog training, I've included them because these can truly make a world of difference by providing your dog with healthy outlets to their mental energy, which will help them have an easier time focusing during training sessions, as well as taking a break from them and learning how to unwind/regulate their feelings whenever you're both taking a break from your training session. 2. Harnesses There are many different types of harnesses available, but one I prefer using above most is the Freedom (No Pull) Harness, mainly due to the adjustable straps and that it has two clips for your dog's leash to go on. You don't need to use both unless you have a heavy puller, but I definitely prefer using the front clip the most, especially when first starting, as I find it more easily helps guide a dog towards you and walk with you. An important thing to note with harnesses, no matter the harness you choose, is that what will ultimately lead to your dog walking well with it is proper dog training and ongoing access to proper and new physical and mental enrichment outlets. Pairing positive reinforcement with harnesses, as well as practice, patience, and dedication, you will be able to reach your goals! 3. Dog Training/Treat Pouch The most valuable part of a dog training treat pouch may be the treats for your dogs, but for you is what it represents: timing! Having easy and quick access to a treat (aka a gold star) for when your dog happens to do something you like is key. Whether it's simply that your dog chose to sit or lay down, or go in their crate without being asked, all and more are wanted behaviours that you want to reinforce, and a treat-filled pouch (you can/should use kibble too) is one of the most practical ways to do it! 4. Tug & Pull Toys You may be thinking that I'm recommending toys so that your dog can play with them, but I'm really suggesting you get them, especially tug-and-pull toys so that your dog can play WITH you! There is so much bonding, trust, and communication that gets built on and reinforced in a positive and fun way when you play with your dog. If you're unsure what safe and proper play looks like, it's important to reach out to your trainer so they can advise. Just like us, there's a time and place for everything, and making sure that your dog and you are playing at the right time and in the right way will only guarantee you success. Yes, dogs should also be able to play on their own, especially when you're busy. But in order to be as successful as possible with dog training, you want to make sure that you've also truly worked on establishing a great relationship that will encourage and motivate your dog to listen and WANT to train with YOU! 5. Kongs Kongs are the icing on the cake! After you've provided your dog with mental stimulation outlets (puzzles, snuffle mats, training classes, even nosework!) as well as physical stimulation exercises (fetch, tug and pull games, agility training), dogs don't always know exactly how to help themselves calm down and feel relaxed. This is where items like Kongs and licking mats become super handy. Gnawing, chewing, and licking help dogs, especially puppies, mellow out and be able to settle on their own. BONUS TIP! I strongly recommend considering getting and putting a cat bell on your dog (especially during puppyhood) so that if your dog is sleeping and you hear the bell, that it may mean that they're waking up so that you can take them out for a bathroom break and/or can provide them with attention and what they need before they feel the need to practice having to come to you and potentially bark, whine or nip at you to get something to happen. Think of the bells as a 'heads up!', so that your dog learns with time that everything he/she needs is provided first and foremost through patience and waiting, trusting that you know what and when they need things from you.
I’m getting a puppy! What products should I get? (Under $500)
Getting a puppy? Wondering what you should go shopping for? Let’s go through a list of must-have puppy items (worth considering if you’re getting an older dog too!) that I recommend getting before or after bringing home your new pooch. Cat bell Are we starting the list with a cat product? Yes! Think of a cat bell in the same way as a baby monitor for a newborn baby. A little cat bell on your pup’s collar can let you know when he/she is just getting ready to wake up and perhaps needs to pee? Poop? Or simply spend time with you! Responding to a cat bell will prevent your pup from feeling the need to let you know that they need something themselves, through nipping, barking, whining, etc. Who doesn't like to have their needs met without having to ask? While on the topic of bells, what about potty bells by the door? Our thinking is that if you use a cat bell or if you know your pup well, then your dog will likely not need to let you know when they need something. Bells attached to the door can also be a way that very smart dogs can indicate that they're bored and just want to step outside/are in need of attention. All of which is preventable! Collar & harness Even if you don't believe or like using harnesses, either because you're been told that harnesses encourage pulling (which is incorrect), if there is one thing about harnesses that's irrefutable is that harnesses are the safest option for dogs, especially puppies. A properly fit harness is very difficult for a dog to accidentally slip out of. But above all, puppies who wear harnesses are then at zero risk of developing any neck injuries while they're still young, because their leash will be clipped to their chest or back, instead of their neck. And safety is simply #1! What about collars? Get one, even if you get a harness, because you want to use harnesses mostly when you're going to take your dog for a walk or go to a social setting. While a collar can be worn for longer periods and hold their relevant tags and information. Pee pads Prior to your pup being ready to start going potty outside, pee pads are still the number 1 option as far as indoor potty training goes. This is because they are easy to clean, meaning they will leave little to no odors behind (unlike grass patches or other options) and the goal will be to stop using pee pads sooner than later, as you get to know your dog's bladder better and better. There are exceptions to this recommendation, however, such as if your puppy or dog has a really tough time not chewing destroying them when they're out (please consult your trainer if this is the case) or if you want to opt for a plastic or fake grass alternative that you can simply wash often, not avoid having to purchase, use, and throw away a large number of pee pads. Crate The way we see a crate should be the same as the way we see our bedroom. It's the place where we go to rest, take a break, calm down, relax, and sleep after a long day of work, or simply when we need a nap! Crate training also encourages pet parents to avoid using the crate as a means of punishment, or giving a dog, especially a puppy, a time out as this can cause frustration for them and they won't always fully understand why they got placed in there unless, you practice guiding them mostly because you know they're feeling sleepy, and are in need of rest. Crate cover Every crate should come with a crate cover! Covers help make your dog's crate feel a little bit more like a den that a dog would burrow into because it's darker and drowns out exterior noise. Perfect for all dogs, as well as puppies and sensitive dogs. You will want to be most mindful with long-haired breeds and dogs who get hot easily, as this can instead make for more of an overly warm room that your dog won't find comfortable. To prevent this, make sure the room in which your dog's crate is in is well ventilated, and that their bedding also helps them feel cool. Want to know what type of bedding is best for your dog's breed? Click here to find and join its corresponding Facebook group where you can talk with pet parents who live with your dog's breed and know better than anyone else! Dog bed Speaking of bedding, selecting the right bed for your dog is key! Especially when you're hoping that your dog will learn to stay on it, particularly if you're not relying on their crate all the time. If you chose to place it inside your dog's crate, our recommendation is that you make sure that it doesn't the inside of the crate in full, so that your dog has the option between laying on their bed or directly on the crate tray. Some dogs like that! Especially when they feel too warm. Portable carrier Yes, this one won't be applicable to all dogs, depending on their breed, but chances are that while your pup is still really young, it will still fit in a portable carrier bag designed for dogs. This is a great means of transportation for them, especially when going to new and very stimulating places like the veterinary or groomer. Not having to worry about walking all the way in can be helpful for a puppy. You can also work and train your puppy to like its carrier by turning it into an outlet for them to snuffle food inside it. Licky mat Licky mats and Kongs are perfect for when puppies have had a chance to play and run around, as well as use their brain to learn new tricks, try out new puzzles and other mentally stimulation games. They're not the best at providing much of a challenge for smart dogs, so be sure to use them to help your puppy lick, relax and mellow out. Kongs/chew toys It's no secret that dogs need to chew, especially when they're still growing. This helps them feel better, soothe and relax. And just like licky mats, it's best to provide them when your dog is feeling mellow and n needs to just have something to nibble on, before a nap or bedtime. The misconception about Kongs and chew toys is that they provide mental enrichment, which they do to a certain extent, especially for very young puppies but as far as problem-solving and mental stimulation, you should look into other options first and have Kongs or chew toys act more like a pacifier for a baby. Tug and pull toys A must! Dogs naturally tug and pull with their bodies when they play with one another, or when they find an object they want to start a game with. It's natural for them and really satisfying. And contrary to popular belief, this isn't something that neither instigates prey drive, 'aggression', or any kind of 'dominance'. If your dog exhibits any of those things, it wouldn't be because of a game that is meant for dogs to feel good playing together, and build trust and companionship, no different than how we see sports and other competition and game-like activities. And speaking of building trust, this also applies to dog-to-human relationships! So get on the ground, grab a tug-and-pull toy, and do your best to get your dog interested in playing a game with you! Do keep it short and sweet but trust us when we say that this will only help in strengthening your bond with your dog, and let them know that it's fun to do things with and for you. Balls Fetch, digging and hiding them, pulling treats out of them are all ball-related activities that dogs love doing with you, but also on their own. Get all different types of balls for your dog and keep them on a rotation, to continuously keep your dog guessing and engaged! Snuffle mats Suffle mats are a human-made recreation of a dog's grass-like environment where they would scavenge and search for bits of food to eat. Bringing home a snuffle mat for your dog and even going as far as using it to replace his or her dog bowl is something your dog will thank you for. It's also a great way to help them burn energy, slow down their eating, and slow down their energy as a whole, especially after a long, over-stimulating day. Food puzzles Compared to snuffle mats, food puzzles are a more challenging, generally plastic-made, snuffling and scavenging option for dogs. Typically much more difficult and problem solving-like than snuffle mats, these are great for feeding your dog, slowing them down, but above all providing them with a very engaging exercise for their brain on a daily basis. Getting a more challenging level to start instead of an easy one is recommended, as you can always find ways to make it easy for your dog and go from there without having to purchase multiple levels. Doggy Water bottles Water bottles are my preferred method of giving my pup water (unless I need to be away from them for long periods of time) as opposed to water bowls, mainly because it makes it easier to keep track of their water intake (preventing unnecessary pee accidents), especially with multiple-member households and it also creates for a great opportunity to share a moment with your dog as you provide them their water directly to them, instead of them going to their water bowl on their own with little to no interactions with you at such a young age when sharing should be a top priority. Winter gear Make sure that your pup's body temperature is where it needs to be at all times. Even if you've gotten your pup way before the cold winter months, now is the perfect time to begin socializing them with their winter coat and boots, so that by the time the cold weather comes, you're all set and ready to face it together! Waist leash The umbilical cord exercise is one of my favourites and the best way it can be done it's with a waist leash. The exercise consists of walking around your home with your dog and rewarding them for choosing to join you on your chores and other activities so that they find pleasure in walking alongside you. This also helps minimize surprise potty training accidents and if you use a waist leash, you will be hands-free to do what you need around your home. Get one that comes with, or add to this a treat pouch for extra pet parent awesomeness. Short leash Start walking your dog on a short leash. By walking in and out of your home randomly, to help him or her get used to the idea of simply stepping out with you but comfortable coming back with you as you need. You can get a longer leash (often called a log line) as they get older and you feel as though you have more and more trust in them outside. Nail clipper/trimmer Probably the least fun item on the list, for both your pup and you, but a definite must. Grooming is inevitable, whether you practice your way to doing it for your dog their entire life, or if you hire someone. But one of the most challenging aspects of getting your dog groomed is their nails getting clipped. This is where you can do a lot to help prevent future discomfort, by socializing them to different types of nail clippers and trimmers. Consult with your future groomer, I'm sure that they'll be happy to share any tips that'll also help them do their job more easily!
My Thoughts on the Top 5 Feeding Amazon Best Sellers
Let's take a look at the top 5 best-selling feeding items on Amazon. It's interesting seeing what other pet parents are choosing and exploring how each item may/may not be beneficial for your dog or puppy and in which ways. let's take a look! #1. Dog Lick Pad with Suction Cups A great addition to your bag of dog items! Especially great for travel or when you want to take your dog on a road trip and want to make sure they can have a break licking the mat. Licky mats can be great to help keep your dog distracted when grooming, but they're not going to guarantee that your dog feels comfortable with every aspect of grooming and handling so keep that in mind! You can freeze and keep a couple of these in your freezer ready for when your dog or pup is having a hard time relaxing. I wouldn't recommend this as an activity for a bored/high-energy dog as they may not make much use of it or they may just try to chew it instead of licking. I like to use licky mats mostly to help young puppies settle and relax after exciting fun play or training activities. #2. Slow Feeder Bowl Perfect for slowing down a fast eater for sure! It'll also add a little extra fun to feeding time that regular feeding bowls don't provide. Are there better options available though? Is this a good solution for all dogs? If you've just brought home a really young puppy, this slow feeder can be a fantastic solution to encourage slow eating AND provide some mental enrichment. But there are definitely far better options that'll both slow down your dog's eating and help them burn some extra calories through a mental enrichment challenge! Particularly as your pup gets older, you might want to consider swapping this slow feeder for a combination of snuffle mats and food puzzles. #3. Food Puzzles Speaking of which! This is by far my favourite item on this list, as it shows us that pet parents are more and more interested in providing enrichment toys and mental stimulation outlets for their dogs at home. Puzzles are AMAZING at providing a light and fun outlet for your dog to get to use his or her brain to find each piece of their kibble (or even raw food!) while also slowing down how fast your dog eats which is a plus. Puzzles come in different types and levels of difficulty, but my tip would be to start with a more difficult one for your dog because you can always make it easier by helping your dog out. If you have a food puzzle that your dog finds too easy, you can always try wrapping it around in a towel to make it more engaging for your dog to find, and even in a box, for some extra snuffling fun! #4. Water Dispenser A water dispenser can be a great idea if you have a busy schedule and want to make sure your dog doesn't miss out on a single drop of water at home! There's one particular instance, however, where I would advise against using a water dispenser. During puppyhood! At this young age, you want to not only make sure that you're very closely monitoring your puppy's water intake to better manage potty training. But even more importantly, providing your puppy with food and water should be something that you get to do as they need it as a way to further bond with them and have them do amazing things with you! #5. Food Storage Container Combo There's nothing better than being organized in your life, AND in your pup's! Keeping your dog's food and treats in labeled containers can make it really easy for you (or someone dog sitting) to access. One more thing you can do is keep your dog's food in its original bag that it came in, to further keep it fresh and smelling stronger. When it comes to puppy training, you may also want to consider keeping some additional treats in jars and small containers located in different, common areas of your home so that you can easily reward good behaviour!
Potty training: Should I use door bells?
When it comes to potty training, having our puppies and dogs let us know that they want to be allowed into the backyard or taken out for a walk for their potty break can be super convenient for you and I. This can be an easy way to prevent indoor accidents and not have to wonder when it's time to take your furry friend out, however, there may be a different behaviour (or multiple) at play that you'll want to consider, and that may matter more than potty accidents, in the long term. Let's remember that dogs will always repeat behaviours that work for them. And so, in the practice of learning that they can prompt you the moment they need a potty break, a behaviour they may be getting used to each time, is that he/she needs to indicate to you anytime they want you to respond. This isn't a big issue when it comes to potty training. Preventing potty training accidents by monitoring how much water our puppies drink, when they last went outside and how much their bladder can handle requires a lot of effort. However, this is something most households end up getting consistent with, with time. That said, if you've been using a bell at the door for your puppy to let you know each time they needed to be let out, you may be predisposing your dog to a habit closely tied to other common, yet unwanted behaviours many dogs exhibit in and around their home. Behaviours such as biting, barking, chewing, jumping, whining and many others often stem from a need that isn't being met, and your dog is trying their best to convey that to you through those actions. But the common denominator between these behaviours and your dog using a bell at the door is that he/she has learned that you need and should to be told when something needs to be done, as opposed to your dog instead just waiting for you to do it, without them having to prompt you. This routine that gets practiced on a daily basis can become one of the reasons your dog begins to practice some of the unwanted behaviours above. Not to say that they are directly related, as there are many other factors in play. But the key element to note is that by using a doorbell as a tool to have our dogs tell us when something needs to happen, we are more likely to encourage types of unwanted behaviour, where your dogs choose to take action before you. Does this mean you shouldn't use a bell at the door and avoid any types of setups where your dog initiates the action (like your dog telling you when they're in the mood to play fetch, or when they're ready for a walk)? No, as the bell can act as a useful tool like any other, however, you want to make sure that you provide your puppy or dog with enough opportunities where you're letting them know that the bell is but an occasionally helpful tool, as opposed to a means to get things to happen with you. As much as you make use of the bell, make sure that you practice taking your dog out for a bathroom break prior to them asking you to. Keep track of the number of times in between potty breaks and take your dog out a little 5-10 mins past that (before they even consider using the bell), as to also strengthen his or her bladder but above all to let them know that you know exactly when they need something, without them telling you! Practice this and other situations where you're providing your dog with what they need before they even know it to further strengthen your bond and communication towards one another. Just like you would for any other person you share a very special relationship with, because who doesn't like feeling like they get to just kick back and trust that someone knows what, when, and how they need things?
What should I consider before getting a puppy?
There's a lot that goes into getting a puppy! So it's important that you're as informed as possible before making this exciting, life-altering decision. You and your new puppy will be learning quite a many different things throughout your new journey together, but before you even decide to get a pup, here are a few important things you will want to consider. Costs: Though no one can put a price on the joy that a dog can bring you, you still want to make sure you're not breaking the bank to meet your pup's needs. The costs you will need to consider strongly are veterinary bills, planned (vaccinations, surgeries such as neutering/spaying), and sadly unplanned treatments as well. Private training and group training classes are also strongly recommended and may vary in pricing depending on which dog training school you go with. Add to this potential daycare and dog sitting services. Food, supplies (water bowls, bedding, crate, blothing), and toys are all also additional and essential costs you will need to spend in a variety of amounts regularly. The specific pricing varies strongly on your region/area so be sure to do some research, ask around and write some numbers down! Outlets/enrichment needs: Working with as many pet parents as we do, a common factor we've encountered is a proper lack of either understanding or considering of what all dogs need when it comes to enrichment. Just like you and I, dogs are capable and in strong need of new and different activities to do and learn from on a regular basis. Their brain is capable of achieving amazing things which is what makes dogs man's best friend. And so, it's important to note that whether you get a chihuahua or a husky, all dogs require having regular access to activities where they get to use their body and brain, to their heart's content. Socialization outlets: Dogs are one of the most social animals on the planet, and the last thing you want is to raise a dog or puppy that has a tough time in social settings. This is not to say that dogs don't have their own individuality and some enjoy socializing more than others because they do, but in order to get to the point where you're discovering what your dog likes and wants, you first need to provide them with what they need. And what all dogs and puppies need are safe, controlled socialization outlets that they can get the most out of, and come home feeling like they got that itch of theirs scratched. Dog sitting/boarding: Your work schedule (and how it may potentially change with time) is a very important factor to consider but as a result, you may need to have lined yourself up with options that will allow you to have someone care and watch over your dog when you're not available. Personality and compatibility: This is an important item to consider and at the same one the hardest to prepare for because there's simply no way to know exactly what your puppy's personality will be, especially as it may change and vary with time. However what you can take into close consideration is the type of personalities of your puppy's parents, as there is a strong possibility that your pup will draw from both, sometimes more one than the other. But even then, you want to make sure that you consider and mentally prepare for the possibility that even though you were hoping to bring home a calm and easy going puppy, that what you may end up getting is a very eager, gogogo pooch! Lifestyle: This last point ties in closely with the previous one. Though you can prepare to make the most of your pup's personality, where we've found that a lot of pet parents struggle (which is what unfortunately leads to a lot of dogs needing to be rehomed) is when they realize that their lifestyle perhaps doesn't match their dog's needs and wants. This is a tough situation to navigate but if you take a close look at your current lifestyle and how much it could potentially be affected by your dog's personality, needs, and wants, you can then more adequately make the decision of getting a puppy.
If I train with food will I always have to use food?
Absolutely not! However.. as we ourselves get paid for the work and efforts we do, there's no reason our dogs shouldn't get compensated for wanted behaviour. That said, there are many ways that we reward ourselves and others when we do something we're happy about. Simply feeling accomplished is a reward, but while we're working on shaping a wanted behaviour in a dog, especially a puppy, we can use treats, and sometimes even their kibble (which they will be getting on a daily, anyway) to reinforce desired actions. Just as well, incorporating food into daily activities and exercises can and will make a healthier, more responsive, fulfilled, and obedient pooch!
Do I have to consider my dog’s breed when training?
100% However not in terms of what type of training but rather what type of enrichment activities and exercises you should consider based on your dog's breed. A common misconception is that a breed is harder to train or raise than others, and although they each have different needs and at different levels, when we first consider training we must think of setting our dogs (regardless of their breed) to be successful thanks to our guidance. A pug can end up requiring more training than a german shepherd, if we don't provide him with proper guidance, training and what they need as a dog and individual from the start, first and foremost!
How long are dogs pregnant for?
Female dogs are pregnant for around 62-63 days (or just over 2 months) with each trimester being roughly 21 days in length.
How often should I work on commands with my puppy?
Unless your pup is sleeping (rest is really important!), doing little 15-20 minute training sessions every few hours is a good start! If/once you join a group class as your pup gets a little older, you will see they'll be able to handle longer training periods but the most important thing is to pay attention to how they're feeling every second. You want to make sure that they're in the right mood and not over tired, for best results and ensure training is something your pup always enjoys!
Should I crate train my puppy?
If you'd like for your puppy's crate to become the place they go to to rest, take a break, relax, feel food and calm then yes, 100%! Dogs by nature like to rest and take a break in darker quite areas (you can cover the crate with a blanket) and so long as you don't use the crate as a punishment tool, because your pup has done something you dislike or only when you're leaving them along for longer than they can handle, then there's lots to gain from using a crate!
How do I prepare for my dog’s training sessions?
There's a few ways you can prepare. Start by leaving part of your dog's meal for the session, so that they have a little bit of an appetite for during their training session and can enjoy regular food more, as a reward for the amazing things they'll get to do with you. Bring with you any questions you may have, and even a stuffed/frozen kong for your dog to enjoy on the way back home.
When should I start crate training my puppy?
The sooner the better! Crate training should first start as an engaging activity (snuffling, hiding food, hiding toys inside) to get your pup feeling curious and interested in spending time there. Furthermore make sure that your pup's crate is something they get to access when they're tired. Once your pup is comfortable being in and around your crate without it being closed, you can keep it closed while they're not inside, so that you open it only when they're feeling tired/in need of rest. Saving the crate for when they're actually tired will help create that association and interest in the crate, as it will feel even more special, and just right!
How do you potty train a puppy?
1. Make sure that you monitor their daily water intake to see to it that they're not drinking too much/out of boredom. 2. Log the amount of time between pees, even if it was an accident. 3. Slowly work on increasing the amount of time in between outdoor bathroom breaks. 4. After playing, sleeping and eating provide your pup with a quick opportunity to pee & poo outside.
What is puppy socialization?
Most people think of puppy socialization in terms of meeting other dogs, puppies and people but it's so much more than that! A well socialized dog is one that knows how to make good and safe decisions in social settings. This includes everything from being handled, to following your guidance regardless of different sounds, smells and sights around them. Add to the mix touching and stepping on different textures and objects. Taking baby steps, do your best to expose your pup to everything and anything, starting with everything you can think of in and around your home, until it's 100% safe for them to spend more and more time outside in the real world!
How do I pick the right pup for me?
This is a big decision! We like to think of having a dog just like any other relationship in your life. The main difference, however, is that once you choose your pup, you're making a lifetime commitment to them, just as much as they are making a lifetime commitment to you! Once you've made the choice to adopt a puppy, what's next is to pick the right one for yourself/your family. Consider your lifestyle (among other things) and compare it to the breed you're going for, and what they're bred to do. You can even find Facebook groups for that particular breed, where you can learn from other pet parents familiar with the dog you'll be bringing home! Once you're set on a breed and you've found a litter, see if you can meet the puppy's mom and dad and/or learn as much as you can about their demeanour before selecting from one of their pups. As you learn about them and get to meet the pups, from your first impressions you can often get a good idea of their energy level, demeanour, and even personality to see if you think it will be an ideal fit for you, your personality, and your day-to-day life!
bottom of page