Getting ready for Puppy




Meet our little Yadi!!!  Oh my gosh, I’m super excited and can’t wait for May to get here.  I have a lot of work to do before his come home date though.  IMG_4665

Since I am a dog trainer and keep everything!! I do have a lot of the things that are needed for bringing a puppy home but there are still some things I need we started out with a basic list of the supplies we would need.

Let’s start out with just a few items at a time and talk about them and how we will use and train with them.


Collar, Leash, and Tags – Our puppies HAVE to have identification on them.  In the horrible case that we do not discover the escape route before they do, we need a way for whoever finds them to contact us.  I get asked all the time about what to put on a tag.  The most important thing is your dog’s name and your phone number.  I have also included on Loki’s that he is Microchipped.  I will do the same for baby Yadi when he is old enough to get chipped.  This way if for some reason someone can’t read my phone number they can always go to any vet or shelter and have my pup scanned and they will have all of my information.


Crate / Playpen – This is something that I firmly believe in.  I’m going to try something just a little bit different with Yadi than I did with Loki because I want to know for myself how it works.
I’ve always used a playpen outside my dog’s to secure them when I could not be watching them. (that’s when they get into EVERYTHING)
This time I have an Iris Playpen that I used with Loki that I will set up around Yadi’s crate.   His crate will be a 2 door crate with a divider inside, on one side with the door that opens on the front will only be large enough for his bed.  The other end will have a potty pad in it.

iris-playpenThe Iris Playpen has additional panels that can be added.  It’s a hard plastic that can be sprayed off outside if need be, and best of all, you can zip tie small toys to the joints so that puppy can play tug with his toys.  and they are not just laying on the floor.  They become interactive with him.




The idea is called a Puppy Apartment.  I’ve always said not to put puppy pads in the crate before because we don’t want out puppies to learn to lay in their accidents and learn that it’s ok.  This idea helps them to not lay in it and keep their bed away from their accidents as well so it might just actually work.  I’ll update more on that as we go.

Bed – I want to give Yadi a big plushy bed that will help him rest comfortably but the truth is, he is a puppy and he will have an accident on his bed at some point.  Until we are potty trained he will need to have a crate pad, similar to the one in the picture above.  The pads and mats can be put into the washer and washed with an enzyme killer to help keep him from wanting to potty on it again.


Overcoming Obsticals


So most of you, that read my blog, know who my kids are. Connor 16,  Ian 3 1/2 years old, Loki a 1 1/2 year old Australian Cattle Dog (blue heeler) and Yadi a 3 month old Corgi.  I’m sure some of you that have been my students for a while have noticed that Loki has not been in class much lately.  Well, we had an accident with Loki and I have a mental block over working with him.  Though I can see the ways I need to get over this problem I thought it might be helpful for others that have experienced issues with their own dogs and how hard it is to overcome a problem with working with them again.  We have had IMG_4657problems with Ian being afraid of Loki because he is so hyper (which is normal of his breed) but had been working with him training Loki and we were making a lot of progress.

About a month ago, we got a swingset for Ian and while Tim and I were outside putting it together I noticed that Loki had started chasing cars.  While we were working on the swing, if I told him to Leave it he would and return to me.

Later that afternoon, I took Ian outside to see his new swing set and took Loki out with us.  We had been outside for just a few minutes and Loki takes off running and slams into Ian.  Ian flips up in the air with his feet over his head and landed on the back of his neck.  As a mom, I was terrified that I had just lost my child.  As a trainer, my mind started swimming as to what caused it to happen?  Was he going after Ian to herd him, or what…  The more I think about it now I believe he saw a car and was going after the car and Ian got in his way.  No matter what caused the problem we had a major problem.


The very next day Yadi came home to be part of our family.  Ian LOVES Yadi (when he is not trying to pull the tail off his cat boy suit).  He wanted to hold him the whole way home from Fort Smith and I had to keep telling him no.  I was so happy to see that the accident did not make Ian afraid of all dogs.

For weeks every

time Loki even looked in his direction Ian would scream and cry.  This was that main reason I stopped bringing him to work with me.  After a few weeks of having Yadi Ian started wanting to play with Loki through the baby gate again.

Being a trainer I’ve tried to set down and look at it from the perspective of what would I tell a student if Loki had been their dog, and Ian had been their child.  I laid out a plan and am doing my best to follow it.

I’ve only allowed Loki to be around Ian while on leash so that I can control him.  I’ve ordered a black out mesh to go on our fence, so that Loki can not see the cars going by.

We have put up a trolly line to keep Loki on when he is outside at the same time as Ian.  This trolly line was the one for a 100lb dog, and Loki is only 37lbs.

The first time I put up the zip line, I used the I-bolts that you screw into the tree.  The first car


Loki saw go by he took off running and before I could stop him, he bent and pulled the bolt right out of the tree!!! I had to move it and secure it around two metal T posts in my yard from an old clothes line.  This just added to my frustration.  I thought long and hard about rehoming him and even tried looking for a home with the help of a few of my students that would know farmers that might need/want a working dog.  Trying to weigh in the safty of my child and would I really be able to control him if he wasn’t working on a daily basis anymore.

I just had a nagging thought it my head that I couldn’t give him up.  I couldn’t let him down, and he needed me as much as I needed him.  I couldn’t bare the thought of him going to someone that would be too hard on him and not treat him the way I would want.  I’ve always heard that you never get the dog you want, but the dog you need.  Loki challenges me as a trainer everyday, and I think I needed that after all the years.

I have slowly been trying to be around him more and not feel that sinking feeling that he was going to hurt my child again.

I signed up and have been taking an online class for herding, trying tolea

rn more about his instincts and how to work with them, not have them working against me.  We went back to working on basic comands: Focus, Sit, Down, Stay anIMG_5226d Recall!!!  Trying to work his positional commands from a distance to get more control over him.

Wednesday of this week I brought Loki to work with me.  He worked thought out the day with other students and had a major play session with Yadi and a friend.  A tired dog is always a good dog!!  He just laid beside Ian in the car and Ian was happy to have him there.  I think we are finally making progress.

No matter what you are going through, with a plan in place and everyone working together, you can get through it with a little Practice and Patience.  Don’t give up, just keep looking for trainable oppritunities.

Potty Training 101 pt 3

7 Puppies can not control their bladder until they are about 6 months old
Our puppies are born much like our human children are, their organs and little bodies are still developing and forming.  They do not gain control over their senses until about 12 weeks old and are not capable of holding their bladder for more than a small period of time until they are about 6 months old.  The general rule of thumb is an hour per month of age, give or take an hour.  So a puppy of 12 weeks can only hold their bladder for 2-4 hours, and that is still asking a lot!!!

8 What you clean with really does make the difference The smell in urine is held in enzymes in the proteins.  When we clean a lot of times we use cleaners that don’t kill those enzymes.  This means your puppy can still smell the urine in your home even when you can’t.  To him it means that sometimes it’s ok tousle the bathroom in the house.  Make sure the cleaners you choose say the are an enzyme killer, bio-enzymatic formula or something about enzymes.  If it doesn’t, don’t waste your money on it.

9 Just because you can’t smell it, doesn’t mean they can’t
Remember I talked about that sense of smell they have.  My students hear this speech all the time and I’m sure are tired of hearing it but… A dog’s number 1 sense is their Olfactory sense, in other words, their sense of smell.  A male can smell a female in heat up to 3 miles away, let that sink in for a minute.  So back to #8 if your not getting rid of the enzymes your pup can still smell where he had an accident and will go back to that spot.

10 Potty Bells can be amazing things                            Most puppies just don’t know how to tell you they need to go outside.  The potty bells are bells we hang from the door and teach our pups that ringing them means we go outside.  We do this as we are potty training and they learn to use the bells to tell us they need to go potty.

Potty Training 101 pt 2


In continuation of my getting ready for puppy series, here is Potty Training pt 2.

4 Rule of thumb 1 hour per month of age, give or take an hour
5 Feeding schedules are very useful
6 A crate is your friend

The Rule of Thumb – There is a general rule that trainers follow that goes along with lines of this… A puppy is able to hold their bladder for an hour per month of age, give or take an hour.  So if your puppy is 3 months old, they can hold their bladder at most for 2-4 hours.  This is not a steadfast rule it’s a generalization.  Some pups can hold their bladder long, and some just can’t.  They are born similar to our human children, their bodies and organs are still growing inside of them.  If spank them or get onto them for having a potty accident in the house, they just learn to hide it better.

Feeding Schedules are your friends – When I talk to pet parents about feeding schedules I mean that loosely.  I don’t mean that you have to feed your puppy at 6am and 6pm on the dot.

  • Give your puppy their meal, a lot 15-20 minutes for them to eat and then put them in their crate for 30-45 minutes (you can put their food in their crate with them, but you have to keep an eye on when they finish eating)
  • Leash up your puppy and take them outside.
  • Go to one spot and stand there, do not interact with them.
  • They need to get bored to go potty.
  • If they have not pottied within 10 minutes, take them back inside and put them back in their crate for another 10-15.
  • Leash them up and try again, repeat until they go potty.

Part of the problem is we think our dogs need to walk around and sniff and find the right spot, however, is just a huge distraction.  Our puppies get to running around and playing and forget why they are outside, then when we come inside everything is boring to them.  They remember then that they need to go potty, and then we go right there just back inside the house.
For Peeing in the house, Puppies need to go outside:

  • Within 5-10 minutes of visiting the water bowl
  • After waking up, even if it’s only been a short nap
  • After playtime
  • Every 30 to 45 minutes, until they are able to hold their bladders.

I’m in the middle of potty training a 3 yr old as well and I have to say, the similarities between potty training a puppy and a human child are definitely there!!

crateA crate is your friend – One of the things I hear a lot is that people think that putting their puppy in a crate is mean or is punishment.  Honestly, you have to look at it like this, when your toddler was learning how to explore the world around them, what did you do? You put them in a playpen or a bouncy chair.  So that we knew they were safe.
The same thing applies to our puppies.  They do not know what is safe and what is dangerous, all they know is how to toddle around and put everything into their mouths.  When our eyes can’t be on them, their crate is the best place for them.

Stay tuned for more…


Potty Training 101 Pt 1



First off, I’m going to apologize because you’re not going to like a lot of what I have to say.  Most potty training accidents are our fault, sadly, so let’s look at the facts and try to find a way to fix the problem of potty training.

Potty training a puppy is a lot like Potty training a child, however, I seem to have so much more luck potty training my dogs than my son so maybe this post will help me in that respect.  As with anything else in dog training, Consistency is the key.  Whatever method you choose, you have to stick to it.  Let’s look at some of the most common things having to do with Potty training.  We have to remember that our pups can not, in the beginning, tell us they have to go, just like our kids.  We have to teach them out to tell us.  We have to pay attention to them and put the work in.

1 Accidents WILL happen
2 Rubbing your puppies nose in it, does NOT teach them not to do it again
3 Yelling at your puppy teaches them to hide their accidents
4 Rule of thumb 1 hour per month of age, give or take an hour
5 Feeding schedules are very useful
6 A crate is your friend
7 Puppies can not control their bladder until they are about 6 months old
8 Just because you can’t smell it, doesn’t mean they can’t
9 Potty Bells can be amazing things
10 What you clean with really does make the difference

Accidents WILL happen –  Let’s just be honest here and admit that there is no chance that you are going to make it through puppyhood without a single potty accident.  It will happen, what’s important is how we respond to it.  Whoops!!! We had an accident, clean it up and better luck to you next time.



Off The Leash Comics – Pick N` Roll

Rub your puppies nose it in – I’m sure we have all heard this at one point or another.  Honestly, ask yourself how does this teach your dog anything?  I mean we are talking about animals that willingly roll in anything that stinks???  (By the way, if you have never seen any of the Off the Leash Comics you are so missing out!!!)

Yelling at your puppy teaches them to hide their accidents – Our dogs are very perceptive learners. I’ll give you the short version here but if you want to know more just let me know and I’ll give you more details. Let me set the stage for you.
You come into the room and find that your puppy has had a potty accident, (this could have been 5 minutes ago or longer and your puppy has no idea that they are the one that had the accident anymore believe it or not).  When we yell at them for having a potty accident, what you puppy decides is that wow I don’t know how made that mistake but I better make sure I don’t poop or pee in front of mom or dad because I don’t want to make them so upset.

Now, this is where you get your puppies and dogs that will go and hide behind or under the furniture to poop or pee.  This is also the reason that some dogs will not use the bathroom on the leash in front of their parents.

Come back on Thursday for part 2 of Potty Training 101


Alphabet soup!

pet-food-labelOn the back or side of your back of dog food are a bunch of acronyms for groups that regulate dog food.  We are going to take a look at some of those groups and what they do when it comes to our dog food.

FDA – We all know about the Food and Drug Administration, and what they do.  Did you know, however, that they regulate your dog’s foods too?  When it comes to our dog food the FDA oversees making sure that there is not any adulteration of the ingredients that could be harmful to our pets, as well as making sure the dog food manufacturers are following the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act.  This Act is what makes sure that we see everything in our dog’s food by reading the label.

A lot of the recalls you see on dog food have to do with one of two things…  1. Something happened during manufacturing and the food was contaminated in some way.  2. The label does not truly represent what is in the bag.

How-to-Read-Dog-Food-Labels-640x400The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act require that just like our food, pet food is pure and wholesome.  It is not allowed to contain harmful substances and must be truthfully labeled.

This “truthfully labeled” part is very important for manufacturers to follow.  It means that a food can be recalled if any of the following happen:

  • Was prepared, packed or stored in unsanitary conditions
  • The packaging contains any substance that could be harmful
  • The label is false or misleading
  • Any content has been omitted or substituted
  • Does not contain an ingredient statement on the bag
  • Does not contain the name of the food and proper identification as a pet food
  • Does not contain the name and address of the manufacturer, packer and/or distributor
  • Ingredients not listed in descending order of predominance by weight
  • The net weight of the bag is incorrect

USDA – The United States Department of Agriculture must approve all pet food ingredients.

FTC – The Federal Trade Commission is tasked with making sure that advertising is not misleading, and that manufacturers must conform to the Truth in Advertising standards.

AAFCO – Association of American Feed Control Officials is made up of State and Federal agencies that are responsible for enforcing laws that regulate the producing, labeling, distribution and sale of animal feeds.  Their standards are published annually in the AAFCO handbook.  Each State is allowed to use those standards or develop their own.

File your nails Part 2

To continue working on filing our own nails down, I covered the piece of wood that I taught Loki to target with his feet, with a medium coarse sandpaper.
I have provided a link below to the video of Loki working on doing his nails.

Video Link 

With the board leaned up against the wall we started our work again, “File” and up his foot when.  As he scratches it down the sandpaper it will slowly file his nails down.  This will be something we work on a few times a day every day to get his nails back down where they need to be.

We don’t always think about our dog’s nails until they are scratching us or snagging our clothes.  The problem is unless you are walking your dog on concrete every day they have no way of taking care of their own nails.  Trimming your dog’s nails can be quite difficult and even intimidating for some owner’s who have dogs with black nails.  You just can’t see what you’re doing with those black nails.

When Loki was a baby his nails were clear and I was so happy.  My last dog having had black nails and it was always a struggle to do his nails.  After a few months, Loki’s nails just like the rest of him got darker.

For more information, you can find me at:
Helping Paws Canine Assistance Training, Jonesboro, AR

File your own nails Part 1

In the spirit of National Train Your Dog Month, I decided that I will be teaching Loki a few new skills this month.  One of our BIG logo_tydm_v3problems with Loki is that I can not do his nails.  When he was little I started doing his nails right after bringing him home.  My last dog Tazie was horrible to do his nails and I really didn’t want to have to go through that again.  While he was a puppy he was really squirmy so I wrapped him in a blanket and did his nails.  Somehow I scared him really bad and caused him to have a fear reaction.  So now he won’t let me touch his feet with anything in my hands.

Today I put a board in front him and started working with his targeting skills and got him to touch the board with his feet.  Then using clicker training we worked up to him actually scratching the board with his feet.  I named it File once he was doing it reliably.  I didn’t have my camera tripod so I couldn’t get a video of him doing it, but I will tomorrow and post it.

Now he will be able to file his own nails down without being afraid, and it will also be providing mental stimulation for him.




What is a Certified Dog Trainer?

January is National Train Your Dog Month, and I thought I would work on a series of blogs about what it all means.  Just like any other profession, there are a lot of crazy terms and acronyms that get thrown around.  For someone who isn’t “in the know”, it can be a bit intimidating.  So let’s dive right in shall we?

What is a Certification and what does it mean?

There are several ways to get a certification, like working for a big box retailer that will certify you to teach their classes.  I have a certification from both Petco and PetSmart.  There are other Professional membership groups that also offer certifications IAABC_newlogo_webAsscCertto their members that apply for and pass the test/application for them.  Such as my behavioral consultant certification from IAABC.

There are school programs to go through as well.  The most popular is ABC (Animal Behavior College).  I chose to go a different route here as well because it suited my situation better.  I was already working with training mentors and getting hands-on experience daily in a training facility.  I chose to take a different online course from Penn Foster and completed an Associates degree for Canine Education Instruction.
The IACP has a list of programs that offer certification for people that want to become a dog trainer.

cpdt-ka-testing-areas-pie-chartThere is also The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) that tests dog trainers for their level of proficiency with learning theory and husbandry skills.  This test is only given twice a year.
One of my goals for 2018 is to actually sit down and take it, I have allowed it to intimidate me for several years now and I need to just bite the bullet and do it.

Both the IAACP and CCPDT require Continuing Education Credits.  We must keep up with our education in new training techniques and our knowledge about the health and care of dogs in order to keep our certifications.

Anyone can slap on a hat and say they are a dog trainer, but it takes someone special with a deep devoted love of dogs and calling to help them, to be a professional dog trainer.  It’s not just something we do, it’s who we are!

Christmas with Dogs

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” and also the one of the most stressful and dangerous for our dogs.  We get into the holiday spirit and start to decorate our house with big beautiful Poinsettia’s and Holly and Mistletoe boughs.


Holly, Mistletoe, and Poinsettia are all poisonous to dogs.  The danger does not end with the plants.  Tinsel for the tree may look really pretty, however, it can become tangled in your dog’s intestines and stomach. The pretty glass balls that we hang on the tree can also be a danger as our dogs try to play with them, causing them to fall and break.  Broken pieces of glass can become embedded in their feet or worse yet, they may eat them.

The tree itself is even confusing for our dogs.  “WE” have taught them to go outside and do their business and they often pee on the trees of our yards to let others know it’s their territory.  Now we have brought a tree into the house!!!!   Oh, My!!!!  Our dogs think…  “need to put my address here”.

Now let’s talk about all the goodies that go on the table.  Ham or Turkey? Both are staples

christmas dinner

of holiday dinners, and both can cause problems for our dogs.  Small poultry bones can cause choking hazards at best and splinter and perforation of the stomach and intestines at worst.  It’s perfectly safe to give our pets some lean white meat and veggies, but no skin.  With pork, just as with us, make sure it is FULLY cooked.  Dogs can get Trichinosis just like us, so no undercooked pork.

We must also beware of the all the chocolate that will be around for our pups to make off with.  Here is a list of other foods that you need to be careful of around your dog.

Raisins & Currants & Grapes
Walnuts & Macadamias
Onion and Garlic
Xylitol (sugar substitute)
Yeast Dough

The stress of having so many strangers in their home and so much commotion going on dreamstime_l_21787619can cause even more problems.  Be aware of the doors as your guests are coming and going.  If your pup seems to be stressed, give them some time alone in a room by themselves.  A special chew toy or treat to keep them busy will help them feel more relaxed.


Email me at with any questions and I will be happy to answer them or write about them in the future.