Chocolate does not convey love for your dog…

The toxicity of chocolate is relative to the size of your dog and the type and amount of chocolate ingested.

Because it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought it might be good to remind everyone that chocolate is not safe for dogs.

PetMD has a great calculator to help you determine when it is time to get your dog to the veterinarian if your dog has had some chocolate. The toxicity of chocolate is relative to the size of your dog and the type and amount of chocolate ingested.

For example my favorite candies are Reese’s Dark Chocolate Mini Peanut Butter cups. I did a little science experiment on them and one of these candies has about 1/4 oz of dark chocolate.

Did you say peanut butter???

My dog Pinball is about 35 pounds. Like so many dogs he loves peanut butter and will not be bothered by the fact that there are wrappers and even some dark chocolate to get through in order to find the coveted peanut butter.

Based on the PetMD chocolate calculator, if Pinball got one of these candies, I would not have to worry. I would watch him closely because at his weight with the amount of dark chocolate in one small dark chocolate peanut butter cup, there would be no symptoms expected. But, because every body is a little different, I would keep an eye on him, AND make sure he got NO MORE.

By the way, it is the compound theobromine that is the culprit here. Theobromine can also be found in things other than chocolate. A few of them are: tea, coffee, cola products, acai berries, coco mulch for the yard, and probably others.

If Pinball were to get 1 oz of baker’s chocolate, I would call the poison control hotline if my veterinarian were not available, and probably take him in to see the veterinarian or emergency veterinarian right away.

There are a number of pet poison hotlines, some charge a fee, and others don’t. Look online to see what works best for you, and here are a couple:

– Pet Poison Helpline

– ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

For Pinball’s 1 oz of baker’s chocolate, mild to moderate symptoms would be:

  • Vomiting
  • GI Upset
  • Hyper Tension
  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness

2 oz of baker’s chocolate would cause moderate to severe symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Tremors in muscles
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Hyperthermia

3 oz of bakers chocolate would cause severe symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Tremors in muscles
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Hyperthermia
  • Seizures
  • Collapse
  • Death

When we compare this to 3 oz of milk chocolate which would be expected to cause mild to no symptoms, it is dramatic the difference the type of chocolate can make in terms of toxicity – so – Remember if you have to call the veterinarian, he or she will need to know:

– Dog’s weight,

– Amount of chocolate,

– What type of chocolate

In short – no chocolate is good for your dog, but the darker the chocolate the less your dog will need to ingest to become very sick and potentially lose their lives to a simple piece of candy.

On Valentine’s Day, show your dog you love him or her with a great wild walk in the snow for those of you in the north, or a peanut butter kong, or both. But keep your chocolate up and away.

And for those of you with young kids, send the dog out of the room until the kids are done with their chocolate – save everyone the anguish and let your kids enjoy their treat without worry.

Nails part #1

Here is one of my favorite students, Bandit, taking care of his front nails himself on the sanding board. As you can see, he is enjoying himself.

Bandit Stool trick
“Couldn’t I just sit here on this stool looking cute until you forget about that whole nail thing?”

Taking care of our dog’s nails can sometimes be a arduous task but it is a necessary one. If a dog’s nails grow too long, the nails push against the ground every time the dog puts weight on his or her feet which affects the movement of different joints by shifting the alignment of the leg bones and that can cause our dogs pain and lead to arthritis. It is hard to imagine that long nails can cause our dogs hip, knee, spinal pain and more, but it’s like that old song, “…shin bone connected to the knee bone…”

Sometimes our dogs allow nail trimming with little protest, but more often than not, if we have not trained our dogs to tolerate (and even love) nail clipping or dremmeling, they are only putting up with it.

“Love it?” You say?

Indeed. Before my fringy dog Pinball came along, all my dogs had their nails demmeled. dremel%C2%AE8100-9183They came running when they heard me taking out any power tool, disappointment showing on their faces when it wasn’t the Dremmel, but my saw or nail gun instead. And, when it was Dremmel time, it was party time!

Because Pinball has such long fringe, I cannot Dremmel his nails. The fringe from his tail got caught in the sanding drum early on in his nail dremmeling career, and that was enough for all of us. Instead, I have to clip his nails, which is not my favorite. I’ll admit it, I am a “quick wimp” and because of my fear of clipping his quick, I never cut too much away. This leaves his nails always a little too long.

I realized it was time to teach him the sanding board.

Here is one of my favorite students, Bandit, taking care of his front nails himself on the sanding board. As you can see, he is enjoying himself.

“Nails part #2” will instruct you on how to build a sanding board.

“Nails part #3” will outline how to teach your dog to love sanding his or her own nails on your very own sanding board!

Stay tuned!

Skunked in Montana

Our dog keeps getting sprayed by skunks. Can you make any suggestions?


Ask Professor Boo is our recurring, positive reinforcement dog training and behavior question and answer column. If you have a question that you would like to ask Professor Boo, please feel free to contact him.

[dropcap]Q[/dropcap]: Our dog keeps getting sprayed by skunks. She’s a terrier mix and loves looking in culvert pipes and other exploring. We live in the country in Montana and there is so much here that a curious dog can get into trouble with.baf6fec90b93fdec742ca7136bdd68c1 She used to not come when we called her but we’ve been training her with treats and she’s gotten so much better at coming when we call. We hate to have to keep her on a leash when we go for walks. Can you make any suggestions?           Thank you, Jennifer

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]: Hi Jennifer,

Many folks who enjoy walking their dogs off leash like to have a handful of distance commands. The recall is, of course, the most common in terms of getting the dog well under control at a distance. There are others that are a little less ridge and less restrictive for the dog.

They are:

  • A distance leave-it. This could be used once your dog has learned leave-it so well that on that command, she will turn away from whatever it is she has found.
    • Leave-it has to be rewarded with food in the learning stages, and then intermittently forever depending on the dog and the surroundings.
  • A distance sit or down. These could be used anywhere or anytime you need to simply put your dog into a holding position. Once you can reliably request these commands at a distance, you can lock your dog down matter how far away you are.
    • Some dogs do better with a stop command at a distance than the sits or downs, but essentially the stop command like the sits and downs, simply halt all actions until you tell your dog otherwise.
    • The sit, down and stop all have to be trained in close where you can easily reward them, then using a long drag leash, you can begin to increase the distance you ask your dog to preform these until she is ready for the big leagues of off leash completely.

Hope that helps and remember, there is just something that dogs LOVE Goodbye-Dante-Thumbnailabout skunks so keep that skunk wash handy.

And, hopefully the ideas above will allow you to not have to use it quite as often as we had to with Dante. He loved skunks!

Top three reasons to love the Whole Dog Journal

The Whole Dog Journal has been a staple of mine for more than fourteen years and I recommend it as required reading for everyone who loves their dogs.

The Whole Dog Journal has been a staple of mine for more than fourteen years.

  • Each year I devour the annual pet dog food (both wet and dry) issues (Reason #1 and pun #1). These analyses allow me to choose the best food based on the specific ingredients and my dog’s needs—not the food that advertises the most.
  • This leads me to reason #2—No Advertising. Because The Whole Dog Journal does not allow advertisements, all their product articles from food to equipment are well researched and without pressure from advertisers!
  • Which leads me to reason #3—their staff of writers are credentialed and passionate about their work. They contribute to the research and they have the backgrounds that offer them the knowledge to comment appropriately on topics of health, training, behavior, and more.

Three Dogs Training encourages you to take a look at The Whole Dog Journal if you have not done so already! Maybe even as a gift to you and your pup(s)!

The Great Crate Debate

Like all tools, there is a right and wrong way to use a dog crate. Here is an easy-to-follow list of do’s and don’ts to make your dog love their crate.

A crate is a lovely and secure place for dogs to spend time when you can’t be watching them or when you are not home.

It should be a safe place where they are not disturbed and where they can have fun with wonderful safe things in there with them – toys, food, etc.

However, like all tools there is a right way and a wrong way to use a crate:

[box type=”tick” style=”rounded” border=”full”]We always want the dog to go happily into the crate on their own.

To acheive this we are going to spend some time tossing in toys, treats, etc., so that they learn that the crate is a Disneyland for them. Always start out slowly.[/box]

[box type=”alert” style=”rounded” border=”full”]We never want to “put” or force them into the crate.[/box]

[box type=”alert” style=”rounded” border=”full”]We never allow kids (or adults) to go up to a dog in a crate and hover or poke fingers at the dog.[/box]

Here’s how to get your dog to love their crate:

[unordered_list style=”tick”]

  • Toss some treats into the crate as you offer up a cue word, “crate,” “bed,” “house,” “kennel-up,” etc.  Pick one and stick to that command – don’t change it up.  Consistency is absolutely key, here.
  • Offer tons of praise when your dog first enters and toss more treats even further back into the crate.
  • Keep praising and tossing as your dog sniffs around, eats, and begins to think that maybe there will be more.
  • Don’t close the door until your dog is happily entering the crate on their own to see if there are more goodies inside.
  • Once your dog happily enters the crate, ask them to sit before you ask them to come out. Then begin to close the door and again ask for the sit to let them out. We are still keeping this very short.
  • Begin dropping a handful of kibble into the crate after your dog is inside with door closed.  Say nothing as you drop the kibble and walk away after you drop the kibble. Count to 10 and return if your dog is not fussing – if your dog is fussing, wait and only return when the dog is quiet. Repeat this often throughout the day increasing the count by one or two each time you leave the room.
  • On an ongoing basis – three or four times a week – please feed your dog in their crate so they also associate the huge jackpot of their meal with just being in the crate.[/unordered_list]

Here are a couple of items to note:

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]If you have to leave your dog in a closed crate before they are completely happy with the crate, make sure you leave a Kong with the best stuffing in the world! (See below.)[/box]

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]If your dog won’t go into the crate for treats or kibble, you will need to experiment with cheese, cold-cuts, hot dogs, etc.

Don’t worry that your dog will develop a taste for human food – they already have it.  Just watch them when you bring pizza home.

We need to make the crate a great place and if you have to use super high-value rewards then so be it. After your dog is happily going into the crate for the super high-value treats you can begin to substitute regular treats and occasionally toss in the super high-value ones to keep them interested.

Practice this when your dog does not need to go into the crate and when they will not be left in there so that when the time comes to crate them it will all be good and fun.[/box]

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]If your dog destroys stuffed toys and blankets in the crate don’t put them in there with your dog unless your dog is elderly and needs a foam cushion to lay on (at which point they probably won’t be eating their cushions anymore).

An empty crate with a couple of stuffed Kongs is just fine while they are learning good manners around stuffed and plush items.  Hands down, the best toy for a crate is a stuffed Kong. (See below.)[/box]

How to Stuff a Kong

Kong stuffing has become something of an art form.

A Kong can hold sloppy things like peanut butter, cream cheese, other soft cheeses, liverwurst, etc.  Some harder, broken-up treats or kibble can then be put in the bottom with the sloppy stuff at the top to make it more difficult to get the harder treats out. (Remember no gooey stuff at the bottom or you will be the one digging that out)

When stuffing for the new-to-the-crate dog it should have the greatest things in there.

Remember that, when stuffing a Kong, it’s not like stuffing a pepper:  it’s like a smear on a bagel and more than just a smear for the dogs new to the crate.

Be creative and always put something in that Kong when leaving doggie in the crate!

Once they are happily going to the crate, you can cut the amount and value of the treats you put into the Kong.