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Trained dogs are safe dogs during the holidays

Posted on: December 13th, 2010 by

Posted by: H.R.
For Pets Best Insurance
An untrained puppy gets into mischief.

When cooking for the holidays, the smells of turkey and pie will surely appeal to your pets’ nose just as it does your own. Sometimes the tantalizing draw is too much, and even well-mannered dogs sneak a snack when everyone’s back is turned. This could be dangerous to pet health if he grabs the wrong food, or races to clean off the floor after food has been inadvertently dropped.

Fatty foods like turkey skin and nuts, and toxic foods like chocolate and Xylitol, are very dangerous to a dog health care. Because the Holidays often see more pets taken to the veterinarian’s office with digestive upset, which can potentially become a serious pet health condition, it’s the perfect time to take extra precautions. Start with finding the best pet insurance and proper training.

“If your dog has already eaten the hors d’oeuvre tray and has a cheese-eating grin spread across his muzzle, it’s too late for a reprimand,” says dog trainer Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz. “Far more effective than a reprimand is to catch him in the act and use the ‘off’ cue, which tells him drop the contraband or back away, and then redirect him to what you want (including a reward),” said Sylvia-Stasiewicz, trainer for Bo Obama, the First Family’s Portuguese Water Dog.

In her book, The Love That Dog Training Program, Sylvia-Stasiewicz and co-author Larry Kay go into detail about teaching your dog the “off” command using positive reinforcement. Start today—you may save a potential trip to the vet.

First, teach your dog that he must sit before he is rewarded, given attention, a treat, or fed.

“It should become your dog’s verbal language of asking please,’ said Sylvia-Stasiewicz.

Then, show your dog one of his favorite treats, and teach him to wait for your queue before he takes it. When he learns “take it,” start teaching “off” by interrupting his lunge for the treat loudly and sharply with the word.

“When your dog backs off and looks at you (often with some puzzlement or concern), then say ‘good, take it’ in a happy voice,” said Sylvia-Stasiewicz. “Repeat this lesson until your dog becomes fluent with both ‘off’ and ‘take it.'”

Part of positive reinforcement is showing your dog that it’s fun to do what you ask. Whenever you give the “off” command, trade what he wanted for something he can have, like a safe treat or a filled Kong toy. With trades, your dog is always rewarded for obeying you, and everyone is happy.

Teach these commands for a safe, happy dinner, and you won’t need to use that dog insurance—just one more thing to be thankful for this year.

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