Don’t Let Your Dog Flunk Obedience: Part 3 of 3

The Benefits of Private Lessons for Dogs

By Laura Pakis, certified professional trainer and blogger

If someone is looking for dog training that will be safe, relationship-based and 100% focused on them, then private one-on-one dog training is the best bet. Some argue that private training yields the best results, because the trainer is going to gear every session towards their client’s goals using training methods appropriate for their dog’s personality and temperament. Private lessons provide much more detail to training. This is a disadvantage of group classes where the trainer’s focus is divided among several individuals and a variety of dog personalities.

Combining Private Lessons & Group Classes for Your Dog

Some dog owners opt to use both environments to their advantage. Start off training your dog using private lessons. Then once your dog has a solid foundation of obedience, continue training using group classes to improve command reliability or develop a specialty, such as Therapy Dog or Agility.

 Private Dog Lessons vs. Group Lessons

It is difficult to say that one environment is better than the other. Both types of training environments have their advantages and disadvantages. One thing they have in common is they help dog owners stay focused on their goals for a well-mannered dog. The benefits of either type of training are accountability and scheduling. For many people, making an appointment with a trainer helps them stay true to their commitment to training their dog.

The Truest Lesson Taught in Any Professional Dog Training Course

No matter which training environment you chose it is important to remember that training never ends. Just like any good relationship, you have to keep working at it. A six- or eight-week course is not a lifetime guarantee of good behavior nor is a series of private lessons. Training is an investment in gaining the tools to maintain your dog’s good behavior.

Obedience is a way of life and one every dog owner should participate in.

Acme Canine October Dog of the Month

The October Acme Canine Dog of the Month goes to a dapper 3 year old terrier mix named Max.
We first met Max and the the Hagans back in 2015.  At that time Max had a good deal of anxiety and was a bit mouthy with his owners.  We set up a training plan and our certified trainer came to their home to work individually with the Hagans and Max on his behavioral issues while improving his commands.
This extraordinary dog showed great improvement.
To help Max maintain his new found skills, the Hagans added refresher training during his boardings at Acme.  They also started bringing Max to daycare.
Max was integrated into the dacare play group at a careful pace which was comfortable to his abilities and temperament.  Each daycare day he was supervised  and allowed interaction in a safe, highly controlled indoor and outdoor play environment.
Max is now a regular at daycare and he is helping other dogs adjust and make new friends just as he learned several months ago.
We’re so proud of both the Hagans for their dedication to working on Max’s manners and for Max for working so hard all while being a joy to be with.

Kudos to the Hagans!

How to Make Halloween a Real Treat for Your Dog

Fall is officially here! The air is a little crisper, gourds are now decorations and football is topping the sports highlights.  Being October, this also means Halloween!

Halloween is one of our favorite special occasions. Being certified professional dog trainers, we enjoy it because we get an entire evening to show off our dogs’ door greeting skills, along with their wide array of costumes. It’s also an ideal socialization setup — they get to meet lots of new people, who happen to look really odd. Spike loves this holiday too because these folks come to the door and give him treats! (He wishes every day was Halloween.)

Turn Your Dog into the Perfect Greeter

If you’ve got a throng of ghosts and goblins coming to your door asking for treats, we suggest you plan on using these visitors to your advantage and schedule an evening of training sessions to help strengthen your dog’s greeting skills. To ensure success for everyone, we highly encourage you to rehearse during the days leading up to the big night.

We’ve divided the entire door-answering scenario into specific behaviors, each of which can be taught and practiced independently.

Sit or Down-Stay on a Mat: No doubt your dog already knows how to “sit.” All you need to do is practice a “sit” (or “down” or “4 paws on the floor”) on a designated mat or small rug. Once your dog knows that this is his or her magic carpet, and you’ve rehearsed together in easy locations, you can then place it near the front door and practice there.

Make Your Way to the Door: Now practice with opening and closing the door, asking your dog to “stay” until you give a release cue, such as “Go say hi!” This allows your dog to leave the magic carpet to greet the person at the door. If you don’t give the cue, then your dog will need to stay on the mat. Initially, use extra treats to help encourage your dog to stay on the mat; this will help in the long run.

Ding-Dong: Now it’s time to add in the doorbell or knock. This will no doubt make it a little harder, so you’ll really want to make sure you give an extra special treat for staying put.

Plan Ahead: Before the big night, we suggest you run through a few dress rehearsals to help set the stage for success!

Set the Stage: On the big night, place a small container of your dog’s treats outside the front door. When the little goblins come to the door, have your dog go to the mat, and when the door opens, the kids can give your dog a treat for staying. Then you give the kids their treats (please make sure those treats are for humans). So, your dog gets treats for learning, and the kids get treats for helping you train your dog — it’s a win-win!

Now that you’ve got all the behaviors planned out, it’s time to discuss the wardrobe portion of the evening. We’ve added a few simple tips to teach your dog to not just tolerate an outfit, but to love playing dress-up!

Prepping Your Pup for the Catwalk

Let’s face it, if dogs were out in the wild, one of the last things they’d want to do is put on an outfit, especially a Halloween costume.  But with a little technique called classical conditioning, you can teach your canine companion to love almost any outfit. So grab that outfit and some tasty treats, and learn how we teach our dogs to love their costumes:

Gather Your Supplies: There are so many dog clothes out there, including specific costumes. Make sure you have one that is pet friendly and fits your dog well. You’ll also want to have a container of yummy treats with you. We’re not talking the dry little biscuits; this is the time to pull out the big guns: small pieces of chicken, steak or freeze-dried liver. (Note: Use foods that are healthy and are part of your dog’s regular diet. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian. Also, regard these treats as part of your dog’s regular meal, not an add-on.)

Create the Connection: Teach your dog that the costume is associated with getting chicken (or the like). You’ll want to break this down into small steps:

Start with the costume hidden behind your back so your dog can’t see it. Then, show your dog the new costume, followed by giving your dog a small treat. Repeat this  until your dog’s body language shows that he or she is excited when the costume appears — tail wagging; an open, relaxed mouth; and tongue hanging out (with possible drooling) are a few of the popular body language indicators.

The next step is to start to fit the costume on your dog. We suggest you continue the same process; meaning, first comes the costume being placed on your dog, followed by a little treat. If your dog seems to be enjoying it, then you can push a little faster by dressing your dog, all the while rewarding with small treats. Then remove the costume and put all the treats away. If your dog is a little more hesitant, slow it down by putting only one section of the costume on at a time.

Once your dog gets the idea, you’ll be able to do this with other costumes.

Halloween is the perfect time to teach your dogs to be the perfect door greeter AND a fashionista, and it’s also the ideal time to show off their skills. Practice for just a few minutes on the days leading up and you’ll get great results, plus all the ghosts and goblins will be impressed!


ZoomGroom for brushing and bathing dogs

The KONG ZoomGroom is a rubber hand held grooming and shampooing brush.

The staff at Acme Canine has been using ZoomGroom for years.  When brushing short hair dogs, it helps with dry skin by distributing the dog’s natural skin oils. It also helps with shedding by picking up loose hairs out of the dog’s coat.  We found it is also great for bathing all types of dogs since it helps the shampoo get into the undercoat.  And most dogs love being bathed with it since it massages as you wash.

This 2-in-1 tool massages your dog while you brush and removes loose hair like a magnet.  Brushing is done gently in a circular motion and the rubber fingers do the work.

ZoomGrooms are less expensive than most other grooming tools and last a good while.  It comes in two sizes Small/Puppy and Regular;  Small/Puppy size ideal for puppies and small breeds, Regular size ideal for medium to large sized breeds.  Both sizes come in Boysenberry or Raspberry.We have been using ours for about 2 years and the rubber is still soft and supple.

As a brush, it is NOT for long haired dogs such as maltese, great pyrenees, poodles, etc. since the hair tends to “stick” to the rubber fingers.  Acme Canine recommends it as a brush for only short haired dogs and puppies.

Over time the rubber brush fingers will wear down and become very dull. Because of this, the tool will need to be replaced every few years depending on use.

Also be sure to keep it out of reach of your dog when you aren’t using it! We have found several dogs that wanted to chew on it like a toy because it is rubber.

We give ZooomGroom 4 paws up for design, durability and its ability to remove hair and help with shedding of short haired dogs.

Don’t Let Your Dog Flunk Obedience: Part 2 of 3

The Benefits of Group Obedience Classes for Dogs

By Laura Pakis, certified professional trainer and blogger

When considering obedience training for their dog, most dog owners think of group classes. The benefit of a group obedience class is economically its more affordable. Many opt toward the group environment because of this, but once they enter the group, they find that the other benefits are the camaraderie, the friendships they gain or the commiserating of their dog’s problems to one another.

Pairing the Right Learning Environment with the Right Pup

Classes can also offer a competitive edge that pushes members to improve and “keep up” and a great energy is created with a group of people working hard and feeding off that energy. Human nature is such that we enjoy doing things in a group; however group classes are not designed to be effective with all dog owners or puppies. They work best with a confident well-socialized dog or puppy.

How to Set Up Effective Group Dog Training Courses

Group classes can be set up to be more successful by reducing the number of participants to around 6 or less or arranging it so the dogs are of similar personality and temperament. Offering aggressive dog classes or dog classes for dogs who are fearful or submissive can be beneficial since many of these dog owners already have the stigma that they have a “problem” dog. Working with other owners of similar dogs in small groups can also provide the catalyst to build confidence in the owners.

So what alternatives does a dog owner have if group class isn’t the right setting for their dog or puppy? Check out part 3 in this series to learn more!


Benefits of Private Obedience Lessons for Dogs | Acme Canine

The best learning environment ensures that your pup learns for the long-term! Pt. 3 in our series focuses on the benefits of private dog obedience classes.

Don’t Let Your Dog Flunk Obedience Training: Part 1 of 3

Determining What Environment is Best to Train Your Dog

By Laura Pakis, certified professional trainer and blogger

How often have you heard dog owners say, “my dog flunked obedience class.” With so many different methods, settings and styles of dog training, obedience problems can inevitably result — depending on what you choose, the temperament and personality of your dog. Similar to humans, dogs learn in a variety of ways. And just like humans, some dogs take longer to grasp a concept than others.

One Theory for an Average Dog Learning a Task is as Follows:

  • 24 hours: If not repeated; the memory is absent
  • 1 to 5 Days: repeated daily; the task is in short term memory
  • 1 to 30 Days: repeated daily; the task in long term memory

Improvement in a dog’s performance continues when training is effective. Of course environmental factors (trainer effectiveness, task complexity, lesson style, etc.) influence the time frame, as do the dog’s genetic factors.

Typical Obedience Training Timetable

Another statement of expected learning curve is more profound. An average student with an average dog needs about 3 months for a task to be 85% reliable. A good student with a good dog decreases the number of weeks to 10 weeks for 85% reliability. And a poor student with an average dog increases the amount of time for 85% reliability to about 4 months (most likely due to inconsistencies and poor timing).

So what type of setting is best to train a dog? This will be discussed in part 2 of this series!

Benefits of Group Obedience Classes for Dogs | Acme Canine

Choose the best learning environment & style to ensure your pup learns for the long-term! View pt. 2 in our “Don’t Let Your Dog Flunk Obedience” series.

Helpful tips on Moving to a new home with your Dog

Moving to a new home may be stressful to your pet. So be patient and understanding and provide lots of affection. Don’t let man’s best friend get lost in the shuffle of a move. Relocating your dog to a new home can be a smooth transition for everyone involved if you follow these simple steps.



  1. Obtain a copy of your dog’s veterinary records to give to the vet in the new area.
  2. Call the state veterinarian in the capital of the state you’re moving to. Find out if you need to provide any paperwork to bring your dog into the state.
  3. Call the town or village hall in the new locale. Ask about licensing requirements.
  4. Make arrangements for your dog to travel with you in a car or by air. Dogs normally aren’t permitted on trains or buses.
  5. Create a special ID tag – Be sure your dog has an ID tag on at all times – and be sure it has a phone number where someone can actually be reached. If your dog gets separated from you during the move, it won’t help if it has your old, disconnected phone number.
  6. If you’re moving locally and your dog enjoys a ride, bring your dog to the new home once prior to moving day.


Tips & Warnings

* Get a health certificate from your vet. Some states require that this be presented at the border before entering the state, even if you’re just passing through.

* If your dog will travel by air, purchase a kennel for her to travel in.



  1. Feed your dog five to six hours before traveling. Give her water two hours before traveling. Medicate the dog if she becomes overexcited while traveling.
  2. Bring food and water along. Make frequent stops to walk your dog and let her drink.
  3. Keep your dog confined when you get to the new home. A dog can easily escape during the moving process. Let your dog out once all doors and windows are closed, and allow her to become familiar with the house.
  4. Moving day can be hectic and scary to a confused pet. Treat your dog to a special treat at the new home on your visit.
  5. Ideally, your dog’s introduction to his new home will be with familiar furniture already in place. Use your dog’s familiar bowls, bedding and toys. Put them in a location similar to where they used to be.
  6. Accompany your dog outside on leash until she’s familiar with the area.
  7. Try to stick to your dog’s regular schedule in the first days after the move.
  8. Locate a vet in your area. Make an appointment and take your dog’s records in.
  9. If your dog has a microchip ID tag, update your information with the company that will notify you if your dog is found.


Dogs in Politics day

Dogs in Politics day originated in 1955, when President Richard Nixon mentioned his dog, a black-and-white spotted Cocker Spaniel named Checkers, in a speech broadcast to the nation. Nixon was using a televised broadcast to dispel improprieties relating to a fund established by his backers to reimburse him for his political expenses.  The speech took a turn when Nixon began talking about his adorable dog that he and the rest of the Nixons were clearly in love with.

It was in this speech that Nixon stated that regardless of what anyone said, he intended to keep one gift; a black-and-white dog that had been name Checkers by the Nixon children, thus giving the speech its popular name.

The “Checkers Speech” was seen, or heard, by about 60 million Americans, including the largest television audience to that time and it led to an outpouring of public support.

“A man down in Texas heard Pat [Nixon’s wife] on the radio mention the fact that our two youngsters would like to have a dog. And, believe it or not, the day before we left on this campaign trip we got a message from Union Station in Baltimore saying they had a package for us. We went down to get it. You know what it was?

“It was a little Cocker Spaniel dog in a crate that he’d sent all the way from Texas. Black and hite spotted. And our little girl — Tricia, the six-year old —named it Checkers. And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.”

From that day on, Dogs in Politics has been celebrated on Sept. 23 each year, and all because of a tiny little cocker spaniel named Checkers.

Books on Deaf Dogs

Living With A Deaf Dog

by Susan Cope-Becker

The first of its kind, and based on the author’s firsthand experience of living with a deaf dog, her own Boston Terrier. Includes research on the topic of canine deafness, how-to’s for training and communicating, plus collected personal experiences of deaf dog owners from all over the world. Contents: getting and keeping the deaf dog’s attention, over 25 hand signs (some illustrated), training and safety tips, testing a dog for deafness at home, BAER testing/what, where and why, genetics of canine deafness, deaf dog myths (aggression and brain damage), stories about deaf dogs from their owners, resources for products, books, organizations, and an opportunity to assist in deaf dog research.

Hear, Hear! A Guide To Training A Deaf Puppy

by Barry Eaton

Ideas for getting attention, teaching basic commands, help and encouragement you’ll appreciate if you have taken on a deaf puppy! (This book is geared more toward training a puppy, but still has good information if your dog is older.)


Amazing Gracie

by Dan Dye & Mark Beckloff

This is the story of Gracie, a deaf and partially blind mostly white Great Dane with a delicate constitution and penchant for small miracles. In the middle of a bitter Kansas City winter, Dan would save the loneliest pup in the litter, Gracie. And over the next ten years, Gracie would save Dan – helping him learn the meaning of happiness. Dan teaches himself how to cook (since Gracie has an anorexia-producing dislike for commercial dog food), and within three days is baking her the cookies that will transform their lives. If you like dogs, this is a good book. If you are privileged enough to live with a deaf dog, you will love it.


The Pocket Dictionary Of Signing

by Rod R. Butterworth, Mickey Flodin

This book is the most complete pocket guide to basic American Sign Language. It’s small enough to carry with you.


Random House Dictionary

by Elaine, Ph.D. Costello, et al

This is a larger ASL dictionary, with more than 5,600 words (it would come in handy for learning ASL as well). This book contains a lot of cross-references, and related words, which makes it easier to find just the sign you are looking for. There are both a drawing and written instructions for each entry


TRICK – which cup?

This trick requires your dog to know SHAKE.

To teach this trick, start by putting a treat under one cup.  Let your dog see the treat and sniff it.  Put your hand on top of the cup and say SHAKE.  As soon as your dog reaches her paw up, pull your hand away allowing your dog to knock over the cup.  Give her loads of praise by saying GOOD CUP.  Continue with this pattern and attention until she is able to find the treat with three cups.

Ultimately say, WHICH CUP? and your dog will look like a genius when she knocks over the cup with a treat.