Thursday, February 18, 2010

Brain Food.

Feed your dog's brain. Start with actual fuel -- the food your dog eats. Make it good. Be sure it's got the good stuff in it. Just like us, dogs only function 100% when their diet is good. If anyone has done any recent research on ADHD in kids you know that many believe medication may not be the answer but rather a diet change. Dogs are the same, behavior can be very closely related to behavior issues. Look at what your dog is eating.

Be sure your dog's food does not contain any of the following: wheat, soy, gluten (or gluten meal), dyes, sugar (sorghum) and some dogs don't do well with grains. I personally stay away from grains for my dogs, but that's just me.

Here is a list of foods I like and recommend.

Nature's Recipe: Farm Stand Selects (website)
Ingredients (first 20): Turkey, turkey meal, ground rice, barley, chicken fat, (preserved with mixed tocopherols), oatmeal, potato protein, cranberries, apples, peas, carrots, animal digest, tomato, pomace, sodium tripolyphosphate, flax seed, potassium chloride, salt, vitamins . . .
Where to buy: You can get this at Petsmart and Petco. I like Petco because you can get their shopper's card and get your 10th bag free. I don't usually see great benefits with the Petsmart card.

Taste of the Wild: Pacific Stream Canine (website)
Ingredients (first 25): Salmon, ocean fish meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, canola oil, salmon meal, smoked salmon, potato fiber, natural flavor, salt, choline chloride, dried chicory root, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, yucca schidigera extract, dried fermentation products of Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, vitamin E supplement . . .
Where to buy: This will be at specialty stores only, such as Canine Commissary, Pet Supplies Plus, Lucky Dog Barkery, City Pet Supply, Master Made Feed, and some daycares and groom shops.

Canidae: All Life Stages Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey, Lamb & Fish (website)
Ingredients (first 25): Chicken meal, turkey meal, lamb, potatoes, peas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), lamb meal, ocean fish meal, tomato pomace, natural flavor, choline chloride, sun cured alfalfa meal, inulin (from chicory root), lecithin, sage extract, cranberries, beta carotene, rosemary extract, sunflower oil, yucca schidigera extract, dried enterococcus faecium, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried aspergillus oryzae fermentation extract, dried bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation solubles, vitamin E . . .
Where to buy: This will be at specialty stores only, such as Canine Commissary, Pet Supplies Plus, Lucky Dog Barkery, City Pet Supply, Master Made Feed, and some daycares and groom shops.

Those are just a few, of many, that I recommend. If you want a full list email me and I'll get you a list. . . . Now that your dog's brain is being fed properly let's go for challenges and training that keep your dog mentally stimulated. First, I sent a great list to start with on my blog post "Cabin Fever". While those are all indoor activities for rainy days (or snowy!) you can do those anytime or all the time!

There are several toys you can use to occupy Fido's time and stimulate his mind. For puppy owners tether your dog to you or a stationary object near you with a 4-5 foot leash and give him one of these toys to work on while you work or do the dishes. If you can't tether, or prefer not to, then put the toy in the crate with Fido.

All dogs need mental stimulation but terrier, working, sporting and herding breeds find themselves in trouble more than some dogs due to their sharp little minds. You need to stimulate your dog properly as much as possible. One-on-one training is best but when you can't do that be sure to substitute it with something.

Great toys/activities for dogs of all ages.

KONG® Wobbler. This one is brand new and can be used for your dog's meal. Don't use treats but make it the only way Fido gets his food. Often dogs don't mess with these items with treats in them because it's too much work to get out so they think, "I'll get food later, this is too much work I'll just wait for the food bowl . . ." So make them work for that food that normally goes in the food bowl! (Purchase here.) Watch dogs go to work on the Wobbler in this video.

Bob-a-Lot. This is similar to the Wobbler but hey, variety is always good! I think it bobbles a little more and the food comes out of the bottom instead of the middle, so some minor differences. (Purchase here.)

Dog Brick. This is a true gem! The dog has to slide the "bricks" to discover the treats. The artist is Nina Ottosson and she has designed many remarkable dog puzzles that are truly challenging and fun. (You can get most of these on but many you can purchase here.) Here is a video of a dog with the Brick.

Those are just a few of the fun things out there. Try some of those on your dog. But never use a toy to replace training with your dog and one-on-one. Join a group class for a great doggie bonding and training experience. For those with dogs that need something stimulating or if you want something aside from the same old obedience try our new upcoming "Fungility" class!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I don't personally believe in the "my dog is stubborn" label. I just feel that while all dogs will learn and do things differently dogs don't do things for spite on any level, and stubbornness is a level of spite in my book.

Commonly we find dogs that are labeled as "stubborn" are either not motivated properly or they are just not sure what it is that we want, sometimes they are pushed to their limits and want to call it quits so they come across as being obstinate.

Smart dogs are troublemakers but they are some of the best dogs in the world! Some dogs are so smart that it's quite difficult to keep the dog mentally challenged and they do all sorts of crazy things when they become bored -- chew things, eat things, become obnoxious with attention-seeking behaviors, bark, dig, lick . . . I could go on and on.

Most dogs are bred to do something specific or at least have some sort of job. As humans we don't often fulfill this to the degree that the dog needs and this is where I come in! Dogs do things they do when they are not mentally challenged enough and this is what we humans call "bad dog behavior". Most often it's insanely easy to fix, time consuming and some dedication may be involved but it's nothing you can't do.

A great way to challenge your dog is teach it to fetch and retrieve. Games and play are a remarkable way to bond with your dog and teach it how to use it's teeth on things appropriately.

Do you have a dog who loves socks? Well instead of yelling at him every time he steals a sock why not use this for a learning experience? My Border/Aussie, "Noah", was a little theif from the day I got him. I distinctly remember sitting back one day as he stole a sock and pranced off quite proudly and thought -- what should I do to make this easy on both of us and not a headache? It was the 4th sock he'd stolen that day. He was just 10 weeks or so and I can't tell you the joy in his eyes when he pranced off with those socks! His tail would be high and he was just ecstatic with his accomplishment. So it started that I began to teach him to bring things to me on command. Anything he picked up I'd teach him to bring to me instead of run off or have me yell at him to stop.

You can do this too. If you have a dog that has already gotten in trouble for stealing things then this will take a bit more patience on your part but it can be done if you can stick to it. Put your dog on a long line, about 15 feet. Put yourself in a room with socks, or something your dog likes to steal that he can't, or won't, tear up if he gets it in his mouth. The second he grabs the object begin to praise him. Yup. Go to town -- "Good boy! What do you have?!! Good boy!" He may do nothing, he may drop it and come to you, he may just walk off with it. If he starts to walk away give the leash a nudge and get him to come toward you. The very second he starts to come toward you with the object begin to praise him. Don't reach out to touch him or move your hands toward him at all as he may think you will take the object. Just verbally praise him, "Good boy! Gooood boy!" Every step he takes toward you keep praising him, or if he's looking at you. If he turns away or walks away stop talking. Get him to turn back and look/walk toward you and start to praise again. Continue this until the dog comes to you with the object and praise accordingly.

Here is a video of Noah bringing my dropped socks to me in the laundry room. I should have put my Jack Russell away as he was causing Noah to be in conflict about it but he still does it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cabin Fever.

So it's been cold out and we have made history, literally, with this snow! But what do you all do with your dogs when they get bored and can't go out to play or go on their regular walks? I thought I'd give several things you can do with your dog while indoors to alleviate boredom as well as expel some mental energy!

These are in no order, just listed as they came to my brain.

(1) Practice your recalls. Who needs the outdoors for any obedience when you can do them indoors?! You can use "Hide & Seek" to teach your dog recalls (coming when called). You may need a partner for this. Someone takes some really good food -- like chicken or hot dogs or cheese and puts it in a little tupperware dish with a lid. Have the handler hold on to Fido. You take the dish to Fido and crack open the lid in front of their nose -- ahhhh, get a whif of that! Now take off into another room. Once you get there call Fido and have the handler release him. "Fido! Come!" As he darts about the house he'll actually be air scenting the food aroma from the dish. When he finds you praise like crazy, "Goooood boy!! Goood boy!" and open the dish and hand him at least 5 pieces of the food. Close the dish and have the handler come and get him. Don't talk to him or look at him after you have closed the dish. You will be in "off" mode. Handler takes the dog back (and this should be done without "telling" the dog to go back to the handler, just physically have the handler take the dog) to the other room and repeat as you move to different areas of the house.
*If you are alone then you can do this by putting your dog in a sit-stay and following the same procedures. However, you need a dog with a very solid sit-stay for this!

(2) Teach self-control. Put your dog in a down. Have a piece of low-value treat (dog food or a dog biscuit). Start to place the food on top of your dog's paw. The second he brings his nose down to sniff/grab for it, take the treat away. The important part of this is that you do not say a word. Don't say "NO!" or "Leave it" just simply pull the treat back into your closed hand. Repeat until you can get the food on your dog's paw and pull your hand away without him going for it. Once he's looking at you say, "Take it!". This teaches very good self-control, plus it's a cool trick to show off to others!

(3) Teach jumps. You can start your dog's agility career in your living room! No, you don't need space. You need a pressure-mounted shower rod and a doorway. Place the shower rod in the doorway where your dog can't go under it but where it's high enough to do a simple step over the bar. Don't have your dog jump it yet, this freaks some dogs out. Put your dog on one side of the bar and you go on the opposite side. Have some really good food. Lure your dog over. As soon as he makes one step over put it on command, "Over!" and as soon as he's over praise with about 3 pieces of the food and repeat. Slowly raise the bar higher and higher. For those sneaky dogs that do want to go under the bar you can use two bars or put a pile of books or boxes under the bar to block him.

(4) Teach left & right. Most dogs are walked on the left side and are used to walking on that side and feel awkward if walked on the opposite side. If you want to venture out to do agility or anything other than just obedience you will want your dog to be able to go to both sides. Take a treat and have your dog sit directly in front of you. Lure him to one side. As he gets to that side say, "Left" or "Right" or even "Side" and "Place". Just make them very different. Do the same for each side. This is also a good gateway to get your dog to learn to go around you on command.

(5) Play the IQ game. This is used in supposed "IQ" tests for dogs. I just find it fun. Get 3 cups and turn them over. Have Fido sitting in front of the cups and let him watch you place a treat under one of the cups. Now tell him to find it. See if he gets it right. Then switch it up. You can play this game forever by being as creative as you wish!

Happy snow day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I'm the professional here . . .

I realize that training a dog to be great and obey all your commands is demanding and usually optional. If we were to take a poll of all dog owners we would probably find that most people are satisfied with their dogs just the way they are . . . and that's ok too . . . usually. However I am amazed at how many people hire me to come in and help them and still decide to do things as they see fit.

I often have to look people in the eye and say, "Look, I'm the professional here and if you want my advice take it and stop reading the @#$% internet!" I never say things for my health when it comes to dog training. If I see a problem, or a dog owner does, then I'll give the solution. It's often a fairly simple one. It will usually involve some dedication and I can assure you it will involve consistency (the number one problem with dog training is a lack of it) but if you do what I tell you and stop reading the internet, asking your neighbors and applying every method known to man to your dog you may actually get somewhere!

Dog training has remarkably become normal these days. Thirty years ago dog training for hire was not even heard of. Being a dog trainer for a living would be a joke. But with the growing popularity of dog training comes the price of too much advice and free advice. People can Google their dog's "issue" and get a list of sites with so-called-remedies but this can be negative for a number of reasons. First, nothing should replace hands-on training with a well-educated trainer. Self-diagnosing dog issues, even as simple as chewing, can lead to frustration, to say the least. There are several websites that have good advice, and more that have bad advice, but this is the reason you need to have a trainer help you hands-on.

However, when you hire a trainer to come help you (or you go to them) you need to stick to the advice they give you. They are professionals and give you their advice for a reason. Don't take what they said and also use some method from TV or a book. It isn't going to be consistent and your dog will suffer from it.

If you begin to self-train your dog by reading a book (or whatever means you use) you could head down a path of destruction. Dogs have to have routines and consistency or they will mentally go haywire. This is when we see behavior get worse and suddenly we think -- oh that must have not worked, let's move on to what this book says . . .

You have to set something up and stick to it for at least 14 days before you may see results. Don't just toss your hands up and move on. Success takes time. If you do this your dog will be so utterly confused that I can promise you training will make you want to pull your hair out. You will blame the dog, you will blame the author, you will blame the trainer that just left your house, when in reality it's you. You're the problem.

Nothing happens overnight and especially with dogs. We are dealing with animals, creatures not of our own kind and we expect them to understand what we want in a matter of days. It's not fair to our dogs and it's not fair to any of the dog industry who has tried to help.

So if you find yourself tossing through pages of dog books, internet sites, DVDs and other means you need to stop. Find a trainer. Get hands-on help and follow what that trainer says. (Be sure to hire a trainer with human methods, who doesn't recommend choke chains, pinch collars or leash corrections.) You have to teach your dog you are the head honcho and rules are rules. You need to get a trainer who can show you how to do this correctly, without force or out-dated methods. If you are not keeping any sort of routine or rules your dog will think you are weak and that you have no glue that holds you together. A dog won't take direction or have any respect for a weak leader. Do you blame him? No one wants to follow a leader that isn't sure about what he/she's doing, does he?

If you need help on how to properly discipline your dog read my blog post on that from a few weeks ago (here). But I advise you to hire a trainer and follow their advice as they lay it out. Don't modify it to your liking, it's incredibly insulting to the trainer. They do this for a living and they give you the advice because it works not because it sounds like it might work. At least this describe me, as a trainer. I suppose not all trainers are like this but I am very confident in what I tell a client.

Like I told one client who repeatedly swore the training wasn't working, "My training works if you do it. That means you do what I told you. Not some of it, but all of it. It's fail-proof if you do. I have yet to have someone actually do what I told them and they tell me it doesn't work. . . . " If you tell me it's not working I know you're doing something wrong or leaving something out, this is the case 99.9% of the time.

I had a woman a few years ago with a puppy that was 13 weeks old. Big puppy and cute. I went over and we went over some things and I told her how to start to teach the puppy how to come when called. I told her the steps and then how to slowly advance to distractions, etc. She calls me 5 days later, "Yeah he got out in the front yard and was doing these circles around me and wouldn't come to me when I called him. How do I get him to come to me when he 's doing that?" I said, "Have you done the exercises I told you about last week?" Client:"Uhh, well some, a few times . . ." I mean seriously, did you think showing the puppy one time in the kitchen would transfer over to him coming when he's running around like a boisterous, happy puppy outside? Did you listen to anything I told you? She, like so many, wanted a single answer and an immediate solution. It's just not that simple.

But once you actually do the work the rewards of training your own dog is ten-fold. It's great. You will be so proud and able to show your dog off to the world. I recall a recent set of clients that have a somewhat difficult dog. He's very, very active and can be a real handful but they have been working diligently with him for quite some time. They did a tricks class with me (after much training and a few other classes) and at the end they said, "We videoed his tricks and showed my whole family on YouTube--they thought he was great! These tricks have really helped him focus and calm down!"

So the rewards of listening to a professional's advice are more than you can imagine. Just do it. Don't look for a magic answer. There isn't one. Dog behavior is complex even when it's just a simple problem like annoying jumping on guests or barking. So find a good trainer, wait--find a great trainer and follow their great advice. They'll thank you and you'll thank yourself even more . . . but most of all Fido will be the happiest, well-adjusted dog on the block . . . and his thanks will be all that you need!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pick me! Pick me!

Hey, I entered this with the possibility of winning a $35K grant for my business! Can you say loads of fun classes and tons of great agility equipment?! If you nominate us your comments count. They judge based on what the comments say, so put in some great words!

To nominate us, click the badge below and then enter "Adventures in Canine Training" and "Arlington, TX" for the city, state. You can then enter your comments for us. (Please note: you cannot comment to this blog post to nominate us, you have to click the badge below.)
Nominate Us!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

101 Uses for a Frisbee

So I don't actually have 101 uses but I do have a few more than 1. We all know that frisbees are neat little plastic discs thrown for a fun activity in the park. Watch the disc fly. We've all seen amazing dogs catch these things in amazing ways too. Did you know they can be pretty cool for other things such as a handy water or food dish, a tug toy, chew toy and toss toy! Check it out!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dog Parks & Daycares.

You have to be careful what you put online, so I've battled whether I should post my thoughts on these two popular places where anyone can see it. However the truth is that my feelings on these places can impact a dog's behavior in a lot of ways and so I feel it necessary to let all dog people know about these places and why I don't think anyone should go to them--ever.

It's funny what time and experience will teach you. However I must chalk up a lot of my great knowledge to my mentor trainer, Lee Mannix of The Lee Mannix Center for Canine Behavior located in south Austin (read this front page article on him from the Austin American Statesmen). I still travel there often to get advice, tips and learn what I can. Working with and learning about dogs is a continual process, that's what makes them so fascinating. He taught me so much about dog behavior and what it takes to truly bond with and teach a dog the right way that I can't even thank him enough!

In my early days of dog training (I started in 1999) I was a true green dog, or novice. I could teach a dog a few things and I knew some about the science of dogs after the 4 month internship I had at the Animal Behavior Center of New York in Queens, NY the summer of 1999. However, I look back now and realize how little I did know.

I frequented the dog parks every weekend with my Great Dane. He's a remarkable dog, laid back, gets along with everyone and every dog. He is probably too nice if I think about it. He allows obnoxious puppies to grab his jowls and hang off of him, attempt to jump on his back and sniff is underside like he was a cow with an udder hanging down. He mostly stuck by me at the park and didn't care much about anyone else. I, of course, was one of those who thought I was doing a good job of "socializing" my dog by frequenting the park.

I continued to go to dog parks each month even after getting my second dog, Trevor, my Jack Russell. He too only cared mostly about me and would play ball all day and completely ignore all the other dogs. I liked that he could run off leash in a secure area and play for as long as he wanted. (Now I can do that at any park since I taught him a really good recall!)

After studying with Lee (his specialty is dog aggression, some of which is some nasty stuff!) I learned that dog parks and doggie daycare centers are good places to teach your dog to be dog aggressive and/or pick up really bad habits. . . . among other things. As Lee says, "You should be your dog's best friend, not dogs . . ." Which is true. This doesn't mean you shouldn't have other dogs or have your dogs around other dogs but there is a skill to doing it so that all dogs are doing things right!

First let's talk about socialization . . . you have to know that socialization is over after about 16 weeks of age. If you haven't "socialized" your dog by then you are just catching up after that.

Myth: Socializing a puppy means simply exposing him/her to many different things.
Fact: Exposure to a variety of experiences is important, but simply giving the puppy random and/or uncontrolled experiences may not teach the puppy what you want him to learn.

Myth: I should start socializing my puppy after he reaches 4-6 months old, after he's fully vaccinated.
Fact: Puppies go through their critical socialization period between the ages of 5 and 16 weeks. At about 16 weeks of age, a window closes in the puppy’s brain and many of his ideas about the world are set for life.

Myth: I can stop socializing my puppy after 12 weeks of age since the critical socialization period has ended.
Fact: Although the critical window has closed, puppies will continue to solidify their impressions at least until they are adults (at about 2 years of age) and -- to a certain extent -- throughout their lives.

Tips for Properly Socializing your Puppy
1) Introduce your puppy to as many people as possible, as long as those people are good influences and/or as long as you have influence over your puppy’s experience. For example, you do not want your puppy to learn to chase and nip at children (or become afraid of them), so do not leave him alone with children that will allow or encourage him to practice that behavior.

2) Introduce your puppy to other dogs that are good role models, and monitor your puppy’s interaction with other dogs. Puppies are highly impressionable, and they are very likely to imitate the behavior of the other dogs they meet. Always consider prospective play-mates and ask yourself if you want your puppy to end up behaving like that dog.

3) Introduce your puppy mostly to adult dogs. Leaving two puppies to play with one another and calling it good socialization is like leaving two 3 year olds together and calling it school. Puppies teach each other very little, except for how to behave in a wild and un-controlled manner and how to bully one another. Adults are the role models you want, if they are good dogs and you wish for your dog to pick up their behaviors.

4) Spend more time with your puppy than your puppy spends with other dogs. It’s very easy for puppies to relate to other dogs, of course, since they speak the same ‘language’. Human beings are the foreigners in a puppy’s life. If you want your puppy to develop a strong bond with you (and have training become much easier), you will have to make it clear that you are the friend, playmate, and source of resources, and those other dogs are just occasional visitors in his life.

5) Expose your puppy to a variety of noises, places, and experiences. If your puppy becomes frightened, do not console him! If your puppy is behaving in a frightened manner and you are talking to him, holding him, petting him, etc., he will perceive this as an affirmation that he is supposed to be scared and that he is behaving appropriately. This is how well-intentioned people create neurotic dogs.

6) Do not force your puppy to do something that is scaring him. Simply expose him to the situation, and do not make a big deal out of it. Examples: If your puppy is scared of having his nails trimmed, do not trim his nails for awhile. Instead, put match sticks beneath his feet and trim those instead. Give him a treat each time a match stick is trimmed. If your puppy is scared to swim, do not force him…simply go swimming yourself, or let him watch other dogs swimming. He is very likely to follow.

7) Try to expose your puppy to positive things, however, puppies will possibly act afraid of unknown, new things. Just allow the puppy to explore as long as it is safe without talking to the puppy or telling him it’s ‘okay’. If your puppy is frightened of something that is not harmful to him, expose him to that thing multiple times, until he is no longer frightened. Try to make each exposure as pleasant or as uneventful as possible. (Example: If your puppy is scared of a loud noise, expose him to that noise multiple times. Do not respond when he reacts; just go on as if nothing had happened. Remember, for dogs your reaction is often reinforcement.)

8) Take it slow. Don’t wait until your puppy is 5 months old but don’t dunk your puppy in things too much in the beginning. It is safe to take your puppy to as many places as possible for no more than 20-30 minutes at a time. Anything longer for a puppy under 4 months of age is very exhausting and could cause the puppy stress and then the whole situation will backfire. We usually recommend 3-4 times a week at 20 minutes each outing until the puppy is around 5 months and then you can increase it to 5 times a week for 30-45 minutes. After 6-7 months of age you can be the judge of your dog’s exposure, still maintaining that the experiences are positive and not over-exhausting. (Example: A 2-hour soccer game may be a great place to expose your puppy to kids but it can be overwhelming, work up to the soccer game!)

So what if my dog isn't a puppy any longer? Well then you need to start training and all other dogs are off limits! If you have a dog that is reactive to other dogs or has gotten into a scuffle of any caliber with another dog you have to stop letting your dog get around other dogs, period. This is where most of my clients have the difficulty. They can't do it or won't because it's difficult or they just don't understand why not.

Here is why: your dog doens't know how to act around other dogs so until you can work through that then you have to keep your dog away from other dogs and eliminate the possibility of your dog doing something it shouldn't or hurting another dog! Training has to start and keep going. If your dog only scuffles with a few other dogs and it's not all the time you still have to stop allowing your dog to be around other dogs. It's not logical. It's only setting your dog up to fail and causing your dog to become very good at being a punk (or really aggressive) toward other dogs.

Daycares are too many dogs in too tight of quarters where no one is proficient in body language or behavior so that they can run a daycare the way it should be run. A good daycare would have about 5 different play areas and only allow about 5 dogs tops in each area at a time, depending on the sizes and tempraments of the dogs. We have domesticated animals, they don't roam in packs. We don't own wolves. They don't need to be around a pack of dogs, it usually causes fights and tension.

Now that I know what I know I get deeply saddened when I walk by the horrid window at Petsmart and look at those dogs in there. You can pick out about 3 dogs that look like if they could talk they would say, "Gosh why am I here? I just want to be home!" The other dogs are bullying the other dogs around, rough-housing and prepping for aggression later. I can peg a dog that will most likely be aggressive in a matter of months if it hasn't shown some signs already. its' quite sad.

The worst part is that people don't want to listen. They think their dog has to "play" with other dogs. They think that their dog would rather be in daycare than at home all day. What you don't realize is that people assume that dogs want a companion, need a companion, want to be around other dogs, need to be around other dogs. This is not so. I can assure you that if my Jack Russell never saw another dog again and I was the only being in his life he'd be happy, happy, happy.

So what about those with dogs that do like other dogs? The dog owners with dogs that get along with everyone and play often with other dogs without any issues? Well can you put your dog in a group of other dogs and call him to you and he comes to you without yelling, "Fluffy! Treat! Fluffy! Come here, want to get in the car? . . . " If your dog can come to you in a crowd of other dogs then great you may just have some good dog buddies for your dog. But does your dog like you or dogs better? If your dog likes dogs better then your relationship and training isn't where it should be. Or if you're ok with that and have no issues with your dog then fine. But remember that when you are trying to call your dog in distractions or if your dog tugs at the leash to go "say hi" to another dog or won't do anything when around other dogs.

Also it only takes one incident to cause major damage to your dog. If your dog has anything happen to him in the park or daycare caused by another dog you could be looking at months of training to get your dog past it. Often dogs that get humped will panic and can view other dogs from then on as bad and react aggressively toward them. If one dog nips your dog in the face then you could have a dog that reacts if a dog gets too close. It only takes one incident.

Take my Border/Aussie, Noah. I had him at a class of mine when he was around 2 years old (he's now almost 5) and I tied him to a park bench while I showed the class some things. This was incredibly stupid of me. A lady walking by (not in our class) had her dog on a Flexi leash (I won't get started on those!) and for whatever reason the dog walked right up to Noah and snapped at his face. Noah has ever since become quite nasty if a dog is in his face or too close. He is easily put on gaurd and often what I call paranoid. If he "thinks" a dog is going to harm him he will immediately act aggressivly toward him. The dog may not be doing anything but posturing in a way that Noah perceives as threatening. He's having flashbacks, and so he reacts.

So does this mean one can't have more than one dog? Absolutely not. I have four dogs. None of them have ever even scuffled once. They all get along fine. They hang out without wrestling (never ever do they do this) or any rough play . . . which by the way is not healthy dog play. People see dogs rough house, use their mouths with each other in what seems to be play but it's sparring and one wrong step and your dog could easily become aggressive to other dogs.

It is imperative that you build a relationship with each of your dogs before allowing them to choose dogs over you. So much can go wrong if you don't.

Dog parks and dog daycare centers are places where dogs learn bad habits, sometimes horrible habits and also learn that dogs are more fun than humans. Humans use these places to satisfy their own needs, not their dog's. Your dog would love if you played with your dog once a week for 20 minutes at the park instead of tossing him to a group of unruly, drooly, humping dogs!

Join a fun class like agility or flyball and get heavily involved in your dog's training. There is so much you can do with your dog that builds your relationship that it's not a good excuse to go to a dog park or send your dog to daycare!