Monday, July 29, 2013

What's Up With My Dog?

The good people at The Housebreaker have heard every question there is to ask about dog challenges, concerns and complaints. By far the most common is with regard to a sudden change in behavior.  My dog has been housebroken for 2 years and he's suddenly peeing on our carpet! Our laid back beagle is suddenly anxious and acting out! Our 6 year old bulldog seems depressed!

These are all valid concerns and congratulations for being so in tune with your pet. We here at The Housebreaker love questions because that means you're making effort to help your pet and that makes us happy.

As people, we deal with stressors every single day. How do we deal with them? Yoga. Count to ten. Sip a glass of wine? Scream? Visit a psychiatrist? These can all alleviate stress. But dogs don't have the luxury of verbalizing their stress so theirs is a little harder to identify. Any change in behavior could be your dog's outward response to stress.

Any of the following situations could cause confusion, depression or stress in your dog

  • A new baby
  • A new home
  • The presence of another dog
  • Major changes to the owner (ie., health, death, etc.)
  • The absence of an owner (vacation, change in work schedule, etc.)
  • Depression of the owner. Dogs can absolutely sense this.
  • Absence of another dog companion (death or re-homing of one dog). The remaining dog will often look for his friend and/or express sadness at the sudden absence.

Any of the following behaviors could be interpreted as outward displays of stress

  • A regression in housebreaking
  • Excessive chewing or licking him/herself
  • Lethargy
  • Intolerance to affection
  • "Marking" specific spots inside your home
  • Lack of interest in favorite activities or favorite objects
  • Lack of appetite or decrease in food consumption
For housebreaking concerns in particular, no matter what the cause is, you'll need to correct the behavior before it becomes a full blown habit....and it will. I'd recommend anyone to check us out at for any and all housebreaking remedies.
Dogs are amazing creatures. Although they can't verbalize their thoughts, they absolutely can communicate their needs, feelings and thoughts. You just have to know your dog.

Happy Tails!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Which Dog Is Right For You?

I always say that summer is the best time to bring home a new (4-legged) member of your family. Here's why. Regardless of whether you adopt a puppy or rescue an adult dog, there is going to be some adjustment for both the dog and you. Showing your new pet the lay of the land is SO MUCH easier in warm weather than in cold. New puppies can't hold their bladders for very long, so middle of the night trips outside are inevitable. Just like with a newborn baby (See? No one tells you these things and then you're shocked when). Standing outside at 4 AM with a curious puppy who is in NO HURRY to go potty---albeit, not fun--but way better in the summer than freezing in your slippers & bathrobe.

Another reason to choose a summer adoption over an winter one? Some dogs pick up housebreaking in a day, others take longer. If your dog happens to be a more difficult breed to train, imagine standing outside in the snow while trying to teach puppy to squat down in 3 inches of snow. Brrrrr.  He'll catch on very quickly that dipping his nether regions in the icy snow isn't a lot of fun. And speaking of snow, if you happen to choose a tiny breed, imagine trying to navigate through even just a few inches of snow. Talk about a shocker! So, yes--I am a big fan of taking on the arduous task of puppy training in the summer, because why take on the added stress of cold weather?

Ok, so once you've opened up the possibility of getting a dog, now you must decided which breed is right for you. There are several websites dedicated to finding the perfect breed based on your lifestyle. Simply type in "finding the perfect dog" or "which dog is right for me" and you'll be impressed with all the information available to you. Different types of questions that you'll need to consider are:

  • Do I have the time to dedicate to a pet?
  • What is this dog's purpose (guard dog, show dog, companion, running buddy...)
  • Will a shedding breed bother my allergies, if so, which breeds don't shed?
  • Will this be an inside dog or an outside dog? Consider your climate.
  • Are we a busy family who's always on the go? If so, perhaps a lazier, more relaxed breed is better for you.
  • Is this breed good with children? Or are they possessive of their owner?
These are very important things that must be thought through before making the 10+ year commitment of adopting a dog.

Just as parenthood isn't something to rush into, pet adoption isn't either. It isn't fair to the animal if he's brought into an environment where he doesn't fit in. If you lived in a fraternity house, it probably wouldn't be a good idea to raise a baby there. Just as a Bulldog wouldn't be a good choice if you're looking for a dog who'll accompany you on your daily 5 mile runs! Is your family one that enjoys lake living? Maybe a Chihuahua isn't the best choice? See what I'm getting at?

You can get as picky as you want. This is YOUR pet. I've even gone as far as choose the dog's hair color because the thought of black dog hair on my light floors & furniture was troublesome to me. The most responsible thing you can do is to carefully weigh your needs, wants and options. Do your homework so that there are no surprises later. The worst case scenario would be for the dog to bond with you and your family, then you give him away when his temperament doesn't fit into your life.

Finally, be patient. Puppies are very much like babies. They need to be nurtured, attended to and to be properly trained. Accidents are going to happen. Things will be chewed. That's the nature of puppyhood. Don't give up on your pet when he becomes inconvenient, help him to be the dog that you'd love for him to be.

This is precisely why I love our product The Housebreaker so much. It was designed specifically to give owners another option (short of getting rid of your dog) when housebreaking doesn't go as well as intended. Believe it or not, dogs are very, very smart. They aim to please their owners and no, they aren't peeing on your floor to be naughty. They just need a little extra component added to their training. All dogs learn at their own pace, just as every child becomes toilet trained in their own way. You wouldn't find a new home for your 3 year old if she was having accidents. Right? Try to think of your pet in that regard. It's frustrating, trying and often downright exhausting. But so, so worth it.

If your puppy or dog is taking his dear, sweet time picking up the basics of housebreaking, try checking out this amazing device at . It will change your (and your dog's) life.

Happy tails!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Puppy Play!!

Have you ever heard the saying, "A bored child is a naughty child?"  The same is true for a puppy or a dog. When you've completely lost your patience with your dog because he's been on a destructive path all week, you have to consider the obvious. He's bored!

I have compiled a list of fun activities to do with your dog.

  • Freeze a chew toy inside a zippered freezer bag of half water, half chicken broth. When it's completely frozen, peel off the bag and send your dog outside to lick his way to the toy. It'll keep him busy for hours. Or in my dog's case, minutes.

  • Gather several Tupperware storage containers and several dog treats. Turn the containers upside down on top of various treats and get your dog engaged in a rousing game of "find the treats!"

  • Get a laser pointer. Bring your dog into a dimly lit room and make him "catch the spot."

  • Swimming. I realize some dogs are not swimmers, but I'd be hard pressed to find a dog who wouldn't be in heaven spending an afternoon at the lake. Whether they're looking for fish, chasing the geese or wading close to shore, the fresh air and sunshine will keep him occupied and content.

  • Don't have time for a walk? That's ok, just throw the ball down the stairs a couple 300 times. This game saved us this winter when we were cooped up with a very energetic puppy.

  • Nacho mama's play dates! Invite over a friend who has a dog and let them explore each other. Obviously, some temperaments are just not compatible, so have a back up plan if the play date flops. Same rings true for bringing a 10 week old puppy to play with a 15 year old dog.
If you're unable to dedicate this much interaction with your four legged friend, try visiting your local pet store. The available varieties of chew toys is absurd. You'll be able to find anything from a squeaky pig (my dog's obsession) to a 4 foot rawhide to a hollow Kong" where you fill the hole with a treat and he goes ballistic trying to get out the treat. Who doesn't love a kong? What else can you find at your local pet store?? Why, The Housebreaker, of course! For all of your housebreaking challenges, check us out online at

Like people, your dog absolutely needs interaction for proper development. If none of these activities sound like a good time to you, perhaps a cat might better suit you. :) 

Happy tails!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Making & Breaking Habits

I have personally owned and raised six dogs throughout my life. Every single one of them came to me as a puppy and it was such a privilege to watch them grow from naughty puppy to deeply bonded companion. None of them were as hard to train as my current dog. By nature I am a dog lover to the core, but that all changed last summer when I acquired my (now) 13 month old yellow lab, Winston. I had a hard time bonding with him because, quite frankly he was a jerk! He terrorized us. He shredded our clothing, he stole my kids' toys. He peed everywhere...and I mean EVERYWHERE. I didn't get it. How did we so successfully train our other dogs? What is so different about Mr. Winston?

We took him to puppy obedience class. He was perfect. We beamed. We brought him home and his awful behavior would resume. Finally, after we were at our wit's end, my husband begrudgingly hired a personal dog trainer who would come to our home and work with Winston along with his defeated and embarrassed parents. Picture the dog whisper. This man saved us from the wrath of Winston. Instead of teaching Winston how to understand us, he taught us how to better understand the language of dogs. Every time our trainer leaves our home, my husband and I would look at each other and think "It's so basic, how did we not think of that?" Our trainer gave us a glimpse at how dogs learn, think, communicate and process. No wonder our dog was taking over, we gave him 100% of the power to do so.

The first thing we had to do was break OUR bad habits. Not Winston's. He pointed out that Winston was simply being a dog. How can we fault him for doing what he knows how to do? Good point. Also noteworthy, this is the first dog we've gotten since become parents. Our other dogs had our full, undivided attention. Although we said we dedicated the same amount of time with his puppy training as we did our other dogs, it reality we probably didn't.

First and foremost, praise the good behavior and completely ignore the bad behavior. Sounds easy enough. But it wasn't. It was really hard! Even when Winston is naughty and when I talk to him in the same shameful voice that I would speak to my kids, he still considers that a reinforcement because he was given attention for doing it. If he stole a toy from the kids, we'd chase him around the house for 20 minutes trying to get it back. We would get mad and yell, meanwhile he's having the time of his life because we've now made it a game. Oh, don't we feel stupid? He jumps up on us and we say, "Oh, well Hello Mr. Winston! No Jumping!" He continues to jump up, quite simply because he can. Instead, we're to completely ignore him by either turning your back or walking away. WHAT??  "That's barbaric!" we cried. How can we not give attention to this adorable dog who just wants to greet us?  And then it clicked. Ohhhh...  I get it now. We're actually the ones encouraging the bad behavior. Well, shoot.

I hear it over and over, the dog owners who are so frustrated with their pets for not conforming to their household standards. It's not the dog's fault. It's whoever did (or more often didn't) train him properly. The dog is just being a dog. Keep that in mind if you ever find yourself losing patience with your pup. It's practically the same theory as child rearing. You can't let your child eat with his hands for 4 years, then take him to a restaurant and yell at him for not using utensils. It's the same thing, except children are easier because they speak our language. See?

In addition to the chewing and biting, I think we would all agree that potty training is among the most challenging and most frustrating of all. Mainly because it's 24/7 and whenever you turn your back, you'll find yourself having to clean up the 16th spot of the day. It's gross, it's tiresome and it can do some serious damage to carpets, floors etc. That's why I'm such a huge advocate of The Housebreaker. It alleviates the mess WHILE it trains the dog. My favorite aspect of The Housebreaker is that the results are fast and effective. No one wants to do the arduous task of house breaking a pet, but with The Housebreaker, it makes it bearable. Dare I say easy??  If housebreaking is at the top of your priority list, check us out at to see how can effortlessly potty train your dog. I wish I'd have heard about this a year ago. There's 2 months worth of carpet scrubbing that I'll never get back.

If you're going to bring home a puppy or rescue a dog, know what you're getting into. YOU determine whether you'll have a well behaved companion or an out of control pet. Put the time in, I promise it'll be well worth the effort. I could have used some advice like this last summer as I sat in the corner, rocking back and forth over what I thought was a demon dog. Turns out, he just needed some tough love. :)