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Where Your Little Dog Should Be When An Unleashed Dog Runs Up To You During A Walk

You’re taking your puppy or small dog on a leashed walk when a loose dog runs up to both of you. The loose dog’s owner is nowhere to be seen.

The loose dog is circling or lunging at your little dog.

In a panic, you pick up your little dog.

Picking up your little dog is motion. That motion triggers the loose dog to jump up and attack you or your little pooch.

Immediate tips (in the moment):

  • Guide your pup behind you with the leash

This makes you a wall protecting your little dog.

  • At the same time, firmly say words to the loose dog like “go home” or “sit.” Something the. loose dog might know.
  • You can also try shouting “is this your dog?” at anyone nearby.

Ideally, you would be standing with your legs apart and guiding your pup into the space between.

Since most of the advice online only seems to tell you what not to do, I wrote this to tell you what TO do.

Training Game At Home

Teach your little dog or puppy to drop into a down-stay between your legs on cue.

The cue can be whatever you want. For my dog the cue is “DERP.” Not an acronym.

Being in a down position makes your little dog far less interesting to the loose one.

Your legs present a barrier to the other dog, a safe fortress for your little one to remain in.

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How To Play This Game

Start playing at home, in a familiar room where your puppy feels confident in.

What you’ll need:

  • a hungry dog
  • 1 to 3 minutes to play. You can play once a day, or multiple times throughout a day.
  • cut up many small, soft treats of different values for your pup

Low value treats are those that your pup will eat at home if there’s nothing else like kibble.

High value treats would be ones that your puppy loves and will take any time, anywhere. These are treats you bring to vet visits.

Steps Of Game

Stand with your legs comfortably apart in a doorway inside your home.

When your curious puppy approaches you:

  1. Say “search” and count 1–2 in your mind
  2. Gently throw a low-value treat behind you, through your legs. This should be an underhand throw.

Throwing the treat gets your puppy chasing the food item and gives your puppy the choice to return.

  • When your puppy returns another round, give your puppy a high-value treat in position between your legs.

Your puppy can be in a sit or a down. As I mentioned, the down position will be the safest for your dog.

If your puppy doesn’t know the down cue, that’s easily remedied.

After you’ve rewarded your puppy for lying down between your legs, say “search” and throw another low-value treat behind you.

To build your puppy holding the down position, give multiple high-value treats (3 to 5) for doing that behavior.

Release your puppy from the down position with “search.”

Thanks for reading!

Is Crate Training Not Working For Your Dog Or Puppy?

At some point in any dog’s life, being crated or kennelled will need to happen.

Your dog needs to be hospitalized or transported.

Perhaps “Fluffy” needs to be confined because renovations are going on in your home.

Or you have visitors who are scared of dogs.

In any case, crating Fluffy simply makes sense.

*I am not interested in debating the perceived morality of crating. If you don’t want to crate your dog, or if that’s illegal in your country, feel free to skip this story.*

I’m writing for people who want to crate-train their dogs.

As I was saying to Bin Jiang, I am averse to reading blocks of text.

And I love reading. But I will not read blocks of text.

Such as those in pamphlets from veterinary clinics.

Which team members disseminate to clients on dog behaviour, such as crate training.

As a professional pet dog trainer and veterinary professional, I foresaw challenges with those pamphlets.

If I didn’t want to read those pamphlets, how could we expect veterinary clients to?

Other problems I saw: some pamphlets suggested to owners about luring a dog or puppy into a crate with highly appealing food.

Which might work, or not.

Worse yet, waiting for a puppy or dog to go in on their own — could take a very long time.

Or simply forcing the puppy or dog into the crate and locking the door shut, waiting for the pooch to cry it out.

Which is inhumane.

Instead, I am going to present something a little different.

Teach a dog to LOVE going into a crate.

So much so, that dog is so joyful and runs into the crate.


  • A wire or plastic crate

Before you begin:

Dismantle the crate into constituent parts to help your dog’s success.

A wire crate will have a plastic bottom – pull that out.

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The next photo is the bottom part from a plastic crate.

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Onward to the first game!

The Paw Target Game

  1. Place a large blanket placed on the ground.
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Given a large enough blanket, a dog may step on the blanket seemingly by accident.

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When your dog steps on the blanket with just 1 paw, mark the behaviour with whatever sound or word you use such as a click or “yes.”

  • Reinforce the behaviour by giving a bite-sized treat.
  • Pause 1 to 2 seconds, say “search” and throw a treat or toy in a direction away from the blanket.

This increases the value your dog has for the blanket.

By allowing your dog the choice of returning to the blanket.

3) Upon your dog’s return, wait for a different behaviour than before.

Such as 2 or more paws on the blanket.

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Or a position such as a sit or down.

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Mark and reinforce for 2 or more paws.

  • Pause 1 to 2 seconds. Then say “search” and throw a treat for your dog to chase off the blanket.

Growing the Paw Target Game

Continue this game after your dog continues stepping onto the paw target intentionally after each “search.”

This time, while your dog is off the blanket, quickly reduce the size of the blanket

  1. Fold the paw target in half.
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2. Wait to see what your dog does with this half-blanket.

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If you have established the value of what that blanket means to your dog, you should see this or similar behaviours.

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3. Grow the paw target game some more by throwing a treat in a direction away from the blanket.

This time, while your dog is chasing the treat quickly reduce the size of the blanket by folding it into quarters.

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At This Point Of The Paw Target Game:


  • How is your dog doing with the quarter blanket?

Is your dog offering behaviours on this little bit of blanket?

If so, progress to the next phase.

If not, expand the blanket to the previous size (half or full) and grow your dog’s confidence at this power level.

  • Is this quarter blanket small enough to fit into a crate part?

Getting The Paw Target Into The Crate

Remember I asked you to dismantle your dog’s crate?

This is when those parts should be brought in.

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Your dog may be very interested and start offering behaviours.

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Ifthat is the case, keep playing the same game – throw a treat to get your dog moving off the blanket and crate part.

Because your dog is ready for you to put the crate back together.

Reassembling Pieces Of The Crate

You’ll notice the door isn’t back on this plastic crate yet.

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You want to make sure your dog remains confident about going on the blanket while the lid is on.

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If you have a wire crate, how comfortable is your dog about going into the crate with the paw blanket on the plastic bottom?

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Putting The Crate Together

Plastic Crate

  • Adding the door.

You’ll notice the blanket is still part of the crate at this point — we want to build on your dog’s confidence.

Move at your dog’s pace.

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Wire Crate

  • Put more of the plastic tray back into the crate.

As you see, with a more confident dog, you can place more of the blanket onto the plastic tray.

Again, move at your dog’s pace.

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If all has gone well, your puppy or dog should be happily running into the crate.

January Is National Train Your Dog Month

Did you know? Less than 5% of all pet dogs are intentionally trained

Consider your canine patient population. In particular, ask your front desk team about their observations of dog leash manners. Then ask them to select a number from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) to describe their level of agreement with the subtitle.

Between 30 to 60% of dog owners do not walk their dogs because the dogs pull on leash (1). Dogs pulling on leash are the most common behaviour problem reported to veterinarians (2). Beyond a dog behaviour problem, dogs pulling on leash compromise human health.

From 2001 to 2020, an estimated 422,659 individuals presented to emergency departments across the United States from injuries related to leash-dependent dog walking (3). Within the same time frame, 1 in 5 injuries treated at USA emergency departments involved a dog pulling on leash (4). Nearly 90% of the injuries happened to individuals aged 18 and older. A common injury reported was traumatic brain injury (TBI) from falling as a result of a dog pulling on the leash (3). Canadian data will likely be comparable–maybe even more so given that we have universal health care.

What does that mean for your clients and patients?

Let’s assume some of your clients or their immediate family members have been injured from a family pet pulling on its leash. This means your practice can expect to be contacted by clients asking for referrals to pet dog trainers.

After experiencing a fall from walking a pet dog, clients may immediately turn to quick-fix methods for changing the dog’s behaviour. Unfortunately, many quick-fix methods involve using positive punishment which simply suppresses the leash pulling rather than teach the dog how to walk politely on a loose leash . Additionally, positive punishment used in the name of training often results in negative impacts on the human-animal bond and compromises dog welfare (Hiby, 2023)

Prioritising Patient Welfare

Note that dog training remains an unregulated profession globally. However, this is not common knowledge to the general public. This presents a wonderful chance for your team, where client education can be provided regarding positive reinforcement pet dog training methods. Ideally, one team member will have expertise speaking about positive reinforcement pet dog training and even demonstrating some of the mechanics involved for teaching a pet dog to walk on a loose leash, offering a short coaching session to the client. This may occur as part of the patient’s appointment, or scheduled as a separate visit specifically addressing common behaviour challenges. In addition to the leash-pulling, complaints from pet dog owners include dogs running away or foreign body ingestion. If you have a team member who happens to be an accredited pet dog training instructor holding membership with the following associations (Canadian Association of Professional Dog Trainers, Pet Professionals Guild), wonderful!

Game Plan

Considering some of the physical injuries on humans, some immediate strategies your practice can offer would be equipment:


-head halters[2]

Please let your client know these tools simply manage the dog’s behaviour, so training still needs to occur. Additionally, the relationship still needs to be repaired–which is where positive reinforcement methods can help, because quick successes will keep the client engaged with educating their pet going forward.

Sources cited:

  1. Cutt, H., Giles-Corti, B., & Knuiman, M. (2008). Encouraging physical activity through dog walking: why don’t some owners walk with their dog?. Preventive Medicine, 46(2), 120–126.
  2. Townsend, L., Dixon, L., & Buckley, L. (2022). Lead pulling as a welfare concern in pet dogs: What can veterinary professionals learn from current research?. Veterinary record, 191(10)
  3. Maxson, R., Leland, C. R., McFarland, E. G., Lu, J., Meshram, P., & Jones, V. C. (2023). Epidemiology of Dog Walking-Related Injuries Among Adults Presenting to US Emergency Departments, 2001–2020. Medicine and science in sports and exercise.
  4. Forrester M. B. (2020). Dog leash-related injuries treated at emergency departments. The American journal of emergency medicine, 38(9), 1782–1786.
  5. Hiby, E., Rooney, N., & Bradshaw, J. (2004). Dog training methods: their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare. Animal Welfare, 13(1), 63–69. doi:10.1017/S0962728600026683
  6. Todd, Z. (2018). Barriers to the adoption of humane dog training methods. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 25, 28-34.
  7. Knights, H., & Williams, J. (2021). The influence of three working harnesses on thoracic limb kinematics and stride length at walk in assistance dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 45, 16-24.
  8. Blake, S., Williams, R., & Ferro de Godoy, R. (2019). A systematic review of the biomechanical effects of harness and head-collar use in dogs. bioRxiv, 759258.

[1] Not all harnesses are made equal, and fit is very particular for each dog’s body type. Measurements to gather from the dog are neck and chest width. Harnesses should permit non-restrictive movement to a dog’s forelimbs (7)

[2] Head halters may not be appropriate for all breeds. Consider your patient’s breed before recommending this for leash-pulling (8)

Using The Power of Permissions For Successful Pet Dog Training

Many of us have dogs that are simply stealing things they want

I’m sure most of us are familiar with this conditional probability statement:

if x, then y.

In other words: given some event x occurs, y event will follow.

Come again?

Is this about math, Nanette?

Well, there won’t be number crunching.

But that is how I use permissions to successfully teach pet dogs pretty much anything.

A few weeks ago, these two dogs stayed over at my place as boarders while their family was away.

They are both on my bed, which they earned from doing incredibly simple tasks: I simply wanted them to touch their noses to my palm.

I held my flat hand open and waited for their choice to drive their nose into my hand. When they did, then I gave them permission to hop onto my bed.

That was it.

I didn’t verbally cue them, to avoid them ignore the cue or risk myself repeating the word.

I simply held my hand flat. I set each dog up for success by having my hand about 6 inches away from their noses, so that there was just one option for them to succeed. Had either dog displayed body language indicating discomfort with my flat hand being close to their faces, I would have increased the distance from my hand or reinforced their comfort by using super high value rewards applicable to each dog. I relied a lot on my prior observations about what each dog valued, from food to toys to interactions with me.

Fortunately, both dogs quickly grasped the conditional: if this person holds her palm flat, then we poke our nose into her palm, and then we can go onto the bed.

No bribes with food or punishment or even verbal intimidation.

Just clarity.

I do that often with many of my pet sitting charges.

Similarly, my personal dogs are educated the same way.

Before I open my front door to let my dogs go outside, they learn that the choice they make in front of the door is the Open Sesame.                  

In particular, the dog’s choice of offering a stationary position (a sit, down, or stand) initiates the door opening. For the door to open, the position must be held. Once the dog holds the position, they may then receive permission to cross the threshold of the open door, which is the release cue (word).

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In my humble opinion, dogs’ behaviour reflects their trainer’s familiarity with reinforcement. Certainly, there are dogs that have been educated using verbal intimidation and physical punishment. Those dogs have learned to be afraid. In psychology, the resulting behaviours indicate learned helplessness, where a dog learns nothing but to give up because of repeated punishment (Maier & Seligman, 1976).

Research and social change demonstrate increasing awareness of dog emotions and welfare (Todd, 2018; China et al., 2020). Given the veterinary industry having so much influence on companion animal welfare, I hope this field continues driving the change towards regulating the dog training industry.

Sources cited

China, L., Mills, D. S., & Cooper, J. J. (2020). Efficacy of Dog Training With and Without Remote Electronic Collars vs. a Focus on Positive Reinforcement. Frontiers in veterinary science7, 508.

Maier, S. F., & Seligman, M. E. (1976). Learned helplessness: theory and evidence. Journal of experimental psychology: general105(1), 3.

Todd, Z. (2018). Barriers to the adoption of humane dog training methods. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 25, 28-34.

5 Reasons to Attend Veterinary Conferences – Especially if They are in Your Own Backyard

If you are anything like me, I am inundated with offers to attend veterinary conferences across the globe. And all of them seem to offer some great and interesting features and benefits for sure. But they are literally across the globe.  Why not consider something a little closer to home?

Conferences are an essential part of the veterinary profession, but with staff shortages, escalating prices, and a very busy schedule, it’s no wonder that many of you put off attending any conferences.  This, however, should not deter you, there are countless great reasons to attend a conference! Here are just 5 ways conferences can change your life. I’ve been doing a bit of a dive into the various benefits of conferences that I could share with the VET community and found some interesting benefits from  I’d like to paraphrase a few of these with you.   

Get to know, personally, the other people in your field.

Networking is very important for job hunting, obviously, but having a big network, benefits you in other ways too. Maybe you will need advice from an expert in another field, or you will want to ask a veterinary supplier about new technologies and industry updates. This is easier when you have a network to reach out to. It’s also helpful to have support from people who are at a similar stage in their careers to you and can empathize with the problems and struggles which you go through at work.

Hear about the latest research

If you want to know about the very latest findings in your field before they are even published in journals, then a conference is the place to be. Many researchers will present preliminary findings at a conference, or work which has not yet been published. These ideas can be great inspiration for your own quest for knowledge.

Visit a new place and have fun

Finally, it shouldn’t be overlooked that attending a conference is good fun! Although a conference is unequivocally a work event more than a leisure one, it can still be enjoyable. Travelling to a new place is a big part of the appeal of a conference, meaning that you get to see a different city, eat new food, and see some local landmarks or tourist attractions. You might even try out learning a little bit of a new language.

You’ll also have the chance to attend social functions as part of a conference, such as dinners, trips, or parties. With the opportunity to meet other veterinary professionals with similar interests to you, you can enjoy the company of others and you might even make some good friends.

Quality CE

Sure, you can jump on a webinar and listen to a lecture online, but it doesn’t have the same effect as a live, energetic, and passionate lecture. Make your notes, ask your questions, and hear what others are asking as well.

Trade Show floor

This is a time where you can explore the latest and greatest, the newest solutions and techniques and perhaps even negotiate better prices with existing suppliers.  This is a great time to re-evaluate inventory and equipment in your clinic. Research potential new equipment purchases, explore your options in finance, leasing or buying? Look into succession planning and look for potential new employees. 

As a Canadian veterinary professional, attending the Veterinary Education Today conference & medical exposition promises to meet these expectations and more. With 36 hours of RACE-approved CE, you can be sure that we have carefully curated the program and selected the best of the best speakers.

Join us at our networking reception, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim. It promises to be an excellent way to meet and greet old acquaintances and new friends.

Advantage of your own backyard

Yes, whether you’re in Toronto or across Canada, the VET Conference is completely accessible. Minutes from Pearson International Airport, GO Transit, Major highways and free parking, makes VET an inexpensive, quality and fun event.

We hope to see you there!  For details on the VET conference please refer to 

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