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Noise Anxiety in Dogs

Should I take my dog to Fourth Festivities? 

Did you know more pets go missing around the 4th of July than any other time of the year? Many dogs find fireworks inherently terrifying so they panic and try to escape from their homes or leashes and run away. This is related to the same type of anxiety many dogs have for thunderstorms, and it’s referred to as noise fear or phobia. Both events include not only loud, unpredictable noises, but also flashes of light, potentially strange smells and for thunderstorms there are also changes in air pressure. Some dog behaviorists think that dogs can feel electric shocks in the air during storms. This may explain why many dogs try to hide in bathrooms.

Symptoms of noise anxiety include hiding in enclosed places in the house, such as closets, under beds, or in the tub, barking, whining, pacing, drooling, sweaty paws, trembling, destructive behavior, trying to escape, and maybe even aggression. Depending on the severity of your dog’s noise anxiety, you might want to consider consulting a dog trainer or veterinarian to develop a plan to help your dog overcome their severe anxiety so that they can stay safe.

If your dog has mild to moderate noise anxiety, here are some tips on how to make them feel more comfortable:

  • Give them a safe space and let them hide in it. Let your dog stay home when you go to see fireworks. There is no good reason to bring a dog with you to the fireworks. Bringing them will not help them get over it and will likely make it worse. Plan on exercising your dog before the fireworks or thunderstorm start so that you can let them hide in their safe space during the event, and they will have less energy to spend on destructive behaviors.
  • Drown out the noise with TV, music, a fan, air conditioner, or other white noise. Classical music has been shown to reduce anxiety in dogs. There is also music designed specifically for dogs that could help.
  • Work on desensitizing or counterconditioning your dog to loud noise before they are occurring. You can buy CDs of firework and thunder sounds. Play the sounds softly while doing something highly rewarding with your dog, like feeding them dinner, doing a training session with yummy treats, or playing with them and their favorite toy. Gradually turn up the volume over the next couple training sessions and try to keep it going when the real event occurs.
  • Stay calm. If you are stressing because your dog is stressing, it will only make the situation worse. Don’t be afraid to comfort your dog if they are coming to you for it. You CANNOT reinforce fear. Pet your dog, cuddle them, give a TTouch massage, and tell them they are a good dog. It will help reassure them and make them feel supported.
  • Try out a Thundershirt or other close fitting wrap. Some dogs response really well to this but others may not.
  • Try calming sprays or diffusers.
  • If your dog really has a hard time during fireworks or thunderstorms you can also talk to your vet about calming medication to help them through it.

If your dog has noise anxiety, be sure their tags are up to date and they are microchipped to help increase the chances your are reunited with your furry friend in the event they run away during fireworks or a thunderstorm.



Pesky Fleas – help!!

Fleas are a type of insect that survives on the blood of other animals, mainly mammals and birds. The fleas typically seen in our area are known as cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis), and can infect dogs and cats. Fleas are transmitted between animals. While fleas can bite humans, it is rare they will inhabit a human and lay eggs. The flea has four life cycles: egg, larva, pupal, and adult. Adult female fleas lay eggs on a host, which can shed into the bedding area of the animal. Once the eggs hatch into larva, the larvae feed on organic matter shed from the remaining adults on the animal. The larvae spin a cocoon for the pupal stage, which they will stay in until they detect a host. Once they find a new host, they emerge from the cocoon as adult fleas. Adult fleas are the stage that takes up residence on our pet. In order to produce eggs, adult fleas need to acquire a blood meal and once they do, adult fleas will lay one egg per hour. The eggs will continue to drop off the host during this time.

If your pet becomes infested with fleas, it is important to fully treat the pet and the environment. Some people overlook the environment and then their pet becomes re-infested. It’s best to keep up with regular preventative treatments for you pet, and to regularly wash animal bedding. Be mindful of the products you use, as some are specified for different life stages of the flea. Most are directed at adult fleas and designed to enter the bloodstream so that when the flea goes to take a blood meal, they die. Adult fleas can go 1-2 days without eating. Some products are designed to target eggs as well or to kill adult fleas on contact. Feel free to consult with your veterinarian, as fleas can go through different patterns of resistance to products. Veterinarians will be informed about these resistance phases and can recommend a product that is best for your area.

It’s important to note that fleas are not just a nuisance to our pets and us, but can also spread diseases. There has been a recent increase in the number of infections being contracted from fleas in humans and pets. Fleas can spread diseases through biting their hosts or from being ingested by other animals. The most common affliction from flea infestations is the rashes and itching caused by the fleabite but fleas can also spread plague, typhus, and cat-scratch disease. Fleas can also spread tapeworms to pets when infected fleas are ingested during grooming. If your pets have had a recent flea infestation and any member of your household, furry or human, are experiencing flu-like symptoms, it is recommended to visit your doctor.

To learn more about fleas visit here

Mosquitoes and Your Dog

Mosquitoes are a type of fly that live off nectar and juices from plants and the blood of other animals. They are typically crepuscular, which means they are active at dawn and dusk, but we all know that mosquitoes can be nuisances at any time during the day depending on what you are doing and where you are. The saliva of the mosquito when it bites its host is what causes the itchy rash we experience when in contact with them. If you’ve ever noticed that mosquitoes seem to target some people more than others, you are right. Past research has shown that mosquitoes prefer humans with Type O blood, heavy breathers, those with higher body heat, skin bacteria, or those who are pregnant or carrying a beer.  Some mosquitoes, particularly those carrying Zika seems to enjoy the smell of feet as well, so beware of open-toed shoes when in heavily mosquito-infected areas.

Because mosquitoes live off the blood of other animals, they can cause the spread of many serious diseases such as West Nile virus, malaria, Zika virus, and dengue fever just to name a few. The prevalence of diseases being spread by mosquitoes is getting worse every year which is a cause for concern and a huge reason to try to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes as best you can this summer. Utilizing repellents and wearing lose fitting pants, long-sleeved shirts, and shoes are the best ways to avoid being bitted. For information on which repellents work best and other information on avoiding mosquito bites, visit this article from NPR.

Mosquitoes are also responsible for spreading heartworm to our dogs. Heartworms are worms that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of infected animals. They can live in dogs and cats, and in wild animals such as wolves, foxes, and coyotes. Once inside a new host, the heartworm can take 6 month to mature into an adult, and then can live in the host for years. The animal can continue acquiring heartworms, which means an animal can have several of these worms in their body at one time. The longer the worm is allowed to live inside a dog, the worse the symptoms get. Heart failure or other severe cardiovascular events can occur if not detected or treated. Symptoms of heartworm disease include a mild cough, fatigue, lethargy, and decreased appetite. To protect your dog from heartworm, the easiest thing to do is to be proactive. Give your dog a monthly heartworm preventative year round, and include heartworm testing in your annual visit with your veterinarian.

Ticks – important information

All New Englanders should be very familiar with ticks. Ticks are arachnids, meaning they are in the same class as spiders and scorpions, but are considered a type of mite. Ticks live off the blood of other animals and detect prey through vibrations in the environment and detecting the body heat of passing animals. When they are ready for their next meal, they “quest,” which means they hold on to vegetation, such as grasses, and outstretch their front legs waiting for an animal to pass so they can grab on.

The most common and problematic tick in the area is the deer tick, otherwise known as the black-legged tick. These are the ticks that spread Lyme disease, which is caused by bacteria that is spread when the tick attaches to a host for a blood meal. Lyme disease is often transmitted early in the warmer seasons because the ticks are smaller and harder to detect, but transmission can happen at any time. Luckily, your chance of catching Lyme disease is minimal if you remove the tick from the skin within 24 hours. If you are doing any traveling this summer, check out this website from the CDC. It provides the geographic ranges of ticks in the U.S. so you know which species to be on the look out for wherever you go.

There are a couple of ways to prevent tick bites in the first place. The easiest would be to avoid tall grasses and highly vegetative areas all together, but with such beautiful hiking areas in New England, who wants to do that! Another thing you can do is to wear light-colored pants, tall socks, and long-sleeve shirts while hiking. This will create a barrier between yourself and the tick (you can also try tucking your pants into your socks), and make it easier to see ticks crawling on you. Apply tick repellent to your clothes and any exposed skin. When you get home, completely remove all clothing and dry them on high heat to remove any lingering ticks. Completely check your body for ticks multiple times. Even if you don’t see one immediately after hiking, they could be lingering on you somewhere and attach eventually. Showering within 2 hours after hiking can help remove hidden ticks that haven’t attached yet. Young ticks can be small and look like specks of dirt or a freckle, so be thorough in your search. Use a thin comb through your hair before and after washing it to be sure no ticks are hiding out there.

For your pets, administering regular tick repellents is the best way to prevent tick bites. Tick repellents can be administered with spot-on topical medications or given orally in a chew, similar to heartworm medication. There is a Lyme disease vaccine for dogs available through your veterinarian to help further protect your dog. Even if your pet is on a regular preventative, it is still important to perform daily tick checks. Ticks like to migrate to warm, moist places, so especially check in the ears and any other areas of the bodies with creases that would be easy for ticks to hide in. If you have a pet with long fur, use a fine-toothed comb to check the fur and look along the skin line to find ticks.

Ticks are best known for spreading Lyme disease but ticks in the New England area can also spread a number of other diseases including some new ones that doctors are still learning about. In general, symptoms from tick bites that might indicate you should seek medical attention from a doctor include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and other flu-like symptoms.  Visit this site from the CDC for the full list of diseases that can be spread by ticks and the associated symptoms.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease:

If you enjoy the outdoors, be mindful to monitor your health for symptoms of Lyme disease. It is entirely possible to have a tick feeding off of you and never find it. Symptoms can occur within 3-30 days after being bitten by a tick.

Symptoms include:

* Headache
* Fatigue
* Muscle and joint pain
* Fever
* Swollen lymph nodes
* Bull’s-eye rash (it’s common to have a rash after removing a tick, but one indicating Lyme disease will look like this picture)

Symptoms in dogs include:

* Fever
* Lethargy
* Lameness
* Loss of appetite
* Swelling of joints

To learn more about ticks, visits the Tick Encounter Resource Center through the University of Rhode Island.

Resource Guarding

Resource Guarding – important details you need to know

Why do dogs resource guard?

Resource guarding is a natural canine behavior that serves to let other members of their social group know, “This item is mine, so back off!” To dogs, this is a normal occurrence and they tend to respect the warnings from each other. For dogs living in a human world, it could be an unsafe behavior, especially if there are kids around. Children can’t read dog cues as well as adults can. Even some adult humans don’t fully understand all the subtle cues dogs use to try to communicate with us, which can be dangerous if you are living with a resource guarder.

How do I know if my dog is resource guarding?

Dogs tend to resource guard food, toys, bones, water, beds, or any other items they find valuable. The dog may freeze when approached, start eating faster, place themselves between you and their item, lay on the item, pick it up and move further away from you with it, and in more severe cases will show the whites of their eyes, growl, snarl, and possibly even lunge to bite or actually bite.

What do I do if my dog is a resource guarder?

Some people take different approached to having a dog who resource guards. Some people understand this is a natural dog behavior and just let the dog be, and won’t bother it when it has something of value or while it is eating. This approach is fine if there are just adults in the house, but if there are young kids, you always run the risk of an unsupervised child accidentally approaching the guarding dog and getting bit. If you have young children and a guarding dog, you should only provide the dog the high-value item when they are safely blocked off from the children and then pick up and remove the item when you cannot safely supervise the interactions. You should also consult a trainer or behaviorist just to be on the safe side.

Another way to address this behavior is to teach your dog there is no reason to guard resources. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Never take an important resource away from your dog unless there is an immediate safety concern. Some people think that to prevent resource guarding you should occasionally go and take items from your dog, but this actually makes resource guarding worse because you are teaching them they do need to guard the item in order to not have it taken away.
  • If you have an established resource guarder, you can try to switch up the environment by providing new bowls, beds, and toys and switch up where these things are in the house. Then start positively interacting with your dog near these items so they know you are not a threat and not trying to take resources away from them.
  • NEVER punish a dog for guarding. This just solidifies that you are a threat and will make them want to guard more severely. Punishing a growling dog is “taking the tick out of the time bomb.” You will teach your dog not to warn you, and instead they will be quicker to bite.
  • For mild resource guarders, teach your dog that resources come from you rather than get taken away from you. Drop a handful of kibble into their bowl at mealtime, and then wait for them to look at you for more. Repeat this for the whole meal. While they are eating or chewing on a favorite toy, whenever you walk by you can throw some yummy treats by them. If you need to take an item, or want to teach them it is OK to relinquish an item to you, offer them a trade. Offer the yummiest treat you have by throwing it slightly away from the high-value item. When the dog goes to get the treat, pick up the item then offer it right back. You can also train “drop it” and “leave it” so that you can safely take high-value items away if you need to.
  • For moderate to severe resource guarders, consult a behaviorist or dog trainer.

Handling Your Puppy

The Importance of Puppy Handling Preparation

A crucial part of puppy socialization is making sure your puppy can be handled on a regular basis. Think about when you take them to the vet or groomers. Their paws, ears, mouths and bellies get poked, prodded, pulled and pushed. Some dogs can become anxious and defensive in this situation if they have not been handled in this manner before. 

As soon as you bring your puppy home, start handling. Frequently touching your puppy all over will desensitize him to being handled. Lift up paws and pretend to clip nails (or actual clip them if he needs it). Look into his ears and mouth. Make all these things very positive.  Reward your puppy for calm behavior. Young puppies may not put up much of a fight, but as they start entering new stages of development, they might begin to resist more. Continue with the handling. Make sure that you and your family members are able to clip nails, give a bath, and do routine body checks with minimal struggling. Ask visitors to do this as well so your puppy is used to being handled by different people.

Your puppy will likely have multiple vet visits during the critical periods of development, so bring your clicker and delicious treats along with you! Reward your puppy for calm behavior all throughout the visit, from the lobby to standing on the table. This will help build a positive association with seeing the vet. Many vets will appreciate your effort and won’t mind giving some treats themselves to help with this process. 

If you plan on bringing your dog to get groomed on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to bring them to a groomer during the critical periods, even if just for a bath or to do some training in the lobby. Do some research into the groomer, and make sure they are willing to work with your puppy a little to give them a positive, fun experience at the groomer.

Puppy Development Stages

Critical Periods of Puppy Development

Human Socialization Period

7 to 12 Weeks of Age

The pup has the brainwave of an adult dog. This is the best time for a puppy to go to a new home. We recommend letting your pup stay with mom and his littermates until at least 8-10 weeks of age. Mom and littermates are useful tools in teaching proper manners to your pup, especially with nipping. At this stage puppies can begin to learn sit, stay, come and housebreaking. Puppies at this age learn best by association so it is a great time to introduce clicker training. Permanent human bonding begins to be formed in this stage, so be confident and gentle with your puppy, especially with disciplining. 

Fear Impact Period

8 to 11 Weeks of Age

Fearful situations can be extremely traumatic during this period, and can cause fear that lasts a lifetime. It is important to socialize your puppy with other dogs and other people during this phase (some trainers say 100 people and 100 dogs by the age of 12 weeks). It is not enough to just introduce your puppy to new people and dogs during this stage, you have to make sure those experiences are POSITIVE. Closely supervise all interactions to make sure your dog isn’t being stressed or hurt inadvertently. Be especially mindful of interactions with children during this time and ensure children are being gentle and careful with the puppy. This is a great time to start puppy training and/or socialization classes. 

Be sure to provide your puppy comfort and positive reinforcement when they are being brave in new situations, especially vet visits or during thunderstorms. Un-addressed fear during this phase can lead to phobias and anxiety later on. 

Seniority Classification Period 

13 to 16 Weeks of Age

At this age, your puppy will begin to test you. Make sure you establish your role as leader confidently long before you reach this phase, and especially during. Start implementing ‘nothing comes for free’ and continue doing positive training on a regular basis to keep your puppy on the right track. Praise for good behaviors is especially crucial during this period. Make sure you are not inadvertently rewarding bad behaviors, such as barking for attention. Continue to ‘handle’ your puppy, like you are clipping nails or cleaning ears. Touch your dog everywhere and do not tolerate any biting. You want to make sure your dog is able to be handled safely by veterinarians and groomers (and yourself). 

Flight Instinct Period

4 to 8 Months Old

This is the stage where you feel like all your puppy training was a waste of time, but have faith! If you laid down a solid foundation you’ll be able to get your sweet puppy back quickly and smoothly. They begin to feel more independent and will think everything else is way more fun than you are. Prevent your puppy from practicing bad behaviors and always keep in mind what is rewarding them in every situation. Do not let your dog off-leash since they will likely not come when called, which is not a habit you want to encourage. Continue praising good behaviors heavily and conducting regular training sessions. If your dog has no interest in training sessions, start using their kibble mixed with yummy hot dogs as their meals (instead of feeding in a bowl). This might help refocus your puppy’s attention on you, at least for a few minutes! Teething and puppy biting might become especially bad during this period, so provide plenty of appropriate chew toys and keep any inappropriate items well out of your puppy’s reach to prevent bad habits from forming. 

Second Fear Impact Period

6 to 14 Months Old

Similar to the first fear impact period, any fearful situations can be eternally scarring to your pup. This fear period seems to be more related to situations, whereas the first fear period is more related to humans and other dogs. Even situations your dog has experienced before might suddenly become frightening. Be extremely patient and gentle with your dog during this stage. Try to make EVERY experience fun and exciting, no matter how many times your dog has been in that situation before. Reactive behaviors can become set during this period, so it is especially important to use positive reinforcement and to continue socializing your pup in situations that set him up for success. Punishing your dog in those situations where you think your dog should know better (like if they are barking or growling at someone on a walk) can make the behavior worse. This is a good period to always have your clicker and very delicious treats on you. Try to catch your dog before fear sets in. If you notice they seem slightly nervous, don’t just brush it off, start clicking and treating for any calm behavior and keep commands easy (like sit).  


1 to 4 Years Old

Most dogs can be considered fully mature by 2 years of age, sometimes earlier or later depending on the breed. This is the period where you will begin to notice any ingrained bad habits that weren’t addressed earlier on, like reactive or anxious behaviors. Continue to train and build positive associations with people, dogs, and situations throughout your dog’s life. Continue to enrich your dog with daycare, training classes, and plenty of exercise to have a well-balanced, happy dog. 


Puppy Socialization

Get Your Puppy Ready to Socialize

Properly socializing your puppy is the MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU WILL DO. Proper socialization is more important than obedience training. Training can occur at any age, but once puppies reach a certain age, socialization is much more difficult. It’s VERY important to socialize your puppy before they are fully vaccinated. The socialization window closes around 12 weeks old, and the first round of vaccines aren’t completed until about 16 weeks. If you wait until 16 weeks, your puppy will have missed the crucial socialization period and be prone to behavior issues. The best way to prevent disease and socialize your puppy is to attend puppy classes, or other events where the health and vaccination status of other dogs is known, like friend and family dogs, vet clinics, etc.

The key to socialization is to make sure your puppy experiences as many places, people, and dogs as possible, but also to make sure those experiences are POSITIVE. It’s not enough to just bring your dog to a dog park once a week and let them run around, you need to be actively involved in the socialization process to ensure your dog is having a good experience wherever they are.  Always let your dog experience the world at their own pace. Encourage them to be brave using treats and praise, but never force an experience on them if they are afraid or unsure. Giving them a few minutes to acclimate and build up the courage gives them more confidence. Forcing them into a situation when they are afraid makes them feel as if they have no control over their environment, and can lead to reactive, aggressive dogs.

How to Help Your Dog with Grooming

Training Your Dog To Be A Good Grooming Clientdog groomed

People often wonder why they pay more to get their dog groomed than they might for their own haircut. One of the many reasons is that grooming dogs is hard! Groomers spend their days wrestling dogs into bathtubs, trying to get dogs to stay still while trimming their coat, all while trying not to get bitten, scratched, peed or pooped on.  If you want to become your groomer’s favorite client, work on teaching your dog some of these husbandry behaviors. Husbandry behaviors are behaviors you can teach your dog that allow them to voluntarily participate in their own health care in a less stressful way.

Here are some behaviors you can train to make them a better grooming client:

  • Stand: We often teach our dogs sit and down, while heavily rewarding our dogs for offering these behaviors, but teaching them to stand on command can be just as important, especially at the groomers. Watch this video to see how to train your dog to stand on command.
  • Stand Still: Great, you got your dog to stand, but that does the groomer no good if your dog stands for a second then sits back down or becomes all wiggly and excited. To teach your dog to stand still, start extending the amount of time between when your dog stands and when they get the treat, and then keep treating while they stand to encourage them to stay in the position and not move. While treating to keep your dog to stand still, introduce the command for the behavior, such as “still” or “stay.” When you are done, use a release word to let them know it is OK to move.
  • Nail Trims: Train your dog to be a pro at nail trims using the tips in this video! The trick is to take it slow and make the experience positive and relaxed. If you are experienced with a clicker, it’s highly recommended to use a clicker to train your dog to be comfortable with nail trims.
  • Handling: Groomers usually have to touch your pet all over in order to properly bathe and clip them, so it is important to desensitize your dog to being touched in different parts of the body. Many dogs are sensitive to their ears, faces, and paws, and some dogs don’t like their stomachs or parts of their back to be touched if they were not properly socialized as a puppy or if they had a painful experience in the past. Identify your dog’s sensitive areas and then use clicker training or other positive reinforcement methods to get them used to being touched in that area, similar to the methods seen in the nail trimming video. Again, take it slow and keep it positive! Be sure to let your groomer know if your dog has sensitive areas so that they can approach them cautiously.

Finally, one of the most important things you can do at home to ensure your dog is a good grooming client is to stay on top of your dog’s grooming! Many dogs learn to dislike the groomers because they may go in matted, tangled, or with overgrown nails. This can make the grooming process painful for the dog and create a negative association with being groomed. Regular brushing at home, keeping nails trimmed and filed down, and keeping your dog on a grooming schedule appropriate for their breed and coat type will help make grooming a more positive and relaxing experience for everyone.

Clicker Training for Your Dog

Clicker TrainingDog clicker training

We talk a lot about clicker training at TGDS so you might be wondering what it is and why you should use it when training your dog. Clicker training is a form of classical conditioning, where a neutral stimulus (click) is paired with an unconditioned stimulus (food). It is a positive reinforcement training technique where you use the click from the clicker to “mark” the behavior you want from your dog. For example, if you want to teach your dog to sit, you would wait for your dog to place their butt on the ground then click the moment they do to let your dog know that is the behavior you want. In order for the clicker to work, it has to be “charged.” In other words, the sound of the click has to be paired with a positive reward, such as a treat, to build the association that a click means the dog did something good. To charge the clicker, you click and treat multiple times in a row. Your dog will quickly learn that the click means a treat is coming, and then the clicker will become your most powerful training tool. To maintain the power of the tool you must always pair the click with a treat, even if you make a mistake in clicking. In more advanced training, there can be a longer time between click and treat, or during a sequence of behaviors, but for novice trainers you must always pair a click with an immediate treat.

Many animals, including dogs, learn by the consequences of their behavior and they will only do behaviors that work for them, meaning behaviors that give them some sort of reward or gain. Whenever your dog is doing a behavior, think about what he is gaining by doing it. If your dog is doing a behavior you don’t like, ask yourself what is rewarding about that behavior. For example, if your dog jumps on you, do you pay attention to him? That is rewarding whether you pet the dog or yell at him. Why does your dog pull on leash? Dogs pull to get to a spot them want to sniff. If they get to that spot, then you just rewarded the pulling. Clicker training helps you accurately target the behaviors you want your dog to do more of and provide a reward with the behavior. The more your dog gets rewarded for those good behaviors, the more he will offer them and the less he will offer behaviors he does not get rewarded for.

Learning by consequence is called operant conditioning. There are four quadrants of operant conditioning: positive reinforcement, positive punishment, negative reinforcement, and negative punishment. Positive reinforcement is defined as adding something to the environment to increase the occurrence of a behavior (e.g., treat for sitting). Positive punishment is defined as adding something to the environment to decrease the occurrence of a behavior (e.g., bark collars that adds a shock to decrease barking). Negative reinforcement is taking something away from the environment to increase the occurrence of a behavior (e.g., releasing pressure on a choke or prong collar when your dog stops pulling). Negative punishment is taking something away from the environment to decrease the occurrence of a behavior (e.g., removing your attention when your dog jumps on you or gets mouthy). Scientific evidence shows that positive reinforcement training methods are as effective, if not more effective than aversive training methods (those that rely on positive punishment and negative reinforcement, e.g., shock collars or choke collars), and are better for dog welfare.

One of the main concerns with using clicker training is that you will always have to have treats on you for your dog to listen. This is not true. Clicker training is merely a tool to teach your dog the behaviors in a quick, efficient manner that they understand, and then you can gradually remove the clicker. It still helps to have treats on you for the occasional reward, but once the dogs learn the behaviors they will continue to offer them even without the click and treat. They usually do so enthusiastically as well, because they have a positive association with training and are excited to work with you.

If you are interested in implementing clicker training into your training, there are many great online resources or you can sign up for a local class with Exercise Finished or Dakin Humane Society. The staff at the TGDS is also experiences with clicker training, so feel free to ask us any questions! Happy clicking!

For more information on clicker training visit Karen Pryor’s website.

Other sources:
Ziv, G. 2017. The effects of using aversive training methods in dogs – A review. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research. 19:50-60.