The best in health, wellness, and positive training from America’s leading dog experts

Tricks, Games, Sports

Is Your Dog Hiding a Talent?

All of our dogs are capable of far more than we ever ask of them. Their senses, especially their hearing and ability to smell, are so highly developed that they can perform feats that appear miraculous to us. Their physical abilities can cause us to gape in awe, as demonstrated by the prowess of highly-skilled Frisbee and Agility dogs. And they have all kinds of talents that, unless we look for them, we may never notice; hidden talents that reveal their versatility and breadth of their potential to think, reason and learn.

Training Your Dog to Use His Nose With Positive Reinforcement

One of the cool things about dogs is the variety of tasks, tricks, and trades they can learn. Dogs perform lifesaving work in search and rescue and criminal justice venues, and they are employed to detect everything from prohibited fruits, vegetables and meats in airports to termites in homes. These abilities are directly related to their sense of smell. All dogs have a highly developed sense of smell, although some breeds – primarily scenthounds and sporting dogs – show greater ability than others.

Tug o War Used As a Training Tool

From tiny Pomeranians to huge Mastiffs, dogs love to play Tug ‘o War. There is an inherent canine joy in growling, grabbing, pulling, shaking, ripping and shredding that satisfies a dog's basic predatory instincts. Owners also find it rewarding to roughhouse with their four-footed friends, and a Tug ‘o War game is a great way to take the edge off a high-energy pooch. Many trainers caution against playing Tug ‘o War with canine companions, warning that it teaches a dog to be dominant and aggressive. I encourage my students to play Tug ‘o War with their dogs.

Spring Into Better Health

Dogs that exercise regularly live longer, incur fewer veterinary bills, and are better behaved. Sit up and take action!

Target-Train Your Dog to Ring A Doorbell

Each month, I stand in the middle of my training center during the second session of my newest Level One class and introduce my...

Dog Athlete Massages for Pre- and Post-Activity

Dogs love a good massage. If you don't believe me, ask any dog. Slow rhythmic massage moves can improve circulation, reduce stress, and relieve discomfort from a recent injury or a chronic condition like arthritis. But there is another type of massage that we sometimes overlook. Prior to a competition, an invigorating sports massage can do wonders to get a canine athlete physically pumped and mentally psyched. This is true for any competitive endeavor whether it is lure coursing, agility, obedience, Frisbee, fly-ball, tracking, herding, field trials, or some other activity. After the competition, the dog can definitely benefit from another, more relaxing sports massage.

Swimming is Great Exercise for Dogs

Tucker, our six-year-old Cattle-Dog mix, loves to swim. Every morning when we walk the quarter-mile down our driveway with our four-pack of dogs to pick up the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, Tucker casts longing glances at the pond in our next-door-neighbor’s front yard. As long as we occasionally remind him to stay with us, he’s fine. But if we let our attention lapse for too long, especially if it’s a particularly warm day, a loud “Splash!” announces in no uncertain terms that Tucker has once again gone for an unauthorized swim. You would never know that Tucker used to hate the water, and that we had to make an effort to convince him to give recreational swimming a try.

Rally Obedience Classes for Dogs

I used to show my dogs in competitive obedience. In the beginning, the opportunity to earn obedience titles and show off my dog's training appealed to me greatly. But as I evolved toward positive training methods and a more fulfilling relationship with my dogs, the military precision of the show ring lost its charm. I realized that it made no sense to have a relationship with my canine pals based on warm interaction and communication outside the ring, only to march in cold silence next to my dogs inside the ring. I stopped showing and turned my efforts toward family dog training and activities that were more fun and flexible, like agility and canine freestyle.

Compression Techniques for Muscle Strength

All dogs love a gentle pat on the shoulder or the rump. To them it can be a signal of a job well done or simply an indication of our affection. Touch strengthens the bond between dog and owner and is a basic building block of the canine-human relationship. We have already considered effleurage, the open-hand technique that resembles smooth petting strokes yet does so much for the dog’s circulation, relaxation, and balance. Compression, another open-hand technique, also affords enjoyable physical contact between you and your dog while providing important health benefits to your canine friend.

Stretching Your Dog Reduces the Chance of Muscle Tears

All dogs instinctively know how to stretch and do so with great enjoyment. Dogs stretch without fail upon awakening and whenever the mood strikes during the rest of the day. Who hasn’t watched a dog inch his front paws out in front of him as far as possible leaning into the stretch until it literally ripples along the length of his trunk? When the stretch finally reaches the hips, the hind legs are extended far behind the body in what appears to be total ecstasy. The dog completes the routine by dropping to his elbows and stretching the back in a doggy bow that temporarily elevates the rump. Then, the hindquarters flop to the floor in a grand finale to the stretch.

Performance-Enhancing Herbs For Competitive Dogs

In every obedience match, tracking test, field trial, agility event, show ring, athletic competition and puppy kindergarten class, owners and handlers are eager to find whatever strategies, products, and equipment will give their dogs an advantage. One healthy shortcut to the winner’s circle comes from Mother Nature, for with the help of medicinal herbs, dogs can concentrate despite distractions, relax under stress, keep their joints limber, improve their coats, increase their stamina and possibly even improve their sense of smell.

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