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Happy HumpDay Housebreaking Hint!

Last week, I was  privileged to work with a man who  had just adopted a shelter dog, who had already  fallen in love with him  – and oh –  who had difficulty moving around much.

>Insert Personal Pet Peeve Here<   Often when I read training books or listen to trainers teach in seminar,  they are geared toward the able bodied with lots of time on their hands.    And somehow I live in the real world where sometimes  people can’t move around easily and/or work for a living.  And yet they want a dog to love – imagine their gall!  Deep breath -

Anyway – he had adopted a five year old five pound adorable mixed something or other and he was having a hard time with the house breaking.   “They” had said “Sammy” was housebroken already, but as I told the daddy, sometimes dogs are housebroken in one place, but not another; and sometimes people lie.   But since we knew Sammy was healthy, via the vet checks, we were ready to housebreak!

I said, “where do you want him to go?”  (which is, as you know, the first decision to be made in housebreaking)   He looked at me sheepishly and said, “the cat’s litter box, if that’s okay.”

Okay?   Your dog, your house, your rules.  It IS okay.   The litter box was handy, kitty had gone to his great reward in the sky, Dad could get to it, could wrangle the cleaning of it, and  Sammy could manage to get there with no issues.  What’s to worry about?  Why would it be wrong?

Sleeping in my boy's bed?  Being a pillow?  Those are good things in my house!

Sleeping in my boy’s bed? Being a pillow? Those are good things in my house!



We decided together to start with puppy pads in the litter box – they have an ‘attractant’ in them to lure doggy over there to pee on them.  Later, he said, maybe we could use litter?  Yes, we can!  Whatever works out best for him and his already adored doggy who sits on his lap and gives him love all the time.   And for you and your dog.  In case you were wondering.

We set a schedule of feeding times and walk on the leash to the litter box times.   A small jar of treats by the litter box was set out to reward Sammy when he did a good thing there.  Then there was practice time.

Keeping Sammy on a long leash in the same room Dad spent his day was important.  He doesn’t need to run off and pee anywhere else in the house.    We learned some games to work off energy that Dad could do.   Once Sammy gets used to going where he is supposed to, he will get more freedom, but right now its more important he keep his happy home than have house freedom.

And I always wonder why people ask me if what they want their dog to do is ‘okay’?   I’m not the dog police.  I’m there to help your dog fit in with your family and your needs and help you understand the doggy brain just a bit more.  That’s it.  I don’t judge!  Ask my friends….

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But I go here!

Oh, yeah, you know.   Your dog is ‘mostly’ housebroken,  he goes outside or on the papers.   He’s pretty good, except for the part where he goes there.

You know, under the dining room table, or in front of the tv, or by the door where you let him out (and that one is mostly your fault, but I digress).  And you can’t make him stop!   Because he thinks he also goes there!

Why?  He’s a dog.  Some people love to sit and ponder how and why a dog thinks.  I figure they don’t waste their time trying to figure out why I think the way I do, I’m not going to concern myself overly with their thought process.  I mean, why do they want to chase a ball around the back yard?  Who does that?   Well, yeah, football boys, golfers, basketball players…never mind.   Anyway!

If you need to ponder, there’s a couple reasons off the top of my head.  One is you didn’t clean it up properly.  They can smell far beyond the nose  of mere mortals.   They know someone peed (pooped) there before and they are helping!  “Here, mom, let me cover that up for you!  You’re welcome!”  Good doggie?  I guess.  Or  its a habit.  I go here, I go there, its much easier to go here than there, and we all like easy.  Another is, I know this is the way out but no one is letting me out, so, sorry, couldn’t wait!

And what you really want to know is JUST MAKE IT STOP.    I know.  I get that a lot.

In front of the tv?  Were you watching?!

In front of the tv? Were you watching?!


Okay, the first thing is, decide you’re going to. I know, that sounds simplistic, but sometimes its just easier and like I said, we all like easy.   But once you decide you are going to stop it, we’ll make a plan.

Lets say he’s going under the dining room table.  One.  Clean the spot thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner.  Then do it again.  Then – you got it – do it another time.

Second –   Don’t let him in the dining room.  I know.  Who woulda  thought?   And make sure he gets taken out a few more times a day and rewarded for doing it right.

If you can’t block the dining room, then put something over the spot.  Like a box or a plant or something so he can’t get his nose to it.  And take him out anytime he tries to go in there and sniff around.

Just tell me where you want to me to go!  I'll try to remember.

Just tell me where you want to me to go! I’ll try to remember.



If he still keeps going back, after a few days, then feed him on that spot.  Usually (not always) but usually, dogs don’t pee on their food.   So that should stop it.    If it doesn’t back track on the housebreaking.   Crate, tether, schedule.  Start all over.

Good luck!   And just remember, you like to pee in the same place also.   You know, if you have to ponder reasons.

The best dog trick ever!

What’s the best trick you can teach your dog? Shake hands?  Dance?  Weave?  Fetch the paper?

Play Dead always goes over big in class.    Fun!   Army crawl, another cute one!

I think the best trick ever though is come when you are called.

What? You don’t think that’s a trick?  Why not?  I think it is.  It amazes me every time when I yell ‘dogs, come’ and they do!  Wow, what power I have!  I’m stronger than the frisky squirrel, more interesting than the neighbor’s  dog, more powerful than the pull of the stray cat running by!   My dogs come when they are called!

Did I hear my name?

Did I hear my name?

And you know why?  I taught them that.   Oh yeah, what a cool trick!

And every time they come, they get rewarded for it.   It doesn’t matter what they were doing, or how irked I might be at them, or if they took one last run at the squirrel teasing them on the high wire.  As soon as they get to me, its a good thing!  Praise and treats and love all around!

If you get your puppy as a baby, start day one.  Face him, take a step back, and they will usually follow you, ‘puppy, come’    Yay!

Same thing with your older dog.  If  you’re unsure if he will follow you, then hold out a yummy.  “Dog, come”   treat in mouth, good job dog!

When you are in the house, call the puppy just because.  Not always because you’re going anywhere, or need him or anything, but just because.   When I get a new one, I  count out about 25 to 30 treats and put them in a cup on the counter.  I try to call my dog that many times a day for a while.   Just from across the room, or down the hall or from one step away.  This does 2 things – teaches puppy his name, and that coming to you is fun!  We like fun, dogs like fun – fun for everyone!

But are you more exciting than dirty dishes?

But are you more exciting than dirty dishes?

If there are two of you, puppy ping pong is a great game.  Sit or stand across the room, and take turns calling puppy back and forth.    Bonus to this one, it wears him out.   We love tired dogs!

And if you don’t think this is worth doing, remember that when your dog slips his collar, or  the kid opens the door and accidently lets dog out,  or he digs  under the fence and is running merrily down the road away from you.

When he turns around and arrives safely in your arms, I guarantee you will be thinking Best Trick Ever.

Did the ‘come’ trick help recover your dog?  Share your story here!

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