Five Dog Training Mistakes To Avoid

1. Knowing When To Quit. Training a new puppy, or an older dog, requires finding the right balance between dedicating just enough time to training while still keeping sessions short enough as to not frustrate your canine companion. The best way to approach training sessions is to continue until you have a success, reward with praise, then quit. This will keep frustrations to a minimum (for both you and your pup!) and keeps dogs motivated and responsive. However, on the flip side, don’t end a training session too soon. It’s important for dogs to understand what you recognize as success, so try to encourage positive behavior during training sessions. Positivity is always key!

2. Too Many Treats. Treats are a great way to encourage positive behavior and recognize your pup with rewards. However, don’t overlook the inherent value in praise and acknowledgment. Treats are an effective way to teach a new dog old tricks, but eventually replace treats with other positive reinforcers such as toys or praise.  Unexpectedly rewarding your dog with treats will work to sharpen behavior, but constant treats will encourage your dog to lose focus and motivation.

3. Excessive Emotion. Using too much emotion (positive or negative) can be distracting and inhibit a dog’s ability to focus and learn. Negative feedback using force or anger is not conducive to training, and will significantly intimidate a dog, making training a destructive experience. Using positive feedback that is too over the top can also over-excite dogs, making them unfocused and hyper. Use a calming energy when training a dog, and ensure that praise is loving and supportive without being over the top. Dogs will respond best to a calm authority who rewards positive behavior with gentle praise and affection.

4. Inconsistency.  Inconsistency is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in the training process. It’s important to define ground rules early on, and stick to your guns. Variances in the training process will confuse and frustrate your pup, and reduce their ability to learn. Inconsistency also breaks trust, one of the most important factors in your relationship with your dog

5. Being Reactive. Timing is often key for learning to be proactive in the training process. It requires a lot of patience and the ability to understand and anticipate your dog’s behavior. By foreseeing your dog’s next action, you can easily adjust your training to be most effective.

Pet Doors’ Tip: These training mistakes apply to both cats and dogs! Remember, when teaching your pet to use their new cat door or dog door to stay away from these common training blunders. It’s best to make any experience with new pet doors purrfectly positive!

What makes dog walks unique? Here's our need to know guide!

Dog Walking 101

With the weather warming up, it’s finally time to get outside with your canine companion for a long walk or to play in the park. While you may be an old pro at walking the dog, there is still a lot to keep in mind when taking your pup out and about. Continue reading

Springtime Safety for Outdoor Pets

spring safety for outdoor pets

It’s springtime and your pup (or cat!) wants to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. But before they run out the pet door, take a step back and make sure you have puppy-proofed the outdoors and taken the necessary cautions for your cat. There are lots of plants, chemicals, and fertilizers that can be harmful to your pet, so make sure that your garden and surrounding yard are pet-safe before your pets romp outdoors to play! Read our tips below for what to look for when making your garden or yard pet-proof.

 

Poisonous Plants: One of the main considerations when choosing your outdoor greenery is to recognize that many common plants are poisonous to both cats and dogs. This includes popular outdoor favorites such as sago palm, rhododendron, and azalea. The ASPCA published a full list of toxic and non-toxic plants to make garden planning a breeze – read it here. Additionally, it’s important to avoid any type of plant or tree that can contribute to allergies. Using pollen-free plant species is the best way to ensure your pet’s health – as well as your own!

 

Fertilizer and Insecticides: Both of these are often necessary for keeping gardens well fed and healthy. However, they can be extremely dangerous for pets.  Fertilizers can cause serious stomach upset when digested, and insecticides are also highly toxic. When using fertilizer, make sure to carefully read the instructions and keep your pet away from sprayed areas for the necessary waiting time.  When using pesticides, make sure to take the same precautions. Always carefully read the manufacturer instructions for proper storage and handling.

 

Mulch: It’s important to consider what type of mulch you use for your garden. A popular choice is cocoa bean mulch, which contains theobromine and coffee – common substances found in chocolate – that are toxic to both cats and dogs. If a pet ingests cocoa mulch it can cause seizures, hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, or muscle tremors. But rest assured, there are many safe alternatives for our canine companions. Use substitutions such as shredded pine, or hemlock or cedar bark.

 

Compost Piles: Compost piles are a great way to add healthy soil to your garden. It’s great for the plants and for your greenery. However, make sure that compost piles are inaccessible to outdoor pets – especially if you have a pet that loves to dig in the trash. Certain products such as specific fruits and vegetables, moldy food, or coffee can pose a danger to pets. So be sure when composting to keep your pets away – it’s the best thing for our canine companions.

 

Outdoor Access: Once you have your garden fully pet-proofed, don’t forget the most important part – letting your furry friend outdoors to roam! Installing a dog door or cat door is simple to do and lets your pet easily explore the outdoors. Happy gardening!

Keeping Your Cat Happy and Healthy

Cat Doors, like Dog Doors, are great for your pet’s health and happiness. Both cats and dogs, although they are household animals, enjoy the freedom to run about as they wish and be independent. Cats are very particular animals that actually play a big role in keeping themselves healthy by way of cleaning their fur, covering up their business in the litter box, and knowing when it’s time to get rid of the ever-popular hairball. Even though your endearing feline may be able to conquer many tasks without your help, there are measures you can take to ensure its health and happiness that it can’t on its own. Checking it for certain irregularities and providing it with love, care, toys and a cat door will undoubtedly do just that.

The first thing one may notice about a cat is their size, especially if it is predominantly petite or large. Similar to humans, their weight can say a lot about their health. Be sure to ask your vet a healthy weight for the type of cat you have, and try to keep it around that weight. As for their skin, some things you should look out for are bumps, lumps, or sore spots. These are issues usually found while grooming and should be brought up to your vet as soon as possible.  Although they are more common in dogs, fleas can be a problem for felines as well, usually signified by persistent scratching. Fleas leave behind little small specks that look like pepper on skin, a discovery that should be shown to a veterinarian.

Your cats’ mouth, eyes, and ears can also be indications of sickness, so it is essential to check them on a regular basis for abnormality. Characteristics of an unhealthy mouth include yellow teeth, plaque and tarter build up, cracked teeth, and unusually bad breath. Excessive discharge in and around the eyes could warrant a trip to the vet. As for the ears, an infection could be present if you detect a bad smell or a buildup of wax. Regular veterinary visits are imperative for the purpose of identifying possible health issues not visible to the naked eye.

By simply giving your adorable feline attention every day, you will fuel its comfort and happiness. Providing it with toys and a good place to scratch will allow it to be self-sufficient and entertain itself while you’re not around. Allowing it to roam outside is also an idea not many people consider for cats as they think dogs are more outdoor animals. Cats can benefit greatly from a pet door and the freedom to go in and out as they please, as long as you have a means of keeping them on your property. At America’s Finest Pet Doors, we have a huge selection of cat flaps and doors for cats. By merely following these steps, your cat is sure to live a content and vigorous life. Just like humans, they yearn for attention and love and depend on people to help them do the things they cannot on their own.

What are Electronic Pet Doors?

Pet doors are just like animals in that they come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. They are made for cats and dogs and they are made in both manual and electronic versions.

First, decide if you prefer a manual pet door or an electronic pet door.  What’s the difference between them, and is one better than the other?

Continue reading

Housebreaking Tips & Tricks

 

Welcome Home! Now that your new family member has arrived, what next? After adjusting to new surroundings, friends, and family, puppies will soon need to be transitioned into a housebreaking routine. Read on to learn about the best tips and techniques for successfully house training your new pup.

Training Tips:

Consistency and patience are two key qualities necessary to successfully house-train a puppy. Each puppy is different, but adopting these general techniques is sure to assist in the housebreaking process.

Larger dogs may adapt to their routine quickly, while smaller dogs generally take longer to be house trained. Despite size, generally puppies can hold their bladder one hour for every month of age. This means that a three month old puppy can hold their bladder for approximately three hours.

Regular Routines:

Puppies adapt best to a routine. It is best to have designated times for puppies to sleep, play, eat, and go out. Having a regular feeding schedule will help to establish consistency, as well as pre-determine times to take your puppy outdoors. Puppies should go out promptly after eating, drinking, and any kind of exciting activity (such as playing). Make sure to also initiate taking your puppy outside every night before bed, as well as every morning when you wake up.

Taking your puppy out frequently will ensure minimal accidents. It is important to take your puppy outdoors at least every two hours, as well as any other time that you notice your puppy indicating they need to go out.

Training Time:

Pick a spot outside where you want to train your puppy to go. Using a short phrase such as ‘go potty’ or ‘outside,’ will help establish recognition between the phrase and action. This also reinforces consistency in the house training routine. Make sure to stand quietly and don’t do anything that may startle or distract your puppy. Additionally, playing or going for a walk before your puppy goes can be a major distraction. Focus on the training and your puppy will soon learn to focus as well.

Remember Rewards:

Always positively respond to your puppy after he or she goes outdoors. This can either be through praise or with a treat. The most important aspect of this step is to remember to respond with an immediate reward, so that the reward is positively associated with the behavior. Puppies are easily distracted, and won’t associate a delayed reward with previous behavior.

Watch Your Puppy:

Close observation of your puppy can be another way to pro-actively accelerate the training process and prevent potential accidents. Often puppies will begin to show some sort of indication that they need to go out (whether it’s standing at the door, circling, sniffing the ground, or barking). With careful supervision it becomes easy to pick up on these signs and actively address the need for your puppy to go outdoors.

When you have to leave your puppy:

Obviously at times you will not be at home and therefore unable to watch your puppy. When this does occur, it is most effective to keep puppies in a small area, such as a pen or a crate. Puppies naturally don’t ‘go’ in the same area that they rest or sleep. Therefore, confining a puppy to a smaller area where they have a bed and enough room to comfortably stand and lie down will encourage puppies to wait until they are able to go outdoors. When used correctly, crates can be very beneficial in training puppies and a puppy will often quickly adapt to viewing a crate as a type of den or sleeping area. If you prefer to not utilize a crate for house training, small pens or baby gates can be used to block off areas such as the laundry room. Most importantly, make sure as soon as you arrive home you promptly take your puppy outdoors, and follow the steps previously outlined to establish a routine. Remember: young puppies cannot be expected to hold their bladder for more than a couple hours at a time (at most!) so if you are going to be away from home for a long period, consider arranging for a neighbor or pet sitter to come and take your puppy out.

Paper Training:

Another option for puppies that will be indoors for longer periods of time is paper training. Paper training can be an effective way to teach puppies to go indoors while still preventing accidents. Using newspapers, or specially designed puppy pads, can be used to teach your puppy paper training indoors. Keep in mind that simultaneously training your puppy to use papers and go outdoors can become confusing, and will require extra time and patience for success.

Pet Doors:

Once your puppy is housebroken, the next step will be to introduce your pup to a pet door. A doggie door make it easy for dogs (and even cats) to easily go outdoors with less supervision. Dog doors can be a truly valuable asset to any pet, as they provide greater freedom and flexibility, leaving both a happy pet and owner.

What to do in case of an accident:

Accidents are bound to happen with any new puppy. Be prepared with how to react when faced with this situation. If you are able to catch your puppy in the act, firmly say ‘no’ and quickly pick him or her up while briskly relocating them to a designated outdoor spot. In this case, reward your puppy if they finish going while outside.

If you are unable to catch your puppy having an accident, punishment is not the best response. Yelling or scolding your puppy after the accident has occurred will only confuse and scare him or her. The most effective measurement in this case is to merely clean up the accident and continue to go about your regular routine that encourages your puppy to go outdoors.

Don’t forget – make sure to carefully clean the spot with the accident, as puppies are often drawn back to certain spots with specific scents. It is best to clean with a mixture of water and vinegar, or a commercial cleaner if possible. Careful cleaning will prevent future accidents from occurring again.

Final Thoughts: 

While everything discussed above will be helpful for teaching your puppy about their new home, remember patience, consistency, and lots of love will be key. Happy housebreaking!

A Happy Dog is a Healthy Dog

Keeping Your Dog Healthy and Happy

If you’re reading this, you most likely agree with the statement that a dog is a man’s best friend. You’re taking action to improve your dog’s life by learning about how to keep it healthy and happy- something you would only do if you truly feel that your dog is a member of your own family. Although sometimes you may wish it could, your pup can’t provide for itself- it can’t serve itself a meal, open the door by itself (although doggie doors help) or hop in the driver’s seat and go to the vet, so it is your job to act as its parent and ensure it is always content and well taken care of.

Learning the Signs of an Unhealthy Dog

A healthy dog is a happy dog.  Keeping your pet active, giving them love and attention, feeding them right and caring for their skin and teeth properly are all necessary steps in the parenting process. Keeping up with your dog’s veterinarian appointments and vaccinations are important, as well as knowing the signs and symptoms of a sick dog. If you notice unusual, atypical behavior coming from your dog you may want to think about making an appointment at the vet. If your dog is vomiting, staggering, has a runny nose or eyes, has white gums, is persistently scratching or coughing, has difficulty breathing, has dramatic change in appetite, or is sleeping more than normal, something may possibly be wrong. It is better to be safe than sorry, and since we all know dogs can’t talk, it’s important to gain knowledge of the signs of an unhealthy dog and be proactive about their health.

Keeping Your Dog in Good Physical Shape

Giving it regular baths, combing its hair, and ensuring it is properly fed are all important steps in physical health, but going even further to ensure your dog is happy by giving it love and attention is a true sign of a far-fetched parent. Activities like taking your dog a walk, bringing it on a run, and playing fetch will build its heart and muscle strength as well as allowing it to become more calm and sociable. If your dog gets aggressive and hostile at times, it could be a sign that a change is needed in its life. Often times, dogs become aggravated when they are cooped up in a house all day. You may think a walk or two a day is enough, but many dogs need more freedom and space at their fingertips (or paws).

Pet Doors Make Dogs Happy and Healthy

A pet door is a fantastic way to give your dog that freedom it so needs and desires. Pet doors are installed in preexisting doors or walls and allow pets to go in and out of your house whenever they wish. They are especially perfect for yards that have fences or patios and decks that can be gated to prevent your pet from running too freely around your property. Doors for dogs give your pup access to the outside when you are not home and can prevent that frustration build up it goes through when it stands at the door everyday waiting for you to come home to let him out.  Pet owners who do not spend most of their time at home with their pets should think about providing their canine (or cat!) with a dog door to further enrich its life and allow it to lead a stress-free life.

Bringing a New Dog Home

Congratulations! Whether you’re about to bring home a bumbling puppy or an older adoptee, your life is about to be forever changed for the better. Sure, there will be chewed shoes. There will be late-night barking episodes and early-morning howling streaks. And yes, there will be accidents on the carpet.

But there will also be a madly wagging tail to greet you when you get home. There will always be a furry companion to rest in your lap or curl at your feet. And there will be endless, nonstop love, from the day you bring your dog home to the end of your dog’s life.

A few chewed shoes in return for endless love and companionship? Sounds like a fair trade, no?

But bringing home a dog is a massive life change, and it’s not without a few investments on your part. But facing a pet store alone can be a daunting task. Wee wee pads? Nylabones? Kongs? Dog beds, pillows, and stairs? Which of these do you really need?

Have no fear, new pet owners. Here’s a quick guide to what you’ll need to pick up before your new pup comes home:

Dog Doors: Which Style is Right for You?

Where are you going to put it (sliding door pet doors, screen door dog doors, pet doors for walls, and standard “in-door” doggie doors are all available)? Do you want a manual door or an electronic pet door? These are tough questions, but it’ll all be worth it in the end. Pet doors make potty training a breeze. Once your puppy gets the hang of going outdoors, you won’t find near as many accidents on your carpet, since your pup can let himself out whenever he wants.

Food and Water

Look for food bowls that come with a stand; eating off the floor will cause your dog neck strain.

Leashes

Retractable leashes are handy for trained dogs, but if you’re working on leash-training, you’ll need a standard (non-retractable) leash. The reason? On retractables, dogs learn that they’ll get to go farther and faster if they start pulling. On a standard leash, pulling gets them nowhere.

The Crate Debate

If you’re going to crate-train your dog, it’s better to do it from the get-go. Contrary to popular belief, crate-training doesn’t mean locking your pet up for hours on end; rather, it gives your place a den-like space to go and be comfortable when you need to secure your dog (when you have dog-shy guests or service professionals over at your house, getting your house cleaned or painted, etc.). Instead of panicking at the thought of being in an enclosed space, dogs feel safe and secure in their “den.”

Toys

Finally, remember that toys aren’t a luxury; they’re a necessity. Imagine being pent up in a room with no iPhone, no computer, no TV, no books, nothing. You’d go crazy, right? Dogs need ways to occupy themselves just as much as you do. Puppies have natural chewing instincts, so be sure to stock up on some chewing toys or risk that puppy taking out its urge to chew on your furniture.

A Few Final Tips on Buying Pet Supplies for Your Puppy

Try to look for products that will grow with your puppy, so you won’t have to go out and buy new products when your dog becomes an adult. Lastly, remember that it’s not a good idea to take your puppy into the pet store with you. Your puppy’s immune system isn’t fully developed yet, so he won’t be equipped to handle the germs that adult dogs carry. Have patience. As soon as your puppy is fully immunized, your new furry companion will be ready to go out and enjoy the world with you.

Need a Better Way to Spend Your Time? Start Volunteering at the Animal Shelter!

Maybe your landlord won’t let you have pets. Maybe you’ve already got four cats, but you wish you could do more. Maybe you’re just sick of kicking back with the TV all weekend and you’d like a better way to spend your time.

Whatever your reasons, you couldn’t think of a better way to spend your free time than helping homeless animals in your area find a new home.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, approximately six to eight million animals are placed in animal shelters every year. Out of this population, over three to four million are euthanized.

By doing your part and volunteering your time at the Humane Society, you’ll be actively working to solve this massive nation-wide problem—nothing’s more admirable than that.

Ways to Volunteer 

Here are some easy ways you can volunteer to help local shelters. Get ready to see a lot of wagging tails and purring cats!

Give Shelter Dogs Some Exercise

Being cooped up in a shelter all day isn’t healthy for any dog, let alone dogs with an active lifestyle. Better still, shelter dogs that have been exercised will be much more calm than a pent-up dog when a potential adopter comes by to visit.

Become a Foster Family

Shelters always need foster families. Sometimes fosters are needed purely for space reasons; other times, they’re needed for higher-maintenance pets, abused pets, stressed pets, or pets that are too young to stay in a shelter. Fostering puppies will become easier for owners with pet doors, since dog doors lessen the chance of in-home accidents (a must for anyone constantly taking in young puppies).

Become an Adoption Representative

Not all potential pet owners come to the shelter looking to adopt. Sometimes, it’s better to bring the pets to them. Becoming an adoption representative will allow you to take homeless pets out into your community and interact with people and (hopefully) potential adopters. It’s a great way to spread the word about pets in need of a home.

Go Shopping for Your Shelter

Animal shelters don’t just need time; they also need care items. Check with your shelter for a list of goods they currently need. If you can’t find a list, most shelters are in constant need of food, toys, cat litter, and scratching posts. For a safer bet, just go with a gift card to your local pet store. It’ll be thoroughly appreciated by any shelter.

Volunteer in the Office

Stuff envelopes, answer phones, greet visitors—these jobs are just as important as walking dogs and cleaning litter boxes.

Volunteer Your Talents

Are you a skilled writer, a gifted photographer, or a web designer? If you’ve got a special talent or skill set (or set of equipment), volunteer your gift at your local shelter!

A whole shelter full of animals is waiting for you. Pick up the phone today and ask how you can best help your local shelter.