7 Ways to Build a Reliable Recall

Have fun with your dog and make coming to you a great thing!

Have fun with your dog and make coming to you a great thing!

If you want your dog to come when called, it is not something that just happens. Recall takes practice and it will be something you work on throughout your dog’s whole life. A dog who does not come when called can lead to all sorts of frustrations. Not only is your dog blowing you off (especially if you know he knows his name), but it can become a safety issue if you are near a road or somewhere unfamiliar. The good news is that it is very simple to practice and only takes a few minutes of your day.

1. Always make coming to you the most wonderful thing in the world! You want to give your dog over-the-top praise, especially if you have a young puppy, to set the bar for how meaningful it is to you. When your dog sees how happy you are for that behavior, he will always want to please you.

2. Use your dog’s name to get his attention, then only say “come” when he is moving towards you. Saying, “Scruffy, come!” while he is sniffing leaves across the yard gives him a chance to ignore you. Make sure he is on his way before adding the word “come.”

3. Build small, and work with a leash to practice. If your dog does not come to you when called from two feet away, he definitely will not from 10 feet. You can practice come from close by, reeling him in on leash and eliminating the chance for ignoring you. This reinforces recall all the time and builds on small successes. Gradually build the distance to working on a long line, and follow through with lots of praising. For an example of working on a long leash, watch this short video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOBF-3N08nw.

4. You can also use high value, extra tasty treats here and there, but you do not want to rely on treats all the time. Nobody wants to carry salmon treats around forever! Use treats sparingly, not always. Some dogs figure out that “come” is only when you have treats, so keep him on his toes. Maybe you have something, maybe not, but the reward is your happiness and praise!

5. Make “come” a game outside! As a family, or with friends, stand in a big circle, and take turns calling the dog over. This will get him used to coming to everyone in the house. If you are comfortable in the yard, you can move to playing at a park with bigger distractions. Keep your dog on a long leash so you can step on it and reel him to you if he gets distracted.

6. Throughout the day when you are home, call your dog over to you when he is not paying attention. This is great practice and makes it become a regular habit to check in with you.

7. Keeping recall positive means never calling your dog when you are mad, frustrated or for something he will not like. Instead of calling “Scruffy!” for a bath, nail trimming, or something he hates, go to him and lead him. Always keep “come” a good thing!

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC
http://www.nck9solutions.com

7 Ways to Eliminate Unwanted Jumping

Dempsey practices sitting politely to be petted at the bus stop.

Dempsey practices sitting politely to be petted at the bus stop.


A dog who jumps all over you and your guests can be frustrating and embarrassing! It can be a serious issue if your dog is knocking down children or elderly people, and getting it under control can save so much stress. Here are a few pointers on what to do about fixing unwanted jumping.

1. If your dog jumps on you, walk into his space, without looking at him, and keep on going. Dogs want attention and if you withhold the attention, they will stop jumping because it does not work for them. Zero attention for jumping.

2. If you see your dog coming toward you from across the house or yard, start moving towards him which usually throws them off. You can add a command to it, like “OFF”, showing him what you mean before he has gotten to you, but try first without any verbal command.

3. Teach your dog to sit when he runs to you. When you are working on recall, have your dog sit each time he runs to you, and then praise. This keeps him in the habit of coming to you and sitting happily, instead of running to you and clobbering you.

4. When you come home, instead of greeting immediately, put your things away and take your time greeting your family. If your dog is in an excited state, continue to ignore him until he has finally lost interest. When you see he is calm, then call him over and have your greeting. This way you reward him for having a calm state of mind instead of rewarding a hyper state of mind.

5. Ask your guests if they can help you with your dog’s training. When someone comes over, have them ignore your dog and walk inside, the same calm way you would come home. They can continue talking to you, without giving your dog any eye contact or attention. When he is calm and not jumping, then they can love on him.

6. Teach your dog to sit for petting. By holding a sit, it helps to practice self control and keeps the energy level down. If he stands up from sitting, stand tall and stop petting. You want to show your dog that any attention stops when he is not in a sit.

7. Once you have a dog who no longer jumps, you can teach your dog to jump on command if you wish.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC
http://www.nck9solutions.com

7 Ways to Help a Skittish Dog

These dogs are walking calmly with their relaxed handlers.

These dogs are walking calmly with their relaxed handlers.


Having a nervous, undersocialized, or skittish dog is worrisome to owners. However, as much as we love our dogs, worrying does not help them – it can even make things worse. Dogs are so in tune with our emotions, they become more anxious as we become anxious.

1. Be confident in everything that you do. You want to be a rock for your dog so if he is panicking, he can look up and see a calm leader. Being worried and tense will not help him overcome anything. Always remain calm, confident, and relaxed.

2. Sometimes nervousness can stem from built-up energy. Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise.

3. When you see that your dog is afraid, for example passing by a big trashcan, do not coddle or try to coax him by. Instead, walk confidently past and then praise after he accomplished it. Saying things like “It’s ok, it’s alright,” is comforting to humans, but for a dog, you are actually reinforcing his anxious state of mind. Praise him after he has passed the challenging obstacles – “Good boy, you did it!”

4. Go new places often. Dogs do not generalize well, and by going new places, your dog will see that you are confident and in charge wherever you go. Instead of being worried about something new, he will start to see it as a new adventure.

5. Set your dog up to succeed in new places by starting small and building confidence. Instead of expecting your dog to be well behaved around major distractions right away and getting frustrated when things go wrong, build his skills with little distractions. Go places at “off” times when there is less of a crowd, like early morning or midafternoon. Walk around a park and have your dog settle at your feet on a bench, taking the world in calmly. From there, you can build to settling at your feet while you have coffee or lunch. You can also visit pet friendly stores and businesses for added socialization.

6. A tired dog is a good dog! If you are going somewhere new, but are not certain how your dog will behave, it will not hurt to get in a good walk right before. When you arrive at your destination, walking in the parking lot for ten minutes can help settle and relax your dog.

7. If you still struggle or think it is not working with your dog, obedience classes are a great option. Having professionals teach you how to respond properly in different situations could save you much time and frustration. Also, your dog seeing other dogs interacting with confidence will greatly increase their own confidence.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC
http://www.nck9solutions.com

7 Tips for Keeping Your Dog’s Attention

Lana and Roxy practice their commands in public amid distractions.

Lana and Roxy practice their commands in public amid distractions.

Do you struggle with a dog who is easily distracted or find yourself begging for your dog’s attention? It’s not likely that you always have a handful of tasty treats on hand nor want to, so you want to wean away from giving treats all the time. Here are a few ways to keep your dog’s attention on you through calm leadership.

1. Don’t dole out affection freely all the time. A dog who comes up and shoves his nose under your hand while you’re reading a book knows he can always get scratched and petted whenever he wants. Instead, make him work for the affection so that it becomes more valuable. If he approaches and demands attention, ignore him and then call him back to you when he’s moved on to something else. This shows you initiated it and you’re reinforcing recall!

2. Practice your commands! Being able to do them at home is great. You can build on your dog’s attention span by practicing the commands in new places and around the neighborhood. Give lots of praise when you are done with the exercise.

3. Make your dog sit for everything – dinner, to be petted, for a treat, to be leashed, go outside, or even just because. This keeps him working and focused, especially if you have a high-energy dog.

4. Keep moving fast. If your dog is a pro at commands, start calling them out back to back. His focus will stay on you and he will not have time to think about what he wants to do next. He will also be exhausted after an exercise like this.

5. Use less words and more body language. Without words, your dog has to look up and pay attention to what you are asking. If your dog knows how to sit, have him sit by incorporating a hand signal if you do not already use one. If he is learning, give it time and he will figure out what you are asking. If you have a dog who is quick to do commands, practice them the same way without words. It is a great mental exercise.

6. Do not stare at your dog! Leaders do not look to their followers for attention, followers look up at their leader. By always looking at your dog and trying to get his attention, you are placing him in the leadership role.

7. Be the treat. Use lots of praise when your dog is doing all the right things. That positive attention will turn you into the reward, eliminating the need to always have treats, and building a better bond between you and your dog.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC
http://www.nck9solutions.com

7 Ways to Prevent Separation Anxiety

rudy
Having a dog with separation anxiety can be a huge financial, safety, and emotional stress. It is so much easier to prevent, prevent, prevent, than fix it. Sometimes owners don’t even realize they are setting their dog up to be anxious when left alone until it’s too late. Here are some ways you can set your dog up to be happy and confident, and keep that terrible anxiety away.

1. Exercise! Make sure your dog always has plenty of physical and mental exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog is a happy owner. Burning off excess energy leaves you with a nice calm dog when you leave. Teaching your dog commands and tricks is also a great way to mentally stimulate them.

2. Don’t feel like you have to spend every waking moment with your dog. Make time during the day for “down time” – it doesn’t have to be hours and hours – but just a break so your dog gets used to being alone.

3. Don’t make a big deal out of leaving. When you leave, if you want to give your pup lots of love and pets, do it 30 minutes before you leave, then gather your things up, and leave calmly. If you give your dogs tons and tons of attention while they are over the top excited, and then you suddenly leave, it makes it much harder for the dog to deal with you being gone.

4. Same goes for coming back home – walk into your house calm and confident. If your dog is going crazy jumping and dancing to see you, keep going about your business, greet your family, set your things down, totally ignoring the dog until they are calm. Then when that energy is down, call them over and love on them like crazy! Always be aware of what state of mind you are rewarding.

5. Give your dog something to do when you leave so you leaving is actually fun and rewarding! A stuffed kong, knuckle bone, antler, or any other safe heavy duty treat that will last a long time will keep your dog busy while you’re gone.

6. Socializing to new places can be a huge help in boosting your dog’s confidence. Going new places not only gets them used to new things, but also tires them out more. This increases their confidence in you, seeing that you can take care of yourself and them. If your dog knows commands, or even fun tricks, do them while you’re out and about in new places.

7. If you do all these things with your dog but still seem to be having a hard time with constant anxiety, panting, whining, or excessive drooling, it may be time to talk to a professional trainer/behavior consultant to diagnose the anxiety properly and get additional tools under your belt.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC
http://www.nck9solutions.com

7 Ways to Avoid Pack Issues

photo
Having multiple dogs can be a rewarding (and therapeutic!) thing when you have peace in your pack. Issues can arise when you have dogs who are bossy or competing to be leader, especially when you yourself aren’t assuming the position. Without a doubt, humans are the leaders of the pack, allowing our dogs to relax, sit back, and follow our rules. Here are a few pointers on maintaining that leadership role to keep a happy household of dogs.

1. Always maintain a calm, confident, and assertive attitude. If you are freaking out and worrying about your dogs going after each other, stressing over how your relationship will be, then all you will have is a stressed out pack of dogs who are snappy with each other. Dogs feed off of our emotions, so always project confidence.

2. Regular exercise is vital for burning off energy. If your dogs get along great and you use playtime for them to exercise, that’s great! But don’t allow playtime to substitute for a walk. Walking as a confident leader (relaxed and in front with dogs loosely beside or behind) shows the dogs who they are supposed to follow and gets their brains concentrating on you.

3. Have your dogs respect thresholds. Practice by having everyone sit at the doorway. If you have lots of dogs, especially big ones, you can always just have them wait at the door before you call them through. Whichever dog is pushiest should come through that doorway last. Reward good, calm behavior. This will help your most demanding dog see that things happen faster when they are calm. Not rushing the door shows that you control all space, coming and going, and prevents a pack of dogs from hurdling past, through, and over you.

4. Balance your attention and affection. You may have a great pack of dogs, but don’t forget to treat them as individuals. Find the things that each dog enjoys most and then make time for that. For attention, make sure nobody is pushing anyone else out of the way. Spend time with one pup and then on your terms, call the next one over to you. Always show them that you dole out the affection on your terms and never reward a demanding, bossy dog.

5. Be involved in playtime! A rumbly tumbly pack can be having a wonderful time before Fluffy chomps Fido’s ear a bit too hard and then everyone joins in for a brawl. Get your dogs used to your presence between them, bump around while they’re playing happily and practice calling everyone, separating them, maybe have them sit, and then release them to play again. You can do this many times throughout playtime, always supervising and splitting them up when they’re still having a great time. This keeps them focusing on you, keeps playtime fun, and makes recall a part of play so it’s always fun to come to you!

6. Don’t let your dogs guard anything. As the leader, you are the only one who is allowed to protect anything – food, bones, toys, etc. Supervise feeding times and don’t let anyone steal from anyone else’s bowl. This lets everybody know that you are going to stick up for them and keep the peace. If a dog gets growly over a bone, claim the object by stepping on it and backing the dog away, and then they lose that bone. Be the mama dog and let the other dogs know you are keeping everything even.

7. Another great way to maintain calm is by having everybody sit for their dinner. If your dogs haven’t mastered this, you can practice sit for dinner one at a time before you graduate to everyone sitting before being released. Sitting for dinner is showing that you control mealtimes and that it’s no time for wild and crazy play. Like the doorway, the calmest dog gets to eat first.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC
http://www.nck9solutions.com

7 Ways to Deal with a Destructive Chewer

Photo Sep 16, 7 17 14 PM
Dealing with a powerful chewer can be a huge stress. You may find yourself going through countless pairs of shoes or personal belongings, which can add up quickly. A dog constantly destroying things in the house, especially if it’s the wall or base boards, is no fun to deal with.

1. If you have a crazed chewing dog who just can’t seem to get enough, the first thing you can do is think about what type of dog you have and what your activity level is like. Sometimes a dog with pent up energy will find another outlet to burn off steam if he isn’t getting enough exercise or mental stimulation. Is your dog still ready to go after you get back from a walk? Sometimes even running for 30 minutes with your dog can be enough to give him an adrenaline rush, amping him up for more.

2. Supervision is the easiest step. If you have a known chewer, don’t leave him alone in a room full of shoes, books, a remote, or other temptations you know he will go after. If you cannot supervise, crate him or use an exercise pen so you are sure to set him up for success.

3. Provide your dog with appropriate objects to chew, like antlers, knuckle bones, or natural bones with filling. When you see him going for the wrong item, give him a bone as a substitute. Getting really excited and happy about chewing on a bone can also show your dog that you like when he plays with those things.

4. Age can be a factor in chewing. A young puppy is certainly going to be testing his environment. Start showing him early which things are okay and which ones are not. There are also dogs who will be power chewers their whole lives. By setting the rules early, you can show him what you like him to chew.

5. Chew deterrents work really well for some dogs. There are a lot of items like Bitter Apple, Bitter Yuck, and Bitter Cherry that have an unpleasant taste to stop the dog from chewing. When you try a new product, always be watchful – you may have a dog who likes the bitter taste!

6. With children (and adults!) there are always consequences for actions. If you catch your dog in the act of chewing the base board, you can give him a correction and then lead him straight to his crate. This is fine as long as your dog likes his crate and you give him a treat any other time. You are showing your dog that chewing the wall leads to loss of free time, just like a child going to time out in his room.

7. Some dogs are seeking attention by grabbing things they know upset you. These dogs know that picking up the remote means you will yell “No!! Drop it! Drop it! Get back here!” as you chase them through the house, or yell at them after you’ve found it chewed up. This negative attention is still attention to them, and what they’re hearing is “Yea woohoo! Grab that remote and lets play chase!” If you think this is your dog, try ignoring him when he grabs something and go find something even more interesting, like a squeaky ball. Chances are that he will want what you have, dropping what he has because you did not make a big deal out of it.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC
http://www.nck9solutions.com