30 Mar

Housebreaking and Crate Training Dogs 101

puppies need crate training

Although we all cherish our adorable pets, one thing most of us may not be able to put up with is when our dogs or puppies mess up the house with their waste. This is one of many reasons why housebreaking & crate training is essential.

Through housebreaking and crate training, you teach your dogs how to control their bowels and where they can eliminate waste without need for supervision.

Housebreaking or house training your dog simply means teaching your dogs to go outside the house whenever they have the urge to relieve themselves. Crate training is a housebreaking method in which you make use of a dog crate to achieve this.

Although you can successfully house train without crate training, crate training is a more effective way of housebreaking your dog. Plus, it removes the need for constant supervision especially if you are not always at home.

Housebreaking and crate training are things you must do early enough in order to get your puppy fully accustomed to proper toilet manners. However, this is not to say that older or adopted dogs cannot be house trained.

Here are a few tips to help you achieve success in housebreaking and crate training your dog:

Understand Dog Nature

To be effective in housebreaking or crate training your dogs, you need a basic understanding of their nature. I would highlight three important points that are relevant to this topic.

  1. The first thing I would want to emphasize is the fact that dogs naturally like to have their own little space or den. They naturally feel a sense of security whenever they are in this space. Therefore, getting them to use a crate shouldn’t be difficult. If you approach the training the right way, your friends won’t mind the enclosure and may even come to treasure their ‘crate moments.’
  2. Dogs like to keep their sleeping area clean and will not soil it with poop or urine. This is what makes crate training a great way to housebreak your dog. Because their instinct prevents them from messing up their little haven, they learn to ‘hold it’ while in there.
  3. Dogs come to understand how you want them to behave through consistency and positive reinforcement. You would therefore need to put this to work when training. Your commands, rewards, scolding and other forms of communicating with them must be consistent at all times.

Now that we have established this foundation, let us go into the process of getting your dog house and crate trained.

Get A Crate: Of course, the first thing you need to do is get a crate for the training. There are different types of crates available – wire crates, plastic crates, nylon crates, soft-sided canvas crates; the choice is really up to you.

However, the crate should be large enough to give your dog room to stand and sleep in comfortably. If it is too large, your dog may just decide to use one area for sleeping and the other for waste, which is not a desired behavior.

Here’s Your New Home! Your first task is to get your dogs used to staying in their new space. To do this requires a bit of encouragement, a little patience, and some positive reinforcement.

Make the cage as comfortable as possible with some soft bedding, toys and treats. Also, place dog food around and inside the crate. The idea is to make them associate the crate with food and goodies so that they enjoy staying around.

Don’t be in a hurry to get them used to the crate. Leave the crate door open and allow your dogs to go in and out as they desire, give them enough time to explore. With the door open, you let your dogs know the crate is not a trap. With this in mind, be careful not to use ‘crate time’ as a way of punishment. This will send the wrong signal and could be counterproductive to your housebreaking training.

Anytime they go into the crate, do encourage them with a positive comment, head rubbing, patting and more treats so they know that you like them going inside.

When you notice that your dogs are getting used to the crate, you can start closing the door. If there is any protest from your dogs in the form of whining or barking, don’t open the door. Wait until they calm down before you do. This lets them know complaining won’t work.

Start slowly at first by closing the door and letting them out after two minutes or so. You can then gradually increase the timing of their stay in the crate up to an hour and beyond.

Once your dogs are comfortable staying in their crates, you will need to work out a schedule for letting them out to empty their bowels.

You should have a designated place that you consistently take your dogs out to potty when they leave their crates. Also, always take them straight from the crate to the potty place, not somewhere else. This way, they will always associate leaving the crate with going to potty.

Using a phrase such as ‘do potty’ or ‘go potty’ while on your way and when you get there will also be helpful in reinforcing the behavior. Say this quietly and not with an excited voice so they don’t get distracted from the purpose.

Once they have done their thing, reward your dogs with a treat and kind words. Always go on the potty trips with a treat for instant reward. Giving them a treat when they’re back in the house gives the unintended message that the reward is for coming inside and not for doing potty.

Try not to hurry back to the crate after they have pooped; walk them around a bit – just in case they get the urge again.

A Final Word

As with other types of dog training, you have to repeat the same steps consistently over a period before it becomes a habit. Do not be harsh or mean to your dogs in the case of an occasional accident.

If you hold a busy schedule and are not able to house train your dogs, you can contact us at saintlouisdogwalkers.com and we will assist with potty scheduling and needed exercises for your dogs while you are away.

However, you should ensure you make out time for bonding with your dogs whenever you are free because they will treasure that very much.

23 Mar

Want To Be Amazing At Taking Care of Your Older Dog? Here’s How

old dog

An irrefutable fact of life is that all living creatures age with the passage of time. Your once cute little puppy is no different and as it transforms into a senior, things definitely won’t be the same.

Just as in humans, the care and attention required by older dogs differ from those of younger ones. It is therefore necessary to arm yourself with dog care facts that will enable you help your make the later years of your aging dog’s life graceful and comfortable.

At what age does your dog become a senior?

There is no clear cut age from which a dog would be considered a senior. This would depend largely on the breed of the dog, nutrition and environment in which it lives. Smaller breeds tend to live longer years than larger ones while overweight dogs have shorter life spans than their lighter mates.

The table below gives a general overview of the age of dogs compared to that of humans:

Dog Years


Equivalent Human Years


Below 20 lbs -50 lbs


Over 51lbs



Below 20 lbs -50 lbs


Over 51lbs



Below 20 lbs -50 lbs


Over 51lbs



Below 20 lbs -50 lbs


Over 51lbs


Possible signs of old age in dogs

As your dog gets older, you will certainly observe some changes in its health, appearance and behavior. You need to be observant enough to notice these changes and seek veterinary assistance when necessary.

Behavioral changes

A change in normal behavioral pattern is one of the earliest signs you are likely to observe as your dog ages. Its sleep pattern may change or it could become more aggressive or irritable. You may also notice a slight slowness in movement or in responding to your calls or commands. Other behavioral changes in ageing dogs may include:

  • Decreased willingness to interact with humans
  • Bed wetting and decreased bowel control (incontinence)
  • Loss of concentration
  • Increased reaction to sounds
  • Increased vocalization
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Increased anxiety
  • Decreased self-hygiene/grooming
  • Repetitive activity
  • Increased wandering

Health Problems

Health conditions could crop up as a result of old age. The table below shows common health problems in older dogs and the related signs and symptoms:

Health Problem Symptoms
  • Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding or discharge from body openings
  • Offensive mouth odor
  • Difficulty eating/swallowing
  • Hesitation to exercise/loss of stamina
  • Persistent lameness/stiffness
  • Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating
  • Limping
  • Difficulty sitting or standing
  • Difficulty in movement
  • Sleeping more
  • Hesitancy to jump, run or climb stairs
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased activity or interest in play
  • Increased irritability
  • Being less alert
Kidney Disease
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Decreased or no urination
  • Poor hair coat
  • Vomiting
  • Sore mouth
Heart disease
  • Coughing
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Decreased tolerance of exercise
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
Urinary tract disease
  • Increased urination
  • Bed wetting or spotting in the house
  • Difficulty in urinating
  • Blood in urine
  • Weakness

Other common health problems in older dogs include:

  • Obesity
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Joint or bone disease
  • Senility


Diet & Nutrition

Due to aging, the digestive system of your dog will not be as effective as it used to be and its tolerance level is reduced. Therefore, its diet should consist of higher quality and easily digestible food.

You dog’s need for higher quality food increases. You should therefore invest in premium food brands that contain higher quality proteins, omega 3, antioxidants, alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and other essential supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin.

Older dogs that have specific health conditions will require specialized diets as recommended by your vet. For example dogs with heart diseases would need diets that are low in sodium.

Health and hygiene

  • Older dogs are more susceptible to health problems due to reduced immunity and it is recommended that you take your dog for a checkup with your vet at least every 6 months.
  • Carrying regular blood screening and urinalysis can help to detect potential health problems.
  • Older dogs will generally require fewer vaccinations. Check with your vet for appropriate vaccination schedule.
  • Engaging your dog in mentally stimulating activities is beneficial for good mental health.
  • To prevent prostate cancer, testicular or other reproductive diseases, get your dog neutered or spayed.
  • Ageing dogs spend more time lying down or sleeping resulting in thinning skin or scalding. This increases the possibility of skin irritation and infections. More attention should therefore be paid to their coat care. Coats should be clipped and combed regularly.
  • Due to reduced mobility your older dog’s toe nail will wear out less quickly and will result in longer toenails which should be clipped more frequently.
  • Good oral hygiene is essential for dog care as well as keeping the ears clean.
  • Dogs with longer coats should be treated to a massage at least once a week.


  • Weight management through a combination of exercises and a good diet are important for your dog. Engage her in moderate walking and other light exercises to maintain healthy muscles and joints. The exercises should be determined by the level of tolerance of your dog.
  • Visiting an off-leash dog park may not be ideal for as the environment may not be conducive for its age.

Home Environment

  • Make a variety of smooth and soft toys available for your older dog to keep her entertained and active.
  • Your dog will demand a greater amount of care and attention. Set out time to provide the same level of interaction and care that it has always had. Your friend will always cherish your reassuring hugs and tender touch.
  • Hard or smooth floor surfaces should be carpeted if possible to ease movement. Your dog may find it more difficult climbing stairs, so you may need to provide a ramp.
  • Some older dog may require special orthopedic dog beds for more comfortable sleep.

If you need assistance with your older dog when you get busy, Saint Louis Dog Walkers, a local dog walking and pet sitting service, can help. We provide exercise, companionship, pet sitting, and potty breaks. Check out our pet services page for more information.

16 Mar

Who Else Wants to Stop Their Dog from Jumping on People?

lab at rest

Jumping on people is a natural dog behavior. While this may not seem an issue when your dog is still a puppy, it could become embarrassing and even dangerous as he or she grows older.

Imagine the impact of your 100 pound lab jumping on a visitor in your home or stranger on the street!

Stopping this behavior is imperative and the earlier in the life of your dog you curb it, the better.

Just like little children, dogs learn to understand right from wrong behavior by observing your reaction to situations. Unlike children, however, they can’t talk. Therefore, you teach them acceptable behavior through consistent and repetitive actions.

One of the reasons your dog jumps on you is because it naturally wants to assert its authority over you and that is not healthy dog behavior. You must be in charge.

You need to let your pet know who the boss is. This does not, however, mean being hostile or punishing your dog.

Sometimes, it’s just to say ‘hello’, or to say ‘I’m excited’ with the expectation of being petted or cuddled. If this behavior is not nipped in the bud, it could become an issue much later, as earlier stated.

One of the easiest ways to stop a habit is to replace it with another. This applies as much to humans as it does to dogs. You make your dog know you don’t want that behavior by helping him or her with an alternative.

If you walk in through the door and get jumped on, there are a few methods you can use. You can ignore the jumping entirely, you can turn your side so your pet has a harder time finding a place to put his or her paws, or you could just try to avoid the move. When your pet settles to fours, you should go ahead and give him or her a nice cuddle or a treat or both.

When you reach down to do this, she may want to jump on you again. If this happens, simply withdraw from her, stand up straight, and do one of the above methods until she settles down on her paws anain. Reinforce this with another stroking or cuddling.

Always make sure to reinforce the good behavior by reaching out to pet or reward your dog when he or she’s settled down. This positive reinforcement must always be carried out.

This is not a one off thing nor will it change the dog’s behavior quickly. You will need to do this repetitively and consistently in reaction to the jumps until your dog understands that sitting when you walk in is more rewarding than jumping on you.

If you have a hyperactive dog who may not like to sit, you may use a toy or some other objects to distract your pet when he or she tries to jump on you.

Always try to stay calm and don’t get angry and shout or scold your dog; don’t push him or her away.

You can fast track the training by walking out the back door and coming in through the front door again several times during the day and repeat the sequence.

To extend the training to visitors, you can get some of your friends or neighbors to help out. Let them repeat the above process with your dog at different times.

When the door bell rings, tell your dog to sit, if your dog jumps, your visitor should ignore him or her and then move but if your dog remains sitting, give him or her a nice warm cuddle to reinforce that behavior.

If you stick to the routine and are patient, your dog’s behavior will be eventually be transformed.




09 Mar

What Everybody Ought to Know About Raising a Puppy

This post was written by a friend of the site, Kimberly LeMaster. She has many years of experience raising and training dogs. She’s here to share with us some of the experiences she had being a puppy owner and some tips on how to survive it and thrive.

If you need some help taking your puppy on potty and exercise breaks while you’re busy, be sure to check out what dog walking and pet sitting services Saint Louis Dog Walkers can offer you and your pup.

happy puppy

When I picked up my puppy from his breeder, I thought for sure I was completely ready for him. I had planned out his potty schedule, food schedule and even how and what he would learn. I knew at what age he would learn agility, and when he would begin advanced obedience training. What I was not prepared for were the times in which I had run out of things to teach him due to his extremely high intelligence, or what activities I could do to keep him physically fit during deep winter snowstorms. It seemed like all the planning in the world would not prepare me for the devotion I saw in his eyes as he looked up at me. However, if I had not done the extensive planning I had before I picked him up that one fateful day he and I both would be in a world of trouble with unwanted behavioral problems!

Preparations Before Pickup

Once you have found which breeder, rescue or shelter your puppy will come from as well as when they will be ready to go home with you, you will need to start your preparations. Making a grocery list of items that you and your puppy will need to begin raising him right, prevent behavioral problems and help him develop into a true good canine citizen and family member is your first step.

Obviously a collar, harness and leash will be needed. Make notes of the sizes you will need for your puppy. Buy collars and harnesses that are adjustable. Puppies grow incredibly fast, and you may need to make adjustments to the size of your equipment on a weekly basis. Just like the need for an adjustable collar, you may need an adjustable crate! The rule of thumb is to purchase a crate that will be big enough when your puppy grows into an adult, around the age of 2 years. There lies a problem, though, because too much room in a crate for a puppy can lead to potty accidents inside this space which should never see urine or feces! On the market, there are now crates that come with a removable wall. This wall can make your puppy’s crate space smaller, and be removed when he grows larger. While these crates make potty training easier, they most certainly are not requirements.

Weeks before I picked up my puppy, his baby blue colored crate sat next to my bed. It had a small bed inside along with 2 chew toys. It was not an adjustable crate, but I felt I did not need one. My puppy is now a 2 year old Australian Shepherd, and to this day his crate never had a potty accident. If you feel that you have the ability to control your puppy’s potty habits with a schedule like I did, then an adjustable crate most likely will never be needed. However, if you have a habit of slipping on taking your puppy out to potty as often as he needs, then you may end up with a puppy that never learns to control it’s bladder while indoors.

More Preparations

So, you have your leash, collar, harness and crate. What’s next? You know your puppy will need toys to play with, but do you know what kind? Avoid soft rubber toys, even for small breeds, as they can quickly and easily be shredded with tiny, sharp puppy teeth. Little bits of these toys can be swallowed leading to a bowel obstruction. Instead, look for quality puppy teething toys, indestructible chew toys like the KONG brand rubber toys, and plush toys. Plush toys should not be given to your puppy without supervision as they are also easily destoyed and eaten. Plush toys with squeakers are quick to become favorites for almost any puppy, and they are useful in getting your puppy to engage in interacting with you. Not only does this help your bond grow, but you can even implement these toys and play time into helping your puppy learn basic manners, such as not to jump up, not to bite or be mouthy, and always be polite to get what he wants.

Toys are fun to shop for, but you also need to put on your constructive thinking cap to look for a high quality, safe and nutritious food that will nourish your puppy’s body and help him thrive. A poor quality food from harmful ingredients such as corn, wheat and soy can actually impact your puppy’s behavior and growth. Look for grain free foods, either kibble, canned, frozen or raw that are meant for your puppy’s size, growth rate and energy level. You really can provide too many nutrients to a puppy harming the growth of his joints and skeletal system, so it is vital that you find a puppy food that fits the needs of your little fur ball. If you are obtaining your puppy from an ethical breeder, they would be an ideal choice to speak with about the right food for your little one.

Treats are a necessity! Your puppy should go through at least 1 or 2 training sessions in your home every day. It can be as simple as teach him to sit or providing a reward for lying quietly during a movie, but he needs treats! Sometimes puppies are perfectly happy receiving his kibble as a treat, but when it comes to developing his obedience skills you will want a higher level reward. Just like with his food, he needs a high quality treat that is either in tiny sized pieces or can be broken up into small pieces. No matter what size your puppy is, a treat that is small and quickly eaten will keep his mind on training instead of working on eating his treat.

Train, Train, Train!

You can obtain the best crate, the best food, the most professional quality grooming equipment that money can buy but the one thing that will make your dog the best dog you’ve ever had is your ability to train him, bond with him, and make every moment count. Obedience classes are great for both the first time puppy parent and seasoned dog owners. Even professional dog trainers like myself find useful tools, tips, and help in an obedience class. These classes will teach you how to teach your puppy at home. If you are doing something that may be confusing your puppy that you did not even realize you were doing, such as confusing hand signals then you have a trainer right then and there to point it out and help you along the way. This is a valuable tool that goes a long way, no matter how much you already know about training.

Meanwhile, it is up to you to train your puppy at home. My puppy began his potty training on the ride home! His breeder lived about 4.5 hours away from me and we made several stops on the way home to allow my little one to potty. These little rest stops only lasted maybe 10 minutes, and every time he managed to eliminate. He was given positive reinforcement for going potty outside, and he did not have a single accident on the way out, outside of a little car sickness. Your puppy is completely helpless without your guidance, and you are the one who needs to teach him with kindness and respect that eliminating in the proper place is a good thing.

Once you get home with your pooch, potty training begins with a consistent schedule. Your dog’s schedule is similar to your own work or schedule, except it is meant to help plan and predict his potty needs! A typical puppy schedule will start first thing in the morning when he is take out of his crate and straight to his place to go potty. After that potty break, he can have a short supervised play break before his breakfast. To help further his crate training, you can give your puppy all of his meals inside his crate. Allow your puppy to rest and relax after eating to allow proper digestion, then about 20 minutes later he should be allowed to potty again. Every time your dog eats or drinks, he should be given the opportunity to potty about 20 minutes later. This is because a puppy’s digestive system has not fully developed, and he cannot completely control his bladder or bowels. If not given the ability to potty in the correct place, he will potty wherever he is. It’s something he simply cannot physically control, and it should not be held against him or his intelligence.

If your puppy does not potty when you take him out, don’t worry. Just give him about 10 minutes in his potty place, and when he does not go bring him back into his crate with a special crate-only chew toy for about 15 minutes. After that time, take him out again for another 10 minutes. Your puppy will also need to potty roughly every 1.5 hours throughout the day, during or after playtime, last thing before bed, before and after training and any time you see him circling with his nose to the ground!

Between his breakfast and lunch time, you can decide on his play and exercise times, training times and over all fun and bonding time. Within a week of using this consistent schedule, you will be able to alter it as you learn the needs of your puppy. Your puppy may need to go potty more often than your created schedule, or even less often. Each puppy is an individual, so learn him well to create a solid working schedule!

Puppy Love

After having my own puppy for 2 years, and as a seasoned dog trainer I have learned more than I ever had training adult dogs. Puppies are truly unique creatures, and just like a human infant they are completely helpless, relying on you for their every need. Are you ready to accept that challenge?

02 Mar

3 Tips for Leaving Your Dog Home Alone

dog sitting

It’s very likely that you have experienced the consequences of leaving your dog home alone. You come home to find that he or she chewed your furniture or destroyed your shoes. There are actually many things that can cause a dog to have all kinds of behavior issues such as anxiety. When you leave your dog alone this can trigger that anxiety easily. Today I will give you some great ideas on how you can make sure that your dog is not going to get overly anxious and create a mess in your house when you leave for hours or even days.

Dogs tend to be very nervous by nature when they are used to being alone even if they are in a familiar environment. Here are some of the best things you can do to help your pet feel safer and more confident when left alone:

Teach your dog independence

A dog can easily become clingy and this is something that a lot of pet owners allow to happen. The reason why we don’t mind doing this most of the time is that we feel like we are always going to protect our dog anyway. We feel like our dog is not going to be homeless and that our dog is never going to have to scavenge for food in the streets. Even when this is very likely true, you will need to allow your dog to learn to be independent. When you have a pet that lives with us at home, you need to make sure that it can be alone for a few hours a day at least.

The best way to do this is to take your dog to the backyard and put some toys out there that can entertain the animal too. If you notice that your dog starts to bark and howl then this means that the animal is getting anxious. You should allow for the dog to calm down alone, even if he ends up howling for the entire two hours. You should not reward the dog giving him or her access into the house. If you do this, the dog will know that by barking and howling it will be allowed inside. this is a terrible ay to handle the problem, so even if you feel bad, leave the dog outside and don’t let the dog in until the barking stops.

Don’t be too emotional

There is nothing wrong with loving your dog and giving the dog a good life free of harm and abuse, but some people can go from caring and loving to overly emotional. this is not the right way to treat your dog. Your dog is like a child in that you can spoil him or her. Just like a child, the dog is not to blame for this. One way to combat this is to stop making a big deal of coming back home. If your dog gets jumpy and anxious, just wait until it calms down and then pet your dog. Don’t talk to your dog like it’s a baby ether. this not a tone of voice for a master to have. You are the master and this is not a bad thing. You need to learn to lead your pet or it will feel like it has control over you.

Always punish bad behavior and don’t always reward good behavior

It might be tempting to always reward your dog for doing things right, but the behavior that is not anxious or needy is supposed to be normal. If you reward your dog for normal behavior, you will train him or her to expect a treat for it and this will be confusing when you have no treats. If you want to reward your pet, you can pet his or her head, but the best time to pet a dog is when there is no specific reason to do it.

If you’re going to be away from home for a long day at work or vacation, check out Saint Louis Dog Walkers dog walking and pet sitting services available. We can take your pet out for exercise when you get busy.