Double Trouble

Training more than one dog at a time is lot easier said than done. Most times it can look like a chaotic three ring circus. I was trying to work with my new puppy, Sally, when my older dog, Ubu, kept nosing his way in on the training session. Ubu was always in on the fun if there were treats involved. It was like he was saying “move over, newbie, let me show you how to do it.” My poor Sally walked away in disgust. So much for that training session. What was I thinking? Face it, dogs can feel jealousy. Whatever Sally was getting, so was Ubu. It was time for me to take a step back and figure out how I could properly manage this eager beaver.

One of the easiest solutions in training two dogs at the same time is to work in a room with a closed door between the two dogs. Rotating the dogs every few minutes help over-anxious dogs wait their turn to train. To help mitigate the problem you can place a food puzzle, yummy chewy or a food stuffed rubber toy.

If a dog has been trained to enjoy his crate that dog can be crated when not training you can send one dog into his crate while you work with the other dog, and then switch dogs. Give the dog in the crate a stuffed food toy, or drop treats into the crate periodically as you train the other dog. No forcing the dog into the crate; he should be able to enter willingly.

You can separate the non-training dogs on the other side of a baby gate or an x-pen. If you have multiple dogs, it may be easier for you to work on the inside of the x-pen while the non-training dogs are on the outside. Remember to share a couple of treats for the non-training dogs.

This exercise requires huge impulse control plus plenty of training sessions beforehand. Call out one dog at a time by his name, while the other dog remains in a down stay position on a mat. The best way to train multiple dogs is first train them separately, then train them as a group. When training as a group just insert “all dogs" instead of individual names, then your cue. Training should always be fun. If you feel overwhelmed, please call a professional.

Submitted by Marion C. O’Neil CPDT-KA, CTDI owner and trainer of Molasses Creek Dog Training, LLC Quakertown


Pulling vs. Walking Your Dog

If dogs could talk they would be saying “Hey, granny, why don’t you kick it up a gear?” REALLY! Let’s face it, we don’t walk where they want to walk, and we definitely don’t move fast enough. It seems some dogs are oblivious that we’re at the other end of the leash let alone along for the walk?

Do you allow your dog to pull you to sniff the guest list at the park post or towards another dog? Allowing your dog to pull you is reinforced by allowing him to meet that other dog or pee spot. To exacerbate the issue we yank on the leash trying to make them stop pulling. Dogs have an Opposition Reflex which means if you pull them, they’ll pull back in the opposite direction. One of my personal pet peeves is retractable leashes. Do you know using a retractable leash is actually telling your dog it’s perfectly okay to pull?

So how do we get our dogs to walk and not pull? I encourage students to use a front clip harness to better manage the walk. It’s my personal go-to versus a head halter. Front clip harnesses are more user friendly. They are sold at most pet supply stores. Remember, this is just a training aid not a Band-Aid. You need to first teach your dog it is fun and rewarding to follow you. Start with minimal distractions. While holding a leash take a step forward then encourage (pat your leg or say "here, boy") your dog to follow you. When your dog follows, you click or say "good girl" then treat when he is at your side. Turn away from the dog and try again, gradually adding more steps to get your dog to follow you. Getting a treat down to the level of a little dog can be a challenge. Use a big spoon with peanut butter or liverwurst smeared on it. Remember to pull the spoon up after each reward. When you are out for a walk and the dog tries to pull simply stop, then turn in the opposite direction encouraging the dog to follow you. When the dog catches up to your side, click or say "good boy", then treat. If walking your dog is too frustrating, seek the help of a professional dog trainer. Remember if you’re not having fun neither is your dog.


Train Your Dog to Take Treats Gently

By Marion C'Neil CPDT-KA, CTDI

Dogs who are highly treat-motivated can be very difficult to reward without losing a finger. Large dogs and puppies often don’t know their own strength. That’s why it’s critical that the very first thing any dog learns is how to take a treat gently. I tell my clients that treat delivery is important. If you bend your knees, then quickly pop the treat to the lips it will keep your dog from jumping to meet your hand. Teaching “be nice” is a very important command in training. Some people also say “easy”, “gentle” or “calm”.

A hungry dog rarely has the patience for learning (just like kids) if his stomach is grumbling. So feed your dog and then wait 30 minutes before trying to work with him. Hold a treat in the palm of your hand much like you would give a treat to a horse. The goal is to be able to cut off access to the treat quickly if he tries to snap it. Close your fist around the treat and let him sniff. The goal is to let him know you have a treat without officially offering it. Say “be nice” as you do so.

If your dog is highly food-motivated, he might lick or even “mouth” your hand - if he attempts to bite or snap at you, see below. This is a no-no. Simply remove your hand until he calms down. Once he has accepted that you won’t be offering the treat, you can show it to him again.

For Highly Treat-Motivated Dogs

Occasionally, you will find that your dog does not respond to the treat in hand trick or he might be more reactive than most dogs. If this is the case, you’ll want to take a different approach.

1. Put a bit of peanut butter on a big metal spoon, and then place the treat in the peanut butter.

2. Offer the treat to your dog and say “be nice.”

3. As soon as you see your dog becoming too aggressive in taking the treat, pull the spoon away. The peanut butter acts as a stabilizer so the treat doesn’t fall off when you offer it to him.

4. Repeat this activity using the “be nice” command until he has calmed enough to take it gently.

Training a dog to take a treat gently takes practice. The goal is for your dog to realize that he will not receive a treat unless he takes it gently.



Christmas Puppy Now What?

By Marion C.O'Neil CPDT-KA, CTDI

 Puppies are so sweet it seems they can give you cavities. Oh boy, they are cute, downright addicting. I love those round pink bellies and their intoxicating puppy breath.  So why do thousands of puppies end up being relinquished to our already overwhelmed shelters and rescues soon after the holidays have passed.   The average length of ownership for these puppies is 3 months ( The National Humane Education Society’s web site estimates that 5 million dogs and cats are euthanized in the U.S. each year. Of the dogs turned in, 42% were not spayed or neutered, 33% never saw a vet, and 96% never experienced obedience training.  The understanding is - acquiring a pet dog is supposed to be a lifetime commitment full of fantastic furry Fido fun.  What happened- poor planning lack of time, money, knowledge, impulse control buying? The top 10 reasons for relinquishment follow:  1.Moving   2. Landlord not allowing pets   3.Too many animals in the household  4.Cost of pet maintenance  5.Owner personal problems   6. Inadequate facilities  7. No homes for littermates  8. No time for pet (This totally outrages me)   9. Pet illness   10.  Biting

     The newness always wears off eventually. You wanted a dog. You didn’t realize that puppy teeth can feel like pristine forged steel needles leaving scabs all over your hands and arms. Who knew that “puppy” = eating and chewing everything in sight, secret peeing under the dining room table, incessant jumping, barking for attention, and if given the opportunity, escaping through the neighborhood.  Now that the holidays are over, the real life-changing training for your puppy should be fun, not drawn out work. Training sessions with your puppy should be short, a minute here, a minute there. Always leave them wanting more. “Real life” opportunities for training are very beneficial.  Your puppy quickly learns doors only open for sitting dogs. A wonderful and underutilized time to train is at meal time.  An example of an impulse control exercise would be – the puppy must stay sitting until released to eat its meal.  Exercise and mental stimulation are a must for a happy puppy. Try enrolling in a group puppy class. There are plenty of force- free, certified professional dog trainers at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers

  Euthanasia is the number one reason for death of dogs under the age of 2 years.  The most common reason for euthanasia was the dog was not properly socialized as a puppy. It doesn’t even compare to Parvo, Distemper or accidental death (PUBMED JOURNALS ARTICLES).    

In the age-old discussion of “Nature versus Nurture,” the fact is both are important. “Nature” is what your puppy or dog is born with, and “nurture” is what you provide for a happy, healthy, affectionate, well-adjusted, well-mannered dog. A critical aspect of “nurture” is socialization. Its importance cannot be underrated in raising a psychologically healthy puppy.  In fact, providing your puppy with a broad range of experiences prior to the age of four months of age has been proven to be one of the most critical factors in raising a stable, confident dog.

Socialization is introducing your puppy to a broad range of new experiences, people, environments, and activities. While you likely can’t expose a puppy to everything he or she may encounter in the future, the good news is that positive exposure to a wide variety of novel experiences results in a dog that easily adjusts to new things throughout his or her life. A well-socialized dog isn’t frightened of something he or she may never have experienced previously.  In other words, well-socialized dogs are more secure, confident, and self-assured. Socialization includes:

• People—from infants to the elderly. Different ages, sizes, ethnicities; glasses, hats, mustaches and beards, different clothing—anything you can think of.

• Places—new environments such as urban areas, country settings and everything in between. Nothing attracts friendly people more than an adorable puppy, so taking your puppy to new places gets him used to loads of people, too. Visit friends’ homes, your kids’ soccer games, and take quiet walks in the park.

• Things—Dog-friendly cats and other pets, household appliances, cars, buses, fire hydrants, trees and flowers. Virtually everything may be new to your puppy, so don’t be limited in your choices.

• Activities—Pleasant car rides, an elevator ride, and the like.  And of course, Puppy Class is one of the best places to socialize. Plus you’ll both learn a lot!

Safe socialization

It’s important that exposure to all these novel experiences is positive and without stress.  Here are some guidelines to help keep things stress-free and constructive:

• Have fun! Your positive attitude toward new things is important for your puppy. 

• Let your puppy approach new things on her own. Provide the opportunity for your puppy to investigate and let her take her time. 

• Respect your puppy’s feelings. Don’t push or force your puppy if he’s at all reluctant. Try laughing and interacting with the new object yourself, but ultimately err on the side of caution if your puppy thinks something is just too scary right now.

• Use common sense and be careful that all experiences are positive. Avoid situations, people, and environments that you think might result in a less-than-happy experience for your puppy. For example, in meeting a well-behaved child who wants to hold the puppy, have the child sit on the floor to avoid the possibility of a squiggly puppy falling from his arms and getting injured.

While there is little risk to socializing your puppy in public, there is a small possibility your puppy will be exposed to illness.

Professional groups including the APDT and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) believe that the profound advantages of socialization far outweigh the minimal risk of illness. Ultimately, however, the decision is yours, and should be made in consultation with your veterinarian.

     Don’t ignore your puppy because you’re too busy.   The cost of Doggie Day care is minimal. What you get in return is endless! Your dog learns bite inhibition and much needed social skills. A tired puppy gets into much less mischief. If money is tight there are some less expensive options.  Take advantage of your neighbors (a retiree or a college student) or a close relative. Ask them to watch your puppy while you are at work.  Almost everyone loves a puppy. There are local certified insured dog walkers looking for work. They take your dog out for that much- needed pee and get that wonderful walk to burn off penned up energy. In the November issue in the Free Press I explained how to play puppy ping pong. You have two people at different ends of the home calling your dog back and forth. You are burning up excess energy plus reinforcing the come when called command for you puppy.

 The amount of free information on the internet is endless. Be careful there is also a lot of bad information, too.  Writers promoting anything “Caesar” are not the best choices.

 January is the official “Train Your Dog Month” at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers ( Several free webinars and free articles will help you make decisions about training. Patricia McConnell’s “The Puppy Primer” and Dr. Ian Dunbar’s “After You Get Your Puppy” are two great puppy training books.  You can’t prepare the world for your puppy but you can prepare your puppy for the world!

Marion O’Neil CPDT-KA

Owner & Trainer of Molasses Creek Dog Training


Puppy Mill?

By Marion C. O'Neil CPDT-KA, CTDI

Are you thinking about buying a purebred puppy? Choosing the right breed for you and your family is an important decision, but where you buy your puppy needs to be the most important decision of all.  The SPCA website says “A puppy mill is a breeding facility. To maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters. When they are physically depleted to the point that they no longer can reproduce, breeding females are often killed. The parents of the puppy in the pet store window are unlikely to make it out of the mill alive.

Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. Puppy mill dogs do not get to experience treats, toys, exercise, or basic grooming. Breeding dogs at mills might spend their entire lives outdoors, exposed to the elements, or crammed inside filthy structures where they never get the chance to feel the sun or breathe fresh air.”

According to the Humane Society website, “Consumers who purchase puppies from pet stores or over the Internet without seeing a breeder's home firsthand are often unknowingly supporting this cruel industry.”

I have a friend who said she “felt bad for the puppy at the pet store,” so she purchased him.  I had to tell her, “If you think you’re saving a puppy from a pet store you are in fact making room for another puppy mill puppy to take its place.” Unfortunately she ended up spending thousands of dollars for veterinarian bills because of major behavioral and medical problems.

 The SPCA website says “Fearful behavior and lack of socialization with humans and other animals are typical of puppy mill dogs. Puppies born in puppy mills are typically removed from their littermates and mothers at just six weeks of age. The first months of a puppy's life are a critical socialization period for puppies. Spending that time with their mother and littermates helps prevent puppies from developing problems like extreme shyness, aggression, fear and anxiety.”

The highest concentration of puppy mills is in the Midwest, specifically in Missouri, but there are also high concentrations in other areas, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, and upstate New York. Commercial dog breeding is very prevalent among Amish and Mennonite farmers. There are typically between 2,000 and 3,000 USDA-licensed breeders (commonly referred to as puppy mills) operating in the United States. This number does not take into consideration the number of breeders not required to be licensed by the USDA or the number of breeders operating illegally without a license. Because so many of these breeders are operating without oversight, it's impossible to accurately track them or to know how many there truly are. The ASPCA estimates that there could be as many as 10,000 puppy mills across the nation.

I went online to see how they prey on the consumer who is looking to purchase a puppy. “Wow” would be an understatement. The websites really look like you are buying from a caring reputable family business. The Brokers even have photos of themselves with their families posing with their dogs. They have videos of cute puppies playing together. The Broker’s site says “We make it easy for you to find the perfect puppy for your family. We work with breeders that meet our high levels of care for your future pet.” They go on to say they make sure your puppy is guaranteed to be healthy. They can ship to anywhere in the country. 99% of the puppies shown were from the Lancaster area where there is the largest concentration of puppy mills in Pennsylvania. Having your puppy shipped? Unless you are buying a top quality show dog for thousands of dollars, you are actually buying a puppy mill puppy.

Do your research when looking for a reputable breeder. Look for puppies raised indoors around humans, specifically around people who have devoted lots of time to the puppies. Avoid puppies raised in an outdoor kennel, seller’s backyard, basement or barn. These are not pet-quality dogs. They are livestock. Look for litters that were born and raised in a kitchen or living room. Always ask to meet the puppy’s parents, at the very least the mother. If the breeder is asking you a lot of questions about you, your family and seems a little hesitant about selling you her puppy she might be the best choice because she cares what happens to her puppy.

Stop the cycle of cruelty by opting to adopt from a shelter or rescue, or by purchasing from a reputable breeder. You can do even more by refusing to shop for pet supplies from any store or website that sells puppies. Where you spend your money can make a difference.


 By Marion O’Neil CPDT-KA, CTDI

When I say that it's a nightmare when your dog gets skunked, that's the stinking truth. Now, multiply that by two, two Labs, that is. It happened when I let my two dogs out for their final pee that night; I had no inkling that there was imminent danger lurking in my back yard. I have learned a lot from my mistakes, my dogs… not so much. My silly Lab Sally got skunked twice. After Shadow gave her quick “woof” to let me know that her and Sally were all done with their business is when all hell broke loose. I opened the front door, but before I could say “good girls”, Sally barreled her way through the front door, almost knocking me over in the process. As fast as lightning she bee-lined it up the stairs. “Oh no, I didn’t” ran right through my brain as I got a whiff of that stench. I’m not exactly sure why, but Shadow didn’t seemed too fazed by the stinking attack from the pretty little kitty with the white stripes. Before that night the only skunk I had ever smelled was a dead skunk. Did you know fresh skunk smells very differently than aged skunk? Fresh skunk emissions smell more on the oniony side mixed with a pungent blast of burnt plastic or rubber. The more it ages it changes to that stagnant, but familiar, smell of roadkill. The Skunk is also known as a Pole Cat or the Latin word “mephitis” which means “obnoxious vapor.” The French Canadians called them enfant du diable or “child of the devil.” The Striped Skunk belongs to the mustelid family (weasels, ferrets and otters). These waddling varmints can top out at 10 miles mph. A kit’s (baby skunk) scent glands are fully functioning one week before their eyes begin to open. A skunk is armed with two nozzle-like scent glands just under the rectum. If threatened, the skunk will drum his front feet on the ground like a two-year old having a temper tantrum. He purrs (similar to a growl) while arching his back and can shoot an accurate 12-foot sulfuric oil based stream in any direction toward his predator. If that isn’t enough to thwart off a predator, he has enough reserved ammunition for five to six more sprays. If you find your pooch has been sprayed, these things won’t help you: plain water is impotent, soap is useless on its own, mouthwash, or the biggest old wives’ tale – tomato juice. The fact is that tomato juice doesn’t work. It leaves your dog stinking, but with a beautiful pink hue. If the remaining juice is not fully rinsed off, it could attract unwanted insects. There’s also a good chance your dog could shake the juice all over the bathroom. Yikes! I’m having visions of blood-stained walls from the scene in the horror movie “Psycho.” There are a couple of commercial skunk odor removers available at most pet supply stores: Nature’s Miracle or Skunk Off. We all know that skunks are nocturnal, so in your hour of need remember most stores will be closed. The best thing to do is be prepared ahead of time. Have a plan of attack by making a skunk kit now. You might want to save this article for future reference. Always talk to your veterinarian about your dog being sprayed. Skunks are known to carry different diseases, including rabies. By far the best remedy for skunk odor was created in the 90’s by Paul Krebaum, a chemist from Illinois. 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide. It must be a fresh unopened bottle. ¼ cup baking powder 1-2 teaspoon of liquid soap, preferably Dawn for its grease-cutting properties. 1 pair of latex or plastic gloves. Combine the ingredients in an open container. Warning! Do not store in a sealed bottle or container, this mixture will explode. Keep the mixture away from your dog’s face and eyes (it’s a harsh solution). If your dog has been sprayed in the face, try a tricotine liquid douche concentrate or any over the counter douche. Also the eyes can be flushed with saline solution and mineral oil applied to the eyes to avoid stinging or redness from the bath. The mineral oil can be removed afterward by flushing with saline solution. The nostrils and mouth can be wiped with a paper towel or cotton balls soaked in the saline solution. Milk is reportedly an effective way to treat the eyes and face that were affected by the spray. Pet Advisor ( offers a nine step Plan of Attack. The Plan of Attack 1. Do not wait to clean your pet. The longer the skunk spray stays on your dog or cat, the more time it has to dry and seep in further. 2. Contain the stink! If your dog is outdoors and you are able to wash him outside, keep him there. If the pet is indoors, get him into a bathroom immediately. Use a leash and do not allow him to touch any furnishings. 3. Change your clothes into something you don’t mind ruining, and get the supplies and latex gloves ready. 4. Using paper towels, try to soak up as much of the spray as possible (cloth or cotton towels may retain the smell). Wipe only the affected area so the oil does not spread. 5. Mix the solution in an open container. You didn’t forget, did you? Never use a closed container. 6. If your pet’s collar is fabric or cloth and also affected by the skunk spray, leave it on for the bath. 7. Apply the mixture directly to the area most affected while avoiding the eyes, nose and mouth. Allow it to sit for at least five minutes. If your pet has long fur and it is possible to completely remove the affected area by cutting or trimming the fur, this is another option. 8. Rinse off the solution thoroughly with warm water and wash the animal with its regular pet shampoo. Rinse and dry. 9. Pour any remaining solution down the drain. Remember, do not store any leftover solution. If more treatments are needed, mix another batch of the solution for each treatment. Back to my skunk story. My night of havoc didn't end with a simple dog bath. I finally found my scared and shaking Sally in my bedroom under my bed. #$^%@)*! Not only did I have two stinky dogs I now had a stinky house, too! These suggestions may help to remove skunk odor from your house. If you can, open up the windows and turn on the fans. You can sprinkle baking soda on carpets and allow to sit overnight before vacuuming. Using several ceramic or glass bowls, fill with cotton balls saturated with real vanilla extract, bleach, apple cider vinegar (organic is best) or fresh coffee grounds and place the bowls around the house (out of reach of pets or children) to soak up the odor. Unfortunately, the lingering scent of skunk will resurface when your dog gets wet for several months up to a year after being sprayed. Skunks live everywhere, not only in a country setting. Even people who live in town might want to look under their decks or porches with caution. Try not to give a skunk a reason to come visit your backyard, or worse, take up residency. Remember to bring in outdoor animal or cat food at night. Skunks like to eat fresh fallen fruit or vegetables. Cutting back your overgrown shrubs or stacking firewood tightly will help fend off these critters. Garbage cans should have tight fitting lids. The next time you smell that skunk perfume in the air remind yourself it’s time to make a skunk odor kit. Submitted by Marion C. O’Neil CPDT-KA owner and trainer of Molasses Creek Dog Training.


  Digging the Whole Truth

By Marion C. O'Neil CPDT-KA, CTDI

 My dog loves to dig. I think sometimes my dog is digging to China because there is free steak and endless belly rubs at the other end.  I’m a dog trainer but what is more important is I’m human.  I’ll admit it I know it’s my fault.  My husband has a major problem with my (not our) dog making the yard look like a bomb riddled mine field. The most common reason why a dog will dig is because they are plain old “bored.” Doesn’t my dog know I’ve things to do? I’m too busy to entertain & play with her every waking hour. I’ll admit it it’s been too cold and icy to take her out for our daily walks lately. I can’t even play fetch because the ball gets buried in the snow then she has to dig into the snow to retrieve the ball. It’s an endless circle.  Digging in the snow is almost as fun as unearthing the ground. I have to omit It gave her something to do while I was chopping the never ending ice off of my driveway. Face it digging is a great fun for a dog who needs exercise & mental stimulation. As I write this article my husband is wagging his finger at me saying “spring is coming so you better teach that dog not to dig any holes in the yard.” Yes the much anticipated spring season is coming soon. The melting snow combined with the ground defrosting equals fun loving mud for my dog. The temptation is far too great for my dog. Right after a good spring or summer rain is her all-time favorite time to dig. The ground is more pliable and desirable for digging.

  Why is it my job to teach the dog not to dig? I say “let the dog dig!” She should be allowed to dig but not wherever she wants. It’s so much easier to teach a dog what to do then it is to teach a dog what not to do. Here’s my plan - I’m giving her very own personal Puppy Pit to dig in this spring. She can dig to her hearts content or to China whichever comes first. I found a nice spot in the backyard under some big pine trees. It’ll be great shady spot for her in the summer. Last year she was caught excavating in that same area. I was lucky enough to have inherited an unwanted resin raised garden box about an 8’ x 8’ x 2’ square. When the ground thaws I’m going to till the soil while adding in some sand (sand box quality not construction-grade for mixing into concrete) then top it off with the garden box. In the Puppy Pit I’ll hide a couple of old toys maybe a bone or two and some biscuits. I know this will increase the reward for digging in her Puppy Pit. If I see her digging somewhere other than where she is allowed to dig I’ll mark the incorrect behavior with a marker word ”wrong” then take her over to her Puppy Pit to encourage her to dig there. I’ll add goodies from time to time so the Puppy Pit will remain an attractive place to visit. It’ll be very important to remember to praise and reward her when she heads there on her own. I’m making a promise to myself and my dog to keep her exercised, entertained and most importantly to be outside when she is outside as much as humanly possible.  I’ll know there might be a couple mistakes so wish me luck!

Marion C. O’Neil CPDT-KA



At Molasses Creek Dog Training, we teach a lot of families with children. We really like to include the children in the training process because we want them to feel like they are a very important part of the process. Training games are perfect for encouraging controlled fun between dogs and children.

Paw Note: It is very important that an adult always teach games to the dog before including the children.


  •  Hide-and-seek

This game is a blast for both the dog and the children. One child or parent distracts the dog while the child hides and calls for him. The child hiding calls “Sparky, Come!" This also reinforces the “come when called” command, plus this cue can be an important lifesaver. When the child who is hiding is found, she gives the dog lots of praise and a treat. Once the dog gets the hang of the game, the hider can make it more challenging by hiding behind a door or under a bed while another child or an adult encourages the dog to "go find Aislen!" This game provides physical exercise and mental enrichment for your dog. This is a great game for that active dog or puppy that needs to blow off some steam and needs exercise when the weather is not cooperating or you are under the weather!

Paw Note: Remember that adult (active- not playing or talking on your smart phone, PC or folding the laundry) supervision is essential during play sessions since excitement can lead to over-arousal in either the dog or the children.

  • Fetch

The age-old game of fetch never gets old for your canine friend. The dog fetches a ball, a Frisbee, or a toy, brings it back and drops the fetched toy by your feet, and waits for you to throw it again. Start by getting the dog interested and excited about the toy that is in your hand. Now throw the toy a short distance away from you. Say “go fetch” or use any other cue you like. Encourage the dog back to you in a happy, upbeat voice with inviting body language (human squatted down with arms opened as to invite). If the dog brings the toy to you, cue him with “Drop it.” If your dog needs more encouragement to bring back the toy, you can increase your odds by having an identical toy appear in your hands as he returns. Most times the dog will drop what is in his mouth because he sees the toy in your hand. If the dog has the toy in his mouth and will not release it, offer a treat really close to his nose as you say ”Drop it.” The dog usually can’t have the toy in his mouth and eat the treat at the same time. The dog will eventually drop the toy if the treat is especially good. Always praise your dog when he drops the toy. You can eliminate the treats as soon as possible because continuing the game will be the reward for returning the toy to you.

Paw Note: You always start the game, and you end the game.

Do not allow your dog to play to the point of exhaustion. Always finish the game before the dog does; try keeping the dog always wanting more. You do not want the dog to teach you how to play the game! If the dog tries to engage in a game of tug of war or refuses to give up the toy, end the game by ignoring or walking away from the dog. Never chase the dog to get the toy! Count to 10 (one good dog, two good dog, three good dog etc.) before starting again. When the dog has the game down to a science, you can incorporate cues like sit or down before throwing the toy. Now you’re turning work into fun for you and your dog.

Paw Note: Any game that puts the strength or speed of the dog against that of the child could lead to over-excitement and even a biting accident. Adult supervision and proper training are essential.


  • Stay inside hula hoop (clicker game)


This is an advanced game for the family and dog. Place a large hula hoop on the floor and give each child a clicker and some small dog treats. (If you do not have a hula hoop substitute a rope or anything that will make a circle.) The child should toss a treat into the center of the hula hoop to get started. When the dog has eaten the first treat, the child should click before he steps outside the hula hoop and toss in another treat. The goal is to click and reward as often as possible while the dog has all four paws inside the hula hoop. Once the dog has the idea that the place to be is inside the hula hoop, the child can start moving around the room slowly, still clicking and tossing treats into the hula hoop. If the dog stays in the hula hoop, the child can get creative with movements like jumping or waving hands in the air.

Paw Note: Humans need to be patient while teaching their dog any game.

Do not be too distractive too soon. The idea is to keep the dog in the hula hoop. Play this game in different rooms of the house and then eventually outside. The dog will learn to go and lie down within the hula hoop. When that happens, you can take the hula hoop into any situation where you need to establish a boundary for the dog. A hula hoop game is easier and safer than using a rope to tie up your dog! Paw Note: A family that plays together stays together!


New Classes Starting:

Puppy Bowl Party                 2/4 Sun 2:00 p.m.   

Puppy I Manners               1/25 Thur. 7:30 p.m.

Teenrover/Adult-Manners   1/22 Mon. 6:00 p.m.

Teenrover/Adult-Manners    1/28 Sun. 11:00 a.m.

Novice Trick Dog (NTD)            2/24 Sat. 10:00 a.m  

AKC Canine Good Citizen 2/19 Mon. 7:00 p.m.  

Puppy I Manners                 2/10 Sat. 12:30 p.m.

Teenrover/Adult-Manners   2/11 Sun. 1:00 p.m. 

Check calendar for more scheduled classes!