Tips from Trainers

The Graduate Association and The National K-9 School for Dog Trainers encourage the free exchange of ideas and opinions. However, the opinions are those of the trainer credited with writing the tips and do not necessarily represent the opinions or positions of the Association or the School.

Demo Dog

Tips: Does the trainer offer to provide a demonstration with a trained dog? Don’t just take the trainer’s word for it, have them show you. A qualified trainer should not hesitate to provide you with an opportunity to view his or her own personal dog or a dog they have trained. This will give you an accurate assessment of how the trainer defines a “well trained” dog. Does the dog respond reliably to the trainer? Do the commands or tasks appear useful to your situation? How do the trainer and the dog interact? Does the dog appear to be happy? You may want to avoid working with a trainer that will not offer you a demonstration or makes excuses for their dog. A trainer’s dog is often an accurate reflection of the trainer’s abilities.


Tips: Rawhides pose potential health risks. Rawhide can cause either vomiting or diarrhea from the many pieces still sitting undigested in the GI tract. Swallowing large pieces can lodge in the throat and cause choking. Large pieces can also scrap and irritate the throat and esophagus. Once in the stomach or intestinal tract, rawhide may create a physical obstruction. Some rawhide may create a risk of Salmonella or have an arsenic-based preservative.

Puppy Preschool

Tips: Puppy training begins the moment you bring your new puppy home. Contact a trainer or your vet. about a puppy preschool program that can assist you in raising a well mannered family pet. Puppy preschools are designed to teach owners to better understand their puppy’s needs, establish effective communication, curb behavior problems, and to show owners how to properly socialize their new puppy. Training can start as early as 7 weeks old.

Pre-Training Evaluation

Tips: Your dog’s training should be based on its individual personality, past and present behavior, aptitude for learning, breed characteristics, social development, and most importantly your family’s goals. Not each dog can fit into a singular “method” of training and therefore it is important to find a trainer that has the ability to modify your dog’s training based on your dog and your goals. Your dog’s training should be designed to teach your dog useful obedience commands, good manners, and acceptable behavior patterns. Your dog’s training would not be complete without you, the owner, learning how to properly handle and effectively communicate with your dog.

Service Dog

Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.

Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general’s office.

Puppy Handling

Tips: It’s important to have your puppy become accustom to being handled by people from the day he comes home. This will greatly influence his grooming routine and help with grooming & veterinarian visits. He must accept being handled on all parts of the body. A massage is a good way to train your puppy to be touched. Be sure to praise your puppy when cooperating. Keep initial massage sessions short, but don't end sessions when the puppy squirms or protests. Unfortunately, many owners stop at the first protest. You should continue handling otherwise your puppy will learn that struggling will get him his way. It's important that you, the owner, decide when to end the handling. Consult with a NK9DTA trainer for more guidence.

Pet Emergencies

Tips: We all hope that your dog is never confronted with a serious injury or emergency health problem. Unfortunately the unexpected can occur at any time. The most important thing in any emergency situation is to stay calm. Our dogs get their cues from us. If we are calm in an emergency our dogs may react in a better manner. You should also post your veterinarian’s phone number with all of your other emergency numbers. List your veterinarian’s number in your cellular phone. Be familiar with your veterinarian’s procedures in the event of an emergency and if an emergency were to happen after business hours. Determine if there are emergency animal care facilities in your area.

Crate Training

Tips: Crate training is the easiest way to prevent misbehavior such as inappropriate chewing or housebreaking accidents with your new puppy. These "playpens" prevent a puppy from hurting himself or getting into trouble when you are away or cannot supervise. Do not use your puppy's crate for discipline or punishment. Feed your puppy in the crate to allow a positive association to form. Never leave your puppy in the crate wearing any type of collar and remove potentially harmful objects. Consult with a NK9DTA trainer for more guidance.

Explosive Detection Dog

Tips: Bomb-sniffing dogs are more commonly known by professionals as Explosive Detection Dogs (EDD). Since September 11th, the mission and the number of bomb dog teams in government and the private sector has skyrocketed. The standard of quality assurance, specifically the training and certification of explosive detection dogs and their handlers is wide and varied among government agencies and the private sector. Dogs should be trained on the correct odors that compose the explosive and chemical compounds used in nearly all explosive devices. Handlers are also often trained for bomb countermeasure skills (such as device recognition, hand search techniques, etc).

Dogs and Aspirin

Tips: Dog owners should check with their veterinarian before administering aspirin to their dog. Your veterinarian will be able to determine if aspirin is the best drug for your dog's symptoms and if so the proper dosage for your dog. Your veterinarian will also want to determine if your dog is on any other medication because aspirin may interact with other medications. Your veterinarian may also suggest a safer and more effective drug or supplement. Aspirin can be toxic if given in the wrong dose. Dogs can also be sensitive to the gastrointestinal effects of aspirin. Use of aspirin may result in side effects such as pain, bleeding, and ulceration. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if aspirin is best for your dog.

Dogs and new baby

Tips: It is important to prepare your dog(s) for the arrival of a new baby as soon as possible. Even a well-trained and mannered dog may show signs of jealousy if the change is made abruptly. Consult with a trainer and start preparation exercises no less than two months prior to the expected arrival of the baby. The resulting relationship will be well worth the effort you put in before the arrival of the baby.



Tips: Symptoms of Heatstroke or Hyperthermia (Some or all may be present): Panting, Weakness or collapse, Elevated temperature (from 105-110 degrees – normal is 101-102 degrees), Vomiting, diarrhea and / or lack of urine production, Seizures, Fast pounding pulse, Blank or starring expression. Heat Exhaustion can occur during or after exercise, particularly on hot or humid days. Heat exhaustion may not be associated with an elevation in body temperature. Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion may include: Collapse or fainting, Mentally dazed behavior, Vomiting, Muscle cramps (seizure-like tremors), Abnormally rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing, or Muscle weakness.


Tips: If you are considering breeding your female dog there are several things that should be taken into consideration. In most instances a prospective breeder should work with an experienced breeder in determining if their dog is the proper representation of the breed and in proper condition (health) for reproduction. Prospective breeders should take into account the pedigree, temperament; breed standards, and overall health of the animal. Additionally, a breeding animal must be fully mature, in the prime of health, and in lean muscular condition. All inoculations should be up to date and the animal should be free of both internal and external parasites.

Obedience Training

Tips: While socialization helps to domesticate your puppy, dogs must also learn how to communicate with people in everyday life activities. Obedience training is the key to effective, clear, and consistent communication. This form of canine education is based on trust and mutual respect. An individual dog's obedience training will be influenced by the breed characteristics, genetics, personality, past and present behavior patterns. Training will also be influenced by the goals and personality of the owner. Consult with a trainer to have you and your dog's needs evaluated.

Children and Dogs

Tips: Some things children should know about greeting a dog. 1) Always ask the owner's permission before petting or playing with a dog. 2) Do not approach an unattended dog, even if you have greeted the dog before. 3) Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies. 4) Do not tease a dog or reach through a fence to pet a dog. 5) Never put your hand between two dogs. 6) Never play with a dog unless supervised by an adult, even if you have played with the dog before. 7) If you do not have permission, never enter a yard with a dog in it. Wait for the owner to enter the yard with you. 8) Do not make loud noises or quick movements around dogs.

Teeth Brushing

Tips: The care of your dog’s mouth and teeth is important. Bad breath and the early stages of dental disease can be prevented by daily brushing. Brushing your dog’s teeth also removes the daily accumulation of plaque from the teeth. There are different types of handled brushes designed for dogs. There is also a rubber type brush that resembles a thimble that fits over a finger. It is often easier to use, especially for beginners. Make sure to also use a dog specific tooth paste. Human toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed and can cause stomach problems. Consult with your veterinarian for more information on brushing your dog’s teeth.

Therapy Dog

Tips: Therapy Dog refers to a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, mental institutions, schools, and stressful situations such as disaster areas. Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds and must be friendly, patient, at ease in all situations, and gentle. A therapy dog's primary job is to allow unfamiliar people to make physical contact and to enjoy that contact. Therapy dogs must be content to be petted and handled. It is important to note that therapy dogs are not service dogs. Service dogs directly assist humans, and have a legal right to accompany their owners. Therapy dogs do not provide direct assistance, do not have legal rights to travel everywhere, and must be invited by institutions. Most institutions have rigorous requirements for therapy dogs in order to volunteer.


Tips: Schutzhund is a dog sport that was developed in Germany in the early 1900s to test the breed-worthiness of German Shepherd Dogs (GSD). Dogs of any breed, even mixes, can compete in Schutzhund today, but the most common breeds are GSDs, Belgian Malinois, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and Dutch Shepherd Dogs. Modern Schutzhund consists of three phases: tracking, obedience, and protection. A dog must pass all three phases in one trial to be awarded a schutzhund title. There are three schutzhund titles: Schutzhund 1 (SchH1), Schutzhund 2 (SchH2), and Schutzhund 3 (SchH3).

Dog Agility

Tips: Dog Agility is a competitive sport that tests training and handling of dogs over a timed obstacle course. Each competition course is different. Competitors direct their dogs to jump hurdles, scale ramps, go through tunnels and chutes, traverse a see-saw, and weave through a line of poles in an obstacle course configuration designed to challenge a handler's competitive and training skills. Each organization has its own rules about what constitutes faults and whether one can earn a qualifying score with faulted runs.


Tips: Seizure-alert and -response dogs are a special type of assistance dog that are specifically trained to help someone who is prone to seizures. These dogs are trained to do various tasks- anywhere from pulling objects away from the person and providing emotional and physical support during a seizure, to in special cases, alerting their owner of an impending seizure. Each dog is trained specifically for the person in need. Dogs that may become and are seizure-dogs must be extremely efficient at their job.

Dog Treats

Tips: Be sure these snacks do not interfere with his eating habits. Some are so good that your dog might not eat his regular food, holding out for a later treat. The best snacks are hard small milkbones, or their equivalents, as they are good for teething and rarely spoil appetites. These are not only healthy, but are a great way to help keep your dog’s teeth clean.


Tips: Flyball is a relay race with four dogs on a team. The course consists of a starting line, 4 hurdles and a spring-loaded box. The hurdles' heights are dependent on the height of the dogs in the team. Each dog jumps the series of hurdles and then steps on a spring-loaded box that shoots out a tennis ball. The dog then catches the tennis ball and runs back over the 4 hurdles to the start. When the dog crosses the starting line the next dog goes. The first team to have all 4 dogs run without errors wins the heat. Tournaments are usually organized in either a double elimination or round robin format.

Water Search Teams

Tips: Water Search Dog Teams are a complementary resource to improve the efficiency of water searches. Search dogs can be of great benefit when the body is not likely to be found immediately using visual search methods. These canines help search teams determine where the victim is not and provide positive information to use in revising search strategy. Using dogs to aid in the placement of divers can reduce the need for dives into risky terrain, reduce dive time, and speed recovery; thereby increasing safety and saving both time and money.


Tips: Fleas thrive at low altitudes in temperature ranges of 65-80 degrees (Fahrenheit). Under these conditions the flea life cycle can be completed beginning with the hatching of an egg through the laying of the next generation of eggs. This process can take place in as little as 16 days. Adult fleas are long-lived insects and can survive several months without a blood meal. Since fleas spend so little time on your pet, it can be hard to discern by inspecting your pet the extent of the infestation or the degree of your pet’s discomfort. However fleas do leave behind evidence of their presence in the form of “flea dirt”. This may be seen on your pet even if you do not see fleas. Comb or brush your pet. Look for tiny dark dots or comma-shaped pieces of debris. Flea dirt is actually the excrement of the insect which is partially digested blood. To determine if the small specs are actually from the flea place the specs on a moistened paper towel. If the spec begins to dissolve and forms a red stain, then it is flea dirt.

Dog Rolling in Stuff

Tips: Why do dogs roll in awful smelling stuff? One belief is that since dogs are predators that they are attempting to disguise/camouflage their own scent. This is instinctual in order to hunt their own food. They would cover their scent with the excrement of another animal to be able to get closer in order to hunt. Another belief is that a dog doesn't look at smells the way we do. Our perfume is their stench. Their decomposing stuff is their perfume, especially after a bath. A good roll in something smelly will get rid of the shampoo scent that we love and they don't. Another theory is that dogs enjoy sensory stimulations and may well be prone to seeking such stimulation to an excessive degree. Another reason they roll in obnoxious-smelling organic material may be because they are simply expressing a misgotten sense of aesthetics.

Remote Collars

Tips: Remote Collars (electric training collars) were developed initially for field, gundog, or hunting training/handling during the 1950's. They were originally designed to break hunting or working dogs of unwanted behaviors (chasing deer or livestock). Today remote collars are designed to meet the needs of not only working dogs but the family dog. Manufacturers have developed collars that can be adjusted to suit each individual dog's sensitivity level. If you are interested in finding out more about remote collars, contact a qualified trainer in your area for more information. A professional trainer can help you determine if a remote collar is the right training tool for your dog and situation.

Pavlov Dogs

Tips: Ivan Pavlov a Russian scientist used dogs in conditioned response experiment in the late nineteenth century. In this experiments, Pavlov sounded a bell while presenting food to a dog. After the procedure was repeated several times, the dog would salivate at the sound of the bell, even when no food was presented. He was initially studying the physiological effects of eating and digestion by the dogs, but decided to probe deeper into the conditioning of the dogs. His findings later became known as classical conditioning.


Tips: Each breed will have different grooming needs. Some will require regular professional grooming, haircuts, or stripping. Consult with your breeder, an experienced groomer, or a good book about your breed to find out more about the grooming requirements for your breed. If you have a mix-breed, check in a book or with a groomer to determine the breed, which your dog most closely resembles. All dogs will need a grooming routine that includes brushing, nail clipping, dental hygiene, bathing, cleaning eyes and ears.

Ear Care

Tips: Check your dog's ears weekly for dirt and wax buildup. This is especially important for long-eared breeds: Retrievers, Spaniels, Beagles, etc. Look for signs of irritation; report any to your veterinarian. There are commercial ear cleaning products available that can be used to gently swab the outer ear clean. Consult with your veterinarian to determine what product and cleaning routine is best for your dog.

Eye Care

Tips: Some breeds have a narrowing of the duct running between the nose and the eye that causes the eyes to run almost constantly. This fluid interacts with bacteria found in the air and on the skin causing it to darken and turn a brownish color. This reaction can cause staining of the hair under the inner corner of the eyes. Certain breeds are more prone to this than others; the Bichon Frise and Poodle are examples. It is important to clean the under-eye area daily. If this discharge is not removed on a regular basis it can build up and form a very hard crust that can get matted into the hair. This is not only unpleasant to look at but removal of a mat under the eye can be extremely uncomfortable. There are solutions available that are specially formulated to clean the under-eye area that are geared especially for light colored dogs. The solution also neutralizes the bacteria that cause staining. Consult with your veterinarian regarding proper care of your dog's eyes.

Dog Temperature

Tips: A dog’s temperature is taken rectally and normally runs from 100.0 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (average temperature is 101.3 to 101.5). If you are unsure on how to do this properly, on your next visit have your veterinarian or veterinary technician show you. Sometimes, taking your dog’s temperature can be a two-person operation. One person handles the thermometer while the other restrains the dog.

Dog Pulse Rate

Tips: Your dog’s pulse rate can be found at the femoral artery located in the inner thigh. Pulse rate is usually 60 – 160 beats per minute. Smaller dogs have a faster pulse rate than large dogs. Have your veterinarian or veterinary technician show you how to take a standardized pulse rate and advise you on the normal rate for your dog. Familiarize yourself with the normal pulse rate and the feel of a normal pulse prior to a medical emergency.

Life Jackets

Tips: Dog Life Jackets and Dog Life Vests are a great solution for the dog owner that has a dog that accompanies them around the water. Life jackets are also useful for dogs that accompany their families while boating, swimming at the lake, or at the beach. A life jacket is also useful for dogs that spend time in the family pool. A Dog Life Jacket or Dog Life Vest provides your dog the same protection as a life jacket provides a child. Not all dogs can swim and not all dogs are great swimmers.

Crate Training

Tips: Without a doubt the easiest and best way to prevent puppy misbehavior such as housetraining accidents is with the use of a dog crate. Using the crate allows you to leave your home or to work uninterrupted for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. These “playpens” will prevent your dog from hurting himself or getting into trouble. Dog pens are to a dog’s safety as playpens are to a child’s safety. Additionally, if your dog is safely tucked away in his crate, it is praise, not correction, that he will hear from you first when you return home. Feeding your dog in his crate will also give him a positive association with it. Consult with your trainer for additional information about acclimating your dog to a crate.

Crate Usage

Tips: Don’t ever use the crate for discipline or punishment. Never leave your dog in his crate while he is wearing a collar (especially a training collar). All it takes is a few minutes for him to accidentally choke himself. Also, be sure to remove any potentially harmful objects from his pen. Crates allow you to adjust his amount of freedom during the housetraining period and preventing him from wandering to the back of the cage for a bathroom area. You may also purchase crates with adjustable walls. Once he is housebroken, this section can be removed. Consult with your trainer for additional information about acclimating your dog to a crate.

Fear of Loud Noises

Tips: Dogs can respond with profound fear to loud and sudden noises such as fireworks. It may be best to keep your dog inside when there is the likelihood of fireworks to be let off. Make sure all doors and windows are secured. Dogs that hear loud noises are more likely panic and to run due to fear. Turning on familiar noises such as the TV or radio may help drown out the outdoor noise. This may also help to minimize your dog's fearful reaction to the loud or sudden noise. It may also help to keep your dog entertained by playing a game to distract him from the noise outdoors. If you require additional assistance with your dog around noises contact a trainer.

Breed Specific Legislation

Tips: Breed Specific Legislation (BSL), is any law, ordinance or policy which pertains to a specific dog breed or breeds, but does not affect any others. BSL can go beyond restrictions on or the prohibition of ownership of a certain breed, breeds or breed mixes within a specific area. For example, some countries have prohibited the importation of certain breeds. Restrictions have also been placed on the availability of homeowners insurance for owners of many breeds. BSL may also label or define certain breeds as "dangerous" or "viscous" based on breed alone even with no individual past history a risk to people. Some BSL may stipulate that certain breeds are required to wear a muzzle, walk on certain type of leash, or have a fence of certain height and design.

Holiday Puppies

Tips: Holiday puppies are often impulse purchases in the spirit of the season. Many "holiday puppies" end up in local shelters or with rescue groups by spring. Before getting a puppy for your family, all members should make a self- assessment of whether they are ready for the responsibility that goes with dog ownership. Does everyone have the time and the energy that is needed to socialize and educatie a puppy and a full grown dog. Dogs require regular health check-ups, training, feeding, exercise, grooming, time, and energy. Adults and children must be ready for a dog that may be with them for 10 to 20 years. If you are absolutely set upon getting your family a puppy for the Holidays, do your homework first. Talk to local trainers, breeders, dog groomers, rescue groups, animal shelters, other dog owners, and veterinarians about the responsibility and amount of work required to socialize, raise, care, and train a puppy into a great family dog. Instead of purchasing a puppy at holiday time, possibly consider purchasing a breed book, a book on raising a puppy, a consultation with a local professional, a gift certificate for a veterinary checkup, a gift certificate for puppy preschool classes, or a video tape on dog ownership for your family. Your research and patience will pay off.

Board and Train

Tips: Residential Training Programs (Board and Train) is where the dog stays with the trainer for a period of time in boarding setting and follow-up lessons are provided to the owner after the dog has achieved certain desired training goals. Residency programs meet the needs of those owners who simply lack the time or patience to complete a training program on their own or who wish to put their dog's training into the hands of a professional trainer. These programs prove especially effective for training overly hyperactive dogs, complicated behavior problems, or dogs with aggressive tendencies. These programs are also useful to individuals whose health may limit their participation in certain segments of training their dog. The length of training time is based upon your dog's personality, behavior patterns, and your goals. Once a trainer has evaluated your dog, they are better able to recommend whether a residency program is ideal for you and your dog. In order for a residency- training program to be effective, dog owners will be provided with a series of follow-up lessons in which the trainer will provide instruction on how to handle and communicate with their trained dog. In order for all training programs to be successful, it is imperative for owners to commit to incorporating what their dog has learned into everyday life.

Training Options

Tips: Combination Programs combine a residency program, private lessons, in-home lessons, or group classes. These programs are normally helpful for, those owners whose dogs are not suited to begin with a group or private lessons. The trainer will begin your dog's training in a residency program or through private lessons and once you and your dog have achieved a certain level of training you will then continue training through private or group lessons.

Behavior Counseling

Tips: Behavioral Counseling Sessions serve owners who wish to solve a specific problem. Trainers will often advise you on probable causes and assist you with solutions. Behavioral Counseling can provide you with assistance dealing with a specific problem such as house training an older dog or getting on furniture.

Month: May 2008

Tips: How old should my dog be to start training? Although many trainers recommend beginning your dog's training as early as possible, dogs of all ages are able to learn at different levels. Most puppies between the ages of 7 to 16 weeks benefit from a puppy preschool program that focuses on preventing unwanted behaviors and the benefits of socialization. Most dogs are ready to begin formal obedience training as early as 14 to 16 weeks of age. In some situations a puppy can begin obedience training earlier or later. After speaking with a certified professional trainer, they will be able to advise you as to whether or not your dog is ready for training.

Private Lessons

Tips: Private Lessons are scheduled at a location provided by the trainer. Private lessons are designed for owners who have the necessary patience and time to work closely with their dogs. This approach is for dogs whose personality types work better when they remain in their home environment or learn with their owner. In each lesson a trainer will teach you and your dog a new command/behavior once or twice a week. Owner and the dog will then practice at home between sessions. A commitment by the owner practicing at home each day is necessary for this approach to be most effective. The number of lessons required will be determined by owner's goals, the dog, and the time and energy invested.

Water Hazards

Tips: As summer gets into full swing, remember that pools, hot tubs, and other bodies of water can pose hazards for dogs. Many dogs will eagerly jump in the water and cannot wait to take a swim. Others accidently fall in when running near the waters' edge. Pools are especially difficult for dogs to get out of after jumping or falling in. Pools with covers can be dangerous because dogs will walk on the cover and become trapped below the cover. This can lead to suffocation or drowning. Hypothermia, or low body temperature, is another danger for dogs that are in unheated pools, ponds, lakes, and rivers. The following safety rules apply: keep the pool area fenced and locked, always have adult supervision of dogs near water or pool areas.

Heat Stroke

Tips: Signs of heat stroke in dogs may include body temperatures of 104- 110F degrees, excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue and gums, staggering, seizures, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, coma, and death. To determine if your dog would be taking your dog’s temperature. It is helpful to be comfortable doing this in the event of an emergency. The short-nosed breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, large heavy-coated breeds, and those dogs with heart or respiratory problems are more at risk for heat stroke. If you suspect heat stroke in your pet, seek veterinary attention immediately! Use cool water, not ice water, to cool your pet. (Very cold water will cause constriction of the blood vessels and impede cooling.) Contact your veterinarian immediately.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

Tips: A Psychiatric Service Dog is a dog that helps its handler with a mental (psychiatric) disability. Common mental disabilities that sometimes qualify a person for a service dog include, but are not limited to: Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Autism, Agoraphobia, and Schizophrenia. Like all other types of service dogs, a Psychiatric Service Dog helps its handler mitigate his/her disability through trained tasks, such as: picking up/retrieving objects or aiding with mobility when the handler is dizzy from medication or has psychosomatic (physical) symptoms; waking the handler if the handler sleeps through alarms or cannot get himself/herself out of bed; alerting to and/or responding to episodes (i.e. mood changes, panic attacks, oncoming anxiety, etc.); reminding the handler to take medication if the handler cannot remember on his/her own or with the use of an alarm; and many other tasks directly related to the handler's disability.

Service Dogs

Tips: Service dogs are sometimes trained and bred by private organizations or private trainers. In other cases, the disabled handler may train their dog themselves with the aid of a private trainer. While the law does not require any special labeling of these dogs, many service dogs can be identified by the cape, jacket, or harness they wear. Among other things, service dogs are trained how to pick up objects, open and close doors, and operate light switches. Some service dogs are trained to pull individuals in wheelchairs. Many service dogs continue their training after they are formally placed with a person, usually on a yearly basis.


Tips: Some safety tips when traveling with your dog. Always keep a current i.d. tag on your dog. The tag should include an easily accessible number, such as your cell phone number. For the safety of you and your dog, do not allow dogs to ride in the front seat. Airbags can pose hazards to pets during an accident. Dogs riding in the front seat can be thrown into the windshield, driver, or passenger seated up front. The dog can interfere with the driver resulting in an accident. Dogs should be kept in the back seat or in a crate and also secure the dog in the car. Crates or sturdy pet carriers should be secured so they do not fly forward or flip. If your car does not allow room to set up a crate, obtain a dog specific seat belt or install a pet barrier to keep dogs in the back seat.


Tips: Post your veterinarian’s phone number with all of your other emergency numbers. List your veterinarian’s number in your cellular phone (if applicable). Be familiar with your veterinarian’s procedures in the event of an emergency and if an emergency were to happen after business hours. Determine if there are emergency animal care facilities in your area.

Winter Ice 

Tips: In the winter, many home owners and business use products to clear the ice and snow that accompany cold winter weather. Rock salt and most chemical deicers can irritate your dog's paws. Stay away from heavily salted areas as much as possible. Many dogs will quickly start whining, biting or lifting their feet after just a few steps. Gently rub the bottom of the feet to remove the salt. When returning home inspect paws after walking in areas treated with salt and other de-icers. Make sure to check between pads and examine the foot for cracks. To help prevent ice balls in between the pads, trim hair around your dog's feet. Also check for snow that can also cling to long haired dogs. Veterinarian-approved nontoxic de-icing products can help to protect dogs' feet from ice balls and stinging or drying damage. Dog booties may also be beneficial in heavily salted area. There are also number of pet safe salt products on the market now.

First Aid Muzzle

Tips: In an emergency there are many items that would work suitably to serve as a muzzle. Even the most placid, friendly and accepting of dogs may nip or try to bite when injured due to fear or pain. An injured dog may even try to bite his/her owner making emergency measures difficult. If you are treating for an injury not requiring CPR or resuscitation, a muzzle is recommended. If you do not have a properly fitted muzzle for your dog, you can use a necktie, knee-high nylons, kerchief, belt, or scarf. Do not tie the makeshift muzzle to tight as to cause damage to the dog’s nose; at the same time make sure the muzzle is secure.

Training Tools

Tips: There are many training tools and devices that can assist with training your dog. Tools such as clickers, leashes, training collars, prong collars, electric collars, head halters, food/toy lures, and so on have the potential to be useful. Tools in and of themselves are not good or bad. It is how they are applied that makes them effective or harmful to dogs. A professional trainer should be able to help you decide which tool(s) would be useful in training your dog. They will also be able to provide different options and educate you on proper application when training.

Training Collar

Tips: Chain-Training Collar - The chain slip collar (or choker as it is sometimes called) is the most widely recognized training collar. The chain- training collar is not intended to choke or strangle a dog. Use only top quality collars that are welded in a smooth seamless fashion. Inferior collars may break easily and often pull the dogs hair and causing irritation. The size of the dog’s head is the key to a proper fit for training collars. The training collar should slip over the dog’s head snugly, yet not so tightly that it has to be forced. Training collars come in sizes as small as ten inches and as large as thirty inches. Consult with a professional trainer to determine if a training collar is the right training tool for your dog and proper application in training.

Prong Collar

Tips: Prong collars, also know as pinch collars, are an interlocking steel linked collar used in training. These collars are often misunderstood and to some look very cruel. These collars can be especially helpful with some larger more powerful dogs. This type of collar, when used correctly applies multiple pinching pressures around the dog’s neck. They are also used as an equalizer when a person of little strength is training/handling a powerful dog. The pinch collar can do more harm than good if used on a dog with a sensitive personality. If you are considering using a prong/pinch collar, consult with an experienced professional trainer to determine if it is the right training tool for you and your dog. A trainer will assist you with proper sizing and application while training.

Bark Collars

Tips: Bark collars can be used to curb excessive or nuisance barking. Dogs learn to associate a bark with the a correction or other attention getting feature from the collar. Available systems include: electric stimulation, spray, vibration and sound. Electric bark collars deliver an electrical stimulation. Spray bark collars deliver a burst of spray (citronella, air, or water). Sound producing collars deliver a startling or ultrasonic noise. These collars possess a internal sensor that activates one of the above responses when the dog barks. Some bark collars also possess a counting feature that reports the barking frequency of the dog. Your dog barking may be a symptom of a larger behavior problem and it is important to consult with a professional trainer before using any bark deterrent. A qualified trainer can help to determine if a bark collar is the right training tool for your dog and proper application in training.


Tips: There are many household items that can be potentially dangerous to your pet. Chocolate is one of the most common poisonous substances for dogs. Baking chocolate is stronger and less can be a deadly dose. Don’t leave chocolate items within reach of your dog. Antifreeze tastes good to dogs and also can be absorbed through the pads of the feet. Be careful and clean up spills carefully. Insecticides and other bait traps for rodents can be potentially fatal to your dog. Use caution in the placement. If your dog has digested or been exposed to a toxic item contact a veterinarian immediately.

Pre-Training Evaluations

Tips: Before recommending any type of training most trainers or behaviorists will initially offer some type of pre-training evaluation. This evaluation will allow the trainer or behaviorist to assess the dog and your goals before explaining different training options and approaches. There is often not one approach or method of training that fits all dogs, situations, and their families. Before beginning a dog’s training a professional trainer or behaviorist should consider the following: 1. The dog’s individual personality; 2. The dog’s past and present behavior patterns; 3. The dog’s aptitude for learning and training; 4. The dog’s breed characteristics, health, and age; 5. Current and past interaction with people and other animals; 6. The health and limitations of the owner or handler; 7. And most importantly the goals of the dog’s owner.

Puppy Temperament Test

Tips: Puppy Temperament Testing allows a trainer to evaluate, as early as possible in a dog’s life, a puppy’s temperament and behavior. The trainer can then choose the puppy best suited for his/her (or their client’s) particular needs. When properly structured, such testing is a fairly reliable predictor of the dog’s personality, sociability, and potential trainability at maturity. It is important to note that there are no “good” or “bad” results to this testing; no dog can “fail” these tests. Instead, the results serve as indicators used to match the puppy’s temperament with the most suitable future environment and employment (police dog, personal protection dog, scent dog, pet, show dog, guide or support dog). Contact a Certified Professional Trainer for more information.

Prepare for New Baby

Tips: Expecting new parents should gradually diminish the daily attention their dog normally receives. Get your dog accustomed to not being the center of attention in the household. Make sure that your dog is accustomed to relaxed greetings from you and other people. Keep your greetings brief and calm. Each expecting parent should start devoting more time to other household activities. If the dog is in the same room as you put him/her in a command, and continue to focus your attention elsewhere. While you are starting to cut back on the amount of time each day devoted to your dog; make sure you devote specific times each day interacting with your dog (playing, walking, etc.). Contact a Certified Professional Trainer for more assistance.

Prepare for New Baby

Tips: Get your dog accustomed to the noises that will accompany life with a new baby. Purchase a life-sized baby-doll, a doll that cries would be ideal, as it will help accustom the dog to the sound of a baby crying. If you are unable to find one that cries, you can achieve the same results by purchasing a sound- effects tape or compact disk that includes baby crying and noises. These sound effects will ideally help to desensitize your dog to the crying. Familiarize your pet with baby-related noises. For instance, play recordings of a baby crying or turn on the mechanical infant swing. Make these positive experiences for your pet by offering a treat or playtime. Contact a Certified Professional Trainer for more assistance.

Confidence Building

Tips: Utility training compliments obedience training by providing timid and shy dogs with confidence-building exercises. It also prepares confident dogs for civil work within law enforcement, search and rescue teams, and assisting the disabled. Owners learn how to safely teach dogs how to jump over obstacles, climb, navigate on moving or unstable objects, and other skills that may be required of dogs in civil duty. A catwalk, teeter totter, and a-frame are some examples of utility equipment. Select the "Locate a Trainer" link above to contact a Certified Professional Trainer for more assistance.

Prepare for New Baby

Tips: Are you expecting? Imagine your dog’s current behavior around an infant. Nuisance behaviors will not go away once the baby arrives and you may not have extra time to work on these problems after your newborn comes home. The sooner you get started the better off you, your dog, and your baby will be. Now is the time to start training or tune-up your dog’s training. This may also be the time to consult with a professional trainer for guidance.

Service Dogs

Tips: Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. However, an individual who is going to a restaurant or theater is not likely to be carrying documentation of his or her medical condition or disability. Therefore, such documentation generally may not be required as a condition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability. Source: U.S. Department of Justice

Confronted by Dog

Tips: Tips: What to do when confronted by unattended, confined, or restrained dog: 1. Never approach an unattended dog even if you have said “hello” in the past. 2. Never try to pet a dog that is in a car. Dogs will often protect that space. 3. Never pet a dog who is behind a fence or that is tied out. Most dogs naturally protect their property and home. 4. Remain calm. 5. Pass at safe distances moving slowly and quietly. 6. Avoid loud noises, quick movements, and extending arms. 7. Do not make eye contact with the dog. 8. Walk away or back away slowly.


Tips: Obedience Training is the foundation to effective, clear, and consistent communication between humans and dogs. Training assists the handler/trainer to: 1) Open a line of communication and eliminate confusion. 2) Teach the dog and define new concepts. 3) Provide direction or job for dog. 4) Provide feedback (use of praise, correction, motivation) 5) Provides useful commands for everyday life (heel, sit, down, come, etc.). 6) Teach focus and restraint. 7) Define dog/owner relationship that allows for mutual respect and trust. 8) Provides a foundation for modifying behavior and solving behavior problems. 9) Provides a foundation to more advanced training (service dog, scent training, police canine, etc.).

Health and House Training

Tips: Your puppy’s overall health can have a big influence on your housetraining efforts. Consult with your veterinarian to determine that your puppy is healthy before and during your housetraining effort. Parasites, infections, viruses, gastrointestinal upset, allergies to food or environment, and other health issues can impact your dog’s elimination process and schedule. Medications that your dog is taking can also impact your dog’s housetraining. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if your dog’s medication(s) could possibly be impacting your dog’s water intake, appetite or digestive process. Some medications have side effects such as increased water intake, frequent urination, loose stools, or constipation.

People Food

Tips: It is not recommended that you feed your dog people food or table scraps unless specifically instructed by your veterinarian. In some situations your veterinarian may recommend people food for dietary or health reasons. Some foods which are edible for humans, and even other animals, can pose hazards for dogs. Some foods may cause only mild digestive upsets, whereas, others can cause severe illness, and even death. A diet consisting mainly of people food will also impact your dog’s nutritional needs and overall health. Feeding your dog people food also increases the potential of creating a dog that begs for puppy food.

Crate Types

Tips: One option when looking for a crate is wire metal crate that includes a removable metal or plastic floor pan/tray. You should purchase a crate large enough for your dog to stretch out on its side and to sit or stand erect when fully grown. If you have a puppy, it is more economical to buy a wire crate that will accommodate him as an adult, then partition it to the right size. Many wire crates come with a metal divider/partition that can be adjusted as a puppy grows and can be removed when your dog is full grown. If your crate does not have partition, a movable wire or pegboard partition can be made or purchased. Wire crates require assembly and can be taken apart to allow you to move or travel with them easier. There are also models that fold down in one piece with handles to move easier. Plastic crates, often called airline carriers or vari-kennels, can also be used. These crates do not provide as much air circulation and some dogs can chew the plastic.

Paper Training

Tips: Using newspaper or puppy pads to housetrain your puppy is not recommended if you’re end goal is to teach your dog to eliminate outdoors only. Introducing newspaper or puppy pads is an extra and unneeded step. Using newspapers or puppy pads exclusively can be more challenging and time consuming. It is not natural like a puppy relieving itself outside. It can also be very messing because puppies do not always keep everything on the paper or pads. Teaching your puppy to go on newspaper or pads can make your transition to outdoors more challenging. If you plan on having your dog eliminate outdoors, it’s best to teach your puppy to go outside from the start. Some owners may opt to paper train their dog due to living in a high-rise, the dog has a health issue, or the owner has mobility problems.

Stool Eating

Tips: Stool eating or coprophagia is deliberate behavior that can quickly develop into a behavior problem that will impact your housetraining efforts. This behavior can be caused by feeding a highly restrictive diet, unbalanced diet, or underfeeding. There may also be medical conditions and parasites that decrease the absorption of diet and digestive enzyme deficiencies that lead to stool eating behavior. The end result may be malnutrition, vitamin, and mineral deficiencies that therefore causes the dog’s gastrointestinal becoming upset and/or an increased appetite resulting in possibly stool eating. Consult your veterinarian to rule out any type of condition that might lead to poor digestion of the food.

Excited Urination

Tips: Dribbling of urine as a result of excitement is most commonly seen in puppies and is often a result of lack of bladder control. Submissive urination may happen when puppies first greet someone, meeting a new dog, or when they are scared. Young puppies are often unaware they are actually urinating and correcting them only confuses the issue. Do not correct your puppy for this type of urination because it is something they cannot control. Simply ignore it and clean up the mess. If you do not overreact, they will usually outgrow this behavior. Preventing your dog from becoming overly excited is the best way to control this behavior. If your dog is excited by a particular stimulus or situation, it is important to desensitize the dog through repeated exposure to the stimulus. Most pups outgrow submissive urination as they mature but in some cases professional assistance is required. If you have additional questions or concerns consult with your trainer.

Poisonous Items

Tips: Remember to not give your pets any holiday items like chocolate, foods that they are not accustomed to, onions or gravy with onions and grapes/raisins. Please keep any garbage cans out of reach, to avoid ingestion of injurious items, like bones and those strings that are wrapped around the roasts you might cook. Also, keep up any chewing gum, as much of it contains xylitol which is very toxic to dogs.

Dog Licensing

Tips: Don't forget about keeping dog licensed. Licensing helps the recovery of lost or stray animals and helps protect the public from rabies. Licensed dogs must have proof of vaccinations. Most licenses are issued by local government. Contact your local county government or dog shelter for more information.


Tips: There may be many options in regards to today’s dog foods to meet your dog’s nutritional needs. Unfortunately there is no one particular dog food that is best suited for every dog. There is also no guarantee that the food you have chosen, however highly regarded, will suit your dog’s individual nutritional needs. Some foods that are designed for adult dogs are not best suited for puppies and vice versa. Dog and puppy foods have different ingredients and nutritional content. Finding the best food for your individual dog may involve some patience and experimentation. If you have any questions about the different options of food to feed your dog consult with your veterinarian for guidance.


NK9 School for Dog Trainers