July 2019: 4th of July Safety Tips

Updated: Aug 4, 2019

Dustin was adopted in June 2012 so June is always a really fun month for us. Each year I make (or buy) a cake, he takes a cute picture with it, and then we share with friends. This year I made his cake baseball themed. I am so grateful that I ended up with Dustin in my life. If you want to read a little more about our journey together here is a link to an article I wrote for the dog training magazine BARKS from the Guild that was published in January 2018. Click Here. 

Thanks for reading!


4th of July Safety!

Fourth of July is the most dangerous times of the year for dogs. More dogs get lost on the 4th of July than any other day of the year. I hope you will read through this newsletter entirely, but if you don’t, and there is only get one thing out of it, please, please, understand that July 4th is dangerous for your dog. 

Although we cannot do anything about the stress that 4th of July causes for many of our dogs, we can take a few proactive measures to ensure their safety. 

  1. Make sure that your dog is wearing an ID tag with up to date information. If your dog does go missing this will make it easier for the finder to reach out. 

  2. Try to get your dog well exercised earlier in the day. That way they can hopefully sleep through the fireworks. 

  3. During fireworks, leave your dog indoors. Inside the yard does not count- panicked dogs can escape, or injure themselves trying to escape. Make sure windows and doors are securely fastened. While fireworks are sounding, give your dog a stuffed Kong with whatever they think is the most delicious thing in the world. 

  4. Play classical music or the tv for your dog while fireworks are happening. 

  5. If your dog tends to be anxious about loud noises, or has had a hard time dealing with fireworks in the past, talk to your vet about the possibility of a short term sedative or an anti-anxiety medication. 

Sue Sternberg Seminar

This month I had a lot of fun attending a workshop in New Jersey presented by Sue Sternberg about how to manage dog reactivity. Dog reactivity is a common problem in the city since we have so many dogs in such close proximity. Dog reactivity is sometimes more obvious like barking and lunging, and other times subtler, like simply staring, avoiding, or raising hackles (raising the hair on their backs/ piloerection). Regardless of your doing being obviously reactive, subtly reactive, or non-reactive, Sue discussed some management tactics and some skills that she believes every dog should know to keep them safe in the city. And I wholeheartedly agree with these! 

  • Offered sit as a default behavior. Your dog should be able to sit anywhere, anytime, and with no difficulty at all. When your dog is looking to you for further instructions, waiting patiently, or becoming stressed out, your dog should sit. Your dog should not only sit when asked, but your dog should also sit as a way to ask you “what’s next?” “what are we doing?” “how should I behave right now?” without first being prompted. 

  • Front recall with stationary attention. You should be able to call your dog so that he/she will come, and sit in front of you for a duration of time with distractions passing in the background.

  • Left and right heel. While out walking your dog, it is not important that your dog be in heel as you militantly march in the park. However, it is important that when you need to pass another dog or walk in a narrow passage you can call your dog into heel on both left and rights sides as you walk past. Your pup should be able to do this in an environment with high distractions and for a medium to long distance if needed.  In addition to these three behaviors, Sue advises that you always put yourself in-between your dog and the unfamiliar dog when forced to pass on the street. This allows both dogs to pass each other safely and calmly, and protects your dog from any bad experience you might encounter. 

I think that these are behaviors that almost every dog can pretty easily learn, and that every handler can pretty easily teach with some practice, patience, and consistency. You should start these behaviors indoors with no distractions. Then practice with minimal distractions, then finally mastered at high-level distractions with high-value treats. If you or your dog needs help learning these skills feel free to text me or respond to this email so we can set up a time to teach them! 

Training challenge inspired by Sue! 

Teach your dog to sit in front, on your left, and on your right, on cue this month. 

Level 1: Teach your dog to sit in front of you in a front, on your right side, and on your left side on cue. On your left and right sides, your dog should be sitting facing the same direction that you are and his/her feet should like up with your heel. When your dog is sitting in front of you, he/she should be looking at you, with their feet almost touching your feet, and their nose should be in the middle of your legs. Dustin demonstrates these positions below. The top image is Dustin sitting in front of me the left image is Dustin sitting to my right, and the right image is Dustin sitting to my left. 

Level 2: Add movement! Now that your dog knows how to sit on your left, on your right, and in front of you, start moving in these positions. Fron your left and right sits, being walking forward with your dog on your side.  At first, give him/her a treat for every step that you take. The goal is for them to start and end right next to you. From your front position, walk backward away from your dog. When you take one. step back he/she should take one step forward. Treat for every step. For both these variations, your dog is probably only going to be able to do 2 or 3 steps at a time- that is absolutely fine! Keeping the correct position is more important than adding distance quickly.

Sushi in the Spotlight

Recently Sushi got all dressed up for a photo shoot with the skincare company StriVectin. His mom sent me some of the final images and they are so adorable I wanted to share with you all. Sushi was rescued from a puppy mill and can be a little timid in new environments but he did great on set! I am very proud of Sushi and his owners for all the work they are doing with him. 

Blog Post: Lickable, Stuffable Dog Toys, Review and Comparison

I’ve been spending a lot of time at work recently, and that means Dustin has been spending a lot of time home alone. To alleviate some of my mom guilt, and make sure Dustin’s environment is enriching without me being present, I’ve been leaving him some stuffed toys. I know that many people know what a classic Kong is, but did you know there are lots of other options available for you to stuff for your dog. To keep Dustin’s days entertaining I have been rotating some different stuffed dog toys and I thought I would share my thoughts on the different toys with you. Continue. 

Last Month's Blog Post: But, What's a Flirt Pole?

Lately, I have been recommending a flirt pole to many of my clients. It is a product that I have really liked for a long time, and I recently realized that I don’t recommend it enough. So many dogs love it! It is a versatile dog toy that I feel is very underrated. You might see it in the pet store, or on amazons recommended section, and keep moving past. It’s not flashy or pretty, but it is an entertaining, functional toy, that many dogs find fun and exciting. It will provide your dog’s hours of enrichment, it can help with some training, and it can get your dog exercise in a small space.


© Leash and Learn 2019