Curbing Counter Surfing

Has your dog ever jumped up on the counter and stolen a snack or two? This behavior is easily created (simply by leaving food out), but a bit harder to curb! You see, dogs do what works! So when they successfully steal a tasty treat off the counter a few times, you bet they are going to continue trying!

So what do we do?



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First things first. Prevention is important!

Prevention tip #1: Try not to leave anything out on the counter unattended. I know this is easier said than done, but it makes a big difference!

Prevention tip #2: A dog that isn’t in the kitchen, can’t counter surf! By teaching your dog that the kitchen area is off limits, you will greatly reduce if not eliminate the counter surfing issue. Depending on how your home is set up, you may choose to have the kitchen entirely off limits, or maybe the dog is only allowed in upon invitation (for example if they need to go through the kitchen area to go outside). Teaching an “Out” command is very helpful!

What if prevention fails?

Well, it’s up to us to set our dogs up for success, so as much as possible, we want to prevent the behavior from being a possibility. But, when life happens and prevention fails, we need to help our dogs understand that jumping up on the counter is NOT rewarding. They have already learned that the opposite is true (goodies are up there), so we need to focus on re-training them. This means that you need to provide an appropriate consequence for counter surfing when there is inevitably something on the counter. For most dogs, a great consequence for counter surfing is a time out. Dog jumps on counter, you say “Ah, Ah!” and immediately remove your dog from the counter and put him in a time out behind a nearby closed door for 15-30 seconds. What you are effectively telling your dog is that if you jump up on the counter, you will be immediately removed from the room, the goodies, and any social interaction.

But my dog only does it when I’m not looking (or not home)…

If your dog is only counter surfing when you aren’t in the room, I recommend setting up a sting operation. Through strategically placed mirrors or even two phones (tablets etc) on Skype, you need to set up a way to see the dog when he doesn’t think you can. Then once he jumps up on the counter, you immediately from the next room say “Ah, Ah!” and come to provide the time-out. He will learn that even if he thinks you couldn’t possibly see him, the consequences still happen. The same goes for if you dog complies with the out of the kitchen rule when you are in eyesight, but sneaks in when he thinks you can’t see him.

If your dog is only counter surfing when you aren’t home, prevention is easy! Crate your dog, confine him to another room, gate off the kitchen, don’t leave anything out etc. You could mess with scat mats or remote collars with boundary pucks, but why resort to shocking your dog (and risking injury when you aren’t home) when management is so simple?


Doggie Easter Egg Hunt

Easter is just a few weeks away, so we thought we would share with you a fun Easter activity for your dog (and your kids too). If your dog knows the Find It game, this will be a very easy game for your dog to pick up on! If not, below are some simple steps for a successful Easter egg hunt with your canine!

Step 1: Gather up a bunch of plastic Easter eggs and place some smelly treats inside (or have your kids do this).

Step 2: Give your dog a couple eggs and see if they can figure out how to open them (some eggs are easier than others). If it seems too challenging for them, you can always leave the eggs partially open when it comes time to hide them.

Step 3: Place your dog outside or in another room while you (or your kids) hide the eggs. For dogs seasoned in the Find It game, you can make your hiding spots more challenging. For dogs new to this sort of game, make the eggs pretty easy to find.

Step 4: Release your dog from the other room and encourage them to find the eggs! Novice dogs may need some help or encouragement, while seasoned Find It dogs will know exactly what to do!

Here is a Youtube video of a doggie Easter egg hunt!

Boundary Training: Out

Boundary training is something that can make life with your dog muchClicker Training Your Dog easier! The “Out” command allows you to give your dog the cue to leave a particular room or stay out of a room.

Situations where this command is useful:

  • Painting a room – no need to put up the gate, close the door or worry about your dog tracking paint all over the house.
  • Keeping your dog out of the kitchen while you are cooking.
  • Rather not have your dog watch you while you shower? You can teach your dog to stay out of the bathroom.


Teaching the command “Out”

Choose a room that you would like to be able to send your dog out of such as a kitchen, bathroom, or dining area. Just as your dog tries to enter that area, say “Out” while extending your pointed finger in the direction you want the dog to go, and quickly and assertively move into the dogs space, using your body language to push him/her out of the room.

  • Be sure you are standing up straight and portraying confidence both in your body language and tone of voice.
  • You may need to shuffle your feet into the dog or use your knees to push the dog (pressure, not a kick with the knee).
  • Do your best to not grab the collar of the dog, let your body language do the work. Once the dog moves out of the space,  it is important to move away and remove body pressure.
  • You will likely need to do this a dozen times or more before the dog begins to understand what you are asking.
  • If your dog continues to come immediately back into the room, it can often be helpful to hold your ground at the threshold (the doorway or entrance to the room) a bit longer until the dog seems to relax or loose interest a bit.
  • Some dogs will require more persistence than others so keep at it, even if the progress is slow.

“Can I Pet Your Puppy?”


Ryder at 10 weeks

Not many people realize that there are some dogs who truly do not want to be pet. Just like people, some dogs are either uncomfortable with strangers touching them, or just don’t like it. Did you know that even a puppy sometimes would rather not be pet? Yes, that sweet cuddly puppy that you just want to pick up and cuddle, may actually prefer that you don’t!

My dog Ryder has always been one of those dogs. From the time he was a puppy, he was always a bit wary of people he didn’t know. Not hide behind my leg sort of wary, but rather pee submissively nearly every time someone he didn’t know tried to pet him kind of wary. As a dog owner, its embarrassing and frustrating to have a dog that pees every time someone wants to pet your adorably fluffy dog. As a puppy, its just simply frightening.

Not every dog or puppy wants to be pet and cuddled. Can you imagine groups of people surrounding YOU at the pet store. It’s like the paparazzi snapping photos, except they are touching you and picking you up. Small dogs and puppies have to tolerate this all the time and not every dog owner recognizes that this makes the dog uncomfortable until their sweet puppy starts growling or barking at people. What happened? He used to love being pet and picked up? Or did he?

Paying attention to your dogs body language is very important to his social health, not just in puppy hood but through adolescence and adulthood as well. Do you know how to tell if your dog is uncomfortable with being greeted? Here are a few behaviors that under the right circumstances may mean that your dog is uncomfortable.

  • Slight cowering/leaning away
  • Ears flattened or furrowed brow
  • Licking lips when no food is near by
  • Moving away or not approaching
  • Submissive peeing/rolling over submissively
  • Wide eyes/seeing whites of eye (aka: whale eye)

With Ryder, I had to put my embarrassment aside and become an advocate for my puppy because his fear was only getting worse. Since Ryder loved to play, we started bringing his ball everywhere we went. When someone asked to pet him, I’d explain that he is shy, but they could help him gain confidence by throwing his ball for him. Over time, Ryder came to anticipate that people meant it was time to play and he could trust that I wouldn’t let them invade his space. Ryder now accepts strangers and even allows petting too without peeing. Had I continued allowing people to pet him, Ryder may have resorted to saying “I don’t want to be pet” in a more firm manner which for a dog looks like growling, barking or even biting. Preventing aggression is much easier than treating it!

Check out this video, then watch your dog while they are greeting someone. What do you think? Do they REALLY want to be touched?

Do you have a shy or fearful dog or puppy? We can help your dog learn to feel comfortable with how humans like to greet dogs. Give us a call (612-388-9656) or send us an email to tell us about your dog.

Tiny Tails Playgroup for Small Dogs & Puppies

Is your dog in need of some exercise and playtime but it’s just too cold IMAG0369 - Copyoutside? Join us for our Tiny Tails Small Dog Playgroup! This playgroup is for dogs and puppies under 20lbs who enjoy the company of other dogs or are fearful (non-aggressive) and in need of socialization.

When: First and Third Thursday of each month at 6pm

Where: For Pet’s Sake in Blaine, MN.

RSVP: Registration Required (see below)

  • ONLY $5/dog for 45 minutes of play!
  • This playgroup provides a structured environment run by certified dog trainers which means we provide a healthy socialization environment. This makes playgroup great for shy dogs who need to build some confidence either with other dogs or with new people.
  • All dogs and puppies should have age appropriate vaccinations for Distemper/Parvo and Rabies (if over 4 mo.). Bordetella is highly recommended, but not required.
  • The weight limit is 20lbs, but we do on occasion accept dogs over 20lbs who are gentle and appropriate with small dogs (please contact us before attending playgroup).

All dogs must have a Registration & Waiver Form completed prior to attending your first playgroup. Reservations are required for playgroup, don’t forget to reserve your spot.

Click here to register for playgroup now.

Winter Grooming: Important Tips

Many people decide to let their dog’s fur grow long in the colder months, and opt to not give baths because it is cold outside. But, imagine if you stopped showering and getting haircuts for the four, sometimes five months of our Minnesota winter. You probably wouldn’t feel too great, and your dog probably won’t either!

Dogs of all fur types still need a certain amount of grooming all winter. Wet fur SSPX5395from playing in the snow causes a greater risk of mats and walks in the dirty snow along streets and sometimes mud when the snow melts, will build up dirt in your dog’s coat. Regular brushing year-round helps to remove dead hair and skin, distribute natural oils that keep your dog’s coat healthy, and also acts as an opportunity to check over your dog for bumps, cuts, mats, fleas, and anything else that may cause a concern about your dog’s health. Regular baths year-round are also recommended to keep your dog’s coat in tip top shape, you just need to be sure your dog is completely dry before going outside. Simply let your dog out to potty right before a bath to avoid any conflicts of a wet dog that needs to pee. If your dog is otherwise clean, but is getting a little smelly, a good option to avoid a wet dog is to use a dry shampoo.

Dogs that normally get their hair cut every 6 weeks or so during the warm months like poodles and many breeds of terriers should still be properly groomed in the winter. You may choose to keep your dog’s coat longer to keep him warmer, but regular grooming is even more necessary with a long coat, so even if you skip the cut, you should still bring your dog in for a bath, brush and blow dry, or you may end up with a badly matted and uncomfortable dog come spring, and you may need to fully shave your adorably fluffy dog!

In addition to taking care of your dog’s coat, pay attention to their feet. To keep your dog’s pads from cracking in the cold weather, dry them off every time they come inside, and moisturize them regularly with a paw protection wax. Dog’s nails also need to be trimmed more often due to being inside more and not having as many opportunities to wear down their nails. Clipping the long hairs between your dog’s toes can help prevent matting, and also prevents ice balls from forming. Taking the extra time to groom your dog during the busy holiday season may feel like a burden. To make it feel less time-consuming, schedule a 5 minute grooming session at each meal, rather than taking a half-hour or hour each week. Avoiding cracked paws and matted coats—or worse, a shaved dog in the middle of winter—is worth the effort.

Written By: Jessi Weaver

Preventing Resource Guarding

No one ever wants to think their sweet puppy may someday growl or snarl when you try to take away his bone or walk past his food bowl, but this is actually a pretty common occurrence.

Does your puppy…

  • Eat REALLY fast!brown-labrador-12
  • Become very still when you approach his food or bone
  • Play keep away with his possessions

Did you know that these can all be subtle signs of resource guarding? Guarding dogs tend to eat quickly to prevent the need to guard. They also appear to freeze when approached, maybe even look at you out of the corner of their eye in this position and sometimes they just quickly run away when you approach. These can all be warning signs that more severe guarding may begin over the next few months with your puppy. It’s important to take action now to prevent this from getting any worse. Here are a few steps you can take to be sure your puppy is happy to have you around his prize possessions.

Practice Trading Your Puppy

Always practice trades for valuable objects. If you are just constantly taking things away, your pup won’t think you are very much fun to play with. Play fetch with two balls, as your puppy drops the first you can throw the second. When your puppy has a bone, you may need to provide a highly tempting treat such as hot dog or cheese to convince him to give up the bone. After bone time is over, consider doing something else with your dog so the fun doesn’t just suddenly come to an end.

Create a Positive Association

Walk by your dog while they are eating or chewing a bone and simply toss them a few treats while they are eating. You may also drop a spoonful of wet food into their bowl. This will make them see your approach as a very positive thing.

Ask for Help

If you see any type of behavioral issue developing in your puppy, don’t wait months or years to address it! Behaviors can be changed much more easily when your dog hasn’t practiced them for a long period of time and gotten good at them. If your dog is already freezing, growling or snarling, it may be time to consult a trainer for help. You should also look for help if your dog is guarding from other dogs as this is a more complex behavior. Contact us and we can help you solve these issues and keep your family safe.