Category Archives: The Puppy Years

Congratulations on your new puppy! Puppies are demanding, energetic, cute and cuddly. Learn tips and techniques from bringing puppy home to training your puppy and dealing with all the puppy joys as well as frustrations you will encounter. Most of all enjoy new beginnings for both you and your puppy!

Puppy Challenge 2016

Hey everyone how about having a Puppy Challenge week! Post your puppy’s top first year picture on our site. Share the pictures to your family and friends to gather votes for your favourite furry friend.
We are going to work backwards with our youngest pup Meesha (1st with her litter mates, 2nd coming home, 3rd big girl in the snow)


Check back everyday… to see the latest pictures.  Happy Puppy Challenge!

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Why should I get pet insurance?

The first question that dog owners ask me is whether I have pet insurance or not. The second question is whether I think they should get pet insurance and the third is what kind of pet insurance I should get.

Do I have pet insurance?

Let’s talk about the first questions “Do I have pet insurance?”  The simple answer to start is YES!

Why ? In my stories of Jackie I talked about not getting her pet insurance when she was a puppy, based on the assumption (which proved to be wrong) that I could afford a certain amount of veterinarian bills per year. However in Jackie’s case she seemed to have more than her fair share of dog illnesses to contend with.  It started with her tearing ligaments in her back legs 5 times which resulted in her getting one back knee replaced and continued with her developing Cushings disease and also going for laser therapy for her arthritis and deterioration of her spine. If I would have had pet insurance to begin with I wouldn’t be worrying about the sizable pet bills. That said, Jackie is part of our family and we will make sure that she gets whatever help she needs to improve her quality of life. To get Jackie pet insurance now since she has had a lot of things happen to her doesn’t make sense.

When Miya and Meesha came along the breeder had them come home to us already signed up with pet insurance (PetSecure Pet Health Insurance). There was no question about continuing the policy for our dogs. When Miya got sick (see post “Miya gets really sick for the first time with a virus) instead of worrying about the discussion with our Veterinarian about a bill, we could focus on Miya and getting the best help possible for her. The relief of not worrying about “how much will this cost” made sure we provided our pets with the best care.

To answer the question again, “ Yes we have pet insurance!” We will always get pet insurance for our dogs.

Should I get pet insurance?

I think I answered this in the above section of “Do I have pet insurance?” but I will provide you with more reasons to get your dog insured.  Every family has insurance of some kind. Whether it be home, car or medical insurance. So why not having your pet insured? Having insurance helps you and your family to pay for large, unexpected or unplanned expenses that could occur to your pet which without insurance you would have trouble paying for out-of-pocket.

A few years ago, a friend of mine’s King Charles Spaniel woke up and couldn’t get off the floor. Little Dudley couldn’t even move. Her dog was only two years old and her son’s best friend. They took Dudley to the veterinarian and were immediately told to take him to University of Guelph pet emergency. Her veterinarian called ahead and said they were coming. Well, Dudley had Degenerative myelopathy which is the general medical term that refers to the disease of the dog’s spinal cord or bone marrow.    Dudley underwent Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a number of other tests. Can you hear the bill mounting? In the end Dudley had emergency surgery to fix his spine. The bill came to $25,000. Throughout this whole ordeal there was never a thought of not providing the best care for Dudley. It also helped that the family had pet insurance. Dudley to date is happy dog living a wonderful doggie life.

Perhaps you are now thinking, what type of pet insurance and which supplier will fit your family’s needs.


Our next post will discuss the different options of pet insurance. How pet insurance works and what is covered.

Puppy Toys: the Best Puppy Toys for Puppies up to 6 months

When it comes to picking the right toys for a puppy, there are plenty of options. There are entire aisles of puppy toys at your local pet store, after all!

However, when you have a destructive little puppy and a whole pile of reject puppy toys that lasted 5 minutes, it’s hard to not feel discouraged. Never fear, Matti and Meesha have done all of the work for you! These puppy toys are durable, long-lasting, and fun!

Here are Meesha and Matti’s top puppy toy picks for puppies under 6 months old:

Deer Antlers

You can get these at your local pet store in plenty of puppy-appropriate sizes. They’re natural, durable, and highly interesting to dogs. Deer antlers are fantastic chew toys that last a long, long time!

Matti was lucky to have been gifted a 100% wild dear antler and it’s one of his favourite things.

Things to watch out for:

  • Where were the antlers processed? Like all treats or consumable toys, look for Canadian-only!
  • Digestive upset. There are some reports of puppy diarrhea linked to antlers. Matti has a super-sensitive stomach and did not have any issues with his antler chew toy.

You can purchase these on Amazon Canada or PetSmart  or Amazon US or Best Bully’s Antlers

puppy toys: Go Dog's Chew Guard Dragon
Go Dog’s Chew Guard Dragon

Ultra Durable Stuffies

There are a million and one cute stuffed puppy toys for dogs. Unfortunately, many of them didn’t survive Meesha or Matti’s enthusiastic play time sessions.

Go Dog makes a line of extra-sturdy stuffed toys for dogs that really last! Other than some accumulated dirt – which is easily solved with a little ride in the washing machine – these Chew Guard Dragons stand up to a lot of tooth action from the puppies.

You can purchase Go Dog toys on Amazon Canada or PetSmart or Amazon US 

Stuffing-free Soft Puppy Toys

Matti has had a Skinneeez Dog Toy (the polar bear) since his first day home. Though the squeakers eventually wore out – possibly a good thing! – the toy itself is amazingly durable and still one of his favourite objects.

I bought an extra fuzzy fox version for training use only, because it drives him so crazy. It’s fantastic for “drop it” or “leave it” practice, because he wants the toy very badly.

You can purchase Stuffing-free Soft Toys on Amazon Canada or PetSmart or Amazon US

Choosing the best puppy toys: Puppy with Himalayan cheese chew.
Matti with his first Himalayan cheese chew

Himalayan Cheese Chews

This is the holy grail of busy puppy chew toys. At 4 months old, it took Matti 2 weeks to even make a dent in the chew – not that he didn’t try!

Himalayan cheese chews are fantastic for puppies that like to chew on wood, since it’s the closest thing to it. I credit the lack of wooden furniture damage around here to Himalayan cheese chews!

We bought the 70+ lb version, because Karelian Bear Dogs have one of the strongest jaw force abilities in dogs – our adult dog, Misha, stole Matti’s chew and crumbled it in minutes. In general, I’d suggest following their weight guidelines when buying.

You can purchase Himalayan Cheese Chews on Amazon Canada or PetSmart or Amazon US

Ball Treat Dispenser

A mentally busy puppy is a happy, tired puppy! The treat-dispensing ball is fantastic, because it makes puppies work to earn their dinner or treat. Matti actually asks for his dinner to be put in the ball, because he thinks getting it back out is so much fun!

Some dog trainers say that they don’t use a bowl with puppies because puzzle toys are the best way to keep a puppy busy and working.

You can purchase Ball Treat Dispenser  on Amazon Canada or PetSmart or Amazon US


If your dog has a favorite toy or treat he or she likes, please leave us a comment below. We would absolutely try it out with Matti and Meesha!

in the mean time.. happy play time!

Have you ever wondered what Four Quadrants of Operant Conditioning dog training meant?

I know you have all heard the terms before i.e. positive/negative reinforcement and positive/negative punishment but what do they mean? When you are looking for a trainer and they tell you they use positive reinforcement methods do you find yourself scratching your head wondering what that means exactly? Hopefully this article will make it more understandable.

One thing to keep in mind is to remember no matter which one of the four quadrants we are talking about when we refer to “positive” techniques we are “adding” something and when we refer to “negative” techniques we are “removing” something. Also, when we are referring to “reinforcement” we are doing something that will increase the likelihood the behavior will occur again. If we are referring to “punishment” we are doing something that will decrease the likelihood a behavior will occur again.

Now let’s take a look at what each quadrant means.

Positive Reinforcement means we are adding something that will cause the animal to want to increase the likelihood the behavior will occur again. For example: By giving your dog a treat when he sits you will increase the likelihood he will do the same behavior (sit) the next time.

Negative Reinforcement means that you are removing something the animal doesn’t like in order to increase the likelihood the behavior will occur again. For example: Using a shaker can full of pennies (or any sound) to make a sound while the dog is barking and then removing the sound when the dog is quiet decreases the likelihood the behavior will occur again.

Positive Punishment means you are adding something the animal doesn’t like in order to increase the likelihood the behavior will occur again. For example: Hitting a rolled up newspaper on your hand to make a sound as soon as the dog barks you decrease the likelihood the dog will bark again.

Negative Punishment means you are taking away or removing something the dog wants in order to decrease the likelihood that the behavior will occur again. For example: Turning your back on and ignoring your dog for jumping up on you will decrease the likelihood that behavior will occur again.

Still confused? Don’t worry you’re not alone! It takes some time to get used to the various terms and how they are applied to the training you are doing. There are still numerous trainers out there that don’t fully understand the correct way to apply these terms. Many trainers say they ONLY use “positive reinforcement” training. As nice as this sounds, in the majority of cases this is simply not true. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good trainers or using the right protocols in their class it just means they don’t fully understand the definitions of the training. When one trainer told me they use 100% positive reinforcement methods only I asked what they did when a dog jumped up to greet them. They responded that they turn their back to them and ignore. There you go! That would be considered negative punishment so they could not be using 100% positive reinforcement methods. It is almost impossible to do.

Summary of Four Quadrants of Training

We hope this article helps to explain some of the terminology surrounding this confusing topic. Future articles will continue discussing various dog training techniques with insightful tips and techniques.

Our contributing writer Tracey Burns is WOOF Now What specialist in dog training. If you have specific questions we would be happy to answer them.

Four Quadrants of training WOOF Now What

Lessons Learned at Positive, Clicker Training Class

Matti is my first puppy. I did a lot of Googling to find out how to train him to be a great adult dog, and the general consensus of what I read was that positive, clicker training is the way to go. It certainly sounded better than the dominance-based training that’s been going around – personally that line of training makes me queasy, because I think it encourages bad behaviour in me. Not to mention it’s hard on the dog!

Lucky for me, my local dog boutique, BauHound Haus, is the host of a fantastic positive training group, Mindful Behaviors. So, off we went to clicker training class.

Let’s talk about the basics: bribery vs. incentive

One of the very first hurdles to get over mentally was the misconception that I was bribing my puppy to do what I wanted. I mean, here I am waiving all of these high-value treats around! How is this not bribery?

The basis of clicker training is this: if the dog does what the person asks, really good stuff happens for the dog. This positive relationship gives the dog incentive to do what you ask, because GOOD STUFF HAPPENS.

Let’s use the example of trimming a dog’s nails:

Incentive: if I let the human handle my paws and waive that funny tool around, hey, treats!

Bribe: Look at all of this FOOD! Ok, I guess I’ll let you touch my paws while I eat this stuff.

The end result here seems the same: the dog got his nails trimmed, after all.

Where bribery can backfire, though, is that you put down your trusty pile of your dog’s favourite treat and the dog backs away! No way, human! Every time you do that, stuff I don’t like happens. No deal.

Incentive says that there’s no treat unless the dog cooperates. Good behaviour earns a good reward.

Puppy on trail next to river
Matti finally made it all the way to the park!

Clicker training got us over puppy fear

The first couple of weeks with Matti was rough. He was scared of everything – and I do mean EVERYTHING – and would panic when confronted with new things. We couldn’t go for a simple walk around the block, because he was terrified of traffic, other dogs, and groups of people.

Clicker training helped focus Matti and get us walking down the road. How? I acted like a vending machine.

We went to the end of the driveway and waited for a car. As soon as I could hear one coming, I encouraged Matti to look in the direction, then clicked and gave him a treat. We repeated that as quickly as I could go, while the car approached and then vanished into the distance. I rewarded him for being calm, and the clicker acted as a method of saying, “what you’re doing RIGHT NOW is what I want. Good job, kid! Have a cookie!”

He knows that when the clicker makes the noise, what he’s doing is right. And that right behaviour equals a snack.

Within a day, we walked down the road. He’d worked out that a leash and a walk was awesome, because random treats fell from the sky when he walked with me. Go team!

But I don’t want to carry dog treats and a clicker forever!

A big pouch of treats and a clicker might be cramping your style. That’s fine – this is for now, not forever.

Once you have a positive association with the behaviour, for example, Matti going for a calm walk on a busy road, you lighten up on the click-treat cycle.

We started with a continuous stream of click-and-treat, then moved to every few steps. Then every 10 steps. Then a city block at a time.

Eventually, he doesn’t need the click-and-treat cycle at all. He just likes walking with us and my verbal cues of “good dog!” and the occasional ear skitch are enough to keep him going. At random, the “good dog!” includes a treat, to keep Matti extra focused – but that just means a few treats in my pocket before we head out the door. Mission accomplished!

However, let’s say that my puppy has a Big Red Button problem, like a fear of larger dogs. He might grow out of this, aided by clicking and treating calm behaviour around a bigger dog. Or he might not. But if it’s diced hotdog falling from the sky that convinces him to remain calm and focused on me instead of freaking out about another dog, I’ll carry hotdogs for the rest of my life! It’s certainly better than the alternative – escalating dog fear and aggression – don’t you agree?

Old dog, new tricks. Isn’t Fido too old to start clicker training?

Clicker training can happen at any age: it’s not too late. My 10+ year old dog certainly caught on to what the clicker meant even faster than the puppy did when we practiced on the lawn, and I’m confident she’d never seen a clicker before in her life.

Once you build that relationship between the YES! of the clicker and really good things (treats!) happening, clicker training is the shortest way to tell a dog what they’re doing is right.

Now, Misha is already pretty well behaved and trained, but I’m certain that there are things I can teach her to do, or behaviours she’s sliding on that I can reinforce in a positive way. Maybe that pesky habit she has of coming inside and creeping off of the door mat before I tell her she can go …

You can’t reward bad behavior, so how does clicker training help with misbehavour?

Simple: ask the dog to do something right, then reward that!

The classic example in our house is cat chasing. Poor kitty walks by minding her own business, and the next thing you know she’s pinned to the floor being covered in dog slobber.

In this situation, I work on two concepts with Matti:

  1. Leave it
  2. Come here

Since great stuff happens when he ignores the cat and comes over to me – attention, lots of positive attention! – he does this willingly, allowing the cat to escape.

I do this at random with toys, or other things he should not be bothering, so that my smartypants puppy doesn’t decide that the way to get praise is to bug the cat.

At first we did this exercise with the clicker and treats to be sure that the process was reinforced. Now it’s enough to just call him in a happy voice to get him to leave the cat (book, cellphone, shoe, toilet paper … ) and come get a belly rub.

How do I start clicker training my dog?

You can DIY this with some careful reading, but I found huge value in attending a clicker training class, because our trainers helped us get clear on the how and why of training specific behaviours quickly. The weekly tune-up helped train me – and the dog – about how to keep going. The classes were worth every penny, and I think we’ll do more in the future.

Blatant testimonial: if you’re in Toronto or Halton, I totally recommend Mindful Behaviours for clicker training.

Hot Weather and Puppies

Summer time brings sun filled hot days. For us humans we love these days as the winter time is now just a distant memory. The more time we spend outside the better for us. The more time we can spend with our puppies and dogs outside even better. However puppies and senior dogs are especially prone to overheating not to mention specific breed types.  Since this is going to be Meesha’s first summer, she definitely does not have the wherewithal on how to keep cool!   So as her responsible owners we need to ensure that she learns how to keep cool and provide her with the necessary help to maintain coolness. This post is about how to deal with the hot weather and puppies!


Puppies, dogs, and senior dogs can get sunstroke and sunburn

Dogs and Sunburn

As with humans any area of your dog’s skin that has a thin covering of hair can be prone to sunburn. Puppies and dogs can get sunburn on their nose. If the skin on their nose is broken there is even an increased risk. Dog breeds with white hair, short hair or have just recently been groomed are more prone to sunburn.  You should keep your dog’s indoors when the sun is at its hottest. However if you find yourself outside having your pup ensure you lather their ears, groin, nose, abdomen and any other areas that have less fur than normal. Ensure that the sunscreen product is Zinc and PABA free. Try a sunscreen developed for children.

Dogs and Heatstroke

Any dog can suffer heatstroke in hot weather but for puppies and senior dogs they are much more susceptible. You will know this when your puppy pants excessively, or even collapses. If this happens you need to rush your pup to the emergency veterinary.

To help your dog you need to make sure that there is adequate shade in the garden. If you are at a park with your dog, have a seat under a big tall tree. If you find it to hot then your furry friend finds it even hotter. Take your dog inside and do not over-exercise!

When we go to the park with our dogs, depending on how long we plan to be there, we bring an extra water bottle or two for Miya and Meesha to have a drink. There are many great products for dogs to drink from like


Here is WOOF Now What’s keep puppies cool ideas

WOOF Cool Tip #1 – Provide plenty of fresh water

All dogs need to drink more water when it’s hot outside. Drinking helps them cool down. If your puppy is anything like ours, they will most likely like to play with their water bowl and dump it out. You need to keep an eye on how much water is left in the bowl. To make things even more fun, add some ice cubes to the bowl. It will help keep the water cold. No one likes drinking hot water on a hot day!

The type of bowl you use outdoors is important too. Pick a stainless steel or ceramic bowl as the plastic bowls can encourage bacterial growth in them. If you use a plastic bowl please ensure you wash it out once a day with warm sudsy water.

WOOF Cool Tip #2 – Provide a shady rest area

All dogs whether young, in between or old need a shady spot to have a snooze. If your yard doesn’t have a large shade area, you might consider getting a “pup-tent” or a build a dog house. Meesha loves playing in her doggie tunnel, but she also likes to take her afternoon and evening naps in there too.

WOOF Cool Tip #3 – Freeze a treat

There are many homemade ideas on how to create fun cool treats for your dog. Try filling an ice cube tray with plain yogurt (no artificial flavours or sweeteners) or try freezing baby food (just make sure there isn’t any onion or onion powder in it). Then offer these “pup-sicle” treats to help your dog stay cool. Meesha and Miya both love crunching on cold carrot sticks as well.

WOOF Cool Tip #4 – Get Misty and have a pool party

Meesha loves when I’m watering the garden. She loves when the spray is just misting over her and she just sits in it. We also have a swimming pool, but you can always invest in a doggie wading pool (i.e kiddie wading pool). Your pup can splash around in it. To make things more fun we have doggie float toys in our pool so our girls can practice their retrieving skills.

Note:  Make sure the water level isn’t too high for your puppy. He or she needs to be able to climb out on his own. Also, if your puppy hasn’t learned to swim yet, don’t think by throwing her in that she will automatically know how to swim. (Check out our next post on Teaching Meesha to Swim).

WOOF Cool Tip # 5 – Walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening

Most of us know that the noon sun is the hottest part of the day. So why take a chance and take your dog out for a walk. An early morning stroll would be much more pleasant listening to the birds or later in the evening after your dinner.

WOOF Cool Tip #6 – Fit your Dog with some cool technology

These days human athletes keep cool with some really neat technology such as cooling bandanas and coats. Why not use these on your dogs. Meesha has a cooling bandana that helps her on hot days. You can even purchase cooling mats for indoor or outdoor lounging at a variety of pet products outlets.


We have given you some of our WOOF Cool Tips, but here is list of WOOF Not Cool Tips!


We have read and heard many of time where an owner left their beloved pet to run into a store for something. Did you know that your car will reach a temperature of 110 degrees F within 15 minutes!!  This will cause heatstroke in a dog! See the ASPCA on Hot Weather Tips and sign up for No Hot Pets!( Please click on the titles to link to their sites.)

WOOF Not Cool Tip #2 – Do not leave your dog alone in the backyard without water and proper shade

WOOF No Cool Tip #3 – Do not over exercise your dog

We all love playing fetch and Frisbee with our puppies, but it’s safer to play outside of the hottest times raging heat times of the day.


Hot Weather and Puppies Summary

We all love spending time outdoors with our pets. But we need to ensure that our best friends or family pets have some break from the sun and heat. By using some of our cool tips and keeping in mind the no-cool tips, you will help prevent your dog/pet from suffering heatstroke or getting sunburn.

Stay cool and have a summer blast with your puppy!  We hope you enjoyed our post on how to deal with the hot weather and puppies! If you would like to add other WOOF Cool Tips please do so by typing into the below comments area.

July - August 2010

Puppy Proofing Your Home

When preparing for a new puppy, I was excited to meet my new pal, but after thinking about all of the ways I needed to make my home puppy proof I was also scared! Our first dog, Misha, was between 2 and 3 years old when we adopted her, which means that we skipped a lot of the early challenges, like chewing and potty training with a tiny bladder (Misha was not house trained: her adult-sized bladder was an asset in some ways and a curse in another!).

So, armed with a list of recommendations from my breeder and the internet, here are my top recommendations to puppy proof your home:

1. Investigate your home from the puppy point of view

How often do you crawl around your living room? Until you have someone small running around – be it dog, cat or child – it’s hard to realize exactly how many tempting items are close to the ground.

Get down low, put on your Safety Sam hat, and start looking around. How many breakable, chewable, or dangerous things can you find?

Here’s what I found in my living room:

  • A pile of throw cushions in the corner. Feather stuffing, of course. Looks good to chew on!
  • Cords. Lots and lots of electrical cords for lamps, the TV, the stereo.
  • Remotes, coasters, and some easily-stolen nicknacks.
  • A small waste basket.

None of these things interest the resident cats or my adult dog, but I bet the puppy will be neck deep in trouble in minutes!

When I continued my low-angle inspection in the rest of my house, I found things like:

  • A random sock that missed the laundry hamper (I wondered where that went!).
  • Cleaning supplies tucked behind the toilet.
  • Shampoo and other bath accessories on the edge of the tub.
  • More waste baskets without lids.
  • Cat toys.
  • A pile of clothes for the donation box.
  • Cables, cables, and more cables.

So, other than learning that we’re slobs, I’ve gotten the idea that my house is NOT PUPPY PROOF.

Lamp cord protected from puppy with cord cover
Cords protected from puppy with cord cover

2. Puppy proof your cables

Electronics and appliances are a pretty big part of our lives and there are cables everywhere. The visual clutter has always bothered me, but now I have to worry about tiny teeth too!

There are lots of solutions for protecting your cables from a puppy, but the easiest and cheapest way I found was split-loom tubing. I found some in the automotive section at Canadian Tire, but you should be able to find it at almost any hardware store. I’m sure some enterprising person has introduced split-loom tubing in decor-pleasing colours, but Canadian tire had basic black.

The result is a little on the sci-fi side, but it works.

3. Move it or lose it!

When I was a kid, we had a neurotic Siamese cat who ate sweaters. He was a model citizen in all other ways, but he just could not help himself when it came to chewing on wool. We learned early on to put it away if we didn’t want to lose it.

Clearly this rule is going to have to come back into effect. If it’s within a puppy’s reach, it’s fair game for him to take. Sure, there are all sorts of learning opportunities here for puppy to learn what he can have and what he can’t, but those opportunities only exist when you are paying attention and can redirect the puppy immediately.

I have no doubt that there will be forgetful moments and destroyed stuff along the way, but for now, I’m puppy proofing by moving everything tempting to safer locations.

A sick part of me hopes that the puppy is really destructive and trains us to be tidier. Every good relationship has give and take, right?

4. Create puppy-safe zones

When you are focusing directly on your puppy, the house is a safe zone. But what about when you’re cooking dinner, on an important phone call, or even making a quick trip to the washroom? When your attention wanders and the puppy has a few minutes to himself, it’s best for the puppy to be in an area that is 100% puppy proof.

In our case, there are a few puppy-safe zones:

  1. The office – we work at home and spend most of the day in the office. Thanks to a baby gate and making sure all of our computer cords are puppy proof, the office is a good place for him to be without direct supervision if we have to step out of the room.
  2. The kitchen – again, thanks to the magic of baby gates and closed doors, the kitchen is a durable place with all of the interesting things out of reach or behind doors. If the puppy is strong and smart enough to figure out how to open cupboard doors, we can add childproofing latches to keep them shut (one of the cats has worked out cupboard doors, but the doors in our current home are too heavy for her, so I’m hoping the same is true for the puppy).
  3. The main living area – open concept is great, until you try to keep a small, active creature in view! If we close the bedroom, bathroom, and office doors, the puppy has a big area to roam in that is mostly visible from any spot in the room.

5. Create puppy-dedicated zones

We have a small home and a plan for giving the puppy freedom in a safe way, but what about puppy proofing strategies for people with larger homes and complicated floor plans? Or when something busy and dangerous is happening? Sometimes closing a few doors isn’t going to be enough.

This is where dog pens (also known as a puppy play pen) and dog crates come into play.

Puppy play pens are completely portable and allow you to created a fenced in area where ever you need it in your home.

A dog crate is a dog’s personal safe zone. Crate training allows the dog to have a restricted, safe place to retreat to – just to hang out, take a nap, or when you need them to be contained and safe.

For much more detail about using dog pens and dog crates, see Liz’s Dog Crate Training Tips.

Puppy in dog crate
Matti in his puppy-sized dog crate
Dog in Dog Playpen
Meesha in her Dog Playpen
Dog Toy Box
Miya and Meesha’s Toy Basket

6. Make the puppy’s stuff visible and accessible

Just like a dog crate will be a safe zone the puppy will learn is his, making sure he understands what items in the home are his for chewing and playing with is a good idea.

We’re setting up a toy box just for the puppy, filled with tempting things for him to play with. The idea here is that whatever is in that box is 100% ok for the puppy to play with – stuff that is just laying around isn’t.

What are your tips for making your home puppy proof? What do you know now that you wish you’d known before you brought your puppy home? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Dog Product Reviews: Slo-Bowl® Slow Feeder

When you own a Labrador Retriever you know you have a dog breed that loves to eat. Our Meesha can out eat the other dogs in our house, not to mention some of her Lab buddies. Dogs like Meesha need to be guided to slow down their inhaling force of eating for their own good.Slo-Bowl Mulberry by Kyjen Co

We had to find a solution to a problem that could potentially cause gastrointestinal issues like bloating, regurgitation and the ever big problems for Labradors of canine obesity. We decided to try out a slow bowl feeder. Our choice for Meesha was the Slo-Bowl® Slow Feeder created and designed by Kyjen Co. We purchased the Flower (Mulberry) since we felt that this model had the most detailed puzzle that Meesha had to maneuver to get her food.


Kyjen is a major manufacturer of pet products. When reviewing their website they have many innovative products on the market that can help keep yours “dogs active and engaged.”  (Note: we plan to be testing and reviewing a few more of Kyjen products on our site in the future) Kyjen Slo-Bowl promised to bring the fun into eating while helping to maintain a good eating pace for a dog. There web site add promotes that a dog using its Slo-Bowl will ensure that our Meesha will eat slower by working her way through the food maze of ridges and valley making dinnertime feel more like a hunt then a gobble. I also liked the fact that there is a non-skid base to help keep the bowl from travelling around the kitchen. As well it is dishwasher safe and so far has not been destroyed by Meesha.

So how did this Slo-Bowl slow Meesha down?

WOOF Now What dog product reviews gives the Slo-Bowl a “PAWSITIVE” review.


Meesha loves it!  For a 9 month old Labrador what better way to eat than to have fun while eating. Our Meesha has dramatically slowed down her eating pace. She doesn’t gobble her food up and isn’t choking anymore. I would definitely recommend this to dog owners who have a dog who loves to inhale food like our Meesha.

Here is a link to the Kyjen Co. On the Slo-Bowl for more information “Pawsitively Slo-Bowl”.

Kyjen’s Slo-Bowl can be purchased online or in stores. It retails for anywhere from $15 to $25 depending on the size of the bowl.  Slo-Bowl in on our Liz Recommends list!

Meesha loves her bowl and I know your dog will too.  If you decide to get the bowl please share with us your experience with us. We wil have it posted on our dog product reviews post of the Slo-Bowl.  In the meantime happy dinner time!


Our Series on Dog Training – Why Train Your Dog?

Why should I train my dog?

Most dog owners think about getting their new puppy trained right from the start.  Everyone wants their new puppy to understand the basic commands of sit, lay down, heel and not to jump on people. However there are many other useful commands that the dog needs to know, understand and respond to such as “Leave it” when your favorite shoe is being taken away to be eaten! and “Off” when your pup is climbing on the counter to eat that freshly cooked steak!  However puppies aren’t the only ones that need training. Your family needs training too. Everyone including your new pet has to be included so that everyone is on the same page. This means using the same command terms for the same commands and reward system.  Remember your puppy wasn’t born understanding human talk. Up til now, they have spent all of their time with like-minded puppies and their mom.

What type of dog training does my dog and family need?

Most training that is available follows pretty much the same manual.  The training offered and how the training is delivered is the same for all dogs.  A smaller boutique training center will work with what you and your dog requires. They will promote all the fundamental training as well as design the training to your breed type. In many cases they have certified dog trainers on staff.

An example of breed specific training is our future dog of the month Vangelis who is a Hungarian Puli dog. His owner Emily rescued Vangelis. She met with a specialized trainer who recommended herding classes to help with his confidence, and to transform him into a loving, happy guy. This is specific dog training to fit a specific need.

Why choose a professional certified trainer vs a non-certified trainer

Many big box pet stores offer training now. However not all the trainers on staff are certified in dog training. So how important is it to be a “professional certified dog trainer” you ask? For many years, dog trainers were self-taught. Many read books, completed their obedience class with their pets and even assisted training classes to get more experience. To date there are many trainers that still follow this road, but now there are certification courses held in many locations. The Canadian Canine Training Academy in Canada and the Animal Behavior College in United States are just a couple of places where you can get Professional Dog Training certification.  You can completely rely on these professional trainers to provide you with proven training tactics but as well these professional are also taught and trained on dog psychology, basic medical, obedience and personal protection. So when looking at training and depending on your breed type you may consider asking the question on what kind of certification your dog trainer has completed


Our next post will discuss what kind of training worked for our dogs and the four quadrants of training

Tell us about your training experiences and what worked for your dog and even what did not work. We want to hear about it all!

Meesha’s first Christmas with Miya, Jackie and her family Humans!

Every time this happens and now you know this is number three, it never ceases to amaze me that even as a puppy the look of wonderment is there just like for a little child at Christmas. Meesha is wondering what all the excitement is about as she looks at all of us decorating the house. All this neat stuff to run off, hide and chew on! This all looks cute, but make sure there is parental supervision. You don’t want your puppy swallowing something that could really hurt their intestines!

Christmas presents for puppies and doggies

We all love to shower our dogs with Christmas presents as well. Jackie and Miya have their own ornament, and they also have a stocking too! Meesha needs her own festive stocking and her own ornament for the Christmas tree with her name on it! So off we go to find that extra special stocking and gift for all the dogs.

In Meesha’s case it’s easy, since she needs a new winter coat, booties, and lots of chew things, since she is still teething! The other two girls Jackie and Miya also need extra-special presents. Jackie needs something snuggly that will keep her warm. Miya has outgrown her old coat and needs new one. I better not forget something that tastes good too.

My biggest challenge will be keeping all three dogs from ripping open the wrapping paper before Christmas morning.

Here are some of my favorites for the dogs: Kongs to fill with yummy things, Nylabone chews, and busy toys that you can fill with treats or kibble. Then there are the squeaky toys to replace the ones that just got torn apart leaving stuffing everywhere!

Consider getting a brand new bed to give your puppy or dog.  Making a place to feel safe and call their own.

Happy Doggie Howlidays

Whatever you pick … your puppy or dog will be completely thrilled to get something new. Even if it may just last a little while!  Enjoy your Christmas shopping for your pet!  But most of all, have fun with it. I know I will!