The Koehler Method of Dog Training

29 Jul 2014 | Filed in Dog Training

“The Koehler Method of Dog Training” is a book and a philosophy, containing a combination of principles, theories and practices that seek to empower dog owners to control their dog’s behavior using mental conditioning. While some of the practices outlined in the original book, published in 1962, are now considered outdated and cruel, many of the underlying principles, such as rewarding good behavior, are still used today.

About William Koehler

William Koehler was a specialist dog trainer who trained dogs for film. He was famously unsentimental and would use pain as much as he would he use reward in order to motivate a dog to perform an action. While modern trainers typically favor positive reinforcement, Koehler advocated a balance of positive reinforcement and positive punishment. In short, he introduced positive stimuli, or rewards, to a dog’s environment when the dog did good and introduced negative stimuli, or punishment to a dog’s environment when the dog did bad.

Goals of the Koehler Method

The Koehler method sets out to empower all dog owners to have off-leash control of their dogs. To achieve this, owners must first teach the dog that certain actions have good consequences and other actions have bad consequences. The outcome of this approach is that the owner need not rely on the leash to control the dog, because the dog understands clearly which actions are desirable and which are not.

Philosophy of Choice

Koehler, like many noted dog trainers, believed that dogs perform actions out of choice. For example, a dog will choose to tip over a bin to eat some of the contents. Because those contents taste good, he’s likely to choose to perform this action again. However, if the contents of the bin were distasteful to the dog, he would be unlikely to repeat the action. Koehler’s method utilizes this philosophy.

Learning Patterns

The key tenet of Koehler’s method is the learning pattern “Action > Memory > Desire.” Koehler’s entire process assumes that when a dog performs an action, his memory of that action inform his desire to repeat it. So if a dog barks and is subsequently punished, his memory of that action is negative, lowering the chances of him desiring to repeat it. But if the dog is rewarded, his memory of barking is positive and the chances of him wishing to repeat it increase.

Why Is My Dog Scared of Thunderstorms and What Can I Do About It?

24 Jul 2014 | Filed in Dog Problems

Q: Why is my dog so afraid of thunder and how can I make him less scared?

A: Many dogs are afraid of thunder simply because they do not understand what it is. Dogs hear this loud noise and perceive it as something threatening.

ThinkstockSome dogs try to go under tables, in bathtubs, or in any other places that make them feel secure. It is ok to allow them to do this.

It is important, however, not to try to soothe your pet too much. Doing so can actually encourage his fear if he senses any insecurity in your voice.

During a thunderstorm, try to provide a background noise for your dog, such as TV or radio. This may help to somewhat drown out the noise of the thunder. You can also try to get your dog’s mind off the storm by playing with him.

There are some dogs that require sedation when there is a storm. Consult your veterinarian so that they can prescribe something to calm your dog during a storm.

Is There Such Thing As Dog Life Insurance?

22 Jul 2014 | Filed in Dog Life Style

You’re covered. Your spouse is covered. So are your house and your car. Now you’re wondering if life insurance policies are available for the family dog. He is, after all, the light of your life, and having an insurance policy on him could help cover his final expenses. You’re in luck — dogs can get their own insurance policies, although the cost and types of coverage vary greatly.

It’s a Dog’s Life (Insurance)

It will take some digging and research, but it is possible to find life insurance for your dog. Traditional insurance companies, like the one your life or homeowner’s policy is through, usually don’t carry policies on dogs, even if they’re purebred. There are companies that specialize in pet insurance, however, and they’re the ones that can provide the coverage you’re looking for.

Who Should Get It

People who get life insurance for their dogs typically have expensive purebred pooches. Not all of them are show dogs, but many are, making insurance a common-sense issue. And because of the cost of a specially trained service dog, people who have these types of dogs sometimes choose to insure them, too.

Things to Consider

Life insurance for dogs doesn’t work exactly like life insurance for humans. You’ll have to shop around and find out what different policies cover and how they determine the payout. Some policies are written for accidental death only, and some will pay for costs like final veterinary expenses, euthanasia, cremation or burial. One insurance company might calculate the payout based on the market value of the dog at the time of his death, while another will base it on the price you paid for your dog. Ask about age cut-offs, too. Some insurance companies won’t insure dogs over a certain age and will even drop insurance once a dog reaches 10 or 11 years.

Other Dog Insurance

If life insurance on your pooch isn’t practical, consider getting help with healthcare to improve the quality of his life and possibly extend it. If you haven’t looked into it before, you might be surprised at the number of companies that offer health insurance for pets. Like your own health insurance, there are usually different levels of coverage ranging from wellness plans to accident coverage. It may not insure the life of your dog, but it can help defray the costs of medical treatment — which may end up literally being a life and death issue.

How Does Losing Molars Affect a Dog’s Health?

18 Jul 2014 | Filed in Dog Health

Most adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth, among them eight premolars and four molars on the top as well as eight premolars and six molars on the bottom, all meant to last a lifetime. If you notice that your pooch has lost a tooth, has loose teeth or appears to be in pain when he chews, consult your veterinarian, as your dog could be suffering from a medical condition or a mouth injury. Dog Molars

Your pooch can’t use his molars to grind her food because his jaw doesn’t move from side to side. Instead, he uses his premolars and molars — powered by his strong jaws — for chewing large pieces of food into smaller bits. If your dog looses these teeth, he could have difficulty chewing larger pieces of food, which may mean he’ll need a softer diet to ensure he’s getting proper nutrition.

Dental Health Concerns

If your dog can eat only soft foods due to molar loss, he may be at a higher risk for tooth decay, plaque buildup and periodontal disease. Without the tooth-cleansing benefits from crunchy foods, your dog’s oral health will depend on your efforts, and those of your vet, to help him keep his teeth clean.

Dog Oral Health and Care

15 Jul 2014 | Filed in Dog Gooming

The good news is that cavities are rare in dogs. The really bad news is that more than 80 percent of dogs over the age of three have gum disease, and among dogs adopted from shelters and rescue groups the percentage is closer to one hundred.

ThinkstockEven young dogs who have had poor care often have gum disease, broken or missing teeth, and other oral problems. Your adopted dog may come to you needing dental care. At the very least, he could probably benefit from a professional teeth cleaning by your vet.

If he has other problems that need attention, they could be addressed at the same time. Although relatively expensive, regular professional dental care will make your dog feel better and keep his breath more pleasant for you to be near. Most important, good dental hygiene may prolong your dog’s life, because infected gums release bacteria into the bloodstream that can attack organs throughout the body.

Teeth cleaning is done under general anesthesia to give your vet free access to your dog’s mouth. Your vet, or her assistant, will remove tartar and plaque, and then polish your dog’s teeth. She will check for loose or damaged teeth, which may need to be removed or repaired, and for other signs of trouble. Different dogs need their teeth cleaned with varying frequencies, so be sure to talk to your vet about this.

There’s more to doggy dental care than vet visits. Between professional cleanings, bacteria cluster along your dog’s gum line. The bacteria form plaque, which hardens into tartar (calculus) if it’s not removed.

Tartar irritates the gums, causing gingivitis and periodontal (gum) disease characterized by abscesses, infections, and tooth and bone loss. To prevent or slow this destructive process, you need to brush your dog’s teeth.

Ideally, you should brush them every day, but every two or three days will go a long way toward preventing gum disease. Use toothpaste made for dogs — toothpaste for people can make your dog sick if he swallows it — and apply it with a brush designed for dogs, or a finger brush, or a small disposable dental sponge, whichever you find easiest.

Keep an eye out for signs of oral problems, including red, puffy gums; sudden or prolonged and copious drooling; swelling or lumps; ulcers and sores on the lips, gums, tongue, or other oral tissues; tenderness around the mouth; damaged teeth or tissues; inability to eat, or obvious discomfort when doing so; and foul breath. The sooner you catch a problem and bring it to your vet’s attention, the better for your dog and, probably, your wallet.

In addition to a good dental care regimen, you can help keep your dog’s mouth and teeth healthy by feeding him high-quality food, and by providing him with safe chew toys that help clean his teeth and gums.

The more you can do to remove plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth between veterinary visits, the less frequently your dog will need to undergo a veterinary dental treatment. Since the procedure involves anesthesia — which is never without some risk — and can be costly, it’s in your and your dog’s best interests to follow a regular dental health regime at home.

Fruits for Dogs

11 Jul 2014 | Filed in Dog Food

Humans love fruit and we know bananas and strawberries are good for us, but did you know they are good for your dogs too? Not only will your dog love that he is getting “human food,” but you will love that the same benefits fruits provide us – aids in digestion, antioxidants, immunity boosts, better eye sight, healthier skin and hair – they also provide for your dog.

Feed fruits to your dog as a small training treat or stuff your dog’s favorite treat stuffer toy with some peanut butter and fruit for a great and healthy occupier.

Tips for Feeding Fruit to Dogs

Always talk to your veterinarian about any treats you feed your dog, including fruit.

Give your dog small portions of fruit only, especially the first time feeding them to your dog. Even though fruit is good for him, fruit is not calorie free. Also, you don’t know if your dog will have an allergic or other adverse reaction, such as gas or an upset stomach.

Clean fruit thoroughly before offering it to your dog.

If you can, introduce small portions of fruit to your dog when he is young. He may be more likely to try it and like it.

Some dogs don’t like raw fruit. Try mashing it into their food or adding it as an ingredient when you make homemade dog treats. You can also use fruit juice, but make sure it is 100 percent fruit juice and not added sugars.

Avoid feeding your dog any type of seeds or pits. Although not all seeds are known to cause problems, it is better to be safe than sorry. What is known to be problematic or toxic are apple seeds, apricot pits, nectarine pits, plum pits, cherry pits and peach pits.

Check out this list of 13 fruits (and melons) for dogs and their benefits to get you started.

Apples: Source for potassium, fiber, phytonutrients, flavonoids, vitamin C. Note: Do not give dogs the core or the seeds, which contain arsenic. (Half of an apple slice is a good size treat.)

Bananas: Source of potassium and carbohydrates. (1 inch is a good size treat.)

Blackberries: Source of antioxidants (anthocyanins), polyphenols, tannin, fiber, manganese, folate, omega-3. High in vitamins C, K, A and E. (2 or 3 blackberries is a good size treat.)

Blueberries: Source of antioxidants, selenium, zinc and iron. High in vitamins C, E, A and B complex. (2 or 3 blueberries is a good size treat.) Cantaloupe: Source for vitamins A, B complex, C, plus fiber, beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid and folic acid. (1 inch of cantaloupe wedge is a good size treat.)

Cranberries: Source for vitamin C, fiber and manganese. Helps fight against urinary tract infections, plus balances acid-base in dog’s body. (2 tablespoons of stewed cranberries added to dog’s food is good size portion. Note: To stew cranberries, put them in a saucepan with water, cover and cook until tender. Put them through a sieve and add to dog food.)

Kiwis: Source of fiber, potassium and high in vitamin C. (A half a slice or one slice of kiwi is a good size treat.)

Oranges: Source for fiber, potassium, calcium, folic acid, iron, flavonoids, phytonutrients, vitamins A, C, B1 and B6. (Half of a segment is a good size treat. May cause stomach upset if fed in too big a portion. Remove the rind and any seeds.) Do no feed your dog any part of the orange tree—see below.

Pears: Source for fiber, folic acid, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, copper, pectin and vitamins A, C, E, B1 and B2. (1 or 2 pear cubes is a good size treat.)

Pumpkin: Source for fiber, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, zinc, iron, potassium and Vitamin A. Note: Although you can feed your dog pumpkin seeds, most recommend feeding them to dogs unsalted, roasted and then grounded. Do not feed your dog any other part of the pumpkin due to the small, sharp hairs on the pumpkin stem and leaves. (1 to 3 tablespoons of pureed pumpkin [not pumpkin pie mix] is a good size treat.) Learn more>>

Raspberries: Source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, potassium, manganese, copper, iron, magnesium. Rich in vitamin C, K and B-complex. (2 or 3 raspberries is a good size treat.)

Strawberries: Source for fiber, potassium, magnesium, iodine, folic acid, omega-3 fats, vitamins C, K, B1 and B6. (A half or 1 strawberry is a good size treat.)

Watermelon: Source of vitamins C and A, potassium, magnesium and water. Do not feed your dog the seeds or rind. (1 to 3 pieces of 1-inch watermelon wedge is a good size treat.)

Fruit Bad for Dogs

Although some fruits in small portions can be good for your dog (unless your dog is allergic), never offer your dog the following. If your dog accidently eats the below fruit, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Grapes or Raisins: They have caused many cases of poisoning when ingested by dogs.

Avocados: They could cause gastrointestinal irritation.

Figs: Figs have caused allergic reactions in some dogs. Also, the fig is grown on the Ficus tree (Ficus benjamina), which causes skin inflammation if your dog comes into contact with it. Ficus plants or trees also cause diarrhea and vomiting if your dog ingests them.

Orange tree: The orange tree (Citrus sinensis) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses due to its psoralens and essential oils. You don’t want your pet to ingest the seeds, peel, leaves or stem of this tree or fruit. Symptoms of orange tree poisoning are depression, diarrhea and vomiting.

Lemon tree: The lemon tree (Citrus limonia) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses due to its psoralens and essential oils. You don’t want your pet to ingest the seeds, peel, leaves or stem of this tree. Symptoms of lemon plant poisoning are depression, diarrhea and vomiting.

Kid Friendly Large Dog Breeds

8 Jul 2014 | Filed in Dog Breeds

Many large dog breeds make excellent companions for kids. Large dogs bred specifically for companionship and mild temperaments are ideal. Guard dog breeds are not a poor choice but they are protective and may harm friends of the kids if they feel threatened. The best traits for kid friendly breeds include a mellow disposition, desire to please and owner loyalty. Ultimately, raising the animal in a loving home encourages positive behavior and traits.

Golden Retriever

The golden retriever is a popular family dog, according to the American Kennel Club. The breed is known for loving attention and is mild mannered. Bred for retrieving birds, the dogs have a naturally soft mouth and little in the way of defensive instincts. The soft mouth means they will not clamp the jaws while playing. Golden retrievers mixed with other retriever breeds or poodles also make good large breed pets.

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador retriever is one of the most common family dogs. They are known for being affectionate and loyal. They are moderately protective but not aggressive. Labradors share many of the same traits as a golden retriever but they have a shorter coat that requires less maintenance. Some of the traits they share are a soft mouth, mellow temperament and owner loyalty. The strong desire to retrieve makes them great for playing fetch with children. Labs are good in a variety of climates and they enjoy the playful attention of children.

Great Dane

The Great Dane is a large breed developed for hunting and guarding property. Despite the aggressive nature of their background, the breed is very mellow and works well for kids. They are large but surefooted, aware and not likely to knock over or hurt kids accidentally, but adults should provide supervision around young children. Some individual Great Danes are noted as couch-potatoes and slightly lazy, loving dogs. Great Danes do require room to play and move. A large yard space provides a good area for them to play with children. Confinement in small apartments is not a good choice for Great Danes. Small spaces make them more likely to knock over children accidentally.


Bloodhounds are passive unless a scent is present. Hounds move slowly around the home and are not likely to knock kids over like other large breeds, but advises adults to supervise interactions with small children to prevent the bulky breed from accidentally knocking them down. The hounds are not overly affectionate but they do not respond aggressively to playful kids. Hounds are so mild mannered that you must instruct the kids to prevent incidental abuse. Raising a bloodhound does require leash training and an enclosed yard. The dogs will instinctively chase scents until they are lost.

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