What Can I Do To Keep My Dog Off The Table And Counter?

5 01 2009

counter-surfingSome folks that Mom knows sent me an e-mail about their Golden Lab, Marley (just like the movie).  Below is the text of the response I sent them.

Marley, Marley, Marley, a retriever after my own heart!  We can certainly be a crazy bunch.  Mom tells me that you are driving your Mom and Dad bonkers with your counter-surfing.  Marley, have you seen the movie “A Christmas Story”?  Did you happen to notice how unhappy everyone got when the neighbor’s dog came over and counter-surfed the turkey away?  Well, I do not want to see a fellow retriever turned into the Bumpus’ dog. Read the rest of this entry »

How Do You Calm A Hyper Dog?

8 11 2008

flyballYou should always remember that dogs are pretty much children their whole lives.   Of course, you know that as a puppy, all we know is run, play, jump and be seeking your attention.  I assume that the dogs you are concerned about are over one year of age, and they are still bouncing off the walls as previously described.

Some dogs will always have a very high energy level, and their motors are always revving.  The best thing for these dogs is a very active lifestyle with lots of exercise.  Dogs with this kind of energy REALLY enjoy things like playing frisbee, flyball, agility and some people are now dancing with their dogs!  It does not matter which activity you choose, the goal is to find an outlet for all of that unspent energy. Read the rest of this entry »

Aggression Part One – Dominance Aggression

3 11 2008

I received a question via e-mail last week about aggression.  Since there are eight different types of aggression, I have decided to break things down into an eight-part series on aggression.  Dominance aggression is the first topic I will cover, and it is included below.


What is it?

With dominance aggression, everything is about control.  It is the struggle between a dog and the human deciding who is actually in charge.  Dogs are always giving communication signals.  Sometimes, humans do not pick up on the true meaning of these signals.

Some large dogs like to jump up and put their paws on your shoulders.  Most of the time, people think that this is cute because it looks like he is giving the person a hug.  While it may look really cute, the dog is thinking, “I’m in charge here!”

These are the signs of a dominant aggressive dog:

  • They do not like to be stared at.
  • They do not like for anyone to reach over their head.
  • They act aggressive when they are corrected verbally.
  • Their aggression may become worse if you physically corrected.
  • They do not like to be pushed on their shoulders and back.
  • They do not like to be moved from (aka demoted) from beds and sofas.
  • They nudge your hand to insist that you pet them.
  • They growl or bare their teeth for no reason.
  • They snap at people without cause.
  • They defend “their” property (food, toys, etc.)

What can you do if you find that you have a dominant aggressive dog?

  • Remember that you can not train what you can not control.
  • Control your dog’s access to keep him only in certain areas of your home.  Close doors or use baby gates.
  • When outside, always use a head halter or muzzle.
  • Avoid the things that cause the aggressive behavior.
  • Supervise or confine your dog around other animals or children.
  • If you are challenged by the dog, relieve the tension by sweet talking him.
  • Dominant aggressive dogs can be especially dangerous.  This is a problem that does not get better on its own.  Consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.


  • Canine dominance aggression develops between 18 and 36 months of age.
  • When a dog has learned dominance aggressive behavior, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to change.
  • Puppies should begin socialization with humans by 3 weeks of age and continue with positive situations until 14 weeks of age.  This socialization will help their future relationships with people.
  • Adult dogs should ALWAYS be rewarded for their good behavior.  This does not necessarily mean treats.  Dogs love attention, so hugs, petting, and general expressions of love are also treats.  Keep in mind that these same rewards should not be given for bad behavior.

This is a reminder that this material and any material I write is for your information only. If you suspect in any way that your dog is having a problem with dominance aggression, I strongly advise you to seek professional guidance. Aggression of any sort is far too complex to understand by reading a few pages on the Internet.  I feel that humans and my fellow canines will be better served you do not try to tackle this issue alone!

What Can I Do To Slow Down My Dog’s Eating?

1 11 2008

First things first, dogs do not really “chew” their food.  However, they should not be gulping down the entire bowl so fast that it causes them to choke!

Try feeding your dog out of your hand, one piece at a time, rather than tossing their food in a bowl.  Notice that I am talking about dry dog food here.  At least 90% of the food your dog eats should be dry food, since canned food is just a treat on top of their everyday diet.  Dry dog food gives them stronger teeth and jaws, since it requires more activity and mastication than wet food.  Dry dog food can also help to eliminate mouth odor issues, since the kibble helps break up any tartar that may have formed.

Wet, canned food should only be used sparingly as a treat, or if you are trying to entice your dog to eat more because he is underweight.  This can be especially helpful if you foster a dog that was neglected, or if you adopt a dog from a rescue or the pound (aka “Puppy Jail”).  Wet food can also be helpful in hiding ground up medicine.  Mom thinks she has me tricked with this, but it’s WAY too much work to eat around the medicine.

Next, think like your dog and consider why your dog may be gulping the food.  Does he gobble it down to keep another dog from getting it?  Sometimes, dogs that do not have access to food all the time (i.e. they do not “free feed”) will act like they are starving to death when their food is presented.

To a dog, there is nothing special about food other than its ability to sustain life.  Yes, we do like certain foods or treats over others, but we do not make plans based on thoughts of a tasty steak for tonight’s dinner.  Food is our number one motivator that you can control, and if you want a dog to do something, remember, we don’t work for free.  Mom is single-handedly keeping the dehydrated treat company in business to bring you this info.

While food is our biggest motivator, and we do many things with the promise of food to come, there are still some dogs that will eat rotten food they find on the side of the road.  Is this because they are so hungry that they cannot pass it up?  Not always.  Is this because they are motivated to do something?  Yes.  The dogs that are motivated to eat rotten food off the side of the road can even be well-fed, deeply cared for dogs.  Why?  Because they can.  This is why most dogs should not be roaming freely.  There are times that our instincts can not distinguish between what IS good for us and what IS NOT good for us.

Our instinct tells us that no matter what it is, good or bad.  If we can not play with it or make puppies with it, then it must be eaten.  And no, we do not ever savor the flavor.  It is in the mouth, maybe a couple of crunch, crunch, crunches and to the stomach it goes.

It takes people entirely too long to eat!  I suppose it is because you have domesticated yourselves so much that you need to chew and savor the flavor of every bite.  If dogs are destined to be domesticated to that extent, then leave me here!  I do NOT want that life.

Say My Name – The Importance of a Dog’s Name

30 10 2008

Names are very important to all domesticated animals.  Some people spend a lot of time thinking of names.  My doggy mom’s name was Sunny’s Autumn Uno, Autumn for short.  Why?  Because her mother’s name was Sunny and my doggy mom was born in the autumn and she was the only puppy born.  Uno is Spanish for one.

Tax is my brother and best friend, and he got his name because he came to live with us on April 15th.  For some reason, humans have to pay the government taxes.  My human mom said that this is Tax Day, so he was ended up with the name Tax.

Once you give a dog a name, you should use that name every time you talk to him.  I know that sometimes dogs can be stubborn and not listen.   People get irritated with us at this point and begin to call us every name they can think of.  Some of those names are not very nice.

Please do not refer to your dog as “Hey”, “Hey you”, “Stupid”, “Dumb dog”, “Stupid dog”, “Jesus Christ” unless his name really is one of these.  One should hope not.

When you have decided on the everyday name for a dog, you should practice that name until he knows it.  Take a treat and hold it in front of his face.  Say his name while bringing the treat closer to your own face.  Sometimes, people will add the word “watch” or “look”.  Now give him the treat!  Continue to practice for a few days and he will learn to look at you when you call his name.  Make sure you use the name you plan on calling him, without not all those with the dirty words attached.

One dog I knew was called P.A.  This is what we called him most of the time because mom said that we should not call him by his registered name, “Piss Ant,” in public.  He got his name because of his affinity for getting in trouble when he was a puppy.  He was ALWAYS in trouble.  Apparently, his doggy mom had not given him any home training.  Mom would correct him and call him, “You little Piss Ant.”  When she decided that he would stay, rather than be adopted out, he needed a permanent name.  Mom decided that since he was black all over, she would name him “Midnight.”  I do not think he go the memo abour Midnight, because he wouldn’t answer to anything but “Piss Ant.”  Lucky for us, he finally learned that P.A. was a nickname for him.  Somebody called AKC would not let Mom officially name him Piss Ant, so his legal name on their papers was P.A. Pom.  Legal names are the ones that are given to dogs who actually know who their daddy is.  I guess the AKC is the place that keeps all the legal names and who was the daddy to whom.

I called him THE PISS ANT, because he was the alpha dog when I arrived, and he stayed the alpha until I could not find him anymore.  Mom said that he went to doggy heaven.  That’s when I became the HDIC (Head Dog In Charge).

All of that being said, you should be very careful with the words you use around your dog.  He just might think that one of them is his name, like P.A. did.

Spike’s Guide to Potty Training

24 10 2008

First, I start off by singing my little potty training song…

Music: Bon Jovi
Words: Spike
Tune: You Give Love a Bad Name

Pee on the floor and you’re to blame
You give dogs a bad name
I told you to bark if you had to go
But you peed on the floor
And got thrown out the door.


  1. If you cannot physically keep your eyes on the dog, he must be in his crate or a small confined area.
  2. You should leave a six-foot NON-RETRACTABLE leash on your dog at all times during the training period.  Remember, you cannot train what you cannot control)
  3. Potty training dogs are not allowed to free feed.
  4. You must catch the dog in the act of soiling.  If not, you cannot correct him.  See rule #1.
  5. NEVER allow your dog to see you clean up his accidents.
  6. Dogs should go outside before and after play, sleeping, and eating.
  7. Training sessions (sit, stay, etc) should be taught to a hungry dog and last for 10 minutes only.
  8. It is recommended that puppies under 8 months of age eat 3 times a day.
  9. Generally food and water are not allowed in the crate.

***  Spike’s Special Note: If your vet recommends that food and/or water be left out for your dog to free feed, DO IT!  Your dogs health may be at risk.  Dogs that free feed may take longer to potty train.  Also, younger and smaller breeds may need to have access to food at all times.

Read the rest of this entry »