Crate training your puppy

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t have a bedroom? A space that is just your own where you can escape to relax by yourself when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed? No doubt this lack of privacy and personal space would bring a lot of anxiety and unease into your life. Your dog is very similar to you in the sense that they too crave a space to call their own. Dogs are naturally denning animals, which means they enjoy sleeping in dark enclosed spaces. This makes a crate the perfect way to fulfil this natural denning instinct in your dog as well as to give them a space that is all theirs where they can go to relax. Crating your puppy also has the added bonus of making potty training much easier! Dogs naturally do not like to go to the bathroom where they sleep, so the crate is an excellent tool for getting your puppy on a proper potty schedule.

Crate training is one of the most important things you can do with your puppy, and it should start the first night they’re home. When done right, crate training will create an association of calmness and safety with the crate for your puppy. Trust me when I say, while they may protest their first two or three times being alone in their crate, your puppy is truly craving the shelter and protection the crate provides and they will soon learn to love it!

The most important thing to remember when crate training your puppy is, say it with me, you get what you pet! So if your puppy screams and cries when you first put them in their new ‘bedroom’ (and chances are they will!), please do not console them in any way shape or form. The best thing you can do for them is to completely ignore their protests and let them figure things out on their own. Don’t speak to them or pet them because, while you may see this as you comforting your crying puppy, they will see this as you rewarding and reinforcing their anxious behaviour and this will create a very negative association with their crate.


If you brought your puppy home in a travel crate, they will already have had some exposure to a crate prior to their first night in your home. Even still, their first night in your home is going to be the most important interaction with their crate because it will set the stage for every other night moving forward. If your puppy screams and cries in their crate and you give in and let them on the bed that first night, they have just learned two things. Firstly, the crate represents panic and anxiety. And secondly, all they have to do is scream and they will be let out of their crate. So put in some earplugs and get into your most calm assertive mindset – this may be a long night.

Remember that this is going to be your puppy’s first night away from their mom and siblings, so along with being in a new place and being exposed to a crate for (likely) the first time, they are also without their family for the first time in their short life. Understandably, this is going to create a lot of stress and anxiety for your puppy, so it is completely natural for them to cry their first few nights with you. Don’t panic! Remain calm and assertive and always remember, you get what you pet.

I recommend keeping your puppy’s crate in your room at least for the first few nights as complete isolation may be too overwhelming for them right away. If you were planning on keeping them in a different room of the house, wait three or four nights until your puppy is completely comfortable with their crate before moving it into its permanent location outside of your bedroom.

After taking your puppy out for one last potty break before bed, lead them to their crate on leash to begin the introduction. Using the leash, apply light pressure to guide them into the open door. Do not drag your puppy into the crate – you want the decision to enter this new space to be their own. Keep the pressure constant and firm until they willingly walk into the crate, then relax tension as they enter it. Once your puppy is in the crate, do not immediately shut the door behind them. If they try to exit the crate, use either your body or the door of the crate to block them. Be patient! This is brand new for your puppy, so take your time and don’t rush this process. Once your puppy is calm and relaxed in their crate (ideally they will be sitting or lying down), silently close the door.

Once again, if/when your puppy cries in the night, do not let them out or pet them or speak to them in that baby voice we humans love so much. Ignore the behaviour and remember it will pass, no matter how endless the noise may seem now. Like most puppies, Sprout cried her first night in the crate but by her third night with me she walked right into it without me even having to tell her. It is now one of her favourite places in the house and she is comfortable in any crate I put her in whether it’s at daycare, in the car, or even at the vet!

Crate training isn’t just limited to bed time! In order to ensure your puppy is completely comfortable in their crate, I recommend crating them both when you are home during the day as well as when they are home alone. This will give your puppy some time to rest and recharge on their own, as well as prevent them from getting into things they shouldn’t or having accidents in the house!

So remember, no matter how hard your puppy may fight you the first night they are in the crate, it is actually the best thing for them and for you! Breathe deep, invest in some earplugs or headphones, and wait it out. I promise your puppy will thank you.

Thanks for reading and happy crate training. Don’t forget to stay tuned for next weeks Puppy Blog!


How to introduce your puppy to their new home

How many times have you imagined bringing your new puppy home? Have you pictured them running through the front door and zooming around your entire house, smelling every single nook and cranny as they excitedly explore their new home? This may sound like a happy picture in our human mind, but this is actually one of the worst ways to introduce a new puppy to their forever home.

Puppy’s brains are like sponges – constantly absorbing and processing new information to learn from their environment and those in it. So if their first experience in your home is one of over-excitement, that is what they will immediately learn the house represents and it will be incredibly difficult to create calm with your puppy inside your home moving forward. It is very easy to create excitement with dogs, especially puppies, but it is much more difficult to create calm. It is for this reason that you should ensure your puppy’s introduction to your home is a very calm, controlled experience that is led by you. This will start your puppy on the right (calm) foot in your home and in your life, making each day moving forward that much easier.

When bringing your puppy from the car and to your home, I once again suggest walking them in on leash as long as they are already used to this tool. If possible, take your new puppy for a short walk down the street or around the block to introduce them to their new environment and to give them some physical exercise to help work through any anxiety or excitement they may be feeling being in a new place.

Once you are at your front door, have your puppy sit and wait calmly as you open the door. Do NOT let your puppy rush into the house ahead of you – a pack leader always leads through doorways no matter what. It may take some time for your puppy to be calm, but be patient! Wait calmly inside the door and allow your puppy to work through their anxiety and excitement on their own, possibly giving them a quick but firm correction if the excitement becomes too much. Once they are siting politely outside of the doorway and they give you eye contact, then invite them to cross the threshold CALMLY. If they rush into the house, repeat the exercise until they get it right. Repeat this same process for every single doorway and threshold in your home. I know it may sound tedious, but skipping these seemly minute but very important details could lead to an overexcited or anxious puppy. As I mentioned earlier your puppy is constantly learning from you, so if you set clear boundaries, limitations, and expectations inside the home from the start they will already have respect for you and view you as their leader.

Once inside your home, the theme of ‘calm’ continues! Keep your puppy on leash as you lead them through your home to their designated puppy area that you set up for them in advance. Your puppy is allowed to be curious and sniff around as they walk through their new home, but they should never lead you anywhere. Once you reach their assigned puppy area, lead them into it and allow them to calmly explore, still keeping them on leash and keeping any excitement to a minimum. Once they are in a calm relaxed state, drop the leash and allow them to explore on their own. I highly suggest leaving a leash on your puppy at all times as this allows you to easily interrupt any unwanted behaviours and will help them get used to this new tool. However, make sure to supervise your puppy constantly when they are wearing the leash to be sure they don’t choke themselves.

By this point you’re probably dying to love up on your new puppy; you’ve been waiting weeks for this after all! Once your puppy is relaxed and settled in their new home and play area, feel free to give them lots of CALM affection. As I mentioned earlier, it is very easy to create excitement with a puppy so when you do give them some affection, make sure it’s slow and relaxed and please do your best not to use a high pitched ‘baby’ voice when you speak to them! Remember, you get what you pet! So as long as your puppy is relaxed and not anxious or excited, cuddles and belly rubs are always welcome.

Introducing your puppy to your home is an incredibly important process that cannot be rushed, so be sure to set aside lots of time so you don’t feel pressure to speed things along. I myself took the entire day off work which allowed me to remain calm and patient throughout the entire introduction process. To give you an idea of what your puppy’s first experience in your home should look like, here’s a little story about Sprout’s first day home.

As I previously mentioned, Sprout did not come to me leash trained. As such, I brought her inside the front door still in her travel crate rather than on leash. We live on a very bust street and I wanted to make her first experience with the leash was a very calm one, so I decided to wait until we were inside to introduce her to the tool.

Once inside, I opened up the door to her crate and allowed her to exit on her own terms by sitting on the floor about two feet away and encouraging her with sound to come out. Once she was out of her crate, I shut the door so she couldn’t run back in should she become afraid and try to escape her new surroundings. Next I put her slip over her head, being careful not to apply any pressure. I sat on the floor silently beside her, allowing her to get used to the feeling of the leash around her neck as well as to check out her new surroundings with her nose and eyes. She tried to climb into my lap a few times, but I gently pushed her off and back onto the floor – this is a form of insecurity, and had I allowed her into my lap and began petting her I would have actually nurtured that insecure response. Once she was relaxed, I began to move down the hallway. This is where we hit our first major roadblock.

Sprout put on the brakes, refusing to follow me down the hallway and fighting the tension that was now on the leash. I did not panic – I remained silent, calm, and confident while she worked through this new challenge on her own. I relaxed the leash and waited for her to be calm again before adding a very light bit of pressure to coax her forwards while using my voice to also call her in. Still she fought the leash, and still I remained calm. It took us about ten minutes to make it down the hallway, but eventually once I added pressure and called her name she moved forwards with me rather than fighting against me. Success! It may seem small, yes, but this was actually an incredibly important moment in our relationship. It taught her that I may sometimes ask her to do things that scare her or make her unsure, but that I will always help her through those situations through calm, confident leadership. This simple exercise did a LOT to build her trust in me as her leader, and the rest of the house tour was a breeze!

So remember, while this is a very exciting day for you, it is also a very scary one for your new puppy. As much as you will want to immediately shower them with affection and give them the run of the house, do your best to remain calm and confident in leading them into and through your home. Your puppy will be looking to you for leadership, be sure you are able to give it to them!

Until next week,


The drive home with your new pup


The big day has finally arrived! After all of your research and preparations, it’s finally time to bring your new puppy home. This day is going to be filled with a lot of emotions – both positive and negative – for you and your puppy. Therefore it is important to do your best to maintain the calm, confident energy of a pack leader despite the excitement you are sure to be feeing. As I mentioned in my last post, this will likely be one of the most stressful days of your puppy’s life but it is important not to let this ‘weaken’ your energy by feeling sorry for your puppy. The absolute worst thing you can do is to coddle a fearful, timid, unsure puppy because this will only reinforce their nervousness. The best thing you can do for them on this day and every day going forward is to take control of every situation the way a true pack leader would – calmly and confidently. If it helps, think of your new puppy as a child – you wouldn’t add to a panicked child’s fear by reinforcing it but would instead calmly help them face whatever is creating their negative experience by leading them through it with confidence.

After leaving the only true calm, confident influence they have ever known (their mother), your puppy will immediately look for another person to take over this leadership role. That being said, if their humans fail to do so, the puppy will assume this position themselves and this is what leads to a wild puppy and behavioral issues later in life. So yes, it is perfectly acceptable to be excited about bringing your new puppy home, but please for the sake of your puppy do not allow this excited energy to dominate you on this day especially. Go for a run in the morning, or do a quick meditation in your car before going into the breeder’s home; whatever it takes to help you enter a calm assertive pack leader mindset. Most of us would do anything for our dogs, and in this particular situation your dog needs you to put your own needs and feelings aside to become the leader they need on this difficult day.

The first major challenge your puppy will likely face after leaving the breeder will be simply getting to your car. If your puppy is already leash trained, I recommend walking your puppy to the car rather than carrying them as this will allow them to gain some confidence by leaving their home on their own as opposed to being forced to leave in your arms. Sprout was not yet leash trained, and I knew I wanted to spend much more time getting her accustomed to the leash than the short walk to the car would allow, so I broke my own rule and carried her to the car. In my mind leaving her home was already stressful enough, and I didn’t want to overwhelm her by adding the extra pressure of a new tool (the leash) to the process.

The next step is actually getting your puppy into the car. I highly recommend having a travel carrier ready in the car for your puppy to stay in during the trip home. Even if your puppy is not yet crate trained, the travel crate will provide some security to your puppy (more on this later, but dogs actually find comfort in the den-like feeling of a crate) and is also the safest way to travel with your puppy. Once you reach the car, do not force your puppy into it as this can create a negative association with the vehicle for your puppy from the start. Instead, open the door and allow them to sniff inside and be curious about the new object. Once they have explored it a little from the outside, place their front paws up on the inside of the open door, and invite them to jump in themselves. Once again, this gives your puppy some confidence in that they were able to enter this new environment on their own and will also build their trust in you by allowing them to explore on their own terms. Sprout was just under 10lbs when she came home, and wasn’t quite tall enough to pull herself into the car on her own. As such, once she began leaning into the car and trying to move in herself, I gave her bum the little push she needed to get all the way in. Help your puppy when they need it, but do not rescue them! Allow them to do new things on their own to build their confidence, but always lead them into and through these new situations calmly and confidently (are you sensing a theme here?).

Once your puppy is in the car, lead them to their travel crate using scent or sound. Do NOT force them into their crate – the decision to enter this new object must once again be their own in order to build a positive association with the crate. I brought a pizzle with me when picking up Sprout, and so once she was on the back car seat where her open crate was, I got her attention using the scent of the pizzle by putting it under her nose, then led her into the crate by placing the treat at the back of it. The exercise does not end here though! Don’t close the crate door as soon as your puppy is inside – this is the fastest way to create fear and anxiety around the crate! Instead, sit beside the crate as your puppy explores, and calmly correct them with your hand if they try to get out of it. Wait until they lie down and relax inside the crate before shutting the door. This may take some time, so be patient! If you close the crate door on an anxious puppy, the association for them with that crate will always be one of anxiety, and that anxiousness will only intensify the longer they are left inside it.

Now that your puppy is calm and secure inside their crate, it’s time to start the car and head home! But your work isn’t done here. You need to be prepared for the very likely possibility that your puppy will cry and scream in the crate on your drive home, even after all of the work you have just put into ensuring they were calm before leaving. If this happens, don’t panic! This is a natural reaction for your puppy to have, and you panicking with them will only make things worse. As humans, our instinct is to immediately coddle a crying puppy either with touch or sound, telling them “it’s okay baby, good girl!” in a very high pitch, unstable voice. But while this compassion is what makes us human, it is actually the worst thing we can do for our now very nervous puppy. Resist the urge to use baby talk with your anxious puppy or to pull the car over and cuddle them, because once again this will only reinforce their behaviour. Always remember, you get what you pet! To you, you’re telling your puppy that everything will be okay and you are here for them, but the message your puppy is actually getting is “you’re right to be anxious, the car is very scary, I approve of the way you are behaving right now”. Instead, either ignore your puppy if their whining is at a low level, or correct them with a calm, assertive ‘tsst’ to disagree with their anxious behaviour. It may seem harsh to correct an anxious puppy, but they are actually looking for someone to take control of this stressful situation and tell them how they are supposed to deal with it; they are looking for a leader. That’s you!

By now you’ve probably realized that bringing a puppy home isn’t as simple as throwing them in the car and walking them into your house – every single step is important and cannot be rushed. This doesn’t mean that you need to be anxious about doing every single thing right, but it does mean that you need to do your absolute best to remain calm and confident throughout your puppy’s entire journey home, and every day afterwards. This is why I have taken an entire post to discuss just the car ride home; it may seem like a very straightforward event but if not done properly it can start off your puppy’s life with you on the wrong foot. So remember to take your time, check your energy, and be the leader your puppy needs (not the coddling ‘puppy parent’ you likely want to be!).

Until next week,


Preparing your home for your new pup

You wouldn’t bring home a new baby without purchasing a crib, diapers, and other essentials right? Of course not! So why do so many people bring home puppies before puppy proofing and preparing their home? This week we are going to talk about how to properly ready your home for the arrival of a new fur baby before they arrive.

The day you bring home your puppy will be one of the most stressful days of their lives – they will be leaving the only home and family they have ever known to be brought into a new world with complete strangers. As such, it is incredibly important to have an area for your puppy already established before their arrival in order to make this transition easier on them. If you allow your puppy to have access to the entire house as soon as they come home, your puppy will actually become overwhelmed by all the space they now have access to. Giving them a space in the home that is all their own will provide them with a sense of security and stability, and will also prevent them from getting into things they shouldn’t. The area you choose to be your puppy’s resident living space for their first few weeks at home should ideally be somewhere you and your family spend lots of time so he or she can be included in daily activities and you can have a constant visual on them. I myself blocked off and puppy proofed the entire living room days before Sprout came home; tucking away wires and setting up some ‘puppy essentials’ such as her crate and bed. Here are a few tips for setting up a safe and fun puppy area;

  • Use baby gates or a doggy playpen to block off the area; these are easy to move as you expand your puppy’s space but still provide a clear and consistent barrier
  • Remove any exposed wires from the floor that your puppy could chew on
  • Remove any plants that may be toxic to your puppy (full lists of these plants can be found online)
  • Remove any small objects that your puppy may be able to ingest as these can be choking hazards and may lead to intestinal blockages if consumed (ie. children’s toys, yarn/string)
  • Set up your puppy’s crate in the corner of the room/area – preferably in a quiet, secluded spot where your puppy will be able to rest undisturbed
  • Provide your puppy with a water bowl
  • Have one or two durable chew toys out so your puppy has something to help with their teething (all the rest of their toys should be out of reach and only played with when you say so)
  • You may choose to provide your puppy with a bed in addition to their crate – if so place this bed in the puppy’s area as well
  • If you’re using pee pads with your puppy place one in the puppy’s area, but be sure to keep a close eye on them so they don’t chew and ingest it

There are a few other essential puppy items that you won’t be leaving in the puppy’s space but you should still have in your home before they arrive. Here’s a list of everything you’ll want to have before your puppy comes home;

  • A crate
  • A bed for the crate
  • A travel crate (this one item has paid for itself ten times over with Sprout! Car rides are a breeze and she has a crate to sleep in wherever we go, I highly recommend getting one even if you don’t plan on taking your puppy on long trips)
  • A bed
  • Strong, durable teething toys
  • A food bowl and a water bowl
  • Food (do your research! Find out what your breeder is feeding and research other options to decide what is best for your puppy)
  • A collar and ID tag
  • A leash
  • Poop bags
  • Puppy shampoo
  • Baby gate(s) and/or a puppy playpen
  • A doggy towel to wipe off muddy paws and dry your puppy after bath time

Preparing for the arrival of your new furry family member is easy to do and will make a world of difference for both your puppy and yourself. No one wants a stressed out puppy who destroys shoes and makes messes all over the house – set you and your puppy up for success by giving them a safe space of their own that is ready for them as soon as they arrive.

Stay tuned for next week’s puppy blog,


Claire’s Corner: Picking the Perfect Puppy

So you’ve done your research and found a breed that is the perfect match for you and your lifestyle, but what’s next? Now it’s time to find a reputable breeder and select your new fur baby from a litter of bouncy puppies.

Finding a reputable breeder to adopt your puppy from is an incredibly important step and shouldn’t be taken lightly. You must put time into researching breeders in order to be sure you are supporting a trustworthy and reliable breeder, as well as to file1-3-2give you peace of mind that the puppy you bring home will have spent the first eight weeks of his or her life in a safe, healthy, and happy environment. Unfortunately, there are many ‘breeders’ out there who are only in the puppy business to make a quick buck and who will not take the health of the puppies or the parents into account when having litters. A good place to start looking for a trustworthy breeder is on the breed’s club website (ie. The French Bulldog Club of Canada) as they often have a page dedicated specifically to respected breeders. Here are a few signs that the breeder you have selected is reputable;

  • First and foremost they will be open to answering any questions you have about their business – any breeder who is hesitant to answer questions about their facility, their dogs, and their breeding program may not have the dog’s best interests at heart
  • They will be open to you visiting their facility and meeting their dogs, as well as visiting your puppy’s litter once they are born
  • They will have a detailed questionnaire that you must fill out before being approved to adopt one of their puppies – they may ask you about your experience with the breed, the size of your yard, how long the puppy will be left alone each day, etc.
  • Their puppies have been vet checked before going home
  • They will require you to spay or neuter your dog before they provide you with CKC registration papers for the puppy
  • For breeds prone to genetic health conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia, their breeding stock (moms and dads) must have documentation from a veterinarian stating that their hips and elbows are in good health (because it is a genetic condition, if your puppy’s parents have poor hip and elbow health the likelihood your puppy will develop issues is much greater)
  • They will provide a health guarantee for your new puppy that usually covers any genetic issues that could affect the health and wellbeing of your puppy
  • Their website will have testimonials from other clients who have purchased puppies in the past
  • They will not send a puppy home with you before they are eight weeks old – some (like Sprout’s breeder) will even keep the puppies with their mother until ten weeks of age
  • They will make it clear that if you need to rehome your puppy for any reason throughout his or her life you must bring the puppy back to the breeder rather than to a shelter
  • They will not have many litters throughout the year
  • One or both parents are on sight and available for you to meet


Now comes the really fun part – selecting your puppy from a litter! But as exciting as this part of becoming a puppy parent is, it also requires a lot of self-restraint on your part in order to ensure you select the perfect puppy for you. Far too often I hear that people selected their puppy based on his or her colouring, or because the puppy “chose us” by jumping up on them, or they felt bad for the one puppy hiding from everyone and everything in the corner. Well, the puppy that “chose” its humans actually claimed them and exerted dominance by jumping up, and the cowering puppy will require much more socialization than a typical happy-go-lucky pup to boost its confidence. The ideal puppy energy for new parents is happy-go-lucky as these dogs tend to go with the flow, have moderate energy levels, and are always willing to follow a confident leader. Ideally you will be able to visit your puppy’s litter in person to select your new addition as this will allow you to see the puppies interact with their siblings, their mother, and you first hand. I know it’s hard, but please try not to let the ridiculously cute sight of 5-10 puppies rolling around cloud your judgement when selecting your puppy. Take a breath, clear your mind, and simply observe. Here are some things to look for in a happy-go-lucky puppy;

  • They will not jump up on you when you enter the puppy play area, but they also won’t run to the back of the room in fear. Happy-go-lucky puppies are curious but not pushy or fearful
  • Dominant puppies will often engage in intense puppy play and wrestling as they are fighting for the dominant position in the pack, while happy-go-lucky puppies will play nicely and respectfully with their siblings
  • If you are visiting during feeding time, happy-go-lucky puppies will not force their way to the front of the line but instead will wait and approach the feeding bowl (or their mother, depending on age) calmly and respectfully
  • They may be seen licking their mother and/or their sibling’s faces
  • If there are toys present, happy-go-lucky puppies will willingly give up the toy they have to any other dog or human that approaches

And that’s it! Now you’re ready to pick your puppy and begin the next stage of your lives together. Don’t let all of this information overwhelm you – choosing your new furry family member is supposed to be fun, exciting, and a truly happy experience. So keep a cool head and make an informed decision, but don’t forget to enjoy this stage of your journey into the wonderful world of puppy parenthood!

Hope you’ve been enjoying my blogs! Stay tuned for another one next week 🙂

– Claire

Claire’s Corner: Finding the right breed

Fun fact – there are currently 190 dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), and even more breeds owned and loved by people around the world that are not yet registered by the AKC. With so many unique breeds to choose from, how can you be sure to pick the right breed for your family and your lifestyle?


The first thing you need to look at is your current lifestyle and activity level. Are you someone who goes for daily runs and weekend hikes? A high energy working breed, such as an Australian shepherd, may be right for you. Conversely, if you prefer to spend your free time lounging on the couch (I relate heavily to this), then maybe a low-energy non-working breed, such as a shih tzu, is your perfect match. Far too many people get a certain breed because of how they look, or because they’ve wanted that specific breed for “as long as they can remember,” but not enough people step back and look at their own lives before making this incredibly important decision. Remember that selecting the wrong breed may have a negative impact on not only your life, but the life of your puppy as well. If you are a low energy person with a relaxed lifestyle and you bring home a high energy border collie, you will likely be left frustrated at a dog that chews your furniture, while the dog is left anxious and unfulfilled. So please be honest with yourself and choose the breed that is best for you and your family now, and not necessarily the breed that you think you want.

Once you have narrowed down your breed selection based on your lifestyle, the next thing that you need to look at is the history of the breed you’re considering. This is a very important step because the original purpose that the dog was bred for can give insight into possible behavioural characteristics your puppy may display. For instance, schnauzers were bred to hunt and kill rodents, a task which often required them to dig and burrow into the ground after their prey. As such, schnauzers have been known to dig a hole or two in their owner’s backyard, especially when they haven’t been given enough exercise. In Sprout’s case, bulldogs were bred to attack and bring down bulls, a trait which sometimes comes out in her play if she gets over-excited. As such, I never let her ‘attack’ any of her toys by shaking them or destroying them and instead use walks as an outlet for this excess energy in order to keep this natural instinct under control. In short, know the history of your chosen breed so you can prepare yourself for possible unwanted behaviours they may display as well as to give you some ideas on ways you can fulfil their breed-specific needs.

The third factor that I believe you should consider when choosing a breed is so simple that it is often overlooked – size! Large breeds like Great Danes and mastiffs don’t make good apartment pets for obvious reasons, but even if you have the living space to accommodate these gentle giants there are still other things to consider. Do you have a large enough car to transport them when they are full grown? Will your family and friends be comfortable with you bringing such a large dog to their homes when you go to visit? Can you afford to feed this size of dog, which will require significantly more food than a medium or small breed? On the other hand, small breeds are great for apartment living and are incredibly easy to travel with, however you need to consider the time of year you are looking at bringing your small breed puppy home. It is incredibly important that you begin walking your puppy from the first day you bring them home (more on this in a later post), however if you were to bring a 2lb Chihuahua puppy home in the middle of January it would be unsafe for a puppy this small to be walked outdoors. As such, if you are thinking of bringing home a small breed puppy, I highly recommend you wait until the spring or summer months to do so in order to be able to safely walk your new fur baby.

The final piece of the puzzle to finding the perfect breed for you involves looking at the potential health risks associated with your chosen breed as well as any grooming requirements they may have. Large breed dogs are often prone to hip dysplasia, while small breed dogs are at a higher risk for heart conditions. On top of this, every breed has their own breed specific health conditions that you should be aware of before purchasing a puppy of your own. Be sure to research not only the possible health conditions associated with your breed of choice, but also the possible cost of treatment for said conditions. Along with breed health comes breed lifespan – a very important factor that is often forgotten about. A puppy is not just a short term commitment; the minute you bring that puppy home you are signing yourself on to be a committed pack leader for the remainder of that dog’s life. It is a large commitment not to be taken lightly, and you should seriously think about how different your life may look a few years down the road. If your small breed dog has a lifespan of 15 years, will you still be in a position to care for that dog that far into the future? If not, that’s what adoption is for! There are a ton of older dogs looking for loving homes just like yours. Along with breed health comes grooming requirements. Grooming can be expensive if you choose to have a professional do it for you, and time consuming if you choose to do it yourself. Be sure to research the grooming requirements of the breed you are thinking of getting, and make sure you have both the time and money to accommodate these needs. I myself knew I wouldn’t have the time to brush my dog’s fur every day, and so the French bulldog’s short and low maintenance coat was perfect for me.

So now you know what to look for when researching your breed of interest, but where is the best place to find this information? The internet is a wonderful place to find information on breeds of all shapes and sizes, however you need to be careful that the facts are legitimate. I recommended visiting several different sites and even reading a few books to ensure the information you are finding is consistent, as well as to look at specific breed club websites (ie. The French Bulldog Club of Canada) as these are often very informative and legitimate. That being said, the best way to really get a feel for what a specific breed is like is not to read about it online, but to see it in person. Once you have done your preliminary research and believe you have found the breed for you, I encourage you to meet as many of them as possible before making your final decision. Just like one very calm and well socialized husky doesn’t mean every husky is low energy, one over-excited French bulldog does not mean they are all bouncing off the walls and impossible to control.

One final note on selecting the right breed for you – not all dogs will fit their breed description perfectly. This means that getting a ‘low-energy’ breed does not mean you don’t have to walk your dog or put any work into training them. Sprout is the perfect example of this. French bulldogs are often described as lazy couch potatoes, but she is a very active girl who requires a fair amount of exercise before her inner couch potato comes out. We have bulldogs at daycare that are more active than some huskies, so be sure to take any breed descriptions you read with a grain of salt and remember that each puppy will have its own unique energy requirements no matter the breed. Do your research, examine your lifestyle carefully and honestly, and choose the breed that will fulfill your life and allow you to fulfill theirs. After all, that’s what having a dog is all about!

Until next week,


Introducing Claire’s Corner

Hey all!
Claire here! I’ve worked at The Dog Haus for a little over a year now, but if you don’t know me yet you will soon! This is my first entry in a series of blogs about raising a puppy right, all from my own first-hand experience raising my newest angel, Sprout. I’ll discuss our successes, our failures, and give you some tips and tricks to make raising your new furry bundle of joy the happy and exciting experience it is meant to be! But first, a little background on myself and my journey here.


Last month I finished my four year animal biology program at The University of Guelph and will be graduating with distinction in just a few weeks. My original intention had been to go to vet school here in Guelph, however my plans changed rather quickly after starting at The Dog Haus. Working with The Dog Haus pack brought forth the realization that I was not meant to fulfill my lifelong passion for helping dogs by healing them physically through veterinary medicine, but rather by using Dog Psychology to
bring them back to their roots and simply let them be dogs again. And so two weeks after finishing my final exams and bringing Sprout home, she and I headed for California to learn from Cesar Milan himself in his Fundamentals I training program. This course was the experience of a lifetime – I learned so much not just from Cesar but from the other wonderful trainers at his facility as well and I am so excited so share some of that knowledge with all of you!

But enough about me, the real star of the show (and the main reason behind these blog posts) is Sprout! She is a four month old French bulldog who is as stubborn as they come but that I love more than life itself. She’s a sweet and spicy, happy go lucky potato who is always up for meeting new friends and doesn’t go anywhere without her stuffed pizza toy. She came to me from a breeder in Hamilton but I had been planning her arrival for months before she was even born, and while it felt like an eternity waiting to bring her home I couldn’t imagine life without her now! I will talk more about how I selected
this breed and Sprout specifically from her litter in coming posts, but for now please enjoy these photos of my wrinkly girl!

I can’t wait to share our journey through puppyhood with you all, and to hopefully give you some advice along the way that will help you raise a balanced, happy puppy!

Spring has sprung

3 Tips to keep your dog safe this Spring


Ah Spring! The air seems a little fresher and the grass a little greener. There’s hope that Winter is finally gone. Even our dogs are aware of the warmer climate.

But did you know, Spring is a very dangerous time for dogs? With squirrels, rabbits and birds coming out of hibernation, there are lots of distractions around that peak our pups interest. Now that the snow is gone and we can see the ground, our dogs are eager to take in all it’s scents. There’s so much for them to discover. And that is why this time of year many dogs run into trouble, literally.

Dogs who have been cooped up all winter are high on life when they get to go outside and explore finally. There is a tendency for even well trained dogs to go after a scent or chase a squirrel off leash during the next few months. Some dogs may be so desperate to go for a romp or a chase they may even escape their fenced in yards. Dogs hot on a trail will not think twice about crossing a busy street and can easily get hit by on coming traffic.

Here’s how to avoid something so tragic from happening to your pet:

  1. Keep Fido on leash! I make sure to advise all my clients to strictly keep their dogs on leash when this change in weather occurs. Even simple trips from the house to the car off leash is enough time for your dog to dart away from you and potentially get hurt.
  2. Always make sure of your surroundings and that you are putting your pets safety first. Don’t do off leash around residential or urban areas. Stay clear of busy streets.
  3. Train your dog to come when called! It is also best to teach your dog proper recall with lots of training so that they understand and respect the command to come when called.

Focus on progress. Not perfection.

A year and a half ago I adopted a dog from Soi Dog Foundation in Thailand. He was flown overseas and arrived on December 6th 2016, a sweet but frightened boy of only 1 year old. We expected to do a lot of work in socializing him and helping him adapt to being a pet, as we were certain that he had never lived in a home before. We had been well warned by the rescue organization that these street dogs have a lot to overcome and can be easily overwhelmed. We welcomed the challenge.

Everything was brand new for Ty. We went exceptionally slow with him, taking our time exposing him to new places and faces. Over several months, we overcame potty training, destructive behaviour, food aggression, stranger danger, and car anxiety with lots of time and patience. It was amazing to see him start to trust us and relax into being a happy, loving companion dog.

After almost a full year of committed work, I began to see Ty’s socialization plateau and then even worse, regress. I was hopeful after so much work things like his reactivity towards new dogs would disappear and that we would be allowed to have people in the house again without issue. I became frustrated and felt defeated after he nipped a family member. I felt after all this time and effort invested things should be different. Why wasn’t he just like my other dog? Why were we going nowhere? What’s wrong with him? I became ashamed of my “middle child” and shied away from taking him places and having friends and family over. This was not the dog I had hoped for. All I could focus on were our setbacks, failures and disappointment after disappointment.

Then came the wake up call I so desperately needed. A break. A chance to reframe my mentality and regain focus. I took a trip to California to attend a workshop with many of the colleges I’d met through Training Cesar’s Way. The opportunity to be a student again and learn from others more experienced than myself. There I was surrounded by trainers who also opened up about their “problem” dogs. The guilt, shame, discouragement was all the same. We all felt compelled to have “perfect” dogs, when in reality no such thing exits. It was then I realized that I held myself and my dog up to too high a standard, which was in effect destroying our relationship. This acknowledgement did not come easy. It’s a heavy weight to bear realizing you’ve sabotaged your dog’s success by being too hard on him. But the beautiful thing is, we can always start again.

What’s crazy is the immediate change I noticed in my dog once I returned. Now that I was aware of the limitations I was placing on him, I was able to reconnect with him in a forgiving way that allowed us both to simply be. Even more stunning, the people around me noticed the change in him right away. Staff, friends and family all asked what changed. The answer is simple yet complicated…..ME. Ironically enough, I preach Dog Psychology and practicing patience to clients all the time, yet I still need to take my own advice….

“What you focus on grows.”

I was so caught up in what we hadn’t achieved and all the negatives that I was actually creating more of it in my life. I was perpetuating failure after failure because I was summoning it. Sometime you need to relax and go with the flow and have faith that it will all work out.

Needless to say I have learned a lot through this experience. Ty is my most sensitive dog and a true gift to me for that exact reason. He will always be able to keep me in check and remind me to attract what I want and not the opposite. I will know when I am  feeling stressed or frustrated, setting unrealistic expectations, holding onto the past, projecting negative thoughts, or am overall not in alignment, because it will mirror in him. He has taught me to relax and trust the process. Training doesn’t happen overnight, stay with it, but also be fair to yourself and your dog. Acknowledge the massive challenges you have overcome along the way, even if you still have far to go. Sometimes you need to realize you’re doing your best and to pat yourself on the back now and again.

In summary, pack leadership isn’t easy. You will be challenged along the way. Don’t give up! These challenges are there to help you grow in areas you may not have known you needed to. But you have to focus on what you want and how much you have achieved along the way. Anytime you get discouraged I hope you revisit this post and gain perspective.

Be present.   Practice patience.   Be kind.   Stay calm.   Be humble.   Give it time. 

And even when you have set backs you need to learn to…


Choosing the right breed

“Why did you choose this particular breed?” – This is a question I ask all my training clients to gauge what their expectations are for the family dog they’ve selected.

“I thought it was cute.”

“I’ve always wanted a Shepherd.”

“My 5 year old daughter chose her.”

“We did lots of research and thought it would be the best fit for our family.” 

My most successful clients are the ones who answer saying they took time to make the important decision of which dog made sense in their home. They did not base the choice on appearance, emotional attachment or what their kid wanted. When I was a child I wanted a Beagle or a German Shepherd. Looking back, neither of these breeds would have thrived in my home environment as we were inexperienced dog owners at the time with no idea of just how much work those breeds would be.

Having a dog is a major life adjustment that some people don’t realize requires time, energy and training. All dogs, no matter what the breed, need training in order to be happy, balanced companions. Here’s what I think all dog owners need to know before seriously considering which breed is right for them.


Working dogs

These are your Shepherds, Collies, Cattle dogs, Huskies, Hounds, and Retrievers – just to name a few. These are dogs that are bred to do something specific. Whether it’s herding, hunting, pulling, or protecting, these dogs need something to DO! I consider working dogs like A-type personalities, whereby if they are not busy and earning their keep they will find a way to entertain themselves either by “redecorating” your home chewing through walls or becoming the neighbourhood bully.

This category of dog is typically selected as a pet for their extremely good looks or because they were seen in a popular film and portrayed as the ideal pet. In the latter case, what most people fail to realize, is that dog on screen is a trained actor on film who is in fact working. A dog (or in some cases more than one, like in the Air Bud franchise) that has been trained to do everything asked in that movie. That is a dog in work mode.

What’s also important to note is that sporting and hunting breeds will have prey drive and herding dogs will want to chase other dogs (or sometimes cars) to get their fix, so it’s absolutely necessary to learn how to curb and deter these behaviours. Socialization classes will be far more beneficial than dog park visits for these dogs. If you do have one of these breeds, it is crucial to socialize, train and fulfill your dogs needs. Research their skill sets and use that as a way to help drain their pent up energy and then you can relax and enjoy your working breed dog.

Homes that are ideal for working breeds are experienced handlers and active families that have time to invest in lots of training and also enjoy being outdoors exploring and are up for a challenge. These are not dogs for the faint of heart and if you don’t believe me just look at which breeds are at your local dog rescue. More often than not working breeds dominate the shelter scene, not due to their own fault but that of an inexperienced owner who had no idea what they were in for.


These are your mixed breed dogs that have been crossed to either enhance certain aspects (e.g. making certain dogs hypo-allergenic like golden doodles) or deter certain aspects (e.g. fix health issues such elongating a nose to assist breathing like in Puggles). What you need to be aware of here is that a hybrid can come out having both breeds’ characteristics. Take for instance the Labradoodle which can be both friendly and energetic like a Lab, but also highly intelligent needing lots of mental stimulation like a Poodle. In my experience, Labradoodles tend to be one of the most misunderstood hybrid dogs. Many people have no idea about the amount of work these dogs are. They require lots of exercise, socialization and training, not to mention grooming! See also the Puggle. This is a mix of a stubborn breed mixed with one of the most difficult to train, and so it’s no wonder this was a temporary fad that didn’t last long. Don’t get me wrong, these dogs can be fantastic pets but do need owners who understand both breeds used to create their mix and put in the necessary work to raise a chill companion.

Toys & Companion Breeds

Often overlooked, this group of dogs are non-sporting and happy to be a family pet with next to no drive for working. My only caution here is having a small breed with young children. Toys like Chihuahuas have a bad reputation as a biting breed, but with good reason. Due to their size they are often threatened by children’s unpredictable movements. If you do opt for a toy breed make sure children in the home are respectful of the dog and calm when interacting with it. Never is it ok for children to run at them, pick them up or force interactions like hugs or kisses. A better option for a home with young kids is a Shih Tzu, Bichon, or Maltese. With regular walks, these dogs are smart, resilient and playful. Shih Tzu’s are known for having an even temperament and being friendly with strangers. I would recommend companion breeds to inexperienced owners, families or elderly couples that are not very active, or humans with low energy. Don’t get it twisted though, these dogs do also need training and other doggie friends. We have many toy and companion breeds at our daycare who love to mingle with dogs big and small.


No matter what breed you opt for, always be sure to do your research, hire an experienced trainer to assist you from the start, work with a trusted breeder or rescue, and prepare for the lifelong commitment that having a dog is. If you have any doubts perhaps starting off with a goldfish or hamster is a better option as they are lower maintenance pets. If you are curious to know what having a dog is like try borrowing a friends for a week.