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How long will it take to train my dog?

Her whole life! Seriously, this is an impossible question to answer. It depends on you, your dog, and your training goals. My 14-year-old terrier mix, Josie, is still learning new things. Every time you are with your dog, every day, one of you is training the other. If we stop training our dogs, we become the trainees – which doesn’t usually bode well for the dog-owner relationship! Most basic training classes are six to eight weeks long, with you going to class once a week with your dog, for about an hour each time. At the end of a basic […]


What’s the best way to housetrain my puppy?

Whether you are facing the challenge of housetraining a new puppy or retraining an adult dog with inappropriate bathroom behaviors, the approach is the same: manage the behavior to prevent mistakes from happening while you teach appropriate toilet habits. The differences are that while a puppy may not yet have the physical ability to control his need to eliminate for long periods, at least he probably hasn’t learned to soil indoors and will have a very strong instinct to keep his den clean. The unfortunate exceptions are puppies raised in very dirty conditions (like many of the puppies raised in […]


How do I keep my puppy from chewing on everything?!

Manage, manage, manage. A pup who is still in the chewing stage should be under constant supervision, or confined to a safe secure puppy-proofed area. Provide him with plenty of irresistible toys. The best are interactive toys such as stuffed Kongs , Buster Cubes and Roll-A-Treat Balls . A cold, frozen Kong can be especially soothing to a teething pup’s sore gums. Soft toys such as rope tugs and plush toys are also very inviting to puppy teeth. When he wants to chew on an inappropriate object, direct him toward an acceptable chew toy. If he insists on going back […]


Why should I spay or neuter my dog? I want to have puppies!

Approximately 6-8 million unwanted dogs, cats, kittens and puppies are euthanized in this country every year because there are not enough homes for them. If you breed your dog, you are a part of this problem, even if you find homes for every one of your puppies. (Overpopulation) Every home that adopts one of your pups is a home that could have taken a homeless dog or puppy instead – one that will end up dead on a shelter euthanasia room floor. In addition, you can avoid many health and behavior problems, such as mammary tumors (in females) and testosterone-generated […]


How do I stop my puppy from biting me?

Biting is a natural puppy behavior. Puppies explore their world with their mouths, and they use their teeth extensively in play. Learning bite inhibition is an important part of a young puppy’s education. If he bites his mom or his littermates too hard, they let him know. Mom may reprimand him roundly if his needle sharp puppy teeth close too hard during nursing, and his siblings may yipe and refuse to play with him if he bites too hard. One of the pitfalls of taking a puppy away from his littermates too soon is that he misses out on this […]


Why don’t you use choke chains or prong collars in your training?

Choke chains and prong collars are tools of compulsion training, dependent on your willingness to force your dog to comply with your commands. At Peaceable Paws we use positive reinforcement training, meaning that we consistently reward the behaviors that we want from our dogs, and manage or ignore (when possible) the behaviors that we don’t want. Because all living things repeat behaviors that are rewarding to them, by using positive reinforcement we can get our dogs to voluntarily give us the behaviors we want, rather than forcing them. We don’t risk damaging our relationships with our canine pals through the […]


Are electronic (non-visible) fences good to use?

There are several reasons why I detest electronic shock fences. While I have certainly heard from people who have used them and are very pleased, I am also personally familiar with a number of electronic fence horror stories. I do not recommend them for my clients. I don’t consider them an adequate means of primary confinement – for far too many dogs, there will always be a stimulus that is strong enough to entice them to suffer the shock and run through the fence. Batteries fail and collars malfunction. When I worked at the Marin Humane Society in Novato, California, […]


Why should I crate train my puppy/dog?

The crate is an extremely valuable behavior management tool. It takes much of the pain out of puppy-raising by keeping your pup safely confined when you can’t directly supervise her. Puppies are usually housetrained in a surprisingly short time with the use of a crate, and the crate gives you peace of mind, knowing that your dog isn’t peeing and pooping all over the house, or chewing on electric cords and antique furniture when you’re not there to watch her. Dogs are den animals, and if properly introduced to the crate, they usually love them. The crate can be your […]


At what age should I start training my puppy?

The sooner the better! Actually, very responsible breeders start training their pups as young as 5-6 weeks, so by the time they are placed in homes they already have a good start. Your puppy starts learning the moment he first sets foot in your house. You might as well make sure he learns the right things from day one. Peaceable Paws accepts puppies in classes starting at age 8 weeks. The only reason we don’t take them sooner is that we want them to have at least two of their puppy shots for protection before they start romping with their […]


Resource Guarding – Brooklyn’s Story 7

This week’s blog is a tribute to the compassion, commitment, and efforts of one shelter worker and two positive trainers. Brooklyn is a four-month-old Shepherd/Rottie mix pup who arrived at the Humane Society of Washington County at the tender age of 6 weeks. Since pups can’t be made available for adoption until they are at least eight weeks old, Candida, one of the shelter staff, offered to foster her. Candida realized in very short order that this sweet-faced, innocent-looking pup had some difficult behaviors that would preclude her from adoption. She had a very low tolerance for frustration, would snarl […]


No-Kill Animal Abusers 5

No-Kill Animal Abusers This week a Friend on Facebook posted a link to an animal cruelty case involving a “so-called no-kill” “rescue” organization, the Humane Sanctuary of Kinsman, Ohio, that had (allegedly) badly neglected the animals under its care. On Friday, February 12, 2010 the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County (AWLTC), the county sheriff’s department and other agencies executed a search warrant at this facility and impounded one hundred sixty-two dogs, 18 cats, two horses and multiple fowl and chickens. The woman (not) caring for the animals has been charged with nearly 200 counts of animal cruelty. The photos […]


A Blogger Virgin 2

Well lookee here – I’m actually doing this! It’s exciting to have a place of my very own where I can share thoughts and events on the spur of the moment without worrying about pleasing an editor, thinking up topics a month in advance, or complying with word counts. I’ve procrastinated on this because it feels like a relationship commitment and I don’t want to risk not fulfilling my end of the bargain. And because I had to figure out how this darn blog-thing works – I’m not the most computer-savvy dog trainer. I expect my blogs to run the […]