A Shout Out For Dog Health & Safety This Spring

PetU Dog shoutoutJust a few quick reminders for dog health & safety to make sure we have a group of happy, healthy dogs this spring!

As the weather heats up, be sure your dog has plenty of water, but when he or she gets hot it’s important to offer water in controlled amounts every 15 minutes versus drinking a huge bowl of water all at once. Dogs can get sick if they drink too quickly. Offering ice cubes is a fun and easy way to help your dog cool down without drinking too fast!

Every dog needs a properly fitted quick release collar.
This is important no matter where you are, but especially out in public. So, when coming to boarding or day care at PetU, please leave your dog’s harness in the car or at home. In the rare case a harness is required by your vet based on your dog’s health, please talk with the front desk when you drop off your dog.

For the health and safety of all the dogs please be sure to keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date. While we do send reminders, it’s still important to be proactive about making your vet appointment before the deadline.

Lunch is available for dogs 12 months and under. Dogs over 1 year of age do not need a lunch and will not be taken out of their playgroup to eat, unless directed by your vet.

Last but not least, please never leave your dog(s) unattended in the car as it gets warmer out. Even if you roll the windows down your dog’s health (and your car’s security!) can be in jeopardy.

5 Hazards to Avoid In Your (Dog’s) Home This Holiday

Many times well meaning family members and friends think they are giving your dog a special treat, but what they don’t know CAN harm your dog.

PetU - 5 Holiday Hazards to AvoidHere are 5 things to keep your dog away from this holiday season:

  1. Grapes, raisins and fruitcake can all lead to kidney failure.
  2. Fatty meat scraps can inflame your dog’s pancreas and cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
  3. Toys with loose plastic pieces, whether made for dogs or kids, can become choking hazards for your dog. Remind kids to put their new toys out of your dog’s reach.
  4. An empty water bowl is just as bad in the winter as it is in the summer. With the busy holiday season some people forget to check the dog’s water. Dogs need access to just as much water in the winter when the air is dry, especially on days when they get a lot of exercise.
  5. Daily walks are recommended, but road salt can irritate your dog’s paws. Many people aren’t thinking about snow and salt with the mild winter we’re having, but if it does snow please remind your family and friends to wipe off your dog’s paws after being outside.

We all want our PetU Family of dogs to be happy and healthy this holiday season! If you have any questions please let us know or ask your veterinarian.

Home (Away From Home) For the Holidays: What To Pack For Boarding

It’s that time of year again! If you are making plans to travel this Holiday and your pup is headed to PetU, we have a few helpful tips to make him or her feel right at home.

PetU What To Pack For BoardingThings to pack when boarding:

  • Extra Food – Whether flying or driving, you never know when the weather will slow you down, so please pack an extra day of food just in case you are delayed on your return. If this happens, please call us so we aren’t worried – but we will be ready to care for your dog while you get home safely.
  • A quick release collar is required to keep all the dogs safe. Not sure what that looks like? If your dog’s collar has two pieces on each side of the latch to press and release, it’s a quick release. If it has holes and buckles like a traditional belt buckle, it’s not quick release.
  • Familiar items – Dogs thrive on familiarity and routine. We welcome you to bring a blanket with your scent and/or a dog bed, the same treats you use at home and select toys. We say select because we encourage Kongs and Jolly Balls but not rawhides, stuffed toys or anything with plastic pieces they could choke on. If your dog is a heavy chewer or has anxiety, please leave the stuffed beds at home and just bring a blanket instead.
  • Food – It is important to have your dog eat the same food he or she eats at home to avoid upset stomachs. Also, unless your vet has directed otherwise, dogs over 1 year of age do not need a lunch.

If you plan to sign up for boarding this Holiday season, please contact us as soon as possible. Spots are filling quickly – in fact our Milwaukee location only has a few spots left. We look forward to having your dogs here and reinforcing their good manners while you are away!

Coming in our next blog post… “Keeping Your Dog Safe – Holiday Hazards To Avoid”.

Dog Training Without Treats: A Myth Revealed

“I don’t use treats to train my dog because I won’t always have treats on me”.

We hear it all the time. And we understand why people believe this, but let’s look at the psychology behind dog training to bust this myth.

The saying goes that variety is the spice of life, right? When we aren’t sure what to expect we stay on our toes, alert and eager with anticipation of what’s to come next. The same is true with your dog.

To keep your dog eager to see what you have in store next, it’s critical to grab his or her attention. If your dog is motivated by food, treats can be the key to gaining and keeping his or her attention. And this will hold true whether you have treats on you in the future, or not, because your dog will be more eager to work hard in case you do have treats.

Here’s a real life example you can related to…if your boss stopped giving you a paycheck you would start to lose your interest in your work, right? But on the flip side, if sometimes your boss passed an extra $100 your way for good work, you’d keep working hard, hoping today was one of those bonus days! Treats are like your dog’s paycheck.

Dog Training Without Treats: A Myth RevealedThe key is to start marking, or recognizing, the positive behavior with the name of the command (ie good sit!) and a treat immediately as it’s happening so your dog knows he or she is doing exactly what you wanted. It’s basic classical conditioning…the dog then associates that behavior (and you!) with good things.

As your dog learns the behavior, start treating only every other time, then every fourth time, then every time again. Mix it up! And because you’ll be treating quite a bit, small treats are good to use*. In time, you won’t need treats on you at all times. Your dog will still be eager to see if this is his or her lucky day. Just remember to “recharge” the command from time to time by using treats when you do have them so that the memory of a possible paycheck is fresh.

At PetU we’re all about K9 Higher Education, so here’s your homework! In the coming days, continue to reinforce different behaviors with occasional treats, then train for a while without treats and then introduce one again when your dog least expects it. Do this at home, at the park, on a walk…keep your dog guessing. Watch how his or her attentiveness to you and eagerness to comply improves during this time. It’s incredible to watch this bond grow as owner and dog have fun working together!

*while training with treats please consider the overall amount of food your dog is getting throughout the day to maintain a balanced diet. Speak to your vet if you have any specific questions.

PetU provides dog training, doggy day care, boarding, grooming and nutrition – a complete package for all your dog’s needs. At PetU, dog training is a way of life – it’s at the heart of everything we do.

Fromm Petfest

Calling All Dog Stars

PetU is rolling out the red carpet for you and your furry stars!

That’s right, on Saturday, August 29th you are invited to join us at Fromm Pet Fest at Henry Maier Festival Park for a red carpet photo shoot with your dog. Meet the star-studded cast of PetU, take pictures on the red carpet, and learn from PetU’s head trainer, Dennis Trzcinski, who is recognized nationally for his dog training expertise.

Dennis will be on the Fromm Pet Fest Main Event Stage from 11:30 A.M. until 12:15 P.M demonstrating K9 Higher Education training techniques. Dennis is a man with an undying passion for dog training, who can interact with a dog and figure out it’s personality in a matter of minutes; a man who has trained anything from Chihuahuas to K-9 police dogs. Stop by the Main Event Stage to watch Dennis in action, and visit us at the PetU booth to talk with the team and take your red carpet photo.

The party at Fromm Pet Fest kicks off at 10 A.M. and runs until 6 P.M. so come down early to get the best chance to take part in all of the activities, including Agility, Lure Course, Dock Diving, Doggy Dash, and a Kid Zone, along with other activities, speakers and vendors. Enjoy the day down by the water and some great music! Free Admission, Free Parking and you can bring your pet…what more can you ask for?

See you on the red carpet!


Date: Saturday August 29th, 2015
Time: 10am – 6pm
Event website: petfestmke.com

Why No Behavior is the Best Behavior

When you are with your dog, what are the moments that he gets the most attention from you?

Most likely when you two are playing (high energy) or he has done something naughty (negative energy). But how about when he is laying down quietly chewing on a toy? Last week we talked about desensitization, a method that encourages a positive, non-reaction from your dog. This week’s topic follows along the same line: rewarding your dog for doing nothing.

How it works
When I started at PetU, one of the first dogs I trained was a massive St. Bernard with a bit of an attitude problem. He knew he was huge, and knew how to throw his weight around. His owners brought him in for our 3-week intensive Canine College dog training program. They needed our help calming him down and focusing his energy, along with basic obedience.

The first few days that Canine College students are with us are solely spent on bonding; we let them come to terms with the new surroundings and new handlers. I did a lot of focus work with him, which taught him that I was in charge and I could be trusted.

Although he and I now had a bond, I spent the next few days listening to him make a racket in the kennel, and very unsuccessfully attempting to put his leash and brand new Gentle-Leader on. Just because we were friends did not mean he wanted to listen to me. Have you ever seen a crocodile do a death roll when they catch their prey? That’s more or less what our “training” sessions looked like. (He was the crocodile). I always won in the end, but it was an intense battle.

I decided to use a simple method to solve both of his issues – I would reward him for doing nothing. Whether we were working in the kennel room or attempting to put on the leash, I waited until he was sitting down and acting calm. As long as he was calm, he got a treat. As soon as he stopped barking in the kennel, I would peek my head in to check on him. If he was laying down or sitting calmly, I would go in with lots of treats and lots of praises. I did this several times a day, just for a few minutes each time. After only a few sessions he was noticeably calmer.

The end result
Within a matter of days he transformed from out-of-control to manageable. Then we bought him a weighted vest to help with his focus issues. He absolutely hated having it slipped over his neck, and would never stand still for me to buckle under his chest. Using the same method, a couple of bags of treats and lots of patience, I was able to finally attach the leash, gentle leader and vest, all with him standing calmly.

He had learned that being in a relaxed, calm state was the energy I wanted from him. From then on, we was a different dog; by simply rewarding ‘no behavior’ I had entirely transformed his overall behavior in just a matter of days.

NOTE: The key to this method is upkeep. It is not enough to do it for a few days and then never reward him again. Those rewards don’t need to be treats, they can be as simple as a pat on the head or a short back scratch, just to let them know you’re happy with them.

As always, contact us to set up training sessions!