Dog Training Advice for Dog Owners Whose Dog Barks

In response to the Columbus Dispatch article on Columbus dogs biting Postal Workers.  I am concerned about the advice given by Meghan Herron who suggests, “removing dogs from the room when a postal worker approaches the house”.

“That type of learning is going to take 100 times to overcome,” Herron said, adding that ideally, training should start at a young age.

Removing dogs from the room when a postal worker approaches most likely is impossible for most dog owners who work during the day, let alone repeating this pattern over 100 times to help the dog overcome the aggression.

At Acme Canine we deal with this issue several times a day with clients and their dogs.  Most people don’t understand that a dog who has too many freedoms develops behavior problems like this.  Teaching obedience develops self-control in a dog.  When a dog has self-control they think before they react.

In addition a dog that bites is a pattern that has developed over years.  At first the dog barks out the window, the Postal worker leaves.  The dog thinks they scared them off.  Coming back again day after day builds frustration in the dog which results in first snapping.  If the dog gets the right reaction (which would be almost second nature for someone to retract in fear) and the dog’s confidence builds.  Finally the dog has the confidence to make contact with skin when they bite.

A side note is dogs that are fearful but have the confidence to bite will usually go after the person when the person’s back is turned…the heel nippers.

In addition to teaching obedience, it helps to use a spray bottle to correct any barking out of a window, not just at the Postal Worker.  This is called an “environmental correction” because you do not say anything when you spray the water.  Rather you use peripheral vision and a stream not a mist on the water bottle.  When the dog barks, you walk up to the window to look out.  At that time, without directly looking at the dog, you spray the dog’s face whether they are barking at that time or not (there is a 5 second window to praise or correct a dog which they will associate with the action).  Then tell the dog, “good quiet”.

This will teach the dog not to bark out the window and stop the pattern of wanting to go after Postal Workers.  And positive results occur within a week or so if obedience is being taught.

Harness Lead, an alternative to training your dog not to pull on leash

Harness Lead is an adjustable dog harness with a leash attached designed to be an alternative to training your dog not to pull on leash.

When working with a dog using the proper equipment and knowing how to use it is key to your success.  Many dog owners purchase a tool, use it incorrectly and then criticize the tool for harm to the dog or not being effective.

Not only is it important to know how to use the tool but also whether the tool is used for training or to stop a behavior.

The Harness Lead is a tool to help stop a dog from pulling on leash but is not a training tool to teach them to walk politely on leash.  Confused?  Think of it this way, the Harness Lead is designed to prevent a dog from pulling.  This means when the dog is on another tool such as a leash and buckle collar, it will pull on walks.

The Harness Lead’s design is such that it adjusts to any size or body type just by aligning the movable black stops with front leg so it will fit any body perfectly…so it is virtually escape proof.   It is made of hand spliced nylon with a tensile strength of 3,700 lbs.  This soft texture with no hard edges or buckles reduces chafing.

Some of our reviewers had “harness anxiety” with putting it on the first time. There is definitely a learning curve.   For this reason it would help to take your dog our in a fenced yard before going out in the road to make sure you have it secured correctly.

Others felt the length of the leash could be longer.  A couple wanted a thinner size for dogs under 30 lbs.  Overall the leash is a little thick, about ¾” in diameter with a maximum length of 8 feet when it is totally stretched out.  The length changes with the size of the dog’s neck and chest.

We found that the Harness Lead worked well with the dogs in our care.  Most responded quickly to the leash with only a few heavy pullers being resistant.

It is easy to use once you get the hang of how to put it on and the dogs quickly adapt to wearing it.  And it is washable.

Harness Lead has a great return policy:  “If for any reason you are not satisfied, just return within 2 months of the date of your purchase to Harness Lead and once they receive it back, a full refund will be issued.  You just need to include the reason for return.”

We feel the Harness Lead has a place in the dog world.   It may not be for every dog but it is a quick and easy way to walk a dog without the agony of them pulling on leash.  It is our opinion that this would be a great leash for a puppy or dog you don’t plan to train.

Acme Canine gives this product 4 paws up for great design and the Harness Lead return policy.

Teaching your dog obedience commands

Teaching obedience commands is a great way to improve your relationship with your dog.  Obedience will teach your dog focus and self-restraint while making him better behaved.  Obedience is also a great way to mentally stimulate your dog.

The command gives your dog something to think about rather than a previously typical knee jerk reaction.  They understand that sit means sit quietly and heel means be attentive to their handler.  Using commands as tools can help a dog focus in situations which were previously tough for him.  Through distraction training dogs learned self-control and confidence.  “Self-control” meaning he can control his actions on his own.  Confidence is the result and then he feels less of a need to bark or act out.  A lack of confidence and self-control in dogs tends to develop into a variety of unwanted behaviors.  So it is important to make obedience a way of life.

With practice and consistency at home, you should be able to help your dog become a much better member of society.

Have an obedient dog?  Below is a list of common commands taught in obedience.  Can your dog do all of these?  If not, contact Acme Canine to find out how to start lessons.

  • Sit                                                                      •              Heel                                                        •              Down
  • Come                                                                •              Sit-from-Down                                     •              Up/Off
  • Leave It                                                            •              Place                                                       •              Sit-in-Motion
  • Down-in-Motion                                            •              Sit-from-Front                                     •              Down-from-Front
  • Drop                                                                 •              Take                                                        •              Stand
  • Square Off 90                                                 •              Finish

The use of standard cue words is a basic tool used to get desired behavior from a dog.  Following are the standard cue words used at Acme Canine; in addition we use the owner’s release word, crate word and elimination command:

  1. Off – dog needs 4 feet on ground
  2. Leave it – dog needs get away from item or dog (litter, poop, urine, etc)
  3. Wait – dog is to stop moving forward
  4. Quiet – dog is to stop barking
  5. Back – dog is to back up so another dog can go through the door
  6. No – dog is to stop what it is doing and focus on us

Keeping Cues Strong

  • In order to avoid teaching the dog to ignore us it is most successful to use each cue word only one time and to enforce the cue given.
  • Use verbal praise and brief pats to reward dogs for proper responses to cues.
  • Praise the dog when they respond to your cue.  Remain patient and be consistent.

Have you and your dog already had obedience lessons?  Try taking him off-leash!  Teaching off-leash obedience is a very challenging, yet rewarding way to spend time with your dog.  Interested, but not sure how to do this?  Acme Canine can help you out!

Teach your dog to “get the newspaper” trick

To teach your dog to get the newspaper, your dog has to go to where the mail or paper is kept, pick up the item, bring it to you and release it into your hand.


  1. Teach your dog to TAKE using treats (you can also teach the LEAVE IT command to balance this ). Say TAKE each time you give your dog a treat or put down their dog food, etc.
  2. Start to transfer other items such as paper or junk mail for the treats. Say TAKE and put the item in your dog’s mouth.  Gently close their mouth around the item and say HOLD.  Remove your hand and say DROP or THANK YOU for the dog to release the item.  Reward your dog with a treat.  Teach your dog to take nonessential letters and junk mail without stopping to shred them before you move on to the real thing.
  3. Next offer the item you want your dog to carry and say TAKE. When the dog takes the item without you putting it in their mouth and holds it, give a treat.
  4. Put the item in your dog’s mouth and take a step or two away and have your dog bring it to you. Praise as she comes to you and give a treat when she drops it or you take it from her mouth.
  5. Put the item on the floor and tell your dog to TAKE. You may want to use junk mail for this part until your dog refines her techniques in picking up something so close to the floor.
  6. When your dog is retrieving with finesse, begin to work her with the real mail or newspaper. Label this behavior MAIL or PAPER by saying this new cue right before the current cue TAKE; pretty soon your dog will be fetching with enthusiasm and finesse and may even be bringing you your neighbor’s newspaper!

National Animal Disaster Preparedness day

courtesy of Team Blog Paws

In the event of an emergency, are you and your pet ready? Saturday, May 14th, is National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day.

The responsibility for shelters during a disaster stretches already overwhelmed staff and resources to the breaking point, as they are not just caring for shelter animals, but also pets that have become separated from their owners. Hill’s Disaster Relief Network is poised and ready to help at a moment’s notice so that they can ensure that all of the animals, though stressed and upset, have proper nutrition to keep them healthy until they can be reunited with their owners. Even the most prepared owners can get separated from their pet and it is important to have a plan in place that ensures the health and safety of your pet in times of crisis.

In the last three years, the Hill’s network has delivered free pet food to more than 60 different shelters and veterinary clinics across the country in response to 25 major incidents – including floods in Colorado, fires in Idaho and Arizona, the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, the mudslide in Washington state and tornadoes in the central and southern regions of the country. In 2015, the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network assisted with three incidents, including the severe tornado damage in Moore, Oklahoma.

Visit the Hill’s Pet Prepared landing page to learn more about how to prepare your entire family including your pet for an emergency.

Acme Canine’s Review of Nutro’s Wild Frontier Woodland Trail Recipe dog food

Miss Moneypenny (affectionately known as Penny) was asked to review Nutro’s new dog food Wild Frontier.  The particular variety was Woodland Trail Recipe whose number one ingredient is Venison meal.  Below is our analysis of how we pick the right dog food for a dog.

Does my dog like the dog food?
Miss Moneypenny is a 1 year old Bluetick Coonhound with no known medical conditions to require a special diet.  She was fed 1 ¼ cups twice a day as suggested on the bag’s feeding chart for a 55 lb dog.    This Bluetick Coonhound is not a discriminating eater so when she gobbled down the dog food we weren’t impressed.  It did meet one of the points we look at in a dog food; “the dog needs to like the food.”

Is my dog farting?
After eating Nutro’s Wild Frontier for approximately two weeks Penny did not have any gassiness.   Flatulence is a sign the dog food is not being digested properly.  It would be a good idea to look for another dog food if this was happening.

How many and how large are my dog’s stools?
The number of bowel movements each day did not change (approximately 2 a day) for Penny, but her stools did become soft causing us to wipe her butt on several occasions.  Since she is a healthy young dog this type of stool can indicate a variety of issues including small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, maldigestion, malabsorption, or food intolerance.

Just like people, every dog is unique. Some foods work well for your dogs, while others won’t agree with their tummy.   This dog food may not be digestively best for Penny.

Knowing what is in your dog's food is as important.
Knowing what is in your dog’s food is important.

How much meat is in the first three ingredients?
The dog food nutrition label is similar to the nutrition facts box on packaged foods for people.  It is designed to help you compare products and to learn more about the food.  With dog food usually the first five ingredients are the most important.

Nutro’s Woodland Trail Recipe is advertised to be for 1 year old dogs and a high protein/grain free dog food with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients added.  The first five ingredients are venison meal, chicken meal, chickpeas, chicken fat and pea protein.

A quality grade meat meal can actually be a more abundant source of protein than the whole meat from which it was made.  Meat meal is a dried end-product of the cooking process known as rendering. Rendering is a lot like making stew — except that this stew is intentionally over-cooked so you end up with a highly concentrated protein powder.

The third and fifth ingredients include plant protein. Chickpeas contain about 22% protein and peas contain about 25% protein.

Peas, bean, lentils and chickpea are nutritious members of the fiber-rich legume (or pulse) family of vegetables.  These are quality sources of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

The fourth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. It is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.  Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.

Another ingredient is chelated minerals or minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb and are usually found in better dog foods.

So Judging by its ingredients, Nutro Wild Frontier is an above-average dry product with above-average protein, above-average fat and below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Can I afford this dog food?
Lastly we look at price.  We received our 4 lb trial bag free since we were reviewing the product but the list price of this size dog food is around $27.00 or $0.42/oz.  We noticed Petflow sells a 24 lb bag for $59.99 and Chewy sells the same bag for $10 cheaper.

It is important to mention there is a connection between the price of a dog food and its quality, but it’s most accurate at the low end, and less when you get to the more expensive dog foods.  Nutro is on the higher cost end of dog foods.

Would Acme Canine recommend Nutro Wild Frontier Woodland Trail Recipe?
Would we give Nutro to Miss Moneypenny again.  Probably not with the change in bowel movements Penny had…but it is a quality dog food worth trying.

Should you try this dog food? It’s really up to you. If you have been feeding your dog low-quality foods and noticing your dog is pooping up a storm, has gas and really doesn’t like the food, then we would definitely encourage you to try a better quality.  The same is true if your dog has allergies, chronic diarrhea, recurrent ear infections, or a poor coat.

If your dog looks and appears to feel great, good for you!  They’re probably on the right food mix and don’t need to change.


Dogtra ARC remote trainer

The Dogtra Arc Remote Trainer is stated to be “one of the most advanced dog training collars available on the market today”.   The collar is designed different than most dog training collars. Its ergonomic shape is meant to prevent the dog from even knowing it’s on.  The shape also improves the reliability of the contact points as well.   For those pet owners who are concerned about being discreet when using an e-collar, the Dogtra ARC’s curved receiver is smaller than most e-collars so neighbors or other dog owners won’t notice your dog has a collar on them.

The Dogtra transmitter is compact and fairly easy to use once you understand the button placement.   In addition, it is specifically designed to be expandable for up to 2 dogs so you don’t need to purchase an extra system for each dog.

A nice feature is that the remote control transmitter and the receiver/ collar are completely waterproof so you can feel comfortable training in all weather conditions.  And the LCD screen not only displays the amount of stimulation that you currently have your system set for, but also the remaining battery life so you are never caught off guard with a dead battery while training.

The Dogtra ARC offers up to ¾ mile of line of sight range making it ideal for pet owners who wish to allow their dog a little extra freedom.   Dogtra is quick to add, “ like all electric dog training devices, the amount of range that is accomplished can vary significantly depending upon the terrain, adverse weather conditions and interruption from trees and buildings.”

As perfect a tool as it seems we did find some room for improvement.

  • The collar’s shape limits its use with larger dogs. It is best suited for mild to moderate temperament dogs from 15 lbs. to 120 lbs.  We would like to see the same system available for smaller dogs and more stubborn dogs as well.
  • While the non-stimulating vibration function is obviously a nice feature to have, some dogs simply respond better to a warning tone, and that feature is not available with the Dogtra ARC. Several of our testers were turned off by the Dogtra Arc for this reason.
  • A couple of testers complained about the stims sensitivity and felt it could be better regulated. This by far is the WORST FLAW of the remote. The dial allows you to set a stim range from 0-127. However, the sensitivity will change very easily with the slightest touch or just brushing against your clothing.

Acme gives the Dogtra ARC 4 paws for design and discreetness, but an overall score of 3paws due to the sensitivity with the regulator.




The Charitable side of Acme Canine

Acme Canine is proud to be part of the community we serve. As a small, independent full service dog training facility our clients are our neighbors – the people we know by name.

Giving back to the community is part of Acme Canine Resource Center’s purpose, and there are many charitable activities in which Acme participates. Acme volunteers Reading Dogs to schools and libraries, sponsors an Olentangy Little League team, collects items for Faithful Forgotten Best Friends and gives demo dog presentations to local schools and organizations.

Recently we formed a partnership with Half Price Books in Lewis Center with our Acme Reading dog teams.  Each month a group of owner and dogs volunteer their Saturday afternoon to help children with reading comprehension.

In addition we now have a partnership with Babies R Us at Polaris.  Laura, owner and founder of Acme Canine is offering tips and advice to dog owner in a one hour class on Preparing your dog for a baby’s arrival.

Teach your dog to clean up their dog toys trick

Although this dog toy trick looks pretty fancy, in many ways it’s just an advanced form of fetch. Before you can begin this exercise, your dog must know the “take it” and “drop it” training cues.

Once your dog successfully takes the toy and drops it nine out of 10 times during practice, you can begin the next exercise.

Get a basket that you’ll want your dog to put his toys in and select a few of your dog’s favorite toys. For consistency, keep the basket in the same spot of the house—this will make it easier for your dog. Place the toys right next to the basket and sit beside the basket.

Step 1: Touch a toy and say “take it.” Then, hold a treat in your hand and lure the dog over to the basket.  After your dog has picked up the toy and when the toy is over the basket, give the “drop it” command encouraging and rewarding him for putting the toy in the toy box upon returning. After your dog succeeds with this at least nine out of 10 times, you can begin to only reward him with a treat after he has put two or three toys in the basket.

Once that behavior is consistent, do the same thing with other kinds of toys.

Step 2: Move a short distance away from the toy box, and start by saying “clean up” or “toys away” to sequence the behaviors. Eventually you will no longer have to give the verbal commands “take it” and “drop it”.

Step 3: Scatter toys around the room, not too far from the toy box. Encourage your dog to “clean up” each item and return it to the basket. This may mean running to each toy with your dog and racing him back to the toy box to add excitement.

Step 4: Scatter toys throughout the house, and ask your dog to “clean up”. Really advanced dogs who’ve played “Find it!” games, where they hunt around for scents, stashed treats, or favorite toys, can eventually learn to search the entire house for toys and return them to the toy basket.

Consistency is Key

This is an exercise that requires a lot of practice and patience, but is a lot of fun and an impressive trick to show off to your friends. If you’re having trouble with this exercise, please contact Acme Canine for help.

Dr. First gives tips on how to cope with the death of a pet

By Dr. Lewis First, Chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children’s

BURLINGTON, Vt. —One of the saddest questions I get from parents is how to help a child cope with the death of a pet. Well let me see if I can provide some information on this all too common topic.

First, it is important to understand that how a child deals with a pet’s death depends largely depends on their age and personality. For example, until children are age 5 or 6, their view of the word is very concrete, so they don’t understand death, but might understand your telling them that a pet’s body was not working anymore and cannot be fixed.

They may not understand this is permanent at this age and you may have to repeat the fact that the pet cannot be fixed and will not come back. A key concept at this age and even as your child gets older is that he or she may feel they are to blame for this happening, and obviously you need to reassure your child often more than once in the weeks and months that follow that this is not the case at all.

Avoid phrases such as the pet “went away” or “went to sleep” since children may become fearful when you tell them a family member is going away or going to sleep.

Kids between 6 and 10 years of age do understand the finality of death but don’t quite understand that it will eventually happen to them one day. Providing accurate, simple, clear and honest answers to their questions is the best way to talk with children at this age.

Teens understand that eventually everyone dies. They may experience some guilt or anger about the pet’s death even at this age, and it is important to encourage them to express and share their grief, anger or sadness.

Parents, sharing your own grief and even tears in front of your child or teen may actually help your young one deal with their own emotional pain and loss. Make sure your child regardless of age, knows that despite the loss, that you can continue to love and talk about the happy memories of the pet forever, and maybe over time welcome a new pet into the family.

Your child’s doctor or your pet’s veterinarian can help and provide access to books, and if necessary counselors to help a child and family go through this difficult time.

Hopefully tips like this will bring peace of mind to you and your children when it comes to dealing with the particulars in helping them deal with the death of the family pet.