How To Train Your Dog

Life with a well-behaved dog has its rewards. You can trust him to respond reliably and quickly, plus you’ll have a dog who’s a joy to live with.

Why Training Is Important


Training is not cruel and unusual punishment. It actually enhances the relationship with your dog and enriches the bond you establish with him throughout the years. Once he understands what you expect of him, you will get along much better. During the training process, you’ll learn to decipher his language and he’ll figure out what it is you’re trying to tell him.

Training takes practice, and the more time and effort you put into the process, the more you will get out of it. If this is your first dog—and even if it isn’t—you may want to consider hiring a private trainer or think about signing up for a training class. Puppies usually start out in puppy kindergarten. After that you can join an obedience class for older puppies. Ask how many dogs are already signed up before committing to attending. Class size for puppies should be limited to eight to ten dog-and-handler teams per instructor. This ratio enables the instructor to give each team enough attention and time to respond to questions or special training circumstances.

During class your puppy will learn some basics, such as sit, come, down, stay, and how to walk nicely on a leash. These elementary lessons with an instructor and other class participants will teach you the fundamentals of dog training while benefiting from others’ trials and tribulations.

Teaching your dog how to behave involves more than saying his name followed by giving him a command, followed by a little piece of food. Effective training involves interpreting canine body language, anticipating the dog’s responses, timing the rewards, and varying the rewards to keep him motivated to act appropriately.

The Importance of Positive Training

Your dog will respond to your direction if you make it fun. Animal behaviorists believe that the old ways of punishments and harsh corrections may work once or twice, but they are often inhumane, and in the long run, ineffective. Your dog will not understand why you are angry with him, and you can’t expect him to choose a different action the next time.           

A year-long study by the University of Pennsylvania, ending in 2009 and published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science (Elsevier), showed that aggressive dogs who were trained with aggressive, confrontational, or aversive training techniques, such as being stared at, growled at, rolled onto their backs, or hit, continued their aggressive ways. Non-aversive training methods, such as exercise or rewards, were very successful in reducing or eliminating aggressive responses.

Positive training lets your dog know that you are pleased with him, and he will repeat that behavior the next time. Rewards can consist of food, toys, or petting. Depending on what your dog does, you can use one, two, or all three types of rewards. You can also use playtime and games as positive reinforcement. The idea is to reward him every time he does it right. But once he knows it, reward him with food, toys,  or petting only some of the time (but always verbally praise him every time). This way he’ll work hard to please you, hoping that he’ll receive a reward.

How to Get Started

Begin teaching your dog good manners a few days after he’s had a chance to settle into the household.

Keep Training Sessions Short

Keep your training lessons short—about 10 to 15 minutes at each session. You can repeat the session later on in the same day, but each one should be brief. Plan to engage in several training sessions a day because no puppy learns to do something perfectly in only one take.

Use Small Food Treats

It’s a good idea to feed some small food treats as rewards for training. You can use soft commercial food treats sized for puppies, pieces of string cheese, or small pieces of cut-up hot dog that he can swallow right away. Avoid hard, crunchy treats because they take a while to chew. Give treats to your puppy immediately—within half a second of him completing the desired behavior. The faster you confirm the behavior you want, the easier it is for your puppy to understand what you’re trying to teach him. When you give the reward, follow it up by saying “Good boy!”

Avoid the trap of handing out treats during a training session just because your puppy looks cute. He will work harder to please you if he knows that he’s getting a reward than if he hasn’t earned it. If he doesn’t do something you like, don’t yell or punish. Simply withhold the reward.

Say a Cue Word Only Once

Say a cue word, like “sit” or “down,” only once. Dogs are smart, so they hear your command and can follow it the first time. Repeating the cue word multiple times doesn’t help your pup sharpen his listening skills, and like a teenager, he’ll tune you out.

Schedule Training Before Meals

Schedule your training session before your dog’s regular meal. This way he may pay closer attention to the instructions so that he can earn a tasty bite.

Choose a Training Time With no Distractions

Choose a time for training when no one will interrupt you and you don’t feel rushed. Turn your cell phone off and forget about answering the doorbell if it rings. This will give you quality time to devote to the training process.

For the first few sessions, pick a room in the house that’s large enough to move around. When your dog figures out what you want him to do, take your training lessons outside, preferably to a fenced-in area, or keep him on a leash when you are in an unfenced area. Distractions will vie for your puppy’s attention, so you’ll need to become more interesting than the street noise, a fast-moving squirrel, or the scent of newly mowed grass.          

Don’t Train When Puppy’s not in the Mood

Don’t train your puppy when he’s hot, tired, or in the middle of vigorous playtime. You want him energetic and eager for a training session.    

Don’t Get Angry With Your Puppy

If you ever become frustrated with your puppy, don’t get angry with him. Just quietly end the session and try again later in the day. Some dogs have soft temperaments, and they become nervous and will stop paying attention to their trainers if they are yelled at. They can become scared of any training and decide that following directions is not for them. Stay calm and relaxed so that your puppy will learn in a positive environment.

Call the Pets Home @ (630) 854-8841 for quality, professional sitting services.

The Pet’s Home is pleased to offer dog training services including disobedient dog training, doggy day camp training, and our most used service: puppy training. Our goal is to help your pet learn new skills that you’ll be able to implement at home. We aim to teach pet parents break their own bad habits, as well. This allows your pet to have consistency and eliminate confusion between training.

We are available to train your beloved pet at your home or ours for one-on-one sessions. Your dog may be dropped off prior to services or we offer shuttle services to pick up your pet. The Pet’s Home is available to travel to our entire service area for one-on-one training.


Benefits Of Using a Professional Pet Sitter

Using a professional pet sitter reaps benefits for both pets and pet parents.  

Once you experience professional pet care in your home, you’ll never worry about being away from your pet again.

For the Pets:

Benefits to your pets include:


  • Staying at home in his/her safe, secure environment
  • Being surrounded by familiar sights, smells and sounds
  • Following his/her regular diet and exercise routine
  • Having play time
  • Receiving love and personal attention
  • Maintaining medical treatment, when required
  • Having someone responsible in case of an emergency
  • Eliminating the trauma of travel or an unfamiliar environment
  • Helping to ensure good health (no exposure to other animals’ illness or parasites)



For the Pet Parent:

Benefits to you include:

  • Knowing that your pet is in caring, loving hands
  • Having the confidence that the pet sitter can deal with other issues – such as grooming, vet visits
  • Eliminating the trauma of having to transport and leave your pet
  • Not having to impose on family, friends or neighbors
  • Feeling your home is more secure (with someone going in and out several times a day)

Not all pet sitters are created equal, nor are they all professional.  In hiring a pet sitter, it is important to make sure you have chosen the right person to care for your beloved animal. 

Why should you go to for a professional pet sitter?

Because not every pet sitter is equally professional and competent. With The Pets Home, you can be assured your pet will get the best quality care. Call (630) 854-8841 today.


7 Tips for Winter Dog Walking Safety

7 Tips for Winter Dog Walking Safety

Wintertime walks with your pet can be a challenge, but with these tips you can ensure everyone stays warm and safe.

First you have to get all bundled up, and then once you’re outside there are unique challenges depending on the weather conditions.

Here are 7 precautions you should take to keep your pet safe and warm when dog walking during the winter.

1. Avoid Metal

Some people hear the advice to avoid going near metal when taking their dog for a walk in the winter and wonder why it is so important.

Here’s why: In urban areas, sometimes metal has corroded electrical wires hidden underneath. If your pup touches a piece of metal with old wires that has moisture from snow, he may get electrocuted.

Of course, there’s also a risk that your dog will lick a very cold metal object and get his tongue stuck!

2. Stay Away From Snowdrifts

Snowdrifts form rapidly and can cover anything. Your dog may land on top of a covered garbage bag full of sharp objects or a similar hazard.

If you want your pet to experience the joy of running through snow piles and you have a small yard, go to a park or somewhere you know is safe.

3. Careful With Ice

Just as ice is incredibly slippery for humans, the same is true for dogs. So be careful when crossing an icy path. Go slowly to make sure your dog doesn’t slip, and don’t let him run across.

4. Don’t Let Your Dog Eat Snow

dog-eating-snowIt’s no secret that dogs tend to eat whatever they find — and as tempting as snow looks and as harmless as it seems, this can be a bad idea. Snow may contain chemicals, and it’s possible that sharp objects (or other harmful ones that could be swallowed) are hidden in the snow.

Ice-melting chemicals, such as road salt, can make your dog ill and hurt their paws. There are a few ways to protect your pup from this winter danger. To prevent ingestion, don’t let your dog lick the salt or any treated surface, don’t let him drink from puddles near the road and don’t let him eat snow or slush.

5. Don’t Let Your Dog Eat Antifreeze

Most pet parents know that dogs shouldn’t eat antifreeze, but this risk increases during the winter months, especially when you go on a walk and pass areas that may have this dangerous chemical.

6. Sweaters and Booties

If you have a small dog or one with short fur, consider getting either a coat or a sweater for the dog to wear during winter walks. Chihuahuas, greyhounds, whippets, miniature pinschers and similar dogs don’t have long enough fur coats or enough body heat to stay warm, so they may need an extra layer.

Most dogs have little fur on their feet, so consider getting doggie booties for walks. Not only will these help keep the paws warm, but they can also offer protection. Booties give dogs a better grip and prevent them from accidentally stabbing themselves on objects buried under the snow.

Remember to give your dog time to adjust to booties; otherwise you might find your pooch in a hilarious compilation such as this one:

7. Pay Attention

Even if your dog is wearing a coat or sweater and booties, there is a good chance he will start to get cold if he is outside for too long. So keep a close eye on him throughout your entire walk. If your pup starts to shake or shiver, it is a sign that he is too cold and needs to go home.

At The Pets’ Home, we have been providing our clients and their pets with premium pet care services and dog and puppy training in Plainfield, Illinois. Also contact us for pet sitting, house sitting and dog walking provided with warm and genuine care in Plainfield, Illinois. In addition to dogs, we’re wonderful with cats, birds, fish and even pot-bellied pigs!

BLOG POST SOURCES: PETFUL – Exceptional Canine
IMAGE SOURCES: Veronica-Lynn Pit Bullchriswiggin

How to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth

You may have heard the saying, “a dog’s mouth is cleaner.” While that is not entirely true, dogs are not as prone to cavities as humans. However, dogs can still develop plaque buildup, which leads to tartar and gingivitis. Although these are concerning issues, they actually lead to serious health issues including heart, liver, and kidney disease. In order to prevent these life threatening issues, bad breath, and yellow teeth, learn how to clean your dog’s teeth.

To properly brush your dog’s teeth, hold the brush at a 45 degree angle and gently scrub at the gum line and teeth. Use toothpaste specially formulated for dogs, which can be found at pet stores. Human toothpaste has many ingredients that are poisonous to pets; never use your own toothpaste.

Pets do not always love the experience, but if you are patient and read your dog’s signals you’ll be able to create a comfortable routine for both of you. The first few times you brush your dog’s teeth, you man not get to clean as thoroughly as you want – that’s okay! Starting slow and building up tolerance to the brushing activity will easy your dog into it gently. Ensure that you’re speaking pleasantly to your dog and avoid yelling in frustration. The first times are admittedly tricky. You can reward you dog with a treat afterwards to encourage better behavior.

If your dog hates this process, there’s still hope. You can make choices that help encourage better oral health for your pup. Crunchy kibble is better for your dog’s teeth than softer foods. The soft food sticks to teeth and leads to decay, while the kibble does not. In addition you can try synthetic bones and chew toys that are formulated to clean teeth. Although these steps help, they are no replacement for brushing your pup’s teeth.

If your pup has chronic bad breath, yellow teeth, missing teeth or other dental problems, see your dentist for the best advice and treatment.

Top Autumn Pet Care Tips

With the changing weather, comes shedding, increased energy and more time spent indoors. Are you taking care of your pet with autumn in mind? Here are our top tips for autumn pet care:

  1. Be mindful of rodent poison. Rodents are likely to make their way into your home during this time of year. You may be tempted to leave poison out in the open, but your pets can get into them with fatal results. Make sure you place the poison in areas that your pets cannot get into, like cupboards and cabinets, or in rooms that stay closed off. Be sure to protect your pets at all costs because rodent poison is very seriously toxic to cats and dogs.
  2. Watch their food intake. During the summer, pets are more active outdoors and burn more energy which can cause them to eat a bit more. Fall and winter can become a pudgy season for both pets and humans, with less activity and increased decadent foods available. Be sure to watch your pet’s diet and ensure they are getting enough exercise during these cooler months. Consult a veterinarian before making changes to your pets’ diet, as every animal has different needs.
  3.  Beware chocolate. Chocolate consumption goes up during the cooler months with the celebration of many holidays. Be sure to keep your pet away from the chocolate, as it can make dogs very sick. Keep your trick-or-treat buckets out of reach from mischievous, hungry pets.
  4. Avoid bones. You may be tempted to give your pooch a turkey bone from your Thanksgiving feast. Most bones are actually a choking hazard to dogs. Toss your pet a piece of turkey meat and throw the bones away instead.
  5. Be mindful of decorations. Until your pet is familiar with the painted pumpkins, stuffed turkey decor, and fake snow in your home, she might accidentally knock them down or ingest them. Keep your decorations up high or out of pet’s reach for the safest bet.
  6. Clean up the anti-freeze. When you winterize your vehicle, make sure to clean up every bit of anti-freeze. It has a sweet smell that draws in pets. However, a very small amount can kill pets. Keep your pet away when you’re using anti-freeze and thoroughly clean any spills.

How To Minimize Shedding In Dogs

shedding dog

In the summer heat, shedding seems never ending. Are you tired of clumps of fur collecting in the corners of the house and individual strands embedding in your clothes? Here are the best ways to control shedding in dogs.

  1. Brush your dog regularly. This removes loose fur and helps distribute their oils to keep their fur healthier, and less likely to shed.
  2. Feed your dog high quality food. A better diet will help keep their coat healthy and minimize shedding. Some dogs even have allergy-related shedding, so monitoring their diet is extremely important.
  3. Use de-shedding grooming tools. These tools are specialized for shedding and can help manage fur better than a brush alone.
  4. Regularly bathe your pup. Baths help loose fur fall out, but over-bathing can cause dry skin. This causes fur fallout.
  5. Manage fleas. Fleas cause dogs to scratch themselves and fling fur into the air. Make sure your pooch is flea-free to keep scratching (and fur-flinging) to a minimum.

Some dogs are heavy shedders and little can be done to eliminate shedding completely. It should be noted that shearing a dog will not decrease shedding either. In fact, you’ll be left with smaller strands of fur that will still shed.

If you’re considering adding a new pup to the family but don’t want to deal with fur matting your home, look for a breed that doesn’t shed much, like a maltese or poodle. Many long-haired breeds, like shelties and retrievers, shed heavily.

If all else fails, get a good vacuum.

How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?

Taking care of your dog’s health is a primary concern in making their life as long and enjoyable as possible. Exercise is a key component to keep dogs healthy and happy. Regular activity can keep your dog from becoming stressed, bored, and destructive. In addition, it has been shown to reduce anxiety-driven behaviors.

Some dogs prefer or need more exercise, while some need less. Exercise needs differ between breeds, ages, and temperaments. A 3-year-old poodle with a calmer nature may not need as much as a 5-year-old, wiry poodle. Some breeds range between activity levels, as well. For example, some golden retrievers are quite active and others fall into the averagely active category. Make sure to follow a general rule of thumb but pay close attention to your dog’s personal needs.

Very Active Dogs

Herding, (some) hunting, and sporting breeds have a high need for exercise and activity. This means, at least an hour or two of intense activity daily (if not twice a day). These dogs will become impatient and bored if not stimulated regularly. To keep very active dogs healthy try swimming, visiting a dog park, or going for a quick jog. Very active breeds include:

Border Collie
Brittany Spaniel
Australian Shepherd
Bluetick Hound
Shetland Sheepdog
Jack Russell Terrier

Active Dogs

Terriers, (some) hunting, and other medium size dogs have an average need for exercise. These dogs can get some of their daily exercise from playing in the yard, but should get a minimum of an hour of exercise a day. Some within this range are less active and may only need 45 minutes of activity, while others need up to 1.5 hours. It should also be noted that breeds like German shepherds and greyhounds are prone to bloat and shouldn’t exercise within an hour of mealtime. Take these dogs for walks and play fetch for easy stimulation. Active breeds include:

Golden Retriever
German Shepherd

Least Active Dogs

Many small dogs, bulldog varieties, and those with shortened snouts require less exercise than other breeds. However, many of these breeds are prone to obesity and need activity to stay healthy. These types can be active in a small yard to work their muscles and burn energy. Also, brachycephalic dogs with shorter muzzles can overheat easily because of their unique breathing passages. Be sure to monitor the weather and provide plenty of breaks for them. Finally, some large dog breeds are actually less active as well. Less active breeds include:

Italian Greyhound
French Bulldog
Shih Tzu
Great Dane

Cats & Cucumbers

You may have seen the phenomena sweeping YouTube: videos of cats scared by cucumbers. It may seem harmless and hilarious but animal experts share another story.

Experts warn that scaring your pets and causing them stress is probably not a good idea. Many are frustrated that the videos have become trendy and incite people to scare their pets for a laugh. Experts and pet-lovers alike call the cucumber trick, mean spirited, cruel, and lacking humanity.

The reason cats are scared is because they would not typically see the cucumber on a floor, and a surprise object triggers their natural startled response. Some experts suggest that cats may  also associate green with snakes, which are threatening predators. In addition, the cucumbers are often placed near feeding areas, a space cats consider a safety zone. The cats jump in reaction, assuming cucumbers are threatening.

Bringing new objects into your cat’s environment can be good mental stimulation, but your objective shouldn’t be to scare them. Experts suggest introducing items slowly or gradually over time. This is, of course, dependent on your cat’s personality and nature. Each cat reacts differently and should be treated as such.

The moral of the day is to keep cucumbers, or any other surprise object, away from your cat. Surprising and scaring your cat is not ideal to their psyche, could cause them to injure themselves, or lead to stress.

Ticks & Dogs

Summer has arrived and so have the ticks. Ticks are most active in the warm, summer months. They are typically found in heavily wooded areas, and are found in many places in Illinois, including the suburbs of Chicago. Much like humans, dogs are susceptible to tick-borne diseases and tick bites. Ticks can transmit many diseases and infections through their parasitic bite. Ticks are commonly known as transmitters of Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other diseases.

Tick bites can be difficult to detect on pets. Tick-borne diseases can take one to three weeks to show symptoms, though not all ticks transmit diseases. Symptoms of a tick-transmitted infection include fever, lethargy, and weakness.  If left untreated, these diseases can cause serious problems. Lyme disease, for example, can cause inflammation and joint pain, kidney problems, and difficulty breathing. If you suspect a pet has a tick-borne infection, seek medical care as soon as possible.

To prevent tick born infections, carefully examine your pets when after they’re outside, especially in wooded areas. Make sure to finger comb through their fur to feel for any attached ticks. In addition to careful inspection, there are many medicine or formula based preventative solutions.

Oral medications to prevent and kill ticks can be obtained from your veterinarian, and are easy to use. A common solution is a tick collar, though it is most useful for the head and neck area. There are numerous types of shampoos, powders, dips, and sprays that are preventative but can be a bit trickier to use effectively. Most of these solutions have to be applied or used regularly or monthly for optimal results.

Lastly, make your yard less tick-friendly by keeping the lawn mowed, dense wood maintained, and free from woodpiles. Using one of these options doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear and should skimp on fur examinations. It’s important to check your pets continuously.

If you discover a tick on your dog, be sure to remove the tick immediately. To remove a tick, use a pair of tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull backwards without twisting or crushing the tick’s body. Be sure to examine the area to make sure the head is removed and not lodged in the animal’s skin. After removal, wash your hands and your dog thoroughly. Clean the dog’s bite with an antiseptic to prevent infection. After sustaining a tick bite, your dog may experience itchy skin. Sooth this area with a topical cream or use a cold compress.

Tick bites on dogs can be scary for pet owners. With careful prevention, monitoring, and treatment your pet should be able to happily frolic outside with minimal fear of ticks.

9 Weird Cat Behaviors Explained

crazy cats

Cat running across the house at full speed for no reason? Turns out there actually is an explanation for that, and the rest of your cat’s weird behavior. Cats are surprisingly excellent communicators and their behavior is their method of communicating with you. Take note if your cat displays the following behavior.

  1. Sprinting across home. Perhaps one of the most random cat behavior, these sprints are completely normal. Cats need regular exercise and occasionally a burst of energy overtakes them and they sprint about. If your cat does this frequently, try taking your cat for a walk or playing with her more.
  2. Nail biting. You may have seen this behavior before: your cat relaxing on the ground, paws up to mouth, and gnawing on their nails. This can mean  a few things including she needs a nail trim, she’s anxious, or bored. Try playing with your cat more to naturally wear down her nails, and keep her entertained and happy.
  3. Rolling around on the ground. If your cat rolls around on the ground in front of you, she’s telling you that she trusts you and may even want a belly scratch.
  4. Sniffing you or your face. Cats are curious creatures and use their sense of smell to learn more about the environment. If you don’t mind letting your cat sniff you, let the behavior continue. It’s natural and innocent.
  5. Biting. Your cat’s natural instincts tell her to bite when she’s aggressive or feeling threatened. Most biting is a provoked behavior or your cat’s way of letting you know she’s unhappy.
  6. Licking. Though this is a behavior attributed to dogs, cats lick their owners too. It’s just their way of claiming you as their human.
  7. Loud, whining meowing. This whining behavior is just that: whining for something. Whether it’s for attention or food, you cat is trying to tell you they need something. If you cat is older, this could be a form of kitty confusion and they simply may not know where they are or what they’re doing.
  8. Eating grass. There’s a few theories to explain this behavior. Some experts think that grass aids in digestion or contains enzymes that cats need in their diet. Since cats don’t have the ability to digest vegetable matter, they’ll usually throw up grass if eaten. Not to worry, this is totally normal and does not harm your cat.
  9. Waking you up. Cats are nocturnal and usually most active at night. Waking you up stems mostly from boredom. If you cat has been snoozing all day and only sees you for a short time before you go to bed, they might feel bored or lonely. You cat just wants your company and attention.