7 Things to Never Let a Child Do to a Dog

I love this. Something about being a team with your buddy so he can be a joy to haveWe have discussed in the past proper children and dog manners, but it can never be stressed enough the importance of supervision and proper dog-kid interactions. Educating early is the best way to encourage good interactions, prevent dog bites, and help our little humans grow up to be great leaders.

1. Never allow a child to pet a dog without permission. Some dogs may not be good with kids, may not feel well, or are in training for service or general good manners.

2. Never allow a child to run up to a dog. They should always approach at a relaxed pace, stopping before getting to the dog, and then allowing the dog to sniff you and close the gap. Since children are at a lower level, a child running straight up to a dog’s face can be very intimidating, especially if they are yelling or waving their arms.

If you don’t know the child approaching, step in front of your dog to block the child and engage them first, while at the same time showing your dog that you are taking care of everything.

3. Never allow a child to pet a dog if the dog is trying to avoid being petted. If the dog is turning away, suddenly panting, staring with a wide eye, turning its back, or all out trying to get away, the worst thing you can do is force a dog into the situation. This is a huge breach of trust and the dog will think you aren’t going to protect her from something that makes her uncomfortable, leaving her no choice but to protect herself.

4. Never let a child pull on, climb, poke, tease, or harass a dog in any way. What seems like affection to us does not say the same thing in dog language. Climbing on, wrapping arms around, or placing ourselves on the dog can be very dominating, making the dog uncomfortable. Some dogs don’t care, some dogs tolerate it, some dogs tolerate it until they have a breaking point, and some dogs hate it from the start. The best thing to do is to respect the dog’s space and not test whether they like it or not.

5. Never allow a child to disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating, or playing with bones. While no dog is allowed to guard resources, the grown ups can should take care of these behaviors and prevent incidents.

6. Teach children to never run away from a dog. Running from the dog can increase its prey drive, especially if the child is squealing too. Teach children to “make like a tree” and stand still.

7. Never, ever, ever allow a child to play with a dog unsupervised no matter how great the dog is. So many things can go wrong and it certainly has. Safety first.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC

7 Tips for Introducing a New Dog to Your Pack

Results are no more pulling on outings (2)

Having a multiple dog pack can be beneficial. Not only is it therapeutic to us, but it allows our dogs to have canine companions as well and give them great outlets for exercise and socializing. If you are considering adding a new dog to your pack, whether you already have one or multiple dogs, here are a few things to consider when introducing the new family member.

1. What is the activity level of your household—yourself and your dog(s)? Are your dogs content with being couch potatoes? Or do they love to romp and play together outside? You want to match the energy level for yourself and your pets. Also consider your dogs’ prey drive if you are considering a small breed. Talk with a trainer about what energy and temperament is a good fit for your family. Rescue groups are always willing to make sure you have a good match as well.

2. When the day comes to bring your new dog home, go straight for a walk. If this is the very first time the dogs are meeting, have someone start walking the original dogs, and then join up with them so the dogs will form one pack. The faster you walk, the easier the dogs will fall into place. You can also take turns walking one dog in front of the other so they have a chance to smell each other while they continue moving. A big walk tires them out and helps them have a calm energy when you get home.

3. As long as all dogs are relaxed and happy, invite them inside the yard or in the house. Remember that this shouldn’t be a big deal at all, so stay relaxed. If you are anxious for them to get along, take another loop around the block and come back to the house fully at ease. Dogs will pick up quickly on nervous energy, so stay cool, confident, and relaxed.

4. Always supervise their initial interactions. If one or both dogs looks like they are becoming excited or stressed, take a break, separate or crate them, and revisit when you are ready.

5. Claim objects as your own to eliminate resource guarding. Your current dogs may want to rush in and grab up whatever bones or toys are around, but humans are the only ones allowed to do that! Have everything picked up so that nothing is lying around, and then make an exercise of it. Show them you are the giver of all things good and tasty.

6. Pay attention to how they are feeling. If it seems like interactions are too much for one dog, maybe the new dog is overwhelmed by change, or the old dog is too excited, continue with the pack walks until you feel comfortable that the energy is more relaxed. Not all dogs are the same, so it may take some longer to adjust to a new setting.

7. Treat each dog like an individual. With the introduction of a new dog, don’t forget the old one-on-one time you had with your first dog(s), and remember to find what makes the new dog tick. You may have one dog who loves jogging by your side, while the other would love nothing more to play fetch for a few minutes. Spending time together is always wonderful, but it’s also important to find outlets to let your dog’s “personality” shine through and build your bond bigger.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC

7 Ways to Introduce Your Dog to Your New Baby

When bringing home a new member of the family, start thinking about introducing your dog well in advance for this lifestyle change. Don’t bring your baby home and expect your dog to automatically respond correctly or change bad habits overnight. Preparing your dog months ahead will help him accept a new baby in the house more easily when the big day arrives.

1. Think about daily life in the house with a baby. Are there bad habits such as jumping on you or laying on the couch that you would rather undo at this point? Work on these training loopholes now instead of when baby comes. Practice walking around with a baby doll so he gets used to you having a bundle in your arms that he is not allowed to jump on. Same with not jumping on the couch or the swinging chair.

2. Teach your dog the “Wait” command so you can have it handy for not going into any rooms that you want temporarily or permanently off limits such as the baby room while you change diapers or the kitchen while you feed baby.

3. Practice having your dog walk politely next to a stroller before baby comes, including by distractions such as dogs, joggers, squirrels, etc.

4. If your dog has never been around kids before, you can acclimate him to children by going for walks near parks and playgrounds. Be sure your walk is relaxed with your dog besides you.

5. Your dog still needs routine. A lot of times a dog is forgotten and begins to act out to get attention. As your baby grows, supervise all interactions and remember to never allow your dog to get involved when he is not invited or where you are not comfortable with his presence.

6. Have your husband/mother bring the baby blanket from the hospital to allow the dog to smell it to get used to baby’s arrival. When baby comes home, allow your dog to get used to the little bundle in your arms, chairs, etc. around the house and also by taking walks. Take your time to do the actual introduction even if it takes days or weeks.

7. If you are nervous about the actual introduction, wait until you are comfortable so the meeting is positive and happy rather than risk your stress or worry to affect your dog. This will reassure your dog that even though baby has brought a big change to the household, his leaders are not worried and are taking care of things.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions, LLC

7 Indoor Activities for You and Your Dog

Between the summer heat and storms, many owners and dogs find themselves stuck indoors. Just because the weather is not conducive to outdoor activities does not mean there is nothing to do! Whether it is pouring rain or 100 degrees outside, it’s the time to get creative with indoor activities.

1. Practice basic commands, especially ones that your dog has yet to master. Mental exercise can make your dog more tired than physical.

2. Turn your house into a playhouse. If you have a long hallway, stairs, a covered porch, or garage, use it to play fetch or practice the Come command. Have your dog sit at the top of the steps with your Stay command, go down first, then call your dog. Repeat going back up. Make it a fun and happy game, and you will not even realize that you are getting exercise too! If you have a treadmill, you can acclimate your dog to walking on it.

3. You can play Hide and Seek to practice Come, get the kids involved, and teach them the foundation to search and rescue. Have one family member hide, then ask your dog to go find them, and then give lots of praise when he finds them! If your dog is more motivated by toys, hide his favorite toy and have him find it. This really gets dogs using their noses!

4. Puzzle Toys are a great way to provide mental exercise as well as build the human-canine bond. Check out all the neat toys on the market that can keep you and your dog involved together such as Nina Ottoson Puzzles or Kyjen Puzzles which you can find at one of our own local pet stores: http://www.animall.org.

5. Teach fun tricks. When you have a lot of time inside, it can be a great time to teach your dog some fun commands like roll over, dance, or speak! Remember to always keep it fun and enjoy yourself. The more genuine you are with teaching tricks, the more receptive the dog will be to your enthusiasm.

6. After an indoor mental exercise, you can take advantage of your dog’s calm state of mind to groom them. Having that calm down time gives you the opportunity to check your dog over, brushing them, checking their teeth, cutting their nails, and giving them a good look over.

7. Cuddle together or set them up with a stuffed kong or chewies such as bully sticks to settle down while you relax!

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC


7 Steps for Easy Living with Kids and Dogs (Part 2)

1. Teach your kids to always ask to pet dogs, even if it is a dog you know well in the neighborhood, and then listen to the owner’s instructions. Dogs, like people, can have bad days and may not always feel like being petted. The owners may tell kids to pet a certain way, may ask the kids to pet one at a time, or they may even say no.

2. Dogs should respect the humans’ space, but, equally so, dogs should have their own safe place to retreat. Teach children to leave dogs alone if they are in their crate or bed, especially if sleeping. Let the crate be just for dogs, and no playing inside it.

3. Teasing is also a big no-no. Dogs should not have to tolerate poking and prodding. Tolerating only lasts for so long before there comes a breaking point. No lying on, hugging, pulling, poking, jumping in dogs’ face, or any sort of teasing that can stress them out. Instead, promote calmness and good interactions such as proper petting and playing.

4. You can also teach kids about dogs’ body language, such as dogs turning their head away or hiding his face. These are big communications that dogs wants to be left alone.

5. Teach how to properly give a treat without getting fingers nipped. Holding fingers and thumb close together in a flat palm, kids can offer a treat to dogs without them confusing which pieces are food and which may be fingers.

6. One especially important rule is to teach kids to never approach dogs they do not know! Whether on a walk, out at a park, walking by a fence with dogs behind it, or come across a stray dog, the best rule of thumb is to stay calm, not look at the dog, and keep moving. Seeing a dog you do not know and running or yelling with excitement can excite dogs more and engage its prey drive.

7. The best thing you can do for your kids and dogs is supervise all interactions. Especially with little ones, you do not want to leave them unattended together, not even for seconds. Supervising sets them up for healthy interactions and allows you to intervene before things escalate.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC


7 Steps For Easy Living With Kids and Dogs

Kids and dogs can live together wonderfully, but the first step is understanding that it should be a respectful relationship on both sides. Your dog should respect your rules and boundaries, and your children should also understand what is appropriate behavior around dogs. If you have the expectation for your dog to be well-mannered around children, but do not show your children how to properly interact with your dog as well, only half of your job is done and can lead to some frustrating and potentially dangerous interactions. This week’s post will cover some guidelines for your dog. Be on the lookout for the next post, where we will go over different ways to ensure your children are learning the correct manners as well.

1. Do not reward jumping, nipping, pawing, or any demanding behaviors. Instead, teach your dog to sit to be petted. If he stands up while he gets petted, attention stops. Once he learns to hold that sit while he is getting scratched, it will make it much easier for everyone to love on him.

2. Make sure that your dog has a designated spot in the house where he can settle down and that is off limits to kids. Keep him busy with a toy or chewy while on his bed, and he will not be in the middle of what you are doing such as watching TV, homework, or playing a board game.

3. No chasing! Dogs love to chase fast moving things, especially little kids running by, squealing with delight. If you know your dog has a tendency to fixate or chase, correct him early before he gets zoned in on the chase. Exercise your dog properly to channel that energy elsewhere. A tired dog is a good dog.

4. Go on walks as a family so that the dog sees all humans in the household as leaders, not just the grown ups. Not only does the walk show the dog to look up to his people, it’s also a great way for everyone to exercise together! Proper walking is covered in classes at http://www.nck9solutions.com if you are not familiar with this concept.

5. Spend time playing games together, supervising all interactions to know what is going on and proactively prevent issues. Being present is imperative so you can step in before things get out of hand. The moment your dog gets jumpy or mouthy, even if not malicious, you do not want your dog to see the children as littermates.

6. Regular walks near playgrounds, parks, bus stops, or other areas where there are big groups of children will help your dog get accustomed to being focused on you while the sounds and movements of kids become regular background noise. You can incorporate lots of commands on the walk, moving at a fast past so that your dog starts looking for your next direction instead of looking for something to fixate on.

7. Most importantly, be aware of what your dog is telling you with his body language. Does your dog have his ears pressed back? Is she turning her head away or turning her back to avoid what is coming closer? Sometimes ducking their heads or doing anything to turn away is saying “I don’t want to play, please leave me alone.” The best thing you can do for your dog is to stop whatever interaction is happening. A dog who is panting but isn’t hot or yawns but shouldn’t be tired, is showing signs of coping with stress. Other red flags that the dog would rather not play include growling, baring teeth, a wide wall-eye (where you can see the whites of their eye), a stiff body, or suddenly closing their mouth after panting. When a dog shuts his mouth after that type of panting, he’s saying “the next time I open it, it’s going to be worse!”

In the next post, we will cover things you can do with your kids to teach them proper dog manners, making it more pleasant and harmonious. Kids well educated on dog behavior at an early age will likely share their knowledge with their friends as well and be safer in other home environments that have dogs. This also helps them grow up to be responsible pet owners.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC


7 Steps for Staying Cool in the Summer Heat

Summer is here, bringing us longer days of sunshine and fun in the great outdoors, as well as heat that can lead to dangerous heat stroke for our dogs.

1. Pay attention to what your dog is saying
Dogs cool off with heavy panting and excessive drooling. If your dog sits down, refuses to move, or tries to go back home, they’re not likely being hard-headed. They might be asking to go back to where it’s cool. Brachycephalic dogs (short-nosed dogs like pugs, boxers, bulldogs, boston terriers, etc.) are quicker to overheat because of their short airways, so avoid too much exposure. If you see your dog digging outside, take a second to watch – many dogs will dig to find cool earth to lie in.

2. Don’t overdo it
Exercising, whether walking, jogging, or running, is great, but go early mornings or later evenings. This will be better for both you and your pup. If you do have to take a walk in the heat of the day, stay in the shade, let your dog walk in the grass instead of on the hot sidewalk or pavement, take plenty of water, and keep your walks shorter.

3. Fresh water
Make sure, whether inside or out, that your pups have access to fresh water all the time. If they have a giant bowl full of water, but it’s been sitting in the sun all day, fill it with fresh water. You wouldn’t want to drink a hot glass of water.

4. Play with water!
Some dogs love water. Fill up a kiddie pool up and place it in the shade. Some dogs will lie in it, while others may just play fetch while you throw their ball into it. Super soakers or playing with the hose can be fun for dogs who like to catch water in their mouths, and some love to play in the sprinkler! If your dog doesn’t like water, you can always leave a wet towel out in the shade (if not a chewer!) or freeze a big bowl of water. Putting that big block of ice out in the yard is like a big popsicle for a kid, and your dog can choose to take a lick whenever it feels like it.

5. Keep their paws cool
Dogs release heat through their paws, so walking on hot pavement or sidewalk traps that heat is miserable for them. They can also burn their pads. A good rule of thumb is taking the back of your hand and pressing it against the pavement, or walk around barefoot. If it’s not comfortable for you, it won’t be for your dog either. If you end up walking during the heat of the day, have your dog walk on grass. You could also try using dog booties to protect their pads or even paw wax. Paw wax protects their pads from concrete heat during the summer and from road salt and cold during the winter. While out and about, you can spray your dog’s paws with water, and also their stomachs, to help keep them feeling great.

6. Products that keep dogs cool
There are so many things out there made to beat the heat like bandannas or cooling vests, elevated outdoor dog beds that allow air to flow underneath, and frozen chew toys. If you shop around in small pet stores, a lot of times you can find unique and interesting products to stay cool.

7. Never leave your dog in a hot parked car!
When it’s 75 degrees outside, the temperature in a car can still quickly heat up. Even in the shade with the windows cracked, the car will get hot in minutes without air circulating or the air itself being hot. Another reason they may become dehydrated faster is excitement from watching other people walk by or from being nervous that you’re gone. Even at lower temperatures than 75 degrees, the humidity might be too high for your dog to stay in a car so be aware of the humidity level as well. If you don’t want to sit in a car on a certain day, neither do they! If you’re travelling with your dog, remember to keep the air conditioner running and have plenty of water available.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC