2:18 pm October 21, 2021

Tips to Make Halloween Less Spooky for Your Dog

Posted by Bark to Basics

While ghosts and goblins may be your thing many dogs find all the ghoulish decor and costumes of Halloween a bit frightening! I can only imagine what they must be thinking… For a month of the year the whole world looks different and there are sketchy characters lurking everywhere! It’s their job to let you know when something is not right and most of them believe body parts dangling from trees firmly falls into the “wrong” category. Try these tips to help your dog cope with this spooky day:

– While walking your dog around the neighborhood encourage them to investigate new decor by letting them give a sniff. Treats work wonders to get reward them for getting close to something they think they should avoid! After the initial exploration many dogs calm down. If you pup is still worked up spend a few minutes near the “scary” items (but still far enough away that they feel comfortable) while feeding their favorite treats to create a positive association.

– If you dog will be exposed to people in costumes start by acclimating them to your family in theirs. Keep interactions with you in costume positive by giving treats, attention and playtime while donning your masks.

– Refresh your dog on the leave it command (show a treat, say leave it and reward when your dog doesn’t touch the item and backs away). This will come in handy if your pup outside during trick or treating (think candy on the sidewalk).

– For dogs who will be sporting costumes of their own acclimate them at home first. Remember to keep the experience positive with lots of treats!

– When selecting costumes for your dog  look for those that do not cover her face or eyes. If your dog is less than thrilled about being dressed up let him go as himself this year!

– If you dog will be greeting trick or treaters keep a baby gate across the front door to keep your dog and those at the door safe! Reward good door greeting behavior such as sitting calmly. If ghouls and goblins make your pup nervous, keep them in another room during fright night, and be sure to practice spending time in the space (with a bone or chew to occupy them) before the time comes.

– Last but not least, make sure candy is well out of reach. Chocolate and certain kinds of sweeteners are toxic to your pooch!

8:42 am June 24, 2020

Separation Anxiety in the Time of Staying At Home

Posted by Bark to Basics

As our lives gradually return to normal our pups, who have in many cases had the pleasure of a lot of extra quality time with their humans, may start to experience some anxiety. Follow these tips to prevent or treat separation anxiety:

  • If your dog has been noticeably clingy, (think spending the entire day on your lap while you binge on Netflix) start by practicing some social distancing with your pup! Shoot for not physically interacting with your dog 50% of the time you are together.
  • Start by practicing short periods of separation. Give your dog a high value reward (one that she will get only when you are practicing or leaving the house) like a special chew or peanut butter stuffed and frozen Kong in the area she will be left when you leave the house down the road (crate, loose or gated in one specific area).
  • Go about your business doing chores or working nearby while your dog is busy enjoying his treat, first starting in the same room as him.
  • As she relaxes start to leave the room briefly (if your dog is very distressed you can start with just walking out of the room and right back in), while she works on her high value treat.
  • Increase the time you’re out of the room gradually, increasing only as quickly as your dog can tolerate without getting stressed. If you see him abandon his chew to come find you, start to whine, etc you are going too fast and need to go back to the last time duration your dog was successful.
  • Finally, you can work up to leaving the house for short periods of time, starting with just picking up your keys and walking to the door. Gradually increase your time away as your dog remains calm.
  • The speed at which you can progress through these steps depends on your dog and her anxiety level.
  • Training tip – exercise is vital to helping dogs with separation anxiety. Take your dog for a long walk or run before you leave the house. A tired dog is a more relaxed one! 

If your dog is experiencing separation anxiety and you need more one-on-one coaching the team at Bark to Basics is here to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!



1:30 pm May 29, 2020

Bark to Basics Summer Newsletter

Posted by Bark to Basics

Meet Your Breed, Frozen Pup Treats, Heatstroke and More

11:59 am April 28, 2020

Puppy Socialization During Social Distancing

Posted by Bark to Basics

Socialization is critical during puppy hood in order for our pups to grow up to be happy, well-adjusted adults. The critical socialization period is between 3 weeks and 3 months, during which time puppies are like little sponges, taking in what in the world around them is safe versus unsafe. It is absolutely essential that your puppy interact with new things, places, animals and people during this time in order for them to avoid developing fear issues (which can often lead to aggression) down the road. 
With humans being forced to socially distance what does a responsible puppy owner do? Check out the tips below.

– Recruit friends, family and neighbors to help socialize your pup at the recommended distance. Using a standard leash the humans can remain 6 feet apart while your pup explores and interacts with the new human or dog 

– Take your puppy to places you (and they) are allowed to go to watch the world go by at a distance. Try a pet store, set up a blanket or on a bench in the park in areas this is allowed (be sure to consult your vet on where you pup is with her shots before allowing her to sniff grassy areas other dogs frequent). Bring your pup a favorite chew and blanket so she associates new experiences with good things.

– Plan car rides to new places and hang out in the parking lot in your car so he can see a variety of new people, experience new noises etc. 

– Introduce your puppy to novel objects at home. Think skateboards, balloons, loud noises (the vacuum, pots and pans clanking together, power tools), rolling suitcases, humans wearing hats, glasses and backpacks etc. Start with these items at a distance if your pup is wary and reward with meals, favorite treats and toys to create a positive association.

Remember to never force your puppy to interact with things she is wary of (this could make the problem worse). Instead be patient and keep it positive! 

Struggling with socializing your puppy during these tough times? We can help! Bark to Basics offers drop in training where we can pick up your pup in a safe manner and take him out into the world. Contact us today for details! 

12:52 am December 19, 2019

Ask the Trainer, Dog and Cat Acclimation and Happy Pet Tips!

Posted by Bark to Basics

Check Out the Winter Newsletter


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