5 Dog Commands Every Pet Owner Should Know

Dog Commands

Congratulations on becoming a pet parent! It’s truly a gift to build a bond between you and your pet. They offer us loyalty, love, and fun memories. You can always count on your pet to be at the door waiting to greet you after a long day and give you companionship when you need a friend!

Pets can help reduce stress and anxiety; they are a source of comfort when you aren’t feeling your best. Our health is positively affected by dogs, as they force you to get out of the house and go on walks.

Basically, you win in every category when you become a pet parent. The only exception being the amount of space you now have on the couch and the constant need for a lint roller!

While being a pet parent is fun, you have a little work cut out for you. When bringing a new furry friend into your home, teaching them basic commands is a must. Training helps you to effectively communicate with your dog on what you would like them to do and how to appropriately live with you, which increases obedience and keeps your dog, yourself, and others safe.

Teaching basic commons is the key to good dog behavior. Your home will be peaceful and harmonious when your pup has structure and knows the expectations you have for them.

In this article, we’ll discuss the basic commands every pet parent should know (outside of potty training, of course).

1. Sit

The “sit” command is the most fundamental command to teach your dog. It’s often the first command a dog learns, as it provides a foundation for the rest of their obedience training education.

Once this important command is in the books, build on what your dog knows. This is the starting ground for your dog to realize that if they do what you ask, they’ll receive a reward, increasing their attentiveness to you.

Teaching your dog to sit is relatively simple. Using one of their favorite treats or toys, hold it above their head. As your dog follows the treat, they’ll move into the sitting position as you move the treat over their head and toward their tail.

Whenever they sit, immediately say “sit” and give them a treat. Soon your dog will connect the word and the action together. They know once this happens, they will be rewarded.

2. Stay

The “stay” command helps teach your dog self-control and keeps them safe.

The “stay” command is very helpful when you are trying to enjoy dinner and don’t want your dog at the table begging. It can also help prevent dangerous situations, making it a key component of puppy training courses. A well-taught stay command can keep a dog from running across the street to see their canine bestie or running to the ice cream truck.

Many pet parents add a hand signal with this essential command to reinforce the message.

To teach the stay command, tell them to sit and then put your hand out, palm facing them. Make eye contact to check they’re paying attention. As you slowly back away, say, “Stay.” Start the process over if your dog moves. Once they stay for a moment, present their reward and start to gradually increase their stay time.

Eventually, this basic dog training command can set the stage for more complex ones, like “place” or “kennel,” sending your dog to a specific place for an extended period of time.

3. Come

This command is important as you are telling your dog to come to you. This is important for your dog’s safety, especially if they are off of their leash and you need them to come back to you right away. It’s useful in the middle of the night when you let your dog out to use the bathroom, and they are taking their time to come back in.

Grab a friend to help here. Have your friend hold your new puppy as you amp up your dog, calling your dog’s name and shaking a toy or drumming your hands on the floor. After your dog is sufficiently excited to run to your welcoming arms, say “Come” and have your friend release your pup.

When your dog comes to you, give them a treat. Keep the practice up until your dog comes to you every time you call them. To go the extra mile, you might have your dog sit or lie down upon reaching you. (This is where basic obediencehand signals can come in handy.)

4. Leave It

Your dog’s nose can call the shots, and sometimes they become very intrigued by something that could be harmful to them.

The “leave it” command prevents your dog from approaching or grabbing something they shouldn’t, like food, harmful objects, or even other animals. We don’t want our pups pulling toward service dogs, for example. Those pooches are hard at work!

You’ll be grateful that your dog knows the “leave it” command when they find some type of discarded food on walks, and you won’t have to reach in their mouth to remove it.

To teach your dog to leave something alone, place something on the ground that your dog would be interested in, like a toy. While your dog is on a leash, approach the object, but then say “Leave it” and gently pull them away.

It may take a few tries, but when they leave the object alone, give them a treat and lots of praise. Practice until your dog can leave the object alone without being on a leash.

5. Heel

You’ll likely find that your time outside will increase after you get a dog. Our pooches love being outdoors and sniffing all the good things (and sometimes smelly things) the world has to offer. The heel command will be a huge help whenever you walk your dog. This command teaches your dog to walk with you rather than pulling you down the sidewalk.

As you walk, pay attention to the slack of the leash. As soon as the leash becomes tight due to your dog pulling, say “heel” and give the leash a directional tug. Repeat the process until your dog walks beside you without the leash being tight. Keep a treat or two in your hand to entice your dog to stay by your side and reward them for slack in the leash.

With practice, your new puppy will walk on a loose leash by your side. While a heel position generally means your dog is on your left side, it’s essential dogs be able to adapt to anything. Train your new dog to strut on both sides, and you’ll walk in confidence.

Useful Training Tips

When it comes to training dogs, there are a few tips to follow so that your sessions go smoothly and your dog stays engaged:

  • Patience. It will take time until your pup gets all the commands under their belt, or should we say collar? Dogs learn through repetition and consistency. Every dog is different, so learning speeds vary from pup to pup. Typically, the more complex the command, the longer it will take to master. Obedience command mastery can also depend on your dog’s breed, age, and personality.
  • Utilize the idea of positive reinforcement.Positive reinforcement is giving a reward when a desired behavior occurs. Dogs are highly food-motivated, so a piece of their favorite treat, or even a few kibbles of their dog food, will reinforce the behaviors you desire.

You can also use praise or play with them with their favorite toy. Keep training sessions brief. Know how your attention wanders during a long meeting? Same thing for our pups.

Five to 10-minute sessions are the perfect amount of time until your dog’s attention starts lingering elsewhere. You can have more than one session a day, but keep them brief so your dog’s attention doesn’t wander and they keep wanting more.

  • One command at a time. Focus on mastery of one command before going to the next. This will ensure that your dog fully understands each useful command and won’t get the terms mixed up.
  • Change up the environment. Train your dog in different places, like at the park when other people and dogs are around. This will help with your dog’s attention and give them further opportunities to respond in different surroundings.

Give you pet the personalized care. Get the app!

Pawsitive Training With AskVet

If you’re having difficulties or experiencing challenges training your dog, don’t hesitate to seek help. When you are a member of AskVet, you’ll have the expertise of our Certified Pet Coaches™ who can help create personalized pet plans for whatever concerns you have during the pet training process. They can provide guidance and additional techniques to address your dog’s specific needs.

It’s easy to get answers to training and behavioral questions you may have. First, become a member of AskVet for only $9.99 per month. Then, easily sign up in our app for a virtual session with a professional dog trainer.

The added bonuses of becoming a member are not limited to chatting with a Certified Pet Coach™. You also have 24/7 access to a veterinary expert anytime you have a health-related question. In addition to access to a peer-to-peer community to chat with other pet parents. Share cute stories and get advice for whatever part of the training process you are in!

Remember, training is an ongoing process that requires time, effort, and patience. Celebrate every success with your furry pal, and keep things pawsitive! Before you know it, your dog will have several commands down pat, and your relationship with your four-legged best friend will be strong and full of love.


The Power of Pets | NIH News in Health

How to Train Your Dog & Top Training Tips | RSPCA

Teach Your Puppy These 5 Basic Cues | AKC

Positive ReinforcementDog Training: The Science Behind Operant Conditioning | AKC

Training ‘stay’ vs. ‘wait’ | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Clicker Training: Mark & Reward Dog Training Using Clickers | AKC

Littermate Syndrome: What It Is & How To Handle It 

Littermate Syndrome: What It Is & How To Handle It

What’s better than one puppy? Two puppies! Twice the paws, twice the love. Raising puppies from the same litter seems like a great idea since siblings would get to grow up and play together, and they would have each other whenever you weren’t around.

However, too much of a good thing can, in reality, be a not-so-great thing. When you bring home multiple puppies from the same litter, or even puppies of the same age but from different litters, a behavioral condition called littermate syndrome can develop.

What Is Littermate Syndrome?

Littermate syndrome describes a behavioral condition when puppies of the same age bond too closely with each other, affecting how they act with other dogs and even their owners. While it will be cute to watch the two puppy siblings play, eat, and sleep together, problematic behaviors can start to develop and become more prominent as they age.

We may think of them as bonding, but this too-close relationship causes the puppies to become inseparable. This intense bond can hinder their individual growth, independence, and ability to adapt to new situations.

How Can Littermate Syndrome Affect Puppies?

Littermates can become socially dependent on each other, and this can cause them to not interact adequately with other dogs and humans. This can cause them to experience fear and anxiety when exposed to other dogs and unfamiliar people.

If littermates are separated after they have bonded, they can experience severe separation anxiety. This can lead to destructive behaviors, excessive barking, and emotional distress. Dogs with littermate syndrome can develop aggression towards each other, resulting in fighting.

When it comes to training, littermates may have difficulty focusing on training exercises as their attention will be focused on each other rather than the task at hand. This can also affect their independence, as they may struggle with individual problem-solving skills when faced with new experiences or environments, as they will always look to their littermate to see how they are reacting.

Managing Littermate Syndrome

Littermate syndrome can be avoided by not raising two dogs from the same litter in the same space. If you desire two dogs from the same litter, try socializing and raising one in a separate residence for a few months.

This will ensure that both dogs are socialized properly and will reduce the likelihood of behaviors like separation anxiety occurring. After six or so months, you can bring the two dogs back together again.

If you already have two littermates at home, you’ll need proper management to help littermates grow into well-adjusted and independent dogs. The overarching goal is for each puppy to be independent and functioning without their sibling. Read on for some effective strategies to handle littermate syndrome.

Separate Crates and Individual Feeding Areas

Crate training is effective for puppies, especially when you have multiple in the home. Dogs have the natural instinct to take refuge in quiet places, and a crate provides them with that den-like space to give them a cozy place to wind down.

With littermates, crate training each puppy separately can help them feel secure and provide them with a designated space of their own. This promotes independence and reduces over-reliance on their siblings.

Don’t allow your puppies to crate together. If your puppies have been crating together, procure a separate crate as soon as possible. Put the crates side by side and gradually move them apart. It may be helpful to also cover each crate with a towel or blanket to help with the separation.

The goal is for your pup’s crates to be in separate rooms or at least far enough apart so they cannot see each other while in their crate. While in their crates, provide interactive toys and puzzles that can help distract them and make the separation more enjoyable.

Create separate feeding areas for each puppy. This will help to prevent territorial aggressiveness and resource guarding. Think of one puppy shoving the other puppy out of the way to eat the rest of their bowl or the two puppies trying to eat as fast as they can to get to the other puppy’s bowl.

Place each set of bowls in separate areas to ensure that each puppy will have their own space during meal times. If space is an issue, put each puppy on a slightly different feeding schedule so their meal times don’t overlap.

Individual Social Visits

Socialization is important for dogs, and it’s vital to provide individual and positive socialization opportunities for each puppy. Introduce each puppy to new dogs and people separately so they are given a chance to develop their own social skills.

Puppies should start the socialization process between three weeks and 14 weeks of age. Before a puppy is fully vaccinated, some spots (like dog parks) won’t be safe for them. Playing with a healthy and vaccinated dog or going on walks can work. Reach out to a pet care professional to see if they recommend any puppy training classes in your area.

Watch your puppy carefully and keep the sessions short and positive.

Separate Training Sessions and Attention

Promote individual learning by keeping your puppies separate during training sessions. This format will allow them to focus on the commands you are teaching them rather than paying attention to their siblings. This also gives you a chance to spend some quality one-on-one time with each puppy, developing a stronger connection with you and reducing the reliance on their sibling.

Take each puppy on separate walks, and give each separate time to cuddle and spend time with you. When you give each puppy individual attention, you are building their confidence, building your bond, and you are able to spot what makes them unique. At the same time, the other puppy learns self-reliance and independence from their littermate.

Rotating time apart helps your puppies to develop individual identities and reduces their reliance on each other. If you have other family members in the home, implement a schedule where each puppy has individual time with different members. This helps them socialize by bonding with other humans.

If you need assistance with your pet training, reach out to AskVet’s Certified Pet Coaches™.

Monitor Playtime

Playtime is important for puppies. It provides physical and mental stimulation and also helps to get all that puppy energy out. Allow your puppies to play with each other, but monitor this playtime carefully.

Introduce toys and engage them in activities that encourage independent play. This helps the puppies develop their own play styles and reduces the reliance that they have on each other for entertainment.

Be Consistent and Keep Things Positive

Managing littermate syndrome requires planning, patience, and consistency. You’ll have to establish clear rules and routines that everyone in the household agrees on. This not only helps to give your puppies structure but also helps your puppies understand expectations.

Dogs, like people, can learn how to maintain appropriate behavior in a wide variety of settings. It can be hard to stay consistent, but having two well-rounded dogs is worth the hard work.

Positivity works wonders for humans and dogs too! When your puppies receive praise and treats, they will continue exhibiting the behaviors that keep the rewards coming. This means their favorite treats when they behave or fun activities when they have alone time. By rewarding your puppies’ accomplishments, you reinforce their continued growth.

Two Puppies – One AskVet Membership

If you ever feel that you are struggling with managing littermate syndrome or you are encountering other behavioral challenges, consider seeking guidance from one of our Certified Pet Coaches™. They can provide expert guidance tailored to your specific situation and help you develop a customized training plan. Our experts can assess each puppy’s individual needs, provide specialized techniques, and offer support throughout the training process.

Scheduling a virtual session is easy. First, sign up to become a member of AskVet (if you haven’t done so already). At $9.99 per month, it’s a no-brainer, especially when you have more than one dog under the roof.

Along with our Certified Pet Lifestyle Coaches™, you also have 24/7 access to our veterinary experts in case of healthcare questions. You can even utilize our peer network, connecting you with other pet parents who may be going through the same thing. You can share experiences and gather advice from those who have gone through the same journey.

Give you pet the personalized care. Get the app!

Double the Puppies, Double the Work, Double the Love

No doubt, having two puppies will make your home, hands, and heart feel full. While littermate syndrome can be a challenging task to address, consistently putting these strategies to use can help each of your puppies develop into well-rounded and independent dogs.

Remember that your key goal is to focus on individual growth and independence. With patience, effort, and lots of love, you’ll be able to raise two independent puppies and share unique and love-filled bonds with them.


How To Crate Train Your Dog Or Puppy | American Kennel Club

Socialization of dogs and cats | American Veterinary Medical Association

Why Play? | Oak Tree Veterinary Hospital

How to Feed Multiple Pets Without Conflict | American Kennel Club

Service Dog Training: A How-To Guide

Service Dog Training: A How-To Guide

Service dogs take the saying, “A man’s best friend,” to the next level. They are a necessary and essential part of many people’s lives, helping those with disabilities and medical conditions. In general, dogs are great workers and companions and can help lower stress levels, increase physical activity, and boost morale.

Training a dog to be a service dog takes hard work and lots of practice, but it is possible! Due to the high demand, there are some puppies that are born with service dog training in mind, so if you aren’t able to train your own, you can often find a service that matches you with an already-trained service dog.

To learn more about service dogs and how to train them to help you, keep reading!

What Is a Service Dog?

Service dogs are companions and helpers to people with disabilities, assisting them so that they can live more independent lives. A person’s service dog will be trained to perform specific tasks that help that individual with their daily life. The tasks that are taught to that dog are directly related to that person’s disability.

Common service dog tasks might be related to those who are blind or visually impaired, have difficulty hearing, have mobility issues, have psychiatric conditions, such as PTSD, or need to be notified about the onset of a medical issue such as low blood sugar or seizures. There are so many services that a service dog can provide!

Some types of service dogs are:

  • Psychiatric service dogs
  • Mobility service dogs
  • Visual impairment service dogs
  • Medical alert service dogs

Service dogs are considered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as working dogs and aren’t technically considered pets. This allows them public access to any environment or building and gives them certain protections against discrimination.

What Is Not a Service Dog?

Service animals are different from emotional support dogs and therapy dogs:

Service dogs are trained specifically to do at least two tasks to help with a disability. On the other hand, emotional support animals (ESAs) can be any type of animal, including rabbits and snakes. These animals might help us through a panic attack by silently supporting us, but only a service dog would know to offer trained responses like deep pressure therapy.

Therapy dogs are dogs trained to go into hospitals, libraries, schools, or other venues to offer emotional support to the people there. Typically, a therapy dog needs to pass a therapy dog test similar to the AKC Canine Good Citizen test.

Our canine companions improve our quality of life no matter what, and obedience training is always essential!

Common Service Dog Breeds

Any dog can be a service dog if they are able to complete the set of tasks they’re required to. There isn’t a requirement for your dog to be any certain breed, but you may want to consider what you need your dog to do before settling on a breed. For instance, smaller breeds may not be great for guide dogs or to help perform tasks requiring mobility assistance but could be fabulous alert dogs or something along those lines.

The three most common service dog breeds that you will come across are German Shepherd Dogs, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers. This is because these dogs are of good size and strength, are extremely intelligent and trainable, and bond deeply with their humans. They like to be given a task and are already protective of their humans to the point where they want to help them.

Other breeds that are known to make great service dogs are:

  • Poodles (Toy, Mini, and Standard)
  • Border Collie
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Pomeranians
  • American Staffordshire Terriers
  • English Setters

How To Find the Best Service Dog for You

Some people don’t have the ability or time to train their own service dog, and that’s okay! There are plenty of training programs out there that breed and train service dogs so that you don’t have to.

In these programs, the people training the dogs check to ensure they have a good temperament, are sociable, are in good health, and are trainable. Often, there are very long waiting lists for obtaining one of these already-trained service dogs.

When you adopt or go to a reputable breeder and are matched with a dog from one of these programs, your needs are taken into consideration, and you usually meet with the different dogs available first. This helps you to form connections with potential matches and see which one is the best fit.

Training Your Own Service Dog

Now, you may have a dog at home you love and want to make into your service dog. Maybe they already perform some basic obedience tasks for you, and you think they may be a strong candidate for training.

If that’s the case, you can give it a try! Especially if you already have a relationship and have built trust with this dog, it may make the training process easier and more fun.

1. Is Your Dog a Good Fit?

Before starting the training, be sure your dog is a good candidate for a service dog training program. Are they alert and easily trainable? Does your dog get distracted easily or too excitable?

Do they have any behavioral obstacles such as reactivity in public or have fear issues? Overall, what is your dog’s temperament, and have you witnessed them in a variety of different situations?

Not all dogs are meant to be service dogs, and that’s okay!

2. Go Through the Basics

When you’ve decided that your dog is ready, start with the basics. This can set the stage for how the rest of your training will go. If your pup picks up on tasks easily and shows signs of being interested, that’s a great sign. Future service dogs must be socialized with people and other dogs, as well as cats, if possible.

Ensuring that they can behave on the leash and walk without interruption or disruption is a sign that they will make for an attentive service companion. Additionally, they should be well-behaved off-leash and never run off or stray from your commands.

3. Test Their Attentiveness

The next step is practicing eye contact. You don’t want your dog to be easily distracted. Maintaining eye contact with you is a great sign for a successful service dog. Train them to keep their eye on you a lot of the time so that they don’t miss a command from you.

Practice this by bringing a bunch of different distractions to your dog. This could be another person, a dog, a couple of toys, and a really enticing treat. Work with your dog to ensure they know you are the most important thing to them, and only when you give them the command to go see the distraction are they allowed to.

4. Expose Them To New Places

Service dogs need to be exposed to new places so they don’t become easily overwhelmed. They need to learn how to adapt and stay focused no matter where they are. Bringing your dog to public places that you frequent is a good way of exposing them to new places and getting them comfortable. This way, they will be prepared when they arrive at a location they’ve been to before.

Service dogs in training are allowed in all the public spaces where fully-trained service dogs are. While the ADA grants service animals access, there are a few exceptions. For instance, some animal sanctuaries or zoos do not permit service animals to enter the premises or certain areas (like open-air topiaries or carnivore enclosures).

You could end up in any kind of environment; your dog should be prepared as well. That way, there are no surprises when you take your dog to a busy shopping mall or to a concert venue.

5. Determine Their Tasks

Lastly, when training a service dog, determine what tasks you’d benefit from. This knowledge helps you focus on specializing your dog’s abilities and making sure they perform tasks that are useful to you. If you are someone with a mobility disability, making sure your assistance dog can open doors, reach light switches, retrieve items, and assist you as you move around is essential.

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Training Your Dog With a Helping Paw

As you continue to train your service dog, you may find yourself coming up with questions you can’t answer. When you sign-up with AskVet, you gain access to Certified Pet Coaches who can provide you with support and advice on the training process. They can recommend certain resources to you that will be helpful and connect you with behaviorists that can help you understand your dog’s actions and responses.

Sign-up today for a virtual consultation about what AskVet can offer you. You’ll find that having this additional resource does wonders during your training sessions, so don’t wait another day!


How to Stay Healthy Around Pets and Other Animals | CDC

ADA Requirements: Service Animals | ADA

Enhancing the Selection and Performance of Working Dogs | Frontiers

Mobility And Medical Service Dogs: A Qualitative Analysis Of Expectations And Experiences | NCBI

How To Tell if Cats Are Playing or Fighting: 7 Signs 

How To Tell if Cats Are Playing or Fighting: 7 Signs

Sometimes determining if your cats are playing or fighting is not as easy as you’d think. You notice that they are getting a bit rough, and you aren’t sure if both of them are now playing the same game. Knowing your cats’ body language and how they get along can help you come to a pretty safe conclusion on what is going on, but it can take time to learn these things.

Especially if one or both cats are new to your house, you might be wondering if they’re truly getting along. Luckily, there are signs that your cats will give you to alert you and the other cat about how they feel about the situation. By understanding these signs, you can avoid further confrontation and keep both of your cats safe.

Keep reading to learn more about the difference between playing and fighting.

Watch Their Body Language

A cat’s body language will tell you everything you need to know about how they are feeling. Some people argue that trying to pick up on a cat’s feelings is more difficult than a dog’s, but cats can be very straightforward in displaying their emotions. This is what can help you to figure out if they’re still playing or if it’s shifted into a fight. You can better determine when your cats feel anxious if you understand their body language.

Cats playing can seem like they are fighting if you just look at how they are interacting with each other. There can be some biting, swatting, and tumbling around the house. However, cats that are play fighting will appear much more relaxed. They won’t be defending themselves in the same way as if they were fighting.

Play fighting is much more back-and-forth with breaks and relaxed breathing. The tension simply isn’t there when your cats are fighting, even if you are wondering if it is. The cats’ body language will also change as soon as it shifts into a real fight. You’ll notice they may make sounds that make it seem like your precious angel is trying to appear larger or intimidating.

Know How They Interact Normally

An easy way to better understand the difference between fighting and playing is by knowing what a normal interaction between your cats looks like. When first bringing a kitten or two home, you can’t always predict how they are going to get along. Take some time to figure out each cat’s behaviors and quirks to determine when they are enjoying themselves and showing signs of defensiveness or aggression.

Over time you will feel like you understand your cat by simply observing him for a couple of seconds. As your cats develop their own relationship, you will pick up on what is normal behavior and interactions between them. When things are off and your cats are stressed, you’ll know.

Signs Your Cats Are Playing

There are some signs that your cats will give to each other to show that they are playing. Fair play with a relaxed air is a marker of playtime. It helps each cat know what is acceptable to the other and what is crossing a boundary. As soon as a boundary has been crossed, your other cat’s behavior will shift and no longer display the same level of calmness.

The following signs are good when your two cats are going at it. Always monitor your cats’ interactions when you’re able to ensure they are getting along. Be sure to do this before ever allowing your cats to be alone for extended periods of time.

1. They’re Being Quiet

When cats play, they are generally quiet. You won’t hear so much as a peep unless one of your cats gets hurt or annoyed. They will chase each other all over the house, tackling one another and causing a ruckus, all while being virtually silent. You may hear the noise from their feet jumping around (or from the potted plant being knocked off the shelf!), but you won’t hear any vocalization.

Even as your cats bite at each other, they will remain very quiet. This indicates that they are picking up on each other’s signals and are getting along. Of course, if they’re too quiet, you might want to check on what those two little sneaks are up to …

2. They’re Taking Turns

Playing is also indicated by whether or not your cats are taking turns. Cats that are playing will usually launch an attack and then permit their playmate to attack back. They typically don’t “go at it” at the same time and allow each other to breathe and settle down.

This goes back to understanding each other’s signals. When cats take turns, they can gauge how their feline friend feels about the ongoing level of play. It’s a way for them to communicate their boundaries.

Sometimes cats will even groom each other in between play-fights which may seem odd, but it’s a true symbol of affection. You’ll see them licking each other one moment, then bouncing and rolling around the next.

3. They’re Gentle

Cats learn how to play as kittens with their littermates. During this time, they learn about body language and what’s considered too aggressive. In other words, they learn how to be gentle when they want to be. When they want to play, they know they have to be gentle or else it may not be reciprocated.

During playing sessions, your cat will have their claws retracted so that they do not hurt each other and will not bite down on each other. This kind of play is adorable and reminiscent of kittenhood, so it’s really just your cat showing off their youthful side.

4. They Relax Easily

Playing is also characterized by your cats’ ability to relax and calm down after going at it. If your cat is capable of stopping rather easily and settling down, this is a sign that they were simply playing. Your cat should not be out of breath or hissing after the play has stopped. Otherwise, this could be a sign that there is more to the situation.

Signs Your Cats Are Fighting

When your cats are fighting, the easiest way to be sure of it is to look at how their body language has changed. Some of the following changes are indicators that they are no longer enjoying the interaction.

5. Their Posture Is Tense

If your cats’ postures start to shift and tense up, they may be trying to signal that they are done with the interaction. If they puff up their fur, arch their back, stare deeply at each other, or begin to lean away from each other while hissing, they are not comfortable. They will also flatten their ears back and swish their tails back and forth as a warning.

They’re telling each other to back off and trying to make themselves bigger than their opponent. Try to diffuse the situation and separate the cats so they can calm down.

6. They’re Very Loud

Cats that are fighting will become loud. As soon as you hear your cats begin to hiss and growl at each other, sometimes even screaming, this is not a good sign.

Either one or both of the cats has entered into a defensive mode that could lead to aggression. They are still sizing each other up and using their voices as a way to appear larger and warn the other cat that they mean business.

7. They’re Swatting at Each Other

While cats may swat at each other from time to time, if both are doing so in a flailing and wild manner, it’s likely because they’re fighting. Swatting at each other in a flurry of paws and legs is aggressive behavior and should not be allowed. If your cats get into this kind of situation with each other, you need to separate them and consider chatting with an animal behaviorist.

Give you pet the personalized care. Get the app!

How To Make Things Better

Sometimes your cats need more time to adjust to each other and don’t want to be thrown into a situation of cohabitation just yet. You may need to give them more time and not force anything. Sometimes, speaking with Certified Pet Coaches from AskVet can help bring some calmness into your home.

When you sign-up with AskVet and chat with our Coaches, you can get advice on how to reintroduce your cats and ways to make them both comfortable. Whenever you have a question or concern come up, you can hop onto our vet chat and talk with a professional right away. Using AskVet can help ease your worries and keep the peace at home for years to come.


Recognising And Assessing Feline Emotions During The Consultation: History, Body Language And Behaviour | SAGE Journals

The Gaze Communications Between Dogs/Cats and Humans: Recent Research Review and Future Directions | NCBI

Conflict And Affiliative Behavior Frequency Between Cats In Multi-Cat Households: A Survey-Based Study | NCBI

Are These Cats Playing? A Closer Look At Social Play In Cats And Proposal For A Psychobiological Approach And Standard Terminology | NCBI

How To Manage Leash Reactivity in Your Dog

How To Manage Leash Reactivity in Your Dog

Do you dread taking your dog on walks because of how they behave while they are on their leash? Are you constantly rubbing your shoulders due to them pulling or lunging at other dogs that pass by?

These types of behaviors that your dog displays while on a leash is called leash reactivity, and it’s a common behavior challenge faced by many pet parents. These intense reactions can make walks stressful, challenging, and downright unworkable for both you and your dog.

These behaviors can be managed and improved, though. With proper understanding, training techniques, and patience, a peaceful and relaxing walk with your dog is on the horizon. Today we’ll chat about what you need to know about leash reactivity, ways to address the behaviors, and some practical strategies to help you address this behavior.

What Causes Leash Reactivity?

Think about all of the stimuli you experience on a walk. Cars pass by on the street, sometimes honking. People walk past; they may be talking on their phones or carrying a load of shopping bags. Birds are whistling; kids are playing; other dogs pass by, and not to mention all the smells that catch your attention (so imagine what your dog’s nose picks up).

Being outside can be overwhelming for your dog, especially if they are in a new place. All of these external stimuli can cause your dog to feel excited, frustrated, or even stressed. They may also feel restricted by their leash.

While we know the leash is there for their own safety, your dog may not feel that way as they feel overwhelmed by all the activity happening around them. They aren’t able to get away and are now being confronted by these triggers, resulting in leash reactivity.

Preparing for Success

The key to managing a dog’s leash reactivity is first identifying the stimuli that cause them to feel overwhelmed. If your dog begins to bark and lunge at other dogs, then it’s safe to say that other dogs trigger their leash reactivity. If your dog whines and tries to approach other people, then people are their trigger. Sometimes it can be a combination of both or something else entirely!

If your dog’s trigger is other dogs, avoid the dog park or places where others are taking their furry friends on their daily walks. If this can’t be avoided, try to put as much distance as possible between your dog and the others.

The same thought goes for crowded areas with other humans. If your dog reacts to other people, take your dog to less crowded spaces. While we often can’t resist a cute dog while out and about, you’ll sometimes have to advocate for your dog if another human approaches them.

One helpful trick is to let the other person know what your dog is in training. This’ll send the message that while you appreciate their love for dogs, you and your dog need some space.

You should see some improvement on walks if you are able to avoid your dog’s triggers. While this isn’t a feasible long-term plan, in the beginning, this will help with effectively managing your dog while on walks.

Positive Reinforcement Training 

Positive reinforcement training is very effective when training your dog, especially if they are food motivated. When utilizing this type of training, you’re giving your dog a reward (treat, praise, anything positive that your dog enjoys) to reinforce behaviors and create a positive relationship with something that your dog does.

You’ll want to keep this training in mind while working on managing your dog’s leash reactivity. If you know your best buddy’s favorite treat or toy, stock up on these to help training go more smoothly!

Loose Leash Walking

If you start to see an improvement when avoiding your dog’s triggers while on a walk, then it would be a great opportunity to teach your dog loose leash walking. This is another skill that will help make your walks more enjoyable.

Loose leash walking is when your dog walks calmly near you during walks, which results in a loose leash. This will result in no pulling, and your dog will pay more attention to you during walks. This will help later if they see any triggers that cause leash reactivity.

Reward your dog with treats when they walk nicely on a leash. If they begin to pull, immediately change direction. This will let your dog know that pulling will not get them what they want. Once they start to walk calmly again, offer them a treat. They will soon learn that walking next to you instead of in front of you and pulling will result in a tasty morsel.

Managing Walks and Encounters

As we mentioned earlier, avoiding your dog’s triggers isn’t a long-term plan. At some point, a dog will need to be exposed to their triggers, but you can give them opportunities to deal with these stressful moments in a controlled environment.

You’ll have to help manage their behavior and desensitize them to their triggers. In the future, when you and your dog have to face these stressful moments, you’ll be prepared.

Positive Reinforcement Is Key

This is where positive reinforcement comes in. You know your dog best, so you know if they enjoy treats, a pet, praise, or a toy. Keep those rewards on you and go on your walk. Whenever you see one of your dog’s triggers, don’t avoid it like you usually do. Keep walking as normal until your dog sees the other dog or person, and offer them a treat. If your dog still reacts or does not take the reward, it means you came too close to the trigger. Try again, but this time keep more space between yourself and the trigger.

This is where you want your dog to start making the connection that when they see another dog or person, they get a treat. This is the sweet spot where your dog starts to associate the trigger with treats. In their mind, this starts to turn the negative into a positive.

With consistent training and counter-conditioning, your dog’s triggers will elicit less of a reaction. This will take time and consistency on your part. With each training session, start to get a little closer to the triggers while giving your dog their treat and showing them that everything is okay.

Watch Your Dog’s Body Language

Watch your dog’s body language during all training sessions. Your dog may show signs that they are anxious but haven’t completely started to react. Look for raised ears, panting, lip licking, and whining.

When these behaviors increase, pull away from the situation to a calmer environment. You don’t want your dog to show their typical reactive behaviors like barking or pulling. You’ll have to constantly monitor your dog while walking so you can pivot and change direction if needed to help your dog feel more comfortable.

Note that if a dog has a history of biting or a risk of biting, ask your dog trainer if it would be safer for everyone involved (including the pup) if the dog wears a basket muzzle or similar safety device.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Remember that just because your dog shows leash reactivity, this doesn’t mean that they are a bad dog or can’t learn. There’s no such a thing as a bad dog anyway — everyone needs a little help now and then, including our dogs.

Sometimes, we need a bit more guidance in this area when our approaches aren’t working. Professional guidance can be very helpful, as these experts deal with these types of issues on a regular basis and have received special training.

AskVet can be your tool in helping minimize leash reactivity in your dog. For one, our Certified Pet Lifestyle Experts™ can help you better understand why dogs behave the way they do. This will allow you to be better equipped to handle your dog’s leash reactivity, especially if you have already tried other approaches.

Together, you’ll be able to come up with a personalized plan for your dog. Frequent check-ins will allow your expert to make changes as needed to better suit your pet. Think of these as lifestyle coaching sessions for your dog. Schedule a chat with a Certified Pet Coach and get started today.

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Walk in Sync With AskVet

Managing leash reactivity in your dog requires patience, consistent training, and a positive mindset. By understanding what causes leash reactivity, you can implement positive training techniques to effectively address and manage this behavior.

Progress may take time, and we’re here whenever you need any guidance. Remember to reach out to AskVet and schedule a virtual session whenever you have any behavioral questions. We’re here for your and your best furry pal every step of the way.

As a member of AskVet, you’ll also have access to a pet parent community so you can share and get advice on any pet topic you can think of. If you need a more personalized touch, our Certified Pet Lightstyle Experts™ can help to create a personalized pet plan for your dog.

Additionally, anytime you have any health-related questions, AskVet has veterinary experts on hand. They’ll let you know when it’s time to go to the vet or if there is anything you can do to help your furry friend be comfortable when they aren’t feeling their best.

Together with AskVet, you and your furry buddy will be able to walk in sync and enjoy peaceful walks together.


Positive reinforcement training | The Humane Society of the United States

Managing reactive behavior | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Anxious behavior: How to help your dog cope with unsettling situations | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Teach your dog to walk on a loose leash | Animal Humane Society

Dog Muzzles: When, Why, and How to Correctly Use Them | AKC

How To Train a Rescue or Shelter Dog

How To Train a Rescue or Shelter Dog

Becoming a pet parent to a rescue or shelter dog is a very rewarding experience. Not only are you saving a life, but you are also gaining a new friend and family member. While it may take a few weeks to a few months for you both to adjust to this new life together, before you know it, you’ll have a comfy-spot-stealing, shenanigan-starting, good-time-having best pal.

While this relationship doesn’t occur overnight, there are a few things you can do to establish a positive relationship with your new pal. By training your rescue or shelter dog, you’re giving them structure, routine, and building a lasting relationship that will be one of the most rewarding in both of your lives.

Understand Your Dog’s Background

One of the most critical aspects of understanding where to start the training process with your pooch is to understand their background. Your new dog may have experienced a not-so-positive start in life, whether it be neglect or abuse.

Like in people, this may affect a dog’s ability to trust or influence certain behaviors, so knowing what challenges may lay ahead will help you plan accordingly. Take all the notes you can from the rescue on the dog’s past (if they have them), the dog’s likes and dislikes, and everything else. By being patient and understanding, you can create a safe and supportive environment for them to thrive.

Establish a Consistent Routine

You want to start off on the right foot (or should we say paw?) when bringing your dog home. To maintain consistency, start your dog’s training the day that they come to their new home from the shelter.

This can be established quite successfully in the beginning by having a routine. Dogs absolutely love having a routine, and you can help make your new family member feel welcome in their new home by giving them some predictability in a new place.

One of the best ways to establish your dog’s routine is to feed them on a regular schedule in a consistent place. When you have a regular feeding schedule, your dog will likely start to be on a regular bathroom schedule. Getting your dog on a regular schedule can be a big help with their training. Many rescue dogs are already potty trained, but some might not be.

Give your dog a space of their own, whether it be a dog bed or a crate. Along with giving your dog a space of their own, it’s also equally important to set boundaries. This may include not allowing them to beg for morsels at the dinner table, lounging on the sofa, and using a baby gate to keep them out of certain rooms.

While you may want to show them extra love to make up for the time they spent in the shelter by letting them do as they wish, these will be difficult habits to break down the road.

Provide Opportunities for Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Just like humans, dogs need physical exercise to maintain their health. Not only does it help keep weight off, but your dog will get a chance to get outdoors and sniff to their heart’s content. They’ll be able to burn off excess energy and be less likely to get themselves into trouble when left alone. Going on walks with your dog also gives you extra time to bond, which is important in the early days.

We may we wish we could, but we can’t spend the entire day walking our dogs. This is where mental stimulation comes into play. Giving your dog puzzles and interactive toys helps to keep them engaged and keep their mind working, which is a perfect way to distract your dog while you are not actively interacting with them. Better to load a toy with treats than your dog to discover what a trash can is!

Both regular exercise and mental stimulation are important for your dog. Their physical health will benefit from getting outside and moving around, and their brain will get some well-deserved exercise by figuring out puzzles. This will come in handy when it comes to training your dog.

Prioritize Training

When it comes to training your rescue or shelter dog, assume that they are coming to your home not knowing any training or how to properly behave in your home, and you will be starting from the very beginning. Training your dog is a must so that your dog can function around other people and other dogs. This keeps them and everyone around them safe.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is the best way to instill skills in your dog. Whenever your dog exhibits a desired behavior, you give them a treat to enforce the behavior and let them know it is desired. Many dogs are highly food motivated, so they’ll be eager to figure out what to do to get another treat. Positive reinforcement is very effective, and your dog will be learning essential skills in no time.

1. Teach Your Dog Their Name

One of the first skills your dog will need to learn is their name. Anytime you say their name and they look at you, give them a treat. After a while, your dog will learn that anytime they hear their name, they’ll get something positive in return, whether that is a yummy morsel or a sweet scratch behind the ears.

2. Teach Your Dog To Sit

Next, teach your dog to sit. While your dog is standing, hold a treat over their head and slowly move it back over their head. This will make them look up, and they will sit on their bottom on the ground. As they do this, you can say ‘sit’ and give them a treat. Continue this behavior until you just say “sit,” and they do the action. Always reward them when they obey the command!

3. Adjust 

If you find that your rescue or shelter dog has come home with less than desirable behaviors, like jumping or chewing, redirect them to a positive behavior and then reward them. If your dog jumps on you when you first enter the door, ignore them. Once they stop jumping and engage in another behavior, present a treat.

If your dog is chewing an object you don’t want them to, give them an alternative toy. This will show your dog the items that they are allowed to gnaw on.

What To Know About Separation Anxiety

If your rescue or shelter dog had a less-than-positive past or even a well-meaning pet parent who didn’t work on training and surrendered their dog, you might see some behavior issues pop up. While this is not the only behavioral concern you could see with your pet, a very common behavioral concern in dogs is separation anxiety. This is completely understandable in rescue or shelter pets, especially if they were surrendered by their previous owners.

Separation anxiety occurs when your dog becomes upset that you are not home with them. Behaviors may include excessive chewing, barking and whining, and using the bathroom in the home. Your dog may start becoming clingy when they get the sense you are going to leave, often when you get your bag, grab your keys, or put your shoes on.

One key way to help this behavior is not to make a big deal when you leave or come home. Being calm lets your dog know that everything is normal. Taking your dog on a walk or leaving them with interactive toys prior to leaving gives them an outlet to get rid of excess energy. When your dog has been physically or mentally engaged, they are more likely to snooze when you are out of the house.

Seek Professional Help When Needed

Other behavioral concerns are fear and aggression. Your pup may have experienced fear while in the shelter since there is so much unknown, and this can come out as aggression when your dog feels stressed out. When it comes to addressing these behavioral concerns, working with an experienced dog trainer or expert can help with omitting unwanted behaviors.

When you are an AskVet member, getting in touch with a Certified Pet Lifestyle Coach is easy when you have behavioral concerns. You can sign up for a virtual session easily, and before you know it, you’ll be chatting with your Certified Pet Coach and coming up with an action plan that will help your pet live with you comfortably.

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Furever Love

Adopting a rescue or shelter pet is a remarkable decision, but it does come with responsibilities. It will take patience and understanding to help your new best pal overcome their past and develop into a well-adjusted and loving member of your family.

Becoming a member of AskVet gives you one-to-one support in managing your pet’s daily health and wellness — like having a life coach for your pet. You also have 24/7 vet support anytime you have a health-related question.

With AskVet, you can transform your new pal into a beloved family member in a wag of a tail. Join us today!


​​Why Your Dog Needs a Routine at Every Stage of Life | American Kennel Club

Benefits of Exercising with your Dog | VMBS News

Positive Reinforcement Dog Training: The Science Behind Operant Conditioning | American Kennel Club

Developing Diagnostic Frameworks in Veterinary Behavioral Medicine: Disambiguating Separation Related Problems in Dogs | Frontiers in Veterinary Science

Separation Anxiety | ASPCA

Why Does My Cat Randomly Bite Me: 4 Common Reasons

Gray cat with green eyes biting owner's hand

Many loving cat owners have been bitten, sometimes even ambushed, by their favorite felines, only to ask, “why does my cat randomly bite me?” This may have happened while you were walking by your kitty in the hallway, or during a petting and purring session, or seemingly out of the blue.

The truth is that, when someone suffers a cat bite, there is nothing “random” about it—the cat is trying to communicate that something is distressing them. Cats have limited ways to “talk” with their owners, and almost all of that communication is through the cat’s body language. Biting is one tool in the kitty toolbox that tells their person, “hey! I need some help over here!”

If you’ve noticed that your previously placid kitten is suddenly biting family members, seeing your local vet should be the first item on your to-do list. One of the most common reasons cats bite is because they are painful or physically uncomfortable somewhere. Your veterinarian can check for signs of an ear infection, painful dental disease, back pain, arthritis, belly pain, and uncomfortable skin conditions. They may recommend bloodwork to evaluate your kitty for hormone problems, and even screening him for high blood pressure if there has been a sudden change in his behavior.

Once medical ailments have been addressed or ruled out, it’s time to really focus on what might be causing your cat to bite.

1. Understanding Playful Biting in Cats

The most common reason that cats bite their owners isn’t that they have an aggressive cat, it’s because they are trying to play! While sharp teeth or claws may not feel very “playful” to you, hunting behavior equals play behavior for your kitty. This means stalking, pouncing, biting, and kicking.

If you have raised your cat since kittenhood, you may have made the mistake of using your hands as targets of play. Waving your hands in front of your kitten’s face, offering your fingers up so their tiny mouths can “munch” on your hand, and similar games teach your growing kitten that hands and human bodies are playthings. This translates to their behavior as adults—when playtime is just as important to them, but their teeth are sharper, and their jaws are stronger!

To re-train your cat that human body parts are NOT meant for chomping, offer them appropriate choices. Have cat toys placed strategically in the living areas of your home. If your cat tries to bite your hands or pounces on your feet, immediately grab the cat toy and use it to redirect your cat’s behavior. Over time, they will learn that toys—not feet or fingers—are a whole lot more fun to play with!

If you don’t have an appropriate cat toy within reach when they start to chomp down on you, simply stand up and walk away from your cat to find one. Keep things calm, so you don’t excite them further—and do not punish your cat, as this can make them more aroused and associate negative emotions with you—exactly what we don’t want!

2. Dealing with Redirected Aggression in Your Feline Friend

This is one of the most common reasons that cats bite their owners. The term “redirected aggression” refers to a cat’s natural instinct to pounce/attack being thwarted and unable to be exercised on the true object of their angst….and then redirected to a convenient target (aka, you!).

Picture this: your cat is staring out the window, watching a neighborhood kitty stroll around in front of your house. Your cat’s tail is twitching, their ears are flattening, they are leaning forward, and possibly growling. You walk over to see what’s got your kitty so focused—or just happen to walk into the room—and your cat suddenly attacks you with teeth and claws. OUCH!

If this sounds familiar, you have been a victim of redirected aggression from your kitty. When your cat is stressed by something or someone, all of that frustration builds up inside—like pressure in a teapot—and eventually, that frustration needs somewhere to go! Unfortunately, that means that the closest moving object is likely to experience kitty’s wrath, and more often than not, it’s you.

While seeing “stranger” cats through the window is a common trigger for redirected aggression, we can see these behaviors in cats any time their frustrations build at an unattainable target. If another human (usually a child!) is bothering your cat, and the cat gets punished for establishing their boundaries by lashing out—then YOU are the most likely target for that pent-up frustration the next time you walk by your kitty.

So, what can you do? If you can look out for these signs of stress in cats and identify the source, then helping them avoid it can short-circuit this process completely. In our example of staring at a neighborhood cat out the window, avoidance can mean lowering the blinds, removing any cat window seats from the area, or placing ultrasonic “cat deterrent” devices on your property. All of these can keep your house cat from getting riled up by seeing someone come into their “territory.” If the problem is more inside of the home, it may take retraining your cats to get along, or teaching humans in the house to stop antagonizing the cat.

As always, plenty of playtime with your cat’s favorite toys is essential for creating those positive endorphins, tiring out your kitty, and giving him an outlet for those hunting and predatory behaviors in a safe and playful way.

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3. Preventing Petting-Induced Aggression in Cats

“I was having a petting session with my cat, and she was purring…and then WHAM! Out of nowhere, she bit me!” Another common cause of cat biting is petting-induced aggression. We all know that cats are very particular about most things—their bathroom, their food, their toys…and of course, those personal preferences extend to their bodies!

When an adult cat is biting while being petted, it’s a way for the cat to tell you, “I don’t like that.” It could be that your cat likes to be pet in some places more than others, or pet more in short strokes rather than long whole-body pets, or only for short periods of time.

Since cats tend to groom each other around the face and neck, cats usually prefer for their humans to focus on these areas, too. While your cat might like short pets around the ear, cheeks, and chin, they might be uncomfortable with petting near their tail, on their belly, or even along their back. Pay attention to the signals your kitty is sending you—if her ears start to flatten, she stops purring, or her tail starts flicking—take your hand away and see if she relaxes again. It’s up to humans to understand what our cats are trying to tell us—and just like people, every cat has certain body parts that are “off-limits.”

While we humans LOVE scratching and petting our kitty companions and consider it an expression of love and affection, keep in mind that long strokes tend to build up energy within your cat. By petting down the length of their body over and over, you may be winding your cat up with excess stimulation that needs to come out—and that outlet is usually through biting or running away. If we continue to ignore what our cats are telling us, they may preemptively try to bite us if they feel like we are going to engage in an unwanted behavior—and so we may see a cat “randomly” pounce on our feet or attack our legs as we walk by. In some cats, this sudden aggression is merely a protective strike, meant to prevent previously unwanted stimulation.

If your cat seems to have a low tolerance for petting and runs away after a few strokes, or starts to bite after a couple of pets, then our choices as humans are simple: either acknowledge your cat’s boundaries and accept them, or try to build a positive feeling when your cat is being petted. You can do the latter by feeding your cat super yummy treats or canned food and petting them briefly while they enjoy—the whole goal is to make receiving pets a positive experience for your cat.

4. Speaking Your Kitty’s Language

By now, you can see that when your cat bites you, it is almost never truly “random”—they usually have a reason for doing so, and it’s up to us kitty caretakers to understand what our cats are telling us! If you have tried identifying any triggers outlined here and are unsuccessful in figuring out why your cat is biting you, then you may need to see a board-certified veterinary behaviorist to evaluate your kitty for a true mental health problem.

Our AskVet Veterinarians are available to discuss all of your pet’s needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether it’s learning how to calm down a cat or understanding why a cat is pooping outside the litter box, just sign into your account and one of our friendly and knowledgeable veterinary experts will attend to your needs, no appointment required. Chat with an online veterinarian at AskVet today!

Written by:

Allison Ward, DVM
Dr. Allison Ward grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and started working in veterinary hospitals when she was 14 years old. After graduating from veterinary school in 2011, she completed a small animal rotating internship in New Jersey, followed by a neurology/neurosurgery internship in Miami. After completing this advanced training, Dr. Ward then moved on to general small animal practice. Dr. Ward’s professional interests include feline medicine, neurology, and pain management. Her passion for educating pet owners carries over into her work with AskVet, and she loves being able to help pets and their parents at all times of the day (and night!). She currently resides in sunny south Florida with her two cats, Larry and George.

How To Greet a Dog (and How Not To)

How To Greet a Dog (and How Not To)

Every dog that you come across will be different. How you might greet your own dog or a dog you know will likely differ from how you greet an unknown pooch. When greeting a dog, the goal is to create a calm environment that minimizes the risk of excessive barking, nervousness, or even aggression from the dog.

The best thing to do is learn more about canine body language to better understand if a dog is enjoying your greeting or wishes to disengage. This can help prevent any harmful interactions between you and the dog.

To learn more about the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of how to greet dogs, keep reading!

What To Do When Greeting a Dog

Whether you see an unfamiliar dog approaching you on-leash or you are being introduced to your friend’s dog inside of their house, there are things that can help ensure the meeting is relaxed and positive.

For starters, whoever is handling the dog will likely inform you of the best way to greet that specific dog. They might have some specific needs or considerations to keep in mind based on Fido’s history or what their dog trainer recommends.

Listen to what their human parents have to say to succeed in making a new canine friend. If you yourself have a shy dog who you want to introduce to the world, check in with AskVet’s dog training resources for tips and tricks.

In general, there are a few things to do when meeting a new dog that will help you gauge how the interaction is going. Dogs have very specific body language signals that they send out to let people and other animals know how they are feeling. Once you’re able to pick up on some of these signals, meeting a new dog becomes a lot easier.

Ask First

While this one might seem obvious, ask first so you don’t infringe upon a dog’s personal space.

It’s very important to teach this lesson to children as they approach dogs, especially since many dogs who haven’t seen babies don’t understand what these tiny humans are (which naturally makes them nervous). You can’t run up to a dog or advance towards them head-on without asking their human, as it could seriously startle the dog, causing an adverse reaction.

This is the easiest way to keep you safe, as that dog’s human might tell you that they aren’t interested in being approached. But don’t worry: There are plenty of other dogs in the world that will want to be pet!

Let Them Come to You

If their human does say that you can greet the dog (hooray!), allow the dog to come over to you. Crouch down to let the dog come over near you. For a shy or anxious dog, this helps them recognize that you’re not a threat. You don’t want to move too quickly towards them, as that might cause them to jump back or become reactive or protective.

If the dog sniffs you and decides to distance themselves from you, they are making it clear that they are looking for some personal space. Encouraging them with a treat can help, but make sure you are tossing it to the dog — you don’t want them to come to you because they want the treat and realize they accidently are closer to you than they are comfortable with. Give them time to come around to you, and you’ll see the greatest results.

Remain Calm

You don’t want to wind the dog up and make them act out, so try to remain calm during the interaction. Speak with a low voice, and don’t make any sudden movements.

Behave as you normally would and continue conversing with their human so they can get used to the sound of your voice. While the pup’s family members might be able to greet them with a high-energy hello (perhaps with some zoomie-activating running), strangers don’t quite have this privilege.

Use Caution

When everything seems to be going well, you can attempt to pet the dog. It’s advised that you pet the dog on their chest, side of the face, neck, or back rather than over the top of their head.

These positions are more neutral and don’t have your hand hovering over their face. If you happen to notice any signs of stress or agitation with the dog, slowly remove your hand from their space.

Caution is exceedingly important when it comes to approaching a lost dog. Go slowly, talk calmly and softly — you can even hold a treat or two. For a lost dog approach, never run or chase.

While deep down, we feel that strange dogs are simply friends we haven’t met yet, safety needs to come first. If it’s not safe to capture and contain this lost pup, call animal control or similar who knows better how to deal with a potentially aggressive dog in a safe (yet loving) manner.

What Not To Do When Greeting a Dog

Even more important than what you should do is what you shouldn’t do when meeting a dog for the first time. There are certain actions and behaviors to avoid doing to enhance your chances of success.

Certain human behaviors can make a dog anxious, so we will want to avoid them when being introduced to a new dog. Additionally, if the dog’s human asks you not to do something specific, listen to them — they know their dog best, after all.

Avoid Making Eye Contact

Direct eye contact with a dog can be perceived as threatening, so you want to avoid it at all costs. Specifically, prolonged eye contact can come across as a challenge. It’s okay to catch a dog’s eye, of course, but keep your face soft and demeanor friendly and light so that they don’t get the wrong impression.

Even though you aren’t gazing lovingly into their eyes (yet), monitor their body language. A wagging tail isn’t always a sign of happiness. A low, slow wag could indicate fear or apprehension.

Don’t Force an Interaction

If the dog that you’re greeting does not want to be petted, do not pet them. It can be hard as a dog person not to love on every dog we meet, but it’s simply manners.

Don’t force a dog into a situation that they are not approving. This includes grabbing, petting, hugging, patting, booping their nose, or trying to play with them. If the dog shows anxious or avoidant behavior, this could be a sign you might be crossing a boundary.

Don’t go for a dog’s face or a dog’s head as the first thing to touch. This is not often welcomed by most dogs, and you could be putting yourself at risk for a dog bite.

Don’t Yell or Become Overly Excited

The decorum for meeting strangers is similar, whether it be human or dog.

Just imagine that someone comes into your space and begins jumping around and yelling and making loud noises. Not only would that be irritating and scary, but it would be overwhelming. A dog doesn’t want this, either.

Dogs are sensitive to noise; an outburst being directed at them is very intimidating. The response to an act like this might be to pull away from you or look for something to hide behind.

Don’t Tower Over Them

The optimal position to be in when greeting a dog is a crouched position at the dog’s level with your back turned slightly away from them. If you approach a dog and tower over them, they may cower and become anxious about what your next movement will be.

Dogs don’t like when objects or hands come over the tops of their heads, in what’s referred to as “overhead dread.” They can’t anticipate what’s happening if they’re being approached from above. Give them a clear line of sight and an indication of what your actions will be.

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AskVet Has Answers

Maybe your dog is struggling with greetings, or you’re trying to encourage family and friends to behave more cautiously around your dog. Whatever the case may be, AskVet is here to answer all of your questions. Not only do our Certified Pet Coaches have training resources and guides to promote a healthy and helpful life, but you can chat with someone at any point of the day to get answers.

Sign-up today for a virtual session where we can learn more about your dog and their personal needs before coming up with a plan to improve their overall well-being!


Communication in Dogs | NCBI

Canine Olfaction: Physiology, Behavior, and Possibilities for Practical Applications | NCBI

Eye Contact Is Crucial for Referential Communication in Pet Dogs | NCBI

Why Do Dogs Wag Their Tails? | American Kennel Club

Introducing Your Dog to Your Baby | Mallard Creek Animal Hospital

Dog bite prevention | American Veterinary Medical Association

If You Find a Lost Pet | American Humane Society

Service Dog Commands You Should Know

Service Dog Commands You Should Know

Whether you are training your own service dog or are simply interested in learning about the process, many basic obedience commands are part of this intensive training process. Even if you’re not looking for a service animal, it’s essential to teach dogs how to behave at home and out in public.

Even better, having an understanding of the tasks of service dogs may come in handy if you ever come across a service dog actively working. Most service dogs will undergo specific training starting when they are puppies to help train them to perform specific tasks and to help with specific disabilities.

Keep in mind that there are several differences between emotional support animals and service animals. Emotional support animals can be any type of animal, but they are not granted the same public access by the ADA. Essentially, your service dog can go to the movie theater or grocery store with you, but your emotional support dog cannot. Service dogs are working dogs, and interfering with one can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the action.

Be wary of any site that offers you a certificate or ID for an ESA/Service dog. These are scams — any dog trainer worth their salt could tell you that there is no certification process or ID necessary.

Service dog training never truly ends. As you age and change with your dog, new needs might come about that require assistance. It’s a never-ending process that helps build trust and a special bond between the handler and the dog. To learn more about different service dog commands that you should know, keep reading!

Which Breeds Can Be Service Dogs?

Any dog can be a service dog. It’s true that you’ll likely find intelligent, trainable breeds like the German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, and Labrador Retriever to be likely candidates, but don’t judge a book by its cover. While small service dogs might not be amazing at closing doors, they could do other tasks such as sniff out their human’s low blood sugar, warning them of an attack before it happens.

What Are the Different Types of Service Dogs?

The main types of service dogs are:

  • Psychiatric service dogs
  • Mobility assistance dogs
  • Guide dogs
  •  Hearing dogs

Service dogs can help people with visual impairments, hearing impairments, mobility difficulties, seizure disorders, mental health struggles, and so much more.

What Do Service Dogs Do?

These dogs learn a set of tasks to help make their human’s life more comfortable and overall easier. Service dogs help to foster a sense of independence in their human, which can boost their confidence and make everyday life easier and better.

Service dogs can be trained to help open doors, turn on and off lights, safely guide people across busy streets, navigate their ways through unknown environments, and monitor heart rates or blood pressure. These dogs can even warn their humans if they are going to experience an episode related to their medical condition.

For example, some service dogs alert people with PTSD to an anxiety attack. During a panic attack or flashback, these dogs are trained to perform specific tasks, like deep pressure therapy. Unlike emotional support dogs, who can cheer you up, service animals go through specific obedience training to perform these tasks either on command or independently based on an involuntary response in their person.

We know that dogs are intuitive, and service dogs hone in on this ability to read their human and provide the care that they need.

The Three Goals of Training Sessions

Most service dogs have to start their training as puppies. There are programs out there that specifically train puppies with the intention of them going on to become someone’s sidekick. If you’re looking to train your own dog to help you with specific tasks, you have to be sure that their temperament will help them to be successful.

The three main goals of training a service animal are:

  1. Socialization is important with people, other animals, and in different environments. This helps desensitize them from their surroundings so they can take care of the task at hand.
  2. Build trust. You are going to be a partnership that relies on each other to be successful. This kind of training requires an intense amount of determination and commitment in order to get the results you want.
  3. Teach basic commands and manners. Dogs need to be taught what behaviors are desirable for their specific task in order to do them correctly. They also need to remain calm and be able to perform basic functions when out-and-about.

Basic Commands To Teach a Service Dog

Take Time To Learn

As you build up the trust between you and your dog, there are basic service dog commands to work on. Some of the following are recommended to teach them before working toward any advanced commands.

Don’t move on too quickly before your dog has gotten the hang of each command they’re taught. Practice these commands in public and private so they can learn to ignore the stimulation going on around them.

The Basics

  • Name: They need to be able to respond to their name, so this should be the first thing that you work on with your dog.
  • Sit: Your dog will need to learn how to sit calmly when out in public, so this will be one of their most commonly used commands.
  • Down: Similarly to sit, they will need to be calm and lay down for possibly extended periods of time.
  • Stand: When you’re done with down and ready to continue on, the stand command teaches your dog it’s time to get moving again.
  • Come: This will get your dog to come directly to your side and wait for the next direction.
  • Stay: This can come in handy out in public if you need to direct your own attention to something else for a second and need your dog to be still.
  • Heel: This tells your dog to stay directly by your side and walk at the same pace as you.
  • Potty: This lets your dog know they should go to the bathroom since it might be a while before they get the chance again.

Adjustment Commands

  • Careful/Gentle: This tells your dog to continue with their task but at a more gentle speed and energy.
  • Quiet: Service dogs should not make any sound unless they are prompted to by a task or to warn you of something. This command helps to stop them from making unwarranted noises.
  • Leave It: This will tell your dog to stop touching something you don’t want them to.
  • No: This will tell your dog that they are behaving in a way that is incorrect.
  • Settle: if your dog is becoming anxious or excited, this can tell them that it’s not the time and they need to relax.

Direction Commands

  • Follow: This will tell your dog to follow behind you and not on the side or out in front.
  • Go Around: If there is an obstacle in the way, this directs the dog to move around it.
  • Closer: If your dog is retrieving items for you, this can be helpful to tell them to bring it a bit closer so you can reach it.
  • Go To: Followed by a name or location, this tells the dog to go directly over to a person or into a specific room or spot in the house (like a kennel or crate).
  • Under: When out in public, whether at a restaurant or entertainment show, the under command can help to move your dog out of the way of other people and place them underneath your chair or under a table.
  • Left Side/Right Side: This tells your dog where to stand in relation to you.

Focus-Up Commands

  • Watch Me: This will get your dog’s attention, especially in moments when there is a lot going on around you, and you need their attention.
  • Let’s Go: This shows your dog that you are both ready to move.
  • Release: This command will signal to your dog that they can break command or that you are done with work for the day.

Advanced commands will be more specific to what you are training your dog for. If you are training them to be a medical assistance dog, you might teach them ways to alert you to an episode, how to get the attention of a nearby person for help, or to bring you specific medications that are needed. Each dog’s training will begin to look different once they’ve mastered the basics.

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Get Answers with AskVet

Training your dog to be a service dog might take several years to complete, so questions are bound to arise throughout the process. When you sign-up with AskVet, you can talk with our Certified Pet Coaches about concerns you may have or questions that you want answered.

AskVet provides you with around-the-clock access to animal behaviorists and professionals that can help make the service dog task training process a bit easier. Don’t wait, and hop on a virtual session with us today!


Selecting Quality Service Dogs | NCBI

Mobility And Medical Service Dogs: A Qualitative Analysis Of Expectations And Experiences | NCBI

Professionally- and Self-Trained Service Dogs: Benefits and Challenges for Partners With Disabilities | Frontiers

Socializing Effects of Service Dogs for People with Disabilities | Research Gate

Interfering with dog guide or service animal | Washington State Legislature

Types of Services Dogs & What They Are Used For | UDS

How To Introduce a Cat to a Dog the Right Way

How To Introduce a Cat to a Dog the Right Way

For many, bringing a new cat into the home is exciting but, at the same time, can also be anxiety-inducing. When there are other resident pets that live in your home, take into consideration how they might respond to sharing their space. Cats and dogs are capable of living happily together, but it takes getting used to having another animal in the house before you start seeing the benefits.

When you bring a new kitten or cat into a home with a dog (or dogs) that already resides there, take some precautions before the introduction happens. You’re trying to create a space that is inviting and safe for your new pet without overturning everything your dog has ever known. As a pet parent, the main goal is for your animals to be healthy and happy, so we recommend taking this introduction seriously.

To learn more about some of the best practices to use when doing introductions between your new cat and your resident dog for the first time, keep reading.

Consider Both Pet’s Personalities

You’ve probably been considering bringing home a new cat for quite some time. Getting an animal is rarely an “on-a-whim” decision, so that means that you’ve done some thinking about if your dog is even capable of this new relationship.

You know your dog best, and you might have an idea of if they could live with a cat or not. It’s important to determine if your dog is able to live with a cat before going through the process of adopting.

For example, some dogs have a higher prey drive than others, making smaller animals an easy target. If your dog is one that gets overly excited and has a keen eye for hunting, you might want to reconsider getting a new cat or spend more time working on your dog’s drive and impulse control.

The last thing anyone wants to do is bring a new cat into the home, knowing that their dog’s personality might be too big for it. (While dog breed type can affect prey drive, it’s not a hard and fast rule.)

If you think that your dog would match up nicely with a cat, it would be helpful to seek out cats that have lived with dogs before. Even a kitten, who has no past trauma related to dogs would be ideal, as they are somewhat of a blank slate. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but it might help to have a more calm and anticlimactic introduction.

How To Introduce a Cat to a Dog

Introducing cats to a resident dog doesn’t always go as planned right away. It can take several days to several weeks for a new cat to warm up to your dog, and vice versa. They’ll need time to adjust. Don’t jump right in by throwing them in a room together; this could be a potentially dangerous first meeting, not to mention stressful for both animals.

By taking your time and going through specific interactions, you can get an understanding of how the two animals will react to one another. These initial stages can give you a good read on their body language and if they are taking to the new friend well or are labeling them an enemy.

Keep Them Apart

Before bringing a new cat into your house, establish a separate room set up for your cat to stay in. Have their litter box, toys, some food, water, a bed, and cat furniture in one room of your house so that they get used to the new space before having to get used to a new animal.

Have both animals eat on one side of the door. This will get them used to the new pet’s smell while doing something enjoyable. If the door-closed hello goes well, try an augmented face-to-face introduction through a baby gate.

Don’t rush into introducing them before either of them are ready; this situation can be overwhelming.

Swap Scents

Once the new cat has spent some time getting their scent on some of the items in the room, take out a toy or blanket of theirs and swap it with one of your dog’s. Have both your dog and new cat spend time with each other’s toys so that they can begin to get used to each other’s scents.

Dogs heavily rely on their sense of smell, and this will prepare them for their new sibling. You can even rub your cat and dog with two different towels and place the towel under their bowls while they eat, again, to build a positive association.

If you have multiple animals in the house, like another dog or even another cat, swap scents with each of them and your new cat. This way, all of your animals can get used to the new animal’s scent, and your new cat can have a better understanding of how many other animals are in the house.

Independent Exploration

The next step is to allow your new cat to explore the rest of the house without interruption for your dog. Take your dog into the room where your cat has been and let them smell the cat’s space as your cat explores.

Give your cat ample time to check out all the rooms, nooks, and crannies. This is their time to become familiar with their new space without having other animals in their face.

Swapping rooms and allowing for some independent exploration will give both of your pets the ability to become accustomed to the other’s scent without the pressure of seeing each other face-to-face.

Leashed and/or Gradual Intros

Once they’ve had time to settle in, your new cat might be itching to get out of their confined room, and your dog is probably wondering who the new scent is coming from. The best thing to do is leash your dog and have your cat in some sort of crate/kennel. Allow your dog to go up to the crate and smell the new cat, but then have your dog step away and sit or lay down.

After a few minutes, let your cat out of the crate with your dog still on leash. Your cat can then take their time to come up and sniff the dog. It might not happen right away; don’t force the interaction.

Baby Gate/Separate Room Intros

Remember, you know your pet best. Your new puppy or new cat might have a better first introduction through a baby gate in separate rooms. This allows the cat to have a safe space as well as an escape route if they decide puppies aren’t for them. The new/resident cat can have a large room set up with all of their stuff. Their scratching post, litter tray, and hiding places are all there and undistributed.

Then, the face meetings can take place at the cat’s own pace. You can use door stoppers to prop open the door safely after a few days of eating behind closed doors to begin the process of introducing them face-to-face.

Shy cats, in particular, might be wary of new situations and this new animal family member in particular. If your feline friend decides to stay sequestered, make sure your cat feels like they are still important by spending time with them in their personal room. The same goes for a dog — our pets can get jealous!

Allow for Space and Time

Let your cat decide when they are ready to go up to them. Many cats are curious, and some are very brave. If your dog is giving them calming signals and not showing them they are a threat, the interaction could happen.

They might begin to gaze at each other as if communicating silently as a way of building trust. Just be patient!

Positive Reinforcement

Whenever your new cat or dog does something desirable, like sits calmly, boops noses, or sniffs gently, reward them with a treat and some calm praise. You don’t want to sound too excited, or else your dog might hear it in your tone of voice and become excitable.

Offer cat/dog treats and pets and let them figure it out for themselves. Positive reinforcement helps your pets make good associations with whatever they are interacting with.

Be Mindful of Body Language

All of the above can be dependent on both of your animal’s body language toward each other. Your cat may be giving signals that they are uncomfortable by raising their hair, hissing, or running away. If you notice these behaviors, the situation is likely progressing too fast for your new cat.

On the other hand, if your dog shows signs of aggression or becomes too excited, they might need to work on some things before furthering the introduction. If your dog becomes extremely focused and alerted to your cat, this could be a sign they see the cat as some sort of toy or snack. Immediately separate them to avoid harm.

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Say Hello to AskVet

If you’re having difficulty with the introduction of your new cat to your current dog, consider using AskVet to get in touch with our Certified Pet Coaches. Our pet coaches can work with you to understand both of your pet’s needs and come up with behavioral plans to help your whole animal family thrive. They can also give you tips on how to improve the process and let you know if you’re doing anything incorrectly.

You want to make the introduction process as seamless as possible, but it’s much easier to do that with the help of AskVet. Sign-up today for a virtual session, and hopefully, you’ll be seeing a best-friend relationship form in no time!


The Gaze Communications Between Dogs/Cats and Humans: Recent Research Review and Future Directions | NCBI

Canine Olfaction: Physiology, Behavior, and Possibilities for Practical Applications | NCBI

Incentive Motivation In Pet Dogs – Preference For Constant Vs Varied Food Rewards | NCBI

Communication in Dogs | NCBI

Introducing a New Dog to Your Home: 13 Tips

Introducing a New Dog to Your Home: 13 Tips

Bringing a new dog home into your life is an exciting and emotional process. Not only are you excited to introduce them to your family and friends, but you get to learn about the new personality that will be running around your house.

How you introduce a new dog into your home can depend on if you have other animals, family members, or children. No two dogs are going to be the same, so you can’t always anticipate how they will act when coming into a new space.

When a new dog comes into your home, be prepared to give them time to adjust to their new surroundings. Giving them space and letting them explore before bombarding them with new introductions can help to ease them into your family.

For tips on how to introduce your dog to your new home and other animals, keep reading!

New Dogs Need Time

Whether you adopt a new puppy or an older dog, they will need time to settle in (often referred to as the 3-3-3 Rule). Depending on their background, some dogs need more time, so there’s no telling when they will start to act like themselves. Some dogs settle right in and make themselves at home, while others might be more hesitant to relax.

If you’re bringing a new dog into a home with other dogs or cats, the timeline could look very different. Not only do you need to make your new dog comfortable in their new space, but you also have to ensure that your other animals are responding positively, or at least neutrally. Ensuring that all parties are comfortable with each other will help the process move along efficiently and can make the transition easier.

Perp Work: What To Do

Every dog is unique and will require their own specific way of settling into their new home. Still, there are things that you can do to show trust, safety, and love to your new dog as they make their way into your family.

1. Gather All Supplies Ahead of Time

Have all of the supplies you need ready to go. Have a crate set up for them in their new designated spot, a new dog bed, a comfortable harness or collar, a durable leash, water and food bowls, dog food, and some training treats available. This will make things easier on you when they get to your home.

2. Introduce Your Scent to the New Dog

Give your new pup an old towel or piece of clothing with your scent on it. Before you even get into your house, give your new dog something with the scent of you and your home. This will familiarize them with you and make their new home recognizable.

3. Remain Calm

It’s best to keep a neutral emotional state when introducing your new dog to yourself, your family and friends, their new space, and new animals. If you’re overly excited, your dog will feed off that energy and might become either anxious or riled up. It might set the wrong tone when doing introductions with their new family members.

How To Introduce Your Current Dog to a New Dog

You know your dog best, including how they normally react with other dogs. Take into consideration how your resident dog prefers introductions and base your actions on that.

Here is some information to help get your plan started:

1. Introduce the New Dog’s Scent

Give your resident dog something with your new pooch’s scent. This can prepare your dog for a new friend, getting them familiar with their scent before seeing the new pet. Dogs use their scent to perceive their surroundings, so it can make the transition process easier.

2. Start in a Neutral Territory

Schedule the first meeting to be in a neutral location. Don’t bombard your dog with a new friend by walking them straight in through the front door unannounced. Take your dog to a park, and have a family member with you to introduce them on-leash, allowing for slack in the line. Tandem walks can also make for a nice and neutral introduction, letting them get to know each other’s scent as they walk.

3. Watch the Body Language

Let them sniff each other while paying close attention to each dog’s body language. For example, if the hair on your dog’s back is raised, that indicates arousal (which could be negative or positive).

If a dog rolls on their back, this could be a sign of fear or stress. Commonly seen between a puppy and an adult dog, the younger pup wants their new elder to know they submit.

One of the most positive postures is the play bow. When you bring new dogs together, and you see a play bow, it’s typically a solid indication that fun times are afoot.

Your dogs don’t have to pay attention to each other if they don’t want to. It’s actually somewhat preferred to have your two dogs take notice of each other’s presence and then be able to go off and smell or urinate elsewhere. Let them establish their relationship without prompting them.

4. Go for a Short Walk

Before going back to the house, you can try to go on a short walk together to see how they respond to each other. Dogs that ignore each other and can coexist sometimes make for the best pairings!

When you get home, stay outside first. Let your dog show the new dog around their backyard, continuing to monitor their body language. If your backyard is fenced in, feel free to let your dog off-leash, keeping your new dog on a leash. If your dog feels playful and confident, you can take the leash off the new dog and see how they respond.

How To Introduce Your Cat to a New Dog

Some dog breeds may have a higher sense of prey drive than others; consider this when introducing a new dog to your resident cat. Your first priority is to keep your cat safe. Some shelters and rescues perform a cat test before releasing a dog to a new home. Ask the shelter’s dog trainer or behaviorist how they fared before bringing your new puppy home.

1. Introduce the Scent Before the First Day

Introduce your cat to the new dog’s scent before they meet, which should help your cat become accustomed to the new dog’s scent before they arrive. This could be on dog toys or a blanket. It gives them the heads-up that someone new is going to be coming into their space. At the same time, ensure that the incoming pup can’t get into the cat’s litter box or food. Having a dog-free area for your cat to go can help your cat to feel less threatened by their new family member.

Let them see each other with your new dog leashed. Your dog might become easily excitable at the sight of a cat: Teach them to be gentle and calm. Cats are highly independent and might not want anything to do with the new dog the first time they meet.

2. Your Cat Sets the Pace

Let your cat determine the speed at which they meet. You don’t need to rush anything when it comes to this introduction. Keep your dog leashed until they can be trusted off of it.

Let your cat come to your new dog, sniffing and checking them out to get a feel for them. This is often best done through a baby gate. If your dog fixates on the cat, lead the dog away and try again in a little bit.

When you bring your new dog home, ensure the cat has a different room they can retreat to that the dog cannot enter. Maintaining separate areas in the home if your cat needs more time is wise.

3. Teach Dog-Cat Playtime Manners

Don’t allow your dog to chase the cat.Even if they look like they’re playing, this behavior can become hazardous and should be avoided. Teach your dog that there are certain toys to chase after and that the cat is to be respected and left alone.

Luckily, cats are pretty good at setting boundaries, so as their relationship grows, they should begin to learn each other’s behaviors and limits.

4. Focus on Comfort

You don’t want to rush your new dog into anything, and you want them to adjust on their own. Promote trust by keeping interactions positive and encouraging them to explore. On a similar note, you also don’t want your resident pets to feel overwhelmed or like their space is threatened.

5. Keep Routines Consistent

Don’t switch up the routines of your resident pets for the new dog. You want to allow for a hierarchy to establish itself and let your resident pets know that they are not being overtaken. Greet your current pets before your new dog, keep with the same feeding and exercise schedule, and carve out plenty of time for giving them attention.

6. Monitor All Interactions

It’s smartest to supervise your new dog consistently, even if they are the single pet in the household. Allow for some independence, but keeping them safe and out of trouble will alleviate anxiety for you and make future training much easier.

Until you feel all pups can be trusted, don’t leave them alone with each other. As your new dog gets to know your other pets, they will understand each other better. For now, there is too much uncharted territory to let them off alone together.

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Say Hello to AskVet

No matter how exciting it is to get a new dog, it can be nerve-wracking to learn how your new dog will react to your home and to your other pets. Staying positive and calm will show your dog that there is good energy that they are coming into. However, you can never be certain about how they will react.

When questions arise, you can go to AskVet with them to find answers. Whether you are concerned about your resident animal’s emotional wellness, if you notice that there is an undesirable behavior that pops up, or if you just are wondering about different training and resources, AskVet has got you covered.

Sign-up today to chat with a Certified Pet Coach and make introducing your new dog to your home a whole lot easier.


Pet Dogs’ Relationships Vary Rather Individually Than According To Partner’s Species | NCBI

Canine Olfaction: Physiology, Behavior, and Possibilities for Practical Applications | NCBI

3-3-3 Rule of Adoption | Winnipeg Humane Society

Understanding Dog Body Language: Decipher Dogs’ Signs & Signals | AKC

Dog Chewing Shoes? How To Stop Destructive Chewing

Dog Chewing Shoes? How To Stop Destructive Chewing

One of the most common behavioral issues when talking about our dogs is their habit of destroying our things, specifically our favorite pairs of shoes. Some dogs, if left alone for any amount of time, will make it their mission to find a shoe or a slipper and have their way. Being greeted at the door with a destroyed shoe is not what most of us want, but it’s a reality many people live through.

In order to save your shoes, you have to get to the bottom of your dog’s behavior. While you can make it a rule that all shoes must be put away in the house, what happens when someone comes to visit and doesn’t realize the consequence of not hiding their shoes? The solution is to work with your dog to train away the behavior and ensure they get everything they need to be content.

To learn more about why dogs chew shoes and how to stop their destructive chewing habits, keep reading!

Why Do Dogs Chew?

It’s tricky to change your dog’s behavior without understanding why they are displaying it in the first place. Dogs chew shoes for a variety of reasons, so understanding your dog’s motivation for their action will help to come up with a plan to stop it. Generally, the main three reasons a dog chews up shoes are related to boredom, anxiety, and teething.


Destructive chewing is often a sign of boredom. When your dog has nothing to occupy themselves with, they will search for something to solve their problems. In retrospect, shoes are often easy to get to and closely resemble chew toys that they are allowed to chew on. If your dog isn’t getting enough mental and physical stimulation throughout the day, they need to find a way to burn up their energy.

Chewing is not necessarily a bad behavior, considering we let our dogs chew on toys and bones, so your dog might resort to it knowing that it’s enjoyable. They likely aren’t seeking to ruin all of your shoes, but that’s one of the results of their boredom. We need to teach our dogs which items are appropriate to chew on and which items are not.


An anxious or nervous dog might resort to destructive chewing as a way to cope and self-regulate. The act of chewing can be self-soothing for your dog in times of anxiety. Some dogs with anxiety separation have more difficulty controlling their impulses, especially when left alone. As a preventative measure, if your dog has separation anxiety, make sure there is nothing they can get into lying around while you’re gone.

For dogs with excess energy that manifests as anxiety and nervousness, chewing can help them to calm down. Shoes, in particular, are loaded with their favorite human’s scent, so it makes your loafers a very easy target.


If your puppy chews on seemingly everything in their grasp, they might be in the teething stage. Puppies that are teething will feel more aches and pains as the process is happening, which will push them toward finding relief. Chewing on something, whether it’s your shoes, a rawhide-free chew, or the wooden leg of your dining room table, relieves that pain for them.

You can’t blame your new puppy for teething, but you can provide them with proper objects to teeth on.

How Do You Stop Destructive Chewing?

Once you have figured out why your dog is deciding to chew on your shoes, you can begin to stop the behavior. The most important thing is to maintain consistency while trying to train them out of their bad behavior and praise them when they choose an object other than your shoe.

Start Teaching Them Young

As soon as you get a new puppy, training begins. Puppies don’t yet have established habits, so they rely on their humans to teach them what habits are good and which are bad. This means prevention and properly disciplining whenever they’re caught in the act.

Remove any chance of your dog picking up the behavior, but if they ever decide to chew on a shoe, telling them “No” and “Drop it,” then replacing it with an acceptable option is key.

Swap the Shoe Out For Dog Toys

Whether your puppy or adult dog is ever chewing on a shoe, try to exchange the object immediately with a more appropriate item. This could be a high-value bully stick or a favorite squeaky toy.

When you change out the object, they begin to realize that the problem isn’t chewing: They just have the wrong thing. Giving them a new appropriate chew toy and praising them helps to reinforce that more welcome behavior.

Consider this scenario: You get home from the store, and your dog greets you with an acceptably chewable object. They know they won’t get the same satisfaction if they bring you an old shoe because you’ll simply take it from them. However, if they bring you one of their toys, they are met with praise and joy, reinforcing them to find that specific object every time.

Provide Enough Stimulation Each Day

Boredom is one of the leading causes of chewing up shoes. If your dog is not getting rid of the energy in their bodies throughout the day, it becomes pent up, often resulting in unwanted behaviors.

Your dog needs both mental and physical stimulation to be content. When dogs don’t get this kind of stimulation, they can turn to destructive chewing. Eventually, they might upgrade to more damaging objects, like doors, table legs, furniture, and more.

Interact with your dog as much as possible in a day so that they can release all of that pent-up energy. Going on twice (or more) daily walks, playing with them, and cuddling on the couch is good for your dog. This will help to meet their needs, and as a result, they will not destroy your property.

Offer Them Enrichment Activities

Beyond basic physical activity, enrichment activities are a great way to get energy out of your chewer. Similar to how walking and playing reduces boredom, enrichment activities, such as lick mats slathered with peanut butter, games of hide and seek, and training exercises, can help your dog feel satisfied — aka not feeling the need to start chewing things.

Perhaps one of the best ways to keep your dog’s mouth (and brain) occupied is with puzzle toys. You can make DIY puzzle toys like the tea towel snuffle m
or purchase ready-made treat dispensing puzzles. Fill them with high-value dog treats or their regular dog food, and say goodbye to the barricade of baby gates in front of your shoe rack.

With enough physical and mental stimulation, dogs are more likely to settle down quickly and leave destructive behaviors behind. They aren’t acting out to try to get more attention because their needs are being met.

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Talk with Pet Coaches at AskVet

Teaching a dog acceptable behaviors is hard enough. Trying to unlearn bad behavior can be even more difficult.

Luckily when you talk to the Certified Pet Coaches at AskVet, you can receive various dog training resources and ideas on how to improve this behavior. Questions may arise during your training process, and you can get quick and helpful responses 24/7 with our online chat.

When teaching your dog not to chew on your shoes or other off-limit objects in your house, don’t be shy to ask for some outside assistance! The important thing is that you get the help you need and are successful with training your dog. Sign-up today for a virtual session where our coaches learn about your dog, their behaviors, and what you wish to accomplish!


Chewing Behaviour In Dogs – A Survey-Based Exploratory Study | ScienceDirect

Canine Separation Anxiety: Strategies For Treatment And Management | NCBI

Changes in the Dentition of Small Dogs up to 4 Months of Age | MDPI

Effects of Environmental Enrichment on Dog Behaviour: Pilot Study | NCBI

Are Rawhide Chews Dangerous for Dogs? | American Kennel Club

DIY Cognitive Dog Toys for When You Are Stuck at Home | American Kennel Club

How to Teach Your Dog to Sit, Drop, Come and Stay | Northcote Animal Hospital

Dog Growling: Is It a Sign of Aggression?

Dog Growling: Is It a Sign of Aggression?

You may be able to guess what your dog is trying to tell you when they growl simply based on context clues. As we develop a connection with our dogs, we are able to understand the types of growls they use. A variety of different types of dog growls exist, and you don’t need to be an animal behaviorist to understand basic canine communication.

Growling is not always a sign of aggression, but it can be a warning. To translate how your dog feels, learn more about the different reasons why dogs growl below.

Who Do Dogs Growl? Seven Reasons. 

A growl is a form of communication for dogs. It’s their way of letting others around them know how they are feeling, whether that be intimidated or excited. The best way to understand your dog’s growl is to watch their body language.

If a growl is paired with a straight, still tail and raised hackles, they might be on the edge of an attack. If you’re playing a game of tug-of-war with your dog and they let out a growl, it’s more likely to be playful than anything else. Knowing your dog’s body language will help determine if there is a threat or if you’re crossing a boundary.

1. They’re Feeling Threatened

One of the more common reasons for a dog to growl is that they are fearful or feel threatened by something. They might get a bad feeling from someone approaching you and let out a growl to warn them off, followed by barking, which is more of a protective action than anything.

Dogs that become cornered during play or by people are likely to let out a growl due to their discomfort. Dog park etiquette can be tricky, which is why socialization is essential.

This is the best way for your dog to communicate to others to “back off” without having to physically defend themselves, though that could be the next step. Take these warnings seriously but get to the bottom of why they’re happening. For example, resource guarding and being territorial might be the cause for this, which is a behavior that you will want to stop with the help of professional dog trainers like those at AskVet.

2. They’re Feeling Frustrated

Frustration may be perceived as aggression, but it depends on your dog and what they’re trying to relay. Perhaps your dog is growing at the couch because their favorite ball rolled under the couch, and they can’t get it out. Or maybe your pup wants to go on a walk right now and doesn’t understand your “Five more minutes” explanation.

While you might realize what your dog is trying to say with their growl, it can be taken the wrong way by other dogs and people alike, especially when out and about. In the public mind, the growl usually symbolizes a warning, so when paired with a dog dragging their pet parent to greet other people or dogs, it can feel threatening.

Just because they have an excess of energy doesn’t mean that they should decide how they use it. Teaching them appropriate ways to greet others and not letting them get what they want when they growl can help stop this behavior. Leash manners are an absolute must.

3. They’re Trying To Play

Some growls are more playful than you might think. If a dog is having a good time with another dog, they might let out a higher-pitched and shorter growl. This indicates to the other dog that they want to keep playing at the same level, particularly during games like tug-of-war.

If your pooch is bending forward with their behind in the air and front paws in a bow, this typically indicates your dog is having fun. Keep an eye out for other body language associated with playtime — wagging tails (in a neutral position). However, wagging isn’t always happy. An insecure or fearful dog might wag low and slow. A high, upright wag might indicate aggression.

Monitoring this kind of play growling is essential, as you don’t want it to progress into something aggressive.

4. They’re Showing Affection

Some dogs let out a sound similar to a purr when they receive affection. It’s their way of showing you that they like what’s happening and want it to continue. A deep and long mumble paired with relaxed body language indicates that your dog wants more pets and love.

During a case like this, it’s usually pretty easy to determine that your dog is enjoying themselves compared to them telling you to “back off.” This vocalization might also involve snorts or gentle mouthing.

5. They’re Expressing Pain

When a dog is in pain or discomfort, they might let out a growl, similar to a warning growl. This is especially true the closer you get to the part of them that’s in pain.

If your dog is acting differently and not letting you get close to a specific part of their body, it might be time to call up your veterinarian and get an appointment as soon as possible. For 24/7 access to professional support, chat with AskVet’s virtual veterinary experts any time of the day or night.

6. They’re Displaying Aggression

The worst growl to come across is one that communicates aggression. This usually occurs when a dog is trying to assert or gain dominance over another dog in their presence. Your dog’s body language will change drastically as they tune in to the thing they are addressing. This emotion is often associated with lunging or snarling.

When not handled properly, an aggressive dog growling could result in an injury. Your best bet to help your dog is to talk with a professional dog trainer. They can help you to understand where your dog’s aggression might be coming from and different desensitization exercises to help them overcome it. With positive reinforcement and professional advice, it’s usually possible to minimize dog-reactive behaviors.

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Different Answers for Different Situations

No one wants their dog to exhibit aggressive signs. They want a dog that is friendly and loving towards all, but we can’t control every situation our dog is in. If your dog has begun growling more than usual, you can talk with AskVet’s Certified Pet TrainersTM to figure out where it’s coming from.

AskVet can help you better understand your dog’s behavior and come up with solutions to try to fix it. Aggressive growling can be dangerous for both a human and a pet; the goal should be to fix the problem and work on building up your dog’s confidence. Reach out today for a virtual consultation to learn more about how AskVet can help you and your dog!


Communication in Dogs | NCBI

‘Beware, I Am Big And Non-Dangerous!’ – Playfully Growling Dogs Are Perceived Larger Than Their Actual Size By Their Canine Audience | ScienceDirect

Dog Growls Express Various Contextual And Affective Content For Human Listeners | NCBI

Should My Dog Go To The Dog Park? Dog Park Etiquette Tips | AKC

Why Do Dogs Jump on You & How To Stop It

Jumping Dog

Jumping up on a human is a dog’s quickest and most efficient way to let you know they’re there. It’s hard to ignore a dog who’s jumping on you, especially when your arms are filled with groceries or you’ve had a long day and want to lie down. The act of jumping can be frustrating from a human’s point of view, but — for a dog — they don’t realize it’s wrong until you teach them.

Some people don’t mind when their dog jumps on them because they find it endearing and cute, but watching your dog jump on an unsuspecting victim is not so much fun. It can also become a hazard if your dog leaps up on older people and young children. The risk of knocking someone down is quite high, especially with larger-sized breeds.

If you’re looking to stop your dog’s jumping behavior, there are ways to go about training them to properly greet a person. Keep reading to learn more about the reasons a dog might jump on you and how to stop it.

Why Do Dogs Jump on You? 

Dogs are much closer to the ground than they are their favorite humans. Many dogs want to get as close as possible to their human’s face, usually to give them some slobbery kisses.

After a long day at work, your pup has missed you greatly, and all they want to do is shower you with love. This is something that you will want to train out of them to avoid injuries in the future.

To Say “Hello”

The most obvious reason for your dog to be jumping on you is for a greeting. Imagine that every time they pop up, they are saying “Hello, Human!” excitedly. If you’ve said “Hello,” back and consequently pet them after each hop, you reinforce their behavior so that they think it’s okay. This means that they will continue to leap up on you or other people when they are trying to greet them, as they know they will get a response.

To Get Your Attention

A dog might jump onto you randomly during the day because they want your attention. This might be because they want to play, are getting hungry, or need to go to the bathroom.

If you haven’t trained this behavior out of them, it might not immediately alert you to one of their needs, and you might think that they are just being playful. This kind of jumping might be your dog trying to communicate that they need more attention, and though you should tend to their needs, you don’t want to continue reinforcing this behavior.

Four Ways To Get Your Dog To Stop Jumping

Training your dog not to jump can protect people from injury and help contain their excitement. The best way to stop the behavior from becoming normal is to train it out of them as puppies. Adult dogs can also be taught to stop the bad behavior, but it might take a bit more reinforcement.

1. Turn Away From Them

The first thing to do is to physically turn away from your bouncing pup. This shows them that you are not reinforcing their behavior and that you won’t give them the attention they desire until they behave appropriately.

Eventually, your dog will realize that when they jump, they don’t get what they want. Then, they’ll keep their paws on the ground instead.

Sometimes even pushing your dog off is considered attention and might reinforce the behavior without you realizing it. A turned back is an obvious sign of ignoring your dog, which they will soon pick up on.

2. Train Them To Sit

You can train your dog to sit whenever they greet someone by having treats handy. When you see your dog, start by turning your back to them if they jump and tell them the command, “Sit.”

Once they sit, you can turn back towards them and praise them with both pets and a treat. You must maintain this behavior on your end to teach them properly, so a pocketful of treats when you leave the house can preemptively save you from being pounced on.

3. Put Them on a Leash

If your dog is struggling with keeping all of their paws on the ground, consider leashing them before they go to greet someone. This way, you have the most control over their bodies and can help them to sit down and relax. When your dog doesn’t catapult up, reward them with a treat and have the person they are meeting reward them as well.

4. Try a “Place” Command

Your dog might have a lot of pent-up energy if they know they are about to see a new person or dog. Teaching them a “Place” command where they go and run somewhere to relax, usually a bed or specific area in the house, can divert their energy into performing a task.

It takes a lot of mental power to present the correct behavior and wait to greet someone, so not only does this curb the jumping, but it also burns up some energy and encourages impulse control.

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Jump for Joy With AskVet

When questions come about in regard to your dog’s behavior and health, AskVet is there to provide you with answers. Reach out to one of our Certified Pet Coaches™ (CPC) and set up a virtual consultation to learn more about how we can benefit you and your dog. With 24/7 access to our experts, you can access support from veterinary experts and certified pet trainers at any moment during the day.


Behavior Guide for Your New Puppy | OSU Veterinary Medical Center

Communication in Dogs | NCBI

Incidence Of Dogs Jumping On Household Members Upon Entering Their Home In Comparison With Holding Food | ScienceDirect

How To Stop Puppy Biting in 5 Easy Steps

Puppy Biting

When you get a new puppy, it isn’t before long that they begin to use their tiny, yet sharp, puppy teeth. Your puppy might start to bite you, the furniture, or other animals in the house. While this can be a sign of playfulness, teaching your puppy when it’s appropriate to use their teeth is essential. As your puppy turns into an adult dog, biting is no longer cute or harmless. It can end with severe consequences if not handled in puppyhood.

To learn more about five easy steps to help stop your puppy from biting, keep reading!

Reasons Why Your Puppy Might Be Biting

Puppies don’t have hands to pick up and interact with objects they come across, so they want to use their teeth. In this sense, it’s a very natural behavior. All puppies will nip and bite from time to time, but how you react will set up how your future looks.

A few common reasons for your puppy to be biting are:

  • When trying to reduce discomfort during the teething stage
  • When trying to get their human’s attention
  • When playing with other dogs or humans

How To Stop Puppy Biting

Puppy nipping is a pretty natural occurrence. While this is a common puppy behavior, it’s your job to teach them when it’s appropriate to bite and when it’s not. In most cases, biting is not encouraged, so it’s more about teaching your pup what objects are OK to bite. Chew toys and bones are usually in the clear, whereas clothing, furniture, and body parts are not.

When dogs play with each other, especially when they are puppies who are learning, they’ll involve themselves in play biting. When a bite is too strong or unwanted, the other puppy will tell them by omitting a loud yelping sound. This warns the other dogs that the style of biting is taking it too far. When a puppy is no longer alongside their littermates, it’s the responsibility of the human to teach them when their biting has crossed a line.

1. Teach Bite Inhibition

Bite inhibition is teaching dogs to control the force of their mouths. Your dog must understand that human skin is very sensitive, so they have to be more gentle when playing with you than with their fellow canine playmates.

Dogs teach each other bite inhibition when they yelp during play, so humans should mimic this reaction when playing with young dogs. If your puppy bites down too hard when playing with you, let out a loud noise and stop playing completely. Once your dog has calmed down, continue playing.

Instruct young children to do the same. Kids can sometimes be more tolerant of their fingers ending up in their puppy’s mouth, but this only prolongs this bad behavior.

Soon your dog realizes that rough play means that the fun times stop, so if they want to play, they have to be more gentle. There are plenty of dog training resources out there that can help you to stop unwanted behaviors, like the teams of expert dog trainers at AskVet!

2. Redirect the Biting

While stopping the play session and teaching bite inhibition is the first step, having other options to give to your dog when they start biting you is essential.

Keep a chew toy nearby. When your pup starts going too hard on your skin, give your puppy a chew toy instead. Then, make the toy a part of your game. This shows your dog what items are appropriate to chew on. Redirecting goes for if your dog is chewing on something inappropriate, like clothing or furniture. Tell them “No” and give them something they can go to town on.

If you find that your pup is nibbling a bit more than usual, they could be teething. Like human babies, puppies might experience discomfort as their adult teeth grow in. Giving your puppy teething toys can help relieve some of that tenderness. Typically, a puppy stops teething altogether at eight months old.

Keep in mind that some puppy toys are different from those of adult dogs. Puppy chews are generally made from softer materials for their weaker mouths and teeth.

3. Distract Your Pup

When your puppy is exhibiting undesired biting behaviors, try to distract them. Direct their attention elsewhere and have them put their energy into the new object or obstacle. Whether it’s having them perform a trick and receive a treat or initiate some sort of enrichment play with them, distracting teaches them that they don’t get the reaction they desire from nipping.

Enrichment activities are great because they put all of your dog’s focus and energy into receiving whatever treat is hiding in the toy. Try rolling up an old towel with all of your dog’s food in it and letting them unravel it to get their reward, or use a peanut butter lick mat to help divert their energy and get a nice snack.

Mental stimulation is key to lifelong good behaviors — not only in puppy training. Along the same note, routine socialization and leash manners are life-long lessons worth revisiting consistently.

4. Put Them in Time-Out

When your dog is not listening to you or reacting to your attempts at distraction and redirection, you may need to put them in a time-out. By not giving in to their behaviors, you choose not to reward them. Whatever the time out is, don’t use the crate or the time-out area as a punishment. The crate should be a safe place associated only with positivity.

A time-out shows puppies that they have to participate in human-approved behaviors. When they begin to bite, the playtime stops. And no puppy wants that!

5. Engage in Physical Activity

Sometimes, a puppy will bite because they are bored and have surplus energy. To ensure that your puppy is not biting excessively, make sure they are getting enough exercise each day. When your puppy won’t stop nipping, change up your activity and take them on a walk or run outside in the backyard for a bit.

Letting them burn off some steam will result in a tired and content dog that isn’t going to go looking for trouble.

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Dog Trainers On-Demand: Perfecting Puppy Play

Having a new puppy can be a lot of work. Whether it’s your first puppy or your seventh, each puppy you raise will have their own distinct personality. This means that no matter what you try, you may need a bit of guidance. AskVet can help answer the questions you have and put together wellness and behavioral plans for your pup.

Reach out for a virtual consultation with one of our Certified Pet Trainers™ (CPLC) to learn more about the services we offer. If you need to come up with a plan to curb your puppy’s biting habits, we are here to help you.


Chewing Behaviour In Dogs – A Survey-Based Exploratory Study | ScienceDirect

Behavior Guide for Your New Puppy | OSU Veterinary Medical Center

Training Bite Inhibition in the Dark | The IAABC JOURNAL

When Do Puppies Lose Their Teeth | Veterinary Dental Services

How To Crate Train Your Dog in Nine Easy Steps | AKC

Is Peanut Butter Safe For Dogs? | Rau Animal Hospital

Common Dog Behavior Problems & What To Do About Them

Dog Behavior Problem

What humans view as undesirable behaviors from their dogs do not always have clear-cut solutions. To help change your dog’s behavioral problems, you have to get to the bottom of what is causing them before you can make any changes.

Some behavioral problems are relatively easy to fix, while others might require professional help to solve. If your dog is exhibiting undesirable behaviors, professional dog training can help.

Trained professionals can help bring peace and order back into your home. The main goal is to understand your dog’s issues and where they are coming from so that you can help to alleviate the issue.

To learn more about common canine behavior problems and how you can help to resolve them, keep reading!

The Seven Most Common Dog Behavior Problems

Dogs can display a number of behavioral issues throughout their life, some that pop up seemingly out of nowhere in adulthood and some that start from a very young age. Curbing those behaviors as soon as possible can help bring you peace of mind and avoid bigger ones from developing.

It’s also worth noting that some behaviors that your dog exhibits might not be concerning to you as it is to others. For instance, some people may not want their dog jumping up onto them as a greeting, while others might think it’s cute and encourage it. Your dog doesn’t know any better until you teach them, so you have to decide what you’re willing to tolerate.

Once you notice a problematic behavior, begin working towards changing it immediately so that it doesn’t progress and gets harder to fix.

1. Excessive Vocalization

Barking is a very common dog behavior. You can’t completely stop a dog from barking since it’s a natural instinct. However, excessive barking can be undesirable and problematic if it’s not addressed.

If your dog barks excessively, you need to understand why it’s happening to be able to fix it. Your dog might be trying to alert you, get your attention, or maybe they’re responding to another dog or sound. They might feel bored or have anxiety. If you can identify what is triggering the barking, you might be able to eliminate that stimulus and see results quickly.

What To Do: Rely on Obedience Training

The best way to fix this problem is by teaching your dog a bark/quiet command. This tells the dog when it’s appropriate to bark and when it’s not. When your dog begins to respond to your quiet command, reward them with a treat. This can take a lot of practice and commitment as barking is instinctual, but with time you can work towards appropriate levels of barking.

In older dogs, excessive vocalization might be more of a pet health concern than a pet behavior concern. Older adult dogs could possibly experience sun-downing syndrome or canine dementia. Pet parents should contact a vet for how to best treat their canine family members who are entering their golden years.

2. Destructive Chewing

As with barking, chewing is a natural behavior that most dogs do for a variety of reasons. As a puppy, chewing can help with the aches they feel from their puppy teeth, so you might find that excessive chewing starts young. Start by teaching your pooch what is appropriate to chew on and what is not.

What To Do: Refocus Your Dog’s Attention

Provide plenty of chew toys and keep your pup confined to a safe area when you’re not around. As soon as a dog gets bored, they start to cause trouble.

If you catch them chewing on inappropriate items, such as shoes and furniture, make a loud noise and swap that item out with an appropriate chew toy. You can avoid destructive chewing by ensuring your dog gets plenty of exercises to tire them out when left unattended and providing teething toys for puppies.

3. Inappropriate Elimination

As puppies, potty training may mean a few accidents before getting it right. This is a common behavior that doesn’t always result from an underlying issue but rather a lack of knowledge about right and wrong.

What To Do: Check Pet Health and Troubleshoot

If your dog is potty trained and begins inappropriately using the bathroom in your house, first check for medical issues or health problems. Ask a vet about possible health issues — the AskVet team is here for you day and night. If you’re wondering what’s normal behavior and what’s a health concern, chat with a veterinary expert available 24/7!

If there is no medical reason for urination or defecation in your house, it might be a behavioral issue. Your dog might be urinating when they get super excited, in which you should work towards doing greetings outside until they learn to control their bladder. If your dog is marking in the house well after puppyhood, it is a more complex behavior to fix and may require professional intervention.

You might place pee pads down to help keep your floors from getting damaged. If your dog starts to use the bathroom, make a loud noise to distract them and bring them outside to finish the job. Additionally, reward your dog when they signal they need to go outside to use the bathroom. This alert can be a noise or bark, standing at the door, or ringing a bell placed on the doorknob.

4. Jumping on People

You may think that your dog jumping up onto you is cute, but it’s a pretty bad habit. Especially for young children, older people, and people with disabilities, having a dog jump up on them could be dangerous. If your dog is going to be around a lot of different individuals, you might want to consider curbing this behavior before they get big enough to scratch a person or knock a person over.

What To Do: Rely on Obedience Training

One common way to teach your dog not to jump is to turn away and ignore them when they exhibit the behavior. Interacting with them by putting a knee up or grabbing their paws and placing them down might send the wrong message to your dog. If you physically ignore the dog and don’t reward them until they stop jumping, your dog will pick up on what is expected of them.

You can also teach your dog an “Up” command, giving them the opportunity to jump up onto you when prompted. Without this command, the action should be off-limits.

5. Leash Pulling

Dogs can get very excited when they are on a walk. It usually starts when the leash gets taken off the wall that a dog starts building up this excitement. Depending on your dog’s breed, age, and training status, there are a number of different collars and harnesses that can be appropriate for your dog, and it is best to consult a professional to determine what is best for your dog.

Starting leash training as a puppy can help you to have better control over your dog as they become more confident, larger, and stronger.

What To Do: Rely on Obedience Training

Going on walks is a necessity for most dogs, but it’s also a privilege. You want your dog to pay attention only to you when walking on the leash, but this can be a challenge when there are so many stimulating things on your walk.

Work on using treats to help keep your dog by your side, rewarding them when they walk next to you with a loose leash, and not giving into their pulling by turning in a different direction. This shows your dog that you are in charge and you decide how the walk will go.

6. Aggression

Aggressive dogs exist in all shapes and sizes and usually as a direct result of their genetics, history, and environment. Socializing your dog from a young age is essential so they can meet a variety of stimuli, like other dogs, people, noises, and objects, with confidence as they grow into their paws.

What To Do: Seek Professional Training Help

Serious intervention is usually needed as your main goal is to protect yourself, others, and your own dog from any harm. Your dog might be experiencing anxiety or fear that encourages them to act out, thinking they need to protect themselves. Working with vets, dog trainers, and animal behaviorists can help to better understand your dog’s needs and keep them safe.

If your dog is growling, nipping, or lunging at you or other dogs, seek help immediately. There could be a medical problem that needs to be addressed, especially if the aggression seems to happen out of nowhere. Consult your local veterinarian or the 24/7 veterinary experts at AskVet, immediately.

Keep in that mouthing is also a way dogs play — review the differences of rough play to know if it’s just young dogs acting goofy or something to be cornered about.

7. Separation Anxiety

Many of the behaviors listed above can result from separation anxiety. This condition might manifest in other troublesome behaviors like excessive licking, destruction of household items, eating poop, and inappropriate elimination. They could even develop aggressive behaviors towards humans or other animals.

What To Do: Behavior Modification

Building up your dog’s confidence can help keep them safe and happy, but this can be difficult if they become anxious and agitated when you leave. Most of the time, intensive training, modifying anxiety-inducing situations, and desensitizing your dog can be extremely helpful. Since separation anxiety can be a very complex issue, contacting a pet professional can often be best in these circumstances. Additionally, your vet might recommend that you put your dog on medication to help limit their anxiety as well.

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Dog Training Resources: Where To Get Started

When you have a question about your dog’s behavior, consider using AskVet to get an answer. With AskVet, you have access to experts that understand animal behavior and want to help you get to the bottom of it.

Our Certified Pet Coaches™ (CPC) can provide tips and tricks to help curb these bad behaviors and help to come up with a personalized behavioral plan for your dog’s specific needs. You can schedule a virtual session with one of our Certified Trainers™ to learn more about how AskVet can change you and your dog’s life!


A Review of Domestic Dogs’ (Canis Familiaris) Human-Like Behaviors: Or Why Behavior Analysts Should Stop Worrying and Love Their Dogs | NCBI

Behavioral Problems of Dogs – Behavior | Merck Veterinary Manual

How Can You Tell if Dogs are Playing or Fighting? | AKC

Senior dog dementia | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Canine Separation Anxiety: Strategies For Treatment And Management | NCBI

Can Dogs Get Jealous? 7 Signs of Jealousy

Jealous Dog

Is your dog acting out? Could it be that your dog is jealous of the attention you are putting elsewhere?

Yes, actually, and it’s fairly similar to how humans experience jealousy. As you get to know your dog better, you might recognize certain behaviors that they exhibit as being of a jealous nature.

Does your dog push other people and pets out of the way to get to you? Do they act out by destroying items in the home? Both of these could be signs that your dog is feeling jealous. The more you pick up on their body language, the better you can understand their emotions.

Some acts of jealousy can be problematic, like your dog growling while on your lap at anyone coming near you. These are behaviors that you will want to stop as soon as possible to avoid further issues. Knowing the signs of jealousy can help you do this, so keep reading to learn more!

What Science Says About Dog Jealousy

University of California, San Diego

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, ran a real study involving fake dogs that sought to prove that dogs experience jealousy. Dog parents were instructed to fake attention to an automated stuffed dog, a plastic pumpkin, and a pop-up book.

The canine participants, who were all small dog breeds, acted up more when their person’s one-on-one time was lavished on the toy dog, with 86% of real pups investigating the toy by sniffing its butt. The pumpkin and book incited far less of a reaction.

University of Auckland

A relatively new study on pet jealousy from the University of Auckland published in the Psychological Science journal asked the same question. Dogs watched their pet parents pet a fake dog and a fleece cylinder. The dogs pulled harder on the leash when their human was spending time with the fake dog — called the “social rival” in this experiment.

University of Vienna

In Vienna, Friederike Range set up a study where two dogs completed the same task (to “shake hands”), but only one was rewarded. The dog that didn’t get the reward eventually stopped performing the task, acting frustrated and anxious when their pup peer was lavished with praise.

Ultimately, while researchers can suggest that as social animals, dogs may be jealous, they’re not sure if dogs experience jealousy in the same way as people do, especially when taking into account a person’s capability for heightened self-awareness.

Why Might a Dog Get Jealous?

Some reasons that your dog might become jealous are:

  • If a new dog or new pet enters the home
  • If a new baby or family member moves in
  • If there’s a change in their home environment
  • If their primary person gives another animal or human attention

When dealing with a jealous dog, understanding the signs can help you to work on building up their confidence, so they don’t react to those jealous feelings. By using training resources, you can help limit this jealous behavior.

Signs Your Dog Is Jealous

Any change of behavior in your dog is going to be recognized. When they start to act out or act differently, it’s easy to notice these changes, alerting us that something might be wrong. Whether it be an adult dog or a new puppy, if you recognize any of the following signs of jealousy in your dog, it might be time to get to the bottom of this reaction.

1. Resource Guarding

Resource guarding is when a dog becomes possessive over their home and everything in it. This may include dog food, toys, areas, and their humans. If they feel like something of theirs might be taken away, they can act out toward whoever is threatening to take it away.

Resource guarding could look like growling or snapping at you when you go near their food, or they’ll gather their toys in one specific area. They might guard their humans by not allowing other dogs or people near them. You might notice that when on walks, your dog pulls you away from social interactions with other people and their dogs.

2. Inappropriate Bathroom Use

Going to the bathroom around your house, whether it’s urination or defecation, is often a clear communication attempt by your dog. They may be jealous and are finding ways to get their pet parent’s attention.

If your dog is experiencing incontinence even after you’ve addressed the behavior and jealousy issue, it’s time to talk to your veterinarian. Going to the bathroom around the house, especially when they are potty trained, could be a sign that they are suffering from a health issue. Need to talk to a professional ASAP? Reach out to AskVet’s veterinary experts, who are available 24/7.

3. Pushing Into You

One of the most tell-tale signs of your dog’s jealousy is if they are directly pushing themselves into you when you’re in close proximity to another being. Your dog may find a way to squeeze in between you and a partner on the couch or jump onto your lap, pushing another animal off. By putting their bodies as close as possible to you, they assert themselves as your top priority.

While this can feel like a comical and loving gesture, if you let it continue, the behavior will likely only become more prominent.

4. Destructive Behavior

If your dog doesn’t feel they are getting enough attention, they might turn to destructive behaviors. They might tear up some of your furniture, chew on your clothing and shoes, or get into the trash can. Your dog may also act out by barking incessantly or whining.

Dogs do this to get attention from you, but it can be a costly and dangerous problem to have. You can often curb this behavior by involving yourself in exercise and enrichment for your dog. That way, when you aren’t paying attention to them they can remain calm and relaxed.

5. Performing Tricks Unprompted

While performing tricks isn’t usually a bad thing, when unprompted, it can be a sign of jealousy from your talented pooch. If your dog starts giving you their paw, laying down in front of you, or doing other tricks like spinning and rolling over without you asking them to, they are trying to get your attention. This is a cute but desperate plea for you to look at them and give them some sort of affection and interaction.

6. Leaving the Room

Similar to how you might ignore someone you don’t want to speak to, your dog might leave the room to show you their disdain. If there’s a person or another animal in the house that your dog doesn’t want to see you around, they might take themselves out of the situation completely.

Instead of following them to comfort them, let them walk away and wait for them to return. When they come back, feel free to shower them with love. If you follow them, it only reinforces their behavior and tells them that’s a smart way to get your attention.

7. Aggression

The most undesirable jealous behavior that your dog can have is aggression. They may begin to act out aggressively if they think their position in the home is being threatened or they are not receiving adequate attention. Aggressive behavior might look like jumping, nipping, barking, or biting. While this can be very difficult to deal with, you must sort it out immediately.

You don’t want your dog to feel threatened, but you also don’t want guests to be uncomfortable in your space. You have to consider the safety of yourself, others, and your pet. Talking with animal behaviorists, a dog trainer, and your veterinarian may be the best option to help your dog curb this issue.

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AskVet Can Help Give You Answers

When your dog is acting out in strange ways, there are plenty of questions that will arise. You might not want to call up your vet for every minor inconvenience that you recognize, which is where AskVet comes in.

With AskVet, you can reach out to our Certified Pet Coaches™ to discuss their jealous behaviors and come up with solutions. With access 24/7, if any issue arises, you can get quick and informal responses. Sign-up today for a virtual session with a Certified Trainer™ and learn more about how AskVet can help your dog overcome their jealous behaviors.


Investigating Jealous Behaviour In Dogs | Scientific Reports

Jealousy in Dogs | NCBI

Jealousy In Dogs? Evidence From Brain Imaging | Animal Sentience

Study: Dogs can feel jealous, too | CNN

Yes, dogs do get jealous – new study | The University of Auckland

Do Dogs Feel Jealousy or Envy? | American Kennel Club

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop & How Do You Stop It? 

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop & How Do You Stop It?

As humans, when we think of delicacies, we think of things like caviar, escargot, or maybe even truffles! For some dogs, poop is their delicacy. It may be their poop, another dog’s poop, or another animal’s poop that gets them salivating. Cue the big “Ew!” from pet parents, or really anyone for that matter.

It is a quizzical thing to ponder over. Why in the world would a dog want to eat poop when there are plenty of other options to choose from? You may even think that truly, anything else would be better than poop, even garbage!

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop? Dogs Eating Feces Explained

You may joke that your dog can be a weird dog! Maybe they like to stare at you while you work out, or they have a particular way they like their blanket in their bed. You may argue that one of the weirdest behaviors is ingesting poop, but it may not be as odd as you think.

There are some pretty clear reasons why dogs eat poop, and we will dive into that.


It’s hard to fathom that our adorable furry friend’s ancestor was the mighty wolf, but selective breeding and domestication will do that. Dogs share some characteristics of their wolf ancestors, including the need to live in packs (whether with other dogs or with you), similar body language, and a sense of smell.

It has been hypothesized that the eating poop habit is inherited from wolves as well.

This habit, called coprophagia, is thought of as a natural and normal behavior for dogs. Although not every dog partakes in this habit, it is thought to have originated from wolves. In fact, almost a quarter of dogs have been caught in the act of eating poop.

The thought is that poop-eating helped scavenger wolves with nutritional deficiencies to obtain nutrients that were not fully digested the first time around. Wolves can go long periods of time from meal to meal.

As such, eating every snack possible could serve as a means of survival and nutritional enrichment. Wolves may have been keen on ingesting poop from other wolves or animals that had different diets from them, maximizing possible nutrient ingestion.

This habit proved to pull double duty (absolutely no pun intended) in that it helped to keep wolve’s dens clean. It also prevented the spread of intestinal parasites and diseases, which can lead to medical issues.

Stool Eating in Motherhood

A mother’s job is truly never done, and this includes dog mothers. Mother dogs will lick their puppies’ stomachs to help them use the bathroom. As the puppies use the bathroom, the mother dog will eat the poop in order to keep their area clean. In the wild, this was a proactive way to keep away predators that may have been attracted to the smell of feces.

Since nursing mothers require more high-quality nutrition, they may choose to eat their puppies’ poop as a way of obtaining additional nutrients.

Behavioral Changes

If your dog has ever had an accident in the house, you have witnessed that they likely know they did something wrong.

For instance, if your dog knows that they will be corrected when you find the poop in the house, they may ingest their poop so they won’t get into trouble. In their mind, no poop equals no punishment.

Boredom Might Cause a Dog’s Poop-Eating Habits

If your dog doesn’t have a way to keep themselves occupied, they will find a way to relieve their boredom. They will find their own fun! This boredom may be cured by getting into the trash, tearing up couch cushions, or eating their poop.

Of course, eating poop can get a reaction from you. Your dog now finds that they will take any attention when they are bored, thus creating the vicious attention-seeking cycle of eating poop to get your reaction.

How To Stop a Dog From Eating Poop

Even though poop eating seems to be a common and instinctual behavior in dogs, it is a behavior that we would like our dogs to avoid. Not only for the general ick factor but the fact that your dog likes to lick you.

Veterinarian Visit

It has been hypothesized that puppies and adult dogs ingest their own feces to obtain nutrients, especially ingesting the poop of other dogs who may have different diets. If your dog is eating poop, taking them to the veterinarian to ensure they are receiving all the nutrients they need can be helpful.

Your DVM will be able to run all the necessary tests to see if there is anything missing in your dog’s diet and can make any recommendations. Your vet can also diagnose any digestive issues your dog may have, like conditions that may cause the malabsorption of nutrients.

Pick Up Duty

Your dog cannot get into poop if there isn’t any poop around. While it can be a pain, ensuring that your yard is clear of poop keeps your dog from ingesting any. If your dog relieves themselves on puppy pads, dispose of the pads properly and secure the trash.

This pickup duty extends to other animals. If you have cats in the home, make sure that their litter box is always clear of cat poop or is hard to access by your dog.

Leash & Treats

If your dog tries to eat their poop as soon as it has been deposited, take your dog out on a leash. As soon as they are finished with their business, lead them away from this forbidden snack. Redirect them to a more palatable treat to reward them for leaving the poop alone. Pretty soon, they’ll learn to associate that anytime they poop, they will receive a tastier treat from you.

Keeping your dog on a leash is also very important when going for walks. Redirect your dog anytime they come across another animal’s droppings, and again offer them a high-value treat as an alternative.


Always check with your veterinarian about this topic; there are additives that can be added to your dog’s food that will make their feces less desirable to ingest.

Play and Exercise

Ensuring that your dog has plenty of opportunities to play and walk will keep them from being bored at home. Use toys that give your dog mental and physical stimulation, like treat puzzles, to help them avoid boredom during the day.

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AskVet: Your Pet Answer Paradise

While eating poop is gross to us, dogs have a different idea of what is palatable. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but a dog with a powerful nose will find palatable things amongst the gross.

Preventing your dog from ingesting poop will be all about being proactive and keeping them from having the opportunity to get into anything undesirable.

If your dog has been partaking in this behavior for a while, it may seem like it will take a miracle to break the habit. Have no worries, though. Your pals at AskVet are the perfect resource when it comes to any pet question you may have, as well as tips and tricks when it comes to training and behavior issues.

Our Certified Pet Lifestyle Coaches™ can help create a pet lifestyle plan tailored to your pup’s needs and strengths, which will help you and your pet thrive. As you very well know, sometimes your dog can act like an animal. With our behavioral experts, you’ll learn and put into place basic obedience and positive reinforcement techniques.

Schedule a virtual session with a CPLC™, and put your dog’s habit of eating poop behind you both!


Why Does My Dog Eat Poop? | American Kennel Club (AKC)

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop? | Mallard Creek Animal Hospital

Why do dogs lick? | Blue Cross