Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The importance of positive Crate Training

Why Crate Train Your Pup

Dog crates can serve many purposes, but two stand above all others- potty training and safety.
Anyone who has raised a puppy knows they are like small human children, and must be watched constantly. If not, the puppy could chew up electrical cables, bedding, furniture, the paint off walls (yes- that too), or swallow small objects that can pose a choking hazard. It is in the puppy’s best interest (and yours) to keep them crated when they can’t be monitored, if only to keep the puppy safe.

How to Choose a Good Dog Crate

Consider a well ventilated crate large enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around in easily. Bear in mind as your puppy grows (and they do grow fast), they will need more room. It’s usually a good idea to invest in a full size crate adjusted for their expected adult growth! If your dog is a mixed breed, consider the expected size of the larger breed in the mix.
Also, try to avoid purchasing an overly large crate. Too much room might allow for your puppy to make a mess without disturbing his immediate bedding.

Be Patient

Crate Training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog’s past experiences. In the case of shelter dogs, workers sometimes can’t get to the puppy in time; proper training may take longer because the dog is used to eliminating in his enclosure.


Crating and Potty Training

Dogs prefer not to relieve themselves in small confined areas or where they sleep. In the crate, your puppy will hold his bladder as long as he can. Bear in mind- that is a very small and underdeveloped bladder; your puppy will need frequent potty breaks. Crate training a puppy is different from crate training an adult dog. Even if you have to work, expect to come home to soiled bedding if you leave your puppy crated all day. Small puppies are still growing and developing, and need frequent potty breaks.
On the other hand, it is a good idea to begin crating your puppy overnight. They will probably whine at first, and you probably won’t get a full night’s rest (but that is to be expected for any young puppy owner). Most puppies should be able to sleep the entire night without a potty break by 4 months of age.
·       Barring sleep, puppies under 6 months of age shouldn’t stay crated for more than 3-4 hours at a time (Humane Society)
·       It is said puppies can be crated without potty breaks for their age (months) in hours plus one. Ex.- 3 months = 4 hours
·       In order to properly develop social skills, puppies shouldn’t be separated from litter mates prior to four weeks. Many experts recommend no less than eight weeks.

Make it Comfortable

Don’t think of your puppy’s crate as a cage, but more of a comfy doggy den! Make sure the bottom is lined with soft blankets or other comfortable material. Leave a favorite toy or two in your dog crate. Comfortability ranks right up there with familiarity and patience. You always want your puppy to form positive associations with his crate at all times! If you crate your puppy directly after chastisement, he will learn ‘crate means my parent is upset; I don’t like the crate because I don’t want the parent to be upset’. Never associate your crate with punishment. In order for your training to run smoothly, you’ll want your little one to enjoy his little den and associate it with a positive place!

Start Small & Familiarize

This is possibly both the most important step to the training process and the most neglected. In order to avoid anxiety from developing, you absolutely must be patient and let your puppy become accustomed to his or her crate. In other words, don’t start off the bat crating for hours at a time unless it is absolutely unavoidable.
Begin by letting your puppy inspect the crate with the door open. After you do this once or twice, start out by creating your pup for short 5, 10 or 20 minute intervals while you are in the room. After you’ve done this a few times, you can begin crating and leaving the room for short durations.
If you have to work on a Monday, try starting out Friday after you return home. In order to create further pleasant associations, begin feeding your dog in his crate at feeding time.
Be sure to set a potty training/crating schedule for your puppy to help familiarize them to the process!

Your Puppy’s Perspective

Dogs all too often develop separation anxiety, sometimes to an extreme, potentially causing injury to themselves in an attempt to escape or tearing up blanketing to confetti. This can be because owners start out by caging them for day long periods rather than slowly introducing them to crating. Remember, dogs do not understand why they are being crated, and often think their pack- family member and parent has left them, never to return.
The entire idea behind this gradual process is to give your puppy time to adjust, showing him or her you will always return and he doesn’t need to worry. Remember to crate various times throughout the day to help your puppy familiarize themselves to the process!


-Introduce your dog to the crate.
-Begin crating while you are in the room.
-Feed your dog meals in the crate.
-Start leaving the room.
-Slowly lengthen crating periods (with appropriate bathroom breaks).
-Begin crating your puppy when you leave.
-Crate your puppy at night.

Please visit our website or call us today 
for information on our training packages and classes!
phone: (713) 658-0900

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Clicker Training

The Basics of Clicker Training your Dog

Clicker training is a form of operant conditioning; this method uses positive reinforcement as stimuli to train dogs. Clicker training is not only limited to dogs, but can be used for training other pets and also small children.
The idea revolves around the use of a noise, a clicking stimulant, which is used to validate the good behavior of a dog often accompanied by a treat or a ‘pat on the head’. This method not only helps with obedience training, but also helps build a bond with all the family members alike. Despite various trainers believing in other methods, this is one of the most effective methods that bear the most fruit.
Here is what you need to do when deciding on clicker train your dog:

1.    Proper use of the clicker

You can easily get one at the pet store; remember that perfecting the time on the clicker takes practice. It should be clicked the exact moment when your dog is doing the right thing and not before or after. The click itself is not the treat rather it is associated with the treat. This will relate the dog’s training period with good things and both of you will actually have fun doing it.

2.    Accustom your dog to the clicker

 Your dog might want to go on an adventure when it hears something click and is not sure where the noise came from or what it is for. The first step is to acquaint the clicker with the dog. Use a quiet space and click the clicker while immediately giving your dog a treat. You have to acclimatize his memory with the sound the clicker produces.

3.    How is your dog responding to it?

Observation is key here, your dog’s response will determine whether this method will be useful or not. If your dog runs through the noise, maybe the sound is too harsh for your dog; you can always soften the sound by wrapping a cling film around it. If your dog is still afraid then this is not the method for you.

4.    Reward their natural behavior

Your dog surely does have certain habits that you love, such as lying down on their own or drinking from their water bowl without toppling it over. This can be very useful in clicker training as each time your dog does something good on its own you can click and appreciate his good habits. This will significantly encourage your dog to obey you and to always be at his best behavior.

5.    Verbal Cue

When trying to associate your dog with the clicker, try to use a verbal cue such as “good girl” or “good boy” to incorporate the sound of the clicker with giving a treat to your canine companion.  


Training your dog requires patience and practice, observe your dog and work according to their learning pace. This is a tried and tested method and is considered as one of best strategies when it comes to obedience training puppies or adult dogs.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Shedding Holiday Weight

Shedding Holiday Weight!

At Urban Tails, our Thanksgiving feast of turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie was enjoyed by every canine lucky enough to have stayed with us this year. With the new year approaching, many will make plans to begin a fitness regiment to make up for the extra slices of pie. Our canines aren’t excluded from this yearly phenomenon so this month, we’ll review a few guidelines about canine weight loss to make it easier, healthier and with greater chances of success. Before you attempt helping your dog to lose weight, check with their veterinarian to choose the best diet and to be sure there are no underlying health issues that are contributing to weight gain. 

Obviously your dog’s diet is essential to both losing and maintaining a healthy weight. Choose a diet with above average protein but below average fat and calories. The average protein in dog food is 29% in dry kibble and 40% in canned food, with the average fat calculated at 16% for kibble and 23% in canned food. The average calorie count is 250-350 calories per 8 ounce cup of kibble or 13 ounce can. When shopping for dog food, be sure to pay close attention to the ingredients listed on the label as many times fat and calories are replaced by empty carbohydrates that offer only a temporary sense of satisfaction. 

If you decide to substitute a portion of your pets’ diet with human food, such as green beans, get frozen instead of canned vegetable as canned items often contain too much sodium for it to be considered a healthy option. Cutting back on treats or choosing a smaller healthier treat can make all the difference as well. Remember for dogs, it is the act of getting a treat that matters more than the dependence on treats as a filling part of their diet. Pay attention to chews or rawhides and try to give ones that will last a long time, like bully sticks, providing the chewing satisfaction without the fat content. 

For a canine, the fun part of losing weight is all in the exercise – a natural pastime for any pooch. Like any exercise regimen, start off small and work your way up. Don’t leave the house thinking Fido can jog a mile right off the couch. Start off with relaxing walks and build up the length as you see your dog becoming more comfortable moving around. Swimming is a great exercise for dogs of all ages but especially for older dogs as it is easier on their joints than movement on surfaces such as pavement or that include sudden movements like a game of fetch. 

Exercising with a friend is always more fun and stimulating so if you’re having a hard time getting your pooch to cooperate with complicated yoga moves, try letting him burn some calories with his friends at Urban Tails. For dogs who need a focused approach, sign them up for a group or private swim in our indoor canine pool or have them do a fifteen minute session on our canine treadmill. Many dogs are overweight simply because your house is just not as much fun for them without you in it. This can lead to long naps and decreased activity which is precisely what leads to overweight dogs struggling to keep up when they finally get to the dog park. With a pack of dogs to spend the day with, their focus is on the best kind of canine fun with the best kinds of canines at Urban Tails!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

While most northerners are preparing for the first blanket of snow to start their winter, Houston has been inundated with yet another rainy season with thunderstorms, flash flooding and even tornadoes. Some dogs take this all in stride, jumping in puddles and soaking up the indoor time cuddled under a blanket with their best friend. Other dogs, to put it frankly, freak out. They become anxious: whining, hiding under beds or in closets, pacing back and forth, or acting out by tearing up some part of their environment to deal with their anxiousness. There are, however, techniques to soothing your pooch through Houston’s November weather. 

The first tactic is to keep the dogs in a room or a crate where they are not confronted with the storm through a window or door. The crashing thunder and flashing lighting is less of a trigger if they can’t see the storm and only hear some of the thunder at a volume consistent with other neighborhood noises they are more familiar with. Here at Urban Tails, since we have windows in our day care rooms, we will remove a stressed dog from the day care floor and let them calm down in one of our lofts where the thunder and lightning aren’t as much of a stress factor.  

Another technique is the use of Thundershirts. This is a relatively new product designed specifically for stressed and agitated dogs. Made of t-shirt like material and fitted with flaps that allow it to wrap tightly around your dog, it provides comforting pressure that calms dogs during many kinds of stressful times like storms, traveling, fireworks, and can even help with separation anxiety. While the patent is pending, the product has worked wonders for many dog owners. At Urban Tails, we have Thundershirts set aside for those dogs we know will be anxious while staying with us. 

In severe cases where dogs tear up a door or the flooring of their environment, whether they are crated or not, the veterinarian can save the day with medication to help your pet get through the storm without injuring itself or your home. These medications are more often than not tranquilizers that induce a state of calm restfulness so be sure you are aware of your dogs’ reaction to these as they can impede their abilities of movement. 

Many owners are familiar with what causes their dogs’ stress and will notify us of what behavior to look out for and how they can best be comforted. Sometimes it’s as easy as a soothing voice or comforting cuddle, a distraction like a tennis ball to chase, or a few minutes to themselves. Be sure to speak to your veterinarian about how best to deal with stressful activity that can affect your favorite canine and if Urban Tails can help out in anyway, please let us know! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Halloween Safety tips for your pup!

Halloween Safety for Dogs -
There’re no bones about it, dogs are probably even more adorable than normal when they are dressed for Halloween – preferably in an outfit that compliments their humans’ costumes.  The hilarity hardly ever goes unnoticed and is often the best of the best costumes in the neighborhood. For the purposes of this article, we will assume you and your friend(s) have decided on The Wizard of Oz cast. While it’s a great way to show off your best friend, there are a few things to keep in mind when dressing up your dog and hitting the town in what can only be described as a loosely organized  door-to-door fashion show.
When it comes to dressing your canine up for the big night, keep in mind that dogs need to keep their head free of obstructions so they can see and smell everything that keeps them informed of their environment which is a huge source of comfort but also stress for a dog. Strong adhesives, stifling fabric that raises their body temperature, cumbersome designs that inhibit their movement and color aerosol sprays that are toxic to your friend can cause skin irritation, poisonous or injury. With everything else to keep up with during the holidays, it’s best to stay away from costumes that include any of those characteristics.
While going door to door dressed up in a costume is probably the most fun way ever to network, beware the door you knock on that has not informed its canine that there’s a very strange stranger and an even stranger dog on the very property it has been trained to protect. Now there’s a guy dressed like Dorothy and a dog with a fake mane around its neck on the doorstep. Whichever side of the door you’re on, think carefully about how safe your pet will be when that door opens. An aggressive dog should be contained away from the front door for everyone’s safety. A curious dog should remain curbside till it is clear it is safe to approach a house you’re not sure about.
To be sure, the “treat” part of Trick Or Treat is probably the best part of the night for the canines. While there are plenty of great dog friendly treats, the ones to stay away from are just as plentiful. The obvious things to look out for usually include chocolate, but did you know that grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts and onions are poisonous to dogs as well? Often times there is a 24 hour period that follows before the dog shows any symptoms. These symptoms include all the things you’d hate to spend your holidays taking care of and don’t forget - it is NOT fun for Fido either: vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, kidney failure, tremors and other horrible things. Keep your dog safe and research those edible items you’re not sure about to see if they contain any problematic ingredients. When in doubt, call your veterinarian.
Halloween is one of many really wonderful days of the fall season. But unless you’re planning on dressing up every day, treat this as just one of the many fun things to do while the weather is not too hot and not too cold. In Houston, it’s a nice time of the year to catch that vagrant cool breeze on an evening walk or spend those few extra minutes at the park without having to worry about heatstroke. Have FUN this season and be SAFE. If we at Urban Tails can help in any way, let us know!      

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tips on Keeping Your Pet Safe This Holiday Season

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Even though it may be wonderful for most of us, it may not be so wonderful for your pet! Here are some tips on how to keep your pet safe this holiday season!

Ornaments need to be kept out of reach; shards from broken ornaments may injure paws, mouths, or other parts of your pet's body.

If you plan on having a real tree this year, keep the area clear of pine needles. They may not seem dangerous, but the needles can puncture your pet's intestines if ingested.
Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia plants are poisonous to dogs and cats. If you normally use these plants to decorate your home, they should be kept in an area your pet cannot reach.

Edible tree decorations are like time bombs waiting to happen. Whether it is be ornaments, candy canes, or cranberry/ popcorn strings; these goodies are just too enticing and your pet will surely try to get to them!

To prevent any accidental electrocutions, any exposed indoor or outdoor wires should be taped to the wall or the sides of the house. Also when string lights on your tree, remember not to put lights on the tree's lower branches. Pets can get tangled up in the lights, and they are a burning hazard. Additionally, your dog or cat may inadvertently get shocked by biting through the wire.

When gift wrapping, b

As for any busy family holiday, make sure your pet is kept in a safe area away from the door so they do not accidently slip out while guests are coming in and out. Also making sure your pet has on proper identification on may make the difference between your pet making it home safely or not.

e sure to keep your pet away. Wrapping paper, string, plastic, or cloth could cause intestinal blockages, which may result in your pet having surgery. Same goes with Christmas tree tinsel! It's shiny and may look like a nice snack to some pets, but can be potentially deadly.