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Tips For A Stress-Free Holiday

Plan Ahead.
If you know you’re going to be having guests over, whether for a few hours or a few weeks, plan ahead.
  • If your dog is nervous around strangers in your home, set up a safe space for her to go to when she’s feeling overwhelmed. This may be a small room away from guests, or a crate with her favorite toys.
  • Before guests come over take your dog on a looooong walk and have some stuffed Kongs ready to keep them busy.
  • Ask your guests not to bother your dog when she’s in her safe place. For more extended visits, you can build a positive association between your shy dog and your guests. Ask guests not to directly interact with your dog; instead, they can drop treats on the ground when your dog comes around.
  • If your dog has shown any aggression towards strangers, manage the situation by keeping your dog in another room any time guests come over.

Watch out for common holiday toxins.

  • Grapes, raisins, chocolate–all common around the holidays and all are toxic to dogs.
  • Coffee, alcohol, and nicotine are all potentially hazardous to your dog. If you have a guest that’s an avid smoker or drinker, make sure you plan ahead to make sure your dog stays out of reach of these harmful items.
  • You might be tempted to toss your dog table scraps from a delicious holiday meal, but keep in mind that rich, fatty foods can severely harm your dog’s digestive system.

Be wary of holiday hazards.

  • Avoid tinsel… this can be injested and cut like glass internally.
  • Make sure your Christmas tree is securely anchored to the ground, and minimize your dog’s temptation to jump on the tree by avoiding edible ornaments like popcorn strings.
  • Clean up pine needles frequently and don’t allow your pet to drink water from the tree stand.
  • If you’re celebrating Hanukkah, make sure to keep your menorah or other candles out of reach of your pets.

PB& J Pops

Looking for a cool treat for your dog as the hot days continue? These creative and yummy frozen treats will do the trick. Healthy and simple. Goat yogurt has less lactose and can be beneficial to help with digestion and gas.


1/4 cup Peanut Butter
2 cups Strawberries, chopped (frozen or fresh)
1/2 cup Blueberries (frozen or fresh)
1 3/4 cup plain Goat Yogurt, divided
4 Bully Sticks

PB&J Pops Dog Treat Recipe

First Layer

1/4 cup Peanut Butter
3/4 cup plain goat Yogurt
Add peanut butter and yogurt to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth

Second Layer
2 cups Strawberries, chopped
1/4 cup plain goat Yogurt
Add strawberries and yogurt to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth

Third Layer
1/2 cup Blueberries
3/4 cup plain organic goat Yogurt
Mix blueberries and yogurt

1. Pour an inch or so of your first layer mixture into the bottom of each cup.
2. Allow to freeze for 30 minutes, and insert your bully stick.
3. Repeat pouring the layers, allowing them to set 30 minutes in between, until  they are all used.
4. Freeze for 8 hours to allow them to fully set.
5. Run warm water around the mold to remove the popsicle.
Makes 4 popsicles.

Dog Etiquette Made Easy

The most common complaints heard from clients and students that take classes revolve around basic manners. Jumping up, dashing through doors, the list goes on. If we haven’t taken the time to teach our dogs what we would like to see more of, how can we expect them to read our minds? These easy training tips will have you and your dog on your way to a more polite household.

Don’t Feed Into the Bad Behaviour

“Off!” “Enough!” “Stop!” Whether you are giving your dog praise or scolding them you’re giving attention to a behaviour… period. Physical attention such as pushing, kneeing (please don’t do this) is the same deal. Once you withdraw attention from rude behaviour it tends to stop because dogs don’t waste energy on something that doesn’t work. Put your focus on giving attention to the polite behaviours you’d like to see more and you will see your dog offer that more often.

Teach Something You’d Like Instead

If your dog jumps up on you or new people, teach them something that won’t enable them to jump, like “sit”. Every time your dog comes toward you ask them to sit before they have the chance to jump. Then reward them with the attention that they desired in the first place from jumping up. If they’ve been practicing jumping up for a long time, up the ante and reward the ‘sit’ with a tasty treat to make it really stick! Ask anyone new to your dog to ask for a sit before your dog has a chance to jump on them, or keep your dog on lead so you can better control the situation and ask for the sit yourself before greeting strangers.

Say Please!

Get into a routine of asking your dog for a polite behaviour to access things such as meals, going out or in doors, getting in and out of vehicles, putting on a leash for a walk, etc. You could ask for a sit, a down, stay. After doing this for some time your dog will get into a routine and start to OFFER these polite behaviours! Don’t forget to reward your dog and acknowledge the good stuff or they may resort to acting out in the attempt to gain attention.

Remember; if we don’t take the time to teach our dogs what we would like to see more of, how can we expect them to know? Unfortunately dogs are not born with an innate sense of what their humans would like. Give clear direction, consistently and keep it positive and fun!

Why Nosework?


Some of the many benefits of nosework are:

  • Dogs easily burn lots of mental & physical energy doing searches
  • Searches can be done anywhere you can take your dog
  • No prior training is required and no obedience is needed
  • In classes, dogs work one at a time and rest crated or safely in a vehicle between searches so reactive dogs can enjoy the activity, too
  • Shy or fearful dogs build confidence and overactive dogs put their energy into fun searches
  • Stronger bond between dog & handler as handler learns to observe, understand, and rely upon his dog

Training Your Dog with Treats

Using food as a reinforcement/reward in dog training is always a hot topic. Opinions vary from“food is a bribe” to “using food for training is for the weak.” But If we move away from opinions and towards science and fact, we can clear up many misconceptions about using food to train.

Bribe vs. Reward

A bribe would come first, before the behavior. This means the dog will perform the behavior only if food is presented. A reward is something given to the dog AFTER the behavior has been offered or performed. This reward tells the dog that there is a possibility of reward in the future if they repeat the behavior, so the likelihood of them offering it again is very high. It’s all about creating an association.

Now, if I were to wave a piece of food in front of my dog’s nose to get that behavior, that indeed would be a bribe.

The Difference Between a Lure and a Bribe


Many times using food to lure is the best and simplest way to show a dog a particular behavior, such as “down.” If you lure with food into a downward motion from a sit, the dog can follow the food to the ground and we can mark and reward this. VERY IMPORTANT: Be sure to fade the lure into a hand signal quite quickly or you WILL have to use a food bribe in future.

Why Food? Shouldn’t Praise Be Good Enough?

To ensure animals are motivated for training, we cannot kid ourselves and think that praise would/should be good enough. If your boss were to offer you the same, would that motivate you to work? Since money means nothing to dogs, it is only natural that such sense-driven beings would be highly motivated by food.

Food actually turns on the dog’s “seeker” system. It activates the senses and turns on the thinking brain (as opposed to the emotional brain) and readies them for learning and work.

Can’t I Just Use My Dog’s Kibble?

Day in and day out the bowl goes down, full of kibble. The same kibble. Every day. Now, if you want to motivate a dog, it makes sense to “up the ante” from bland kibble to something more delicious. A “treat” if you will.  And depending on the difficulty of the training, you should dish out the reward accordingly. As an example: you have never taught your dog to hand target AND you are in a very distracting environment. A double whammy. What would be a better choice, kibble or a piece of cheese?  ☺

Remember, if you utilize food in training the way it is intended, it will prove most effective. You’ll speed up your dog’s learning process and yield long-lasting results.  Why not base your decision on sound science and see the results for yourself?