Homemade Dog Cookies For Your Best Friend……

Who doesn’t love a good cookie ?  Over the years we’ve sampled ALOT of dog cookies in our dog family and though some are tried and true with high quality ingredients, they often cost a fortune and don’t last too long with multiple dogs.  We decided that with all the human emphasis on healthy eating there has got to be someone making healthy cookies that would like to share their secrets and wow are there resources out there!  Here is a simple recipe with very little prep time, that we thought you might enjoy.  Hope they make your dog’s ears wiggle !!!

(Small batch) Peanut Butter Banana + Flax Seed Dog Biscuits

Prep time   Cook time

10 min          20 min

Simple, small batch Peanut Butter Banana + Flax Seed Dog Biscuits! This recipe is a breeze to pull together and is a nutritious snack for your dog!
Author: Sarah @ LolaThePitty.com
Serves: 24
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (can be substituted with rice or coconut flour for a grain free option)
  • ½ banana, mashed
  • ⅓ cup peanut butter (I used Peanut Butter & Co. ‘Smooth Operator’)
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • ¼ cup almond milk (unsweetened)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Mix ingredients together thoroughly using a spatula until well combined.
  4. Roll out mixture on a floured surface to approximately ¼”. Cut into desired shapes. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Place on a nonstick baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
*This yielded 24, 2-inch dog treats for me.
*Store in a airtight container.
We hope you enjoyed Sarah’s recipe and that you and your dog’s enjoy many good dog moments !!!
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October 22….The Puppies Arrived in Record Time !

October 22….The Puppies Arrived in Record Time !.

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Has Your Dog Forgotten Everything You’ve Taught Him ?


So why is it that your dog seems to forget things he use to know so well ? Just like people, dogs tend to do what works. Permanent change happens when the new behavior becomes the default. This means that if you have a dog that is a jumping fool and mugs every person that comes to the door he needs to learn how to sit and stay under these same circumstances. The behavior of sitting and staying need to be repeated to the point where he’s been rewarded for it so much that he chooses to sit instead of jump because it has been rewarded so many times it has become his new default and replaces jumping.


Though most dogs pick up how to sit and stay easily, most trainers don’t prepare them for all the circumstances they will be required to perform the behavior under. The more variables you add to sit/stay while the dog is in the learning phase and the more you teach him how to perform the behavior in real life, the better able he will be to sit and stay when company comes to visit. Dogs will only default to the new behavior if they know it well enough, otherwise the old behavior will creep back in when there is less vigilance or during periods of less practice like the winter time. The solution is to go back and rehearse the right behavior until it takes over again.


Maintenance of the new behavior is required until it becomes the default which takes a lot of time and vigilance. This means that every person your dog meets needs to be treated as a training session for a while so that you dog learns exactly what pays when he is around visitors. If he thinks he has options (jumping, mouthing, pulling on clothing) he will try different things to get attention. If we want a dog that can greet people politely we need to teach him that sitting and staying is the only thing he can do to get paid (get attention, a cookie, or the opportunity to play with the visitor).


Maintaining good behavior is a lot like exercising for people. You can’t lift weights once a week and hope to get in shape. Exercise needs to become a regular habit that must be practiced regularly or no results will be seen. It’s easy to default to bad habits and behaviors that are easy when new behaviors are hard and so regression is far more common then any of us like to admit. The good news is that we can combat this with tons of rehearsal and practice until the newly learned behavior starts to trump all the old behaviors. Vigilance comes into play as the new behavior starts to take over so that when the dog has the opportunity to make a choice (jump on the person or sit instead) and the right behaviors can be rewarded and the wrong ones are either prevented or ignored. This is how we permanently make the change to the trained behavior and once we have reinforced the correct choice enough the dog will now default to the new more polite way of greeting visitors.






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Preventing Aggression in Dogs: 3 Keys to Good Dog Play!

Preventing Reactivity in Dogs: 3 Keys to Good Dog Play!

There is more information about socializing and raising dogs then ever before and yet there are still a lot of reactive dogs who have grown up in homes with informed people doing a really good job of giving them a good social experience.  Sure there are some dog owners that didn’t know that they needed to let their dogs play with lots of other dogs and puppies during their formative months of development but many folks who have done a good job of socializing their dogs are finding they are growing up and becoming reactive as they mature into adult dogs.  Most of the private training we do at Canine University is for reactive dog problems.  Many of these dogs have some social experience, many are even fine off leash with other dogs but all of them have one thing in common. When they are on leash in a public place and see dogs they react.  The type of socialization they received is not always the whole problem, but it plays a large factor for many.

Sometimes it’s because the social development was too limited, sometimes it was too stressful and still other times it just wasn’t varied enough.  There are 3 keys to help you determine whether the type of play time you are providing your dog with is good for him or not.

The first key of good socialization is QUALITY of the experience.  Keep in mind that though puppies need to meet and play with at least 100 other dogs and puppies before they are 6-8 mths old to be socially normal, what they do with those 100 dogs is important.  The key is that the experience has to be a good one.  It would be better to meet 25-30 dogs and have great, upbeat, fun experiences then to meet 100 while cowering under your legs.

Quality Play Check List

– Give and take should be even, the dogs take turns being on the top and bottom.

– Lots of play bowing, rear end in the air, tail wagging is good!

– Mouthing and wrestling with breaks

– Wrestling broken up with chasing and side by side interaction

–  Chasing broken up with being chased

–  No mouthing of collars (take them off if necessary)

–  No excessive barking (give time outs and keep play short)

–  No pinning or growling, interrupt and redirect

–  If the play is intense it should be broken up and redirected, even if that means leashing both dogs and going for a walk to calm them down.

–  Good play should have a lot of give and take by both dogs, not one dog lying on the bottom hoping the other will go away.

–  If one dog is hiding, he should not be continually harassed. If this is the case the owner of the harassing dog needs to distract his dog away onto something else.  If yours is the hider, pick him up and go for a walk and come back in a bit to let him know you are there to help him.

–  Keep it short. Good play happens in minutes at a time not hours at a time.  A play session should be 20 minutes at a time tops!

The next key is VARIETY.  I know that meeting and playing with 100 other dogs and puppies seems like a lot, but keep in mind that the more varied experience your dog gets the more likely she will be to know how to handle any encounter.

Though quality is of utmost importance the diversity of the group of dogs your dog meets and the number of dogs has to be at least 25 dogs of at least 10 different breeds. We are not talking low numbers here….2 or 3 dogs that belong to relatives or friends is NOT enough no matter how great they play together.

The FREQUENCY of play with other dogs is the last key. A young puppy should meet and play with other pups and dogs at least 3-4 times a week until he is 9mths old. After that 2-3 times a week is fine. That means getting your pup out to puppy kindergarten class, going on hikes, meeting up with other dogs owners and friends, going to the beach, the lake, a play group or a well run dog daycare.  The more regularly your dog can go and socialize the better prepared he will be for life.

A lot to think about if you are trying to raise a puppy with a balanced outlook on life. It can be difficult to make sure that your puppy is getting the experience he needs to grow up healthy. A well run dog daycare can help fill in that experience and cut down on the amount of juggling and traveling you need to do to give your dog this experience. Ideally the play should be in small supervised groups with a person present to redirect and manage the dogs so that everyone has a good time. At Canine University’s dog daycare we try to handpick who each dog plays with and make sure that the dogs that are playing together actually have something to offer one another. Our promise to their owners is that we will enhance their dog’s experience and give them the play skills they need to negotiate dogs in the real world. Make sure the daycare you choose can provide that insurance as well!

A last thought ….Before you allow your pup to play one on one with a friend’s dog ask yourself what that dog has to offer your puppy. If you can’t think of any good qualities in that dog’s play that you’d like to see your dog adopt, pick another playmate or keep interactions short broken up with a hike or a side by side on leash walk. The more good social interactions your puppy has in his bank account the more likely he will be to bounce back from a bad experience without it being a problem.

It’s going to be a rainy week. If you’re desperate to get a few things done around the house and are looking for a safe and happy place for your pooch to come and play… come play with us!!

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What Dogs Want!!

What Dogs Want!!

As the owner of 6 Golden Retrievers and several more who have passed on to the rainbow bridge I have learned a lot from my time with dogs. What I’ve learned in the span of 20 odd years or so is that dogs are simple creatures who do what works. They repeat behaviors that you pay attention to and stop behaviors you stop paying attention to. They have simple basic needs that if met mean they are easy to live with and content and if not met mean that they are going to be problematic.

A dog’s basic needs are simple and the more we can give them what they need the fewer problems there are, and the happier life is for everyone.  Aside from the obvious basics of food, water and trips out to the bathroom there are psychological needs for stimulation, exercise, rest, learning ,play and chewing that give a better quality to a dogs life.

So what is the formula for a content dog? Put simply, a good quality life for a dog involves a balance of  mental stimulation in the form of  play, exercise and exploring, social time with people and other dogs, rest time, chew time, training and good quality socialization that will pay off for life.

Mental stimulation is often overlooked and in my experience many dogs suffer greatly from the lack of it.   This may involve a play or training session, a walk in the park or around the neighborhood, a visit with friends, or playtime with another dog.  The key here is something active that the dog can do where it can use it’s senses and enjoy being outside exploring and having fun.

Training and socialization is part of a good quality life. Dogs need training and socialization, without it they cannot function normally within society. If they are scared all the time or over energetic and don’t have any social manners they miss opportunities to spend time in public with their people. Dogs are happier when they can participate in life and be with us but they need the skills to be able to do that without incident.

Early socialization and training are the keys to raising a dog that can go anywhere and be comfortable. Missing out on this opportunity means they will struggle to get this need met throughout their life.

Exercise is another need that is essential for all dogs. Even the most laid back dogs need time to burn off some energy to run and play with other dogs or explore on their own.  If your dog doesn’t come back reliably this will severely limit his freedom in public places and make it hard for him to get this need met.  If he hasn’t been socialized with other dogs he won’t be able to meet his basic need for canine companionship and the joy of play with friends.

Chew time is often overlooked as a luxury but it is high in priority in a dog’s world. So many behavior problems could be solved by a few hours of high quality chew time on a real meaty bone.  Chewing isn’t just fun for the dog it provides exercise for his jaws, builds muscle tone in his whole body and satisfies a deep need to work out stress and frustration. This is so much better than taking out that “need” on your furniture!

Lastly, the most overlooked need of dogs but the one they most crave is rest.  Not the fall asleep for 15minutes before they go back to playing or the ½ hour here and there they catch during a busy day. I’m talking about the deep restorative sleep that a dog can only get from being alone in a quiet place all by himself.  For puppies and adolescent dogs this should be in the form of a crated naptime. For older dogs it might simply mean short times alone while you run errands or do work in a different part of the house.  Without proper rest a dog can’t inhibit their impulsiveness, listen when you tell him to stop or even remember well taught behaviors like down, sit or leave it.  Everyone will be happier if your dog gets time for deep restful sleep.

So the secret to giving dogs a happy life isn’t rocket science but it is a tricky balance and though many people adore the company of dogs most don’t quite understand what they need. In my many years of practice as a dog trainer I have helped families resolve these imbalances with proper education of the other end of the leash.  Once a dog gets what he needs many other things fall into place. Give your dog the highest quality life possible and you will reap the benefits of living with a dog that brings joy to you everyday.

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Crossing the Threshold ………

Who among us hasn’t experienced the frustration of teaching our dogs a behavior that we feel he “knows” and then taking him somewhere only to find out that it falls apart completely in a new environment. For instance the dog that will hold a sit/stay at home with ease but is a jumping maniac when you take him on a walk or the neighbors come for dinner.

The key to a well behaved dog that can listen and respond to the behaviors you have taught him in any environment is your ability to assess his threshold of tolerance for distractions. A training threshold is the place where the dog is beginning to notice the distractions in the environment making it harder for him to perform a behavior he may perform perfectly in a quiet environment. In training all dogs it is important to be aware of what your dog’s thresholds are for any behavior but especially those that are newly acquired.  Dogs that are in the learning phase of their training  have acquired some of the basics of the behavior but don’t always perform it reliably under all circumstances.  In order to successfully train a dog to respond in any environment you need to  not only be aware of what your dog’s thresholds are but know how to manipulate the threshold so as to help the dog learn to perform the behavior in the new environment.

An example might be a dog that is just learning how to “leave it”. The set up at home might be that you can drop a cookie on the floor in front of your dog, say “leave it” and your dog will not lunge for the food and look at up at you quickly to earn his reward. This is an example of a SUB-threshold environment. Under these circumstances the dog has learned the behavior and is reliable in doing it when you ask. On a walk around the neighborhood however when you do this same set up he is much slower to back off and look at you, many times only doing the back off and never looking up. This is an example of being ON the threshold.  Being on the threshold means that he is still able to perform part of the behavior, but the complete behavior is either missing or has a very slow response.  When this happens it is important to have some tools for helping your dog be successful.

4 Keys to Helping Your Dog Change His Threshold

1. Move further away from distractions if possible

2. Use a better treat. Switch to something he LOVES!

3. Ask for a previous step for a bit before moving forward. In the case of  ” leave it” you would go back to the back off step for a bit before waiting for the looking back at you step.

4. Quit and re-group. If you find that your dog is not making forward progress end the session and try again later. Sometimes it takes repeated exposures to make the progress you are hoping for.

If you can’t get the dog to perform a lesser step of the behavior or he stops eating or he doesn’t respond to your cues at all you know  you have gone OVER threshold and should stop the session. Trying to train a dog who is over threshold is fruitless, he is too aroused and excited to learn anything and needs you to help him calm down and go somewhere quieter. Sitting down and figuring out a new place to work that isn’t quite so exciting is a logical next step and will insure that you are building his tolerance and his skill set step by step. Training programs that are built on slow progressions and thoughtful management of distractions end with dogs that are completely and reliably trained to respond to all of your cues in any environment.

Happy Training!

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Using Targeting to Teach Your Dog To Stand

Teaching your dog to stand on cue has many benefits including making it easier to wipe him down after a romp in the mud, bathe and brush him or put on a coat or harness. The easiest way to teach this behavior is by using your hand as a target to lure your dog into the right position and then clicking and treating when he arrives there. The steps to teach your dog to stand on cue might look like this :

1. Start with your dog in a sitting position.

2. Present your hand target and when your dog touches your hand with his nose, click/treat.

3. Repeat this until your dog is leaping out of the sit and into a standing position as soon as he sees the hand target.

4. Introduce the verbal cue by saying “stand”, pausing for a count of 5 seconds and then presenting your hand target, when the dog touches your hand, click/treat.

5. Repeat step 4 gradually adding more time between the verbal cue and the presentation of the hand target until eventually your dog anticipates the target and stands on the verbal cue.

6. Improve your dog’s response to the cue by mixing it up with other known cues so that he learning to discriminate between stand and other cues. If he falls apart at any point don’t be afraid to go back a step and help him or review a set of “stand” with the hand target before trying again.

As with any behavior you’ll want to take the behavior out in public as soon as possible to help your dog learn that he can “stand” anywhere no matter what the distractions. If you find the environment is too distracting for him here are 4 tips to help your dog be successful.

1. Move further away from the distraction.

2. Use a better treat.

3. Ask for a previous step or help the dog with a lure.

4. Quit and come back to it another day. It is better to quit and regroup rather then frustrate your dog or yourself.

Have fun training this useful behavior!

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Teach Your Dog to LOVE Nail Trims !

Teaching Your Dog To “Like” Having His Nails Trimmed

Nail trims are an essential part of life for any dog but for dogs who can’t tolerate being handled they are pure torture. Having your dog’s nails trimmed on regular basis shouldn’t require anesthesia or 4 people to hold the dog down while a fifth person takes his life in his hands to do the trimming.  Even if your dog is cooperative it is a good idea to develop a training plan that you can do on a regular basis to prepare him not just to tolerate nail trimming but to actually look forward to it.

The nail clippers should be the first thing you desensitize your dog to. Many dogs run at the site of them which is an easy problem to fix.  Start holding the nail clippers when you do other things for your dog besides trim his nails.  Make them part of your food preparation ritual, pick them up, pour the food in the bowl, put the clippers down next to the food bowl. Have the clippers in your hand when you get your dog’s leash, pick up your keys, give him a cookie. Changing the association between the nail clippers and nail trimming is easy, just carry them with you whenever you do something for your dog that he associates with good things.  Soon your dog will come running when he sees you with the nail clippers.

Handling feet, legs and nails makes some dogs very nervous. Sometimes it’s because they feel trapped, other times it’s because they are anticipating something bad happening. Maybe someone trimmed a nail too short or scared him when they held on too tight during the last session.  In order to change his association  it is necessary to associate being handled with feeling good. Most people find that using a high value food reward is the best way to get your dog to begin to look forward to being handled rather than dreading it.

Here are some variables to work on to prepare your dog for a nail trim :

–       accept being picked up off the floor

–       stand, sit or lie down on a grooming or exam table

–       restraint which involves the technician holding the dog in a bit of a head lock

–       sight of the nail clippers

–       picking up the paw

–       touching the nail

–       squeezing the paw

–       extending the paw out from the body

–       actually clipping a piece of nail

–       holding further up the arm to get the dew claw

–       different environments: home, groomer, vet, inside, outside, distractions

Since much of the nail trimming process involves handling the feet of the dog a significant amount of time should be spent on teaching the dog to enjoy having his feet touched. You need tiny pieces of really yummy treats for this exercise. You will not need your clicker. It is important to note that the treats are hidden during the touch portion of the exercise and appear only after the dog has tolerated the level of touching you are working on.  This tool we are using is called classical conditioning, teaching the dog to predict that allowing touching produces goodies !

  1. Reach for paw but don’t actually make contact, if the dog does not move his paw away, give a treat.
  2. Reach for paw and touch lightly with one finger, treat
  3. Reach for paw and touch with whole hand, treat
  4. Reach for paw and lift it gently, treat
  5. Lift paw gently and hold for 1 second, treat.
  6. Build the time to 10 seconds or more, treat.
  7. Lift paw and touch toes with opposite hand, treat.
  8. As you hold paw gently squeeze, treat.
  9. As you hold paw gently separate the toes, treat
  10. Show the dog the clippers, treat.
  11. Touch clipper to dogs paw, treat.
  12. Pick up paw and touch clipper to nail, treat
  13. Pick up paw and touch clipper to nail, treat.
  14. Pick up paw and clip one toenail, treat.
  15. Pick up paw and clip next toenail, treat.

Remember that each dog is an individual and that you may need to move slower and break the steps down into more pieces in order to be successful. The goal is always to move at the dogs pace in such a way that he is begging for you to touch him, not resisting you and trying to move away. It is very important to make sure you do the touch part of the exercise first before the food appears and that you don’t practice too much all at once.  A good time limit for this exercise is one minute at a time.  You can work the exercise multiple times per day but you should not work for longer than a minute at a time.  I hope this helps you get your dog on the right track toward accepting and enjoying being handled for a nail trim. Remember that each repetition you do is investment for the life of the dog!!

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Teach your dog to touch a Target !

Teaching your dog to bump his nose to the palm of your hand is a skill we call targeting. Once the dog learns how to target we can put this useful behavior on cue and transfer it to objects in order to teach a new skill or use it simply to move the animal from one place to another.

Some people use targeting to get their dogs to move in and out of the bath tub or in and out of the back of the car especially if the clearance is particularly high and the dog is a bit uncertain. The targeting tool gives you options when you are working with your dog so that you can move them from one place to another without having to physically push or pull them where you want them to go. You can teach your dog to target with any part of his body but we are going to keep this simple and teach him to use his nose first.

Steps for Targeting : Dog’s Nose to Your Hand

Getting the Dog to Touch

Open your hand with palm facing dog and a treat trapped under your thumb.  As your dog’s nose touches your hand click and give up the treat. Repeat this 6 times.

Getting the Touch Without the Food Lure

Now offer your hand the same way ( palm facing dog) but without a treat trapped under your thumb.  If the dog bumps your hand click and treat (time the click so that you are clicking at the moment your dog’s nose touches your hand).  The treat now comes from the table or your other hand.  Repeat this until the dog is really enthusiastic about touching your hand with his nose.

Stand up

Holding your hand the same way, repeat step 2.  If the dog loses interest or seems confused go back to step 1, and trap food under your thumb for 6 reps before trying again without food.

4. Stand up and Follow

When your dog is easily bumping your outstretched hand while you are standing, try moving your hand so that he must follow it for a step or two before he can touch it to earn his click and treat.  If he won’t follow your hand go back a step for 6 reps and try again.

5.  Transfer to another person

Add another person only when the dog is doing well bumping your hand for a click and treat. Sit close together at first and take turns offering your hands for him to bump for a click and treat.  If he’s slow to go to the other person, go back to food in your hand for 6 reps before trying again without it.  Remember that the dog still gets the treat, but it’s no longer right in your hand.

6. Add Distance

When you are able to have your dog target both of your hands start to increase the distance between you by a few feet, until you can send him from across a room.

7. Add the Label

Call it “Touch” when the behavior of bumping your hand with his nose is well established (meaning he does it immediately when he sees a hand extended without food in it.)  Say “Touch” then extend your hand and wait, when your dog bumps your hand click and treat.

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Teaching Your Dog To Crawl backwards !

Last week I was on vacation in Maine and though they didn’t have much snow there was plenty of ice everywhere making it difficult to give 6 active Golden Retrievers a decent workout.  I don’t like to exercise my dogs on slippery surfaces for fear that someone with tear a cruciate ligament or otherwise get injured. We had to be creative about keeping everyone entertained so I spent alot of time dreaming up behaviors to teach the dogs .

I started out thinking I was going to teach them to back up but the sessions quickly turned into crawling backwards which was actually a little more interesting to teach. I taught each of the 6 dogs to do this behavior and it was interesting to see how each of them figured it out in their own way.

To get them started I tried to watch their feet and click and treat any movement backwards. Initially they started in a  standing position but since most of them defaulted almost immediately to a down position I figured I would just start clicking and treating them for shuffling their feet. Observation skills are very important here, you want to click and treat the slightest movement at first. Try to be generous with your initial clicks and treats so that you can get some movement started or you will spend alot of time just staring at your dog. The placement of the treat is also really important, after you click toss the treat so that it lands right between the dog’s paws at chest level. In order to eat the treat the dog will have to dip it’s chin down and hunt around giving you more opportunities to click foot movement.

Once the dog is offering some backward movement don’t be afraid to change the placement of the treat. When the dog is offering movement easily, varying where the treat is delivered can help the dog offer more variations and help shape the behavior toward your goal.  I like to rotate delivering the treat between the paws at first with delivering the treat a foot or so in front of the dogs paws. By varying where the treat is placed I can restart the behavior if the dog gets stuck because he runs out of room to back up.

Once the dog is offering crawling backward easily I delay the click until he shuffles backwards twice or makes more effort to extend his legs etc. By varying this a bit it will be easier to get the dog to offer crawling backward for several steps instead of just a few. When you are happy with your dog’s effort go ahead and start labeling it whatever you are going to call it. I am calling this behavior “back” . To help the dog learn the verbal cue for crawl backward I say the word “back” and then wait until the dog starts to shift her weight  and offer pulling herself backwards a bit. It is important not to chant the cue at the dog. Just say it once and wait for her to initiate the behavior then click and reward. I hope you enjoy trying out this new trick with your dog.  Happy Training !

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