Release the Hounds (The Importance of a Release When Giving Your Dog a Command)


I love showing dogs in competition, it is so much fun! Not only for me but for the dog as well. I am always asked by other handlers how I get my dogs to be so steady and still, and so eager to work for me. So now I will tell you my secret, and one of the most important parts ofj obedience training your dog, you ready??? It’s all about the release.

Whenever I meet a client who tells me their dog is generally well behaved and knows the commands SIT and DOWN, my next question always is “How do you Release them” and close to 100% of the time the answer I get, is “Well I don’t really.” Then I will ask, “so how does the dog know when it is ok to get up? “ They say well sometimes I say “OK”. Does this sound like you?

A clicker is a very useful tool in dog training

One of the reasons I feel so strongly about beginning an obedience program with the use of the clicker is because it not only teaches the dog to wait for the release, but it teaches the owner as well. The clicker not only marks, but it ENDS the behavior. We must begin and end all commands we teach our dogs, otherwise there is almost no value in the command itself.

Commands are only useful in our day to day life if we control them and can rely on the dog to hold the position. If they are taught they can just get up when they want, then I ask you, what good is the command? Reliability is the cornerstone of any good training curriculum, and there just simply cannot be reliability without a consistent release.

I always make sure my students know the clicker is not forever. After we teach the dog that the release is part of the command with the clicker, we can then start to make the transition to using a release word instead. Then, I like to teach the dog that the release is actually a reward in itself.

I love to reward my dogs for working for me! I will teach a release that lets them satisfy their prey drive (a tug or a little chase for a treat) and pair it with a specific word or phrase that is just meant for the dog. This is why the use of “OK” is not ideal, how many times a day do we say OK not meant for our dog! With repetition, we build the association of the release word with the reward, and voila, we have a dog who wants to wait for it, therefore holding the command.

Now the dog has learned to love the release as a reward and understands they cannot enjoy that reward unless they wait to be released. This is when you will see dogs eager to work and solid in their commands, waiting with laser focus on you for their “release”.

Remember we have to hold reasonable expectations here. You will not ask your dog to hold a command for an hour, we want to set them up for success. Varying the length of time between some quick releases (a few seconds) and working up to more challenging ones (several minutes) will teach your dog that the time they hold it may change, but the sequence does not: we give the command, they obey, we release, we reward.

We cannot ask our dogs to do something we have not taught them. By teaching them from the start that they need to wait for us to release them, we can then hold them accountable. By both praising and rewarding them for waiting, we ourselves will be rewarded with a dog we can rely on to hold the command, and accompany us anywhere with control.

For more information on Training your Dog and Tips for successful commands visit

Thinking of Getting a Dog for The Holidays? What You Need to Know Before Adding 4 Paws to Your Family!

Pets are not presents for the holidays; they are responsibilities for life.

Pets are not presents for the holidays; they are responsibilities for life.

Is this the best time of year to bring a pet into your family? What kind of dog is best for you for the holidays or for any time of year? The addition of a family dog can be a most wonderful experience, but it cannot be done without proper thought, consideration, and planning. There is a lot to discuss and prepare for before bringing a dog into your home. Picking the right dog for you should take as much thought as finding the right life partner.

The holidays are a very popular time for families to consider adding a pet to their family, but as a trainer I all too often see the irresistible cuteness of a puppy’s face lead to impulsivity. This can turn to disaster once the cuteness and cuddles of puppyhood are outgrown. Barking, digging and chewing on furniture can cause many to resent the dog. Pets are not presents for the holidays; they are responsibilities for life.

I see a lot of dogs surrendered to the shelter or re-homed a few months after the holidays because their families were not prepared for the time and responsibility required to make the dog an enjoyable addition to the family. This heartbreak can be avoided.

Owning a pet is a responsibility worthy of its rewards, but the cost and time necessary must be evaluated before making that decision. You need to be invested for life and ready to teach your dog the rules that will set them up for success in your home.

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and not all breeds are the same. Some dogs need more exercise than others and some breeds may be predisposed to living with a family. Plus, some dogs are great for apartments while others need a little more space to feel at home. So before you make the decision to bring home a new best friend, let’s consider EVERYTHING.

Are you ready for: Veterinarian bills for routine vaccinations, checkups, illnesses and injuries; housetraining and the accidents that happen before training is complete; losing your best shoes to chewing and your best rosebush to digging; barking when you’re trying to sleep; and begging when you’re trying to eat. Dogs do all these things and unless you’re prepared for that reality, you’re not ready for a dog.


What type of home/living space do you have?

What size dog are you looking for?

How big is your yard?

Will you Fence your yard or be needing to walk the dog several times a day?

For how long would your dog be alone each week?

Will you require a dog walker, or need to bring your dog to a daycare facility?

How active are you and how energetic would you like your dog to be?

Have you owned a dog before?

Some breeds are better for more experienced owners.

How many kids live in your home and what are their ages?

Does anyone in your home have allergies?

How long or short do you want your dog’s hair to be?

What age dog would you like?

Are you willing to go through the rigors of house training and puppy proofing, or would an older dog who needs less monitoring better suit your lifestyle?

How old Are You? Add 12-16 years onto your age. This is how old you will be when you dog dies. Thats a big chunk of our lives we will be companions!

You really need to consider a temperament that is compatible with your lifestyle for the long term.

Are you getting too old to go out for long walks and hikes everyday?

Are you still strong and agile enough to control a larger high-energy dog?


This is one of the questions I get asked all the time. When picking a puppy, you may decide on a particular one because it immediately jumped in your lap effectively choosing you. Or, your family has decided it wants to go to a shelter to save a dog. While these intentions may be good, most times this is the wrong way to pick your new companion.

Don’t generalize based on a dog’s breed, but do consider the characteristics of that breed.

Some people simply just love and are loyal to one specific breed. As long as you do your homework, most times you can pick the breed you desire, with some exceptions. It is important to know that before going to a breeder, you may want to check out the many rescue organizations for specific purebreds.

There are great dogs available in shelters and foster homes and if you ask the right questions you can get good background information that will help you decide if this is the right dog for your family. You need to make sure you have assessed the dog correctly. Getting as much information before hand about their past is very important. Always try to interview the dog’s past owners. This way you may save yourself and the dog a lot of heartache.

 Do you have time and are you ready to train a puppy and/or dog? First and foremost I am a dog trainer and I know this about puppies; they do not come pre-programmed. They do not know that we have a certain set of human rules that we expect them to live by. It takes an amazing amount of time and patience to train puppies, and most of us are in short supply of both. The foundation of a well-adjusted dog to both your family and the community is in both the training and proper socialization! You must teach your dog proper manners and behavior at home, with guests, in the park, around the neighborhood, at the vet’s office–basically at all times. House training is first. A crate is useful, but you will also need to stock up on carpet cleaner and deodorizer. Then enroll in group classes to learn manners that will make your dog a good citizen. Dog training is mostly about training YOU, so be prepared for the work ahead. MOST behavioral issues I see everyday could have all been avoided if the training and socialization was done properly during the imprint period.

Remember, socialization is as important as obedience. Get your puppy in a puppy class when he is under 3 months of age. Do not wait until your puppy has had his complete series of shots. Research trainers in your area, that offer safe socialization time and training for your puppy. Socialization does not mean taking your young puppy to a dog park! It’s best to socialize your puppy with other pups his age.


The average annual cost for owning a dog is $2,084. For many pet owners (depending where you live), you may have to put at least 10% of your paycheck away to cover the first year costs. And if you can, start saving at least 2-3 months before you get your pet, you’ll be protected against unforeseen costs, such as a trip to the emergency vet to retrieve car keys that your dog just ate.

Expenses include:

Veterinary care – Would you have guessed that veterinary care is more than half of all expenses? And that doesn’t even include over-the-counter medications and other supplies!

Boarding – You’ll need a pet sitter or a good boarding kennel if you go away for an extended period of time. You don’t want to be in the habit of your pet’s care impacting your family plans, so plan ahead.

Grooming – You’ll need equipment such as a tub, brush, comb, shaver or nail clippers. Dogs with profuse or sculpted coats may require professional grooming.

Food – In addition to your dog’s meals, you’ll want to supply occasional healthy treats. You may need to feed a special diet for puppies to combat allergies, weight management or illness.

Toys – Make sure you have a good supply of toys, balls, teething rings, interactive food toys, toys that talk, toys that squeak etc… Rotate your toys every few days.

Crate or other confined area – to protect the dog and your belongings at night or when you’re away.

Gates – to keep the dog out of certain rooms can also be helpful.

Exercise Pens – When you can’t watch your puppy, he needs to be in an area with toys, water and his crate. You can’t watch your puppy every minute of the day. Using an exercise pen allows you time away from your puppy and teaches him to entertain himself and develop some independence.

Fencing – You will need to secure your yard so both the dog is contained as well as to protect him from gardens and any toxic plants.

Other Miscellaneous Supplies: You will also need a dog bed or mat, collars and leashes, a pooper-scooper and poop bags, etc.

No matter how much pets cost, their place in the family can be priceless. Pets can teach children to be responsible caregivers and serve as confidants, protectors and pals.

 Remember that owning a dog is a lifelong commitment with a variety of responsibilities; if you cannot meet those responsibilities, neither you nor your dog will be happy. But owning a dog is a wonderful thing and can enrich the life of your family. Not only do dogs provide lasting companionship and unconditional love, they’ve also been known to lower blood pressure and reduce stress. And of course, a dog will make sure you get out and take walks every day. Living with a dog has also been known to boost the social skills and confidence of children and adults alike.

It’s truly the happiness your pet brings that makes everything worth it!


Want to Get Your Dog to COME When Called? Easy…Just Be a Slot Machine

 If I had to say the number one thing people ask me most on the dog training circuit, it has got to be hands down how to get their dog to come when called. Why is this so difficult? It becomes a challenge because we inadvertently do many things that teach our dog that coming to us is not a good idea.

Let me ask you, why do you want your dog to come to you? Is it because you want them to stop running and chasing in the street (yes there are cars and dangers everywhere but all they feel is YIPPEE). Or maybe it’s because you need them to come inside from the yard where they are romping and frolicking freely in the sun because you need to put them in the crate so you can leave them and go to work all day. Or perhaps it’s time to take their medicine or have their nails trimmed. Oh that sounds like an invitation to a party for a dog. What dogs learn and learn quickly is that when you call me to come you do something I don’t like.

Coming to you should always be a pleasant thing for your dog. Don’t ever call your dog to you and then do something they find unpleasant. In your dog’s mind it is cause and effect, I came to you and you put me in the crate and left me. Or every time you call me at the park you clip on the leash and we leave. All of this is cause and effect teaching our dogs to ignore this command. Fool them once shame on us, fool them twice, shame on them.

Teaching a dog to come is probably the most important command your dog will ever have to follow. It can actually save your dog’s life in certain situations. By following a few simple steps, you can teach your dog a reliable recall. Let’s get started.

  1. CALLING YOUR DOG: You want to teach your dog that coming to you is a game, the recall game. Start out with two people about 15 feet apart in one room. Both people should have treats. Kneel down to be less threatening, extend your food arm toward the dog, show the dog the food as a target and say COME, COME, COME! Use a high happy tone because it instinctively sounds good to your dog. If you use a harsh “get over here now tone” the dog will retreat instead of approach. Keep in mind that the dog’s name is NOT a command, for example, you can’t just call out SPOT, SPOT, you must say SPOT…COME, COME, COME! You want to use COME as a repetitive tone. Studies have shown that instinctively, quick repetitive tones create movement in animals.  How do you get a cat to come? You say “Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty”. Alternatively, long tones make animals stop. You stop a horse by saying “Whoa”. When first teaching this recall game, NEVER call your dog without a treat. If you don’t have a treat it’s simple, DON’T CALL YOUR DOG! It’s also important to know that you should only have food in your hand as a target for the first few times you play this game to get your dog to understand what you want. Once he does, the food should always be in your pocket and only be fed to him after he comes to you.
  1. REWARDING THE DOG: OK, so now we have called your dog. Next, when your dog comes to you, touch his collar gently, reach into your pocket, pull out a treat and then feed him the treat as close to your body as possible and praise him. It’s important that the treat not be in your hand when you call the dog. You want to feed close so the dog learns not to stop at an arms length away, while touching the collar prevents the dog from playing a favorite game of keep away. Use really good treats, cut up hot dogs, chicken, pasta, cheese. Remember we are competing with all the distractions of their environment, chasing squirrels and barking dogs and bicycles. We need to back up our command with a valuable paycheck. Yes paycheck. We work for money, most dogs work for food.
  1. RELEASE: When done with your turn, have the other person call him and do the same procedure. Call your dog back and forth and as he starts to catch onto the game you can expand it, increasing your distance throughout the house. The point of this game is for your dog to stop what they are doing and come quickly to you to get a yummy treat and be pet and then go back to play. Not only will it teach your dog that coming to you is fun, it will also give him good exercise! Once he’s learned the meaning of come, call him at different times throughout the day, from inside and outside, rewarding him every time and then go about your business. Make coming to you a fun game for the dog at all times, no matter when no matter where. IMPORTANT: Do not practice this outside in an unfenced in area. When teaching we need to set the dog up for success. It is not safe to put your dog in any situation where they could escape.
  1. BUILDING RELIABILITY: Reinforcement happens when a reward is given repeatedly for engaging in a specific behavior. For the first few weeks, always give a treat EVERY TIME. Have a nice variety of treats. After that, become a slot machine by creating a variable schedule – the most powerful reinforcer schedule known to man. That’s why there is Gambler’s Anonymous and that’s what we want – your dog to become addicted to “coming when called”. From now on, vary the schedule of your treats. You call him, one treat, next time no treats (but lots of praise), next time jackpot (steak or even 5 treats), next time no treats but you throw his favorite ball or toy. You vary the “schedule” of reinforcements as well as vary the reinforcement (treats, praise, toy, and quantity of treats as well as the type). Now the command becomes reliable. Your dog knows the game, knows the treat is coming and will pull that slot machine handle to see what treats it dispenses. This is now more fun than chasing the neighbor’s cat!

Now you may ask, what do you do when you need to give your dog medicine or put him in his crate. Well you have a couple of options: Either physically go and get your dog gently by the collar without calling him to you, OR call him, give him his treat, touch (and hold) his collar and pet and interact with him. Wait a few minutes and THEN put him in his crate. This is a long enough span of time so that he will not make the association between coming to you and going in his crate. Lastly if your dog should get loose and run off, don’t punish him when he does finally show up. In his mind he is not being punished for running away, he is being punished for coming back. This will make him go into avoidance and he will stop coming when called. No matter how angry and upset you are with him for running away, praise him and feed him when he returns. Our actions determine their reactions and we always want to reward and encourage them for finding their way back to us.

If you follow these steps and are consistent, you will be well on your way to having a dog who wants to come to you and will come to you reliably.


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It’s Halloween—Do You Have a Plan For Your Pet?

Halloween puppy
It’s hard to believe but all those pumpkins, scary decorations and colorful mums we are seeing mean Halloween is just around the corner! Most of us are planning what candy to buy and what costumes we will be wearing. We are also deciding where we will go trick–or–treating and which parties to attend. But an important question is, have you planned on how your dog will experience Halloween?

While Halloween is a favorite holiday for the kids and trick or treaters, not all dogs like it. Let’s face it, Halloween is as fun as it is unpredictable and most dogs find unpredictability stressful. Let’s break down what we need to know to keep our pets and our family happy and safe on Halloween.

PROBLEM: POISON. Emergency Care and Calls to Poison Control increase by 12% during the week of Halloween, it is the Pet Poison Helpline’s busiest time of year.

PLAN: Keep all your Halloween treats out of reach from your dog! Up high on a shelf, and even in a sealed Tupperware container. Remember the toxic offenders are not just all formsJFFD-Halloween-Candy-Not-For-Dogs-6740x3601 of chocolate, but raisins, grapes, nuts, milk, salt, caffeine and even xylitol (a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste) are all toxic hazards to your dog.

PROBLEM: LOST DOGS. Many dogs get separated from their families and lost on Halloween. Think about it, the point of this holiday is to open the door every time the doorbell rings which presents multiple opportunities for your dog to dart out the door and escape. Not only will your door be constantly opening and closing on Halloween, but strangers will be dressed in scary costumes and screaming for candy. This can be very stressful for our pets. Dogs may become territorial and anxious which can cause them to growl at innocent trick-or-treater’s.

PLAN: Keep pets confined and away from the door. Put your dog in a safe, secure place, such as their crate, or locked bedroom, out of the way from the constant open and shutting doors and noise. Your home is your dog’s den, and your door the entrance to it. Instinctually your dog is compelled to want to investigate every visitor, so give your pets a haven where they can feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed—tucked away from Halloween guests. If the doorbell stresses out your dog, disable it and then make it fun by leaving a spooky sign asking for trick-or-treaters to “Knock if you Dare”. Do not leave your pet outside even in a fenced in yard. The activity in the neighborhood will be stressful, and there are even pranksters who will tease or even steal pets on Halloween, so just don’t do it. You can also seek out a reputable canine care facility where your pet can spend the night with his friends. I know that Halloween night, and even weekend is one of the busiest times at my canine center, Dog Gone Smart, because our families know the dogs will be safe, playing with their friends and out of harms way from the pet perils of Halloween. This
leaves them free to enjoy the festivities without worry for their pets well being. You should microchipGet-your-pet-microchippedalways make sure you pet has proper id tags with updated contact info, as well as a microchip (don’t forget to register your microchip!). In the event your dog does run off, anytime of year, without this crucial contact info, it will be very hard to reunite with your beloved pet. Proper planning can prevent the heartache of a lost pet, especially on a night when no one wants to be searching for a lost loved one.

PROBLEM: DANGEROUS COSTUMES. Americans spend 370 million dollars each year on costumes for their pets. However, poorly fitting costumes can restrict a pets movement leading to panic and injury.

PLAN: Practice with your pet. As a trainer, I always advise it best to leave your dog at home when you head out trick-or-treating. However, if you have spent time preparing your dog and think your dog will enjoy being part of the festivities, than practice with your pet ahead of time. Make sure the costume fits safely and comfortably with ease, and that the dog does not become anxious or stressed while wearing it. Make sure your dog’spets_1010_10844287_26317246_xl breathing, vision and hearing are not compromised. Remove any dangling objects such as strings that can be a strangulation hazard if it gets caught, and eliminate any accessories that can be a choking hazard. If you have kids, have them practice their costumes too, so the dog familiarizes themselves with what they will look like. I advise trick-or-treating during the day if you plan on bringing your pet. Just as we give our children flashlights and glow sticks to be safe as daylight turns dark, we should make sure any pets we bring out with us trick-or-treating are well lit and can be safely seen by cars. A light up collar is a great option, and will also ensure people see your pet in the group so no one gets startled or spooked.

PROBLEM: OUT IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD-CANDLES and CANDIES. Halloween is filled with lit up Jack-O-Lanterns, and other blazing ghoulish decorations, which all can pose a burn hazard to your dog. There are pumpkins and candy everywhere and in the darkness of night it will be a challenge to control everything your dog will want to put near his nose and in his mouth.

PLAN: Keep your pets far away from candles, jack-o-lanterns, decorations and ornaments. If you choose to take your dog along trick-or-treating, you need to be vigilant about looking out for dropped candy and fire hazards. You are taking your dog out of your controlled environment and will need to ensure their safety from toxic items and burns.

Halloween can be a magical time, for children and even for adults, but for pets it can be unpredictable, if not downright dangerous. If you have a pet as part of your family, you owe it to them to make a plan for them on Halloween. Keeping them safe and calm, will free you from worry, and allow the whole family to have a Happy Halloween, and be scared for the right reasons…the neighborhood haunted house!

Dogs in the Andaman Islands

IMG_2409 copyThis past November I had the pleasure to go to the Andaman Islands which are a group of islands off the coast of southern India. Going to the Andamans is kind of like taking a journey back in a time machine. The islands are mostly uninhabited and many of those that do have people on them are almost primitive. I spent about 3 days on Havelock Island and watched how the dogs lived on the island. Most groups of dogs that I saw seemed to be families living together. Studies over the last few years suggest that the idea of a pack of dogs is really just a “family” of dogs.There appeared to be two different groups of dogs here—one that was living amongst the natives and one that seemed to be living a much more isolated existence.

I tried to help this dog but he ran away when I approached him

I tried to help this dog but he ran away when I tried to approach him

I witnessed a turf battle between the two groups. One dog lived in a territory right by my cabin. I would hear him bark every night to keep other dogs away. He was very protective of his turf. In the afternoon on my second day, I heard a dogfight going on from inside my cabin and ran to discover a horrific sight. The dog that l had heard barking every night had taken a huge chunk of flesh off the head of an intruding dog. I tried my best to help the injured dog but could not get near him. As I pursued him, he ran away from me.

IMG_2432 copyDogs in the market (or town) are shooed away and seen mostly as pests. It is not the norm to see these Indian natives treat these dogs with much compassion. However, I did witness some exceptions. Shop keepers and street vendors will typically have a resident street dog that lies on the stoop outside the shop waiting for left overs that may or may not come their way. These resident street dogs are very wise while at the same time a bit leery. I met one outside a wonderful restaurant and tried to approach her. However, she would only let the restaurant owner pet her. They had established trust over the years and although she certainly was not the restaurant owner’s pet, she viewed him as a friend.

When I told the natives I was here to study the dogs on the island, most people could not understand why I would be interested in these dogs. These people are far off from viewing the dog as part of the family. The dogs remain as they have for thousands and thousands of years—scavengers that live among the people.



Not the Best Way to Introduce Dogs!


I took this picture recently in Amsterdam at a local organic market. Lots of dogs about. Look at how these dogs are being introduced. The dogs are being loaded up by their owners as they hold them tight onto the leash and by the collar. This could have been a recipe for disaster.The dog on the left is definitely a bit more “forward”. Look at that stare! His owner is holding that collar with only one finger! The dog on the right is doing a “look away”,showing reversed body pressure and basically saying “no problem pal, I’m cool!, just chill”.

Polite Dog Greeting

Polite Dog Greeting

It is always better to give dogs more slack in the leash and let them by-pass the face to face and get right to each others butts. That’s a friendly doggie greeting after all!

One of the Weirdest Appointments I have Ever Experienced!

dog-statue-lawn-ornament-animal-statue-sitting-bulldog-23-l-x-16-w-x-20-h-300x300Last week I went to a lesson for a male bulldog named Patton. Sarah and Jack had bought Patton when he was 8 weeks old and had him neutered at around 9 months of age.  When I got to the house, Sarah and Jack explained to me that Patton had a very peculiar behavior that he would do throughout the day, especially when Jack (who was a police officer) was at work. They said that they had called me to to fix a very disgusting behavior, as it was very upsetting to Sarah.

Are you ready for this???? Patton would sit facing Sarah and he would get an erection as he stared at her.  Sarah explained that often he would continue by licking himself.  OK, I am sorry….I usually never write about such things, but I just could not help myself here.

This was the most bazaar behavioral problem I had ever been asked to fix. Sarah wanted me to teach Patton to turn his back to Sarah when he was exposing his full Monty. How in the world was I going to teach this dog to do this? I explained that this is a normal canine behavior.  We have all heard the joke, “why do dogs lick their balls?? Because they can!” However in this case I don’t feel it was about pleasuring himself and I also didn’t share Sarah’s interpretation that her dog was a pervert and was doing this on purpose. Sometimes neutered dogs will get erections when they get excited over certain events (going for a ride in the car, going hunting, going to doggie daycare), however this was not really an erection, but the sheath pulling back, exposing the penis. The anatomy of Patton seemed to be the basic issue here. When Patton would sit, his knees would spread. By seperating his knees the skin in his groin (which was a bit tight), would pull the sheath back from the penis, exposing his phallus.  With the penis exposed, Patton would lick it, to encourage it to retract.  So unfortunately there was not much I could do for these clients, except to try and get them both to understand that what Patton was doing was disgustingly normal for a male dog!



Dog Gone Smart’s Advanced Technologies Keep Pets Clean and Odor Free

Isn't technology beautiful?

logoPets can be a one of the biggest contributors to smell, dirt and allergens in the home. When it comes to odor, the biggest contributor is the oil in the animal’s coat or fur that gets on fabrics and then bacteria attacks it. Another disgusting but true fact is that dogs will also release their anal glands on rugs and furniture as a way of marking or when they have irritation. Of course, an indoor cat that eliminates inside the cat litter pan will not only create odor, but may also track the litter through the house upon exiting the pan. If not cleaned up properly, pet mistakes will leave an odor of urine and feces in carpets, tile floors as well as dog beds and furniture. Dogs and cats will also track dirt, water and mud from outside and into the house. Shedding is always an issue when it comes to a clean home—hence we are now seeing the popularity of hypoallergenic dogs and dogs that do not shed. Many of these are the new popular designer breeds we are seeing in the pet segment.

Repelz It FINAL LogoDog Gone Smart is one of the industry leaders in seeking out the most advanced technologies to solve many of the common pet problems we face today. Our chief concern is to help homeowners maintain a clean and odor-free environment. Our fabrics are finished with an invisible technology called Repelz-it™. Repelz-it™ Nanoprotection helps prevent liquids, dirt and coat oil from sticking to our fabrics. Repelz-it™ also uses a state-of-the-art bacteriostatic that inhibits the spread of odor-causing bacteria. So, when you use one of Dog Gone Smart’s beds, mats or jackets for your dog, the product, as well as your house, is more likely to stay clean and odor free for years.

Untitled-1Using an advanced microfiber wicking technology, Dog Gone Smart’s Dirty Dog Doormats™ absorb the dirt, water and mud off your dog’s paws as they come from outside into the house. Not only do these mats look attractive, but also we are seeing people use them as bathroom mats as well as resting places for their pets.

Dog Gone Smart recently introduced the Cat Litter Mat that uses the same advanced microfiber technology as the Dirty Dog Doormat™. The mat acts like a magnet, trapping the cat litter off the cat’s paws and into the microfibers. Now Cat litter messes throughout the house are a thing of the past.

Dog Gone Smart is always improving on their technology and trying to stay on the forefront of new technologies. We are continually developing new products to help with cleanliness and odor control. Our Repelz-it™ technology is not only safe to the environment, but also to the end user. There is no other fabric finish repellent technology in the pet industry that is both PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perflourooctane sulphonate) free. These are the carcinogens found in other “stay clean” fabric finishes.

In March 2014 Dog Gone Smart plans to introduce several new innovative products to help keep pets clean and odor free.  More information of all of these products is available at Master Pets.

Using Wee Wee Pads Can Increase the Chances of Your Dog Eating Its Own Feces


Dog using Wee Wee pad inside house

Dogs have a den instinct and will usually not poop in their den. When a female dog has a litter of pups, the mother will usually lick the puppies’ anuses and eat the puppies’ poops in an effort to keep the den area and puppies clean. While this is normal during the whelping period, the female will generally not continue this practice after the puppies are weaned and can move about. Coprophagia (the name given to the act of a dog eating its poop) is unfortunately very common among canines and it is quite natural.

There are many theories as to why dogs do this ranging from poor health issues, to starvation, to it just tastes good. However, one reason that I continually see is when people use wee wee pads in their homes. When you place a Wee Wee pad in your home, you are actually encouraging your dog to go against his natural instincts to keep his den clean. Unfortunately many dogs will poop on the Wee Wee pad and then turn around and eat it in an effort to keep the den clean. So generally I am against using these kinds of pads in the house. I know that many of you use the pads and I am sure many of you also have poop eaters! So if you are thinking of using a Wee Wee pad for your new dog, think again. If you are up in a high rise and are kind of forced to use this type of pad, try putting the Wee Wee pad in an out of the way room that you rarely use. This way the dog will see the defecation area outside his den which should encourage him not to eat it.


It’s Winter Time—Is There Anything I Really Need to Do to Protect My Dog From the Elements?

Many dogs need protection from extreme weather conditions

Many dogs need protection from extreme weather conditions

So…sigh, yes, it’s winter time. The holidays may be over, but the weather outside is still frightful. Cold, wind, snow, all these conditions can make outdoor time for our pets dangerous. A common question I get asked frequently as a canine expert— is there anything I really need to do to protect my dog from the elements? The answer is YES, absolutely!

Sled dogs wearing booties for protection

Sled dogs wearing booties for protection

Dogs, just like humans, need to protect themselves in the winter from extreme weather conditions. Although dogs have fur and hair, this protective layer may not be enough when the weather conditions become extreme. We all have seen pictures of the Nordic breeds of dogs mushing through the snow as they pull the sleds. Unfortunately, not all dogs are suited to survive in this type of weather. If your dog has a thick undercoat, the cold will not affect him as much as some other dogs that don’t.  If you take your hand and go against the grain of the dogs fur and you can see the skin below, chances are your dog has little, if any, undercoat. Dogs like Dobermans, Boxers, smooth haired Dachshunds, Weimaraners and Viszlas are breeds that  do not have undercoats and may require some added protection, especially when the temperatures drop below freezing.

dave in teal aspen parka

Dog Gone Smart’s Aspen Parka

Putting an insulated dog coat on your dog is a great solution, especially if the dog will be outside longer than a few minutes. When buying a dog coat, you want to make sure that the jacket is designed to cover and protect your dog’s underbelly. If you use a harness to walk your dog, make sure the harness hole is where you need it to be before you buy the jacket.

Frosty the Snowdog!

Frosty the Snowdog!

I encounter one of the biggest problems when walking my own dog Dave, seen above wearing Dog Gone Smart’s Aspen Parka. While the jacket keeps his body protected fromthe elements, the snow balls up around his paws and pads making it very uncomfortable for him to walk. If this happens to your dog, have the groomer clip the fur around and between the pads to help prevent this from happening. There are also some great new dog booties on the market that protect your dog from the ice, salt and snow. I like the new booties made by RuffWear. They have a sensible design that protects the dogs’ pads, paws and pasterns, and also give the dog a good grip or “paw hold”.  My kennel manager Debbie owns Bouviers (this is a breed that has a lot of hair around the dogs pads). She swears on Pam, the non-stick product used in cooking. She sprays a little on each of the dogs’ pads before they go outside, and voila, nothing sticks!

Many times housebreaking issues may develop when there is deep snow. Dogs just can’t get out far enough away from the house to eliminate. Make sure you shovel a path to your dog’s favorite potty spot, and also shovel an area for him to eliminate.

When it comes to salting the sidewalks and driveways, be very careful which products you use. Some of the products meant to melt the ice tend to burn your pup’s paws and cause irritation. They also can be toxic if your dog licks his paws. Products like Safe Paw Ice Melter work very well and are non-toxic. I cannot keep enough of this product on my store shelves.

Dogs also tend to not get enough exercise during the winter season. This can lead to boredom and even behavioral issues at home. If you are finding that you just can’t get out and bear the weather, try bringing your pup to an indoor doggie daycare.  At Dog Gone Smart, we are very busy during the snowy season and the dogs get lots of time to run, play and even swim. When the owners pick up their dogs at the end of the day, they are exercised, tired and content.

With some precaution and planning, you can make the cold weather safe for you pets so you can all enjoy a cozy winter!

Family Walking Dog Through Snowy Woodland