Someone knocks at the front door and the dog starts barking.  Even using words such as, “no” and “stop” don’t silence them.  Grabbing them by the collar and trying to reprimand them doesn’t seem to work, either.

“These are such common complaints we get from pet owners,” said a spokesperson from Performance K9 Training based in San Diego County.  “While a dog owner’s stresses naturally rise, the last thing you really want to do is start to yell at your dog because that is only going to make the animal more anxious about the visitor knocking at the door.  What needs to be done is retraining the way your dog thinks about the knock on the door.”

This type of training may be referred to as positive reinforcement, but on different training platforms, is also described as classical counter conditioning.

San Diego professional dog trainers have fine-tuned progressive training methods in helping pet owners desensitize their dogs to a particular object or situation.

“In this instance, when someone is knocking on the door, we like to guide dog owners to have a pet bed towards the back of the house,” the spokesperson said.  “Here, they will offer the dog their favorite treats or an interactive toy with treats in it.” 

The training of this above method starts off slow. 

This “treat place” will have a command name such as “go to your bed” or “go to your place.”

Before the knocking even starts at the door, the training of your dog begins with this “treat place.” Once the animal understands the concept and is busy eating the treats, the owner opens and makes noises at the front door. Intermittently, they’ll return back to the “treat place” to give more goodies to their dog.

“As the days wear on, continue the training, but add on a couple friends or family members who can knock on the door for you.  And when that knock arrives, give the ‘treat place’ command along with the treats to your dog and once they are settled in, then welcome your guests,” the spokesperson said.

When implementing this training strategy, it’s important to remember the following:

  • Make sure the obedience training is in check

  • Train the dog to go to their place or bed

  • Always reward the dog for going to their place or bed

  • Good training is done with positive motivation

  • Be sure they stay on their bed until they are recalled

  “A dog can learn that the sound of a knocking door is a good thing because they ultimately learn all things through trained behavior,” the spokesperson said.

Picking the right dog breed can mean all the difference in the  world in finding a perfect match.   Yes, some breeds are more relaxed, while others have unbridled  energy.  While certain dogs need   room to roam, there’s another group who are happy with condo living.
“The right breeder can assist you in picking the right puppy in  the litter which fits the needs for you and your family,” said a spokesperson  from Performance K9 Training in the San Diego area.   “For active families who enjoy hiking, running, jogging, and love being  on the go, there are certain breeds that blend  well.”

 All dogs require exercise, but some breeds require more which  may make them great athletic partners.   Here are some of the best breeds known to have an active, sports-oriented  lifestyle:  

* Border Collie
* German  Shepherd
* Australian
* Cattle Dog
* Afghan Hound
* Foxhound
* Golden Retriever
* Irish Setter
*Shorthaired Pointer
* Basenji
* Jack
* Russell Terrier
*Siberian Husky
* Alaskan Malamute         
* Shetland Sheepdog

 “These breeds generally have high drive and energy,” said the  spokesperson.  “So before bringing
one of these dogs into your home and life, you really need to ask yourself  whether or not you can keep them physically and mentally stimulated to meet  those energy levels.” 

These types of breeds are also great if a future pet owner wants to get into a dog sport, as well.

Breeders in good standing will also have interested puppy buyers  fill out a questionnaire to help determine if the breed is a good match, too. 
It’s also important to note that “working breeds” versus “show  line breeds” make a difference. 
Working breeds tend to have higher energy levels. 
“The best piece of advice we can give is to do your homework  when researching breeds and that includes talking to reputable dog trainers,  veterinarians, and even people who own the breed,” she said. “Because dog
ownership is a lifetime commitment.”   

FreeDigitalPhotos.net Maggie Smith
One of the main complaints dog owners  have is how their dog does not "come" when called. Just like teaching a dog to  sit and stay, recall is also part of the obedience training  protocol.
Here are some helpful tips from  Performance K9 Training based in San Diego to help make teaching recall easier. 
"One of the most important things to  remember is not to get upset if your dog hesitates with the recall," said the spokesperson at Performance K9 Training.  "Keep your voice happy and upbeat because dogs will react far better to  that tone; make the recall a positive thing where your dog will learn to become
eager to come back to you."

Clapping hands and making  the request an exciting one with an upbeat tone will also capture their  attention. Training should always be fun for both the dog and its  owner.

 A helpful tip is to have a  "treat on hand" when the dog returns.  And don’t forget the "good dog"  praises. These positive actions give dogs a reason to team up with their owner. 
Their favorite toy is also  worth a try.

 “Another thing to avoid is  once your dog comes to you they are put up right away, let’s say, in their
kennel or backyard. Let them play for a while longer so they don’t associate the  recall with getting put up,” she said. 
Recall training can also  be done during mealtime. Calling a  dog to its bowl of food is very positive training. 
Other helpful recall tips  include:
* Begin your recall training with easy  requests
* The early recall stages should be short distances and  something achievable
* Don't do this training in areas where there are lots  of distractions.

 "If your dog doesn't listen, don't get  angry; walk to your dog, clip on their leash and guide them to you," she
said. "When you have your dog's  attention, hold on to the end of the leash and call them to you in a happy tone
with their favorite treat in the palm of your hand -- gently pull them towards  you if there is any hesitation and feed them once they get to their  destination."

Repeating the above scenario will help  reinforce the recall training.

 "Once your dog begins to understand  the recall concept, increase the distance between you in increments one day and  one session at a time," she said.

All dogs learn at their  own rate and learning curve.  
"With time, patience, and enjoying the  moment, your dog will be running to you in no time at  all."


Get  that leash, clip it on your dog and head over to the emBARKadero event this Saturday, April 13.  The  fundraiser, hosted by Canine Companions for Independence, is a place where  people and their dogs can enjoy the 4K San Diego pathway at their own pace.  

The event begins at 8 am and ends in the early afternoon  hours.

Following  the 4K, everyone can visit great vendors for a shopping spree and take part in a variety of activities.  Dogs  can “give it a go” on an agility course or even take a doga yoga class.  

And if the kiddos are around, they’ll make a beeline for the Kid’s Zone and try their hand at some arts and crafts. 

The Ballistic Racers Flyball Team will be there with fun demos and event goers will see the four-legged stars from Canine Companions for Independence. 
Also known as CCI, Companions for Independence is a nonprofit organization which trains assistance dogs for children and adults with mobility challenges at no cost.  

The  emBARKadero will deliver a different kind of fun for everyone while supporting  a great cause. 

Saturday,  April 13 from 8am to 2 pm
San   Diego’s Embarcadero Marina Park South at 200 Marina Park  Way

Some dog owners have made the error of feeding their dog while at the dinner table.  Sneaking in that morsel of chicken may not have seemed like a bad idea at the time, but now, a negative habit could have emerged.  

When dogs are fed human food at the table or elsewhere, they naturally end up begging for more.

“This is a learned behavior,” said a spokesperson at Performance K9 Training based in San Diego County.  “This habit reassures your dog that they are going to get food which is ultimately in their eyes, a reward.”

When pet owners decide they don’t want to give their dog some of their food, different types of begging can occur and escalate such as:

·        * Sitting and leaning against the owner

·         *Circling the table

·         *Pawing

·         *Barking

·         *Jumping

There are ways to regain control and stop this learned behavior.  After all, feeding dogs table scraps can be unhealthy and dangerous. 

“The first rule you need to remember is to never feed your dog at the table or wherever you are having a meal or snack,” said the spokesperson.  “And we mean never.”

Teaching a dog the “lie down” or “rest” command on a rug or dog bed is the first step.

“This area can be anywhere in the house, including the kitchen, but you need to reinforce that your dog needs to stay in their spot until you say otherwise.  This is where obedience training comes in,” said the spokesperson.

And always reward your dog for a job well done.

If a pet owner experiences challenges controlling their dog, however, then it’s advised to put them in their crate or a safe, enclosed spot such as the backyard.  

“If your dog is outside, then it may be a good idea to try an interactive toy where kibble and treats are dispensed,” she said.  “This will keep your dog occupied while you are having your meal.”

Once the habit of “begging” is stopped, remember to never regress back to the old ways, not even once.  The slightest slip can cause a dog to fall back into begging once again, and fixing it on the next round, may be harder to do.

Like it or not, flea season is around the corner. While pet owners seem to have a good handle on how to care for their pets indoors, when dogs go outdoors, that leaves a whole other battle to contend with.

 One of the best ways to naturally lower the flea population is by embedding certain things in the soil. 

For starters, geraniums, which are also a water wise flowery plant are a great natural flea deterrent.

Another fantastic pick is utilizing a microscopic worm called nematodes. These worms actually munch on flea larvae, bringing the flea numbers down.

Typically, these worms can be purchased at natural pet stores and nurseries. Buying them online is another option.

Nematodes can be placed outdoors with the use of a hose sprayer.  And yes, for a smaller area they can be applied with a plastic or metal watering can.

Where to apply nematodes is important. The best method is figuring out where a dog goes on a warm sunny day.  Many will seek heat relief with shady and moist areas which are where fleas live.  It's also the locale where nematodes will thrive.

Under the right conditions, these worms can wipe out 80 percent of the flea population in a given area within 48 hours or less.

Nematodes also multiply quickly so be sure to ask the manufacturer how frequently a reapplication should be scheduled.

It's always good to stay one step ahead in securing the flea perimeter around the home before fleas have a chance to take that first bite.

Probiotics are popular in the human world just as they are in the canine world.

For dogs, probiotics work very much in the same fashion as they do in people.

They promote the good bacteria which can help fight off bad bacteria.

Pet professionals explain when too much bad bacteria resides in the digestive tract, it may compromise the system with side effects such as:
  • Constipation
  • Gas
  • Loose stool
  • Skin allergies and hot spots
  • Lethargy

After a round of antibiotics, good bacteria needs to be replaced and this is why many incorporate probiotics into their daily diet.  This theory holds the same truth in dogs.

The most common “good and friendly bacteria” being reintroduced back into the digestive tract are:

·         Lactobacillus acidophilus

·         Bifido-bacterium bifidum

·         Lactobacillus bulgaricus

These friendly bacteria work hard to defend bodies against various illnesses and that’s why they are so important to have. Aside from replenishing good bacteria back into the system following antibiotics, other reasons for doing so may include the natural process of aging, imbalanced diet, stress, and illness.  

Before introducing any new probiotic or supplement to your pet, it’s always advisable to speak with your veterinarian first.

Keeping pets healthy is so important for their long-term health and probiotics may be one way to achieve that goal.

It looks as if there are going to be clear skies for the San Diego K9 Cancer Walk this weekend.  The walk, hosted by the Morris Animal Foundation, will take place at Walnut Grove Park in San Marcos on Feb. 23.

It’s a perfect venue to bring your dog and the family together to walk for a cure.  And joining up with other people who have a passion for dogs is always a great way to spend the day.

Registration opens at 9:00 am and the opening ceremony starts at 10:00 am. The walk distance is 1.5 miles.

The event is doing their best to educate the public regarding cancer and dogs.  Cancer affects nearly 50 percent of canines, and after the age of 2, remains the top cause of death.  The San Diego K9 Cancer Walk aims to raise funds to find a cure.

Before and after the walk, visitors will have the opportunity to visit the dog theme vendor expo.  The vendors will be sure to have something for any dog.        

Walnut Grove Park is located at 1950 Sycamore Drive in San Marcos. For more information visit www.MorrisAnimalFoundation.org

A new dog sport has hit the streets and it’s called K9 Nose Work.  The sport offers dogs the opportunity to work their minds.  The consensus is that dogs and their owners love this sport because it’s completely motivational.

And for those training in another sport but want to give K9 Nose Work a try, it’s a great addition.

“This type of training is absolutely motivational and positive because virtually no corrections are given,” said a spokesperson for Performance K-9 Training.  “Building up your dog’s natural scent instinct is the driving force of this fun sport.”

Dogs and their handlers take to it so well many participate in competition trials.  These trials offer three distinct levels where dogs search for a scent, and when they find it, the animals alert their handlers.

“For trial beginners, typically food will be hidden in a box or other object,” the spokesperson said. “From there, the dogs advance to recognizing different scents such as clove and anise.”

The founders of the sport were careful not to use outdoor scents that dogs come into contact with on a daily basis.  

“Your dog may do so great that it moves on to its K9 Nose Work in vehicles, open space areas and even buildings,” the spokesperson said.  “Really, any dog no matter their size or age can do this sport because the animal is doing what comes naturally and that’s nosing around.”

K9 Nose Work is part of the National Association of Canine Scent Work, also referred to as NACSW.  Their 2,000 membership numbers around the nation continues to grow.  

Visiting www.k9nosework.com is a good starting point to learn more about this dog sport and what’s available in the area.

Well, leave it to the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe to think of something unique like the Mardi Paws Parade.  Although it may not exactly be the French Quarter in New Orleans this first annual event promises to deliver a ton of fun.

The festivities will kick off on Feb. 12 from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm.

Dogs and their handlers can wander around “Bour-bone Street,” drink up on non-alcoholic “Purr-canes,” and watch the “Cat-on Rouge” action.  It’s the perfect destination for those animal photo opportunities, too.

This event will give all animals the chance to dress up their best Mardi Gras costumes and strut their stuff in the parade.

Along with picking the best Mardi Gras King and Queen there will be opportunity drawings for some great prizes, too.

All proceeds from this event go to support the Helen Woodward Animal Center.  So, it’s a great way to spend the day with your dog and lend a helping hand to a great cause.

Event Information:

6461 El Apajo Road, Rancho Santa Fe

(858) 756-4117


Tuesday, Feb. 12 from 11 am to 12 pm