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How to get your dog to behave on Thanksgiving

Dog Thanksgiving

Grandma has just arrived, all the dishes are set to come out of the oven, and the turkey is resting. Things are all going according to your masterful plan until someone lets in the dogs! Before you know it, one is after the turkey while the other has already knocked grandma over. This is not the Thanksgiving you had hoped for.

Jumping up and food thievery are the top two issues dog owners face on Thanksgiving. It may sound impossible to try managing your dog's behaviors while also hosting the most important family meal of the year. You can make it possible with the right plan and approach. This year give your dogs a chance to enjoy thanksgiving, they are a part of the family after all. Just like planning the perfect Thanksgiving meal, having well behaved dogs will take some planning and preparation ahead of time. Our positive reinforcement dog trainers say to have the perfect dog on Thanksgiving you need to follow these five steps

  • Start correcting the jumping today! As humans we have a tendency to respond to jumping with "No" or "Off." However, dogs struggle to understand the absence of something clearly. They do much better when we provide a replacement behavior. Your dog needs a way to greet people and for people to recognize that is what your dog is doing. Responding to jumping with a "Sit" command is the best way to teach you dog how to greet people and get recognized for it. Another issue with "off" is that its just a standing position, so when the dog runs up initially the energy level is high, they stand for a moment, like "hey I'm off," and then they revert right back to jumping when it doesn't work out the way they hoped. Giving them a sit command to focus on is going to calm your dogs energy and is more likely to catch positive attention from people coming in the door. Its a heck of a lot more approachable than a dog running up right under your feet first thing you walk in. If your dog doesn't have this totally down by the holiday, make sure to have treats outside for your guests so they can encourage a sit when they walk inside. Practice makes perfect
  • Have interactive toys ready Having a interactive toys you can bring out when your dog get antsy and needs something to do is a great way to minimize the time you have to spend keeping your dog out of trouble. If you have a multiple dog household or there are young children in the home, consider isolating your dog during that time and letting them out when they finish.
  • Make sure your dog is properly exercised mentally and physically Start wearing down your dog's energy level days before the big meal. Schedule out some time for daily dog walks the week of Thanksgiving or hire an experienced dog walker. Incorporate training practice, interactive toys, and brain games to wear down your dog mentally as well.
  • Teach your dog to "Go" and "Leave it" With all the food around, you'll want a reliable way to tell your dog to walk away from temptation. A leave it command is perfect for teaching your dog to walk away. You can practice telling your dog to go out of the kitchen in the time before thanksgiving so you are start developing a boundary.
  • Have a safe, quiet space prepared Thanksgiving is often a very long day and its okay if your dog needs a break from all the commotion. Play some classical music and give them a comfy, secluded place to relax for a bit.

Being prepared and having a good plan will help your dogs thanksgiving go smoothly. If you have additional questions or concern about your dog's behavior over the holiday season, contact one of our dog trainers in Knoxville, TN to set up a free in-home meet and greet.

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Best Hikes For Your Dog

Hikes and Howls

Beautiful trees, bubbling streams, and breathtaking views are good for your mind, body, and soul. Those benefits can be shared with your dog but sometimes finding a dog friendly trail can be difficult. Our own Great Smoky Mountains National Park has miles and miles of trails for humans but you will only find two trails in the entire park where dogs are allowed Gatlingburg Trail (1.9 Miles) in Gatlinburg, TN and Oconaluftee River Trail (1.5 Miles) all the way in Cherokee, NC. Our positive reinforcement dog trainers are avid hikers and want to share with you their five favorite dog friendly hiking spots in East Tennessee.

Best Places to Take Your Dog Hiking in East Tennessee

  • Frozen Head State Park: Located in Oakridge, TN, the park has over 50 miles of dog friendly hiking trails that meander by waterfalls, rock shelters and giant mountaintop cap rocks. A portion of the Cumberland Trail even passes through the park.
  • Knoxville's Urban Wilderness: There are currently over 50 miles of dog friendly trails connecting multiple parks and cultural sites within the Knoxville Urban Wilderness.
  • Big Ridge State Park: Over 15 miles of dog friendly hiking trails in Maynardville, TN feature dry ridges, lush hollows, old roadbeds, lakeshores and beside cemeteries and remnants of early settlements. Trails range from easy to very rugged. Free trail maps are available at the park office.
  • Norris Dam State Park The park has fifteen dog friendly hiking trails. They range in length from .5 mile to 5 miles and vary in degrees of difficulty from easy to difficult. These trails traverse ridge tops, valleys, hollows, and the lakeshore.
  • Panther Creek State Park: With over 30 miles of dog friendly hiking trails in Morristown, TN you are sure to find a trail to fall in love with and tire out your dog.

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How to Calm Your Dog During A Thunderstorm

Thunderstorms are often a favorite part of the summer season. Don't you just love watching the lightening flicker and hearing deep rumbles across the valley? However, all the sights and sounds can be quite frightening for dogs. Some dogs make it obvious how scared they are by hiding, shaking, and whining but others show more subtle signs. The first step to solving a problem is recognizing the first sign of it. Some dogs will begin to show signs of stress shortly before a storm even starts.

Does your dog show these signs of fear during a thunder storm?

  • Shaking or Trembling
  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Pacing
  • Drooling
  • Excessive Licking
  • Sudden Dandruff
  • Yawning
  • Hiding

Every dog lover wants their dog to be happy and healthy. Seeing your dog be fearful of something as natural as a thunderstorm is truly heartbreaking. Lacking the power to change to weather, what options are you left with? There are many great dog training exercises you can put into motion and helpful dog training tools for alleviating stress and calming your dog during a storm.

How To Calm Your Dog During A Storm

  • Play Classical Music: It may sound crazy but it works, and its backed by veterinary science! Research from Colorado State University studied the impact of music on dogs' stress levels and found that classical music had almost an immediate affect calming dogs and it actually encourage sleep as well. They also found dogs responded better to a variety of classical music instead of the repeating the same songs.
  • Play a Game: Get out your treat pouch and start playing a fun dog training game like Hide and Seek. Distracting your dog with fun activities will train your dog's brain to ignore the storm with practice. It will even begin to signal to your dog that storms are a time for fun, not fear.
  • Diffuse Lavender Essential Oils: We all know lavender helps calm and relax humans but did you know it works for dogs too? A study done by Canine Behaviour Centre in Ireland found that dogs spent significantly more time resting and sitting when lavender oil was added to the dogs environment.
  • Try a Thundershirt: It's like a weighted blanket for your dog! The Journal of Veterinary Behavior contains research that showed pressure wraps like Thundershirts yield positive results in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.
  • Hire a Dog Trainer: Trying to deal with your dogs anxiety during a thunderstorm can be impossible if your dog is paralyzed with fear. A positive reinforcement dog trainer can design exercises and games for you to practice before the next big thunderstorm. Breaking this issue into smaller steps will help your dog progress and learn to relax.

Ask a dog trainer what they think the best solution is for your dog. Schedule a Free Meet & Greet with a positive reinforcement dog trainer today to have your dog's behavior evaluated and create a personalized dog training plan to fit your needs!

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Before Bringing Home Baby To Meet Fido

After many long months you are finally ready to deliver your precious bundle of joy but you still have this nagging worry in the back of your mind. How will the dog react? With all of stress, hormones, and excitement looming through the air your dog is sure to know something is up and might even be feeding off all the energy in the house.

Lots of Changes Mean Stress For Your Dog.

Believe it or not, all the changes and excitement revolving around a new baby can be quite stressful for dogs. They can no longer curl up in mom's lap, the baby shower brought too many people in the house, and for some reason they can't even go into the spare room anymore. Stress can very easily turn into behavioral issues for our beloved pets. With all the new responsibilities of being a new parent quickly approaching, it's wise to check in on your dog's behavior now, rather than later.

Your Dog Has Needs

The first step to making sure your dog has a good transition, is making sure their basic needs are still being met. Every dog requires a few basic things in their life to keep them happy and healthy. It's our responsibility as dog lovers to meet those needs.

  • Exercise

    Every dog needs to stretch their legs and get in some cardio. For some dog's running around in the back yard isn't enough because they need to explore new sights and smells to not get bored. Worried you won't be able to maintain your dog walks right away after bringing home baby? You may want to consider hiring a Knoxville Dog Walker.

  • Mental Stimulation

    Not only do dog's need physical exercise, they also need to exercise their brains! Dog Training, Interactive Toys and Feeders, games, and dog walks are all great ways to add mental stimulation to your dog's day

  • Community

    Dogs are social creatures and do not do well being isolated. They need to interact with people and other dogs to keep them social and happy.

  • Boundaries

    Dogs are calmer and more well behaved when they know what is expected of them. Consistency is key!

  • Routine

    Being creatures of extreme routine, dogs come to expect and anticipate what is going to happen next in their day to day life. When that expectation isn't met, that can be quite stressful. So try to maintain your dog's routine as best you can.

You and Your Baby Have Needs

Now that we have talked about your dog's needs, lets talk about yours and your baby's needs! You need to be able to trust your dog around your precious baby and you need to know that your dog will listen. Teaching your dog some basic commands and addressing any current bad behaviors now can drastically cut down on the issues your encounter upon bringing your baby home.

  • No Jumping!

    Trying to hold a baby while a dog jumps all over you, is not something you want to be dealing with your first day home from the hospital. Start a new routine now! Have treats by the door and be ready to ask your dog to sit every time you enter the door for the next few months. You want your dog to anticipate the new routine of sitting for a yummy treat.

  • No Barking!

    Your dog's barking may be something you can live with, but what if your baby can't sleep through it. Every knock at the door could be a nap interrupted.

  • "Leave It"

    This command is great to get your dog to walk away from something. Whether that is a pacifier, a tummy mat, or your last chicken nugget!

  • Loose Leash Walk:

    Wouldn't it be lovely to walk your dog and push the stroller at the same time without worrying about your dog darting off the the side after a squirrel?

  • "Come": Imagine a sleeping baby inside the cozy nursery, when BAM! You realize your dog got out of the fence and is running around the neighborhood. A good recall is crucial to keep you from chasing your dog all over town.

  • "Settle"

    It's baby's nap time and your dog decided its the perfect time to get wild and excited. Teach your dog a "Settle" command to have them lay down in a designated spot and relax.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask For Help

With so many dog training methods out there, there is a lot of room for confusion and you may not have the time to waste! Finding the right help can be challenging with so many different trainers in Knoxville, TN. You want to avoid dog training methods that rely heavily on punishment and e-collars. You don't want to risk bringing our fear or aggression in your dog now, at such a pivotal point in your life and you certainly don't want to be juggling a bottle, a baby, AND a remote training aid.

With positive reinforcement dog training methods, you will be seeing a change in your dog's behavior in a few short weeks! One of our Knoxville dog trainers is happy to address any behavioral concerns you dog may have and help guide you and your dog through this next new phase of life! Book a FREE Meet and Greet today to discuss a personalized training plan right in the comfort of your home.

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Is Your Dog Enjoying Apartment Life?

Every dog lover, who calls an apartment home, wants to know, is the grass really greener in the fenced back yard? Living in an apartment with dogs comes with it's challenges and can present all sorts of dog behavioral issues. Our Knoxville dog trainers see it all the time! Walkways are often small, giving little room for you and your excited or aggressive dog to pass others. Excessive dog barking can drive your neighbors crazy and possibly have you looking for another place to live. Chewing and destruction could cost you your belongings and even your security deposit. Are all these behaviors a sign apartment living isn't working for your dog? The answer can be complex depending on your dog's energy level, size, temperament, their daily routine and your lifestyle. Let's consider your dog's behavior to assess out how they are feeling.


Is your dog showing any of these signs of boredom or stress?

  • Destruction: Dogs often have trouble managing their boredom and stress when their owner is gone or they are unsupervised.
  • Escaping: When left alone, sometimes escaping can be a fun puzzle to figure out and entertain themselves with.
  • Excessive Licking: With nothing else to do, your dog may decide to groom themselves, your furniture or you.
  • Panting: If your dog is in a cool area and hasn't physically exerted themselves recently, your dog may be panting to spend the excess mental energy.
  • Pacing: Your dog is too worked up and fidgety to settle down.
  • Excessive Yawning: Yawning is body language signal which shows frustration in your dog.

If your dog is displaying signs of boredom and stress, don't panic yet! You can find bored and stressed dogs in every type of dwelling, even big houses with large fenced yards. To get to a solution we have to understand the problem. Stress and boredom in dogs, both come from an overactive, busy mind. If we can wear down and engage the mind, we can wear down those problem behaviors too! No matter where you live the solution is always the same, enrichment! Every dog needs mental engagement to be happy and mentally healthy! There are so many ways you can make your dog's daily life more interactive and stimulating.

Work It Out

  • Dog Training: Learning new things is not only a good tool to manage bad behaviors, it is also super fun for your dog and creates a strong bond with their favorite human.
  • Interactive Toys and Feeders: Toys and Feeders can be a great way to add mental stimulation to meal time or keep your dog busy while you are at work. There are so many options!
  • Games: Play a game like Hide and Seek with your dog and not only will you have fun, you will also strengthen your dogs training skills.
  • Adventure: Grab a leash and get outside! Take your dog to one of our many great Knoxville parks! With all the sites and smells, your dog is sure to feel stimulated!

No dog owner is perfect, sometimes life gets busy and we all fall short of what our dog needs. Don't be too hard on yourself, just keep an eye out for any signs of stress and boredom in your dog and adjust your dog's routine accordingly. If you are willing to get creative and make a few changes to your dog's routine, you will surely find a way to make apartment living work for you and your beloved dog. Need more ideas? Check 10 Ways To Entertain Your Dog In An Apartment or Contact a My Curious Canine trainer today to discuss a personalized training routine for your dog.

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Ten Signs That Your Dog Is Bored

If most dogs had their way, life would be one long visit to the dog park. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Most human dog owners have to work 8 or more hours a day, leaving your dog alone and up to his own devices. In many cases, dogs left alone get bored and that can lead to trouble. Here are 10 signs that your dog might be bored.

Chewing

It doesn’t matter how many toys Fido has at his disposal. A bored dog might seek out other things to satisfy his need to chew if he’s feeling bored. This can be detrimental to your shoe collections, furniture and even the walls of your home.

Digging

A bored dog can try to create her own fun by engaging in digging behavior, which can be destructive to your home and lawn.

Over excitement

Your dog is always happy to see you, but if his greeting is over the top, this could mean he’s bored at home when you’re not around.

Excessive licking

If your dog is constantly licking himself or you, you might think he’s just being clean or affectionate. But in some cases, excessive licking can indicate boredom.

Escaping and running away.

If your dog makes a run for it every chance he gets, chances are this means he’s bored with his surroundings.

Pacing

Humans might pace when their feeling fidgety and the same goes for dogs. A dog who is bored with extra energy to burn might pace the halls, fence or room.

Panting without physical exertion

There are a number of reasons why your dog may pant. Heat, physical exertion, pain or even just breed disposition. If you’ve been able to rule these out but still find your dog panting, boredom or anxiety might be to blame.

Scratching without physical explanation

Scratching, biting or chewing can be a sign of boredom in dogs. If you find your pooch engaging in these behaviors after ruling out allergies, boredom might be the culprit.

Pulling the stuffing from toys

Destructive play can be fun for your dog. If you come home to find a trail of fluff leading down the hall, you might have a dog who is bored when you’re away.

Barking

Many things might inspire your dog to bark. The mailman. A bird in a tree outside the window. The wind. But if your dog’s barking becomes a nuisance to you or your neighbors, chances are he is bored and looking for ways to entertain himself.

How to combat doggie boredom

Keep your dog healthy and engaged and avoid boredom-related behaviors by letting your dog channel his energy into healthier outlets. Ways to fight doggie boredom can include the following.

  • Positive reinforcement training
  • Making good use of daily interactions
  • Using the puzzle toys to add mental stimulation, which can be purchased through MyCuriousCanine
  • Playing obedience games
  • Engaging sports such as agility, barn hunt etc.
  •  

A well-trained and mentally stimulated dog is a joy to have in your home. Every minute of each day can’t always be exciting for you or your dog, but making a plan to keep boredom at bay when your dog is home alone can help you have a more meaningful relationship with your dog. For more information about combating your dog’s boredom or stop destructive dog behavior, learn more about our dog training style or book an appointment today.

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Off Leash Training

Autonomy, Independence, & Freedom

No, we’re not celebrating the Fourth of July – we’re talking about off leash dog training. When your dog is trained to safely roam off leash, you both can enjoy and explore the world around you in a fun and exciting way. When your dog is off leash trained, you truly have a companion capable of discovering and appreciating the great outdoors and the world at large. It can be a remarkable experience for both owners and dogs alike.

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However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy or without danger: unexpected loud noises, wild animals and even other off leash dogs can startle a dog and cause him to bolt. If you want your dog to be off leash capable, you need to always be in control of your dog’s behavior – even when you aren’t bound by a leash or relying on a shock collar to correct unwanted behavior.

What Does it Mean to Be Off Leash Capable?

Many dog owners feel like their dog is off leash capable when Fido comes when called. While recall is an essential part off any dog’s off leash training, there’s much more that goes into training a dog to be truly off leash capable. A dog who is off leash capable is always attentive to her owner, even from 20 or 30 or 50 feet away. off leash capable dogs frequently check in with their humans even as they roam free. Additionally, learning commands beyond the basic “sit” and “stay” goes in to many dogs’ off leash training.

Useful Commands

A dog who is ready to enjoy the world off leash likely understands commands like the following.

  • “Right” and “Left” – Remember, you’re in control of your off leash dog. Teaching simple direction commands makes navigating together easy.
  • “Leave it” – Your dog will inevitably find something in nature you’d rather him leave behind. Whether that’s garbage or another dog, knowing this command will allow your dog to understand what’s off limits.
  • “Down” from a distance – Being able to signal when to stop or even lie down from some distance away is another important part of off leash dog training. Being able to tell your dog when to stop could even save her life in certain situations.

When Is Your Dog Ready?

A dog who is truly off leash capable can follow commands and obey without the use of punitive dog training aids, allowing you and your pet to truly enjoy and experience the great outdoors without fear.

off leash dog training can help you and your dog bond and enjoy the world around you in new ways. My Curious Canine can help you determine if your dog is off leash capable and help you work toward your off leash dog training goals with positive reinforcement and proper communication.  For more information or to get started, learn more about my dog training style or contact me to book an appointment.

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What Every Dog Lover Needs to Know

Be Positive, Be Successful

Remember how happy you were as a child when you earned that bicycle by doing chores around the house? You might not realize it, but this was an example of positive reinforcement training and it works with both humans and dogs.

In fact, a dog training style that relies heavily on positive reinforcement and real-world situations is known to be one of the most effective ways to train your dog and build your relationship. Here’s how My Curious Canine’s positive reinforcement dog training compares to some other popular methods of dog training.

Learning Good Behavior In The Home

Board and train facilities often promise to fix problem behavior and curb your dog’s bad habits. But one of the problems with these facilities is that the dog is removed from their home and familiar environment and where the behavior occurs. If you send your dog to a board and train facility because he digs in your flower beds, taking him to a facility without those flower beds for training likely won’t change his behavior. My Curious Canine works with dogs and their families in familiar environments so the dog training is real-world applicable.

Learning In Real-World Scenarios

Puppy classes at pet stores often rely on a “trick-for-treat” model of dog training. While this mimics positive reinforcement, the dog training sometimes fails when a treat isn’t available. My Curious Canine teaches dogs and their people how to behave in real-life situations. For example, when a dog learns to sit for a treat, it might be hard for the dog to correlate that command with situations in his daily life. My Curious Canine can work with your dog so that he learns to sit when the door opens so he doesn’t have to be held back every time someone enters or exits the home. My Curious Canine is personalized dog training that works with you and your family – with both two and four legs – to make sure your dog’s behavior works with your lifestyle.

Be A Leader, Not A Dominator

Alpha dog training methods rely on negative reinforcement, like prong collars and shock collars. These dog training methods instill fear and teach the dog that their human is a “pack leader” who calls the shots. In many cases, these methods rely on a single interpretation of dog psychology and might involve punishments that mimic fighting and forcefully teach submission. For example, to correct a dog jumping up in excitement, the trainer might force a knee to their chest. A positive reinforcement dog trainer like My Curious Canine, on the other hand, would aim to replace the behavior with a controlled technique through a command like "sit" or "settle.”

Regardless of dog training method you chose, it’s important to know that each interaction you have with your dog is an opportunity to learn. My Curious Canine’s goal is to make dog training easy by breaking it down into 30-second intervals with each interaction rather than 30-minute sessions. Breaking dog training down per interaction keeps your dog stimulated and learning.

My Curious Canine's positive reinforcement training techniques teach you how to build a relationship with your dog built on respect and proper communication. For more information, learn more about my dog training style or contact us to book an appointment.

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