Category: Puppies

STAR Puppy Challenge Giveaway!

00Events, Puppies

AKC STAR Puppy Testing in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog AcademyHave you heard about our STAR Puppy Challenge?

This year, we have challenged our training team to promote responsible dog ownership, puppy socialization, and early commitment to training through the AKC STAR Puppy program. This program is open to all puppies under one year of age. Our goal is for 25 of our students’ puppies to pass the test.

To do that, we’re challenging you to commit to our STAR Puppy Challenge and give your puppy the training and socialization she deserves.

To take the test, you must first attend six manners classes in our Flex Class program with your puppy. The test will assess your commitment to care for your puppy (veterinary care, identification, exercise plan), your puppy’s behavior in a social environment with other dogs and people, and your puppy’s age-appropriate progress toward good manners (behaviors like sit, loose leash walking, and coming when called).

So far, 22 puppies have passed the STAR Puppy test at Spring Forth Dog Academy in 2018!

We’re so close to hitting our goal, and hope to finish the year strong and exceed it! We want to help as many new owners get their puppies off to a great start as we possibly can.

Giveaway Time!

So, we’ve put together a little something extra…

STAR Puppy Challenge

This gift basket from our retail boutique contains $150 worth of products, including made-in-the USA toys by West Paw, treats from Happy Howie’s, Rocco & Roxie jerky sticks, a 20′ long line for training recalls, Primal pork liver munchies, and more!

On Tuesday, October 9th we will pick one lucky STAR Puppy Challenge participant to win this basket of goodies.

If your pup’s name is already on the STAR Puppy board in our lobby, you’re already entered! If you haven’t committed to the STAR Puppy Challenge yet, just get in touch with us. (It’s free!) We’ll add you to the board. As you take classes & learn new skills, we’ll fill in the star stickers on the chart for everyone to see. And once you’ve taken six manners classes with your pup, we can test you after class.

All puppies who pass the test get a medallion from us and have their picture taken to be featured on our Instagram and Facebook pages…

AKC STAR Puppy - Charm the Miniature American Shepherd

(Isn’t Charm just the cutest?)

Participation in the STAR Puppy Challenge is totally free! It’s included in your Flex Pass, so you don’t have to pay to sign up or take the test. (There is a nominal fee ($10) when you submit your paperwork to the American Kennel Club.)

So, to recap:

Benefits of Signing Up for the STAR Puppy Challenge:

  • your dog will learn some manners & be even more fun to be around
  • you’ll get some quality bonding time with your pup
  • chance to win a bunch of great stuff
  • get a cute picture of your dog wearing a hat
  • really cool medallion

Drawbacks of Signing Up for the STAR Puppy Challenge:

  • can’t think of any!

It seems pretty clear to us… if you’re ready to commit to starting your puppy off right, pick a Flex Class Pass and come join us!

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The 2018 STAR Puppy Challenge

00Group Classes, Puppies, TrainingTags: , , , ,

AKC STAR Puppy Testing in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog AcademyAre you ready to commit to the training and socialization your puppy deserves?

Join our AKC STAR Puppy Challenge! Any puppy under 1 year of age can participate. Read more about the test here.

The STAR Puppy test makes a fabulous training goal for new puppy owners. It will set you & your puppy up for a lifetime of teamwork, solid communication, & fun! By meeting the criteria for the test, you’ll provide your puppy with a foundation of basic manners and age-appropriate socialization.

Preparing for the test will expose your puppy to many situations he’ll need to be comfortable with for the rest of his life. The test includes scenarios like grooming, being handled by strangers, wearing a collar or harness, going for walks, and more.

This test is a great first step toward the Canine Good Citizen program, trick dog testing, or dog sport competitions – but it’s also a great way to make sure you’re being an active participant in your puppy’s education.

So, we’re challenging you to commit to taking the test with your puppy. To be eligible for the STAR Puppy test, you must attend at least 6 manners classes with your puppy. Our goal is to test at least 25 puppies in 2018. Will your puppy be one of them?

Puppies are eligible to take the STAR Puppy test after attending six manners classes with their owners, and the test is free as part of your Flex Class Pass.  You can take the test after class on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. We’ll also be adding special “STAR Puppy Testing Events” to our group class calendar, too.

Upon passing the test, you will receive a special medallion from us and we’ll take your pup’s “graduation photo” and post it on Instagram and Facebook. You will also receive a certificate, medallion, and puppy handbook from the American Kennel Club.

To sign up for the challenge, contact us or talk to one of our team members at the front desk!

Restricting Water Intake: A Dangerous Housebreaking Trend

70Puppies, Training

Restricting Water Intake: A Dangerous Housebreaking TrendAt Spring Forth Dog Academy, we work with a lot of puppies! Over one hundred puppies come to us each year for Puppy Day School and group classes. As a result, we get to talk to a lot of people about puppy raising.

Over the past few months, we have noticed a very concerning trend. Some of our clients were deliberately restricting their dog’s water intake as a potty training strategy.

Generally speaking, most pet dogs have access to water whenever they are not confined to a crate. They naturally limit their intake of water. Unless trained to the contrary or ill, dogs drink only as much water as they need.

But some puppies join our Day School program and as soon as play group starts, they rush to the water bowl and drink every drop. Or, at drop off, little Fluffy is frantically pulling towards the water bowl we keep by the door.

When asked, owners tell us something like, “He was having a lot of accidents, so we stopped giving him so much water. Now we just give him a bowl every few hours.”

What is normal water intake?

The short answer is, “It depends.” WebMD reports one ounce per one pound of a dog’s body weight, but notes that puppies and active dogs need more.

According to this formula on DVM360, normal consumption of water in adult dogs, in layman’s terms, works out to be about 1.37 ounces of water per pound of body weight. But they also mention, “Puppies and kittens are predisposed to rapid dehydration as a result of their higher water requirements.”

Dr. Tracy Johnson, a veterinarian at Country Companions Veterinary Services in Bethany, CT, notes, “You don’t know how much water is appropriate for each individual puppy. Diet, weather, and exercise can also play a part in how much a puppy needs to drink. This can vary from day to day.”

Abnormally frequent urination and increased thirst are both signs of medical problems. These include diabetes, Cushing’s disease, urinary tract infections, and kidney disease. If you think your puppy is peeing “too much,” talk to your veterinarian before taking the water bowl away.

Keeping a log will help. Note every time your puppy drinks or urinates (indoors and out). The data may help you discover patterns, like an accident at a particular time of day. But, it’s also helpful information to provide to your veterinarian. It may help her make a diagnosis or help you determine what is normal.

Why is water restriction dangerous?

Restricting Water Intake: A Dangerous Housebreaking TrendDr. Julie Mahaney, a veterinarian at Oaklawn Animal Hospital in Cranston, RI says, “Water restriction can result in dehydration, urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and water obsessive behaviors.”

There are a variety of medical and behavioral reasons why limiting a puppy’s access to water is dangerous:

1. “Obsessive” behavior around water. If water is limited, you will condition your puppy to drink all of the water every time you put the bowl down. As a result, she will work very hard to gain access to water.

“If water is severely restricted, and the puppy isn’t given enough water and it’s thirsty all the time, you could cause resource guarding because now the water is a very valuable resource,” adds Dr. Johnson. (In addition to being a veterinarian, she is also a professional dog trainer working with dog owners through her business Happy Homes Pet Behavior Training.)

Thirsty dogs may jump up on the counter to try to reach the sink, drink from the toilet, or drink standing water outside. Puddles may contain antifreeze, fertilizer, and intestinal parasites.

“Risks of drinking from puddles are primarily leptospirosis and giardiasis, but other fecal parasites like round, hook, and whipworms could be ingested as well,” Dr. Mahaney explained.

2. Health risks of drinking too much water at once. Dogs with restricted water intake often become conditioned to drink all of the water they see. If your puppy unexpectedly gains access to a large quantity of water and drinks all of it, this can lead to trouble beyond urine accidents.

Health risks of drinking too much water in one sitting include vomiting, water intoxication, or even bloat (gastric torsion) which is life-threatening.

3. Urinary tract infections. Dehydration contributes to painful urinary tract infections. If you’re not giving your puppy enough water, you’re setting the stage for a UTI. If not treated early, UTIs can lead to bladder stones, permanent kidney damage, and sepsis.

We’ve kept statistics on this. Of puppies in our Day School program experiencing restricted water intake, more than half are diagnosed with a urinary tract infection within the first few days of starting our program. When we notice symptoms, we refer the client back to their veterinarian for input.

Is restricting water intake ever a good idea?

I suspect that this idea began with a piece of advice taken too far. Picking up your dog’s water bowl 30-60 minutes before bed time can help set your dog for success. It prevents a last-minute “tank up” right before 6-8 hours in the crate overnight.

That’s very different from only giving water at meal times, which some of my clients have tried. It’s very different from crating your dog without water for 8 hours during the day and 8 hours overnight. If a professional suggests making a change to your dog’s water intake, ask for specifics and write them down. That way, everyone in your household understands the recommendation.

If your puppy is having a lot of accidents in the house, contact us. We can help! In addition to our in-person training in Providence, RI, we also offer long-distance consulting just for potty training.

Training Your Dog to Come When Called

00Puppies, TrainingTags: , , ,

Coming when called is a behavior that dog owners almost universally desire. A great recall means the difference between participating in a lot of fun activities – such as romps on the beach, playing at the dog park, hiking off-leash in the woods, competing in dog sports – and sitting on the sidelines. We get asked about it so often that we have a class, Come This Way, devoted to building and maintaining this skill!

It is also the behavior that dog owners take for granted in their new puppies, or inadvertently punish by making simple mistakes. Building a strong recall means avoiding these common pitfalls and maintaining a specific, positive association in your dog’s mind to his recall cue.

Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called | Spring Forth Dog Academy in Providence, RI

My Name = AWESOME!

Imagine how most dogs react when they hear a potato chip bag crinkle. They stop what they’re doing and come flying into the room! Hearing that sound is the highlight of their day. THAT is the response you want to your dog’s recall word.

The response to the crinkle sound is so strong because the potato chip bag almost always means a salty, oily, tasty special snack, and it definitely never means playtime is over, nail trimming time, or some other form of discomfort.

Recalls always need to be a positive experience for your dog. Be sure not to call him if you have to do something he doesn’t like. Common examples of things that are punishing to dogs include bringing him back inside when he’d rather be playing in the yard, calling him to groom him or trim his nails, and calling him only to pat him on the head (which most dogs don’t enjoy, but that’s a different topic). More info

AKC STAR Puppy Program

00Puppies, TrainingTags: , , , , ,

AKC STAR Puppy Testing in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog AcademyAre you a responsible puppy owner? The American Kennel Club’s STAR Puppy program is designed to reward owners who take their puppies to training classes. “STAR” is an acronym for the four critical parts of puppy raising: Socialization, Training, Activity, and Responsibility.

The AKC recognizes that well-trained puppies make better companions and are less likely to be relinquished to shelters. In fact, behavior problems are the #1 reason for giving up a dog to a rescue. The STAR Puppy program is an incentive program for responsible puppy ownership. Working towards this goal will give you and your puppy a head start toward a lifetime of great behavior.

In order to be eligible for testing, puppies need to attend at least 6 group dog training classes with their owner. The program is open to all puppies up to one year of age, regardless of breed or mix.

Once your puppy has attended at least 6 classes with us, we can test your puppy immediately after any of our Flex Classes. It doesn’t take long, and many of the test items can be observed during class time.

STAR Puppy Test Items

The STAR Puppy test consists of “20 Steps to Success,” a total of 20 test items. The first six are owner behaviors, and the other 14 are puppy behaviors. The items are:

Puppy Day School | Puppy Training in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog AcademyOwner Behaviors

1. Maintains puppy’s health (vaccines, exams, appears healthy)

2. Owner receives Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge

3. Owner describes adequate daily play and exercise plan

4. Owner and puppy attend at least 6 classes by an AKC Approved CGC Evaluator

5. Owner brings bags to classes for cleaning up after puppy

6. Owner has obtained some form of ID for puppy-collar tag, etc.

Puppy Behaviors

7. Free of aggression toward people during at least 6 weeks of class

8. Free of aggression toward other puppies in class

9. Tolerates collar or body harness of owner’s choice

10. Owner can hug or hold puppy (depending on size)

11. Puppy allows owner to take away a treat or toy

Pre-Canine Good Citizen Test Behaviors

Puppy Training in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog Academy12. Allows (in any position) petting by a person other than the owner

13. Grooming-Allows owner handling and brief exam (ears, feet)

14. Walks on a Leash-Follows owner on lead in a straight line (15 steps)

15. Walks by other people-Walks on leash past other people 5-ft away

16. Sits on command-Owner may use a food lure

17. Down on command-Owner may use a food lure

18. Comes to owner from 5-ft when name is called

19. Reaction to Distractions-distractions are presented 15-ft away

20. Stay on leash with another person (owner walks 10 steps and returns)

What Comes Next?

After passing the test, owners mail the completed test form to AKC to receive an AKC STAR Puppy Medal, a certificate, and the AKC Puppy Handbook. The STAR Puppy program is a stepping stone to the three tests of the AKC Canine Good Citizen program.

If you have a new puppy, check out our Flex Class program to get started in training classes. You can start any time, and begin working toward your goal of a STAR Puppy!

Choosing A Best Friend: What to Consider When Finding a New Dog

00Helpful Hints, PuppiesTags: , ,

There are so many choices when it comes to adding a new dog to your household. There are hundreds of breeds to choose from, not to mention the thousands of wonderful dogs in shelters across the country. If you have never had a dog before, or haven’t had one since childhood, it can be overwhelming! Here are some things to consider when adding a dog to your family.

Not all dogs would be so tolerant of this child’s advances! (Photo Credit: Giulio Nepi)

Do you have children? Dogs weighing less than ten pounds are not recommended for homes with very small children as they will not handle roughhousing well.

Terrier breeds can get nippy with small children due to their heightened “prey drive” – they have a strong desire to go after small, fast moving things that make high pitched noises. Toddlers fall into that category. For that reason, I also don’t recommend terriers for households with small pets.

When choosing a dog for a home with young children, consider a medium to large sized dog with a stable, easy-going, happy-go-lucky temperament. Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, and mixes of those breeds, are popular choices because they tend to fit this description.

If you are a busy parent, consider adopting or purchasing an older puppy or an adult dog. Puppies require lots of socialization and training, and most working parents are just too busy to add that to their to-do list.

Consider the dog’s energy level and compare it to yours. If you are busy and don’t have a lot of time to be active with your dog, consider a smaller laid back dog like a Bassett Hound or some of the larger toy breeds.

If you’re just looking for a buddy to hang out with around the house, consider adopting a senior dog. Older dogs are often dumped into shelters once their owners decide they can’t handle their special needs such as increased vet costs, medication, and physical ailments. They are less likely to be adopted than younger, spritely dogs, but they make wonderful companions.

If you are active and love to go for walks or hikes, or could imagine spending your evenings playing fetch in the backyard, consider a dog from the Herding group, such as a Border Collie or Shetland Sheepdog. Shelters are full of these high-energy dogs that are surrendered for being “crazy” or “too much dog” for their laid-back owners. In reality, most of those dogs just need more exercise and a bit of training.

Dalmatian in Window

Not all dogs are suitable for apartment living. (Photo Credit: Daniel Sancho)

What are your living arrangements? Many home owners’ insurance policies have a “blacklist” of breeds they will not cover. Check with your insurance agent before adding a dog to your household. (I cannot have a Yorkshire Terrier under my policy!) This also makes renting tricky. I spoke with a dog-friendly landlord who grew up with German Shepherds but cannot allow them to live on her properties due to her insurance policy.

Are you living in an apartment now, or could be in the future? Often apartment complexes have policies that dogs must be under 20 or 25 pounds, so consider a small dog. Avoid breeds that are known for excessive, loud barking. Many hounds are notorious for barking and are not a good choice for apartment living.

What kind of grooming are you prepared to provide? So-called “non-shedding” dogs (which actually DO shed) such as Poodles and Poodle mixes require frequent grooming as their hair type mats easily and must be trimmed often.

Professional grooming costs vary from location to location, but expect to spend about $50 plus a tip for a good grooming for almost any dog in this area (Rhode Island). Long coated breeds such as Irish Setters, English Springer Spaniels, and Collies need to be brushed out a couple of times per week, and professionally groomed every 5-6 weeks. And don’t forget the drool that comes with many giant breed dogs such as Newfoundlands and Great Danes!

Before bringing any dog home, be sure you are committed to caring for that dog for its entire lifetime. Ask yourself: am I financially prepared for a sudden vet bill? Do I have the time to devote to training this dog? Is this dog a good fit for my lifestyle? Is now a good time to add a dog to my household? If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, you are setting yourself and the dog up for failure. Dogs are not disposable! Surrendering a dog to a shelter should only be done as an absolute last resort. Be sure you are truly ready for the responsibility of dog ownership.

Creative Puppy Socialization

20Helpful Hints, Puppies, Training, Tutorials and How-To GuidesTags: , ,

Good puppy socialization requires a bit of creativity. Read on some suggestions for getting your new addition “out and about” in the real world.

Puppy Socialization with Firefighter

Always be on the lookout for new people for your puppy to meet! This German Shepherd puppy is learning that people in uniform are a good thing. (Photo by Nicholas Wadler)

Remember that when socializing your puppy, your goal should always be exposure without overwhelming him. We want your puppy to experience novel things without getting scared or feeling too uncomfortable.

Younger Puppies

When your puppy is very young (under 16 weeks of age) and has not yet received all of his immunizations, carry the puppy in locations where lots of dogs or wildlife are present to limit the (already slim) possibility of picking up a disease. These places include pet stores and wooded areas or trails.

Don’t worry about your arms getting tired — you should be taking frequent, short trips to new places when socializing your puppy. Five to ten minutes is plenty of time. It is unrealistic to expect a ten-week-old puppy to spend two hours at a child’s soccer game. Use common sense: if you wouldn’t take an infant to a certain place, don’t take your puppy there, either. More info

Puppy Nipping: A Plan to Stop It

10Helpful Hints, Puppies, Training, Tutorials and How-To GuidesTags: , , , , , ,

Puppy nipping is one of the most frustrating behaviors that new owners report. It hurts! But you’ll see a big reduction in puppy nipping in a short period just by getting some human cooperation.

Puppy Nipping - Dachshund

If this is a familiar sight, it’s time for a new training plan! (Photo Credit: Renata Lima, Flickr)

Let’s start by examining why your puppy is putting his mouth on things. I don’t like to spend a ton of time pondering why a dog is doing what he’s doing, but puppy nipping is such a frustrating behavior for owners that I find it helps to consider the puppy’s point of view.

Beginning at a young age, puppies bite each other during play. This behavior starts before you bring your puppy home from the breeder or rescue organization. The puppies are play-fighting and learning their own strength. If they bite a littermate too hard, the other puppy will respond with a high-pitched yelp. This tells the biter to tone it down next time.

This is why a common nugget of advice is “If your puppy bites you, shriek in a high-pitched voice.” This sometimes causes the puppy to stop. But sometimes the puppy thinks your noises are fascinating and bites harder next time; it gets him excited and worked up!

It just depends on your puppy… and your ability to make a high-pitched puppy yelp, something most men can’t do. I prefer to use methods that work more reliably. Here is the plan we use with our clients, as well as in our Puppy Day School program.

Step One

Institute a new house rule: everyone interacting with the puppy is “armed” with a soft, biteable toy. It should be long enough to keep your fingers away from the puppy’s mouth when playing. This is always within the puppy’s reach when you’re petting her, playing with her, or snuggling together. Praise the puppy for interacting with the toy.

Set yourself up for success by keeping a soft toy in your back pocket, another in a basket on top of the puppy’s crate, and another in the room where you tend to hang out with your pup the most. I recommend braided fleece toys and “unstuffed” plush toys (the kind that resemble roadkill).

Puppy Chewing Shoelaces

Tuck in shoelaces, sweatshirt drawstrings, and other dangly bits of clothing and jewelry to set your puppy up for success. (Photo by Nicki Varkevisser, Flickr)

Step Two

Don’t tempt your puppy! For at least the first few weeks, avoid wearing nice clothing or anything loose-fitting or dangling around her. Change out of your nice work clothes before interacting with your puppy. Tuck in shoelaces and sweatshirt drawstrings, and remove large earrings and necklaces, too.

This eliminates the puppy’s opportunity to grab on to these things and elicit an exciting reaction from you. We don’t want the puppy to learn things we wish she wouldn’t, such as “grabbing my mother’s earrings makes her squeak and push me around. That’s fun!” Not a good lesson.

You can also use bitter-tasting spray on things that you’re not likely to touch often, such as your shoelaces. The bitter taste can transfer to your fingers, so if you use this method, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before handling food or touching your face.

Step Three

When your puppy mouths your hands, pull them away from her and keep them out of her reach for several seconds. I recommend sticking your hands in your armpits – your puppy can’t nip them there! Ignore your puppy for about 5 seconds. If she continues to try to nip during this time, it may be necessary to stand up or even leave the room.

After this little time-out, calmly present your toy to your pup and resume interacting with her. Praise and play with the puppy for engaging the toy, licking your hands, or just being polite. Repeat this step when the pup bites. Be consistent!

Remember that screaming or shouting at the puppy, pushing her away, or physically punishing the puppy by pinching her lips or clamping her mouth closed will either intensify the biting or scare the puppy, potentially leading to fearful and aggressive behaviors in the future.

If your pup bites on your clothing, gently remove the clothing from her mouth and prevent her access to that article of clothing. If she’s chewing on your shirt sleeve, stand up and roll up your sleeves. If she’s chewing on your pant leg, leave the room or step to the other side of a baby gate or puppy pen so she cannot reach you. Ignore her for a few seconds, then offer her the toy to play with.

Closing Thoughts

The purpose of these training steps is to teach the puppy that when she has the urge to put something in her mouth, she should pick an appropriate toy rather than your hands or clothing. Puppies need to bite, mouth, and chew as they grow, so rather than fight that instinct, channel it into appropriate items.

If you need to give your puppy a “time out” more than two or three times in a 10-minute period, she is either very wound up and needs a bit of exercise, or is overtired and needs to be put in her crate for a nap. Remember that the time out does not teach the puppy anything. It just provides an opportunity for your puppy to calm down enough to try other ways of interacting with you, which you must then reward.