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Time to train your dog. Dog kennel Dog collar and leash Dog harness Long line rope for dog training Deer antler dog chew toy Dog food and water bowl Dog tie-out point Bitter apple spray for dog training Dog food Dog poop bags Stereo for dog training desensitization Time off work to train your dog

How to Prepare for your Dog


Most Important First


  1. Time - This is the absolute most important thing to have when you first get a dog. If you are getting a puppy this is even more important.

  2. Kennel - To ensure the success of no peeing or pooping in the house as well as not destroying anything in your home a kennel is necessary for the first stage of training.

  3. Leash and Collar - A 6 foot leash and regular collar. Leather is often the strongest option.

  4. Harness - A harness that allows you to connect a leash or long line to the front of your dog’s chest is what you are looking for.

  5. Long Line - 50 foot long line. If we had to choose one and only one tool for working with a dog it would be a Long Line.

  6. Toys / Chew Toys - Having something for your dog to play with or teethe on is a necessary item.

  7. Food and Water Bowls - Top choices are Stainless Steel or Bamboo (some dogs noses will turn brown with Stainless Steel).

  8. Dog Bed - A place for your dog to lay down.


  9. Tie out Points - We use 3 foot (for average sized dog) tie out leashes to keep your dog on their bed or wherever you want them to stay. This helps tremendously with training. You can tie them to Railings, Heavy Furniture, Interior doors (hook leash on back side of door knob, close door and run leash underneath door) or gate handles screwed into the wall.

  10. Bitter Apple Spray - We use Grannicks Bitter Apple Spray as a chewing deterrent for dogs and puppies. A version of this can also be used as a negative consequence for bad behaviour (Bank Robber Principle).

  11. Good Quality Food - Stay away from Corn and Grains, these are fillers and can wreak havoc with training by creating unnecessary problems.

  12. Poop Bags - Any time you are out with your dog you will need one to pick up their waste.

  13. Stereo - Having the ability to playback sounds of your neighbourhood and abroad to help desensitize your dog will greatly help out with training.

  14. Days Off Work - There may be a few sleepless nights and they can go on for a week or two. You should prepare yourself for not a lot of sleep.


Time

Most dogs require a substantial amount of time to train. When we are training a dog we do a minimum of 2 hours a day not including exercise. This takes about 7-8 weeks and you can expect to have a very well trained dog by that time. This does not account for a dog that already has behavioural problems or is not properly socialized or is a very dominant dog. If that is the case then you may have a considerable extra amount of training (1-2 years is not uncommon).

Investing the time to train a dog right from the beginning pays off huge down the road. After that you don’t have to do as much focused training but you will still want to practice commands and games as they will perish without practice.

From there you want to ensure your dog is exercised adequately daily and is provided with mental stimulation. Most dogs, unlike people, are much happier to be working. Having a couch potato life is not desired by most dogs. If you are looking for a couch potato dog then there are breeds out there that are perfectly suited to that.

Don’t feel like you have to get a dog just because everyone else has one. Sometimes there are points in time in our lives where we just don’t have time for a dog.


Kennel

Having a kennel will save your house from being destroyed while you are gone or from having a dog that learns to go pee in the house. There are mixed views on using a kennel. Some people kennel their dogs all the time and others never want to kennel their dog even if their house is being destroyed.

It is our aim to use a kennel for just long enough to train a dog how to be well behaved in the home when you are away. Just because a dog is complacent in a kennel doesn’t mean they are happiest in a kennel. A kennel is essentially a small jail cell. You have to think if you would want to live your dog’s life. Being in a kennel all day long is something we would not want to do.

Most dogs can be properly trained to be alone in the home in 2 months or less. If a person is really struggling with a dog that wants to get into a lot of trouble when they are away for a prolonged period then that usually indicates exercise and mental requirements are not being met for that dog.

See notes on House Training to find out how you can train your dog to be free in the home while you are away without having them get into trouble.


Leash and Collar

There are dozens of different kinds of leashes and collars. Some people own almost every kind imaginable hoping one will teach their dog how to walk properly.

Our preference is a Regular Flat Buckle Collar for the dog to affix their dog tags. For a leash a Regular 6 Foot Leash is best to start. There are many different ways to train a dog to walk properly and we will show you our preferred way. This will help you understand why we choose this combination. There are other training collars you can progress to if need be. For the time being you are best to use this and purchase more if needed. The article on Loose Leash Walking will provide you with more information.

Leather Collar and Leash is the nicest and most durable option. You can use a Nylon Leash and Collar in the beginning if the dog is bad for biting at the leash as they are less expensive. Often using some Bitter Apple Spray to spray on the leash helps keep the dog from destroying the leash and collar. In the last 4 years + we haven’t had a single leash destroyed since one of the first things we train dogs out here is not to chew on their leash or long line. This takes about 1-3 days to ensure there is never a problem.


Harness

A harness is an excellent training tool. This works well for teaching Recall and Loose Leash Walking. The harnesses that work best are ones that have the option to connect a leash or long line to the front of the dog. The harder the dog pulls away from you, the more it turns them back toward you. Aspen Pet makes an Adjustable Harness that works well, it has a metal ring in the front to connect with. Kong also makes a harness that is very similar and works quite well. The Gentle Leader Easy Walk is very easy to find. We don’t prefer it as much because there is no strap to go between the dog’s front legs and there is no option to connect on the dog’s back. It seems to ride closer into the dog’s arm pit and can cause chafing. They also seem to slip out of it a bit easier. If you can’t find the first two the Gentle Leader Easy Walk is still a good option.


Long Line

This tool is invaluable when it comes to training. If there were only one tool we could pick for working with dogs it would be the long line.

  • Dogs 20 pounds and over - 3/8 inch Polypropylene Rope works great. You can find this rope in bundles of 100 feet at most hardware stores. We cut the rope to 50 feet. The remaining 50 feet you can cut into small tie-out points around your house for training as well as some quick tie-up points for working on Stay outside.
  • Dogs 12-20 pounds - ¼ inch Polypropylene Rope. This tangles a bit easier than the 3/8 inch rope but is lighter and easier for a smaller dog to pull. If they are a stronger dog we will still use the 3/8 inch rope.
  • Dogs 12 pounds and under - Light Ribbon Line - You can often find this in 25 foot lengths at the dollar store. Dollarama carries it. We usually buy two and tie them together to have a 50 foot long line.


Toys / Chew Toys

Dogs love to chew and play. Providing an outlet for chewing is great. Pet stores have a lot of options. You can also build your own. Spring time brings garage sales. You can sometimes get lucky and find a garbage bag full of kids stuffed toys for $1 (or quite cheap).

Squeaky toys - Dogs love squeaky toys. Two cons to squeaky toys are:

  1. Drive some people crazy.
  2. Can be more fun than fetch toys. Some people find it difficult to do fetch with a ball or a stick after using squeaky toys. They just aren’t as much fun as the squeaky toys.

Destroyer - Some dogs are destroyers and will shred toys, even the ones with guarantees that they are built super tough or “tiger tested”. The black Kong toys are the tougher ones but can still be destroyed. Chunks of fire hose type material can work well. Be careful with bones and antlers as dogs that are destroyers can be aggressive chewers meaning they can break or wear down teeth chewing on bones.

Bones & Antlers - These are great for cleaning teeth. Antlers do an exceptionally good job of keeping a dog’s teeth clean.

Kids toys - Beware if the dog will be around kids. It is best to buy toys for your dog that do not look similar to the kids toys. This can help with training. It will also save you a few tears when a sad child comes to you with a toy that was destroyed by the dog.

Fetch & Tug Toys - Balls and dog proof frisbees work great for Fetch. Tug toys should be durable and long tug toys can help ensure you don’t have to bend over as far. There is also more material to minimize your dog biting your hand when you play tug.


Food & Water Bowls

Having bowls that don’t spill easily are essential. Otherwise you can have food and water being spilled daily.

2 Gallon water dishes are great for big thirsty dogs. With our two dogs and one cat we fill it every day and a half. With a water dish you would have to fill it constantly.

Tall dogs such as Great Danes can do well with raised food and water dishes.

Stainless steel dishes are most common. We had one lady tell us she liked Bamboo dishes as stainless steel dishes turned her dog’s nose brown.


Dog Bed

Having a spot for your dog to lay down helps a lot with training. If you live in a cooler climate the big fuzzy beds can be nice and cozy. If you live in a hot climate you may want a thin non-fuzzy bed. Cut up Yoga mats can work well for a bit of cushion but not too warm.

If a dog is allowed to be up on furniture they will often destroy their dog beds as they view them as chew toys and not beds. If your dog destroys the bed in their kennel it can be beneficial to give them no dog bed for a few weeks to a month. After that they seem to appreciate their dog beds and most often won’t wreck them anymore.


Tie Out Points Video

These speed up training like you can’t imagine. They help with training stay, greeting guests, stealing food problems and quite a few others.

They don’t sell them at pet stores as far as we know so making them yourself is the best option. We mentioned with building Long Lines (above) you can make them out of 3/8 inch polypropylene rope found at the hardware store. You can buy some snap hooks to connect at the end. You can size them to your dog. On average we make them 3 feet long. Cut them 3 feet and 4 or 5 inches long to accommodate the knots you will tie onto them.

These will then be anchored to the wall via a gate handle. You can also use heavy furniture, railings and door knobs to attach the dog to.


Bitter Apple Spray

Many dogs like to chew. They may chew things that you don’t want them to chew such as furniture and your belongings. Bitter Apple Spray can really help minimize chewing. Our favorite brand is Grannicks which comes in a yellow and green bottle. For some dogs, just spraying the item you don’t want them to chew is enough to get them to stay away from it. However we meet a lot of dogs that “like” the taste of Bitter Apple or so their humans say. We always ask them if they have even given the dog a squirt in the mouth with the spray and they always answer no. Once the dog has had a stronger taste we have never personally met a dog that likes the taste of that spray. Do so at your own risk. We had one client tell us her dog was allergic to bitter apple spray. Some people find lemon juice can also work well.

With that being said you also want to be sure you are not habituating your dog to the taste of bitter apple. Let’s say your dog is extremely high energy and they are left in a room for long periods of time. The bitter apple may not be enough to deter them from trying to vent energy. The same would go if they had severe separation anxiety or any other strong behavioural problems. You want to address those problems first by providing an outlet before you use the Bitter Apple Spray.

Bitter Apple can also be used as a negative consequence for a dog that likes to test a bit more than most. Let’s say your dog really likes to jump. There is the option to teach your dog to sit or another behaviour and reward that. You can also ignore the jumping and that works for some dogs. Some dogs we have met, really like to jump and the other options don’t work. When the dog jumps you can give them a small squirt of bitter apple in the mouth (again use at your own risk). That often works quite well to stop a dog from jumping. In this instance you are coming across what we call “Bank Robber Principle” where the dog thinks “what is the downside if I jump on you”. If there is no consequence some dogs will keep jumping. This seems to be more indicative of a high Beta or Alpha if you subscribe to that ideology. If you don’t, you may want to look into it as it can help a lot with a dog that constantly gets into trouble and wants to test you.


Good Quality Food

What constitutes good quality food is very tough to say for sure. There are many mixed opinions out there. The biggest studies and advertising are done by the same companies that sell the food. Until corporations change their number one directive from profit to the benefit of humans and animals we remain cautious as to what they tell us. If what is good for dogs is not good for profit then profit wins. If what is good for profit is also good for dogs then it is a happy coincidence. We knew of a pet food company that made the best quality kibble we have ever come across. You could customize protein and supplements, it was made fresh the day you ordered it. It was shipped to your house for free. Dogs that had food allergies and problems cleared up when on this food. It was fantastic. The problem being the company couldn’t turn a profit on it so they closed it down.

It is very hard to remain competitive with foods that use filler ingredients, sell for less and advertise way more.

We are not veterinarians, scientists or food specialists so keep that in mind when we talk about food. All we can offer is what we have seen in the passed and what seems to work or doesn’t. This wasn’t in a controlled setting so it could merely be coincidence.

Corn and Grains seem to be fillers that are inexpensive to add into dog food. Many of the dogs we have worked with had allergies and even behavioural problems on certain foods (Some dogs will actually be aggressive on certain types of food as they seem to cause pain through digestion, rashes or joint issues. They may also have an increased appetite as they feel like they are lacking in food and can then become aggressive over food.)  

These problems were often cleared up completely just by changing foods. We have seen potty training issues, chewing issues, and aggression issues cleared up completely just by changing food.

There are health pet food stores and they usually carry grain free food. Do your research and find what works best for your dog. We will continue to try and find better information on dog food. You may also want to check this article on food aggression as it goes a bit deeper into the food issues and information we have heard.


Poop Bags

This is an absolute essential to carry with you. We recommend carrying extra emergency spares on you as well, maybe in a wallet or purse. That is to help avoid the times where you ran out and your dog has to eliminate and you have no bag. You know you will go get a bag and come back but no one is around to say “Do you have a bag? If not I can run and get one.” So you run off to get one and a person comes out and is yelling at you to pick up your dog waste because they have seen so many people that don’t and they are mad.

Beware if you find yourself to be a person that doesn’t want to pick up your dog poop. We have heard of “dog poop vigilantes” that will follow you home and smear dog poop on your front step, door handle, car window, etc. Even if a person tries the age old trick of “If I just look forward and not watch my dog, if they poop it will look like I had no idea they went so people can’t blame me”. So watch out for that as the poop vigilantes have it figured out.

You can buy biodegradable poop bags and they are a bit nicer for the environment. If you get your dog a vest or a backpack you can often tie or store the poop bags in there and you can even tie or store the full ones on there as well so your dog carries their own waste.


Stereo

This is for playing back environmental noises to socialize your dog to them. We recommend the sound of dogs barking, kids playing, knock or doorbell at your home, wind, animals, people talking etc. Most people get a puppy at 8 weeks of age so playing these noises will help out a lot down the road. If you have an older dog that is set off by certain noises you can play them back on the stereo to help desensitize them to those noises. See the article on Socialization for further information.


Days Off Work

Getting a new dog acquainted to their new home can take a lot of work. Having time to do training, teach them where to go pee or poo, what the appropriate behaviours in the home are and socializing them can take a lot of time.

You also want to make sure that when you go back to work they understand that you will be gone and you will come back and it is no big deal. So in those days off work it is good to exercise the dog and tire them out. Then leave them on their own for a bit in a crate, exercise pen or a dog proofed room to get used to you not always being around. This will prevent Separation Anxiety which can turn into a very problematic behavioural problem.

If you are getting a dog and you work a lot make sure you get a dog that is low energy or has an outlet for that energy. After reviewing this material you may also decide that this is not the right time in your life to get a dog. You may decide to wait till later when you do have time.