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.


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.

Service Dogs and Vets

Last Tuesday night I was honored to be a part of an appreciation dinner for our local veterans by the Rotary club.

KAIT 8 article

The other purpose for the dinner was to help raise money and awareness for the PAWS4VETS program that I’m a part of with the Beck PRIDE Center at ASU.  We help local vets train (mostly) shelter dogs as PTSD dogs.  The Vets get a non-judgmental companion, that helps restore their independence and the dogs get forever homes with a partner to spend their every moment with.

dancherryWe were blessed with getting to hear Retired Brigadier General Dan Cherry the author of “My Enemy My Friend”.  His story of what it was like in Vietnam made me think of my own dad.  He was one of the lucky ones that got to come back home.  My father came home in 1972 and married my mom 4 years later I was born.  As a child growing up my father was what I have always described as emotionally absent.  He didn’t show much emotion and I didn’t really know much of anything about what he went through as a young man in the Army in a foreign country fighting a war for his country.  The first time I ever talked to my dad about Vietnam was after going to a college history class and hearing my teacher tell us to forget everything our history book told us about Vietnam because that’s wasn’t what


My dad, circa 1972



As I’ve gotten older and had to deal with my own emotionally turbulent life, I’ve learned what the effects of PTSD are.  Although service and therapy dogs started being used in 1945 with veterans coming home from WWII they were not as well-known as they are today, which still isn’t great.

The horrors that our service men must face every day just to survive scar their minds for life.  They are unable to cope with day to day life, outside the context of combat.  The effects of PTSD are life-altering.  It makes living life and doing simple things harder than it has to be.  Any little thing can be a trigger, a car backfiring can sound like a gunshot.  Just going to sleep at night can be stressful as they are the nights are full of nightmares of their experiences.  Sometimes those nightmares don’t even wait for sleep.

I’ve been asked many times what makes me do this? Or what I get from this type of training?

The simple answer is all about independence!!  The more complex answer has to do with my own childhood and my dad.  With my dad being a veteran himself it’s my way of honoring him but helping other veterans learn to live in a way that can regain their independence.  As I mentioned I have had an emotionally turbulent life, I have PTSD myself.  I know how it feels to lose a piece of yourself and your independence because of


Tazie 2011

some irrational fear of something happening again.  I know the feelings of needing to lock away my emotions to protect myself.  Life was made so much easier with my Tazie.  He would alert me to an oncoming panic attack.  He would ground me and help me center and relax before I lost control of my emotions.


The Importance of Socalization

As a dog trainer, I broke a cardinal rule and yesterday I paid the price for it.  I always, no matter what tell my puppy parents how important it is to get their puppies out there and make sure they see tons of people and sights and sounds and walk on different kinds of surfaces too.

babylokiOne of the more common sayings about dog trainers is that we often have some the worst dogs.  Wither that is because we take on the more behaviorally challenging dogs, or we spend all day training everyone else’s dogs and when we get home we are often too tired to work with our own dogs as much as we would like.

For me, it’s a case of my husband and I moved in with his mother to help take care of her.  She is terrified of dogs, and this makes it very had on me having  2 dogs, Cattle dogs at that.  Rough and tumble boys who love to wrestle and play, jump around and pounce each other.  The slightest vocalization and she thinks they are fighting because she doesn’t understand dogs.

While training at a large retail pet store I wasn’t allowed to take my pup with me to work to socialize him, like I did with my last pup 10 years ago.  Also having a 2yr old at home I really didn’t the time I thought I would, and I kept saying I’ll make time to do that next week, and well next week never came.  The next thing I knew he is 8 months old as of last week and is spooked by a dumpster!!  Yes, I know excuses… excuses… yet sadly it’s the truth.

I took him out to a festive for dogs yesterday, I was supposed to do a dog training demo and early on I saw that it really wasn’t going to work out because he was so distracted he wouldn’t even listen to his name.  Poor puppy couldn’t even go to the bathroom, he got so distracted every time he tried and just couldn’t do it.  I was starting to fear he had a blockage of some sort.  Then my anxiety of talking in front of a crowd took over and well, to say the least, it was not good.  Thankfully several of my former students were there to vouch for my training abilities.


Anyway, back to the subject of socialization.  At first, as we set up our table anytime someone walked by I was having to cue him to Leave it and try to get him to relax and settle.  Then he started just lay under the table in the shade and relax while I treated his being quiet as people approached.  Sometimes he got so overstimulated he wouldn’t even take a treat from me.  What I mean by overstimulated is that there was so much going on that he couldn’t mentally process it all without getting into a mental state where he was unable to control himself and remember his training.  Treats meant nothing to him during this time, so I just offered him lots and lots of petting and praise to let him know I was pleased with his quiet moments.  When he got too wound up, we excused ourselves and when for a little stroll in the potty area to let him sniff and see if he would go potty.

I am very proud though that through all the walking we did yesterday, not one time did he pull out ahead of me or jerk on his leash.  He stayed with me and walked beside me the whole time.

I  feel as if I have let my pup down, this is not the type of trainer I am, I normally put a lot of work into my training and I need to make sure I start putting that work into him to give him everything he needs.  As trainer’s we are human too. After 11 years of work and 4 years of feeling like I was in a rut, it’s time to pull myself out of this rut and embrace this new chapter of my training journey with Loki and help him be the amazing dog I see when he and I are training alone together.