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Dog Training Articles.

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PUPPIES | DOG CHALLENGES
DOG NUTRITION/GENERAL THEORY

 

PUPPIES

Bringing Home a New Puppy

What Dog is Right For Me?

Potty Training Basics

To Crate? Or Not To Crate?

 

DOG CHALLENGES

"Prey vs. Play" How to control your dogs natural prey drive

The “Off” switch - How to bring “calmness” to your dog

Off-leash obedience; How to keep your dog close

Good Dog = No Jumping

Chewing is NOT Man’s Best Friend

Come-Recall command

Dog on the couch? Or on the floor? How to overcome the tough dog training dilemmas

 

DOG NUTRITION/GENERAL THEORY

What dog is right for me?

GO GREEN! Earth safe products for your dog.

Proper ID for your dog.

How to take a “safe” road-trip with your pooch

Need a change in your personal relationships? Take some advice from your dog

Holidays and your dog. How to make them happy and safe for all!

How to integrate multiple dogs into your pack

Dog Food - Friend or Foe?

Looking for Mental Clarity? Get a Dog

How to achieve household harmony with your dog

How to Prevent Dog Aggression

Agressive Behaviors in Dogs

Socialization of the Dog

Dog Parks

Dog Water Safety

Grooming Your Dog

 


BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
What dog is right for me?

by Mark Siebel — Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

Buying a dog can be one of the best experiences of your life. Companionship, unconditional love, and lowered stress levels are a few of the many rewards purchasing a dog can offer. Knowing WHAT breed/group of dog will play a large factor in getting the right canine for your family. ALL dogs naturally have a high-energy level and will require a great deal of attention in their first 3 years. To ensure you bring home "Lassie" and not "Marley and Me", follow the below simple tips:

  1. Use your gut. I tell customers that there are NO guarantees of finding a "calm dog" when picking out a puppy. ALL dogs will have high energy and prey drive instincts, so the acclimation and calmness of your dog will ultimately come from the training and routine that you instill upon them. I recommend close observation of the behavior of the dog by itself, with other humans, AND with other dogs. If the dog appears to NOT have an "off" switch, this is a strong indication of extreme high-energy. If you drop a doggie treat and the dog instantly pounces on the food, it may indicate the possibility of food possessiveness. If the dog appears timid, withdrawn, or displays any other predisposition to aggression, there may be a "dog-dog" social issue. This is NOT to say any of these symptoms can't be overcome, it will just take some extra attention.
  2. Pair your lifestyle with your breed. I always say, "Don't get a herding dog if you're a couch potato." Everyone assumes that the calmest dog is a Bassett Hound or a Saint Bernard. This is NOT true! Even Bassett's require regular exercise and routine command work to stay calm-submissive. I believe that dogs become calmer as they age, but the majority of ALL dogs will have high-energy behavior for the first 5+ years of their lives. Do a personal assessment of your lifestyle. Do you work a lot? Do you exercise/hike often? Are you an outdoors type of person? You will want your lifestyle and energy levels to pair appropriately with your new dog's energy. In my experience, I have found the following dogs to be the most receptive to training: Aussie Shepherd, Bouvier Des Flandres, Great Swiss Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, Bernese Mountain Dog, Golden Retriever. Check them out at: http://www.akc.org/breeds/index.cfm?nav_area=breeds

Dogs are NOT disposable! With the proper breed research, you will have a better chance of having a successful match in finding a dog that is right for you. Take a few trips to your local rescue center, talk to your friends with dogs, check out a dog park, and do research on: http://www.akc.org/. Be ready for the discipline and responsibility it takes to own a dog. If you're still in the mindset of jetting off to Vegas for the weekend, or pulling "all nighters" with your buds, you may strongly consider getting a cat.

Mark Siebel has trained over 500+ Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on NBC Arizona Midday, ABC Sonoran Living, Channel 3-AZ FAMILY, FOX 10 News, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. Voted 2008 runner-up “Best Dog Trainer in Phoenix” by SonoranTails Pet Magazine. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com, or call Mark Siebel @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
GO GREEN! Earth safe products for your dog.

by Mark Siebel - Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

Owning a dog is a lot like playing golf. By this I mean there are rules and appropriate behaviors/etiquette that correspond to dog ownership. Dogs are natural followers and WANT to please. With the right leadership and guidance, you can establish an amazing bond with your dog. To find this connection, it’s necessary to establish a routine to let your dog know the rules.

In recent years, many have also become leaders in an effort to establish a closer bond with Planet Earth. GO GREEN is a phrase now used which refers to the “conservation of our planet.” This too comes with rules and appropriate behaviors. We must leave the earth CLEANER than that onto which we were born. In regards to dog ownership, there are numerous ways that we can be in tune to keeping our parks and communities clean with our furry friends by following the below simple tips below:

  1. Clean up after your dog. Except for an occasional child who does not pick up after their dog’s duty, there is NO excuse for any adult NOT to pick up after their dog! By trying to limit our use of non-degradable plastics, the consideration of bio-degradable poop bags is a great idea; visit http://www.squidoo.com/greendogs for more information. I often tie 2-3 bags on my leash to ensure that I have an ample supply to clean up after my dog. Not only does cleaning up after your dog keep our parks clean, but it will limit the transfer of disease and attraction of bugs and other ground mites/ticks.
  2. Consider using recycled leashes, toys, and bedding. There are many products available today that are MADE IN THE U.S.A. that consist of organic, recycled, naturally hypo-allergenic, anti-bacterial, and odor-absorbing materials. These products are dog friendly and will help us to help our earth stay abundant and clean. There are a large variety of colors and prints, and the selection of items ranges from leashes, bedding, poop bags, and toys. Ask your local pet store if they carry any of these items. You may have better luck finding them at smaller, specialty pet boutique stores; http://www.doggiestepsdogtraining.com/page14.html
  3. Stay informed! To stay on top of the many ways of keeping our planet GREEN, you must keep yourself in the GO GREEN pipeline. This can be achieved through consistent research of pet eco-websites, joining a GREEN networking group or social club, and networking with local pet friendly businesses. I find that by going to a local pet boutique or feed store, you can learn a lot! These stores focus on NEW pet products and have many resources to inform us about ECO safe pet product options.
  4. Finally – A little bit goes a long way. Just like the old camp motto: “Leave the campground CLEANER than how you found it,” should be the same way we view our earth and parks. When you take a walk in your local park, consider picking up a piece of trash or dog duty even if it’s NOT yours. It’s the right thing to do.

As dog owners, we can make a difference in how we view our pets and the products that we buy. It’s the little changes that will give us the biggest results, so, think GREEN and we ALL can make a difference. Together we can make our communities, cities, states, countries, and earth a cleaner place for the future.

Mark Siebel has trained over 500+ Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on NBC Arizona Midday, ABC Sonoran Living, Channel 3-AZ FAMILY, FOX 10 News, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. Voted 2008 runner-up “Best Dog Trainer in Phoenix” by SonoranTails Pet Magazine. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com, or call Mark Siebel @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
Proper ID for your dog.

by Mark Siebel - Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

The thought of losing your dog can be devastating. Simple accidents can occur, such as your dog wandering from your yard or going missing by no fault of your own. What is the first thing you should do? Who should you call? The key is to be prepared with proper ID and other means of properly identifying your dog in case they are lost. To ensure your dog returns home safely, follow the below simple tips:

  1. Collar & ID tag. The easiest way to identify a lost dog is by an ID tag. This can be a simple tag marked "REWARD" with your cell phone number. I often suggest the phrase "REWARD" to eliminate the possibility of someone keeping your dog if they actually know its name. If the finder limits their emotional connection to the found dog, the better the chance of them calling you quickly to return it. Another benefit of a simple ID tag on your dog is that the majority of people who find a stray dog are LAZY!! If there is NO visible tag, there's a better chance that they will pass on by and not even attempt to call anybody. A simple ID tag increases the odds that a stranger will call the phone number on the tag for a prompt, safe return. Also, have ample, current photos of your dog to post visible signs around your neighborhood in case they go missing.
  2. Micro chipping. A common identification of one's dog is to have it micro chipped for proper ID. If your dog goes lost, a local veterinarian's office or animal rescue shelter will have access to a microchip wand that will properly ID your dog through a national ID database. Many vets offer micro chipping (which can often be expensive, as much as $80 per dog), or, you could consider a local certified dog professional, i.e. http://www.applebyboarding.com/index2.html, who only charge $20.00 per dog. The peace of mind knowing that your dog can be identified and connected back to you with your cell phone number is priceless. The combination of both an ID tag and micro chipping is your safest bet.

I hope that you will NEVER have to experience the stress and sense of separation associated with losing your dog. If so, with the proper ID, you can rest easier knowing that there is a much higher chance of a safe return home.

Mark Siebel has trained over 500+ Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on NBC Arizona Midday, ABC Sonoran Living, Channel 3-AZ FAMILY, FOX 10 News, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. Voted 2008 runner-up “Best Dog Trainer in Phoenix” by SonoranTails Pet Magazine. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com, or call Mark Siebel @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
Looking for Mental Clarity? Get a Dog

by Mark Siebel, Owner, DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

Upon getting my first dog, I was 10pounds overweight, drank too much, had above average stress, and minimal goals for my future. Now.. I’m not saying that the purchase of a puppy will completely lower your blood pressure, but, the parallels of mental and physical personal development can be directly linked with the care and responsibilities of owning a dog.

How you ask? For starters, I always give my customers the analogy that “cats” are like dating, and “dogs” are like marriage. The commitment to a dog is not to be taken lightly. You just can’t “go to Vegas” for the weekend and leave out a bowl of kibble, like with Morris the cat. With this said, the structure and discipline one will achieve through the routines of caring for a dog, will develop your mental and physical character accordingly.

  1. Dogs must be fed twice daily (unless free-feeders eating at will.) This means that you MUST begin a schedule to adhere to, so your pooch eats at the same times, every day. Dogs primarily learn from routine and repetition, and look forward to the same things at the same time.
  2. Dogs must get exercise. Depending on the breed and age, the average dog should be walked at a minimum, once per day, for a brisk 15 minutes or 1 mile, which ever comes first. A tired dog is a “calm-submissive” dog, and that mental calmness will make for a harmonious home.
  3. Dogs must be kept occupied. The majority of a dogs chewing, barking, digging, and other incessant behaviors are due to a lack of mental and physical challenges. You must learn how your specific breed of dog will benefit from various “tasks” throughout the day to occupy their desire to work and please you.
  4. Finally, dogs must be rewarded with positive praise (vocal) and affection (posture and touch.) This is the primary way to bond with your dog. When done correctly on a routine basis, the connection will be uncanny of the respect and leadership that your dog will see in you.

So, through the new found daily disciplines of owning my first Australian Shepherd, I lost 10 pounds, quit drinking, lowered my stress, and DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training was born. Through the dedication of dog ownership, my path of commitment and successes was laid. So how did I celebrate my new achievements? I bought another dog.

Mark Siebel has trained over 300 Arizona Valley dogs, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com, or call Mark Siebel @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
Good Dog = No Jumping

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

Do you dread going to your sisters house in fear knowing that her 95 pound lab will jump all over your new dress slacks? A dog should NOT prohibit you from going to friends and families homes. Jumping is one of the single most challenging actions for a dog to control. Dogs love all people (most of the time) and when they exercise they’re acute sense of smell, sight, and sound to your new or returning guests, the chances of jumping are increased.

Why you ask? From puppyhood, dogs are naturally oral animals. They lick to induce taste, acceptance, and affection. In the wild, wolf pups jump up to their mother’s mouth to render food. So, this is Ahwatukee NOT the wild, so no more jumping! Jumping can be drastically reduced by following the below simple tips:

  1. Practice entering your home and ignoring your dog. You’ll survive! No touching or eye contact, or high frequency greetings to increase your dog’s energy. Remain calm so your dog will do the same. After returning in from a potty break, command your dog to SIT. Count to 5, and then praise with voice and affection. Always give affection BELOW your waist, not above.
  2. Dogs want to be part of a “pack.” So, get in the habit of greeting your dog with your shoulders back and a strong firm posture. Clasp your hands together to look like the pitcher on a baseball team. When you look and act as a strong leader, your dog will begin to sit automatically out of respect. It is a dog’s instinct to bow to the leader.
  3. Less is more. If your dog is used to jumping on you as soon as you walk in the door, try turning sideways to limit the surface area for him to land on. After time, your dog will end up sliding down your legs as you turn, and then sitting when you again face him in your “pitcher” posture. If he jumps again, repeat the sideways turn. Dogs learn and thrive from “routine/repetition” so this sideways turn will pay off in the long run.
  4. Finally, THERE IS NO PERFECT DOG! Sure, dogs over 9-12 years old are close to perfect, but it came with great practice. So, when you have guests come over, put your dog on a leash. When he is calm after 1-2 minutes, then take him off the leash, and tell your guest to follow the above tips.

So, is teaching your dog not to jump on you and your guests easy? NO!! Routine and repetition will play a crucial role in changing your dogs jumping behaviors. Be patient and consistent and in no time at all you’ll be returning to your sisters home for the Holidays.

Mark Siebel has trained over 300 local Arizona Valley dogs, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com, or call Mark Siebel @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
How to achieve household harmony with your dog

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

Dictionary.com defines harmony as: agreement; accord; harmonious relations. If your dog counter surfs, jumps on guests, barks incessantly, chases your cat to no end, and chews your couch, your home is in a constant state of tension. Just imagine waking up to your dog bringing you the newspaper and your slippers to start the day? IT CAN HAPPEN!

When your dog is properly trained and knows it’s place in your pack, you will then experience the true “harmony” of owning a dog. When leadership signals are not properly directed and a dog begins to take over or lead a home, a dog then begins to view you as a PACK MEMBER, and not a PACK LEADER. If this happens, don’t panic, there is still hope! Below are a few simple tips to ensuring you will be viewed as the pack leader and not the pack play toy:

  1. Talk calmly and carry a big leash. In the wild, wolf packs communicate by vocal tones (howls and growls) and overall body language (posture and body positioning.) Domesticated dogs have limited response to size and time, but will be most responsive to human voice and posture. Exercise TONE not volume and be consistent with your corrections to let your dog know that you are the pack leader.
  2. Most assertive/aggressive dog goes last. In a dog pack, feed the calmest dog first. To stabilize an assertive/aggressive dog, be sure to give them food, toys, and all other items LAST. In addition, they should always follow your lead, not vice versa. You do not want to enable the dog to thinking as though THEY are the leader. Dogs ultimately want to be lead, so broaden your shoulders and deepen your voice when addressing commands to your dog.
  3. The party's over. Practice giving your dog boundaries. Just like children, when play time is over, you let them know in a firm, calm voice. As a child, I knew that my father would only ask me once, and maybe twice, but NEVER a third time! Same with a dog. Respect and leadership come from limited boundaries and the dog knowing when to stop certain incessant behaviors. Reward accordingly with verbal praise and physical touch.
  4. Finally - Routine and Repetition. Dogs are instinctual to routine and repetition. When the same daily exercises and activities are performed (ie..feeding times, walks, training drills, family arrivals and departures) you will find that your dog will be more responsive and in tune to it’s role in your pack.

Owning a dog should be a loving, calm, and positive experience for both owner and dog. By following the simple above tips, they will bring harmony to your home in no time, and just maybe your morning paper and slippers.

Mark Siebel has trained over 300 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com, or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
Dog on the couch? Or on the floor? How to overcome the tough dog training dilemmas

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

In any new relationship, there are often disagreements on HOW to train and control each others’ dogs. After training over 400 dogs and their owners, I have encountered many couples who are still at odds with certain rules and limitations for their dogs. Some times it takes some “fine tuning” to acclimate an existing dog to its new home and new loved ones.

Dogs have individual personalities and unique behaviors just like humans. If you and your significant other are at odds on a particular dog challenge, below are a few good tips to get you BOTH headed in the right direction:

  1. Dogs are energy driven animals. Dogs are more in tune to human body language, tone, and smell than most people could ever imagine. Dogs hear at a wider range of frequencies than humans. The low end of the range is similar, but dogs hear noises up to 45 kHz, while humans only hear sounds up to about 23 kHz. This means that they could be hearing and responding to sounds that we can't hear at all. They also can smell up to 10x better than humans as well. Your energy radiates to where a dog can absorb your energy fields (both positive and negative) to how you’re feeling toward them. If you do NOT change your energy and attitude toward a dog’s incessant behaviors, chances are the problem will not go away.
  2. Pick your battles. I joke with my customers and say “I’m a dog trainer, not Dr. Phil.” Many decisions are based on rules and limitations with dogs and must be with direction and agreement from BOTH owners. Is the dog allowed: On the couch? On the bed? In the car? To get treats from the kitchen table? What about sitting at the dinner table on a kitchen chair? Whatever the issue, a compromise from both parties is a must. No dog behaviors will ever be changed with misdirection and inconsistent commands from either owner.
  3. Together time is quality time. To assist more in the connection with a spouse’s dog, try to spend a bit of alone “quality time” with the dog. Go on a walk, play fetch in the backyard, take a swim (if allowed in the pool), perform brushing and grooming duties, or take a turn for feeding time. Any of these activities will create a stronger bond with you and the dog and eventually lead to a more trusting and bonded connection. Dog learn and grow from routine and repetition, so plan to do these activities on a regular basis.
  4. Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you’re currently having a struggle with a dog in your pack, be patient! Talk to your spouse and see what steps you will need to take to rectify the challenge. Some behaviors can change quickly, other will take some time. Work as a TEAM to address the individual behavior challenges and be compassionate to the dog that may need some “special ” attention.

Dogs look to humans for direction, affection, and connection. If there are mixed signals and commands from owners and loved ones, it will be hard for your dog to become balanced in your pack. Communication is vital with couples to insure a clear training message is being delivered to your dogs. So, remember, dogs look to us for just about everything! Be a calm, patient pack leader, and your dogs will be in harmony in no time.

Mark Siebel has trained over 400 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com, or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
Chewing is NOT Man’s Best Friend

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training
“A” Magazine is a great way to spend those advertising dollars!

Upon finishing a lesson with a recent customer, she showed me a completely chewed up iPod. After hearing the story of how “Kona”, a loving and most energetic dog, had destroyed it, I had to laugh. I’m a rather compassionate man, but seeing an iPod chewed in over 40 pieces was truly amazing.

Dogs chew for two main reasons. First, to satisfy boredom and lack of a job. And second, to satisfy their natural instinct to use jaw muscles and clean their teeth. The first is often the most severe and costly. iPods are about $100. Your Pier One kitchen table is $3000. Below are a few simple tips to ensuring your dog will chew on his doggie bones, and NOT the kitchen table:

  1. Teach chewing boundaries from puppyhood. Dogs have a natural sensation to chew. Chewing exercises jaw muscles, satisfies boredom, and reduces tarter on teeth. Dogs need to be challenged mentally and physically to remain balanced. So, when you bring a new puppy home, have plenty of sturdy, dog friendly chew toys available. If you catch your puppy chewing the wrong toy (i.e. your hands, couch, or table leg) verbally correct and replace the wrong toy with the right toy.
  2. Less is More. Puppies will go through their “teething” stage up until about 6-7 months. During this time, it is best to keep their space limited. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times, “He only chews on the table when I’m not home!” So true. Your dog will naturally stay close to you when you’re home, and become more destructive when you’re away. So, limit his space. I recommend a sturdy metal crate, or a small room like a bathroom or laundry room. Be sure there are ample chew toys with which your dog can keep busy.
  3. Routinely replenish your chew toys. It’s a good idea to routinely change your dog’s chew toys. I wash soft toys every other week, and replace “hard” bones every 3 weeks. The new smells and texture from a perceived “new” toy, will be much more attractive to chew by your dog. Hard-Nylabones, Kongs filled with cheese or peanut butter, tennis balls, and hard-meat bones are all good chewing toys for your dog. Rawhide is often difficult for dogs to digest naturally, so limit this chewing option.
  4. Finally - Patience. Every dog’s chewing habits are different. Traditionally, dogs such as German Shepherds, Boxers, English Bull Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden’s will be the most intense chewers. Every dog will have the desire to chew, just supervise consistently and be sure your dog chews on the right toys and not the wrong ones.

So, the next time you’ve misplaced your iPod, don’t blame Fido. By following the above chewing tips, it’s a good chance your REO Speedwagon songs are safe and sound.

Mark Siebel has trained over 300 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com, or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
Dog Food – Friend or Foe?

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

I find it funny how some dog owners have NO idea what they’re feeding their dogs; “This is what I’ve always fed FIDO, and he seems to like it.” Upon years of observing dog behavior and health trends, I have noted how the longevity and quality of a dog’s health is directly related to the food eaten.

I have recently adopted the attitude that I will NOT feed my dogs anything that I wouldn’t eat. Holding true to this philosophy, below are a few simple tips to ensuring your dog will be treated to a well balanced meal and not leftovers from who knows where:

  1. Dog food nutritional standards. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), all of a pet’s dietary needs (ie..proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals) must be present in every meal. The AAFCO approval label is found on 95% of all dog food, including those that have inferior nutritional value. So, how do we know that the food is actually nutritionally sound for our dogs? Do your homework!!
  2. Read the ingredients label on your dog food bag. Most inexpensive dry dog foods contain “fillers” such as corn, millet, wheat, and rice, ALL of which are not natural in a dog’s diet. Be aware that the first 5 ingredients on the ingredients label will comprise over 85% of the food’s content. If any of the following ingredients are currently listed on your dry food, BEWARE!! *4-D: comprised of meat from dead animals, including the possibility of tainted and/or diseased meat. *Propylene Glycol: a preservative thought to have the similar molecular structures to that of antifreeze. *BHA & BHT: a suspected carcinogen. *Ethoxyquin: a major preservative used in rubber tires, and sometimes in dog food as a synthetic antioxidant to keep fats from turning rotten.
  3. Find a Veterinarian who practices “Holistic” Medicine. Today, most traditional vets don’t even own a dog!! They recommend a dog food that “coincides” with your dog’s current ailment, and will most often recommend a steroid injection (cortisone) to mask the symptoms of the dog’s illness while not treating the actual disease. It’s nice to have a vet who will assess your dog’s history of illness and prescribe the appropriate foods and recovery program to establish a healthy nutritional balance.
  4. Finally – What to feed your dog. A raw, homemade diet is often chosen by dog owners who want to provide the freshest organic meats, vegetables, and proteins to their dogs. This often requires a lot of work, time, and money. To satisfy your dog’s appetite, the following dry dog foods have been tested/qualified to be the top dry brands for both overall nutritional balance, and immune strength: Innova, Eagle Pack, Canidae, Wellness, Fromm’s, Solid Gold, Canine Caviar, California Natural, Natural Planet Organics, and Prairie. ALL OF THESE FOODS ARE MADE IN THE U.S.A. These same brands have wet food to accompany the dry. I recommend a tablespoon of wet food daily for added protein and flavor.

If we eat at McDonald’s every day, we get overweight and a triple bypass at the age of 62. Eating with natural/organic food in mind, we can achieve better future health and the comfort of knowing that our immune system is more resilient against disease. So, the next time you’re thinking about saving a few bucks by buying the cheapest dog food at your local supermarket, think twice.

Mark Siebel has trained over 400 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com, or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
How to Prevent Dog Aggression

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

Many dogs exhibit some form of assertive/aggressive behavior throughout their lifetime. There are many causes of aggression, stemming from lack of littermate socialization, limited dog/dog interaction, and too much freedom as they mature. Dogs are pack animals and need to be socialized regularly with other balanced, healthy dogs.

Dogs, by instinct want to follow a leader, so routine and repetitious activities must be carried out for your dog daily. These activities must ALWAYS show your dog that you are the pack leader, which instills a calm/submissive state of mind for your dog. By following the below tips on preventing dog aggression, you may just be invited back to your next neighborhood block party:

  1. Food/toy possession. From the moment you bring your new puppy home, make it clear that NO food or toy is his! I suggest to my customers to put their face and hands in the puppy’s food bowl to ensure that the dog learns that food is social and not possessive. I also suggest a “give/take” exercise with bones and chew toys. Give your dog a bone and take it away immediately. After this routine, give your dog the bone, let him chew on it for 5 minutes, and then take it back again. This will teach your dog that NOTHING is his and all food/toys are given and owned by humans.
  2. Human first, dog second. How many times have you seen a dog on a walk and dragging its owner down the street? I call this the “ski boat” walk. The dog is the boat and the human is the skier! Not all dogs will take an assertive/aggressive stance, but any herding/sporting/working dog will have a much better chance of becoming “Alpha” if not shown the proper pack order sequence. Be sure to “lead” your dog on the walk, out your door, and anytime that you have forward motion. This will teach your dog to follow and not lead. Leave the skiing for your summer vacation.
  3. Socialize your puppy from a young age. Many vets will recommend quarantining your puppy until 16 weeks of age, or upon completion of ALL necessary vaccines, including rabies. The first year of a dog’s life is crucial for socializing to build calm relations with other dogs and humans. So, when socialized with HEALTHY and BALANCED dogs, your dog will have a greater chance of less assertive/aggressive tendencies as he ages. Form a “puppy social hour” at your home with friends, family, and neighbors dogs. Dogs are pack animals and will form solid social bonds with 4-8 other balanced dogs. Dog parks are a good way to socialize your dog ONLY if it’s a clean park with other healthy, well-trained, balanced dogs.
  4. Finally – Make your dog work for everything. No free lunch is the point here! From a Chihuahua to a Great Dane, make your dog work for its food and treats. Have your dog sit before meals, at the curb before crossing the street, and before exiting your home. This routine will always have your dog looking to YOU for the next command, therefore creating a dog follower, human pack leader relationship.

With the proper mixture of command work, nutrition, and exercise, your dog will experience the utmost state of mind and existence. By taking a “human first” approach with your dog, it will result in a natural “follower” instinct from your dog. Be a consistent and directive leader, and your dog will be calling you boss in no time.

Mark Siebel has trained over 400 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com, or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
Potty Training Basics

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

Many of my customers bring home a puppy, and tell me “We’ve had NO problems yet! No potty accidents, chewing, digging, jumping, mouthing, or counter surfing.” I call this the HONEYMOON period. Just wait. Puppies, almost guaranteed, will go through all the above behaviors, especially potty accidents in the house.

On average, it takes 4-8 months to have your puppy FULLY potty trained. Any trainer/owner who says otherwise most likely had a miracle puppy. Of course, by being extremely committed and disciplined, your timeframe could be less. Routine & repetition will get your puppy potty trained the fastest. By following the below potty training tips, you’ll be calling the carpet cleaner a lot less often:

  1. Crate training. Crate training is the most effective method to potty train your puppy. Not only will your dog learn NOT to potty where they sleep, but it will also keep your puppy calm, submissive, and SAFE when you’re gone. Dogs are descendants of Gray Wolves, which raise their pups in a den for upwards of 1 year. You want to give your puppy just enough room to stretch and do a 360 degree turn. The concept of the crate is that your puppy won’t potty in one corner and then sleep in the other. I suggest only a hard bone to chew in the crate. NO bedding, because you don’t want your puppy to mistake it for a pee-pad.
  2. Routine - Repetition. It is said that your puppy can hold its potty for it’s age in months, plus 1 hour (2mo. old + 1 hour = 3 hour hold time). I normally instruct to take your puppy outside after feeding, drinking, naps, indoor playtime, and anytime after being in the crate. Designate a “potty-spot” and take your puppy to that SAME spot for potty time. It is ok to give your dog a treat after potty to reinforce good behavior.
  3. Potty on command. As strange as it sounds, I have trained my dogs to eliminate on command! Many police dogs must have this ability due to being in a patrol car for long periods of time. Get in the routine of taking your dog to your potty-spot. Once your puppy has fully completed #1, with high energy and enthusiasm praise “good potty!”, and give them a treat. Then, after your puppy has fully completed #2, again, with high energy and enthusiasm praise “good poop!” or “good business!”, and give them a treat. The goal is to make the connection that potty in the potty-spot is always praised, and potty in the home is corrected. If you catch your puppy in the act of pottying inside, correct with a “grunt” or loud tone, and carry them outside to the potty spot.
  4. Finally – Less is more! A dog’s best sense is scent! Therefore, by taking them to the SAME potty spot time and time again, they will eventually go back to the SAME place to potty. By slowly giving your puppy more room to roam throughout your home, they will learn NOT to potty where they sleep and live. I strongly advise NOT to give your puppy full run of your home. Keep him in the crate or isolated in a small room when not supervised, to ensure that he will not potty on the floor.

Potty training a dog takes time and patience. A dogs bladder and internal organs do not fully mature until 10-16 months, so it takes time for the energy of the brain to catch up with the development of its muscles and internal organs. Be consistent with the above potty training tips and soon your dog will have FULL run of the house.

Mark Siebel has trained over 400 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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SOCIALIZATION OF YOUR DOG
By: Nicole Ondrey

Co Author: Mark Siebel

Most people expect and hope they will raise a well-adjusted and happy dog. However, the thought of achieving this goal can be a bit overwhelming and perplexing. How do you raise a well-adjusted dog? What makes some dogs aggressive while others are excessively timid? What can you do to ensure that your dog falls somewhere in the middle of these two? These are questions that most dog owners ask themselves and to which they seek the answers. Hopefully, the following information will provide an overview of how you can begin to raise a well-rounded dog.

What is Socialization?

Socialization is a very broad term, but essentially refers to the process of teaching your dog how to function in the world. It encompasses everything from learning how to get along with humans and other animals, becoming comfortable in an assortment of environments, and adapting to new situations without fear or aggression. Properly socialized dogs are typically more confident, secure, and generally have less stress, which, ultimately, leads to a happier and healthier dog.

The key to raising a well-adjusted dog is to start early! Puppies are like children…they are like sponges during their early years as they are learning about the world around them. During the first six weeks of a puppy’s life, they learn about their environment more than any other time in their lives. It is during this time that their brains are making connections, all while they are learning behaviors from their mother and the other puppies in the litter. The period of 6-12 weeks is also a crucial time, as puppies are most likely to accept and become comfortable with new experiences. It is very important that these are POSITIVE experiences so that puppies do not become fearful of certain situations, which can encourage aggression later in their lives. Although it is not possible to introduce your puppy to every possible situation, proper early socialization will allow your dog to adapt faster to new circumstances throughout their lives. Socialization also does not end after your puppy is 12 weeks of age. Although the foundation of experiences and proper behaviors is established during the first few months, learning about the world is a lifelong process.

What Does Socialization Consist Of?

Since socialization includes so many different portions of a dog’s development, here are some of the major areas in which a dog should advance throughout the first few months of their lives.

  • Interaction with you, your family, and other people
  • Interaction with other dogs and animalsIntroduction and exposure to new experiences, such as going on walks with a leash, getting in and out of vehicles, and loud noises
  • Introduction to new places, such as dog parks, other peoples’ homes, and the veterinarian’s office
  • Being around and interacting with children
  • Reducing fear
  • Teaching about appropriate and inappropriate responses to stimuli in environment
  • Housebreaking

Steps for Owners to Take to Facilitate Socialization

You are the most important person in your dog’s life, and they will be learning about their environment from you. It is a large task to introduce your pet to the world, but the results will definitely outweigh the amount of work and dedication that go into raising a well-rounded dog. Although the temperaments and amount of time it can take to socialize dogs varies, all pets can benefit from the following suggestions.

  • Let your dog know that YOU are in control. Dogs are pack animals and need to know where they fit in the hierarchy of things. Let your dog know that you are the “alpha” in the household. This is extremely important, as it teaches your dog that you are the leader and you will protect them, which, ultimately, increases their sense of security and safety. Ensure that you have control over their new experiences with the environment so your dog can see the world through your attitude. Show your dog that you enjoy meeting other people and dogs and that you are open to new experiences. This will encourage your dog to approach the world in the same way.
  • Start slow and be patient! Your dog will not learn everything they need to know about the world in the first few weeks of their lives, let alone the first few years. You do not want to overwhelm them, which may scare them and instill a general sense of fear with the environment. It is best to take small steps to introduce your puppy to the world. Before taking your puppy on a leashed walk around the neighborhood, take them on a walk around the back yard. Before taking your puppy to a park with many people and dogs, introduce them to a small play group. Realize that there will be setbacks and that socialization takes a great deal of time and patience.
  • Ensure dog is used to being handled and touched. While your puppy is still young, pick them up, gently move them into several positions, roll them around on the floor, stick your fingers in their mouth, and inspect their bodies. Not only does this familiarize your puppy with being touched, it also encourages trust. If you have this much control over their body and do not hurt them, they cannot help but to trust you. Allow other people to touch your dog, so that the puppy also develops trust in others.
  • Get others involved in the socialization process. Unless you plan on never bringing your dog into contact with others, you will have to introduce your dog to other people and other animals as early as possible. Invite people into your home to meet the dog, which lets your pet know that visitors are welcome. Ask visitors to bring their friendly and well-socialized dogs so that your pet can learn by example. Involve all family members in your pet’s development so that your dog becomes used to interacting with everyone in the household. Clearly explain your expectations to all parties involved in the socialization process to ensure that everyone is reinforcing the same behaviors. You do not want to confuse your dog, so consistency is key!
  • Reward dog when they do something right. Always remember to reward and praise your dog when they exhibit positive behaviors, which will increase the behaviors that you want to see. Keep in mind that your dog craves attention and will increase the behaviors that produce the most positive attention. If you catch your dog doing something you want to see, reward them with a treat, a good scratch behind the ears, or a few minutes of play time. This will increase the likelihood that the behavior will happen again. Remember that your dog enjoys pleasing you!
  • Do not hit your dog. If your dog exhibits behaviors that you do not want to see, do not punish them by hitting or chasing them. This only instills fear in your dog, which can lead to future aggression. Instead, use brief signals and sounds like “grunts” “no” or “uh uh” to get your dog’s attention, and then redirect the behavior to something more acceptable or remove the dog from the situation. For instance, if you catch your dog chewing a piece of furniture, say “no,” and then bring your dog a toy to chew instead. Redirecting behaviors will show your dog what you do want rather than what you do not want.
  • Spay/Neuter your dog. Spaying female dogs typically reduces their tendency to roam and look for a mate, which decreases their chances of experiencing trauma, such as getting hit by a car, as well as reducing their chances of catching infectious diseases. Neutering male dogs reduces their tendency to act aggressively and mark their territory. In addition, both provide the benefit of restricting your pet to its trained boundaries.

As you practice the steps above in socializing your dog, remember that patience and positive reinforcement will not only benefit your dog, but will bring you a sense of pride and accomplishment in knowing that you have raised a well-behaved and content dog. If you are happy, your dog will be happy as well! Although the process may be difficult and you may not always know the answers to solving socialization obstacles, keep in mind that DOGGIE STEPS can help!!

Mark Siebel has trained over 400 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIORS IN DOGS
By: Nicole Ondrey

Co Author: Mark Siebel

One of the most common concerns of new dog owners is their fear of raising an aggressive dog. Our dogs are members of our families and we want to ensure that all members of the family coexist in a peaceful and loving environment. Nobody wants to live in fear that their dog may hurt them, the members of their family, or others.

Many believe that certain breeds of dogs are more aggressive than other breeds. It is true that the amount of time and effort it takes to train your dog may depend on the breed and disposition of the dog. However, it is important to remember that aggression can exist in any breed of dog. Even the most well-trained dog can act aggressively if put in an unfamiliar or threatening environment. Remember…there is always a reason for a dog’s aggressive behavior. The hard part for us as owners can be identifying the source of the aggression and making sure the behavior doesn’t happen again.

Identification and Acknowledgement of Aggression

Ultimately, we are responsible for our dog’s behaviors. The first step in preventing future aggression is for owners to acknowledge the aggressive behaviors, or the potential for them, in their dogs. It never helps to ignore aggressive behaviors or to believe that the dog will simply “outgrow” them. One of the most frequent sources of unprovoked aggression in dogs is a lack of socialization. The key to raising a loving and well-rounded dog is to teach your dog how to relate to others and their environment. Your dog learns about appropriate behaviors from the most important person in their life…YOU!

Dogs enjoy training and consistency within their daily routine. Imagine the chaos and confusion that would ensue if everyone in your household were unclear about their roles. Nobody would know who would be cooking dinner, who would be paying the bills, or to whom they could go with a problem. Because your dog is also a member of your family, they need to know when they will be fed, when they will get a walk, and most importantly, who is in charge. If the rules and roles within the household remain consistent, everyone will remain happy.

It is important to understand why dogs become aggressive. Aggressive behavior is not inherently bad. We rely on our dogs to warn us by barking if someone is trying to break into our home or protecting us if we are in danger. An aggressive dog is reacting to a perceived danger in their environment. It is likely that the source of this danger is something unfamiliar to the dog and, therefore, becomes very threatening. Just like humans have a “fight or flight” response, dogs have the option to run away or to fight. Some of the ways a dog might “fight” and exhibit aggressive behavior are:

  • Growling
  • Showing their teeth
  • Snapping
  • Biting
  • Barking
  • Jumping
  • Mounting
  • Chasing

Types of Aggression

These behaviors are easy to identify and create an instant warning that your dog feels threatened by something in its environment. The more difficult task comes in determining the source of the aggressive behavior. There are several explanations as to why your dog is reacting to its environment in this way.

  • Territory Dispute: Dogs are territorial animals, a trait which was inherited by their less domesticated ancestors who needed to protect their safety and food from predators in the wild. Dogs have claimed particular spaces as their own and will protect these spaces if they become compromised. This aggression can occur when someone knocks at the door, rings the doorbell, or walks in front of your home. It can also occur when a person or animal tries to occupy the dog’s favorite spot on the couch or bed.
  • Dominance: Dogs are pack animals and are instinctively used to a particular hierarchy within their packs. Just as a family maintains roles, packs also hold certain roles. Some dogs may attempt to prove themselves as the “alpha” dogs within their families. This type of aggression can occur when the dog is disturbed while it is sleeping, asked to give up a favorite spot, or have a favorite toy taken away.
  • Fear: Fear is a basic instinct that all animals and humans possess in order to keep us safe from danger. Some dogs develop a lack of security and have a difficult time adapting to new situations or people. These dogs often have high levels of anxiety in new environments. If a dog feels as if his safety is threatened, it may react aggressively against the people or animals in that environment.
  • Predatory Behavior: Some dogs have strong instincts to hunt or chase game, a trait which helped ensure their survival. These dogs may stalk, chase, and kill small animals within their territory. These instincts may be heightened when these dogs are running or playing with other dogs that have the same predatory instincts.

A certain amount of aggressive behavior during play time can be healthy, such as when your dog gets excited and barks when playing with a ball or toy. However, it is important that you can identify the source of the behavior and the type of aggression that the dog is displaying in order to know if it may get out of control. For example, if the dog In addition, it is crucial that the owner of the dog have control over the display of aggression and is able to end it if it gets out of control.

We must remember that dogs often act on instinct. If they are put in a new environment or situation in which they feel uncomfortable, they may instinctively react with aggression. For example, if your friend comes to your house with their new puppy and your dog has never been around other dogs, your dog may show territorial aggression by growling at the puppy. Or, if a family member sneaks up on the dog while they are eating, the dog may snap at the individual. You must remember to treat your dog with the same respect as all other family members and not put them into a situation in which they feel threatened or uncomfortable.

Steps for Reducing Aggression

The good news is that aggression in dogs can be prevented and/or remedied once the behaviors are recognized. The most effective way to prevent future aggressive behaviors is with proper training of your dog. As is expected, it is always easier to train puppies as opposed to older dogs, so start early! It is crucial for you to allow proper socialization of your dog by allowing them to become comfortable around others, including children and other dogs, as well as various environments, such as your neighborhood, parks, and cars.

Consistency is crucial when training your dog. Dogs enjoy having a daily routine and benefit from knowing when they will be fed, walked, and when it is time to play. If they are left guessing when their next meal will be, they will be put into a situation in which they are uncomfortable. In addition, regular exercise will keep your dog’s anxiety levels low and will release pent up energy that may turn into aggression.

Make sure your dog is used to the idea that other people and dogs will be around. When your dog is new to your home, ask friends to come over to meet the new member of your family. If it is possible, ask your friends to bring their non-aggressive dogs for a play date with your dog. Be sure these are supervised visits and pay attention to how your dog relates to other dogs. If a dangerous situation arises between your dog and another dog, remove your dog from the situation and allow him the time and space to calm down.

There are many safety and liability issues when your dog will be surrounded by children. If there will be children around your dog often, it is important to educate the children about appropriate and inappropriate behaviors around dogs. By teaching them what they can do (i.e., pet the dog’s head, chest or belly, play fetch, wait for the dog to come to them, walking on a leash), as well as what they should not do (i.e., pull the dog’s hair, put their faces in the dog’s face, try to take food or treats away), you will ensure peaceful relationships between your dog and children. In addition, make sure children are always supervised when playing with your dog.

Get your dog used to the idea that people may be around them when they are eating. It is easier and safer to use this technique when your dog is still a puppy. Sit next to the dog while they are eating and touch their food throughout the meal. Take the food away for a short amount of time, and when you give it back, reward the dog with praise for their patience. Try this technique when your dog is enjoying a treat or a favorite bone or toy. By getting your dog used to having others around their food, you can avoid dangerous situations in which your dog may become possessive of his food and display aggressive behaviors.

Always reward your dog’s good behavior. They need to know when they are acting appropriately and doing things correctly! Punishment does not help when attempting to eliminate aggression, and can sometimes make the problem worse. If your dog’s aggression is the result of fear, punishment will make them more fearful of the situation and may increase the aggressive behaviors.

If your dog is suddenly displaying aggressive behaviors that cannot be explained or reduced, be sure to rule out medical explanations of the aggression. Dogs that are in pain or are overly tired may react aggressively simply because they do not feel good. In addition, pregnant or nursing dogs may act aggressively if they feel as if their babies are being put in danger.

The most important thing to remember when training your dog and attempting to prevent or reduce aggressive behaviors is to BE PATIENT! It takes time for dogs to learn how to behave appropriately and there will probably be setbacks. However, the more time and effort you dedicate to your dog’s development, the faster they will grow into the dog you always dreamed of! And remember, a qualified expert is only a phone call away! DOGGIE STEPS can help!!

Mark Siebel has trained over 400 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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GROOMING YOUR DOG
By: Nicole Ondrey

Co Author: Mark Siebel

Grooming is an essential factor in the health and well-being of your dog. Not only does it allow them to look and feel their best, grooming also provides an opportunity for you and your dog to bond. While you are grooming, you are spending quality time with your dog, which enhances your relationship, builds trust, and can be a very therapeutic stress reliever after a long day. In addition to providing loving attention to your pet, you can also determine what is “normal” and “abnormal” with your dog’s coat, skin, teeth, eyes, ears, and nails.

Many people believe that grooming your dog consists primarily of washing and brushing your pet, but, in actuality, it consists of so much more. Grooming also encompasses, but is not limited to, cleaning and examining your dog’s eyes, ears, teeth, paws, and nails, looking for ticks and/or fleas in their fur, noticing signs of eczema or other skin abnormalities, recognizing your dog’s development of allergies, and detecting abnormal smells on your dog. It is typically through grooming that owners become aware of medical problems with their dogs, which prompts them to address their concerns with their veterinarian.

It is important for owners to know what types of grooming habits are required for their breed of dog. Many owners choose specific breeds based on the way they want their dog to look. These owners must also research and educate themselves about the amount of time and dedication it will take to groom their pet. While it is true that some dogs require much more attention in terms of grooming, all dogs will benefit from the following grooming tips.

Types of Grooming

  • Bathing: It is important for you to identify what is considered “regular” bathing for your breed of dog, as it is possible for you to bathe your dog too much. Too frequent bathing can strip your dog’s fur of its natural oils, which can cause skin disorders. Be sure to use a mild dog shampoo to prevent skin irritation. Do not use “people” shampoo or dishwashing soap, both of which are too harsh for your dog’s skin and fur. If your dog requires a flea shampoo, check with your veterinarian on a recommended brand. If your dog has longer hair, be sure to brush them before bathing. This will prevent knots and tangles in your dog’s fur from becoming worse.
  • Brushing/Combing: Regular brushing will keep your dog’s coat and skin clean and healthy, and will help keep shedding under control. Be sure to let the brush touch and massage the dog’s skin, which will stimulate the blood supply to the skin and produce a healthier and shinier coat. Always check your dog’s fur and skin for mats, leaves, burrs, or skin abrasions before brushing. It is important that you know what kind of tools are needed for your breed of dog, depending on the length and texture of their hair. The American Kennel Club (AKC) suggests the following:
    • Long-haired dogs: Pin brushes, which have long, round-ended stainless steel or chrome-plated pins.
    • Short-medium haired dogs: Bristle brushes, which come with soft, medium, or hard bristles depending on the texture of your dog’s coat.
    • Additional tools: Slicker brushes for removing mats and dead hair and Rubber curry combs to polish smooth coats and remove dead hair.
  • Nail Trimming: Most dogs do not like having their nails trimmed, so it is best for you to begin handling your dog’s paws and nails when they are still a puppy. A dog’s nails are a good indicator of their overall condition of health. Crooked, dry, or cracked nails are an indication that the dog may have a fungal infection or is malnourished. Nails must remain short for a dog’s feet to stay healthy. Long nails interfere with a dog’s quality of movement and can make walking and running difficult or painful. In addition, long nails have a greater chance of breaking, which can cause pain and infection. Ask your local dog groomer or veterinarian to show you how to trim your dog’s nails the first time. Most dog nail clippers have safety guards that help prevent you from cutting your dog’s nails too short. However, if you inadvertently cut the nail too short and it begins bleeding, apply styptic powder, and antiseptic clotting agent that will help stop the bleeding. If you find it difficult to cut your dog’s nails, your local groomer or veterinarian can also do it for you.
  • Tooth Brushing: Daily brushing is extremely important for your dog, as it promotes healthy teeth and gums. It is essential that your dog is comfortable with you putting your hands in their mouth and touching their teeth and gums, so it is suggested that you begin this practice when they are a puppy. Using a pet toothbrush and toothpaste, gently brush their teeth using a circular motion. Remember to praise your dog during and after the brushing so they associate it as a positive experience. There are also several varieties of treats and chew toys that help reduce plaque and prevent tartar build-up. It is also suggested to have your dog’s teeth cleaned by their veterinarian regularly.
  • Eye Cleaning: Your dog’s eyes are a very sensitive part of their body, so regular eye care is very important. Healthy eyes will appear shiny, clean, and wide open. Just like humans, it is normal for dogs to have a small amount of dirt build-up or “crusty” bits in their corners of their eyes. This is one of our body’s natural ways of protecting our eyes, by pushing all particles that come into contact with our eyes toward the corner. This debris can easily be cleaned by gently wiping your dog’s eyes with a warm washcloth. If your dog has constant tearing, puffy eyelids, red, irritated eyes, or a green or pus-like discharge from their eyes, contact your veterinarian immediately, as this may be the sign of a serious infection or illness.
  • Ear Cleaning: Just like humans, dog requires their ears to be cleaned regularly. Most dogs’ ears require cleaning about once a month, but dogs that are prone to ear infections may require cleanings more often. When cleaning your dog’s ears, be sure to check for unusual odors, redness, or inflammation, as these are signs of an ear infection. It is important that you clean your dog’s ears very carefully and take particular precautions in order to prevent ear infections. Clean the outer part of the ear with a warm washcloth or dampened cotton swab, being sure to run it along all portions of the outer ear. Allow your dog to shake out the excess moisture, as this will prevent ear infections. Never stick a cotton swab inside your dog’s ear canal, as this could cause damage to your dog’s ear and hearing. Request that your veterinarian thoroughly clean your dog’s inner ear during their regular check-ups.
  • Detection of Fleas and Ticks: Fleas and ticks are the most common parasites that cause distress to dogs. Fleas are small bugs that are dark in color and about the size of a grain of rice. They are typically contracted through contact with other animals as they jump from host to host. Fleas usually live deep a dog’s fur and are often discovered by the black droppings they leave behind, which resemble specks of pepper. These parasites often cause itching, which can ultimately lead to severe skin irritation. There are a wide variety of flea products on the market. Ask your veterinarian about the best flea treatments and prevention for your dog. Ticks are small bugs that burrow themselves into your dog’s skin and suck their blood. They are typically flat, round, and dark in color, and larger than fleas, making them easier to spot. They often burrow themselves under a dog’s collar or along their underbelly. Ticks are generally found in wooded areas, but also live in lawns, gardens, and shrubs, which are places where dogs often “explore.” Ticks are potentially dangerous, as they carry and spread Lyme Disease, an illness that destroys joints and reduces energy, in animals and humans. If you find a tick on your dog, immediately remove it from your dog using a pair of tweezers.

As you can see, regular grooming of your dog requires a great deal of time, work, and dedication. However, the process can be just as enjoyable as the outcome. The bond between you and your dog will strengthen as you continue regular grooming, all while you maintain the optimal health of your dog. Remember…a dog that allows you to brush their hair, inspect their ears, and stick your fingers in their mouth is a pet that trusts you completely! There are multitudes of resources available on the internet or at your local bookstore that can help answer questions you may have about grooming your dog. You will also benefit from finding a groomer that both you and your dog trust to help with the more difficult grooming tasks. Check with Mark at DOGGIE STEPS, who may also have suggestions for reputable groomers in your area.

Mark Siebel has trained over 400 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
Dog Water Safety

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

It’s summertime! Time for beer, brats, baseball, and the beach. It’s also time to be sure that your kids AND dogs are safe around water. For many Valley residents, most homes come equipped with a swimming pool. It’s important that your dog learns HOW to get out of the pool if they fall in.

I always stress the importance of (2) major factors relating to dogs and water: Safety & cleanliness. I often show up to customers homes for a first training session and observe how the dog freely enters the pool at its own leisure. It is important to train your dog that they are ONLY to enter the pool when invited, resulting in dog safety and not having to worry about a wet dog in the house shaking off!! By following the below tips, you can rest at ease knowing that your dog will be safe around your pool:

  1. Invite only. Just like I train a dog to ONLY jump up on the couch when invited, it is the same approach when a swimming pool or body of water is involved. Dogs are reactive to sound and motion, so it can be challenging when you jump in your pool and not have FIDO jump in after you. Practice having a family member or friend hold onto your dog when your about to enter the pool. Next, issue a STAY command. Calmly enter the water, and then invite your dog in the pool. This routine will become customary for your dog, and in time, will reduce the desire to enter the pool on his own terms.
  2. Swimming for the first time. Most dogs have a natural attraction to water. So, in case a pool is present in your yard, your dog must know the basics of how to swim. I suggest finding the lowest step in your pool to introduce your dog into the water. Carry your dog calmly down the steps and then stand about 4 feet from the lowest step. After about 10 seconds of placing your dog in the water, have them swim back to the step, and exit the pool. Repeat this exercise daily, about 5 times in a row for a week.
  3. Visual marker for pool exit. Once your dog is acclimated to entering and exiting the pool, it’s important to have a visual marker just in case they fall in from a different entry point, and need to exit. I often suggest placing a flower pot or a pool chair next to the exit step, so your dog becomes familiar with where the exit is. After only a few weeks of exiting at that visual marker, your dog will now be confident of where to exit the pool if they fall in.
  4. Finally – Safety first! Be sure your dog is familiar with your pool and how to enter/exit safely. If you have a doggie door, be aware that your dog will have FULL access to the pool area so water safety is crucial!

Dogs and water are like ice cream and chocolate. They just go together. A swimming pool can offer your dog hours of challenging exercise and mental stimuli. With summertime here, be sure you’re aware of pool safety to ensure your dog will have as much fun in the pool as you do.

Mark Siebel has trained over 400 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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DOG PARKS
Author: Bernadette Emery

Co-Author: Mark Siebel

Cosmo Dog Park in Gilbert, AZ was rated the #1 dog park in 2007. It’s a four-acre park that includes many amenities that dogs love: a lake with a dock that dogs can jump off, obstacles that the dogs can use, and even a fountain that is shaped as a fire hydrant. Comso Park is not the only dog park in the valley. Other parks may not boost the water-features that Comso does but they are still packed with fun and activities for all dogs. However, an off-leash dog park may not be the best environment to bring every dog. There are many pros and cons associated with going to a dog park. Knowing what to expect when you go to a dog park can be the key to a good experience for you and your dog.

One of the best advantages of taking a dog to a dog park is the socialization they will experience from being around many different people and different dogs. Have you ever seen a dog that acts fearful or aggressive towards other people or animals? The dog may be acting out because the dog has never been exposed to a certain type of person (i.e. children, or men). Proper socialization starting at a young age can help create a social and friendly dog. Dog parks are great for this because there are many different people and dogs at the parks. There are also different smells and sounds that a dog will be exposed to. All of these things will help to create a well balanced dog.

Another advantage to dog parks is the physical and mental stimulation. The off-leash environment is a great source of exercise for a dog. Because the entire dog park is fenced in, there is little worry that a dog will escape. Even if there are no dogs at the park just allowing a dog to sniff around is a great way to mentally stimulate a dog. Playing and running with other dogs will also help prevent your dog from destructive and annoying behaviors at home. A dog that is tired from even a half an hour at the park is more likely to sleep then to get into your closet. When your dog plays with other dogs it can also curb mouthing tendencies. A dog will whine or whimper when your dog mouths too hard; inadvertently teaching your dog how hard is too hard.

Dog parks can be an advantage for owners because they are able to learn more about their dogs through observation. You may notice that your dog is aggressive or fearful around smaller dogs, or you may learn that your dog would rather interact with the other people then the other dogs. With this kind of knowledge you will be able to give your dog the proper attention and guidance in areas that he or she might need improvement. Also, dog parks give owners a chance to interact. Some owners are very experienced and have friendly social dogs; it can give new owners a chance to learn from these owners.

So far dog parks are looking like great places, but there are disadvantages. There is always the potential that an owner may bring in an aggressive dog. These dogs can create fear and aggression instead of helping to prevent it. Plus aggressive dogs can cause injury and even death to other dogs. Be careful not to assume that a dog is okay because of their breed. Keep an eye on your dog to be sure that he or she is not being bullied by another. An aggressive a dog can get over-excited at a dog park, and lose control over impulses. If you have a good handle on your dog you will be able to calm him or her down easily, but if you do not it could be dangerous to your dog, other dogs, or people.

Dog parks also can be a way for your dog to pick up parasites or diseases. You can even pick up parasites without knowing it. Never bring a dog that has not been vaccinated to a dog park, it is very dangerous to the dog’s health. Wait until your vet says that your dog is ready. Remember Parvo can last longer then 9 months in the environment and adult dogs can be carries without showing any signs.

Finally, you want to be cautious when it comes to small and large dogs. Not all large dogs are going to be friendly to small dogs, and even if they are, a large dog is sometimes four times bigger then a small dog. There are timid areas at the dog parks for smaller or shy dogs. If you know that your dog is shy or if you know that a certain dog is aggressive towards your dog, you may want to bring your dog to the timid area of the park. This way you will prevent injury and prevent your dog from learning fear or aggression from the other dog.

Remember some people may abuse their right to be at the park. They will not pick up after their dog, they may not watch their dog, and they may allow them to act inappropriately. People who behave this way ruin the dog park experience for everyone. A few ways to make sure that you do not become a park-abuser is to make sure that you read and follow the rules. The dog park rules are posted up outside of the park, and are sometimes posted on the park’s website.

A key to not becoming a park-abuser is to make sure that you are able to control your dog. A dog that will not listen to a LEAVE-IT command, or a COME command could cause a problem if he or she begins to act too aggressively towards another dog. Another important rule is children. Some dog parks do not allow children under a certain age in the park. If you are at a park that allows children, be aware that they could cause danger for your dogs. Dogs are predatory animals, and some breeds have strong PREY drives, and when they get into ‘chase-mode’ it can be dangerous. When children are running around they can trigger this ‘chase-mode’ which could result in injury to the child. So be aware of the children at the dog parks even if they are not your own.

There are many pros and cons to going to a dog park. The park may or may not be right for your dog. However, if you think that your dog can benefit from going to a dog park there are things that you may want to do to get your dog ready to go. Make sure that your dog is vaccinated before even thinking about bringing your dog to a park. Make sure your dog is at older than four months. Puppies tend to get picked on the most by the other dogs and the behavior can even turn into aggression. Socializing your puppy is always a good thing, but instead of a dog park try to enroll him in a puppy-class, or introduce him or her to a neighbor dog that you know is friendly.

When you first go to a dog park make sure that your dog has some basic commands down. The better your dog has the commands down at home the better they will be at listening to you at a dog park. Dog parks are full of energy. They can be loud and they can be distracting to dogs. Basic training can help you control your dog, and it may even help save your dog from injury. A good come, sit, stay, and maybe even a settle, or calm command will help your dog’s experience at a dog park.

Another trick for first timers is to bring your dog to the park when it’s less crowded. The parks are busiest during the mornings, evenings, and weekends. Try bringing your dog to the park before three in the afternoon, or after eight at night. Even if there are no dogs there your dog will be able to smell the other dogs that have been there. It will make it easier to transition once your dog meets the other dogs. If there are other dogs at the park at that time there will not be as many. It will make the trip less stressful for your dog. Many first timers bring their dogs at peak times and they see their dog cowering between their legs, or acting aggressive towards the other dogs. They decide that their dog just does not like other dogs and they never try to socialize their dog again. This can all be prevented if you ease your dog into the experience. When he or she is finally ready for the peak hours bring some of his or her favorite treats, and reward your dog for good social behaviors, but do not be surprised if you get hounded for treats by other dogs.

Whether you go to Cosmo, Shawnee, or any of the other dog parks in the AZ Valley remember the experience should be a good one for you and your dog. Exercise, socialization, and mental stimulations will help make your dog a friendly, social dog, but a bad experience at the dog park may not only be dangerous to your dog’s well-being but it could bring anxiety to your dog. Be a knowledgeable and watchful owner to help your dog benefit from their time at the dog park.

Mark Siebel has trained over 400 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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WHAT DOG IS RIGHT FOR ME?
Author: Bernadette Emery

Co-Author: Mark Siebel

When people see a well-behaved, cute dog performing tricks on the big screen, they often think that dog would be a perfect dog for them. They head to their local pet store or to the closest animal shelter hoping to bring home a new friend. They want their new dog to be just as well-behaved and cute as the dog they saw on-screen. But after only a few weeks they begin to notice that the dog has too much energy or that all the dog wants to do is play fetch! They realize this dog is not the kind for them or worse, that they are not dog people. Maybe they will stick it through and hope their dog gets better, or maybe they will find their dog a new home, but in most cases these dogs end up being abandoned.

It is not the dog’s fault. The dog’s owner did not do any research when it came to what breed of dog would be best for the owner’s lifestyle. When picking out a new dog or puppy, research is the key.

So where should a new dog owner start? First, a new dog owner, or an old dog owner who is looking for a new dog, should think of some dogs she already has some interest in. Maybe her neighbor has a German Shepherd, and maybe she has seen a Golden Retriever on television, and she likes the way he looks and acts. With over 150 different purebred dogs, narrowing down to a list of five to ten different kinds is the best place to start.

The next step is to find out some information about the dog breeds. The AKC.org website is a good place to start. They also have listings for different dog breeders. Getting in contact with breeders, or a local vet will also help future dog owners collect information about the kind of dog that is right for them.

There are several areas that a future dog owner should be concerned about. Once the future dog owner knows these areas she will be able to ask good questions about the breed of dog that interests her.

Temperament: every dog owner wants to make sure that they get a dog with a personality that they can live with. Is the dog active? Is the dog easy to train? Is the dog friendly with strangers? Can the dog be left alone for long periods of time? All of these questions will help a future dog owner pick a dog that is right for them.

Size is another concern that a dog owner should have. A larger dog will need to eat more, and have enough room to fit his needs. Grooming is also an area that a future dog owner should be interested in. All dogs need some grooming but some dogs need more than others. A dog owner should think about how much time and energy that she wants to spend on grooming the dog. Health is also a concern with different dog breeds. Some dog breeds are genetically prone to different illnesses, this can cause a problem if owners are not willing to take care of a sick dog.

Different dog breeds need different amounts of exercise as well. Some dogs need more then an hour of exercise a day while others need very little. If a dog owner is not willing to properly exercise her dog then the dog may become bored or depressed and this can lead to unwanted behaviors.

A future dog owner should also think about the people and other animals in her family. Some dog breeds are less child-friendly than others, especially young children. If a dog owner already has a dog, she will want to get a dog that is good with other dogs. Some dog breeds are not known for being good with cats, so that should be looked at as well.

Maybe a new dog owner is thinking about getting a Golden Retriever puppy. He may have seen Golden Retriever puppies on television or knows someone that owns a golden. This breed was ranked number 4 in AKC top dog breeds of 2007. Golden Retriever dogs are well-mannered and intelligent dogs. They are fairly easy to train because they like to please their master. They can get along great with children. These dogs are loyal and a great family dog. While they are more prone to lick a stranger then attack, these dogs can loudly signal a strangers approach so they are able to become good watch dogs. They do not like to be left alone for long periods of time, and they can get into mischief if they are isolated too much.

The size of these dogs can range from 20-24 inches and 55-80 pounds. Grooming is fairly easy, just comb and brush regularly, but make sure the undercoat is brushed, shampoo and wash normally. The dogs shed an average amount. Golden Retriever dogs are prone to hip dysplasia and cotangential eye defects. When looking for a puppy make sure that the dog parents are tested for Von Willebrand’s disease and any heart problems. These dogs are also prone to skin allergies. Golden Retriever dogs can live 10 to 12 years.

Golden Retrievers need daily exercise, a good brisk walk or jog is a great way to do this. These dogs also like a good game of fetch. Be careful not to overfeed these dogs because they will gain weight.

German Shepherd Dogs were number 3 on 2007’s top breeds and they can be a great dog to own. German Shepherd Dogs are a very active dog. This is a herding breed but are so versatile that they are often used as working dogs. They are bold, obedient and eager to learn. They love to be close to their families and are very loyal, but they are wary of strangers. This breed should not be isolated for long periods of time. They are not prone to excessive barking. They have a protective nature, but they need to be trained properly to prevent over guarding. German Shepherd Dogs are very smart and respond well to training, but if the dogs do not get the right kind of training they can become aggressive and attack.

These dogs are only a little bigger then the Golden Retrievers between 22-26 inches and 77-85 pounds. They shed normally, but these dogs do have a seasonally high shedding period. To avoid having to vacuum every day just run a brush through the dog’s coat daily. Avoid bathing the dog too much because that will deplete the skin’s natural oils. German Shepherd Dogs are prone to hip and elbow dysplesia, blood disorders, digestive problems, epilepsy, and other genetic related problems. These health concerns can be avoided or minimized by getting a puppy from a reputable breeder.

Working class dogs love to work and exercise. Make these dogs work by briskly walking or jogging them, and combining some mental stimulation. If under exercised, these dogs can become restless and destructive. With proper training these dogs can do well with children and other pets, but training and socialization need to start at an early age.

Maybe a smaller dog is better suited for a future dog owner; a Maltese dog can make a good pet. These dogs are playful, gentle and trusting of a good owner. The dogs are very intelligent, and will learn tricks if the dog thinks he is getting a good reward. They make good watch dogs because they will sound the alarm. They may take a little longer to potty train than most dogs, but a regular schedule early on will help with accidents.

These dogs only get to be about 8-10 inches in height and weigh about 6-9 pounds. Maltese shed very little, so they are great dogs for allergy suffers. The dog’s grooming can take more work. They need to be brushed daily because they have long hair, and because the hair is soft it’s important to be gentle. A dog owner should clean the dog’s eyes and beard daily to prevent staining Baths, and ear cleaning are important too. Some Maltese dog owner’s take their dog to professional groomers and have the dog’s hair clipped so that it is easier and less time consuming to take care of. Health concerns for Maltese dogs include: sun burns, skin, respiratory, eye and tooth problems. They also may be picky eaters. These dogs live about 15 years but they can live as long as 18 years.

Play will take care of much of the Maltese’s exercise needs, but a daily walk is still a great way to lessen behavioral problems. They are good in apartments because they are very active indoors and do not require a yard to play in. These dogs can be snappy towards children especially young children and infants. Maltese are great with other animals however.

There are over 150 breeds of dogs to choose from, and there are many more mixed breeds. Whether or not a dog is a mixed or a purebred, a future dog owner should take the time to do some research on the type of dog that will be best for them. Finding the well-behaved, trick performing dog, may not be as easy as it seems on television, but with proper research and training it will benefit the dog and the dog’s family in the long run.

Mark Siebel has trained over 400 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BRINGING HOME A NEW PUPPY
Author: Bernadette Emery

Co-Author: Mark Siebel

Are you planning on bringing home a new puppy? After doing your research, finding a dog breed and a puppy that is right for you, there will still be several things that a dog owner should do to get ready to have and care for a new puppy. It is important to be prepared when the puppy gets home that way you can spend your time taking care and playing with your puppy. First you will need to puppy proof your house. Then, you will want to purchase or get a crate, toys for your puppy, and puppy food. Finally, you will also want to set up and establish a schedule to make potty training easier.

Puppy proofing your home will help protect your puppy and your home. Puppies are just as curious about their environment as young children. Puppies will get into anything they can get their puppy paws or teeth into. It is easier to take tempting objects away, than it is to correct a puppy’s natural desire to put everything into their mouths. Start with anything that can be poisonous to your puppy. The last thing any new owner wants is for their new puppy to get into anything that could ruin this happy time in their puppy’s life. Put any household cleaners or other toxic chemicals out of your puppy’s reach. Some puppies will learn how to open cabinets so make sure there are no poisonous items inside. Inside and out, look for hazardous or poisonous plants that your puppy might get into. Some of these plants include: cactus, dumbcane, mistletoe, philodendron, poinsettia, azalea, boxwood, cherry seeds, daffodil blooms, honeysuckle, horse chestnut, holly, lily of the valley, morning glory, rhododendron, rhubarb, skunk cabbage, tulip bulbs and wild mushroom. ALSO: NO chocolate, raisins, grapes, or onions.

Puppies like to chew on electrical cords, so be sure to move cords out of reach of your puppy, not only will this damage your equipment but a shock can be fatal to a small puppy. Pick up anything that your puppy will be able to swallow such as sharp objects or items that can get stuck in the puppy’s throat or intestines. Keep your garbage out of reach from your puppy, especially when it comes to garbage in your kitchen. Your puppy will be able to smell spoiled foods inside and it is tempting to a puppy. Your puppy will get into other garbage cans as well, so keep those out of reach from your puppy.

Get down to your puppy’s eye level, if you see anything that might interest your puppy pick it up and get it out of the way. It is better to keep temptation away, that way no bad habits will form. Also, you might want to keep some of your home off-limits to your puppy so you might want to get a baby gate to keep him out of these areas. Keeping him out of these areas will not only help you keep an eye on your puppy, but it will prevent him from sneaking off to potty or destroy furniture in other parts of the house. When your puppy gets older and better behaved you can extend his boundaries, but gating off areas of the house now will help keep destructive behavior at bay.

Next you will want to get a wire or plastic crate for your new puppy. Crate-training is a great way to help housetrain your puppy, it can help reduce destructive behaviors, and it is a safe way to travel with your dog, in the car or on a plane. You will want to buy a crate that a puppy can grow into, unless you want to buy more then one crate. A puppy or dog that is not fully housetrained should only be allowed to stand up and turn around in their crate. If a crate is too big the puppy will eliminate on one side of the crate and sleep on the other, block off extra areas until your puppy gets bigger. It takes time to crate train your puppy. You need to ease him into crate training. You can unscrew the top part of your plastic crate, or keep the door open to the wire crate. Then, put some treats and fun toys for your puppy to play with inside the crate. When your puppy goes inside the crate praise him, do not close the door right away. Let your puppy explore and get used to the crate. Once he is used to the crate you can practice closing the door when he goes inside. If your puppy starts whining or crying do not yell or bang on the crate because that will only scare him. Also, you do not want to let your puppy out as soon as he starts crying. Doing so will only teach him that crying works. After about ten minutes in the crate let your puppy out, praise him, and then bring him to the designated potty spot. Even if your puppy does not go potty it is good to establish a routine. Once your puppy starts to get used to his crate you can start putting him in the crate for longer periods of time. Do not leave your puppy in the crate for too long, because you do not want him to have an accident. It is natural for a puppy not to eliminate in his den, but a puppy may have an accident if he is left in a crate for too long. This will only hinder potty training.

Along with a crate you will need to get chew toys, bedding, and good puppy food. You will need bedding that is easy to wash, hard to destroy, and a material that is soft for your puppy to lie on. You will need a food and a water dish. If your puppy is going to get bigger you may want to get a stand to put the food and water dish on, it makes it easier for big dogs to digest their food. Speaking of dog food, you will want to get a good quality puppy food. If your puppy is used to another brand of food introduce your puppy to his new food slowly. Start with a mix of ¾ old kibble and ¼ new kibble for 2 days, then ½ old kibble and ½ new kibble the 3 rd-4 th days, finally ¼ old kibble and ¾ new kibble before feeding your puppy a new brand of food. It is hard for your puppy to digest new foods so slowly introducing a new food will help keep your puppy from getting sick. Chew toys are another great accessory for your puppy. He is naturally going to want to mouth everything he can. A great way to keep your puppy from chewing on your favorite shoes is to give him a chew toy and praise him for chewing on it. Hard/Durable-Nylabones, Billy Beef Sticks, Kongs filled with cheese or peanut butter, tennis balls, and hard-meat bones are all good chewing toys for your dog.

Now that you have your house ready for your puppy, it’s time to get you and your family ready. You need to sit down and make a schedule that everyone in the family can stick to. Not only will the schedule help to make sure that your new puppy is not getting over fed, but it will also help housetraining. If you know when your puppy’s last meal was you will know when your puppy needs to go outside. A rule of thumb with puppies is that they need to go outside every time they finish doing something. Every time they finish chewing, playing, sleeping, drinking, and eating they need to go outside. The fewer accidents your puppy has inside the less likely he will associate going to the bathroom indoors. Many people like to bring their new puppy home on the weekend, this way they have extra time to devote to housebreaking and settling their puppy in. LESS IS MORE!!!

Now that you have done the research, and you have a game plan you are ready to bring home your new puppy. The first year of raising a puppy will be the most challenging, but if done properly you will soon find that you now have a happy, well-adjusted, well-mannered, and furry member of your family.

Mark Siebel has trained over 400 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
To crate? Or not to crate?

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a million times: “Don’t think like a human when you should be thinking like a dog!” I often have customers who think like a humans, when they really need to be considering how wolves would be raised in a wild pack situation. Domesticated dog behaviors are derived from grey wolves and must be addressed accordingly based on their natural instincts.

A wire crate or dog kennel makes an excellent way to potty train and teach your dog “calm-submissive” mentalities. Freedom is great for a dog IF THEY LIVE IN THE WILD or on a farm. However, in a domestic environment, less is more. With this less is more approach, your dog will learn NOT to potty where it sleeps and will benefit from the calming effects of spending time in a crate. The following tips will definitely start saving you money on your carpet cleaning bills:

  1. Dogs generally don’t sleep where they eliminate. A dog’s best sense is smell. Therefore, they will most often eliminate in an area where they don’t sleep. The use of a crate will form the mindset that the immediate area of the dog must be clean. You want the area of the crate just big enough to let your dog turn around. This way, they won’t eliminate in one corner and sleep in the other. Once your dog no longer has accidents in the crate, you will then graduate him to a slightly larger area (i.e. bathroom or laundry room.) When this larger area proves accident free, you can continue to larger areas until your dog grasps the concept that “potty” is done outside.
  2. A crate brings “calmness and tranquility” to dogs. A normal misconception that many of my customers have is that a crate causes psychological harm to their dog. ANSWER: If my Mother hadn’t given me numerous “time outs” on the dining room chair for upwards of an hour, I NEVER would have gotten off my A-D-D medication! Too much space and freedom for a young puppy will ultimately result in longer potty training times, excessive chewing, and an increase in incessant barking and outdoor roaming. I recommend giving your puppy a “job” to do in the crate like a hard nylabone or a Kong filled with bones or peanut butter. I don’t recommend any potty pads or soft toys with plastic squeakers.
  3. The crate is your “babysitter.” Most babysitters today can cost upwards of $8.00 an hour! Your dogs crate is FREE and always available. If your dogs behavior becomes highly energized or incessant begging, jumping, barking, or chewing won’t stop, use the crate as your “babysitter.” A time out is beneficial to a dog’s mental growth. Just be sure you never associate negative tone with your crate. Make it a vacation or a calm “get away” for your dog. Over 50% of my customers tell me that after only one month, their puppy will walk into the crate on its own. The crate becomes a safe haven and resting place, where the dog naturally connects to it as a den.
  4. Finally – One step forward, two steps back. Just as humans need to relearn or sometimes get back to basics, so do dogs. If your dog is fully potty trained but goes through chewing, barking, or digging periods, go back to using the crate. Returning to the crate will ignite a trigger in the brain, resulting with calmer, less destructive behaviors in the future.

The benefits of using a crate or kennel to develop your dog’s calm-submissive growth are significant and include quicker potty-train time and an overall calming state of mind. Will my dog become antisocial if I crate him? NO. Will my dog think I don’t like him if I crate her? NO. Is it inhumane to crate my dog? NO. But he barks for hours! (Get earplugs. Barking normally stops within one week.) When it comes to crating your dog, think like a dog and NOT a human. You’ll be saving money on your carpet cleaning bills in no time.

Mark Siebel has trained over 500 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on NBC Arizona Midday & ABC Sonoran Living, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
Come-Recall command. Tired of chasing your dog down the block? Read on..

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

Have you ever seen the movie “Funny Farm” with Chevy Chase? He has an Irish Setter named “Yellow Dog” and as soon as he brings him home, the dog runs away! Throughout the film, the dog reappears but will never come to anyone who calls him. Don’t let this happen to you! The come/recall command is a vital connection between you and your dog. It is important not only for safety, but for establishing the appropriate hierarchy in your pack structure.

The come command can be mastered with only a few simple exercises. With consistent practice and praise to your dog, your neighbors will be astonished in no time! To ensure your dog WON’T be a Yellow Dog, follow the below simple tips:

  1. Come is ALWAYS a happy place. The come command should ALWAYS result in praise and affection for your dog. You NEVER want to recall your dog and correct or discipline. Any corrections or discipline should be used when you approach your dog, not on a recall command. A good recall exercise can be achieved on your daily walk; with your dog on the lead, run backwards and command come in the most energetic, enthusiastic voice you can muster. The more tone/pitch/frequency in your voice the better! I want your neighbors to look at you funny due to your heightened excitement! Bottom line, your positive energy will attract your dog to come to you, and will be seen as a happy place.
  2. Hide and seek. A dog’s best sense is scent, followed by sound, and finally sight. To challenge your dogs’ senses and to help him register the come command, practice a good ole’ fashioned game of hide and seek. While your dog is distracted eating or playing with a toy, have you or one of your children run and hide in another room and yell “come fido!” When your dog seeks you out (via scent & sound) praise him with good come! This exercise will teach your dog that he is coming to a happy place when he finds you in your hiding spot.
  3. Off-leash at your local baseball diamond. A great way to get your dog prepared for off leash obedience as well as mastering the come command is to work him at an enclosed baseball diamond. Find a local ball diamond and arrive early or late in the day to ensure you will be the only ones there. Go prepared with a leash and poop bag to pick up after your dog. Enter the ball diamond and be sure ALL gates are closed behind you. Release your dog from the leash and begin to walk the perimeter of the park. After only a few times of this routine, your dog will begin to follow/come to you! You can also practice running backwards combined with the come command in the ballpark as well. For a local ball diamond near you check out: http://phoenix.gov/parks/parks.html
  4. Finally – Practice, practice, practice. Mastering the come/recall command takes time and practice. As I’ve stated in prior articles there is NO perfect dog, so, remember that if your practicing come/recalls be sure to use the leash until your dog is 70% confident of the command. The leash will always reinforce that the dog MUST come to you.

Sometimes the solutions to our problems are right in front of our noses. Don’t make the come command any more difficult than it is! Dogs instinctively WANT to follow a leader. With the proper recall techniques - tone of voice, praise, and affection - your dogs days of “cat & mouse, chase me down play” will be a thing of the past. Say NO to Yellow Dog, and say HELLO to your Good Dog!

Mark Siebel has trained over 500 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on NBC Arizona Midday & ABC Sonoran Living, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
How to integrate multiple dogs into your pack

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

How many dogs are too many? When done properly, integrating a new dog into your current pack should be relatively easy. The keys to successful integration are control and harmony. The most successful integrations typically occur between the same breed and class of dog, but this certainly is not always the case. Be sure that whichever new dog you introduce has comparable energy-drive and size to your current dogs.

Dogs are pack animals and, when balanced, are generally welcome to any new canine companions. An alpha process will normally be displayed to develop pack hierarchy, and the goal is for EACH dog to have their own leadership roles. To keep your home harmonious with your newcomer, follow the below simple tips:

  1. Initial introduction. To introduce new dogs to your current pack, take all dogs on a walk or have them all do a JOB. With this approach, it is natural for dogs to relate to each other, and feel less stress. Displays of positive dog body language, (i.e. straight poised ears, bow to bow play, no raised hair hackles, and reciprocal oral affection), will be good indicators that the dogs will be cordial. I NEVER assume that they are officially balanced. After 30 days of positive interactions, you can then feel more assured that the dogs are compatible. Note any unbalance during that time, and deal with accordingly.
  2. Control. Whenever a new dog is brought into your home, I strongly recommend the use of a crate or kennel -
    http://www.doggiestepsdogtraining.com/dog-articles.html#crate -, or a small room to be used as the new dog’s den. You want the new dog to become completely dependent on you for everything! This will show the dog that you are the pack leader and provider, and will establish immediate pack hierarchy. Release from the crate, potty time, feeding, walking, and grooming, should all be done daily by your family members to show the new dog correct pack leader status.
  3. Pack “team-work.” After your new dog has become acclimated to your home and the other dogs in the pack, you now want to begin working your dogs as a pack. A pack that works together stays together! Two dogs are considered a “pair,” while more than two are considered a “pack”. With this said, you can begin working your dogs as a team with various command exercises. “Sit,” individual “leave it” release, and “stay” can all be practiced. ALWAYS treat the calmest dog first, and so on.
  4. Finally – Established pack balance. Once your new pack has been introduced and has now established pack balance, you want to be sure that this balance is maintained. Feeding, grooming, walking, and working your dogs together will ensure this. ALSO: To maintain dog individuality and identity, do separate activities with each dog. This can be a separate walk or a trip to the store. This will show your pack that they can be separated and still maintain calm-submissive order.

Brining a new dog home is always an exciting time. Dogs are instinctual pack animals, and will therefore welcome a balanced pack member into their existing pack. The dynamics of multiple dogs can be very exciting to watch and at the same time extremely beneficial to the existing dog’s mental and physical well-being. So, how many dogs are too many? With the proper training and leadership, the sky is the limit.

Mark Siebel has trained over 500 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on NBC Arizona Midday & ABC Sonoran Living, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
Off-leash obedience; How to keep your dog close

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

Oh…the dream of taking your dog to the park, taking him OFF the leash, and playing fetch without him running away! For some dogs this can be a reality. Unfortunately, for others, the instinctual desires to smell and track will make it difficult to trust their “off-leash” freedom. I tell customers that off-leash obedience is NOT for every dog, so be sure that your dog has mastered the “come” command before attempting any off-lead work.

Off-leash obedience takes time, repetition, and your dog’s awareness that YOU are the pack leader. Through daily exercises and by using a stern-voiced recall, followed by a treat and strong praise/affection, your dog may have what it takes to play fetch unleashed. To see if your off-leash dream can become a reality, follow the simple tips below:

  1. Off-leash at your local baseball diamond. A great way to get your dog prepared for off-leash obedience is to work with him at an enclosed baseball diamond. Find a local ball diamond and arrive early or late in the day to ensure you will be the only ones there. Go prepared with a leash and poop bag to pick up after your dog. Enter the ball diamond and be sure ALL gates are closed behind you. Release your dog from the leash and begin to walk the perimeter of the park. After only a few times of this routine, your dog will begin to follow/come to you! You can also practice running backwards combined with the “come” command in the ballpark. For a local ball diamond near you check out: http://phoenix.gov/parks/parks.html
  2. 50-foot lead. Next, your dog must link the off-leash connection at the ball park to the eventual freedom in an open park/field setting. To achieve this, purchase a 50 foot training lead from: http://www.choicepetmarket.com/ With the 50 foot lead, go to your local park or greenbelt and tie one end of the lead to your dog and the other to your waist. The purpose of this long lead is to teach your dog that he has a 50 foot radius in which to roam. If he goes straight right, you go straight left. Just as the lead is about to get taut, you will command “come!” and continue walking in the opposite direction as your dog. In time, a boundary will be set, and your dog will not exceed the 50 foot radius. Practice this exercise often until your dog no longer exceeds the entire length of the 50 foot lead.
  3. Playtime with dogs already off-leash trained. With your dog now familiar with a 50 foot boundary, its time to acclimate him to a play environment with dogs already trained to be off- leash. I often help customers with this by bringing my two Australian Shepherds. Having dogs that STAY close to the handler off lead will keep a new dog close to the pack 90% of the time. If you see any oncoming passersby with or without dogs, leash up your dog to ensure they don’t run. If your dog begins to stray from the pack on this exercise, you may want to have a 4 foot lead attached just to stop your dog. If your dog roams and doesn’t stay with the pack, repeat tips 1 & 2 for a few more weeks.
  4. Finally, off leash with lead still attached. You’re almost there! Now that your dog knows its boundaries and has run with an off-lead trained pack, you now can do the final test. Pick an early morning and go to your local park/field. Take some tasty treats and a ball with which to play fetch. Be sure no other passersby are near and drop your lead. Have your dog explore with the lead ON to be sure you can stop him if he strays. After you’re sure the boundary is being obeyed, you can then remove the leash and your dream has come true!

Off leash obedience can be achieved with time and patience. As stated earlier, this is NOT for every dog. After you have tried tips 1 & 2 you will have good idea if your dog will have the capacity to achieve off-leash obedience. Please also be aware of your local OFF LEASH LAWS. I’d recommend off-lead work ONLY for exercises like fetch or general retrieval. Otherwise, for safety and dog etiquette, have your dog remain leashed.

Mark Siebel has trained over 500 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on NBC Arizona Midday & ABC Sonoran Living, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
The “Off” switch. How to bring “calmness” to your dog.

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

I often walk into customers homes to be greeted by their dog’s high energy, often resembling that of a NASCAR racetrack. The living room couches and love chairs are actually being used as a race track! I typically get jumped on and greeted by a choir of glorious barking. A dog’s high energy is great, but when used in an unfocused channel, it can become unbalanced and destructive.

A dog’s energy is generally determined by the overall energy of the other animals and humans around it. This is easiest to see when you have a multiple dog pack. Within minutes, one dog can begin a flurry of excitement among all! If your home has been turned into the Talladega Superspeedway, follow the simple tips below to restore harmony with your dogs:

  1. Zip it. My favorite calming technique is the verbal silencing command called ZIP IT. This is a command originated by DOGGIE STEPS and is very effective in connecting with a dogs mind set to eliminate and silence barking. I like to give my dogs a 5-7 bark limit. After the 7 th bark, I command, ZIP IT. Once they have silenced, I praise with voice, affection, and possibly food. In time, your pooch will adhere to the verbal address of ZIP IT and the reward that follows.
  2. 5 in 1. For many of my high-energy/aggressive cases I always want to give the dog a “job” or “alternate” task to complete when it appears that the energy is escalating into an unfocused channel. I teach agility commands to accomplish this. 5 in 1 is a term DOGGIE STEPS uses to channel a dog’s energy on a table command. Find a raised platform (i.e.,concrete block or picnic table) and begin a command sequence with, table (or up), sit, down, stay, and off. There you have it! Five commands in one exercise! Not only will this exercise work your dog mentally and physically, but will offer you an alternate task when confronted with an unbalanced energy challenge. When the 5 in 1 exercise is completed in a set of three or more reps, it can also be referred to as “increment” training.
  3. Party’s Over. In order to obtain control and encourage calmness in your dog, they must know when the “off” switch has been flipped. As discussed with the “Zip It” command, your dog must have an understanding of the energy you are willing to tolerate. Party’s over is a term I use when a dog play-time session has lasted long enough, and I now want to gain calmness within the pack. When that time arrives, address your dog pack as “Dogs!” and command, party’s over! Place your body in the middle of the dogs to illustrate boundaries. If the dogs continue to play, bite, or chase, address your command again and continue your body blocks. Over time, your pack will learn that a play session has now ended, and the “off” switch has been flipped.
  4. The importance of the Release. With many of the commands I teach (i.e., leave it/take, heel/go play), it is vital that your dog makes the connection with the appropriate release. Once you observe increased calmness with the “Off” switch, you can now begin to release your dog for normal play energy. I then use “go play” or “free” to signal my dog that they are now free to play or run.

So, for all you NASCAR fans out there, let’s keep the high energy races on the race track and NOT in the living room! Dogs are extremely perceptive to a pack leaders energy and will begin to mimic your presented calmness when need be. Stay focused with these new tips, and you’ll be crossing the checkered flag in no time!

Mark Siebel has trained over 500 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on NBC Arizona Midday & ABC Sonoran Living, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
Holidays and your dog. How to make them happy and safe for all!

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

‘Tis the season to be jolly! Another Holiday season has arrived. The Holidays often bring new people, irresistible foods, and other temptations into our homes, and we need to be aware of the safety of our pets. Dogs are curious by nature and their heightened sense of smell can many times get them into trouble.

There are numerous items around our homes during the Holiday Season from which we must be sure our dogs steer clear. Every dog will have a different threshold level (based on breed, age, and weight), but it is best to try to eliminate ANY of the below items from our dogs reach to ensure strong health and safety:

  1. Plants & Trees. Poinsettias, Christmas cactus, hemlock, holly, ivy, mistletoe, balsam, cedar, juniper, fir, pine, avocado, geranium, marijuana, ferns, aloe, and tiger lilies can ALL cause irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and even death if ingested. Try to spray the leaves or plants with Bitter Apple, or simply position the items out of the dogs reach. For a festive tree, use the “LEAVE IT” command if you notice your dog chewing or smelling the branches. Sap and needles can be hard for a dog to digest, and will most certainly be a cause for illness. Consumption of ANY listed items in this article should be dealt with on a dog-to-dog basis. Symptoms of serious illness include: excessive diarrhea, not drinking water, and excessive vomiting. If this happens, contact your vet immediately.
  2. Food/snack items. Many foods must be OFF limits to your dog. Be aware of the following items when cooking or if you take your dog to a friends home or public place: *Chocolate (can cause Theobromine poisoning in your dog) *Onions, grapes, raisins (studies have shown the skins of these foods to be indigestible by dogs.) Even chewing gum has been shown to cause irritation to a dogs internal digestive systems.
  3. Miscellaneous items. The following are a variety of items that can be found around your home that can be toxic to your dog’s health: Antifreeze, bleach, Tylenol, ibuprofen, watch batteries, moth balls, fabric softeners and other detergents, mouthwash, alcohol, and peach/avocado pits or other fruit seeds. It is okay to vary a dog’s diet, but do it with quality meat kibble and fresh cooked, unseasoned meats only! This will keep your dog interested in its own food and more eager to eat it. DO NOT give scraps from the dinner table or your dog may begin to beg from you.
  4. Good, common sense. Dogs are carnivores, so their diet consists primarily of meat. It should go without saying; don’t feed your dog Doritos or Mac Donald’s! It’s okay to give your dog an occasional lick of your ice cream cone or a small piece of cheese, but use good ole’ fashion common sense when deciding what your dog should eat. Also, given the sensitivity of most dogs digestive systems, a routine diet should be maintained.

So, when you hear the Holiday dinner bell ringing, enjoy your feast o’ plenty. Holidays bring out the best energy in humans, therefore making our dogs that much more comfortable and excited. Pass me another double baked potato! Just be sure that Fido is eating his dog food, and not your Angel Food Cake.

Mark Siebel has trained over 500 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on NBC Arizona Midday & ABC Sonoran Living, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
Need a change in your personal relationships? Take some advice from your dog.

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

As a dog trainer in the Valley for over four years, I have yet to meet a customer who doesn’t display an overpowering connection, passion, and love for their dog. Sure, they say that a real man doesn’t cry, but the love that he displays for his dog is worldly. The closest thing to unconditional love from a dog, is the love a mother has for her child. We joke that “dysfunctional” families have disputes that often seem as if they CANNOT be resolved. The love from a dog lasts forever and is truly unconditional. To ensure your wife doesn’t pick the dog over YOU for movie night, follow the below simple tips:

  • Listening is the KEY to communication. A dog’s best sense is scent. What is a human’s best sense? Who really knows? Dogs act on instinct where human beings act on feelings and emotions. 80% of my job as a dog trainer is listening, and the remainder is problem-solving and reassurance. Having two ears and only ONE mouth should give us a hint!
  • Forgiveness and flexibility. Have you ever known a dog to hold a grudge? If so, for how long? I have NEVER seen a dog at a dog park go home with ANOTHER owner! Dogs are loyal and will remain with their original owner unless separated at the owner’s choice. Don’t be so rigid with your loved ones. It takes years to make acquaintances and only MINUTES to lose them! Joy takes less energy than anger. Forgive more and judge less.

Are humans designed for unconditional love? Observe your dog’s behaviors and begin your path to find the answer to this question.

Mark Siebel has trained over 500 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on NBC Arizona Midday & ABC Sonoran Living, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. Voted 2008 runner-up “Best Dog Trainer in Phoenix” by SonoranTails Pet Magazine. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
How to take a “safe” road-trip with your pooch.

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

So, you just finished watching “Driving Miss Daisy” and you want to take your new puppy for a road trip. GREAT! But remember, driving is hard enough when you are trying to concentrate on other drivers, pedestrians, stray Javelinas, trying to text, and NOW an energetic puppy! It’s okay to take your dog with you on your travels, but safety must always prevail. To ensure you get to the dog park in one piece, follow the below simple tips:

  1. Dogs belong in the back seat. Your dog must learn that they come second BEHIND you, the “pack leader.” By keeping your dog behind you in the car, you are reinforcing the pack order that human is first and dog is second. Therefore, keep Fido in the back seat. There are doggie seat belts available from your local pet store, OR use a “stay” command to keep your dog from coming into the front seats.
  2. Restricted access to windows. Besides eating and walking, a dog’s next favorite activity is putting their head out a car window! Not only does this cool them off, but their strong sense of smell cause them to be mesmerized by thousands of new odors rushing into their noses! With this said, safety is still of utmost importance. Only lower the rear windows enough so the dogs head can stick out, and then LOCK the power window controls to restrict the windows from accidently lowering or raising any further. NEVER have a dog in the rear of a pick-up truck unleashed.

Taking Fido for a car ride can be fun. Just remember that “safety” is always the main priority when traveling with your dog.

Mark Siebel has trained over 500 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on NBC Arizona Midday & ABC Sonoran Living, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. Voted 2008 runner-up “Best Dog Trainer in Phoenix” by SonoranTails Pet Magazine. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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BEST DOG ON THE BLOCK Dog Tips
"Prey vs. Play" How to control your dogs natural prey drive.

by Mark Siebel – Owner - DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

Recently, I've had many cases involving dogs that have extremely high prey drives. "Mark, my dog won't stop chasing the cat!" Or, "Mark, I found another present at my back door that my dog brought me" (i.e..deceased rabbit or bird.) Dogs have a natural hunting instinct for hunting prey. Smell and motion of other animals will instantly attract a dog to their instinctive prey drive. Of course, with domesticated dogs, we feed them so they don't have to hunt. To ensure your dog views your family cat as a "pack member" and NOT a "pack prey-toy", follow the below simple tips:

  1. "Leave It" command. In ALL my classes, I teach an elementary dog training command called "leave it." This will train the dog to leave (not eat, chew, or bite) a certain item or food dropping. This will also teach your dog the basics of "stopping" or "halting" if they are tempted to have continuous motion towards an unwanted item. Certain dogs have a much higher prey drive (i.e. hunting and scent retrieval breeds), but with the right training they can limit the energy to decrease their drive.
  2. Alternate activity. I often let customers know that the saying is often true about cats and dogs. I can show them how to "manage" the environment, but there is NO guarantee that the animals will live in complete harmony. It is just the true nature of the animal drive and the animal hierarchy. In reference to "alternate activities", I want the dog to begin to view a cat, bird, new-born baby, or any other motion sensory object as a "pack member". Begin to introduce a succulent meat item, a favorite toy, or an agility exercise to divert the dog's attention AWAY from the motion object, and onto a different activity. Over time, the dog will learn to seek out the alternate activity and eventually decrease its desire to stalk the inappropriate object.

Oftentimes humans forget where dogs come from. They are derived from Gray Wolves and still on occasion will exhibit some instinctive forms of wild behaviors. Even though they NOW eat from our food bowls, keep a sharp eye out just in case Bugs Bunny stops by for a visit.

Mark Siebel has trained over 500 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on NBC Arizona Midday & ABC Sonoran Living, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. Voted 2008 runner-up “Best Dog Trainer in Phoenix” by SonoranTails Pet Magazine. For more information or general dog questions, go to: www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com or call Mark @602.318.0122.

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Phoenix Dog Training - Informational Dog Articles

Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego, Los Angeles & San Francisco Dog Training Articles.