You have to pick and choose what dog training advice, tips and “style” to use for your own dog. Don’t listen to me or anyone else.
With my own dogs (a senior Lab mix and a young weimaraner), I tend to gently guide them to do what I want, praise them and give firm corrections occasionally when they don’t do what’s expected.
My focus is on structured exercise, calm and positive leadership, consistency and clear rules so they know what’s expected.
We have never allowed Remy the weim on the couch, for example. Not once, not even as a tiny puppy. Because of this, hopping on the couch is simply not on his radar. Clear, consistent rules make a big difference.
Still, Remy is a big challenge for me, constantly seeing what he can get away with.
My two dogs are very different, and I’m not training or raising Remy in the exact same way I raised my senior dog Ace.
So I wanted to share some of the common training tips – ideas I would normally use and recommend – that I threw out the window when I got Remy.
Let me know if you can relate to any of this! Which tips do you normally use or ignore? And has your dog challenged you to train differently than you’re used to?
Dog training advice I threw out the window when I got my weimaraner
1. Make your dog work for his food. Feed him as a reward.
Great advice. I say this all the time. It’s actually something nearly all dog trainers would agree on!
However, my weimaraner is so food obsessed that in the morning he’s drooling and shaking and moaning in his kennel for his food.
Frankly, it’s just easier to feed him immediately and get that stress behind us.
Yep, I feed The Prince and then we go for a walk.
For the longest time, I fought this and made Remy “work” for his food by walking him and then feeding him.
This just ended in frustration for both of us.
All Remy could think about on our walk was getting back home to eat. Our walks were not fun. He pulled like a train. He could not focus on me or on anything. I lost my temper every morning, and it was not a good way to start the day.
So, I feed the freaking dog immediately.
Our walks are much more relaxing this way.
You do what works.
2. Cradle your puppy until he stops squirming.
When I first got my puppy, people told me it was important to “cradle” him on his back and only let him go when he’s calm and stops squirming.
This is especially important with a powerful breed like a weimaraner, they said. Not necessarily to be “alpha” but to encourage the valuable skill for a puppy to accept being restrained and to feel comfortable and relaxed being held. I think this advice is generally great!
However … this DID NOT work for Remy!
Even at 8 weeks, he would absolutely not “surrender” to being cradled. He would squirm and kick and bite and as time went on he would become more and more aggressive.
I held him for 45 minutes one time, trying to sooth him and calm him while remaining as relaxed as I possibly could.
He was mad with energy! It was more of a wrestling match than a bonding experience. I was determined not to let go until he calmed down. Well, let’s just say he never calmed down. I had scratches and bite marks on my arms and legs and stomach.
He and I are both stubborn. Apparently him more than me.
So I stopped doing this ridiculous exercise.
3. Positive reinforcement training is best. Science tells us so.
Yes. By all means, stick with positive reinforcement as much as you can.
This means reinforcing the behavior you like by rewarding your dog with food, toys or access to whatever he enjoys. Research says this is the best way for a dog to learn a behavior.
I use a lot of positive reinforcement with Remy, but not 100%.
My dog is very … “willful” and frankly, sometimes I just need to be a Mother Bear and give him a firm “NO.”
I have to say, I’ve even bopped him on the nose a few times for nipping me or jumping on me. It’s not something I’m comfortable recommending, but you know what? It gets the point across.
My dog is not sensitive. He’s strong, fearless, wild and just plain rude at times. My older dog Ace snarls at Remy to communicate, “STOP.” My cats smack Remy in the face to politely as possible tell him to “Fuck off.”
Sometimes when I see my dog is about to jump on me, I step forward and hip-check him.
Yes, positive reinforcement works and we should all use it, but maybe not every second of the day.
4. Don’t use a choke or prong collar. They’re outdated.
I highly recommend a Gentle Leader for walking (fits over the dog’s muzzle) or a no-pull harness that clips in the front. I have both and use them as much as possible. These limit the pulling for most dogs (even Remy!) and are less likely to cause injuries compared to any collar around a dog’s neck.
However, I use a prong collar for walking Remy about 80% of the time. (This doesn’t mean YOU should. It’s just what works for us.)
I’d prefer to use a Gentle Leader, but Remy holds his breath, puts his head low and pulls like a train. He also paws at it, which causes other dogs to react to us.
I’d also prefer to use a no-pull harness, but when he wears it he “hops” on his hind legs when we pass other dogs. Obviously not ideal in an urban setting. He makes other dogs too excited. It’s embarrassing, and it’s not responsible on my part.
The prong collar allows me to take my dog just about anywhere and keep him calm and under control. He can pass people without jumping on them. We can take him to breweries and coffee shops. I can take my dog out into the world to tire him out mentally and physically and keep on socializing him.
Yes, I’d love to transition to a martingale collar or the Gentle Leader. But for now, the prong collar it is.
See my post: Gentle Leader vs. prong collar
5. Use treats often for rewards.
Treats are a great training tool. I use them occasionally and absolutely recommend you use treats for your dog. I recommend Zukes minis.
However, food tends to make Remy extra nutty. He’s generally better behaved, more focused and just all-around a nicer dog when we train with minimal treats and toys. I keep some treats in my pocket, but he only gets them when he’s relaxed (not mouthing my hands, jumping, fixating or trembling with excitement).
An occasional treat is good.
Other than that, my dog has an easier time focusing and learning when I use calm, verbal praise like “gooooood booooy.”
So you can see, general dog training advice is good, but you really need to consider your individual dog and pick and choose what works for you.
Don’t worry what others tell you is “right.” It might be right for their dog, but not necessarily yours.
That goes for everything I say on my blog too.
Every dog is different.
Every environment is different.
Every owner is different.
What dog training advice have you generally used or ignored?
Free Shipping on Balanced Blends Raw Pet Food Thru March 14
This post is sponsored by Balanced Blends.
Happy Valentine’s Day! I wanted to share this special with you!
Balanced Blends is offering FREE shipping storewide now through March 14 (minimum order 10lbs). Click here.
The company makes balanced, frozen raw diets for dogs and cats and delivers right to your door.
A great deal on raw
There are two ways you can get a great deal on food from Balanced Blends.
First, the company is offering Free shipping storewide now through March 14. (Minimum order 10 pounds.)
Or, if 10 pounds is too much, you can try a smaller, 2-pound “Starter Pack.” These are just $12 and shipping is free when you use code STARTERPACK. Click here.
Why feed raw?
You might be thinking, Why raw?
Simply, because real, fresh food is healthier for dogs and cats and a healthier diet will improve their quality of life. A raw diet contains more nutrients than cooked food, and dogs and cats are naturally designed for eating raw meat.
If you give raw feeding a try, you’ll see some of the benefits for yourself!
5 reasons to give raw feeding a try for 30 days
If you’ve ever considered switching your dog to a raw diet, an easy way to go about it is to commit to feeding raw for just 30 days and see how it goes. Just mentally create your own 30-day trial.
When I switched my Lab mix Ace to a raw diet in 2011, I committed to a 90-day raw feeding trial. I said I was going to feed my dog raw for just three months, and after that I could go back to feeding cooked food if I wanted. (Turns out, I prefer to feed him raw but I have switched back and forth a few times to save money.)
Here are some reasons to consider feeding your dog raw for 30 days as a test:
1. A 30-day trial is less overwhelming.
A lot of dog owners are interested in feeding their dogs a healthier diet but they feel overwhelmed about the cost and whether or not they should make the food themselves (vs. buying pre-prepared raw food from a company).
Looking at it as a 30-day trial is far less overwhelming. After 30 days you will see the health benefits from the healthier diet and that will help you decide if the trial was worth it. (More on that below.) If not, that’s OK too!
Tip: It’s MUCH easier to start feeding your dog pre-made raw food from a company vs. putting the meals together yourself. That way you don’t have to worry about the meals being balanced, there’s no planning involved and there’s no worry about bacteria. You can always switch to homemade raw once you’re more comfortable (or some sort of combination).
2. A raw diet is healthier for most pets.
I believe a balanced raw diet is the healthiest way to eat for most dogs and cats, and you can see the benefits for yourself if you try it for just 30 days.
Some of the health benefits of a raw diet for pets include reduced allergies (many pets have allergies to the grains and other ingredients in kibble) and improved digestion since raw food is more natural. When you feed your pet a raw diet, some of the first changes you will notice include healthier teeth and gums, healthier looking skin and coat and less poop!
Other raw feeders also report seeing their older dogs and cats have increased energy and an easier time maintaining a healthy weight.
3. Committing raw food in your budget for 30 days is not so bad.
Cost is the main barrier I hear about for switching to a raw diet, but when you commit to just one month of raw feeding, you can plan it in your budget and then decide if it’s something you’re able to continue long term.
If you have a hard time affording raw food (the case for many people), consider feeding raw once a week or one meal a day or whatever works with your budget. Make it your goal to feed the healthiest food you can afford.
Also remember that a healthier pet means fewer visits to the vet in general and fewer vet bills. No, you can’t control everything but what our pets eat does play a major role in health and quality of life.
4. You can always go back to feeding cooked food.
It’s OK if you decide raw feeding is just not for you. That’s what a 30-day trial is for!
You can always go back to feeding homecooked or dry dog food. For me, it was much less overwhelming focusing on a short-term trial and then deciding what to do based on how that went.
I decided raw feeding is the way to go, and I think you will too. (I do mix it up with homemade raw, commercial raw and also dry dog food.)
5. Learn as you go.
Pet owners will tell me they are interested in feeding raw but they don’t know enough about it or they need to do more research first. I see that as an excuse! (I know, because I did the same thing.)
Yes, of course it’s good to do some research before changing anything in your dog’s diet. However, you don’t have to spend weeks or months or years preparing. Start with a few articles on my blog and check out the info at Balanced Blends. Most people make raw feeding much more complicated than it needs to be.
We’re all still learning and trying different recipes with our dogs. That’s OK!
Take advantage of specials!
If you decide to give raw feeding a try, now is a good time to take advantage of the special offer through Balanced Blends.
You can get FREE shipping on all orders through March 14 (minimum order of 10 pounds).
Order Balanced Blends with free shipping here.
Or, consider one of the Starter Packs where you get 2 pounds of raw food for $12 and free shipping using code STARTERPACK. Order Here.
I hope this helps you give raw feeding a try for a month, and I’d really love to hear how it goes!
Do you have questions about raw feeding or the special I mentioned?
Just let me know in the comments and I’ll get your questions answered.
We’re celebrating 9 years of blogging at That Mutt about dog training, dog behavior, exercise and everything DOGS!
That’s more than 1,600 blog posts, over 1 million words published and more than 29,000 comments from you!
To thank our readers for sticking around the blog, we want to send you a FREE “Mutt on Board” window sticker. Yep, we designed a NEW sticker specifically around Mutts!
Click here to claim your FREE sticker!
The free Mutt on Board stickers are 5″ x 5″ vinyl and can stick on a car, window, notebook, dog kennel or anywhere else. (They peel off really easily so they’re safe to put on a car, window or other smooth surface.)
We partnered up with Mighty Paw to have these made just for you. The stickers are totally unique, you can only get them here. These are limited, and we have a few hundred left (once we run out, we run out).
Just click the link below to get YOURS and we’ll drop one in the mail for you this week!
Thanks for following That Mutt. It means a lot to us!
-Lindsay, Ace & Remy
K9 Nature Supplements is a company that makes natural supplements for dogs with mostly human grade and organic ingredients.
My senior Lab mix Ace got to try the company’s Hip & Joint Revita Chews to potentially help his sore joints, and we have a chance for your dog to try them too!
This post is sponsored by K9 Nature Supplements.
Leave a comment below for a chance to win a combo pack of Hip & Joint Revita Chews and Nature’s Aches Away for your dog. (3 winners!) Click here.
K9 Nature Supplements Review
My thoughts on the Hip & Joint Revita Chews:
My dog Ace has been taking the Hip & Joint Revita Chews for about three weeks. He is an almost 11-year-old black Lab mix and the joints in his back legs are sore and stiff. He does take Carprofen (Rimadyl) every day for managing the pain, and his vet always recommends glucosamine and fish oil supplements as well.
The Hip & Joint Revita Chews from K9 Nature Supplements contain glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids. I believe these ingredients are beneficial to my aging dog. However, I am not able to observe a dramatic difference in how he feels after taking the chews since he is already taking a pain relief medication. He does love the taste and had no trouble taking the chews!
K9 Nature Supplements also suggested Ace could take their natural pain relief product called Nature’s Aches Away along with the hip & joint chews. However, Aches Away would need to be used without Rimadyl, so we chose not to take him off his prescription medication.
There are potential side effects to Rimadyl, so if you’re looking for a more natural option for pain relief, you could look into the Nature’s Aches Away for your dog. The active ingredients in the Aches Away are fish oil, cat’s claw root extract and willow bark extract. (Cats claw is a plant material traditionally used for treating arthritis and more.)
What is the cost?
The Hip & Joint Revita Chews come in jars of 60 chewable tablets for $26.99 and the Nature’s Aches Away comes in jars of 55 soft chews for $26.99.
Get an additional 20% off on K9 Nature Supplements with FREE shipping with code THATMUTT20 Click here.
60 chews will last my 70-pound dog 60 days because he takes one per day. Smaller dogs will only need half a tablet per day and dogs larger than Ace will need 2 tablets.
(Code good for one use per customer)
What’s unique about the product?
K9 Nature Supplements was created by scientists who have a passion for natural and holistic health for dogs, according to its website. The company’s supplements are all natural and mostly organic. Of course, there is a time and place for pharmaceuticals, but K9 Nature Supplements is an advocate for holistic and natural healing whenever possible.
K9 Nature Supplements says it only markets products that they themselves would give to their own dogs, ensuring the highest quality, safety and key benefits of each ingredient.
Its supplements are reasonably priced and all orders shipped in the U.S. come with FREE shipping if ordered from their website.
Pros of the Hip & Joint Revita chews:
- Made in the USA with natural ingredients
- Could reduce or eliminate your dog’s need for NSAIDs like Rimadyl
- Contains 375mg glucosamine & 200mg chondroitin per tablet
- Glucosamine helps repair damaged joints
- My dog loves the chewable tablets. He thinks they’re treats!
- One jar lasts my 70-pound dog 60 days
- Works as a preventative for healthy dogs
- Contains fish oil for healthier skin & coat health + heart health
- Free shipping in the U.S.
- Some dogs have allergies to shellfish. Glucosamine, one of the key ingredients, is derived from shellfish. The company recommends Nature’s Aches Away (vs. the Revita chews) for dogs that have sensitives or known allergies to joint supplements.
- There are other brands that offer higher amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin per dose. However, K9 Nature Supplements said it uses a minimalist approach where each ingredient is scientifically researched to determine the lowest dose that will work in a dog’s body. That way, your dog is not getting too much of any of the ingredients. (If you’re wondering what the best dose is for your dog, it’s always best to consult with a vet.)
Would I buy this product?
Yes, I would buy about three month’s worth of the Hip & Joint chews to try as a longer term trial to see if it helps my senior dog. I believe in the benefits of glucosamine for people and dogs, and I like that this product has limited ingredients since my dog has a lot of allergies.
Would I recommend the product to others?
Yes, if your dog is having joint pain or stiffness or if she is prone to joint problems due to her breed, I would recommend trying this for 60 days to see if you notice a difference. It would also be a good question to ask your vet (but be prepared for your vet to try to sell you whatever glucosamine brand she carries).
Younger dogs can also take the supplement as a preventative.
Use code THATMUTT20 for 20% off your order and FREE shipping. CLICK HERE.
Giveaway – Win a combo pack for your dog!
K9 Nature Supplements is giving away a combo pack of its Hip & Joint Revita Chews and the Nature’s Aches Away to THREE lucky winners in the U.S.
Just leave a comment below so I know your dog wants IN on the drawing! Must have a U.S. mailing address to win.
Three winners will be chosen randomly on Friday Feb. 17 and announced in Sunday’s email digest. Sign up for That Mutt’s emails HERE.
Note: Everyone signed up for the $7 level or higher on That Mutt’s Patreon page is automatically entered into ALL giveaways. Sign up HERE.
Would your dog like to try these supplements?
Let me know in the comments!
What has your dog stepped in lately?
Have you ever tried to wipe up mud or water from your dog using a standard towel? A towel can barely even soak up water. So frustrating sometimes!
The Spotless Paw is a paw cleaning glove made of super absorbent microfiber. The company says the glove can absorb 600% of its weight in water and dirt and after using the glove I believe it!
I would even recommend keeping a glove in your car to wipe paws after dog hikes or trips to the beach/lake.
This review is sponsored by Spotless Paw. Use code THATMUTT17 for 20% off a Spotless Paw & free shipping. Click here.
Spotless Paw review and coupon code
My thoughts on the Spotless Paw:
The Spotless Paw is a six-fingered paw cleaning glove (so you can wear it on either hand) made with microfiber and perfect for wiping wet, muddy paws. The fact that it’s a glove makes it easy to gently clean between a dog’s toes and under the nails.
This winter has been especially rainy for us here in San Diego (I know, so rough, right?), so we’ve had lots of opportunities to put the Spotless Paw glove to use in our doorway and quickly wipe the dogs’ paws.
I have a 70-pound black Lab mix (who seems to attract dirt) and a 55-pound weimaraner. We’re out for potty breaks 4 times per day (per dog) plus at least two real walks every single day rain or shine. We’re from North Dakota so we’re not afraid of the “elements.”
My husband and I love taking our dogs to the local trails (shared with horses and mountain bikers) which can be super muddy this time of year so the Spotless Paw is a nice product to keep in the car. Also, when it’s dry and dusty around here (in the summer), the Spotless Paw glove will be used for “dusting” and wiping the dirt off our dogs after a hike.
What is the cost of a glove?
Use code THATMUTT17 for 20% off (normally $24.95) and FREE shipping on the Spotless Paw. Click here.
What’s unique about the product?
The Spotless Paw glove is made from the highest-quality microfiber material so it can hold 600% of its weight in dirt and water, according to the company. The glove’s fabric creates microscopic “hooks” that attract and hold dirt, water, mud and grime like a magnet.
Obviously the product’s main purpose is to reduce the filth tracked into your home or car! But it can also work for:
- Drying a dog’s coat after a walk in the rain.
- Drying a dog after a bath. It absorbs a TON of water and dries quickly.
- Wiping the inside of your car.
- Wiping up drool (Ace!) or spilled water around a bowl (Remy!)
- Drying the water/mud “sprayed” onto the floor and walls when a dog decides to shake off.
- Wiping/drying camping gear.
Another note: My wiggly young weimaraner likes to bite at towels and at my hands (very annoying!), so using a glove to wipe his paws is so much easier than a towel! Paw cleaning doesn’t turn into an aggressive game of tug! I also know some dogs try to run away when they see a towel, but a glove might not seem so “bad” to them.
I also want to mention the company offers top customer service. I’ve spoken with the owner Scott over the phone and he will quickly answer any questions you have.
Pros of the Spotless Paw:
- Microfiber material absorbs mud and water really well
- Safe to put in the washer and dryer (don’t use fabric softener though)
- The six fingers of the glove help you clean between your dog’s toes and around the nails
- Comes with a handle so it can hang on a doorknob or hook
- Dries quickly
- Works for dogs of all sizes and breeds
- Can be used on other pets too like horses or cats
- It’s light in color so looks dirty right away. I’d prefer a darker color.
- If you have multiple dogs or if you plan on using this every day it would be handy to have two or three gloves. At least one per hand!
Would I buy this product?
Yes. It’s a great product and does its job well. Order here.
As a dog walker, I often struggled with how to quickly and effectively clean a dog’s paws after a rainy walk. The Spotless Paw works so much better than a towel, and it also works for quickly wiping up the “sprayed” water on the floor and walls from a dog shaking off.
You could even use the glove for wiping the inside of your car.
Would I recommend the glove to others?
Yes. It’s a high-quality product that does what it’s meant to do.
Do you hike with your dog? Camp with your dog? Walk him every day rain or shine? Absolutely, this is a great product I would recommend, especially if you live in areas with mud, rain or snow.
And like I said above, I would also recommend this for dog walkers and pet sitters because you need a way to clean your clients’ dogs. The Spotless Paw is small and easy to stuff in a bag or keep in your car.
Spotless Paw coupon code
Spotless Paw has created a unique coupon code for readers of That Mutt. Use code THATMUTT17 for 20% off a Spotless Paw glove and FREE shipping. Click here.
Which one of your pets could use a Spotless Paw glove?
Let us know in the comments!
If you order a glove, share a picture of your dog using hashtag #spotlesspaw and also let us know if you have any questions about the product. We’ll get them answered for you!
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