Pet Behavior & Training

Is an Electric Dog Fence Right for You? Great information + a giveaway!

If you have dogs, you know it is hard to keep up with every move, especially with multiple pets. There is always an unexpected circumstance…. a squirrel that is in an unexpected place, a handyman who forgets to close the gate. Personally, a combination of efforts is the best method to ensure that your pet is safe.

Every dog owner’s worst nightmare is losing their beloved pet. Thousands of dogs go missing every year, and too many of them never make it back home. In order to ensure the safety of your dog, you must take preventative measures whenever possible. One of the most important things to do is to make sure your dog can’t leave your property on his own. Because dogs enjoy roaming and running, keeping them on a leash at all times in your yard isn’t the best solution.

Fencing is the preferred method for keeping dogs contained in yards. The next question, however, is what type of fencing? You could choose a traditional fence or an electric dog fence. Many people opt for traditional fences, but electric dog fences can sometimes be the better choice. There are many reasons why you might choose one instead of a wood, chain link, or PVC fence, so let’s examine some of the different factors you should consider.

Maintaining Your Fence

If you have a smaller yard, your dog will have an even bigger desire to see what’s beyond it. With traditional fencing, a big concern is digging underneath. Certain dogs, like terriers and beagles, have a natural desire to dig, and stopping that behavior will be a challenge for even the most experienced home owners. An electronic dog fence like the Petsafe Yardmax can stop your dog from getting to the perimeter of your yard. An alternative is a wireless radial fence such Havahart Radial. With traditional fences, maintaining its look and structure over time can be costly. Dogs squeezing through the fence, jumping over it, and chewing latches, are all concerns. Wired dog fences, on the other hand, are versatile and easy-to-install, and they won’t require nearly as much maintenance to continue working (or looking) their best.

Preserving Your View

Sometimes traditional fences can enhance the look of your property, but other times, they can be detrimental and obstructive. If you have a home on the waterfront or with a gorgeous view of a golf course, for example, you don’t want a large fence blocking the way. When you don’t want to change the look of your property, electronic dog fences are the answer. A better option than invisible fence due to cost, wired dog fences that you install yourself are great choices. Your dog must wear a collar anyway, so wearing an e-collar instead isn’t out of place. A big fence, however, can be unsightly and inconvenient. If it doesn’t match your architecture and landscaping, it can even reduce the value of your home and property. Some homeowners’ associations don’t allow fencing, and an electric dog fence may be the only solution. ’

Enclosing Large Areas

Dog owners with sheep herding dogs, hunting dogs, or other working dogs and other animals often have hunting leases, ranches, farms, and other agricultural settings to enclose. Creating safe zones for your dog doesn’t have to be cumbersome. Rather than install a fence over a large area, you can simply lay the wire for an electric dog fence. First, read the reviews of dog fences for acreage and large properties to see what type will work best for your situation. Whether your enclosing your entire property or a small area within it, large areas can be more easily secured with an electric dog fence than with a traditional fence. If you need to change your boundaries, it’s also easier to do with a wired fence than with a large, above-ground fence.

Cost and Effort

Traditional fences are expensive and can take a long time to install correctly. Electric dog fences, however, can be installed by just about anyone in just a couple days or less. You’ll save hundreds of dollars, because normal dog fences are often as high as $2,000+, and a high-quality wired dog fence will cost less than $600 total. When you install the electronic dog fence on your own, you also gain valuable insight into the capabilities of your dog fence system. You’ll be able to maintain and repair your fence on your own without needing a repair technician to come out.



Training your dog to obey the electric dog fence and e-collar is the most important part of installation. Your dog must learn the consequences and rewards to certain behaviors, and he must be properly trained during a short adjustment period. With careful guidance and diligence in handling your dog, you can minimize his stress as he learns to recognize his new boundaries. Providing proper dog fence training will ensure the success of your fence and the safety of your canine companion. All breeds of dogs can be trained with an e-collar and wired dog fence.


Before you choose a fencing solution, make sure you carefully explore all your options. While traditional fences can be nice, they’re oftentimes not the most practical solution for your individual situation. An electric fence can be a versatile way to ensure the safety of your dog but it is not the only solution. Many dog owners prefer to offer supervised on-leash outings only or opt for a large dog run on premises.


Published in partnership with We encourage you to share your experiences with a variety of dog containment systems. What has worked for you? What has not worked for you? Leave us a comment with your thoughts!

Big Paw Blog readers who comment on this post and  share the post in social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc) qualify for a drawing of a $50 Amazon gift card! Please let us know at the end of your comment where you shared the article. Note, you must comment with your thoughts on fencing as well as where you are sharing to qualify.  One winner will be chosen at random on 1/10/2015.  Prize provided and fulfilled by





Owning a happy German Shepherd

german shepherdsWhat can you do to ensure your German Shepherd stays happy and well behaved? Well, here are some easy ways to keep your big dog happy, healthy and well behaved. If you keep German Shepherds properly fed and watered, disciplined and exercised, cleaned and groomed, and shown plenty of affection, they will reward you by being well behaved and giving you their unconditional love and companionship. Here are some great tips that you can use to achieve these things.

Feeding German Shepherds is fairly simple as they are not particularly fussy about their food. They will eat most propriety canned or dried dog food and are best fed a main meal once a day along with small snacks as part of their ongoing obedience training. As with most breeds, it is best not to give the dog tibits or treats right before eating their meal, or they may come to refuse food without first being treated. Of course it is quite all right to treat the dog after it has eaten. Feeding times should be kept fairly regular, either in the morning, midday or evening but always after you and your family are finished eating. This tells the dog that he is lower down in the pack ranking than your family, thereby reinforcing his obedience. Always have a large, constantly topped up bowl of water kept in the same place, so the dog knows where he can get a drink. Thus feeding becomes one of the routines introduced into the dog’­s day, which is something that will be expanded upon below.

Dogs of all breeds need discipline and routine and German Shepherds are no different. They are highly intelligent dogs, so need to be kept occupied throughout the day. Remember, a bored dog is a potentially disruptive and destructive dog and this is especially true of this breed. With this in mind, keeping German Shepherds exercised not only keeps them fit and healthy but also stops them getting bored. A good, long walk twice a day, once in the morning, then again in the evening is the absolute minimum of outdoor exercise that you should aim for. These dogs were bred as sheep herders so they need to run over great distances in order to keep fit. Just a walk on the leash, even over a long distance might not be enough. It is better to take them to a large park or field where they can be safely let off the leash to run around. It goes without saying that the dog must be obedient and faithfully return to you when called.

With all that exercise, your German Shepherd will need to be kept clean and groomed to keep its coat in shiny, healthy condition. German Shepherds come in three main types – long haired, wired haired and short haired varieties. For all varieties, the coat should be brushed with a stiff brush once a day to keep it looking good and to remove loose fur, as they tend to shed fur quite heavily. Frequent bathing is not necessary or desirable, as it strips the coat of natural oils, so only once every few months is acceptable. Grooming strengthens the bond between you and your dog, while also keeping it happily occupied. German Shepherds often treat grooming as a game and, thinking it is a toy to be played with, can try to take the brush from you. This can be great fun if you have a lot of patience, which is something you need with this breed of dog.

Showing your German Shepherd plenty of affection and spending as much time with him as possible is important in building and maintaining your mutual relationship. You will be rewarded by having a more obedient and loving friend who will entertain you for hours. German Shepherds, when properly exercised and kept occupied during the day will generally sleep through the night thereby rarely disturbing your sleep.

These simple tips will benefit both you and your dog. By introducing routine into the German Shepherd’s life, he is less likely to be unruly, destructive or bad tempered when you’­re not expecting it. By giving your dog all the discipline, exercise, attention and affection he needs, will ensure you have a happy, affectionate and loving friend who will enrich your life, provide wonderful companionship and protect you and your home into the bargain. Now that sounds like a great deal!
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Teach Your Dog to be a Good Canine Citizen

For thousands of years dogs have been our trusted companions, our protectors, our workers and our friends. Dogs have herded our sheep, guarded our livestock, protected our properties and brought love and warmth to our homes. Unfortunately, however, ill mannered dogs have also caused great damage to personal property, to livestock and pets and even to other people. It is essential, therefore, for every dog owner to teach his or her dog to be a good canine citizen.

A big part of this canine citizenship training is learning to accept and play appropriately with other dogs, as well as to get along with cats and other common pets. It is essential for any dog to learn these lessons, but it is especially important for breeds which have been bred to have aggressive tendencies or hunting skills.

For instance, sight hounds have been bred for centuries to have a strong prey drive, and while that prey drive is appropriate in the hunting field it is not so appropriate when the dog is chasing the neighbor’s cat up a tree. And aggressive dogs which have been bred to protect personal property need to be taught to keep those aggressive tendencies in check when dealing with humans who mean them no harm.

Fortunately for pet owners, many communities and organizations offer classes in good canine citizenship and dog training. Those who buy a new puppy, no matter what the breed, should be sure to ask the breeder for a puppy kindergarten recommendation. Those who adopt an older dog from a shelter should be sure to ask the shelter personnel what type of training they recommend. These simple and inexpensive courses can do a great deal to help dog owners enjoy all the fun of dog ownership while avoiding problems.
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How to Keep You and Your Dog Entertained

Your dog provides you with love and attention, and you want to do the same, but what types of activities will your pooch enjoy?

First off, all dogs love some kind of exercise. Dogs need to burn off extra energy, and they enjoy spending time with you. The typical walk is fine, but sometimes your best friend may get tired of that and be looking for something else. After you’re both tired of the morning walk and the typical fetch games, start looking for some other ideas to keep you both occupied.

1. Train your dog to do something. If he doesn’t know the usual commands like sit, stay and speak, then that’s a good place to start. Use a food treat that your dog likes and reward him as he does the behavior. You may have to begin by rewarding behavior that’s close to what you want, and then gradually reward only behavior that’s closer and closer to what you’re looking for. If your dog is ready to learn something more challenging, then try teaching him to catch a ball or roll over. The physical exercise and mental challenge will be good for him and entertaining for you.

2. Freeze a block of water with a treat inside. Most dogs enjoy licking and playing with ice, and he’ll soon learn that there’s something even better inside to work for. This can keep him busy for quite some time, but can be messy.

3. Teach your dog to play hide and seek with a favorite toy. First, spend some time teaching your dog the name of the toy, and reward him when he brings it to you. This may take some time to get right, but be patient. Most dogs can do this if given the time. When your dog reliably brings the toy to you when asked, begin hiding the item and encouraging the dog to look for it. Walk around the house and help your dog search. He’ll enjoy the challenge and excitement of finding where his toy is next.

4. Take your dog out for the day. Whether it’s to the park, a forest, for a swim, etc., getting away from home can be as important for your dog as for you. Be sure to keep him safely on a leash, and supervise him. Even if he knows his commands, the excitement of being in a new area can cause many dogs to ignore their owners, often endangering themselves. If you’re not the outdoors type, then take your dog shopping at a local pet store. To reduce his excitability, walk him a bit first before entering the store to burn off some energy.

5. Play a game of Which hand Put a treat in one hand, but don’t let the dog see you do it. Then, encourage the dog to sniff both hands and reward him when he chooses the right hand. With practice, you can even teach your dog to pat or lick the hand that holds the treat.

With a little creativity, you can spend quality time with your dog and encourage him to exercise both his body and mind. It will make you both happier.
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The Importance of Socializing Your Puppy

Dogs are natural pack animals, and they tend to get along quite well with other members of their species, be they a tiny Pekinese or a giant Mastiff. Even so, however, puppies need to learn how to socialize with one another appropriately, and how to control any natural aggression they may possess. . Each puppy will react differently to the same situation, and it is important for pet owners to help socialize their puppies properly.

It is important for those new puppy owners to start socializing their young dogs as early as possible. Taking the dog to places where there are lots of people and other dogs, such as a local dog park, a pet store or similar venue, will help a great deal. It is important of course to use caution when introducing the puppy to dogs and other animals, and to get the permission of the other dog owner before approaching.

A structured puppy kindergarten or other type of training class can be a perfect way to socialize the young dog. Many pet stores, including many of the largest chains, offer some sort of training for dogs and their owners. This type of training is a great way to socialize young puppies while teaching them the commands and skills they will need to be good canine ambassadors and trusted citizens of the community.
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Is Your Dog Going to Camp?

If you are looking for something new to share with your dog, consider one of the many dog camps that exist. Dog camps vary widely in theme, design, purpose, and cost. Most dog camps can be broken down into those that are intended for vacation, basic training, or competitive training.

Some dog camps are designed simply for weekend use, while others are intended for longer stays. However, at many of the camps, the adults must be unattended or accompanied by their dog.

Competitive training dog camps are one of the ways that you can increase your pet’s chances of winning at a dog show. At the camp, emphasis is placed on improving your dog’s skills. He will attend training classes that target the skills he needs to perform well in whatever dog sport that he is competing in.

Some dog camps have introductory programs in dog sports and training methods for them. Seminars may explore flyball, freestyle, agility, obedience, rally, lure coursing, carting, field events, canine water sports, tracking, and more.

Other camps have programs that explore search and rescue, animal communication, holistic care, herding, canine nutrition, pet tricks, and more. Several dog camps have been designed to train dogs for pet assisted therapy care. Programs that provide dogs for such care have strong affiliations to specific pet assisted therapy care training camps.

Dogs and their owners can learn new things together at dog camps. They can discover new activities that they would not have considered on their own. In fact, a whole new world can open up for a dog and his owner at one of these dog camps.

The camps provide a relaxing atmosphere for both dogs and owners. There is time for both scheduled, structured activities, as well as laid back, unstructured activities. Even if the camp stay is intended to improve the performance of your dog in one or more areas, increased bonding between the dog and owner should occur. This can only lead to a happier, healthier relationship between the two.

Camps for children and their dogs are also available in some towns. In most cases, these camps involve a limited time at the camp, for example, four hours, five days a week. The sessions at these camps are usually scheduled according to the age of the child taking the seminars. Group sizes for each seminar are limited and are generally smaller than the groups scheduled for participation in adult seminars.

Many dog camps are designed to increase the skills and knowledge of the owners as well as of the dogs. The intention is to prepare owners with the skills they need to continue the training once they leave the camp. In fact, some camps have introductory programs in dog training methods. Dog trainers can range from the nationally and internationally known and recognized to well-trained but otherwise unknown trainers. However, trainers and behaviorists at the dog camps are educated and skilled in innovative, humane, and creative methods of dog training. On-site professionals may include behaviorists, trainers, breeders, and veterinarians.
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Training Your Puppy to Collar and Lead

Teaching a dog to walk on a lead is perhaps the most basic of all dog training, but judging from the dogs I see walking around the neighborhood every day, this basic piece of training is missing in many cases. No matter what the size of the dog, the best time to teach this important lesson is when the puppy is still young. Young puppies are much more accepting of new things and new situations than are older dogs, and it is far easier to teach good habits from the start than to try to eliminate bad habits later on.

One of the most important parts of teaching a puppy to lead is simply allowing him to get used to the strange new thing around his neck. Simply placing the collar on the puppy and leaving it in place can teach the important lesson that this new object is nothing to be afraid of. Of course it is important that the puppy be supervised whenever the collar is left on, and providing positive reinforcement in the form of treats or other goodies can help things along as well.

Dog owners can learn a great deal simply by watching the puppy and his reaction to the collar. Some puppies will take the collar right away and act as if it has always been a part of their lives. Others will resist, perhaps trying to chew the collar off or rub it off on the floor or carpet. These simple observations can help dog owners determine when it is appropriate to move on to the next training step.

It is important to wait until the puppy has fully accepted the collar before beginning any further training with the leash. The collar is the most basic of all training tools, but every puppy will learn at his own pace, and it is important for dog owners to respect those differences and use them to their advantage.

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Teaching Your Child Responsibility Through Dog Ownership

“Can we have a dog?” is one of the most common questions kids ask their parents. Almost as soon as a child is old enough to speak, he’s asking for a pet.

Even if you don’t think that dogs are the best pets in the universe, you should consider adopting one for you and your child to raise together. Dogs are loving, loyal creatures who are almost always ready to play with anybody in the house.

More importantly, they’re living things that require love and care. This responsibility, which you can talk to your child about every day of his life, is best taught through doing. Having your child help take care of a dog will show him the real meaning of what you’ve been saying.

Before you head to the pet store or animal shelter, have a discussion with your child about the responsibilities of owning any sort of pet. Make sure that he understands the dog’s needs, and that he is in charge of them.

While you can’t expect your five-year-old to pay vet bills, you can put him in charge of other dog-related needs. He can be the one who feeds the dog. He can be responsible for keeping the water dish full. And he can definitely go with you to walk the dog and play.

The dog-related housework assigned to your child will help teach responsibility. He might forget occasionally at first, but gentle reminders will help the new routine and duties stay in his mind.

You should then have your child help you prepare the house for the new dog. Getting food and water dishes is a good place to start. Making a bed for the new pet is another good idea.

While you’re doing this, think about what the dog will destroy. Puppies love to eat shoes. If you have your child help you put these things out of the new dog’s reach before the arrival, he’ll be used to having to do this as long as the dog is in that stage of life.

Now it’s time to pick out the new member of the family. Animal shelters and pet stores are great places to look, but you can also find dogs in the classified section of your newspaper and through word-of-mouth.

Eventually someone is going to name this puppy. Solicit suggestions from your child. He might come up with very unusual ideas, but consider what he says. You might not want to name the dog “Boofus” or “Tarzan.” But if these are names that your child likes, and he’s the one learning the life lesson, his ideas should be considered.

As dog and child bond and grow together, they’ll teach each other more things than you imagined possible. With proper training, the puppy will grow into a well-behaved dog who adores your entire family. And while you and your child are teaching the dog, whether he be a Boofus or a Fido, to fetch and stay, he’ll be teaching your family about love and caring, responsibility and being good masters.

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Stop Your Dog From Jumping on People

While many people love the enthusiasm of a puppy that tries to jump in their arms, this habit is not so cute when that little puppy grows into a large and powerful dog. It is best to nip this problem in the bud, before it becomes ingrained.

Many dog owners inadvertently reward this unwanted behavior by petting and cooing over the puppy when it jumps up to greet them. While there is certainly a strong temptation to reward this behavior, it is important to avoid that temptation and instead react with a strong “no”. It may take a few times for the dog to understand that this behavior is unwelcome, especially if it has been allowed to continue previously, but most dogs will understand rather quickly.

At the same time the firm “no” is given, the owner of the dog should take the dog’s paws and place them firmly on the ground, repeating the procedure if the dog attempts to jump up again. The keys to successful training the dog to avoid this unwanted behavior are consistency and firmness. It is important for every member of the family to understand the importance of this training and to avoid reinforcing this bad behavior. Training the various members of the family, as well as visitors and guests, can be as daunting a task as training the dog itself.

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Loose Leash Walking and all the problems it will solve

Loose Leash Walking & the problems is solves
by guest blogger Jenn Guerriero from Big City Dogs

As a trainer in New York City, I am constantly getting calls from clients to
help them solve their dog’s aggression toward other dogs while out walking.
Since the city is heavily populated and the sidewalks are pretty small, it
can be very dangerous to have a dog go ballistic when they see other dogs on
their daily walks. However, pick any day to observe a neighborhood with lots
of dogs and you’ll notice, on more than one occasion, outbursts of seismic
proportions. And yet, many (not all) of these dogs when they are taken off leash are
perfectly fine around other dogs…how can that be?!?!?

It’s actually quite simple. Most dogs that develop what we’ll refer to as
“leash aggression” have been taught inadvertently by their owners to act that
way. When a dog pulls away from their handler during the walk, the handler
usually pulls in the opposite direction causing the leash to be tight. Walking this way
doesn’t teach the dog to THINK about his/her walk or his/her handler, it just
makes the dog work harder at pulling. Now, throw in the site of another dog.
In a dog’s early stages of life, they want to pull towards other dogs as soon as they see one..there probably aren’t any ill intentions at this point. But every time the dog pulls harder to get somewhere he wants to go, the owner pulls back with equal or more pressure. This builds frustration in a dog and after doing this over and over, the dog
starts to associate other dogs with a hard pull on the leash. Of course owners start to anticipate this and start to tighten up on the leash at the sight of other dogs just to keep the dog in control. What they don’t know is that the slightest movement they make while holding that leash is sending communication signals to their dog, so with such a pronounced movement it sends an even bolder message (albeit, the wrong message).

This is where we teach Loose Leash Walking. It’s not the cure for aggression,
but it certainly does alleviate a lot of problems. Once we teach the dog how
to walk next to us on a loose leash, and teach them to pay attention to US (the handler), the site of another dog won’t be such a trigger for the dog any more. I don’t necessarily want to ignore all dogs while out walking since it’s important to keep a dog socialized, but I don’t want a dog to think the site of another dog is his/her cue to pull. Instead, I like to put the greeting of another dog on cue by teaching “SAY HELLO”. This gives the dog permission to go to the other dog and check them out. The handler must remember when the dog is going to approach another dog, they should keep the leash loose offering no stress or tension. Many are amazed at the difference it makes in their dogs when they practice this loose leash walking. It’s simple, not easy so if you do need help with this, try to contact a canine professional in your area

Interested in being a guest blogger? Email blog at bigpawdesigns dot com
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