Jun 27

Noise Sensitivity Protocol

Posted by Bark to Basics

Thunder and fireworks and motorcycles, oh my! Is your dog nervous about noises? Help them restore their confidence.

Desensitize and counter condition

  • Have high value treats ready.
  • Start by making a noise that your dog is afraid of, but at a very quiet level and immediately reward your dog. You can readily find audio of sounds like thunder and fireworks online.
  • As she is calm with the low level noise gradually make the sound louder, stopping if she won’t eat or starts to panic, and going back to a softer sound.
  • Make it a priority to expose puppies to new sights and sounds while young. This will decrease the chance of him developing a fear down the road


  • If you can’t avoid the noise (think thunderstorms and fireworks) be sure your dog has a safe place like a crate or small room he can escape to if needed.
  • Use the radio or TV to drown out the noise
  • Provide a high value, long lasting treat (stuffed Kong, favorite chew) to occupy him
  • Try a wrap/shirt or natural supplements that are specifically designed to calm your dog
  • If she is extremely stressed discuss medication with your vet
Jun 1

The Rules of Tug

Posted by Bark to Basics

Unsure owners often ask me if it is OK to play tug with their dogs. Will it lead to behavior problems? Teach the pup to be aggressive?

Done correctly, tug is a fun and appropriate way to interact with your dog, and can burn energy, increase your bond and be used as a reward for a command well done.

So go ahead, enjoy a tug session with your dog, just follow these rules!

  • Rule 1 – You initiate the game and you keep the toy. Your tug toy should be long to discourage grabbing close to hands (see rule #2), brought out for tug sessions and put away when the game is over. You keeping custody of the toy is especially important for pushy dogs who may not want the game to end!
  • Rule 2 – If your dog grabs your skin or clothes (even by accident) the game ends. Take the toy and walk away. You can try again after a few minutes.
  • Rule 3 – Teach your dog to drop it. Tug should only be played in a controlled manner. Frequently during the game stop pulling and ask your dog to drop it (you can show him a treat at first until he gets the idea). When he lets go ask him to sit or down, and restart the tug session as a reward when he complies. If you dog gets out of control or begins to jump on you or grab at the toy before you have offered it end the game temporarily.

*A note on growling. Growling is a normal part of play but sometimes can be difficult to interpret. If you dog begins to growl during a tug session take his overall body language into account. Is he happy and bouncy, with a relaxed body? He’s just having fun.



Apr 21

Do you hear the Jaws theme song when you see your puppy? Learn how to stop play biting!

Posted by Bark to Basics

Stopping Puppy Play Biting 

Puppies use their mouths as a way to explore their environments. Puppy biting typically occurs out of boredom and curiosity, as well as wanting to play.

  • When your puppy bites say ouch in a high pitched voice and redirect them to a toy or chew
  • Use bitter apple on hands, shoes etc to deter your puppy from biting
  • If you are playing with your puppy and they bite you and you are unable to redirect them to a toy or chew end the game and walk away
  • If your puppy continues to bite put him in time out (a leash tied to a heavy piece of furniture or in a small room away from the family)
  • Make sure to provide your puppy with appropriate chews such as antlers and bully sticks
  • Teach your puppy leave it so you are able to communicate when they have an inappropriate object in their mouth
  • Use long toys to play with your puppy rather than your hands. Your puppy’s teeth should not be on human skin or clothing as part of a game!

Note – Puppy play biting is normal, but aggression is not! If your puppy is aggressive over food or toys, handling or when restrained contact Melissa!

Mar 23

The Spring Newsletter is Here!

Posted by Bark to Basics

The Importance of Exercise, Ask the Trainer and More!

Check It Out Now!

Jan 16

Breed Face Off, Ask the Trainer & More!

Posted by Bark to Basics

Check Out the Full Winter Newsletter Now! 


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