Help! My Dog Doesn’t Work for Treats

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My Dog Doesn't Work for TreatsWhen it comes to dog training, almost every article you read suggests using food or treats as an incentive, especially with positive reinforcement training. Food is a great motivator for most dogs but every once in a while, I get a comment or email from a reader saying their dog doesn’t work for treats. What? How can it be that some dogs aren’t motivated by food? Those tasty tidbits are like magic wands that can be pulled from your pocket to mesmerize and control your pup’s behavior. Well, at least until they gobble them down. So what’s going on with these dogs that just aren’t interested in treats? Here are eight possibilities.

8 Reasons Your Dog Doesn’t Work for Treats

1. Your dog isn’t hungry.
If you free feed your dog or they’ve just eaten a full meal, they might not be interested in even more food. Your pooch will be more motivated if you train when they’re hungry.
2. Your dog’s not impressed with your offering.
Some people offer pieces of dry food from their dog’s mealtime ration to limit calories, but your dog might not find their normal food all that exciting. Since dogs work harder for food they like, buy some yummy-smelling training treats or try some small pieces of meat or cheese. Some dogs will even turn down one type of treat if they smell or think you have something better. Experiment to see what your dog really loves.
3. Your dog is anxious or scared.
When a dog feels threatened, stressed or is in a high state of alert, they usually won’t take food and will often turn their nose away from it. This can be a useful way of reading your dog’s emotional state.
4. Your dog is overexcited or distracted.
This can happen when your dog finds something in their environment more interesting than the treats you’re offering. Make sure you start training at home, around little or no distractions, then gradually increase the level of distractions.
5. Your dog has a negative association with treats.
This usually happens if you’ve lured your dog into a situation they perceive as negative by using food. For example, luring your dog into his crate before leaving the house or luring them towards something they fear. This type of luring can cause dogs to associate the treat with the negative event and they may avoid taking treats in the future.
6. You’ve abused the power of treats.
If you’ve fooled your dog by pretending to have a treat in order to get them to come to you or follow a command, they soon learn to distrust you and may no longer be motivated by treats, even if you have one.
7. Your dog’s breed isn’t particularly food motivated.
Some breeds (like labs) are very motivated by food and will take a treat even if they’re full. Other breeds aren’t as food motivated or they may be motivated by play or other drives. If your pup will work for toys, play sessions, praise or belly rubs, that’s great too. It’s all about discovering what motivates your dog.
8. Your dog may feel sick or have a medical issue.
If your pup has an upset stomach or the type of treat doesn’t agree with him, he’ll probably turn it down. If this is unusual behavior for your dog or he’s not eating at all, contact your vet to see if he needs to be examined.

While I’m on the topic of using treats for training, here are a few extra tips.

A few more treat tips!

  • If your dog listens and follows commands consistently, but only when you have a treat, it’s time to start weaning your pup off the treats by giving intermittent reinforcements. Offer praise, petting or something else your dog loves while slowly reducing the number of treats for that particular command.
  • After your dog is reliable and weaned off treats for a command, an occasional treat as an intermittent reward is a great way to reinforce their reliability. Even though Haley reliably comes to me when called, an occasional surprise treat keeps her running back to me with enthusiasm!

Dog Sitting for TreatFood is a primary reinforcer for dogs; they need it to survive and it’s a powerful reward that can be used to shape all kinds of behavior. If your dog doesn’t work for treats, try some of the tips above and let me know how they work.

Have you ever had a dog that wasn’t motivated by treats? What worked for your dog? Share your tips and thoughts in the comment section below!



BlogPaw's Wordless Wednesday

2017 Pet Blogger Challenge and Reader Survey

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2017 Pet Blogger ChallengeIt’s 2017 and I’ve welcomed in the new year with open arms! To be honest, I was ready to be done with 2016. Even though it was a tough year for my family, it was a good year for the blog and the Pet Blogger Challenge is a nice way to reflect on the past year by answering the ten questions posed by our friends at GoPetFriendly.com But in the spirit of also looking forward, I’ve decided to pair this post with a reader survey so I can hear what’s on your mind and what you would like to read more about in 2017.

So, let’s get started with the answers to the Pet Blogger Challenge. Just click on the plus sign beside each question below to read my answers. When you’re finished, stick around a little longer and complete the survey to let me know how I’m doing.

My answers to the 2017 Pet Blogger Challenge

I’ve been blogging since July of 2014 and my blog is all about dogs, of course! Topics include dog behavior and training guides, tips on how to keep your pup healthy and lots of other interesting articles for anyone who loves dogs as much as I do. Being a resource to help improve the quality of life for our canine friends is one way that I like to give something back for all the love and joy that Haley (and other dogs) have given me over the years.
Celebrating the spikes and overall growth in visitor traffic to my blog has been so rewarding and encouraging. I still laugh when remembering the first time I checked my log file stats after publishing my very first post. I was thrilled at having three visitor hits! That is, until I realized all three hits came from my IP address and they were actually me tweaking the post, haha! Luckily, I’ve come a long way since then.
My favorite post of 2016 was, Is Apoquel Safe for Dogs With Allergies? because of the feedback it continues to receive from so many readers. Because Apoquel is a relatively new drug, the post has become a valuable resource for gathering people’s experience with the drug and highlighting both the positive and negative results they’ve encountered with their dogs. I really appreciate every comment and I hope they’re helpful for anyone wanting to do additional research before starting their dog on Apoquel.
I wish I knew! I haven’t targeted any one strategy in 2016 to increase traffic, but I like to focus on engaging with readers and other bloggers and always appreciate those who share my posts. This is a great opportunity to thank all of you again who have been so kind for sharing my articles in 2016!
Why Does My Dog Greet Me With a Toy got the most traffic last year but not too far behind was the post How to Make Your Dog Howl. The number of hits for both of these posts surprised me because they were simple posts about somewhat quirky dog behavior and I didn’t think they would particularly resonate with a large number of readers. I guess it shows that we all wonder about the little things our pups do just as much as we worry about the bigger issues.
Without a doubt, that would have to be That Mutt by Lindsay Stordahl. Lindsay has been blogging since 2007 and I love how the majority of her articles focus on helping her readers solve problems. I’m inspired by her honest approach to sometimes controversial topics and her generosity in supporting others in the blogging community.
Readers might be surprised to know that Haley actually knows how to eat politely from a fork. Yeah, don’t ask.
I always appreciate the comments and level of engagement of my readers. As bloggers, we sometimes get too focused on the numbers of visitors instead of how engaged those visitors are. If you take the time to answer emails and comments with thoughtful replies, readers are more likely to come back and visit again or subscribe to your email list. I truly appreciate each person who takes the time to leave a comment. One recent comment from Paul (from the post Why Does My Dog Greet Me With a Toy) about the passing of his Rottweiler, Ponti was particularly touching and such a beautiful sentiment. Thank you for sharing your story, Paul!
Because 2016 was such a crazy year for me and my family, I didn’t get to accomplish some of the goals I had set for the blog. They are now my goals for 2017 and include attending the Global Pet Expo in Orlando this spring and completing some in-depth topics I wanted to cover last year. Haley’s looking forward to a road trip in our new trailer this year and she’ll have lots of canine camping tips in the months ahead.
Yes! What’s the secret to compressing images enough so Google’s PageSpeed test is happy, yet they still look decent when displayed on your website? I haven’t figured that one out yet!

2017 Pet Blogger ChallengeIf you’re a pet blogger, now it’s your turn! The challenge is open January 7th, 8th and 9th and I would love to read your answers to these questions. Just head over to GoPetFriendly to get started. It’s a great way to be inspired and learn from our fellow pet bloggers. While you’re there, you might want to read about GoPetFriendly’s fight against copyright infringement and consider contributing to their GoFundMe account.

Next up, the survey! It’s easy and will only take a minute or two.

Thanks so much for your input! My mission for the blog has always been to write articles that are helpful to you and your pup and your answers and comments will help me more effectively deliver that content. It’s always refreshing to begin a new year with new goals and plans and although our resolutions may fade away quickly, I have a feeling that 2017 is going to be a wonderful year for all of us.

Thanks again to GoPetFriendly for sponsoring the 2017 Pet Blogger Challenge!

12 Ways to Help Your Dog With Holiday Stress

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12 Ways to Help Your Dog With Holiday Stress

Photo by John Attebury / CC BY 2.0

Do you have a dog with holiday stress? Every year, Haley watches as I begin to drag out all of our Christmas decorations. Some are in the garage, some in the basement and others in closets. She’s a velcro dog, so she follows me on my many trips back and forth and all around the house while I gather the objects of festive cheer and distribute them elsewhere around the house.

But that’s just the beginning of all the busyness that takes place this time of year. She tags along while we select and cut down our Christmas tree, she’s on floor duty in the kitchen to supervise all the cooking and baking and she makes sure I don’t miss any of her stray clumps of fur when I’m cleaning the house before the kids come home. When I move, she moves. And as December 25th gets closer, I’m even more rushed and pressured to get things done.

As busy as I am around the holidays, Haley stays just as busy. Plus, she needs more sleep than us humans. She loves it when the kids are home for the holidays but between all the playtime, walks, parties, early mornings, late evenings and all the other happenings, she definitely misses out on some of her zzz’s.

Haley handles the stress, lack of sleep and change of routine pretty well, but some dogs tend to get a bit grumpy around the holidays. Our poor pups may be tired, overloaded and even downright cranky at times. This is especially true for reactive and senior dogs. It’s understandable why some dog bites occur at the end of a long evening of partying with guests. But there’s no reason for our pooches to be all “Bah Humbug” about the holidays because I’ve got some tips to keep your pup relaxed, rested and cheerful all season.

12 Tips to Help Your Dog With Holiday Stress

1. Stick to your routine.
Try to stay with your normal routine as much as possible. With all the activity going on, it’s easy to skip a walk, be late with feeding a meal or forget about a potty break, but our dogs love their routines and some get stressed when too many things are out of sync with their normal schedule. Also, be sure not to confuse your dog by relaxing the canine house rules.
2. Provide balance.
Dogs need both exercise and mental stimulation as well as downtime and rest. Make sure they get a balanced ratio of both even if you have a houseful of guests and a busy schedule.
3. Take a timeout.
When things get chaotic for you or your dog, find a quiet place to relax and take a break together. Our dogs pick up on our anxiety, so if you’re frazzled, chances are your dog will also be affected by your state of mind.
4. Exercise your dog.
As a velcro dog, Haley gets quite a bit of exercise just following me around the house when I’m busy, but some dogs need their daily walks or high-energy playtime so they don’t become frustrated or destructive. A daily walk goes a long way to reduce stress levels and overexcitement in dogs. If you’re too busy, enlist the help of a friend or relative to walk your pup.
5. Spend quality time with your dog.
Whether it’s going for a walk, playing together or settling down to give your pup a belly rub, spend a little quality time each day with your dog to give them a sense of their normal routine.
Christmas Bulldog

Photo by Elisa / CC BY-ND 2.0

6. Skip the festive dog attire.
If your dog’s not a big fan of wearing holiday clothing or accessories, give them a break this year and allow them to enjoy being au naturel. Some dogs don’t mind getting dressed up, but most prefer the freedom of just sporting their natural fur coats.
7. Provide a safe place.
Make sure your dog has an area of the house to retreat to if they get overwhelmed, especially during parties. If your dog becomes stressed, a crate or quiet room is the perfect place for them to feel safe and unwind. Giving your dog a timeout can help relieve stress, but if your pup doesn’t like being alone, toss in a frozen, peanut butter Kong or bone to keep them occupied for a while.
8. Watch the little ones.
Yes, the kids! Grabby or rambunctious children and tired dogs are not a good combination. Parents should keep a close eye on their kids, but ultimately it’s your responsibility to prevent a dog bite. Young kids and dogs shouldn’t be alone together during a party or gathering. You can always keep your dog on a leash to make it easier to supervise them around kids.
9. Monitor your dog’s diet.
We’re not the only ones that gain weight during the holidays. Our dogs can put on a few extra pounds too. Those little beggars are getting handouts left and right and some people might not realize which foods are dangerous for dogs. Avoid the additional stress of your dog getting an upset stomach by keeping a close eye on what they eat. Also, be sure to keep their water bowl filled and prevent your dog from getting into the trash.
10. Avoid holiday hazards.
If you have a dog that finds trouble or likes to eat all sorts of items, avoid poisonous holiday plants, lighted candles and small or strings-type decorations that could be ingested. Also, live Christmas trees can pose a hazard for some dogs.
11. Watch the doors.
Between package deliveries and guests coming and going, there will be plenty of opportunities for a curious pup to slip outside. Although it’s usually a guest that lets the dog outside, consider using a leash on your dog if you’re worried they might slip out and potentially get lost.
12. Don’t force your dog to participate.
If your dog’s uncomfortable in a particular situation or when meeting people, don’t force them to interact. Allow them to approach if and when they’re ready. If a guest shows up with their dog, don’t force your dog to greet or play with the other dog if they’re resistant.

Dog With Christmas Tree

Photo by Bill Mill / CC BY-SA 2.0

Signs Your Dog Might Be Stressed

Dogs, just like people, handle stress in different ways. Some dogs withdraw, some becoming clingy, some may show signs of anxiety, and others might display destructive behavior. As you keep a close eye on your pup during the holidays, watch for these common signals that your dog might be stressed or overloaded.

  • Lip licking
  • Yawning
  • Wide eyes or hard stares
  • Raised hackles
  • Stiff body
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Tucked tail or cowering
  • Attempting to hide or retreat
  • Pacing
  • Panting
  • Excessive Barking
  • Growling, snapping or biting

The holidays are as crazy as they are wonderful so having a strategy to deal with stress will help both you and your dog. When things get especially hectic, my favorite way to unwind is to take a timeout with Haley and give her a nice belly rub. It quickly helps to de-stress both of us and it works wonders for renewing our energy and spirits. I think Haley’s favorite way to relieve stress though is to tear up every single cardboard box on Christmas morning, haha!

So, during this holiday season when our dogs tend to get less attention and exercise, give your dog the gift of some TLC along with those bones, treats and toys. It just might be their favorite gift this year!

How do you help your dog with holiday stress? Share your tips in the comment section below!

Dog With Snowman

Haley’s Holiday Giveaway!

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Haley's Holiday Giveaway

Congratulations to JoAnn Stancer from Sand Spring Chesapapeakes, winner of Haley’s Holiday Giveaway!

It’s time once again for Haley’s Holiday Giveaway! We’ve had so much fun shopping and selecting this basket full of gifts for one lucky person and their pup. It’s a festive way to thank our awesome readers and spread some holiday cheer!

It’s been a crazy year of ups and downs for our family, so I’m ready to celebrate the holidays then close out this year and welcome in 2017. The one thing that’s been a continual source of joy this year is all of you that have visited the blog, left your thoughtful and helpful comments and shared my posts. I’m so grateful for all of you.

So, jump in on your chance to win Haley’s basket of goodies and toys. I’ve also included a few special surprises for you too! After all, you do so much to take great care of your pups, you deserve some fun things too, right?

How to Enter Haley’s Holiday Giveaway!

Use the Rafflecopter form below to log in with your email address or Facebook account. Don’t worry, nobody will spam you with additional emails for entering. After you log in, follow the prompts and leave a comment here on the blog to be entered in the giveaway. If you would like extra chances to win, feel free to follow the additional prompts in the Rafflecopter.

The winner will be chosen at random and announced here on Friday, December 16th, 2016. The winner will also be contacted via their email address. Please note: Due to the nature of this giveaway, it’s only open to people with a mailing address in the Continental United States.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One more thing: If you’re having trouble using the Rafflecopter, just be sure to leave a comment in the comment section and I’ll make sure your name is entered in the drawing.

What to Do If Your Dog Eats Turkey Bones

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What to Do It Your Dog Eats Turkey Bones

Photo by Daniel M. Hendricks / CC BY-ND 2.0

Every Thanksgiving I remember the year Haley ate an entire turkey breast carcass. Yes, she ate the entire thing! That might have been the first time she discovered the joy of dumpster diving in the kitchen trash can. With all the commotion around the holiday, I had forgotten about the bones in the trash can when we left the house for a while. When we returned home, I was shocked to see the overturned trash can but shock soon turned into panic when I discovered one tiny turkey bone left on the floor and I realized Haley had eaten the rest of the carcass.

I was so mad at myself for not safely disposing the bones because I knew dogs should never have cooked bones, especially chicken or turkey bones. Those tiny cooked bones become very brittle and can easily splinter. Dogs can choke on the bones or they can become lodged in their throats or puncture their stomach or digestive tract. Surely, eating an entire turkey breast carcass couldn’t be good news for Haley and because it was a holiday our vet’s office was closed. After a phone consultation with an emergency vet, here’s what they advised.

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Turkey Bones

1. Don’t panic
Although there’s a potential for the bones to cause a serious problem, dogs have strong stomach acid to help digest the bones and most dogs will pass them without medical assistance.
2. Don’t induce vomiting
It’s better to let the bones pass through your dog’s digestive system, rather than risk a choking hazard or throat injury when they try to expel them by vomiting.
3. Check for choking or throat issues
If your dog is breathing fine and seems to be acting normally, mostly likely all the bones passed through to the stomach without incidence. If your dog’s choking, gagging, retching, drinking a lot of water, licking their lips, pacing anxiously or is unable to sit or lie down comfortably, call or visit your vet immediately.
4. Feed your dog soft foods for a few days
Foods such as bread slices or cooked rice can help cushion the bones as they pass through the digestive system and may help them pass easier. We fed Haley bread slices, but check with your vet for recommendations for your dog.
5. Monitor your dog closely
It takes about 72 hours for the bones to digest and pass, so it’s important to monitor your dog and their stools during this time period. You may noticed bones in their stool if they didn’t digest completely. Call or visit your vet right away if your dog has any of these symptoms: Difficulty passing stool, black or bloody stools, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, anxiousness or abnormal behavior.
6. Keep your dog calm
Until the bones pass, avoid overly-strenuous exercise, excessive jumping or rough play.

This is what our local emergency vet recommended for Haley, but you know your dog best. As with any medical issue, never hesitate to contact your vet if you’re worried or concerned.

Thankfully, Haley didn’t have any problems after her Thanksgiving feast. Whew! The bones passed just fine and I think they mostly digested because her stools didn’t look dramatically different afterwards. Maybe the wishbone she ate brought us some good luck that year.

Dog Begging for TurkeyBesides properly securing the trash, here are a couple of other tips to keep your pup safe this Thanksgiving. Watch the fatty table scraps which can cause pancreatitis and be sure your dog doesn’t eat unbaked bread dough. The yeast in the dough will cause it to swell in their abdomen and the yeast and sugar can combine and cause alcohol poisoning. If you’re curious, here are some other foods your dog shouldn’t eat.

Haley and I hope you and your pups have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!


What to Do If Your Dog Eats Turkey Bones