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When you’re out you want to know the dog is safe – Right?

Whether you’re a pet parent to a new puppy or an adult dog, consider the advantages of using a dog crate.

Of course, you want the dog to be safe.. Well, a crate provides physical safety, in that it prevents them things they shouldn’t (such as electrical cables!). But more than that, it provides emotional security.

How so?

If you're in a hurry, check out the top rated Best Dog Crates for Comfort, Function, and Style.
Amazon Basic Dog Crate(Dog crate small through to large)
At a basic price. A great entry price product but not a thing of beauty.
Check on Amazon

When crate trained with empathy (see Doggy Dream Teams top guide to Crate Training) it becomes the pup’s den, their safe place to be. It gives the pup a way to snuggle down in seclusion when the world gets too busy and they feel overwhelmed.

But even when you’re sold on the idea of puppy crate training, sometimes the physical appearance of a crate in your sitting room can be off-putting. Which is why in this review of the best dog crates we balance aesthetics and price against function.

Product Details
Top Rated
Top Rated
Amazon Basic Dog Crate(Dog crate small through to large)
  • At a basic price. A great entry price product but not a thing of beauty.
  • At a basic price. A great entry price product but not a thing of beauty.
Check on Amazon
RAC Pet Carrier(dog crate small )
  • This is a great option that doubles up as a crate and a carrier. An added bonus is the super-low price point.
  • This is a great option that doubles up as a crate and a carrier. An added bonus is the super-low price point.
Check on Amazon
Petsfit Pop up Crate(Dog crate medium )
  • Offers the flexibility of a pop up crate for those who don't want a crate as a permanent fixture.
  • Offers the flexibility of a pop up crate for those who don't want a crate as a permanent fixture.
Check on Amazon
Casual Home 600-41 (Dog crate medium / large)
  • A dog crate that looks like regular furniture...at a fraction of the price of competitors products.
  • A dog crate that looks like regular furniture...at a fraction of the price of competitors products.
Check on Amazon
ZooVilla Crate and Wooden Crate Cover
  • A great compromise between security and good looks. The wooden outer shell covers a traditional metal crate, making it safe for chewers and strong dogs alike.
  • A great compromise between security and good looks. The wooden outer shell covers a traditional metal crate, making it safe for chewers and strong dogs alike.
Check on Amazon
Lords and Labradors Crate Cover
  • A neat trick for disguising a regular crate
  • A neat trick for disguising a regular crate
Check on Amazon
Amazon Basics Folding Dog Crate Small

Let’s get this puppy school off to a start with a basic product for reference. This no-nonsense dog crate comes in seven sizes, suitable for the tiniest teacup pup to a generous sized Labrador.

Whilst roomy enough for a larger dog, the limiting factor becomes whether it is sturdy enough to hold a dog determined to get out. For smaller pet pals this stainless steel construction is plenty strong enough, especially when you fur-friend looks on it as their den.

The design includes handy features such as it being fully collapsible, making it possible to collapse it down and take it on your travels or fold flat for storage. There are doors on both the long and the short sides, and an inner tray to make cleaning a breeze.

This Amazon Basics dog crate stands close examination because it is extraordinarily good value. Whilst it scores highly for function, it’s clearly not a beautiful object and will be an eyesore in a sophisticated living room.

However, the design does come to its rescue with the double door arrangement. This means the crate can be fitted between existing furniture, and whichever way you orientate the crate there’s access via a door. Thus, although the front of the crate is visible, the sides and back are concealed.


This is a sturdy and practical product, really well made and easy to use

” An amazing price and a well made product. Anyone can afford to say “Woof” to crate training at this entry-level price. “

Amy D, Amazon


Did we mention it’s basically a cage…not the most aesthetically please object in the world.
Also, some pet parents found there to be sharp edges around the doors. These had the potential to cause harm to the pet should they have got a paw stuck

9.4 Rating out of 10

For the first time puppy owner, this crate offers an inexpensive way to work out if it’s for them or not. Should it not work out, you gave it a fair trial but without spending a fortune.

Check on Amazon

RAC Pet Carrier – Dog crate small

For a small puppy or a toy dog, consider this pet carrier as an ideal dog crate. Designed as a pet carrier, it’s sturdy construction, easy-clean-design, and size make it ideal as a small dog crate. This has the advantage that the pup’s den goes with them when travelling, plus it keeps them safe on a car journey.

The carrier is made from tough durable plastic, which is easy to clean. It comes in two parts which are joined by quick release tabs. This makes it a cinch to take the top off (for a comfy bed) or back on to form a crate.

It has two doors: A top opening one plus a spring-loaded front opening door. There’s also a sturdy carry handle to make it easier to move. With the name of the motoring giant, the RAC behind it, you’re buying into a reputation for reliability and quality.


I was concerned because of the price, but very pleased with this product. Looks good. Well made. Value for money

“Costing less than your weekly coffee, this carrier represents fantastic value for money. The sturdy plastic means it’s safe, practical, and easy to clean. An ideal crate / carrier combo for small dogs on the move, so their safe place always travels with them.“

K, Amazon


Only suitable for small dogs. Check your dog is able to stand up and lie stretched out. If not, this is too small for them. Some products were delivered cracked or with missing clips. To avoid mishaps order well ahead, so that any faulty products can be returned for a replacement.

8.8 Rating out of 10

The amazing price makes this a no-risk purchase for the owner of a small dog or puppy.

Check on Amazon

Petsfit Pop Up Dog Crate Medium or Large

If you like the idea of a mobile crate but your dog is too big for a carrier, this Petsfit Pop Up is a great option.

This dog crate soft works a bit like a child’s pop up tent and folds completely flat for storage. When the velcro strap is released the crate reforms in seconds.

The sides are made from durable polyester and is available in black, beige, or charcoal grey. There are two side ‘doors’ made from mesh (great for ventilation) which zip closed. The price includes a free fleece mat.

It’s available in three sizes:
Small: For pets up to 5 kg
Medium: For pets up to 12 kg
Large: For pets up to 25kg.

This isn’t a cheap product, but it is well made and surprisingly robust for a fabric product. The quality materials also mean it is durable and will withstand normal wear and tear with ease.

Of course, the biggest argument against this pop-up kennel is if the dog chews it, and isn’t the best choice for chewers.


Great for a crate at night and a bed during the day.  A good option for a travel crate

” Love it! Ordered the medium size for our 10 week old Cavachon, it gives him plenty of room at night for his bed, although it comes with a thin covered mattress. We use it in the day for him with the sides rolled up as the fixed backing stops him rolling off his bed – very pleased. “

Susie Q, Amazon


There are a few downsides to this product. Sadly, it lacks handles which some people found a problem when moving it. Also, the top has a flap which is held in place by velcro. Some escape-artist-pets soon discover this is an easy way out. Not for chewers!

8.4 Rating out of 10

An interesting option for well-behaved dogs as it makes a good crate / bed combo.

Check on Amazon

Casual Home 600-41 Pet Crate

Maybe you want the benefits of crate training, but don’t want a steel cage dominating the room. The answer could be this stylish piece of wooden furniture that just happens to be a dog crate.

Made by Casual Home, this wooden dog crate is just that. There’s no inner metal cage. This makes it appealing aesthetically as it fits nicely into a living room without looking out of place.

This dog crate is available in four finishes: White, grey, black, or espresso. Half the walls are solid, with the upper half as vertical struts. This gives the dog an extra feeling of security, as they’re protected on all side when asleep, but also gives great ventilation.

The top is solid and able to bear weights up to 120lb, making it a useful table top. The side opening door is secured with a lockable latch, for extra security. This allows you to use the crate as an end table or slide it between two pieces of furniture, and still have good access to the dog.


Cozy, cute, and blends in well to a stylish room. A great canine sanctuary that isn’t an eye-sore for the pet parent.

” I got this crate in white in Medium, and my dog is a French bulldog around 23 pounds. It is very spacious and well built. I think it beautiful fits in with the rest of our furniture too.“

David Swanson, Amazon


Larger dogs or dogs that are dedicated chewers, can make a meal of the wooden construction. Some pet parents told us how their dogs busted out or just plain chewed their way through the bars.

Another minor gripe is that this unit is self assembly. It does take time and a modicum of DIY proficiency to assemble it. However, with due care it does build together into a pleasingly solid unit.

7.2 Rating out of 10

The Casual Home pet crate is best suited to With this in mind the Casual Home is best suited to smaller dogs or those less likely to chew. It is an attractive piece in its own right and nicely camouflages having a dog crate in the front room.

This product is also a great price point, compared to similar items from rival manufacturers.

Check on Amazon

Zoovilla Dog Crate Medium with Wooden Cover

An alternative to a fully wooden dog crate is this clever Zoovilla offering. It consists of a traditional steel dog crate (and the security this offers) encased in an attractive wooden cover. Talk about a compromise: It blends the safety of a regular crate with the aesthetics of a wooden one.

The Zoovilla dog crate is available, in small medium, and large to accommodate most sizes of dog. It’s available in white or dark wood colourways. The clever design means there’s a removable skirt along the width of the crate, which allows you to remove the waterproof tray inside.

This product is self assembly but classed as ‘easy’, as the parts push together. Once constructed, the solid top makes it useful as an attractive table.


Functional yet fabulous! A great blend of a practical steel crate and a piece of wooden furniture. A good compromise if your dogs may chew their way out of an entirely wooden construction but you want some easier on the eye than a steel dog crate. It’s also available in larger sizes than similar crates.

” Lovely piece of ‘furniture’ to finish off our newly decorated bedroom. We have to have the pooches in our room so this made the room look finished“

Anita Hagon, Amazon


The price makes this a considered purchase.  Also, the removable tray requires good access to the side opening. This means ensuring the door opens onto a wide, clear space, rather than abutting another piece of furniture.

10 Rating out of 10

A good compromise for dogs that chew or larger canines, where you want to disguise the presence of a dog crate.

Check on Amazon

Lords and Labradors Dog Crate Cover

When you’re looking for an attractive dog crate, why reinvent the wheel? Sometimes a little lateral thinking is all that’s required. This is why this Lords and Labradors product has earned a place in our best dog crates review…even though it’s not strictly speaking a crate.


OK, this is a crate cover, which, when draped over your existing metal crate transforms it into a canine four-poster bed look-alike. It’s a simple enough idea. An oilcloth cover that drapes over the outside of a metal crate.

The sides can either be dropped down like curtains for a feeling of comfort and security, or rolled up and secured in the ‘up’ position with toggles. It also comes with a coordinating mattress to complete the luxurious look.


Transforms a crate into a bedroom. What’s not to like!  Oh, and did we mention it’s wipe clean?

” It’s made my dogs crate look like a little bedroom for her, very good quality also you can wipe it over which is a bonus . Also I had great customer service from the company selling if you have a dog crate this really is worth getting as it makes the whole thing look lovely and tidy “

Amy D, Amazon


Take care measuring your existing crate and matching the size of the product. Get it wrong and the cover may swamp the crate or else not fit over properly. Not a good look!

8.0 Rating out of 10

If you’re satisfied with your existing dog crate but wish it looked more appealing, then this Lords and Labradors crate cover is the simple solution.

Check on Amazon

Best Dog Crates for Comfort, Function, and Style

Dog crates are a great aid for basic dog training. They provide your pooch with a den and a safe place to call their own. But here’s a thing. You don’t have to settle for a purely functional crate.

There are great options out there for dog crates soft, collapsible, or even disguised as furniture. And if you already have a crate that works well but looks ugly, then go for the dog crate cover hack.

There’s a product for everyone, two or four-legged, to wag about!

The post 6 Best Dog Crates for Comfort, Function, and Style. appeared first on The Doggy Dream Team Dog Blog.

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What makes a good dog breeder?

Getting a new puppy is as exciting as Christmas, birthdays, and summer holidays all rolled into one. But don’t let that excitement cloud your judgement…

Some dog breeders are more reputable than others. This matters for so many reasons, including the welfare of the mother, puppies, and the health of your new best friend.

Knowing what makes a reputable breeder is vital and includes:

  1. Researching their reputation
  2. Ethical breeding
  3. Being fussy about who they sell to
  4. They participate in health screening schemes
  5. The breeder socialised puppies from a young age
  6. They care about mother and pup welfare
  7. The mother is well-cared for
  8. The litter is reared in the home
  9. The breeder takes responsibility for unsuccessful homing’s
  10. They satisfy your gut instinct

To find dog breeders you can trust, let’s look at #1-10 in detail.

#1: Research the Dog Breeder’s Reputation

Fake news! There’s a tsunami of untrustworthy sources of information. When buying a puppy, this ranges from the man-in-the-pub to internet selling sites. Just because it’s never been easier to find a pup, doesn’t make it right. The only ‘safety in numbers’ here is making it easy for bad breeders to make a living out of dog-misery.

How to know if a breeder is reputable?

To find a good dog breeder go to trustworthy, knowledgeable sources of information. A good starting place is the Kennel Club directory of certified breeders. They have pedigree dogs registered with the Kennel Club. Use this as a springboard to find more details.

Also, speak to owners of your chosen breed and ask about their experiences with the breeder. Your vet or dog groomer is a useful resource. Ask to be put in touch with owners. Most pet parents are delighted to talk about their fur-friends!

Good questions to ask include:

  • Would you get another puppy from the same breeder?
  • Did anything about the breeder’s setup may you uneasy?
  • Have you had any problems with the pup?
  • Have you stayed in touch with the breeder?

Once you have a breeder’s name, dig a little deeper. Put their name into a search engine and see what comes up. Check their website to see if it looks authentic and informative, or hastily put together and neglected.

Of course, dog breeders aren’t necessarily techie people. But a website that contains useful information that exhibits a good level of knowledge, and photos of their dogs in a setting you later visit, is a good start.

Likewise, have a nosy round internet review sites, consumer affairs sites, and even dog breeder review groups on social media to see what turns up.

Use your common sense. Of course, not all dog breeders are big operations. There are plenty of small-scale breeders that produce occasional litters for the love of it. The trick is to find the responsible ones who breed out of a love of dogs. rather than money.

#2: Ethical Breeding

The mothers are dogs too! A good dog breeder is passionate about the dogs they breed and take the welfare of all their breeding stock seriously. Things to ask the breeder when buying a puppy, include “How old is the mother?” “When did she have her first litter?” and “How many litters has she had?”

The mother should not breed too young

  • The bitch should have finished growing, before sparing precious energy to grow pups)

Neither should she be too old

  • Dogs are considered senior of eight years of age – (five years for giant breeds). At this life stage dogs should be retired from breeding)

Nor should the mother be a factory producing litters every heat cycle.

  • One litter per year is the absolute maximum, anything more than that is too big a drain on her body.

If the breeder can’t tick all these boxes, then walk away.

#3: Pick and Choose

In this case, it’s the breeder that’s picky. A truly good dog breeder cares about the homes they send puppies to. They carefully vet the prospective owner, checking they can provide for all the puppy’s physical and emotional needs.

This means asking you lots of questions, some of which may seem intrusive. But these are the dog breeder’s way of checking the owner has sufficient knowledge, commitment, space, and resources to give the dog a happy life. Be wary of the breeder whose more interested in your bank account than the puppy’s future home. Oh, and a final point. One query by the breeder should immediately press alarm bells.

If you phone and the breeders asks, “Which breed of pup are you after?”, put the phone down. Genuine dog breeders only have one breed available, so they’ve no need to ask this question. This is a classic ‘tell’ of a puppy farm, where they have puppies of all varieties available…at the cost of much canine misery.

#4: Participate in Health Screening Schemes

Good dog breeders are passionate about the long term well-being of the breed. They want future generations of pups to be healthy, and do everything possible to make this happen.

This means screening the parent dogs for health problems passed from parent to puppy. For example, Labradors should be screened for hip and elbow dysplasia, along with specialist ophthalmic exams for hereditary eye problems.

Do your homework and look into the health problems linked to the breed. Then ask the breeder which conditions they screen for, and ask to see the certificates. Screening costs money. So be prepared to pay more, but this is money well spent.

#5: Socialisation Scheme

Body and mind! A good dog breeder prepares their pups for the big wide world. One of the (many) horrors of puppy farming, is the pups are treated like farm animals. They’re not used to being handled or prepared for the noisy world outside of their cage. This makes for anxious pups that grow up into nervous adults.

Great dog breeders care about the mental well-being of their pups. As soon as the pups can be handled, they have visitors fuss and pet them. The breeder understands how important puppy socialisation is. They expose the pups to all manner of sights, smells, and sounds, in a positive way.

This gives a gold star start to the puppy’s young life. Down this path lies a confident, well-adjusted adult free from behavioural problems and the loving family pet you always dreamed of owning

#6: See the Puppy with the Mother

Pups need their mum! Good dog breeders know this. Pups learn a lot about doggy manners by watching their mother. Staying with their mother to eight-weeks of age is crucial.

More than that, if the mother isn’t available to see with her litter, this should set alarm bells ringing. Again, this is another classic clue to a puppy farm. Puppy mills are immoral traders in canine misery. They treat dogs are breeding machines and take the pups away far too early so that the mother comes back into heat.

These breeders keep their dogs in pens with no mental stimulation and don’t want you to see this, so they offer to bring the pup part way to meet you. Now prospective owners are wising up to this, so the puppy mill breeders are changing tactics.

If you see a female dog with pups, make sure she seems to recognise them! Some unscrupulous breeders put any old female in with pups, to give a veneer of respectability. Don’t get taken in!

#7: The Mother

Speaking of the mother, is she a good dog?

By this, we’re thinking of her health and temperament. A good dog breeder invests time, care and effort into looking after the mother all year round. Check that the mother is up-to-date with her vaccinations (which also benefits the pups), wormed regularly, and has a glossy coat.

A reputable dog breeder only uses dogs with great temperaments. Ask the breeder directly, what their policy is to temperament. Know that a bad-tempered mum is likely to raise snappy pups that grow into aggressive adults. If the breeder claims the mother is only snappy because she’s nursing, then walk away.

An even-tempered mother will be protective but still tolerate strangers. A large part of the pups’ character comes from the mother. So with the interests of the breed’s future to heart, a good dog breeder will pass on breeding from an overly sensitive dog.

#8: Litter Raised in the Home

A good dog breeder will always raise the litter in the home. This is reassuring in many ways. Firstly, it means they aren’t farming pups in pens out the back. Secondly, the pups grow up used to the sound of the washing machine and din of the TV, so it won’t freak them out in their new home…

#9: Accept Puppies Back

A good dog breeder takes great care to place pups in the homes. But if things don’t go right, they accept the puppy back, indeed, they insist on the youngster being returned. Again, their priority is animal welfare, rather than their bank account (although the latter is obviously important…this is the real world after all.)

#10: Gut Instinct

Last but not least. Trust your gut instinct. If an alarm bell rings in your head, listen to it. If the breeder is evasive and doesn’t know much about the mother then walk away. If you can’t view the pups with the mum, walk away. If the breeder is more interested in payment than puppy care, walk away.

Remember, to do otherwise encourages bad breeders, which perpetuates pet misery. Do your bit by supporting good dog breeders …or visit a rescue to find the right puppy or dog that suits you. 

The post 10 Ways to Spot a Good Dog Breeder appeared first on The Doggy Dream Team Dog Blog.

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Back in 1978, the National Canine Defence League hit on a great campaign slogan: “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”. This simple message says so much in so few words. Genius. Decades later, the sentiment still rings true. Pick a puppy carefully, because this is no throw-away purchase.

This article looks at:

  1. How to choose a puppy that’s right for you?
  2. Pedigree, hybrid, or mixed breed?
  3. Breed-related health problems
  4. Be dog socialisation savvy
  5. How to tell a puppy farm
  6. Research responsible breeders
  7. Supporting shelters
  8. Why the mother matters
  9. How to spot a well-adjusted pup
  10. DIY puppy health check
#1: Pick The Right Pup for You: A Square Peg in a Square Hole

Here’s another great saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

The same goes for dogs. Don’t choose a future best buddy based on looks alone. Pick a puppy that’s a good match. Take the teddy bear good looks of the Husky pup as an example. Boy, these guys are cute. But ask yourself: “Am I a truly a roughy-toughy outdoors type prepared to spend all day running just to tire my dog out?” If the answer is “No”, then this isn’t the breed for you.

Sit down and write down a summary of what you can offer a dog. Consider factors such as:

  • Space: Apartment or mansion?
  • Exercise: How much exercise can you commit to, come rain or shine?
  • Voice: Do you need a woofy guard dog or would this drive the neighbours mad?
  • Budget: How much spare cash do you have for dog food and flea products (the bigger the dog the bigger the bill.)
  • Robustness: Young children can be rough on dogs
  • Temperament: Does the dog need to get on with other pets or indeed, children?
  • Grooming: A wash-n-go hound vs home clipping vs regular grooming parlour trips?

Be honest and draw up a list describing your ideal dog because proper prior planning prevents poor performance.

#2: Pedigree, Hybrid Dog, or Mixed Breed?

Labrador, Labradoodle, or mutt? What are the pros and cons?

Pedigree dogs conform to a type. Pick a puppy Labrador and you know how tall they’ll grow. Great! But purebred dogs are the result of selective breeding, which can mean inherent health risks. Also, whilst Labradors tend to be licky, waggy, happy dogs, each dog is an individual.

Just because the breed has a great reputation, is no guarantee of good behaviour. Enter hybrid dogs, such as the Labradoodle. Hybrids are the result of breeding two different types of purebred dog. Some say hybrid dogs are healthier, because of their widened gene pool. But this is not true.

The laws of genetics mean a pup could inherit the worst genes from two breeds, and have double trouble rather than less. So what about mixed breeds? Their true jumble of genes does shake things up, but this doesn’t make them bombproof against bad health. Also, it can be hard to know how big a pup will grow, especially if you didn’t see the parents.

Which works best for you?

#3: Homework about Healthy Hounds

Bonkers about Boxers? Potty about Pugs? Wowed by Westies?

You want a pup to have a long, active, healthy life, but pick a puppy purebred and what are the chances of heartbreak?

Each breed has certain health problems that are more prevalent than the average. Do some homework to find out what the breed’s weaknesses are. Give pet insurance a serious thought. Then if the worst happens, you can make decisions based on the dog’s best interests not the depth of your pocket.

#4: Be Dog Socialisation Savvy

Which adult dog would you want to own?

a) A dog that greets strangers with a happy wag and a gentle lick
b) A dog that barks and growls so fiercely that visitors stay away

The difference between Dog (a) and Dog (b) is dog socialisation. The first fellow met lots of people in their first few weeks of life, who gave them treats. They grew up learning strangers are good to be around. Whereas the second dog is so anxious about life they bark to keep it a paws distance away. This is because they didn’t mix with people in early life and regard them with fear.

The adult dog’s behaviour is laid down as a pup. Whether purebred, hybrid dog or mutt, always quizz the breeder about how they socialise their pups.

Worst of all are puppy farms. How can you tell a puppy farm? These pups are kept in cages in sheds, and aren’t even used to the sights, sounds, and smells of a home. These guys are an emotional mess and the only way to stop this disgusting trade in misery is to starve the market of money. Don’t buy from puppy mills.

#5: Be Puppy Farm Aware

No-one sets out to buy from a puppy farm. But even so, illegal dog breeding is a booming business, involving some 40,000 puppies a year, worth about £17.5 million. These pups are raised under inhumane conditions, many carry infection, and imported pups often aren’t vaccinated against rabies.

To pick a puppy that is well-adjusted and healthy AVOID puppy mills. How can you tell a puppy farm?

  • They often advertise on internet pet sales sites or local papers
  • When you phone to inquire, the breeder asks “What breed are you interested in?” (Only puppy mills have lots of different breeds available.)
  • They obligingly offer to travel with the pup half-way to meet you. (This is a rouse so you don’t see the appalling conditions the pups are kept in)
  • The mother isn’t available to view with the pups (Don’t believe the excuse!)
  • If there is a mother, she seems unfamiliar with the pups (That’s because she isn’t their mother)
  • The pups seem unusual within drawn or anxious
#6: To Pick A Puppy – Research Responsible Breeders

How to find a puppy that’s right for you? Responsible breeders should be encouraged. They go the extra mile to screen the parents for inheritable diseases and socialise the pups.

How do I find a good dog breeder? Check out our sister article on 10 Ways to Spot a Good Dog Breeder

If you really want a pup, let’s not forget the pups available at rescue centres.

#7: Support Shelters

Visit your local rescue centre where there are different dogs of different breeds, different sizes and different ages, including puppies that desperately need loving, forever homes.

They are a lot cheaper than bred dogs, usually with it being an adoption fee. They are neutered, they are micro-chipped. A lot of them are already house trained. Think of them as a bargain really.

#8: Mother Knows Best

Whether breeder or shelter, pick a puppy you can view with their mum.

The mother’s character has a big impact on the pups. A calm, placid mother is likely to produce pups with the same outlook. Whereas aggressive, anxious, or snappy mum’s often pass the trait onto her offspring.

Also, staying with the mum until eight-weeks of age is important for puppy learning. She teaches them about doggy body language and acceptable behaviour, to create well-rounded, well-adjusted youngsters.

#9: Good Dog Behaviour 101

Now, you’ve done your homework, so what do you look for in a well-adjusted pup?

Experts in assessing dog behaviour, such as the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, tend to assess character at seven weeks of age. Even then, the puppy may be having a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ day, so a couple of visits are ideal. The puppy that stays in a corner, may simply be tired, rather than lacking social skills.

There are lots of tests of puppy personality, but in a nutshell, try playing a game of fetch. The puppy that participates eagerly, is going to be a good ‘un. It shows a range of great attributes such as lack of fear, willingness to engage, sociability, and a playful pawsonality.

Many people advise picking the puppy that runs over first, as they are bold and like people. But a word of caution: This may also be the super-confident pup who then turns into a handful to train. By all means, choose this pup, but be prepared to train a rebel.

Don’t overlook the middle of the bunch, the pup that watches to see what happens, and then comes over. This sense of caution can be a good thing.

#10: DIY Puppy Health Check

How do you know if a puppy is healthy?

There may be obvious negatives such as sticky eyes or diarrhoea stuck to their bottom. But what about the positives?

Pick a puppy with:

  • A shiny, soft coat
  • Clear eyes and nose
  • Clean ear with no waxy discharge
  • A waistline when the next meal is due (A pot belly in a hungry pup can indicate worms)
  • A bright, alert attitude.

Also, if you want to be sneaky, arrive early for the viewing. If the breeder hasn’t cleaned the pen you may glimpse puppy poop. Nice formed stools are good news, whereas runny faeces should press warning bells.

The Take-Home Puppy!

How to choose a puppy that’s right for you?

Before you find a puppy, sit down and work out what you have to offer a dog. Then make sure your potential best-pal is a square peg in a square hole. Then do your homework. Never act on impulse.

Understand why the parent’s matter and the factors that mean a cute puppy grows into a loving and loyal adult dog. Last but not least. Be prepared to walk away if something doesn’t feel right. Remember, if you buy from a puppy mill you may rescue one pup, but this feeds unethical trade and condemns yet more litters to the same misery.

The post 10 Tips to Picking the Right Puppy for You appeared first on The Doggy Dream Team Dog Blog.

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Choosing the right dog walking harness is essential to your dog’s comfort and safety. But not all harnesses are created equal. As well as significant variations in design (which can impact your dog’s well-being), certain harnesses have different functions.

This article looks specifically at the dog walking harness, as opposed to travel harnesses. [The latter are imperative for keeping a dog safe in the car. To find out more read our Best Dog Harness for the Car review.]

If you're in a hurry, check out the top rated Best Dog Walking Harness
Company of Animals Halti Harness
The best dog walking harness for pullers that gives you control and helps the dog walk to heel.
Check on Amazon


Why chose a dog walking harness over a collar? In a nutshell, the reasons for choosing a harness include:

  • No pressure on the dog’s windpipe. Dogs have very little sense when it comes to pulling on a collar. Many dogs will faint rather than stopping pulling. Not good. Not good at all.
  • Flat-faced dogs: Those adorable squish-faced dogs such as pugs and pekes, also have large, but shallowly placed eyes… Pulling hard on a collar can increase pressure and possibly pop an eye out of its socket.
  • Better Control: A harness can encourage the dog to walk beside you, rather than surging ahead. Clever placement of the D-rings helps with this.
  • More Secure: Ever had your dog slip their collar? Terrifying isn’t it! A good harness is much more secure and means pooch stays attached to your wrist.
  • Canine Comfort: Modern harness are made from light, breathable materials and are surprisingly comfortable to wear.

Of course, fit is crucial. The best dog walking harness but in the wrong size is not going to work for anyone. To avoid expensive mistakes check out How to Put on a Dog Harness

Product Details
Pet Love Padded No Pull Harness
  • A well padded harness that is easy to put on. A whole lot of harness for very little money.
  • A well padded harness that is easy to put on. A whole lot of harness for very little money.
Check on Amazon
Julius K-9 Power Harness
  • The grand-daddy of the canine harness, designed originally for working service dogs.
  • The grand-daddy of the canine harness, designed originally for working service dogs.
Check on Amazon
Raffaelo Vest Harness
  • Extremely comfortable to wear and the option of a front lead attachment for dogs that pull
  • Extremely comfortable to wear and the option of a front lead attachment for dogs that pull
Check on Amazon
Blueberry Pet Step In Harness
  • This step-in dog walking harness is ideal for head shy hounds. The minimal strapping helps the dog stay cool in hot weather.
  • This step-in dog walking harness is ideal for head shy hounds. The minimal strapping helps the dog stay cool in hot weather.
Check on Amazon
LSW Pet Design Mesh Harness
  • A superbly comfortable starter harness for puppies or youngsters that are learning about life
  • A superbly comfortable starter harness for puppies or youngsters that are learning about life
Check on Amazon
Company of Animals No Pull Harness
  • Designed by a dog behaviourist this harness uses the 'squeeze and lift' method to deter dogs from pulling
  • Designed by a dog behaviourist this harness uses the 'squeeze and lift' method to deter dogs from pulling
Check on Amazon
Top Rated
Top Rated
Company of Animals Halti Harness
  • The best dog walking harness for pullers that gives you control and helps the dog walk to heel.
  • The best dog walking harness for pullers that gives you control and helps the dog walk to heel.
Check on Amazon
ThinkPet Comfort Harness
  • Sometimes you just want a comfortable harness that looks cute! This product does the job!
  • Sometimes you just want a comfortable harness that looks cute! This product does the job!
Check on Amazon
Pet Love No Pull Padded Harness

This dog walking harness comes in a wide range of sizes from XXXS to XXL. In practical terms this ranges from a chest measurement of a diminutive 41cm up to an impressive 122cm.

It is easy to put on and take off, even the wriggliest of dogs. Simply slip the harness over the dog’s head and click-closed around the chest. There’s no fiddling around trying to fit legs through holes, or snap shut multiple fastenings.

There are five colour options including black, bright green, orange, red, and classic camouflage. Stitched into the harness straps is a double layer of reflective stitching, to help with visibility on those walks in dark winter nights.

The fabric of this Pet Love harness is strong but lightweight, with a padded chest strap. The manufacturer’s tell us the fabric improves in strength under tension, meaning it holds a pulling dog securely.


There’s an great grab handle centered over the back of the harness. This gives the owner great control if their medium or large dog decides to tank off after a squirrel at an inopportune time.

” I can’t believe what a brilliant harness this is considering how reasonable the price is. It’s well made, very comfortable and it’s stopped my dog from straining at the leash like he did when the lead was attached to his collar. It has a lock where the stomach strap clicks together, that gives added security too. I thoroughly recommend this harness.“

Christine, Amazon


Although there’s plenty of adjustment in the harness, purchasing the right size initially is crucial. Don’t rely on your instinct when choosing a size, as some owners found a ‘small’ way too big for their pint-sized pooch. Instead, measure the chest circumference and select the size accordingly.

9.2 Rating out of 10

Further plus points to consider include that this is an almost escape proof dog walking harness. One pet parent of a Jack Russell with a history of slipping out of harnesses, told us this one was the answer and they wished they’d discovered it long ago.

Another satisfied pet parent told how their nervous rescue dog quickly got used, and accepted, wearing the Pet Lover harness. This is an important consideration, as even the safest harness is a non-starter if your dog hates wearing it.
Yes, you can have great quality and function at little cost. As one of the best dog walking harnesses for pullers, the inexpensive purchase price makes it a no-brainer for those wanting to try their dog on a harness for the first time.

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Julius K-9 Power-House Harness

There’s a hint in the name that this harness is a serious contender for those with large dogs that are strong pullers. The Power-House harness from Julius K-9 is to canine equipment what an army backpack is to hiking.

That said, it comes in a wide range of sizes to fit a Chihuahua up to a giant dog. This particular style is available in a wide range of colours from black through to pink, camo, and pastel shades.

Originally designed for working rescue dogs, Julius harnesses are all about function and safety. The high-quality fabrics include features such as a scratch-resistant surface and a breathable inner lining. There’s also a reflective strip stitched into the breast strap for all-important visibility.

The lead attaches to a strong D-ring on the centre back of the harness. Of course, it wouldn’t be right to discuss Julius products without mentioning the grab handle. This is sufficiently strong to be able to lift your dog by it, should the need arise. If this sounds a strange thing to do, remember, this design is used in service dogs to lift them out of sticky situations.


Each harness comes with a detachable hook-and-loop patch. This is customizable with a message such as ‘Nervous’ or the dog’s name.

“I would buy another one, if they didn’t last so long! I can say after 2 years of owning one it’s still in perfect working order, we have broken two leads but not the harness in that time.”

Alucard, Amazon


For some dogs the location of the breast strap may fall across their shoulder joints. This could restrict full extension of the dog’s forelegs and place them at a disadvantage when running or exercising hard.

9.4 Rating out of 10

This is very much the harness that sets the standard for others of a similar design. Why go for imitation when you can have the real thing?

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Raffaelo Vest Harness

A change of style now with this vest harness from Raffaelo. If you associate soft harnesses with toy dogs or puppies then think again. This vest harness combines comfort and practicality for heavy pullers of medium to large size.

The Raffaello is made from waterproof webbing with a breathable lining, plus nylon strapping. It has adjustable neck and chest straps. To put the harness on simply slip it over the dog’s head and clip the chest straps closed.

This is a comfortable lightweight product, with the advantage of a front leash attachment. This is a boon for heavy pullers, since the dog’s own momentum turns them around toward the ower. Thus, pulling is pointless and the dog soon learns that walking on a slack lead means faster progress.


This is a comfortable lightweight dog walking harness for large breeds. The front lead attachment point gives the owner extra control over a dog that pulls.

” Really does help to keep my dog in close control. Very easy to put on. Washable. Appears to be very comfortable.”

ASMarsh54, Amazon


The D-rings are made from heavy duty plastic. Whilst they are tough, we can’t help feeling a metal attachment point would be more secure.

9.4 Rating out of 10

A durable no-frills harness that’s washable and comfortable. If your priority is comfort for a bigger dog and you don’t want to spend big, then the Raffaela is a good choice…

Check on Amazon

Blueberry Pet Step-In Harness

Not every dog likes having a harness pulled over their head. If your dog is nervous or head shy, then consider a step-in harness. As the name suggests, the Blueberry Pet product, once adjusted to your dog’s size, just requires them to step into it.

The Blueberry Pet harness comes in a pleasing rainbow of colours, from royal blue through citrus yellow and into sea green. It comes in three sizes, spanning a chest size of 42 – 98 cm. Thus, be sure to measure both your pet’s neck and chest size before ordering, to ensure an accurate fit.

Made from good quality webbing, the design lacks some of the large ‘saddle’ shaped pieces of other harnesses. This is a boon in hot weather, as it’s more like wearing shorts than long trousers.


Available in super-colourful choices, this harness is pleasing on the eye.  The lightweight design is ideal in hot weather.

” Our cockapoo HATED her ‘over the head’ harness, and would run away rather than have put on! But since buying this step-in style… she’s as good as gold.

Susan Prosser, Amazon


Sizing can be an issue. Get the size wrong and the lack of padding means there’s potential to chafe the dog’s skin.

9.2 Rating out of 10

A great alternative for the head shy dog. It comes in a range of cheerful colours, is well made, and good quality. This harness may not be for everyone, but for those it does suit…it does an excellent job.

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LSW Pet Design Mesh Harness

Everyone has to start somewhere. We’ve chosen this LSW Pet Design harness as a great first harness for you little bundle of loveliness.

Available in five sizes, it spans the range from a tiny teacup pup to that of a miniature schnauzer adult. There are five colourways, in a playful polka dot design. Made from soft, breathable cotton, this is as close to a hug as a harness can get.


Comfy and cosy this dog walking harness is a great option for introducing a puppy to the idea of wearing a equipment.

” This harness she ” /> and as really taken to it…Think it’s because it is made from soft fabric.“

Sharon W, Amazon


Not escape proof! Supervise at all times since a wriggly worm of a pup may be able to escape

7.6 Rating out of 10

This soft harness has a niche market for the smaller dog or puppies. Whilst the design and materials mean it’s not ideal for all dogs, it is a great purchase for some.

Check on Amazon

Company of Animals No Pull Harness



The Company of Animals was established by eminent dog behaviourist Roger Mugford. The company’s aim is to produce products that are sympathetic to dog behaviour and dog psychology.

As the best dog walking harness for pullers his no-pull product has a unique design. The idea is that when the dog pulls, the pulley arrangement of the straps tightens around the dog’s chest. This has the effect of pressing on their sides and raising them off the ground – both of which deter pulling.

The harness itself is light and airy. There are a mesh breastplate and fleece lined sides pieces for the dog’s comfort. To put the harness on requires it to be placed over the dog’s head and then step into the leg pieces. There’s a special toggle that locks to prevent the harness tightening too much if the dog does pull hard.


The design allows for totally unrestricted movement of the shoulder joint. This makes it ideal for active dogs with a long stride length

” This has made such a difference to walks – no more pulling off kerbs, gasping and choking to get across roads! We actually enjoy our walks now“

Katrinoa, Amazon


There are possibly some issues with product quality, as we found several owners whose No Pull Harness fell apart after just a few uses.
Also, one pet parent reported how their dog learnt how to reverse out the harness and run free!

7.8 Rating out of 10

The harness is well made with comfortable fleece ‘sleeves’ over the strapping to prevent chafing. Very much a love-it or loathe-it product. When it works well, it works very well, but not everyone is a fan.

Check on Amazon

Company of Animals Halti Harness

Sticking with the Company of Animals we look at another of their innovative products, the Halti dog walking harness. The name ‘Halti’ may be familiar to you from their head harness, which controls the dog by controlling their head. If you want the control of a Halti but worry about your dog’s neck, then the Halti Harness may be just the ticket.

The design is super simple which is why its one of the best dog walking harness for pullers. It comprises of a hoop of nylon webbing that goes around the dog’s chest, and a semi-circle of webbing that sits across the brisket. The cleverness of the design is the placement of the D-rings: one in the centre of the brisket and the other over the back.

With the lead attached to the chest D-ring, when the dog pulls, they are steered around to face you. This halts their forward movement and makes pulling pointless. For extra control use a Halti Training Lead with it’s double ended clips.


When it works the Halti dog walking harness really works. It turns nightmares pullers into well-mannered happy walkers.

An additional safety clip is included that attached to the dog’s collar. This gives extra security if you are concerned about the dog slipping out of the harness.

” Miracle Product. Gives full steering control of your dog and guides them back towards you (with them facing you which is the most important thing) should they feel the urge to pull too much. Walking my dog on the lead is now a pleasure and not an arm from shoulder removing experience. Small size just fits my 7month old working Cocker (big sizing I think) with plenty of room to spare. Team it with the Halti lead which is very versatile! Attach to the front D ring using the halti double ended training lead (used in a standard lead setup) and instant results awaited! Padded on the shoulders so your dog is comfortable. Had a couple of dog owners saying it looks a bit gnarly or uncomfortable on her but she is fine and it’s what works for you and your dog! There are a lot of straps and loops and it seems complicated at first but I just copied the picture on the box for the correct positioning.“

Amazon Customer,..
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Have you ever been confounded by a dog harness?

You know how it goes: The advert said this harness stops even the strongest dog pulling. It looks great in the picture. But when the package arrives it contains a tangle of spaghetti-like straps and is more like knitting than a dog harness. Where to start?

Most dog owners have a dog walking harness that defeated them, lurking at the bottom of their pet’s toy box. So the ‘problem-solving’ harness is a total nightmare but you can’t throw out because you spent good money on it. Well, don’t despair because this article is for you!

7 Problem Solving Steps: How to Put on a Dog Harness

There are two types of people in life: Those that read instructions, and those that don’t.
Faced with flatpack furniture, which one are you?

When it comes to ‘how to put on a dog harness’, we suggest:

  1. Pull Up a Photo: Find a clear picture of a dog wearing that type of harness. Knowing how it should look on a real dog can help that ‘Eureka’ moment. The product ad is a good place to look for this.
  2. What Goes Where?: Compare the harness to the picture. Try to visualize which bit goes where. Get your bearings first, such as deciding which bit lies along the back, what goes between the legs, and where the lead attaches. You may find it helpful to know what sort of harness it is (For example, an ‘H’ shape or a ‘Figure of 8’, as this helps to orientate the straps.)
  3. Roughly Size the Harness: Now you’re happy with what goes where, make your best guess and adjust the size to fit your dog. Comparing it with an old harness that fits well is helpful.
  4. Read the Instructions: Yes, dull as it sounds, good clear instructions can reveal all!
  5. Practice on a Cuddly Toy: Try putting the harness on a cuddly toy. The latter isn’t wriggly and won’t try to escape while you fiddle with the straps.
  6. Build Muscle Memory: Put the harness on and off the toy a few times. This builds muscle memory so you’re more confident when fitting it onto an actual, moving dog.
  7. Get a Friend to Help: Have a friend steady the dog. This leaves you both hands-free and helps you put the harness on more slickly.

Very Helpful Video On How To Put On A Dog Harness

How to Put on a Dog Harness: 7 Top Tips for Success

All of which sounds simple enough, but what if your dog is the canine equivalent of a slippery bar of soap?

What if it’s not the design that’s the issue, so much as having a dog that resents being restrained?

This can be the case with rescue dogs or those unused to wearing a harness. Never force a dog into wearing a harness, instead, build their confidence so that they willingly accept the restraint.

For those problem pooches, here are our top tips for stress-free harnessing:

  1. Friendly Smell: A box fresh harness smells of the factory and strange people. This can cause anxiety for nervous dogs. Get around this by rubbing the harness with one of your old T-shirts, so it smells familiar.
  2. Familiar Object: If someone came towards you with a bundle of straps, you’d rightly be pretty alarmed. The same with a dog. Show them the harness. Let then sniff it. Even leave it lying around with some toys so the dog sees it’s not a threat.
  3. Pre-size the Harness: Rather than tug and fumble with the harness on the dog, pre-size the straps first. A rough guess will do. And if you get it wrong, take the harness off the dog to make adjustments.
  4. Don’t Chase the Dog: Place the dog on a table or have a friend steady them. Avoid chasing the dog around to put their harness on, as this teaches them to run away when they see it.
  5. Small Steps: Take your time. If the dog is nervous, don’t plan on putting the harness on and going straight out for a walk. Let them get used to it first. Put the harness on for a few seconds, praise and reward the dog, then take it off. Put the harness on and then feed the dog, so that supper acts as a reward.
  6. Be Slick: As suggested above, practice on a soft toy first. The more confident you are, the more reassured the dog will be.
  7. Reward with a Pleasant Walk: First time out, go somewhere nice! Don’t use a new harness to visit the vet, or the dog may make unfortunate connections (unless your dog loves going to the vet of course.)

The Importance of Getting the Fit Right

Think of a dog walking harness like a pair of shoes. Badly fitting shoes rub your feet and make it uncomfortable to walk. The same for a dog and a harness. But there’s also the safety factor. A harness that’s too small, big, or doesn’t fit correctly risks the dog escaping and running free. Don’t go there…

A correctly fitting harness shouldn’t chafe or rub. Check for red, inflamed skin after each walk. Neither should it be too big or too small. A correctly fitting harness should allow you to put two fingers between the dog and the strap, but no more.

Remember, an incorrect fit risks the dog escaping.

How to Fit a Dog Harness

Just as there are specialist shoes for different activities (a mountain climber would look pretty silly in ballet pumps!), so there are different types of harness. These are broadly divided into safety restraints, dog walking harness, and activity harnesses.

Chose a Fit-for-Purpose Style

The first crucial element of fit is choosing a fit-for-purpose harness. A safety restraint isn’t going to be comfortable for Canicross, whilst a dog walking harness isn’t suitable for car travel.

Be Body Shape Savvy

Also, take into account your dog’s build and body shape. Some styles are better suited to barrel-like dogs than thin slim ones, and vice versa. Chose a style that’s sympathetic to your dog’s anatomy.

Measure…Don’t Guess

Check the product’s website to find out exactly where they want the dog measured. This is most commonly around the chest, around the base of the neck, and the length of the ribcage. But don’t take our word for it, check for your chosen style.

Make the tape snug, but not a tight fit and then make a note of the reading.

Each manufacturer should give a sizing guide, suggesting which size is most appropriate for which measurements.

If your dog is between sizes, chose the larger one and go up a size.

Check Reviews

Manufacturers don’t set out to deceive, but sometimes their sizing is ‘off’.

Check online reviews which are a valuable insight into the accuracy of sizing. This can help you decide if the measurements don’t give a clear cut answer.

Fit and Adjust

Make rough adjustments to the harness so the fit looks right on the dog. Carefully check for tugging, rubbing, or tightness, as well as places where it’s too slack.

Take the harness off the dog to make the necessary fine-tuning. This avoids tugging on the dog and pinching skin.

Safety First and Safety Last

And finally, once you’ve worked out how to put on a dog harness, check it regularly for chewed straps, damaged D-rings, or snapped stitching.

If the harness is damaged, no matter how new it is or how much you spent on it, then don’t use it. Your dog’s safety is a whole heap more valuable than any product.

The post How to Put on a Dog Harness…Even if your Dog is Wriggly! appeared first on The Doggy Dream Team Dog Blog.

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At long last your new puppy is home!

There’s nothing quite like that buzz of excitement, love, and anticipation that accompanies the patter of tiny paws.
But wait…then comes the slow dawning realization that puppies poop and pee…and aren’t fussy about where.

How to house train a puppy quickly becomes an important question to address. The problem is that ‘little messages’ left around the home, quickly become markers of a toilet spot. Puppy picks up the scent of a previous misdemeanour and is drawn back to reoffend…

My Puppy Isn’t Toilet Trained

If your puppy seems slow to catch on, it can be a worry.

Take a moment to step back and reappraise what you’re doing. There may be a simple explanation as to why things aren’t going so well. And this applies to adult dogs as well. The rules for how to house train a dog are similar to their younger counterparts.

Avoid tripping on these seven common housetraining mistakes, with our puppy training tips.

#1: Too Much Too Young

That adorable bundle of trouble is just that…he shows not the slightest inclination of toileting outside. To him, the carpet, bed, and sofa all seem fair game. Oh no! My puppy won’t toilet train.

How old is the puppy?

Under the age of 8 weeks, puppies have little bladder and bowel control. If you’ve only had the youngster a short time and things aren’t going well, it’s possible he might be younger than you think.

Likewise, just as children develop at different rates, so do puppies. Some cotton on quickly whereas others are slow developers.

It’s fair game for an 8 – 12-week old puppy to struggle with housetraining, so don’t expect too much too young.

#2: Lick and Flick Rather than a Deep Clean

The infuriating thing is the puppy knows exactly what he’s doing…but deliberately goes to the wrong spot. Instead of going outside, he’s picked a place by the TV and regularly squats there.

What’s happening here is there’s a lingering odour that draws the dog back. There are scent markers in urine and faeces that we can’t smell but the sensitive nose of a dog can. Unless you properly deep clean after each accident, there’s a risk the puppy will sniff out previous misdemeanours and return to them.

Wall to wall carpets? Consider investing in a good carpet steam-cleaner. Otherwise, restrict puppy to a room with a washable floor and used non-bleach based cleaning agents to thoroughly deodorize.

#3: Too Much Freedom

The puppy is such a live-wire that he runs from room to room and is impossible to keep track of. Unfortunately, when you thought toilet training was going swimmingly, you discover a secret stash of poop under the dining room table…

One of the golden rules of puppy toilet training is supervision at all times. Then, when you spot puppy about to squat, you whisk them up and outside onto the toilet spot.

If puppy has the range of the house, this supervision is almost impossible. So change the rules. Restrict the puppy to one or two rooms, but always the room you are in. If necessary, have pup on a collar and lead attached to your wrist. That way a tug on the arm will alert you if he starts to get up to mischief.

And for those times when you can’t physically be present, crate training is ideal. The puppy’s instinct not to soil his den kicks in, so he crosses his legs until he’s let out to play…which provides the ideal opportunity to put him onto the toilet spot.

#4: Delayed Reaction

Sometimes puppy pees in the right place, sometimes he doesn’t. What you’d really like is to focus the pup’s mind and help him understand when is the right time and place.

A make or break aspect of how to house train a puppy is timing. When you praise puppy this makes him want to repeat the action. This means actively praising him whilst he’s in the act of toileting.

Praise him a few minutes later and he won’t have a clue what it is that’s being rewarded. A top dog training tip is to mark the exact moment with an enthusiastic “Yes!” or “Good boy”, then add your cue word. For toilet training a dog a good cue word is short and sweet such as “Toilet” or “Potty”. Then give your dog a treat to make the lesson stick.

#5: Missing Golden Opportunities

You take the pup outside, but nothing happens. He doesn’t seem to need to go. This is very frustrating as you take him inside, and five minutes later he’s digging the carpet to hide his poo.

Increase the ‘hit rate’ by knowing when a puppy is most in need of the toilet. Golden opportunities to place him on the toilet spot are:

  • Immediately on waking
  • 10 – 15 minutes after eating
  • After play

In addition, set a timer on your phone, and take puppy outside every 30 minutes. Do this and you’ll stand a great chance of being there for the momentous event!

#6: Play Rather than Pee

You put the puppy outside, but all he does is play. Then when he comes indoors, the first thing he does is squat down. Help! My puppy won’t potty train.

Sadly, puppies rarely potty train themselves. You need to be there to praise the right thing. Simply putting puppy outdoors and leaving him isn’t going to work. He’s easily distracted by falling leaves or earthworms. He’ll forget all about that full bladder…until he comes back indoors.

Stay with the puppy, but don’t distract him. Then be lavish with the praise when he does go.

#7: Teaching the Wrong Lesson

The pup went to the toilet right there, you shouted and he stopped. But since then he keeps disappearing and you suspect he’s peeing in secret places.

Punish a puppy in the act of peeing, and he learns the wrong lesson. In the pup’s mind, he links punishment to you, rather than the place. Thus that puppyish mind decides that you have an irrational dislike of his bodily function. This makes him shy about performing in your presence and hinders rather than helps toilet training.

If you do catch the pup in the act, simply clap your hands to interrupt him, then scoop him up to take outside.

The Final Word goes to Medical Matters

They are rare, but some puppies do have anatomical quirks or medical problems that make toilet training difficult.

If your puppy seems unaware they are peeing (such as they wet their bed in their sleep) or is constantly squatting, this needs checking out by your vet. Where possible, collect a urine specimen for the vet to analyze. Then get your four-legger checked by a vet.

The post How to House Train a Puppy: Avoid these 7 Common Mistakes appeared first on The Doggy Dream Team Dog Blog.

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What makes the difference between a crate being a dog’s happy-place or puppy-prison?

When done well, crate training a puppy is of great benefit to both pet parent and fur-friend.
But approach things the wrong way and a crate becomes a place of punishment.

The answer lies in understanding how a dog thinks. A dog’s needs are simple: To feel safe, secure, and loved. When good things happen in the crate, it becomes a cosy nest and a dog’s go-to place for time out.

Why Crate Train?

Generations of dogs got by without crate training, so why bother now?

The short answer is that we understand dog psychology much better than in years gone by. For example, training methods have moved on from dominating dogs which makes for cowed canines, to reward-based methods that make for waggy tails.

Is Crate Training Cruel?

Think of a crate as a positive place, as a safe nest that the dog’s own space. What’s not to like about having your own cosy, comfy retreat to go when the world gets too hectic? However, things don’t always work out like this.

The dog has to want to spend time in the crate. Force the dog in or confine them for too long, and yes, inappropriate use of a crate is cruel. But this is easily avoided when you look at life with a dog’s eye view and they learn to associate the crate with nice things.

Why Crate Train?

From a dog’s perspective, a crate is their space and no-one else’s. This makes it a safe place the dog can withdraw to when life gets too busy. Much like having a den, this feeds into deep-seated instincts to feel secure if the world gets a little scary.

From a pet parent’s point of view, crate training a puppy means you are 100% certain they are safe when you’re out. There’s no worry about them chewing memory sticks or swallowing soft toys because they are curled up and comfy in their crate.

Crate training also gives you a head start in toilet training. Again, the dog’s basic instinct is not to soil their own sleeping area. In turn, this teaches puppy greater bladder control, so that when you do put them out on the toilet spot, they’re more likely to go.

Is Crate Training really Necessary?

Strictly speaking, crate training isn’t essential and it’s not for everyone.

However, it does offer an alternative to keeping a young puppy in the kitchen with the floor covered in newspaper. It’s a different way of doing things that can really work well.

Ultimately, you make the choice.

How to Crate Train a Puppy?

As a child, certain shops excited you more than others. For example, you’d be drawn to the sweet shop or toyshop, but less so about visiting the chemist. This is because sweets and toys shops are exciting, and it creates a positive memory of taste and enjoyment that makes you want more.

The same principle applies to crate training: Make the crate a place puppy wants to explore.

Try these tricks to make a crate irresistible to your puppy:

  • Make the crate super-comfy with a soft bed inside
  • Try partially covering the crate to make it secluded and den-like
  • Scatter treats in the crate and point them out to the pup
  • Hide treats in the crate for the puppy to find (Then they’ll pop back regularly to see if the treat-fairy has visited again)
  • Put a favourite toy in the crate
  • Feed puppy their meals in the crate
  • Praise the puppy whenever they go into the crate.

Once the puppy is regularly popping inside, each time they hop in add a verbal cue such as “Crate” or “Bedtime”. This is the start of your puppies good crate habits.

Now you can move onto the next steps.

This involves briefly shutting the door. A good time to start this is while your puppy is eating inside the crate. Close the door for a few seconds, praise puppy, then open the door.

Gradually increase the length of time the door is closed. Praise the pup in a happy voice when they are quiet inside because now there is both a reward with food as well as positive praise that can make your pups habit stick.

How long can you last puppy?

The aim is to extend the amount of time puppy is happy inside, without you there.

Puppy Crate Training Tips

Understand how a puppy’s mind works and you won’t go far wrong.

#1: Not Soil the Den: A puppy’s instinct is not to foul their nest. The size of the crate has a direct bearing on this. Too big a crate and puppy can use a corner as a toilet. The trick is to choose a crate that puppy can stand and lie down in comfortably, but not much larger than that.

#2: Attention is a Reward: Imagine puppy is in the crate and they cry. You immediately go over and let puppy out. The puppy thinking now goes something like this: I cry and Mum lets me out. Great! Crying gets me what I want. See where we heading with this… Golden rule: Don’t respond to whining or barking.

#3: Reward Quiet Behaviour: When a puppy is resting peacefully, there’s a natural tendency to leave them alone. After all, the expression is “Let sleeping dogs lie.” But actually, this logic is flawed. Dog’s love attention and praise is a powerful reward. A dog is more likely to repeat a behaviour if they get praised for it. In other words, do gently praise the pup when they’re resting nicely in the crate…they’ll be more likely to do this again.

Will Crate Training Help Separation Anxiety?

Some dogs become distressed when left alone. Will crate training help?

Yes and no.

In theory, providing a safe place should reassure a young dog that all is well despite their owner not being there. This can be especially useful for anxious dogs, for example, those that are fearful of fireworks. During a noisy display, having a crate to retreat to lets the dog lie-low as if in a cave, until the frightening thing goes away.

However, some puppies must never be confined to a crate. Some young dogs have such severe anxiety that they will hurt themselves trying to escape. These pups will break nails and damage teeth, as they attempt to claw and chew their way free. The best help for these dogs is a therapy with a certified animal behaviourist, to work on their underlying issue.

When Crate Training Isn’t Working

Some puppies just don’t settle in a crate. This is often down to us sending out the wrong message. The classic example is the puppy that’s let out when they bark…so they learn to bark louder and longer when they want out. This can be short-circuited early on by ignoring the dog, and only letting them out once quiet (hence, rewarding the good behaviour not the bad).

If you have any dog that’s distressed in a crate or refuses to settle, then don’t push the point. The idea is to have a happy pup, not a resentful one. If crate training plain isn’t right for your four-legger, then don’t press the point…at least you tried.

Instead, understand that successful crate training is all about making use of dog psychology and their natural need for a safe place to call their own. Get crate training right and this makes for waggy tails and happy pups.

The post The Behavioural Basics behind Successfully Crate Training a Puppy: A Pup’s Eye View appeared first on The Doggy Dream Team Dog Blog.

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Does your dog skip or have trouble walking?

From time to time does your dog skip on a back leg? Or perhaps they hop a few steps and then run perfectly fine.

A common reason for this skipping gait is a loose kneecap; or to give it the correct name, patellar luxation.

This article answers the questions:

  • What is patellar luxation in dogs?
  • What causes patellar luxation?
  • Patellar luxation grades of severity
  • Is patellar luxation painful?
  • And what’s the best patellar luxation surgery?

Of course, there’s more to lameness than wobbly kneecaps, so always get a diagnosis from your vet. But for those who already have a label of ‘patellar luxation’, but are puzzled about the implications, this is a great place to start.

What Is Patellar Luxation in Dogs?

Don’t you love it when good plain English is dressed up in fancy terms?
In this case ‘patella’ simply means kneecap, and ‘luxation’ means side-to-side movement. Hence how patellar luxation and wobbly or loose kneecaps are an interchangeable term.

Why does loose kneecap matter?

Rather than being there for ornamentation, the kneecap has a job to do. It provides a fulcrum, of pulley-point, on which the big thigh muscles pull.

When the thigh muscles contract they pull on the kneecap which is anchored on the shin-bone (tibia). This causes the leg to straighten. Thus the patella has an important role in taking steps forward.

Pulley Systems and Skipped Steps

But much like a pulley, if something slips out of place, things don’t run smoothly.

In this case, it’s the patella jumping to the left or right of centre. Then when the muscles pull it’s no longer in a straight line but off to one side. This causes the leg to lock up and makes it mechanically difficult to straighten out. Hence the skipped step.

The Short and Long of It

In the short term, a loose kneecap is often no more than a minor inconvenience. But in the long term there is the potential for problems. This depends on:

  • How much movement there is in the kneecap
  • If complications have set in, such as arthritis or cruciate disease.

Again, best check in with your vet who can assess the severity of the luxation.

What Causes Patellar Luxation?

Loose kneecaps are usually an inherited condition, rather than the result of an accident or trauma.

Is Patellar Luxation Hereditary?

Yes, there are strong breed links to this condition, which can be due to how the ‘look’ of the breed means they have short, bendy legs.

In theory, affected dogs should not be bred from. This is all well in principle, but some breeds have such bendy legs that it’s hard to find a dog that doesnt have some degree of patellar luxation.

The poster-dogs for patellar luxation are:

That said, don’t feel smug if your dog is a mix or not one of these breeds. Any dog, large or small, can have patellar luxation if their have poor knee anatomy.

A loose kneecap is a mechanical problem, down to angles and pulley systems. But for our dogs we’re not talking ropes and wooden blocks, so much as bone angles and groove depths.

The most important anatomy quirks that cause patellar luxation are:

  • A slack joint capsule that fails to hold the kneecap firmly in place
  • A shallow (rather than deep) groove for the kneecap to rest in. The lack of depth makes it easier to flip the patellar out of place.
  • A bow or twist in the thigh bone (femur), which means the muscles don’t pull straight
  • A bow or twist in the shin bone (tibia), particularly the beak of bone that the kneecap is anchored to

Any individual dog may have one, two, or all of the above issues, hence the severity of the luxation varies between dogs.

Patellar Luxation Grades of Severity
  • Grade 1: A Barely Noticeable Problem
  • Grade 2: A Hop, Skip, & a Jump
  • Grade 3: The Persistent Lameness
  • Grade 4: The Locked-up Leg

Having a loose kneecap isn’t like being pregnant. It’s NOT an all-or-nothing condition.

Some dogs have the merest hint of a niggly knee, whilst others are disabled by it.

Indeed, when a vet assesses a patellar luxation, they will ‘Grade’ or assign a level of seriousness to the condition. This better allows them to work through which dogs just need pain relief and those that need patellar luxation surgery.

Grade 1: A Barely Noticeable Problem

Your dog is fine, and you probably aren’t even aware there is an issue. This is the luxation the vet finds as part of a routine vaccination checkup. The kneecap can be gently pushed out of place by a helping hand, but isn’t inclined to do so of its own accord.

Grade 2: A Hop, Skip, & a Jump

This is the dog that skips a step when walking or running, but it doesn’t slow them up any. It might happen once in a blue moon or regularly, but aside from the odd twinge, doesn’t bother them.

Grade 3: The Persistent Lameness

This is the kneecap which naturally prefers to sit in the wrong position, but hasn’t fused there yet. Lameness and knee pain are common, and can impact on the dog’s ability to jump or get around.

Grade 4: The Locked-up Leg

This leg is permanently locked in the wrong position, and it’s really difficult to relocate the patella back to its rightful place. These dogs are often permanently lame on the leg and do require corrective surgery to keep them mobile.

Is Patellar Luxation Painful?

Anyone with a ‘clicky’ joint, appreciates an abnormal movement isn’t necessarily painful.
The same goes for patellar luxation in the dog.

In mild patellar subluxation (Grades 1 & 2) the problem is mechanical rather than painful. Much like putting a door wedge under the door, the knee is physically locked in the wrong position. That dramatic skipping, isn’t down to discomfort but due to the knee locking up.

However, if the knee repeatedly locks up, this causes inflammation. When the inflammation is severe enough, this causes knee pain. Hence, why mildly affected dogs may need pain meds from time to time.

Going back to the door analogy, if you repeatedly slam the door against the wedge, forcing it closed, eventually you damage the door. Similarly, for patellar luxation grades 3 & 4. The repeated insult leads to remodelled bone, early arthritis, and knee pain.

These guys are sore, and it places extra strain on the other legs. Surgery is the best option to get these dogs back on their paws again.

What is Patellar Luxation Surgery?

There are several techniques for surgical correction of patellar luxation. The surgeon decides which patellar luxation surgery is needed by assessing each individual dog’s issues.

Take the example of a dog with straight legs but the kneecap sits in a shallow groove. The lack of depth allows the patella to pop out of place. All that’s needed is to surgically deepen that groove and then the kneecap can sit tight.

At the other end of the scale, is a dog with severely bowed legs. The forces pulling on the patella are all over the place, so simply deepening the groove won’t cut it. These guys need complex procedures to realign part of the shin bone.

When deciding on appropriate patellar luxation surgery the options out there include:

  • Tightening the Joint Capsule: Just as tightening your belt holds your trousers up, so tightening the joint capsule keeps the kneecap in place
  • Deepening the Kneecap Groove: This gives the kneecap better footing to sit in
  • Tibial Crest Transposition: This involves breaking a beak of bone (the tibial crest) and reattaching it in a better position. The idea being to make forces on the patella pull in a straight line.
Patellar Luxation Surgery Cost

For low grade problems most first opinion vets are happy to tighten the joint capsule and deepen the kneecap groove. The procedure needs to be done under general anaesthetic and usually costs several hundred pounds.

For more complex problems referral to a specialist veterinary orthopaedic surgeon may be needed. Rebuilding the knee joint is complex and the costs can mount accordingly, into thousands of pounds. We have pet insurance guides that cover specific patellar luxation surgery cost relating to specifc breeds in more detail here.

A Hop, Skip, & a Jump: Patellar Luxation and Your Dog

If you’re suspicious your dog has patellar luxation, see your vet. They can advise you as to the best way forward.

In addition, look after the dog’s joints. You may wish to consider giving a joint supplement (chondroitin and glucosamine tablets are a good place to start) to make the knee more resilient.

And for puppy owners of breeds at risk of patellar luxation, take out pet insurance. Then if the worst does happen, you can decide what’s best based on surgical advice rather than the depth of your pocket.

Keep those tails wagging, everyone!

The post A Hop, Skip, & a Jump: Your Guide to Patellar Luxation in Dogs appeared first on The Doggy Dream Team Dog Blog.

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Why do dogs get sore paws?

Sore paws matter: They are uncomfortable and can cause a dog to limp. If your dog is lame, remember a dog will be reluctant to put weight on a sore paw.

Why does my dog have sore paws? Answer this question and you’re part way to getting your fur-friend back on their feet again.

Here are 15 common reasons dogs have sore paws:

  1. Cut pads
  2. Greyhound corns
  3. Yeast infections
  4. Mud rash
  5. Frostbite or Pavement burns
  6. Ice-balls or matts between the toes
  7. A foreign body
  8. Hyperextension injuries
  9. Cracked Pads
  10. Atopy
  11. Food allergy
  12. Chemicals on the road or pavement
  13. Parasite infections
  14. Too many pavement walks
  15. Arthritis

Poorly paws take the bounce out of Bonzo’s bungee. This article explains the common causes and how to treat sore paws in dogs.

Let’s take a deeper look at that list.

1) Cut Pads

Would you walk around in bare feet? Nope!

From sharp stones to broken glass there are hazards lying on the ground waiting to be stepped on. Unfortunately, cut pads are all too common.

What is a dog paw pad injury healing time?
The short answer is around 2 weeks, but it can be longer because of the anatomy of a paw pad.

A pad is like a cushion. It has a spongy filling, which acts as a shock absorber. And a tough, protective outer layer. That outer is made from keratin, the same stuff fingernails are made from.

Just as a broken fingernail won’t stick back together, neither does a pad. All that happens is over time the inner ‘cushion’ hardens off and stops being sore.

If your dog has a cut pad, see the vet straight away. It’s important:
a) To check for debris inside the pad
b) Flush and clean the wound
c) See if it might heal more quickly with the support of stitches
d) Assess for antibiotics
Even a nasty looking paw pad injury flap should heal OK with time, provided it doesn’t become infected.

Should I let my dog lick his cut paw? No!
Dog saliva has too many bacteria in it, for the wound to benefit from the very mild antiseptic qualities of dog lick. He’s more likely to pick up an infection than heal himself.

2) Greyhound Corns

As the name suggests, Greyhound corns are an odd breed-specific quirk. They are a common cause of sore paws in greyhounds.

The corns consist of a hard accumulation of extra keratin within the pad. Greyhound corns are painful and do cause lameness.

Sadly, there are no easy treatments that are 100% effective. Options include filing away at the corn, apply special lotions to encourage the corn to ‘shell’ away, or surgical removal.

Sadly, it’s unlikely that a Greyhound corn will disappear of its own accord.

3) Yeast Infections

Ever heard of Athlete’s Paw?

Actually, it’s not a recognized condition, but yeast infections between a dog’s toes is the canine equivalent of Athlete’s Foot in people.

The yeast responsible is Malassezia (also called pittosporum). It loves warm, damp places – such as toe webbing. It causes itchiness, and when the dog licks, this provides more moisture which means the yeast thrives.

Typical of a yeast infection is that the skin feels slightly greasy and the fur stained brown from licking.

How can I soothe my dog’s paw? Bathing the paws twice a day with a dilute chlorhexidine solution, drying well between times, may help but see a vet if in doubt.

4) Mud Rash

It’s been raining for days. The fields are a greasy soup of mud and the dog is permanently dirty. The dog starts chewing at the feet and soon there’s a sore on top of the paw.

This may be a case of mud rash.

Mud rash is more commonly associated with horses, but it exists in a slightly different form in dogs. Mud is a rich source of bacteria. When mud stays on the skin, those bacteria can invade scratches and set up infections.

What can I use on my dog’s sore paws? Keep those paws clean by rinsing and towelling dry after each walk. If things aren’t settling down, see the vet since antibiotics may be necessary.

5) Frostbite and Pavement Burns

This seasonal problem can occur more easily than you suppose. Yes, pads are tough but we also let dogs play in the snow for longer than we ought.

Initially, the paws may lack sensation and be intensely cold to the touch. The feet are very painful, then days later tissue dies back and sloughs away.

Prevention is key. Be conscious of how long the dog is outdoors. If it’s a long walk, consider protective boots. When you get inside, slowly warm the feet through with warm (not hot water.)

Likewise, in the summer months, be cautious about hot pavements. If it’s too hot to hold your hand flat on a pavement slab for 5 seconds, then it’s too hot for the dog to walk on.

6) Ice-balls or Matts Between the Toes

Sometimes a simple thing can cause a big problem.

Why has my dog got sore paws?

The physical presence of an object, such as a large matt or an ice-ball, wedged in the fur makes for a sore paw.

Be sure to check the dog’s feet daily. Keep the hair trimmed back between the toes and soak paws in warm water if ice-balls accumulate.

7) A Foreign Body

A common summer cause of sores paws are migrating grass seeds. These seeds get tangled in the fur between the toes. Their dart-like shape then pierces the skin and they migrate beneath the surface.

This causes pain and irritation, but the actual sore can be difficult to spot beneath the fur. Left untreated, the grass awn can migrate deep into the soft tissue and set up a serious infection.

Prevention is best, by checking the feet (and ears) for grass seeds after every walk. But if you miss one and a blister forms on the paw, see a vet. The dog may need to be sedated to have the grass awn removed.

8) Hyperextension Injuries

Have you accidentally bent your finger right back? It’s excruciating.

Dog’s do a similar thing with their toes when running on rough ground. If they step on a stone and it pushes the toe up, this can cause a sprain or ‘hyperextension injury’.

The dog is liable to limp on the leg. But limping can have many causes and a vet will need to localize the problem to the toes. In the meantime, just as you’d rest a sprained ankle, cut back on the dog walks and have your four-legger take things easy.

9) Cracked Pads

Pads are subjected to a lot of wear and tear. Just as people get painfully cracked and split heels, so dogs get dry, cracked pads.

How do I soothe my dog’s paws? Rest your dog initially, to take the weight off the paws. Start using a paw balm (yes, they do exist!) to moisturize and encourage repair.

10) Atopy

Sore dog paws between the toes can be a sign of atopy (an allergy to the something in the environment.)

Just as different people are allergic to different allergens, so are dogs. For some pet pals the trigger is grass sap, whilst for others it’s pollen. But the symptoms are largely the same, which is excessive itchiness and paw licking.

A giveaway clue to atopy are brown paws from saliva staining.

Atopy is a common problem but has a complex solution. Therapies include washing feet to remove allergens, to modern medications to control the itch. This is a life-long problem with the emphasis on control rather than cure.

11) Food Allergy

A dog with a food allergy may develop itchiness as one of the symptoms. Again, this leads to paw licking and those rust-coloured feet. Too much licking leads to secondary infections, which in turn leads to sore paws.

How can I soothe my dog’s paws? Key here is avoiding the food the dog is allergic to. Talk to your vet about a dietary trial and feeding a hypoallergenic diet for 8 – 12 weeks.

12) Chemicals on the Road or Pavement

The winter months are perilous for paws. If the dog escapes ice balls and frostbite, there’s exposure to road salt and other chemicals on the pavement.

How do I treat my dog’s paws? Rinse the paws off after every walk. You could also use paw balm to provide a barrier against the elements.

13) Parasite Infections

Some parasites have a preference for paws. A great example are hookworms. These worms thrive in wet, dirty environments. The dog walks on that ground, contaminating their paws with hookworm larvae. These larvae then burrow through the skin causing intense irritation.

Other parasites with a penchant for paws include ticks, harvest mites, and demodectic mange mites. If you suspect parasitism, speak to your vet since medical treatment for that specific parasite is essential.

14) Too Many Pavement Walks

Have you ever had a favourite pair of shoes resoled?

Dog pads can also wear out. From skidding to a halt on a concrete surface to heavy exercise on a hard surface, those pads can wear through.

Do dog pads heal? Yes, they do, but it takes time. Walk the dog on soft surfaces, and consider paw protector boots or bandaging their feet until things improve.

15) Arthritis

A dog may lick their toes if they ache and throb, with arthritis being a classic cause. Licking with a warm tongue soothes the joints and causes a release of natural endorphins which help the dog feel good.

The good news is there’s no need for the dog to be in discomfort. There are lots of options for safe, effective, pain relief – just speak to your vet.

Limping Dog…think ‘Sore Paw’

Limping is a sign there’s a problem, but it’s also quite a general symptom. Before panicking that your young Labrador has hip dysplasia…check their paws.

Why does my dog have sore paws?

It might be a simple cause such as a cut pad, rather than something more sinister. If the dog does have pad problems, one thing’s for sure: Work out, “Why does my dog have sore paws?” is one step closer to getting the problem sorted.

The post Why Does My Dog have Sore Paws? 15 Reasons for Sore Paws in Dogs appeared first on The Doggy Dream Team Dog Blog.

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Why dogs are designed to bark, and how to break the habit but not their spirit

Is your dog’s voice driving you barking mad?
This article is for anyone who has tried and failed to solve a dog barking problem.

  • In this article we look at:
  • The motivation behind barking
  • What dogs are saying by barking
  • How to respond and reduce barking
  • What NOT to do for a quiet life
What does dog barking mean?

When you understand why it’s a dog’s job to bark and it’s normal dog behaviour, you can respond in an empathetic way that gives the dog permission to stop.

Man’s Best Friend

Barking: We asked for it!

Dogs are man’s best friend for a reason, and we bred them that way. And part of the package of wags that made the species such a success was their useful talent for barking to raise the alarm.

Now, while barking to warn a caveman of an approaching wolf was a help, it’s not so great in our modern homes. Interestingly, gaining an insight into how dogs took their place by the hearth, gives us a powerful tool to reduce nuisance barking.

The Original Doggy Dream Team What does dog barking mean?

The primitive man stumbled into partnership with dogs. Around those early campfires was discarded food and rubbish. This made an attractive, low-risk meal for a scavenging dog. And fewer food scraps meant less vermin, so man and dog made up the dream team.

Think of the dangers to a primitive man from predatory wildlife. To be safe from attack this meant someone sitting up all night, to sound an alarm if attacked. But when dogs curled up by the fire, they could do the watching instead and raise an alert by barking.

Barking was useful as an early warning. This normal dog behaviour alerted our ancestors to visitors, foes, threats, and anything out of the ordinary. As it happened, this could potentially save lives and thus a welcome trait for any dog worth their salt.

So early man stepped right on in and bred together the dogs with the loudest voices that made the best guards. It made sense at the time. How where they to known that millenia later we’d be living piled on top of one another rather than in des-res caves?

Oh, and did you know that true wild dogs rarely bark. This is one of the differences between domestic dogs and wild ones…and goes to show the real impact living alongside man made to their evolution.

The Doggy Doorbell: Why Do Dogs Bark at the Door?

Step forward several million years to the modern day. The postman knocks, sending your dog into a barking frenzy. You shout at the dog to be quiet, but he carries on regardless. What does dog barking mean?

Why do dogs bark at the door?

To a dog’s mind, it’s their job to alert their pack to a potential threat (ie the postman). That barking started out as a message, “Hey, people, someone’s at the door, you’d better check it out.”

But when you shout back, to the dog it sounds like you’re making a ham-fisted job of joining in. So instead of being quiet, because their master is on top of the situation, dog behaviour means they feel duty-bound to carry on raising the alarm. In their mind, you’re barking too so the threat must be real. Best keep barking then. Hence a round-robin of dog barking nuisance noise.

#1: The Empathetic Way to Respond to Warning Barks

Instead, you simply have to acknowledge you heard the dog’s warning barks.

You can spot this type of barking because the dog will woof a few times and then pause (briefly) to listen.

When the dog barks, saying “Mum, Dad, check out who’s at the door. There may be a problem here,” a good response is for you to say in a firm and positive tone,
“Thanks for the warning, Fido, I hear you, I’ll take it from here.”

By letting the dog know they’ve been heard, this does two things:

  1. Let’s Fido know you heard their warning
  2. Fido now understands it’s under your control so they can stand down.

This is what the dog wants.

They want you to step up as head of the household and make a decision about whether this is dangerous or not. The dog then takes their lead from you. If you are chilled and take control, then they don’t have to be alarmed and can stop sounding the alarm.

#2: The Empathetic Way to Respond to Barking as a Greeting

But not all barking is about warning; dogs bark out of excitement or to greet one another. But again, this is annoying, especially if you’re trying to talk to the person on the other end of their doggy friend’s leash.

But once again, an understanding of how and why dogs evolved to bark, gives the key to correcting this annoying habit.

This time think back to wild dogs. It’s a disadvantage for a wild dog to be too vocal, as it can draw the attention of a predator. If a puppy barks at its playmates, the mother dog may silence it to keep the nest safely hidden.

Behaviourists observing wild dogs noticed how the mothers did this. They gently placed their jaws over the pup’s muzzle, to stop them opening their mouth. Then they gave a low warning growl as if to say, “Don’t do it.”

The mother-dogs only had to do this a few times and the pups learned to be quiet.

How do you apply this to your dog?

If your dog is mouthy in public places, first get them to sit by your heel. This may be a trial all of its own. If it is, then first beef up basic obedience training so the dog learns to listen to your commands.

With the dog sitting, simply place your palm over the top of the dog’s muzzle and push their chin down towards their chest. At the same time, is a firm deep voice say “Quiet.” Then when the dog does go silent, praise them and give a reward.

You’ll notice there’s no threat or violence used here. Just the judicious use of pressure and a firm but fair command.

But What About When…?

All very well in theory, you say, but what about when..?

Let’s apply empathetic but effective principals to two triggers that cause excessive dog barking.

#3: How to Stop a Dog Barking for Attention

The dog barks, you shout. Yeah! The dog wins, because what you just did is give the dog attention.

OK, so you tried “Thank you Fido, I’ll take this now,” but the dog is now a habitual barker.
Instead of shouting at him, which incidentally also rewards the dog with attention, try distraction strategies.

Firstly, ignoring your dog’s barking makes a limited effect because barking is hugely satisfying in its own right to a dog. Instead, try playing with their favourite squeaky toy. Pick it up and examine it (accidentally squeaking it) as if it’s the most interesting object on the earth.

The dog will quickly realize they’re missing out on fun, and redirect attention to the toy. Only once they’re quiet, toss the toy and engage him in a game. Hey presto, they’re not barking anymore

Over time you can add in a cue word such as “Peace”, which you say when you pick up the toy. The dog soon learns to link the word to a game, and stop barking as soon as you say “Peace.”

#4: How to Stop a Dog Barking at Visitors

To stop a dog barking at visitors takes quite a bit of work, but can be done. There are lots of different tactics, but all of which rely on diverting the dog’s attention.

Be prepared to put in plenty of groundwork first, and ask a friend to help by being a stooge visitor.

Useful strategies include:

  • Training the dog to go and sit on a specific spot. Having an activity to do, such as going to a mat and sitting, as this distracts the dog from barking.
  • Training the dog to pick up a toy the moment they hear the doorbell. This one is especially sneaky as it’s more difficult to bark when holding an object in their mouth.
  • Put the dog in a separate room away from the door, when guests are due.
#5: What NOT to Do

Just be careful about accidentally rewarding dog barking.

Think about this example and what happens in the dog’s mind:
The dog barks madly at the door. You give the dog a chew stick to shut them up. This works like a charm because their mouth is occupied….But the next time someone comes to the door, the barking is even louder than before.

The dog quickly learns that barking is rewarded by a chew stick. What’s not to like! Any excuse to burst into voice and they’ll woof away in the expectation of getting a treat. Uh-oh! Don’t fall for this one!

The Language of Dog Barking

So here we are, dog behaviour and our part in their barking bad habits. Dog barking is a natural behaviour that evolved alongside people’s need for safety. Only now it doesn’t have to be that way. You can empathetically but effectively put an end to nuisance dog barking but without your dog feeling any less canine for it. Woofs to that!

The post How to Stop Dogs Barking in 5 Empathetic but Effective Ways appeared first on The Doggy Dream Team Dog Blog.

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