Make a New Year’s Resolution to Train Your Dog

It is almost the new year, which means it’s time for people across the globe to make their new year’s resolutions.  If you have a new dog in your household or just think your dog could behave better, make it your resolution to get your pup trained.  Not only will he or she behave better, but you will also be happier!  If you need more justification than that read the 5 reasons in the article below.

5 Reasons Why You Need to Train Your Dog, and 7 Training Problems to Overcome

I’ve talked often about the importance of various types of training for your dog, and even went into a fair bit of detail in Dog Training Made Easy. It still surprises me, though, how many dogs lack even basic obedience training. No training at all makes for a very poor canine citizen, and poor training can be just as bad.

Often, when it comes to training, we push it aside, thinking we’ll get to it later. After all, we have busy lives. But you didn’t get a dog with the intention of not making time for him, did you? However, if you absolutely cannot find the time for training, then you owe it to yourself, your dog, and anyone who comes into contact with your dog to at least hand the job over to someone else. This could be a friend, relative, or even a professional trainer.

Finding the Right Trainer

When choosing a trainer, keep in mind that this is not a regulated profession. Virtually anyone can set themselves up as a trainer, so you’ll want to make sure you get the right person. Sadly, there are still trainers out there who think that the best way to get a dog to behave is through punishing undesirable behaviors. They use fear as a tool and focus far too much on the concept that they need to be the alpha in the relationship. Of course it’s important to be at the top of your dog pack hierarchy, but this does not mean dominating in a heavy-handed or cruel fashion.

So, ask around. Word quickly gets out regarding trainers who are too heavy-handed. You’re far better off with a trainer who motivates dogs using kindness and rewards. A well-trained dog is a happier dog, too, so if you’re not able to handle the job yourself, find someone who will get it done for you. You’ll reap the rewards in terms of a stress-free household and a dog that is a pleasure to have as a companion.

Reasons to Train

Often, dogs end up in shelters because of behavioral issues that are very preventable. Taking the time to teach your dog proper behaviors is essential, and not all that difficult. So, with that in mind, here are five very good reasons why you should make training a priority.

1. It Makes for a Better Relationship

When you use balanced training methods as opposed to punitive, you and your dog will develop a healthy relationship. You want to make the learning process clear, easy and rewarding. Don’t focus too much on being the boss. You want your dog to respect you, and you won’t get that if you use fear and intimidation. In fact, it could even be dangerous. Instead, mark clearly, use rewards (toys & treats) and verbal and physical affection as reinforcers. Dogs who learn this way are more self-controlled, and their behavior is considerably more predictable in stressful situations.

2. Your Dog Will Develop Good Life Skills

It probably seems to you that your dog has a pretty sweet life, but living with humans is not without its challenges. Training helps to ease stress, and reduces the likelihood of inappropriate behavior like excessive barking, chewing, and aggression. You want to make it easy for your dog to succeed, so observe how he reacts to certain situations. Is he overly friendly, jumping on visitors? Teach him more appropriate ways of greeting guests. Is he nervous around new people? Give him his own space, perhaps in another room or behind a baby gate until he becomes more confident. It’s far better to adjust your environment than it is to have an overly excitable or stressed-out dog.

3. It Improves Socialization

It is important to begin socializing your dog at a young age. Unless you want an aggressive dog to protect you and your property (which is something I advise against), you should expose him to as many people as possible, and to other animals as well. Don’t force the dog into any interaction that makes him uncomfortable, though. Again, watch how he handles different situations, and respect his limits. The effects of a bad socialization experience can be lasting, so it’s better to back off and try again than to stress the dog and possibly create problems that can last into adulthood.

4. It Prevents Problem Behaviors

When you work on training your dog, you are setting up a system of communication that will help him to be safe and comfortable in the human world. A dog that is taught to sit, for instance, will be less likely to run into traffic, and also less likely to jump on visitors who may not respond favorably. A dog that is taught the “leave it or off” command will be less likely to ingest things that could harm him. Learning how to shake hands can be a valuable lesson when it comes to accepting the touch of other people.

5. Your Dog Will Be a Better Companion

The goal with any training program is good behavior, and good behavior should always be rewarded. This doesn’t mean that you have to be stuffing your dog full of treats every time he gets it right. A snuggle and a kind word are rewards, too.

Also, rewarding good behavior does not mean never acknowledging bad behavior. However, no dog ever learns when hit or shouted at. It’s to be expected that from time to time you will have to discipline your dog, but this could take the form of a firm “No” or a time out. Heavy-handed discipline will simply stress your dog, and could even result in aggressive behavior. If that happens, then you will have started something you absolutely have to finish – you’ll need to make the dog submit. Best not to go there in the first place if you can avoid it.

Essentially, what you want to do is guide your dog through the process of learning how to make good choices. This will make for a strong, healthy bond between you and your dog, and you will have a truly loyal and obedient companion.

So, make the time to teach your dog. He will have a more fulfilling life if he understands good manners and is properly socialized. Failing to train is a disservice to your dog, and can lead to serious problems later on. The process doesn’t have to be intense or difficult. In fact, the more fun it is for you and your dog, the more satisfactory the results will be.

Portions of of this article come from the source: Simply For Dogs

Your Dog and Thanksgiving Food

Besides being a day of thanks and spending time with friends and family, Thanksgiving is a day when most of us get to look forward to the biggest and best meal of the year.  Houses are busy all day long with people cooking food and preparing dishes to enjoy.  So what about our four-legged family members?  A lot of us are probably guilty of sharing some of our Thanksgiving foods with our dogs under the table or slipping some leftovers in their food dish.  But have you taken the time to think about what foods are good for dogs and what are not?  The article below gives examples of both.  Give it a read and then think twice before letting your pooch have Thanksgiving dinner with you.

The Best And Worst Thanksgiving Foods To Share With Your Dog

By Kate Bratskeir

‘Tis the season for giving, so naturally you’ll want to share with your best bud, who happens to have four legs. There are tons of Thanksgiving treats that are safe for dogs to eat, but others should be kept far away from that imposing snout, no matter how dreamy your pooches puppy dog eyes may be.

It’s alright to give your pet a taste of the spread, but the food shouldn’t be his whole dinner, animal trainer Nicole Ellis, who works for DogVacay told The Huffington Post. Any change to a dog’s dietary system has the potential to cause discomfort. Before you and your guests sit down to chow down, announce your plan to group so there aren’t 12 pairs of hands feeding your pup from their plates.

To make this Thanksgiving a healthy and happy one, check out the list of foods below that can and cannot be shared with your dog.



“Pumpkin is a magical ingredient for dogs,” Ellis said. “It helps them with constipation and not going enough.” Served plain, pumpkin is a safe and sweet treat for pups. If you buy pumpkin puree in a can, reserve a little for your pooch before you season it or douse it in sugar.

Cranberry Sauce

As long as cranberries are the main ingredient, this Thanksgiving staple makes a great treat for your hound. Ellis said its often found in a lot of dog treats and kibble because its beneficial for your pet’s urinary tract and is packed with antioxidants. Just make sure the food is stem-free and doesn’t contain any additives like sugar and nuts.

Turkey — Off The Bone

“You want to make sure it’s unseasoned and well cooked,” Ellis said. Be very careful the meat is bone-free; bones are dangerous for dogs to digest. They can splinter and get stuck in the tract of their stomachs.

Certain Vegetables

Green beans, asparagus and carrots are really great for our dogs, said  Ellis. They can be cooked, but they shouldn’t be seasoned or salted. Salt can dehydrate your pet and make for a not-so-fun Thanksgiving.

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are another example of foods that you can responsibly share with your pet, so long as you know the ingredients. When the dish is free of butter and dairy, it’s good for the sharing. When butter, sour cream or other dairy products are added, keep the potatoes to human plates only. Milk are tough on dogs’ digestive systems.



Water will do. Because our pets tend to be smaller than us, they’re harder hit by intoxicants.


As easy as it may be to tear off a piece of your dinner roll and toss it to your waggy pal, the food contains yeast which will probably bring on gas and discomfort. Other bread-products may be ripe with raisins and other fruits, which are extremely dangerous for dogs. Better skip the process of breaking bread with your furry one entirely.


As innocuous as your family recipe may seem, this holiday favorite is often flavored with onion, garlic, leeks and shallots, which can cause anemia in your pet.


While you stuff yourself silly with pie and anticipate that food coma, leave your dog out of the tradition. You probably know that chocolate is the ultimate “No” for poochies, but too much sugar can make him tired and potentially lead to weight gain and diabetes.



A Happy Halloween for Pets

Halloween is right around the corner, and that means there will be trick-or-treating and costumes galore.  If you live in a neighborhood where there will be trick-or-treaters coming to your door or you will be taking your kids out there are considerations you need to make for your four-legged family members.  Pets, and dogs especially, may not enjoy the doorbell ringing repeatedly or going out on a walk with so many others around.  The article below from the Humane Society gives ideas on how to make sure your pets are happy and safe this Halloween.  Check it out!

How to give your pets a safe and happy Halloween

Follow our tips for treating your cats, dogs and other pets to a spook-free holiday

Can you smell that whiff of mischief in the air? It’s Halloween season.

Even if you’re grown-up, you probably get a happy little tingle from this haunting holiday, but pets often find it truly scary.

KC Theisen, director of pet care issues for The Humane Society of the United States, warns that “the things that make Halloween a treat for people—noises, smells, trick-or-treaters at the door and people in costumes—can overwhelm many pets.” And some elements of Halloween can be dangerous.

Theisen’s advice to pet owners is simple: “While you’re enjoying the fun, make sure your pets have a safe haven in a room where they can feel safe, comfortable and relaxed—and that they are tucked away from any hazards.”

Read on for more tips on taking the terror out of your pet’s Halloween.

Keep Halloween happenings on the down-low

  • Before the trick-or-treating starts, put your pets in a quiet room where they will be safe from all the Halloween activity.
  • Even if you are just having friends over for a Halloween party, keep your pets away from the festivities in their safe room. Masks and costumes change how people look and smell to a pet, so even familiar people may become frightening.
  • When going out trick-or-treating, leave your dog at home. Dogs can be easily excited by the Halloween commotion, and a bite or a lost dog will quickly end the evening’s fun.

Stow treats out of pets’ reach

  • After you’ve let your pets out of their safe room, place treats safely in a high cabinet secured with a lock or child-safety latch. Many foods, such as chocolate, gum and xylitol (a sweetener used in many foods), are hazardous to them.
  • Keep treats away from your children unless you are observing them. Children may make the harmful mistake of sharing with their four-legged friends.
  • Keep on hand the number for the 24-hour ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline: 888-426-4435. (The hotline charges a fee of $65 per case.) If you suspect your pet has eaten something that’s bad for them, call your veterinarian or the Poison Control Center immediately.

Steer your pets away from dangerous decorations

  • Introduce your pets to their safe room before you decorate indoors. Changes to your home can make your pets, especially cats, nervous or frightened.
  • Never leave your pets alone with Halloween decorations.
  • Be aware of which decorations pose threats. Some hazards are obvious, like lit candles (fire hazards and toxic to birds if scented). Here’s a partial list of other dangerous decorations: rubber eyeballs (choking risk), glow sticks and fake blood (possible poisons), fake cobwebs (can choke or entangle pets and wildlife), potpourri (toxic to birds) and strung lights.

Be cautious with pet costumes

  • Remember that most pets are happiest wearing nothing but their birthday suits.
  • If you do choose a costume for your pet, forgo masks, anything that covers eyes or ears, and everything that might tangle in your pet’s legs.
  • Make sure the costume is comfortable and allows your pet to move freely.
  • Remove any chewable parts or objects that could come off and choke your pet.
  • If your pet appears uncomfortable, take off the costume. Signs of discomfort include folded down ears, eyes rolling back or looking sideways, a tucked tail and hunching over.

Protect your pets from outdoor perils

  • Bring your pets indoors before night falls. Cats are always safest inside with you, but on Halloween it’s especially important to secure all pets inside.
  • In case they escape, make sure that all of your pets are wearing tags with current IDs (and consider microchipping them). Opening the door repeatedly for trick-or-treaters creates plenty of opportunities for a pet to slip outside and disappear into the night. Proper ID will help you reunite with your lost pet.
  • Be aware that not all the wild creatures outside will be wearing costumes. You may see nocturnal animals such as raccoons, opossums and foxes foraging for food while you’re trick-or-treating or walking from your car to a party.
  • If you come across a wild animal, just keep your distance and make a lot of noise (and keep your dog safely beside you on a leash, too), continue on your way and consider yourself lucky to have experienced a bit of the truly wild world on All Hallows’ Eve.


Kristi Smith – A Life of Passion and Mission of Service

Devotion is a word which many can describe but few will really, truly experience in their lives. For some their passions become a focal point for their very being – a consuming force that defines who they are and who they will become. For some, such devotion can take many forms and is all too often mistaken for obsession. It may be the animal hospital veterinary technician, working her third double shift that week. It may be a teacher, staying up late at night for months on end, drawing up lesson plans for her eager students. A search and rescue volunteer spending the last of their few hard-won dollars on medical equipment. A student spending nights engrossed in veterinary medicine books and taking copious, time consuming notes with no pending evaluations, exams or certifications on the horizon – just a hunger for the knowledge of her trade.

However, Kristi Smith is like none of these people.

That is, insofar as Mick Jagger bears absolutely no resemblance to the pre-teens that will undoubtedly be screaming into garage band microphones across suburbia tonight. Kristi Smith has a unique acquaintance with a professional level of devotion, a nearly all-consuming fixation with saving and improving lives – canine and human alike, which is rarely seen and unfortunately all too infrequently recognized. Her dedication to this ideal permeates her spare-time, hobbies, career, and volunteer service.

The seeds of Kristi’s career were planted at the young age of 13 after her family moved from Durango to Bayfield, Colorado when her mother tasked her with showing a family dog in an obedience competition. Before she knew it, Kristi was training and showing multiple dogs in obedience and conformation categories. Among the titles’ she and her dogs obtained were Champion, Companion Dog and Companion Dog Excellent. Eventually, this love for dog training took a turn. In 1986, Kristi joined the Kentucky Search Dog Association (KSDA) and certified for, as well as mobilized in, multiple search and rescue missions. If her past in showing dogs was the seed from which her career sprung, this time in77KSDA was the initial fuel that sustained the fire of her passion for search and rescue and eventually veterinary medicine. Kristi would progress in search and rescue – to be a nationally renowned name within K-9 circles, first through the Maricopa County Sheriff Office’s Mark-9 Unit – eventually as the unit commander and then as a founding member and commander of Arizona Search Track and Rescue.

In 1998, Kristi made her switch to veterinary medicine formal, gaining her certificate as a veterinary technician in 2003. Just prior to that in 2002, her talents, knowledge of the veterinary technician field and veterinary medicine in general was recognized shortly before her certification and she was solicited to be a founding member of the Veterinary Healthcare Team of Arizona. She would serve as a board member, director, president as well as community leader of the organization – to which she still belongs. However, in 2005 economic circumstances, medical conditions and a now lifelong passion served as a catalyst for her to pursue other opportunities as a professional dog trainer.  Her business would focus on basic and advanced obedience, but she would later go on to specialize in behavior modification, therapy dogs, and service dogs as well.  As with her other professional forays, it was marked by both her overcoming adversary and excellence from the start.  She soon found her training methods and techniques were in great demand – even during the ensuing economic crisis of 2008. While many small businesses across the country were shuttering their doors and windows in the face of the crisis, her business persevered. Throughout her time as a professional dog trainer, she has gained multiple specialty certifications from the premier International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) such as; certified dog trainer, certified dog trainer advanced, professional dog trainer instructor and is currently one of only four people currently certified in the world by the IACP as a certified service dog trainer.

Even now, her business survives and thrives, only marginally effected by her blossoming search and rescue career which has been marked by over 1,200 searches both domestically and internationally. While she receives no money for her search and rescue services, despite aiding families in recovering their loved ones and law enforcement organizations in closing cold cases every year – much of the time at great physical risk to herself and her four-legged companions – she continues her work. Through search and rescue and her work as a veterinary technician she has torn her rotator cuff, broken her back, suffered a severe knee injury and contracted West Nile Virus resulting in meningeal encephalitis. Smiling when asked how she continues her work despite this, the answer she will say is simple: sleep less, do more and always, always train hard.

To this day, if you ask Kristi her hobbies she will say tell you that she is a master scuba diver and a water rescue specialist that holds thirteen additional certifications. However, more often than not, when she isn’t working, you will find her mobilizing search teams, planning operations, preparing for Veterinary Healthcare Team meetings or even just training one of her six search and rescue dogs or a client dog. Also, late in the night when she thinks no one is watching, you can find her perched upon her favorite recliner (along with her award-winning search and rescue K-9, Keahi) reading the latest search and rescue, scent theory, or dog training book. So, is she devoted to K-9 medicine? To search and rescue? To training dogs? To serve others? Or, all of these things? That’s for you to decide.

Dogs and Fireworks: A Top Ten Survival Guide

K9-Games, LLC. Dog Training provides Pet Owners help for the Fourth of July

(Phoenix, AZ) July 01, 2014 – K9-Games knows that with the upcoming 4th of July weekend, dogs across the country will react with fear and anxiety to all the firework celebrations.”The noise of fireworks can be extremely stressful for dogs,” said Kristi Smith, a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals and HEAD TRAINER of K9 Games in Peoria, AZ. “We recommend these top ten strategies to Phoenix’s dog owners, to help them through the 4th of July Holiday weekend.

  1. DO expose your dog to loud, unexpected noises on a regular basis, especially leading up to an event that includes firework celebrations. Drop pot lids, toss a soda can with a few pennies in it, slam a door: anything to get your dog accustomed to being startled, so he can practice recovering quickly.
  2. DO NOT bring your dog with you to a fireworks celebration.
  3. DO provide your dog with a safe, comfortable place that will help her feel more secure amid the scary sights and sounds. Close the blinds to keep out the flashes of color in the sky, and turn up the television or some music to help muffle the sounds.
  4. DO NOT put your dog in a crate; a panicked, frightened dog can easily injure himself in a crate.
  5. DO ask your veterinarian if an herbal remedy or prescription sedative may be appropriate for your dog.
  6. DO consider giving your dog a highly valued chew toy before the fireworks celebration begins, which may help to keep her mind off the disturbance.
  7. DO attach a “house leash” to your dog, to act as an extra long handle, should your dog try to escape or run away.
  8. DO NOT comfort or “baby” your dog if he is afraid. Dogs take their cue of how to behave from their owners; if you are acting “strange” by offering soothing words and gestures, your dog may interpret your actions as praise for being frightened, or as confirmation that the fireworks are truly scary.
  9. DO act as normal and as “matter of fact” as possible, to help your dog understand that there is nothing to Dogs and Fireworks:
  10. Most importantly, DO ensure your dog is wearing proper identification in case he manages to escape.”More dogs escape during holiday celebrations than at any other time,”  “With a little preparation and an understanding of how to help dogs through their fears, dog owners can help prevent their pet from becoming a statistic this Holiday weekend.”

Kristi Smith, Head Trainer and K9-Games offer unique, effective communication methods that are unparalleled in achieving faster more reliable training results that every owner can master.  Kristi Smith is a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals, a certified Veterinary Technician as well as the Training officer for Arizona Search Track and Rescue, Inc. (a non-profit organization that trains dogs to locate missing people).

For more information contact:    K9-Games, LLC     623-594-2637

Be a Good Dog Training Leader

Some people believe that the only way to transform a disobedient dog into a well-behaved one is to dominate him/her and show them who’s boss. However, the “alpha dog” concept in dog training is based more on myth than on animal science. More importantly, it leads misguided pet parents to use training techniques that aren’t safe, like the “alpha roll” and can increase aggression.  Dogs who are forcibly rolled onto their backs and held down can become frightened and confused, and they’re sometimes driven to bite in self defense.


Keep in mind that ditching the “alpha dog” concept doesn’t mean you have to let your dog do anything he/she likes. It’s fine to be the boss and make the rules—but you can do that without unnecessary conflict. Be a benevolent boss, not a bully. Good leadership isn’t about dominance and power struggles. It’s about controlling your dog’s behavior by controlling his/her access to things they want as well as marking clearing actions or cessation of actions.  Clear, concise training will help you achieve your leadership position.


YOU have the opposable thumbs that open cans of dog food, turn doorknobs and throw tennis balls! Use them to your best advantage. If your dog wants to go out, ask him/her to sit before you open the door. When he/she wants dinner, ask them to perform a task to earn it. Does your want to go for a walk? If he/she is jumping up on you with excitement, wait calmly until they sit. Then clip on the leash and take your walk. Your dog will happily work for everything he/she loves in life. They can learn to do what you want in order to earn what he/she wants.


For more information or assistance with clear, concise training through our canine  training courses

Contact K9-Games

at 623-594-2637

Benefits of Obedience Dog Training

Statistical information proves that a primary reason for our  high euthanasia rate is due to too many unwanted pets which are then relinquished by their owners. Research indicates that 87% of all relinquished dogs received little or no obedience training. Pet owner education, therefore, is very important.

Many dog owners can benefit from training their dogs under the guidance of a qualified dog trainer in Phoenix, AZ who will teach them to communicate on a level that their dog understands. It is not uncommon for an owner to believe that his dog is stupid because the dog does not respond to his teaching methods. It is, in fact, in the teaching methods where the problem lies.

When you train your dog, you strengthen your role as a leader. Your dog learns that he can look up to you for direction, that you have something to show him, that you expect something from him and that you expect him to be good. When you are a good teacher, you become a good leader. This is very reassuring to a dog.

Telling A Dog Not To Do Something
Is Not Enough!

Contrary to popular belief, it is not enough for you to tell your dog not to do something. It leaves him clueless as to what to do instead. Obedience commands are the tools you use. You tell him to WAIT rather than holding him back from running out the door. You tell him OFF and SIT instead of grabbing him so he can’t jump on someone. Your directions acknowledge his intelligence and establish your leadership.

“The Criticism Trap”

Other owners seem to constantly correct their dogs for one thing or another. These owners really need obedience training. It will give them opportunities to praise their dog.

There are dogs that are so accustomed to an owner’s negative attention they become insensitive to it and find it rewarding. Wesley C. Becker, in Parents are Teachers, refers to this as “The Criticism Trap”. He uses the grumpy old school teacher as an example. The grumpy old school teacher turns her back on the class to write on the chalkboard, and instantly the kids are standing up and acting out. The teacher turns around and yells, “Sit down!” The kids sit down and so the teacher is rewarded for yelling, “Sit down”. However, as soon as she turns her back again, everyone is standing up again. Why? It is to get her to yell, “Sit down”. That’s the trap. We yell “NO!” and the dog quits. We’re rewarded, and then he does it again to get us to yell “NO!” Negative attention can be very rewarding.   Dogs are constantly being rewarded by owners for Negative behaviors.  They jump up on people and get touched when they are pushed down.  For many dogs this invites them to jump more.

If You Only Notice A Dog
When It’s Being Naughty
You Will End Up With a Naughty Dog!

When you go through obedience training, you practice daily and on a daily basis you praise good behavior. Your dog gets treats, but, most of all, he gets positive attention for appropriate behavior.

An owner may say, “We don’t need obedience training, he does everything I ask. The dog is perfect except for this one problem.” Obedience training will make the difference even in this case, because the dog has learned to take your praise and affection for granted. You’re so pleased with him that he doesn’t have to try to please you anymore. Your reaction to his misbehaving is rewarding. Obedience training emphasizes the fact that the dog does have a job and responsibilities. He does have to be a good dog for your praise.

Obedience training is an opportunity for you to reward your dog for being good and to motivate him to want to be good. I’ve always said that a dog that knows he’s good usually doesn’t want to do bad things. Yes, dogs have self-esteem. A dog that values praise is not only more correctable, but is motivated to be good.

It is never too early or too late to begin training!