Saturday, February 27, 2016

Treats for Dog Training

Dog Training Treats

Your dog may eat almost anything, but it's important to optimize your dog training efforts with the most effective treat for your dog. It's important for you to figure out what type of treat is most valuable to your dog. After you've determined this, these high value treats will only be used during training.

My first tip is always to try and stick with the healthiest treats. It's usually a good indication that the treat is healthy if it contains natural ingredients, and few of them at that. Next, you want to ensure the dog treat you've selected has a strong odour. While training your dog to understand new behaviours with a food reward, it's helpful to have a scent that's easy for your dog to follow with their nose.

Don't go with large dog treats. You want to keep your dog wanting more, so the smaller the treat, the better. Your dog will be more engaged based on frequency, rather than quantity. If necessary, buy larger treats and then prepare them prior to your dog training session by cutting them into smaller pieces.

Some optimal treats include small cubed pieces of meat, cheese, and store bought dog training treats such as Zuke's or Rollover. Another option may be treating with licks of a frozen treat inside of a kong, or the store bought Lickity Stick. Again, remember that the important part is to be using a treat that your dog considers high value, and this may take some trial and error.

Please don't hesitate to call, or email us for help with any of your questions, or for more information about our dog training services in Hamilton, ON

Hamilton Dog Training
762 Upper James Street Suite 162
Hamilton, ON L9C 3A2
(905) 537-2624

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Friday, February 19, 2016

4 Common Things You Should Never Feed Your Dog

Luckily you found this article before you served your dog his favourite dish of braised lamb with a sour orange marinade containing garlic.
I know what you’re thinking: just throw it out, and start again. It’s not too late to start preparing the marinade again, it will turn out just fine without the garlic, and besides, this time you’re better prepared to juice the sour oranges. The marinade will only need to sit for two to four hours in the fridge, and once you begin searing the leg of lamb – wait a minute, that has a bone. Cooked bones are the second item on the list.
So, now you’ve scrapped the braised lamb and the marinade, but at least you can serve your furry friend his favourite dessert.  Your dog loves the blend of creamy and crunchy, sweet and salty, and that delicious pretzel crust you use for your peanut butter cheesecake. Wait, is peanut butter okay? There’s no way that peanut butter of all things could be dangerous for your dog.  Shit, it’s number three on the list. Now, the poor little mutt is starving, but at least you have some rawhide in the closet. Everyone gives their dog rawhide. Let him snack on one of those while you figure out what you’re going to feed him! Just make sure that.. – yep, it’s number four on the list, rawhide is a no-no too.
Naturally, you’re now wondering if there’s anything that’s not dangerous for your dog.  Maybe you should hold off on the gourmet meal prep until after you’ve read our blog.

1. Garlic
Garlic is considered a super food for humans, and perhaps this is why it’s become an increasingly common ingredient in dog foods. While small amounts of garlic aren’t likely to affect your dog, long-term consumption can lead to haemolytic anemia, which is the premature destruction of red blood cells. Like onion, garlic is a member of the Allium family, which contains a chemical compound that is harmless to humans, but not to dogs. The symptoms of anemia may not be present until significant damage has been done, so unless the animal has ingested a large quantity in relatively little time, you likely won’t see signs of anemia early on.

2. Cooked Bones
Raw bones can be a great addition to your dog’s diet, provided they aren’t  fish or bird bones, and are large enough for the dog they’re given to. However, cooked bones of anykind can easily crack and splinter, posing a threat to your dog. This is because high heat and soaking will actually ruin the structural integrity of the bone tissue, thereby weakening it.

3. Peanut Butter
While the peanuts themselves aren’t the problem, they do, more often than not, contain a type of fungus, which produces a toxin linked to certain types of cancer. Furthermore, the hydrogenation process that peanut butter undergoes during processing alters the fat, causing the formation of trans fats, which are an unhealthy type of fat. Hydrogenated fats, such as palm oil, are often added to peanut butter to increase creaminess and because they are cheap to obtain. Many brands also add sugar to their product. One sugar, xylitol, is especially popular in low-calorie products, and is toxic to many animals, dogs being one of them. To lower the risks associated with peanut butter consumption in dogs, if you must feed it, choose raw peanut butter, with peanuts as the only ingredient. Give your dog peanut butter sparingly, and freeze it, to make it last longer in your dog’s toys. 

4. Rawhide
These cheap chew toys are a popular choice among dog owners because of their low cost and palatability. Rawhide seems harmless because, after all, it is just animal skin. The problem isn’t the skin itself, but the processing involved: rawhide is a by-product of the leather industry, as such, it’s treated with numerous chemicals (like formaldehyde) and dyes in order to render it imperishable and prepare the skin for leather working. These chemicals are unsuitable for consumption, being highly toxic. Unusable strips are made into various products, one of which is rawhide chew toys for dogs.
In some cases, enthusiastic chewers may consume the toy faster than is healthy, posing a risk of compaction in the digestive system or choking hazard. 

Like many things that aren’t healthy, occasional ingestion of any of the foods listed here isn’t the end of the world, the same way a single cigarette won’t significantly affect the average person. As the saying goes, everything in moderation!

Thoughts and comments are always appreciated. Let us know what you think in the comments and we’ll get back to you. Want to hear more on this topic? Do you have any specific questions about whether certain other foods or supplements might be a good or bad idea to feed your dog? Let us know!

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Hamilton Dog Training

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Dog Trainer's Take on Adopting a Dog

So, you've decided to adopt a dog. There're enough dogs filling up shelters, that you just wouldn't feel right going to a breeder for your dog. Now images of you and your eternally grateful pooch running off into the sunset together are filling your head. The heart wrenching images of sad-eyed dogs you've been sent from the shelter convinces you: your future dog is waiting for you to rescue her. Fast-forward past the adopter vetting process, adoption application and fees, to you looking at the shelter parking lot in your rearview mirror, Pooch in her crate in the backseat. 

Just like people, dogs come with the proverbial baggage: the more days they've been alive, the more they accumulate. Some dogs are just happy-go-lucky, and have been lost or abandoned, while others have known various degrees of hunger, pain, isolation, loneliness and loss. While responsible shelters have qualified behaviourists on-call to evaluate newcomers, there are only so much they can foresee when a dog arrives at a shelter. Dogs that have been captured, taken off the streets or out of abusive situations, and are stressed, scared and, above all, confused. Would you be yourself in such a condition? For this reason, the dog you take home and the dog you have a couple of months down the line can seem like night and day, and not always for the better! 

Once the fog clears, your quiet, reserved dog may reveal herself to be insistent and vocal; your mellow pooch may start to show her protective nature, and since these changes don't happen overnight, you're left scratching your head the first time you're called home by your neighbour thanks to your wailing pup. 

As disheartening as this may seem, the object of this post isn't to turn you off of pet adoption. On the contrary, I highly recommend it! There are many reasons to adopt a dog, but it can potentially come with more work. 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: start good habits right from the beginning, even if your new dog isn't showing worrying behaviours. Regular exercise, play, meals and training are the best way to make sure your dog's needs are being met, and to stave off unwanted behaviours. Hiring a professional dog trainer is a great investment, especially for first-time dog owners, but not only! 

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding your dog's behaviour!

Hamilton Dog Training
762 Upper James Street Suite 162
Hamilton, ON L9C 3A2
(905) 537-2624

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Potty Training Your Dog

Potty Training Your Dog

 Puppy Training Hamilton, ON

House breaking a dog is something many new dog owners are going to have to deal with. Many people have done it, but what we'll focus on in this post is how to tackle this aspect of dog training in the correct way.

How often does your puppy or adult dog need to be let outside?

The general rule is, for every month of your pup's life, he can "hold it" for around an hour while resting. After this, he cannot hold it any longer, and the result is involuntary. Now, if your puppy is playing, drinking water, or eating, this time frame changes. The time in which your pup can now "hold it" begins to drop rapidly.

For adult dogs, you shouldn't be making your dog "hold it" for any more than five hours, even though he may be able to. I understand that many people work long hours and have other commitments, but you need to make arrangements for your dog to be let outside.

With your dog, understand that accidents will happen

For any further questions, and if you need some more advice on house breaking your dog, or any other dog training inquiries, we encourage you to reach out to us. We never charge anything for advice, or consultations. We're committed to what's best for dogs, and their new families, so, if there's anything we can do to help, we're always happy. 

It's important that you don't go into training your dog to eliminate outside with the idea of punishing him when he has an accident. It's understandable that you may be frustrated, but verbal or physical reprimands will only make your situation worse. Yes, I know your uncle Tom, who’s had two dogs before, may have told you to rub your dog’s nose in his accident, but do us a favor and trust us on this one. Using any type of punishment will only cause hesitation and confusion in your dog, and will make your training much more difficult.

You'll need to be prepared to clean up the accidents, because they will certainly happen. Many cleaners cover the smells to us, but the smell will still be there as far as your dog is concerned. Cleaning blends that we recommend are vinegar and water at a 75/25 ratio, less vinegar for surfaces prone to acidic corrosion (marble…), or water with 10% bleach.

What about pee pads for my dog?

These mats, marketed to allow your dog to eliminate inside your home, in a certain area, are effective, but not optimal for the overall goal. What you might encounter if using this product, is that as you begin easing the dog away from the mats, and leaving a mat out less, your dog is liable to find an alternative mat to do his business on. That mat for your company at the front door doesn't look all that different to your dog than the pee pads you've been putting out for him.

During the house breaking training, it can be helpful to limit your dog’s movement. Because dogs are clean animals, if you limit his movement to a smaller area, he'll be more likely to keep that area clean. If you allow him to roam around your entire house, there's a higher chance that he'll leave his waste in one area, and move on to another to play, nap, etc...

You need to go outside with your dog

During the potty training stage, you're going to have to bring him outside, with his leash on, and have treats at the ready for when he eliminates. Sure, it's inconvenient to have to go out with your dog so often, but let's get this done right. Allowing your dog to go out on his own, then treating him when he comes back in, is too late for a positive reward. You need to be sure to treat your dog immediately after elimination, to positively reinforce that this is the behavior you want from him. You should be bringing your dog outside after meals, drinking water, naps, and playing. 

Although it's important to watch for cues that may signal your dog needs to go outside, such as stopping what he's doing abruptly, or sniffing the ground, it's important to note that taking your dog outside is your decision. Be sure not to form the habit of allowing your dog to signal to you that he wants to go outside. If your dog does develop signaling behaviours, such as scratching at the door, be sure to ignore it, which should resolve this behaviour.


Potty training your dog may not be your favorite thing to do, but it's part of the commitment you've taken on as a dog owner. Follow the tips and insight above to get the training done right the first time, then, before you know it, you'll forget it was ever an issue. 

Hamilton Dog Training
762 Upper James Street Suite 162
Hamilton, ON L9C 3A2
(905) 537-2624

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Finding a Dog Trainer In Hamilton ON

Finding a Qualified Dog Trainer In Hamilton ON
Dog Trainer

As with any purchase, it's extremely important to do your research. In this instance, we're talking about paying for a service that will affect a member of your family: your dog. You want to be sure you're hiring an expert, with real qualifications and experience. In my experience, many dog trainers have a system that they've developed for basic dog obedience, but they don't necessarily have any scientific knowledge backing their system. You want to make sure that you have a dog trainer who will be able to answer your questions about specific dog behaviours, tell you why these behaviours are happening, and give you science-based solutions that will get you results.

With this post, I've laid out a basic starting point for some of the questions you should be asking to a perspective dog trainer you're considering hiring. During your conversation with these trainers, make sure to trust your instincts. Do you feel that your getting full transparency? If they seem to be giving you short answers and getting frustrated with you, maybe they're not as confident as they should be because they don't have the proper experience and education to fulfill the quality of work that you're expecting. A truly qualified and experienced dog trainer will take the time to answer these questions in detail, and they should be open about their methods and work.

What methods do they use?

Be sure that you don't let them throw out some confusing buzz words, that you may not necessarily understand. Don't let them simply tell you they're an "eclectic dog trainer", ask for specifics, and ask for examples. Don't be discouraged from asking more. Ask them about what well-known dog trainers and experts they respect and look up to, and then do your research on those dog trainers.

What makes them a qualified and experienced dog trainer?

Here you're looking to find out what experience and education this dog trainer has. Have they completed an apprenticeship under another well-known trainer, do they have a formal education, have they titled dogs in any specific dog sport? Don't be mislead by their number of years as a dog trainer. They may say they've been training dogs for 25 years, but is this a full-time passion, or do they moonlight as a dog trainer and work at 7-11 by day? Do you want the trainer who has an education from a reputable University, or the one who considers himself qualified because he watches a lot of YouTube videos?

What continuing education and qualifications do they have?

In any field, you never want to hire the professional that's not willing to learn the newest and most modern techniques and science. There's always more to learn, nobody knows it all, and you need a dog trainer whose passion for their profession leads them to keep striving to get new qualifications, and new knowledge. Don't be afraid to ask what they do to stay current as a dog trainer.

Who does the work with my dog?

Does this trainer claim that they are going to train your dog? Would they be willing to work privately with your dog, and can you drop Fido off and pick him up later when he's the obedient pup that you've always wanted? If the answer to either of these questions is yes: beware! You should always be involved in the lessons, and the majority of the time, you should be the one handling your dog and holding the leash. Dog training is as much or more for the handler/owner as it is for the dog.

How many dogs are in your group classes, and can I come watch a class?

Group classes are often over-packed, and you don't get the one-on-one attention needed to get the most out of training. If you do decide to go this route, you want to be sure that the class sizes aren't too large, and you want to watch a full class before you decide that this is the right thing for you and your dog.


Another important thing to look through is review sites. Check out what others are saying about the services they received on websites like Yelp.


Keep in mind, that these questions are just a starting point. Make sure to find a trainer with real qualifications and knowledge, that's transparent in answering all of your questions. To find out a little more about our dog training services, and what we have to offer, please visit our website at