How to Train Your Door-Dashing Dog

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How to Train Your Door-Dashing DogIf you have a Houdini dog that manages to slip out anytime a door is opened or your pup practically knocks you over while trying to squeeze past you to get outside, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to train your door-dashing dog! Just make sure your pooch knows the Sit command and is fully housebroken before you get started. Ready? Just follow these simple steps!

How to Train Your Door-Dashing Dog

When your dog wants to go outside, give the Sit command while he’s near the door.
After he sits, say “Wait” then slowly open the door just an inch, making sure he doesn’t push his way through.
If his butt leaves the ground, close the door and wait for him to sit again.
Repeat opening the door just an inch until he stays in the sitting position while it’s open.
Give your dog a release command, such as “Okay!”, then fully open the door and allow him to proceed outside.

Continue practicing the steps above while opening the door an inch more each time until he remains sitting when the door is fully open.

Need Some Tips?

  • Don’t grab your dog’s collar to hold them back. The goal is for your dog to learn self control in order to get what they want.
  • If you live in an area where it could be dangerous for your dog if they slip out unexpectedly, use a long leash while training.
  • Combine the Wait command with a hand signal, like using your open palm as a stop sign gesture.
  • You can also use the Stay command when asking your dog to wait, but I tend to use Stay when I want Haley to remain in place for longer periods of time.
  • For determined door dashers, you may need to step into the space between them and the door opening in order to help them settle into a sitting position.
  • Make sure all family members participate in the training and reinforce good door manners.
  • Some doors might be more exciting than others and may require extra training time for your pooch.
  • Be patient. The more times a dog has experienced the self-rewarding behavior of escaping through an open door, the longer it may take to train new door manners.

Next, Build on Your Dog’s Good Door Manners!

  • Once your dog masters sitting before being released through an open door, wait until he looks at you before giving the release command.
  • Have your pup wait to be released once you open his crate door.
  • Train your dog to wait before exiting from an open car door.
  • Practice on all types of doors and in different locations, such as at other people’s houses, stores or the gates at dog parks.
  • Once your dog understands the Wait command and hand gesture, try using them in other situations when you want your dog to pause momentarily before moving forward.

Most dogs will learn these manners quickly because they’re motivated to figure out how to get what they want. The freedom and adventure to explore what awaits on the other side of the door is a powerful enticement. Intact dogs and certain breeds of dogs may be more tenacious about wanting to explore the outside world, but for any dog that struggles with developing the self control to wait patiently, try to ensure they have plenty of other mental stimulation and physical exercise during the day.

Dog Door MannersEven if your dog is not inclined to slip out and engage you in a game of Catch Me if You Can, training proper door manners will ensure your pup stays safe. Roaming dogs can get into all kinds of trouble, from getting lost or stolen to getting injured or ingesting harmful substances. But wait! There’s one last bonus to training doggie door manners; you’ll actually enjoy having your next house full of guests instead of worrying the entire time about someone accidentally letting your dog slip outside.

Have you had success in training a door-dashing dog? Leave a comment and share your tips and tricks!



BlogPaw's Wordless Wednesday

The Coolest Dogs Are San Francisco Dogs!

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The Coolest Dogs Are San Francisco DogsI know, I know — there are cool canines all over the United States and across the globe, but there’s something quite unique about San Francisco dogs. Maybe it’s the vibe of the city itself or the sheer number of dog lovers and their pooches that reside there, but it’s true — the coolest dogs live in San Francisco!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over two years since my very first blog post, Keeping San Francisco Dog Friendly, which I wrote after visiting my son and daughter-in-law in the City by the Bay. I LOVE it when they send new SF pup pics my way, so I thought I would share these gems from Brandon and Colleen.

Check Out These Cool San Francisco Dogs

Bulldog in San Francisco

This is my kind of store greeter!


Dog Riding Motorcycle

Could this little guy be heading home from a day at the office?


Dog With a Great Smile

You just gotta love this sweet face and smile!


Dog in Motorcycle Sidecar

Here’s one cool, crusin’ canine!

Even the Street-Art Dogs are Cool

I’m pretty sure all of these works of art were adapted or created by street artist, fnnch. The original pavement signage had a lab-type dog to remind people to keep their dogs on a leash.

Dog Street Art

Street artist fnnch created these fun signage adaptations


Dog Street Art

The balloon dog is your favorite. Am I right?


Dog Street Art

Snoopy wins as my favorite between these four


I Love My Dog

There’s no doubt about it, San Francisco people love their dogs!

Want More?

In case you missed the slideshow from my very first post (lets face it, everyone missed my very first post, lol), here you go. Enjoy!


What do you think? Are San Francisco dogs the coolest? Prove me wrong by uploading your pup’s hip pic in the comment section below and I’ll display it here.

Your Cool Pup Pics!

Barbara, Buzz and Missy

Barbara, Buzz and Missy from K9s Over Coffee – All looking cool in DC!

3 Misconceptions About Dog Body Language

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3 Misconceptions About Your Dog's Body LanguageDogs are masters of reading our body language, but how well can you read your dog’s cues? While observing a dog’s behavior, some signals are confusing and might not mean what we think. Have you ever heard any of the following statements about dog body language?

3 Misconceptions About Dog Body Language

1. “He’s friendly because he’s wagging his tail.”
Dogs wag their tails for a number of reasons. If their body is very loose or wiggly and they’re wagging their tail sideways or in circles, that’s probably a good sign that they’re friendly. An alert, dominant or aggressive dog may still wag their tail, but generally their body and the base of their tail is stiff or tense. A lowered tail that’s wagging back and forth quickly is usually a sign of a submissive dog.

2. “When a dog raises his hair, it means he’s aggressive.”
When you see a dog’s hackles, it doesn’t always mean the dog could become aggressive. If the hair on their back is raised between the shoulders and tail, the dog could be alert, excited or fearful. When the hackles are around the shoulder and extending up the back of the neck, it’s usually related to dominance or aggression. Haley raises her hackles along her back and tail area when she’s excited about meeting or playing with a new dog. Her tail will also become bristly when she’s on alert.

3. “A yawning dog is a tired dog.”
Dogs may yawn when they’re tired but sometimes they yawn when they’re stressed or when they’re trying to calm another dog. Yawning is just one of the many calming signals used by dogs in various situations.

Analyzing a Dog’s Body Language

I love this infographic created by Lili Chin. It’s been circulating on the internet for a while, but it’s still one of the best illustrations for decoding canine body language.

Dog Body Language

Infographic by Lili Chin / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Can Dogs Give Mixed Signals?

Yes, sometimes dogs can have conflicted emotions and display mixed signals. That’s why it’s important to avoid focusing too much on just one signal. Look at their entire body and observe all of the various parts to get a complete picture of what they might be feeling. It’s also important to keep in mind that well-balanced dogs display a wide range of states. Sometimes they’re happy go lucky and other times they may be dominant, submissive or fearful. Here are some common characteristics to look for when trying to read your dog’s body language.

What’s Your Dog Feeling?

  • The Relaxed Dog – The eyes are soft and blinking normally, the ears are in a half-back or relaxed position, the mouth may be open or closed but the jaw is relaxed, the body is relaxed and loose and the tail is held in a relaxed, straight or slightly lowered position.
  • The Friendly Dog – The eyes are slightly crinkled or squinted, the mouth is usually open and relaxed (almost appearing to smile), the body is standing normally or loose and the tail is wagging softly or excitedly (with a wiggly rear end). A friendly dog may also whine or yelp if they’re excited.
  • The Alert Dog – The eyes are open wide with an alertness (pupils may also be dilated), the ears are up and alert (possibly moving to tune in sounds), the mouth is most likely closed, the nose may be sniffing to gather more scent, the body is tense and stiff and the tail may be raised and stiff at the base with only the end wagging slightly.
  • The Fearful Dog – The eyes are small and narrowed, the head is lowered with the ears back or held flat against the head, the corners of the mouth may be pulled back toward the ears, the body could be tense, frozen or in flight mode, hackles may be raised and the tail is low or tucked between the legs towards the belly. Less exaggerated versions of these same signals may also be present in a submissive dog.
  • The Nervous Dog – The eyes are partly narrowed (pupils may also be dilated), the ears are half back, the mouth is closed and tense and may display calming signals (yawning, licking or tongue flicking) and the tail is lowered.
  • The Dominant Dog – The eyes are wide and staring, the ears are up and facing forward, the mouth is open, the body is erect (and may be leaning forward), hackles may be raised and the tail is held higher (possibly bristled or wagging slowly). Dogs displaying an intense, hard stare with the corners of the mouth coming forward or showing their front teeth along with a very tense body and tail that’s stiff at the base, could become aggressive.

The ability to read your dog’s body language gives you a valuable tool for helping your pup if they’re feeling uncomfortable, stressed or fearful. It also allows you to recognize potential problems with dominance or aggression so you can address the issue before it escalates.

Do you rely on reading your dog’s body language? Tell us how it’s helped you or your pup in the comment section below! 3 Misconceptions About Your Dog's Body Language

How to Tell If Your Dog Is in Pain

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How to Tell If Your Dog Is in Pain

Photo by angela n. / CC BY 2.0

Note: This is NOT a paid or compensated review, but a review of a book that I purchased for my own use. I enjoy sharing information about products or books you may like or find useful and you’ll always receive my honest and unbiased opinion.

Whether you have a young pup or your best friend is growing into their senior years, it’s important to know the signs to look for when your dog is in pain. After all, unless they’re yelping, whining or holding up a limb from acute pain, they can’t easily express how they feel and we often overlook the symptoms from the onset of chronic pain.

I recently read the book, Dr. Petty’s Pain Relief for Dogs by Dr. Michael Petty, DVM and it was so helpful and well written, I just have to share it with you. Since Haley’s a senior dog that’s gone through a ruptured CCL knee surgery and a few other minor surgeries, I know all about acute pain, but I failed to notice some of the gradual changes in her behavior related to her arthritis.

15 Signs Your Dog Is in Pain

Here are the 15 signs of pain that Dr. Petty lists in his book. I’ve noticed that Haley has six of the 15 symptoms.

Haley’s Checklist – 15 Signs of Pain
Reluctance to walk on slippery surfaces
Reluctance or refusal to go up and down stairs
Becomes selective about what to jump up onto or down from
Stands up using the front legs first
Pronounced circling or taking time to lie down
Running and jumping activities become more limited
Places an abnormal amount of weight on the front legs
Abnormal wear on toenails from scuffing
Unwillingness to initiate play or other social interactions
Aggression toward other animals where none existed before
Aversion to being petted or brushed
Disruption in sleep patterns
Stiffness after resting
Decreased appetite
House soiling or reluctance to go outside

Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that our dogs get older and they’re going to experience some pain along the way. But after reading Dr. Petty’s book, I feel much more prepared to help Haley going forward. I never realized there were so many different options to help manage her chronic arthritis pain and to keep her active so she can continue to enjoy all of her favorite activities.

The book covers the difference between acute and chronic pain and various causes of pain, but I especially enjoyed learning about the topics below.

Interesting Topics in Dr. Petty’s Book

  • How dogs, as pack animals, deal with pain or may even hide their pain
  • How pain signals move from the source to the brain and which pain treatments target various points along that pathway
  • Explanations (along with pros and cons) of the most common medications used to treat pain
  • How itching is similar to pain and the medications and therapies used to treat it
  • How acupuncture works and how it targets different types of pain
  • How dogs can benefit from the use of prosthetics and orthotics
  • Analyzing and contrasting the wide range of physical therapy treatments
  • Joint injections, from corticosteroids to stem-cell therapy and more
  • Advice about diet and nutraceuticals, including what works and what doesn’t seem to work.
  • Herbal supplements that can be effective in relieving pain
  • How shockwave therapy can be used in the treatment of pain
  • Stretching exercises you can do at home with your dog and the benefits of massage therapy
  • Practical tips you can use for your dog, around your home and in your vehicle to make life easier for you and your pup.

I also appreciated the chapter on which pain therapies to avoid as well as new pain management techniques to watch for in the near future. Dr. Petty also covers the pros and cons of bringing another pet into the home.

Here’s What I Love the Most About This Book!

We’re all busy these days and most people don’t have the time or patience to read an overly-technical book written by a veterinarian on the topic of pain. I know my eyes would probably glaze over before the end of the first chapter. Dr. Petty’s book is different. It gives you exactly what you’re looking for. He shares his vast knowledge and experience on the topic of pain in an easy to digest format with practical ideas and options to fit everyone’s budget. I’m so thankful that I was able to absorb all this knowledge quickly and to gain a better understanding of the vast options that are available for managing Haley’s arthritis pain. I’m also much more optimistic about keeping her healthy and active!

Senior Dog

Photo by Anja Pietsch / CC BY 2.0

If you have a senior dog or if you’ve noticed any signs from the checklist that your dog is in pain, check out Dr. Petty’s Pain Relief for Dogs to learn what treatments might be beneficial for your dog. I’d also love to hear your insight and advice if you’ve had a dog with arthritis or chronic pain. Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
How to Tell If Your Dog Is in Pain

Help! My Dog Gets Too Excited

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My Dog Gets Too ExcitedDo you prefer energetic dogs or laid-back, calm dogs? I like spirited dogs. It’s entertaining to watch them get worked up and go a little crazy sometimes while playing, but there’s a downside to all that energy if a dog gets too excited too often. Here’s why!

When Excitement is a Bad Thing

  • Overly-excited dogs aren’t able to focus or listen to commands. It’s almost impossible to get their attention once they reach a high level of excitement.
  • It’s easy to mistake excitement for happiness, but too much excitement can lead to anxiety or unhealthy obsessions, like those pooches that chase tennis balls or laser lights to the point of exhaustion.
  • When your pup nearly knocks down your guests with his over-enthusiastic greeting, it’s pretty annoying.
  • A socially anxious dog that greets another dog with excitement, often receives an aggressive response which can also trigger the excited dog to become reactive to other dogs.
  • Too much excitement when heading out for a walk may result in a dog that bolts through the door and pulls excessively on the leash.
  • Excitement releases stress hormones into your pup’s bloodstream. High levels of these hormones over time could have an adverse impact on your dog’s overall health.
  • For some dogs, the adrenaline from excitement can become addictive, leading to more hyperactive behavior.

What Causes Overexcitement?

Excited Dog
    Overexcitement can be an inherited trait or an environmental (learned) behavior. Sometimes it’s a combination of both. Hyper behavior can also be caused by excess energy and a lack of exercise or mental stimulation.

    Since there are different causes of overexcitement and every dog is unique, you may need to experiment with different solutions to discover what helps your pup relax. Here are some tips to calm the canine chaos at your house.

    10 Tips If Your Dog Gets Too Excited

    1. Stay calm.
    If you’re a high-energy or anxious person, take a deep breath and practice being calm around your dog. Dogs react to our tone of voice and body language and it’s easy to get them excited and reactive to how we speak and behave.
    2. Look for triggers.
    Notice what triggers your dog’s excitement by observing their body language. You’ll notice they become alert, then fixated with a high level of intensity. They may even whine or bark in a high-pitched tone.
    3. Catch it early.
    Avoid a full-blown case of overexcitement by catching those changes in your dog’s behavior early before they escalate to the point of being out of control and while you still have the ability to communicate with them.
    4. Train an alternate behavior.
    Tell your dog what you want him to do instead of the unwanted behavior. For example, Haley used to get way too excited when greeting other dogs, so I used her favorite treats to train her to sit and look at me instead of pulling towards other dogs. I started at a distance, then slowly worked closer to the other dogs so Haley could practice her self-control.
    5. Exercise your pup.
    Walking Your DogSome dogs are hyper because they have excess energy to burn. I remember trying to teach Haley to walk nicely on the leash, but it was almost impossible because she had too much energy to even focus on me. A play session before walking made training much easier and kept me from getting so aggravated with her pulling on the leash.
    6. Provide mental stimulation.
    Try channeling your dog’s excitement by using interactive food toys or puzzles. Most dogs like having a job, so work on training some new commands or get your pup involved in a dog sport like agility, flyball or nose work.
    7. Ignore bad behavior.
    In some cases, ignoring the excitable behavior is the best option. For example, when you come home or when guests arrive at your house, ignore your dog’s exuberant greeting until he calms down. Don’t accidentally reward unwanted behaviors.
    8. Give your dog a timeout.
    Train your dog on the Place command which teaches them to lie down and settle calmly in a certain spot. This is useful if your dog gets worked up or barks a lot when the doorbell rings. It helps train them to relax and have self-control. I still give Haley an occasional timeout if she gets pushy about wanting treats or playing.
    9. Cut back on obsessive behaviors.
    Dog with FrisbeeThis one is for those frisbee, laser light or tennis ball obsessed dogs. If your pup’s still hyper after all that playtime, their obsession could be causing excessive excitement. Cut back on those activities and mix it up with other forms of play or exercise. Haley gets this way over inflatable beach balls and balloons.
    10. Hold your dog.
    In rare cases, a dog might need to learn how to unwind and calm down. If you’ve tried everything else and can’t get your pup to settle down, hold them firmly until they relax. They may squirm and wrestle a little bit, but they should soon give up and let go of the excess energy. Once they relax, give them a massage or belly rub as a reward.

    Haley’s always been a high-energy and somewhat excitable dog by nature and there are still occasions when she goes a little over the top and needs a timeout. When she was younger, I remember getting so frustrated with her at times because I didn’t understand how big a role excitement played in managing her behavior. I still work with her on greeting other dogs in a relaxed state, but she’s come a long way since those early days.

    How do you handle it when your dog gets too excited? I’d love to hear what tips and tricks work for you. Share them in the comment section below! Help! My Dog Get Too Excited