Acme Canine’s new blog

canisLupusCMYKIf you’re a dog lover, your browser probably has a fair share of bookmarked dog blogs that you visit on a regular basis. Acme’s Blog will be a refreshing change to your reading repertoire when it comes to all things canine… your hearing it from the dog himself. Great training tips, health info and all you need to know about the canine world.

Thanks to local illustrator, Davide Cuccia, we have a new logo for our blog.  “Karen Powell is the owner of this mischievous mama named Marlee … when I saw those adorable Marty Feldman eyes I knew she’d be perfect for my concept! ” Davide commented. And she turned out perfect for our blog.

Start following news from canis lupus familiaris today!

For more information, contact your favorite Columbus dog training facility at 740-548-1717 or

Virtually Indestructible Dog Toys

After years of research and tons of happy pups, Dogify gives us one of the best, most indestructible dog toys around. The Virtually Indestructible Ball.  All of the balls are guaranteed to stand up to the toughest dogs. Not only do they roll and float on water, but your dog will love playing with them.

Our dog testers found the toys to be really tough.  They did their best to dig their teeth into them but only scratched the surface.  Many of these heavy destroyers played for hours with the toys, mostly rolling and chasing them.

We found these hard plastic toys make a good deal of noise on the hard floors of the training room and suggest they would be best for outdoor use.  One comment made suggested not to use these toys on sharp gravel.  They will get scratched up and becomes a sort of very coarse sandpaper. Although it doesn’t seem to bother the dogs, they are rough on feet and legs of humans.

Size matters greatly with regard to these toys.  The smallest ball was destroyed immediately by the larger dogs but the extra large ball was perfect to chase and play with like a soccer ball.  One dog found the large ball small enough to stretch his mouth over which didn’t provide much stimulation.

Don’t think of these toys as balls that bounce.  These are hollow, HARD plastic balls.  They work best if you throw it like a bowling ball so the dog will chase it and roll it around.  Being light weight they are perfect for high energy dogs.

These toys are truly indestructible, clean easily and never need repair.

Acme Canine approves the Virtually Indestructible Toys for heavy chewers and herding dogs and give the product a 5 paw rating for quality and durability as well as good fun.


Fire Safety for your Dog

Prevent your pet from starting fires 

Extinguish open flames – Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.

Remove stove knobs – Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.

Invest in flameless candles – These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.

Beware of water bowls on wooden decks – Do not leave a glass water bowl for your pet outside on a wooden deck. The sun’s rays when filtered through the glass and water can actually heat up and ignite the wooden deck beneath it. Choose stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead.
Keep your pets safe

Keep Pets Near Entrances When Away From Home – Keep collars on pets and leashes at the ready in case firefighters need to rescue your pet. When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.

Secure Young Pets – Especially with young puppies, keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.

Since Pets Left Alone Can’t Escape a Burning Home – Consider using monitored smoke detectors which are connected to a monitoring center so emergency responders can be contacted when you’re not home. These systems provide an added layer of protection beyond battery-operated smoke alarms.

Affix a Pet Alert Window Cling – Write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets. Make sure to update the number of pets listed.

Dog’s Fear of Loud Sudden Noises

Firecrackers, thunder, and other loud, out-of-nowhere sounds often leave dogs frightened and wanting to flee to a safer place. These types of fears may develop even though your dog has had no traumatic experiences associated with the sound. The good news is that many fear-related problems can be successfully resolved. However, if left untreated, your dog’s fearful behavior will probably get worse.

The most common behavior problems associated with fear of loud noises are destruction and escaping. When your dog becomes frightened, she tries to reduce her fear. She may try to escape to a place where the sounds of thunder or firecrackers are less intense. If, by leaving the yard or going into a certain room or area of the house, she feels less afraid then the escape or destructive behavior is reinforced because it successfully lessens her fear. For some dogs, just the activity or physical exertion associated with one of these behaviors may be an outlet for their anxiety. Unfortunately, escape and/or destructive behavior can be a problem for you and could also result in physical injury to your dog.

Things that are present in the environment whenever your dog hears the startling noise can, from her viewpoint, become associated with the frightening sound.  Over a period of time, she may become afraid of other things in the environment that she associates with the noise that frightens her.  For example, dogs who are afraid of thunder may later become afraid of the wind, dark clouds, and flashes of light that often precede the sound of thunder. Dogs who are afraid of firecrackers may become afraid of the children who have the firecrackers or may become afraid to go in the backyard, if that is where they usually hear the noise.

What you can do to help

Create a safe place

Try to create a safe place for your dog to go to when she hears the noises that frighten her. But remember, this must be a safe location from her perspective not yours. Pay attention to where she goes, or tries to go, when she is frightened, and if at all possible, give her access to that place. If she is trying to get inside the house then consider installing a dog door. If she is trying to get under your bed then give her access to your bedroom.

You can also create a “hidey-hole” that is dark, small, and shielded from the frightening sound as much as possible (a fan or radio playing will help block out the sound). Encourage her to go there when you are home and the thunder or other noise occurs. Feed her in that location and associate other “good things” happening to her there. She must be able to come and go freely from this location. Confining her in the “hidey-hole” when she does not want to be there will only cause more problems. The “safe place” approach may work with some dogs but not all dogs. Some dogs are motivated to move and be active when frightened and “hiding out” will not help them feel less fearful.

 Distract your dog

This method works best when your dog is just beginning to get anxious. Encourage her to engage in any activity that captures her attention and distracts her from behaving fearfully. Start when she first alerts you to the noise and is not yet showing a lot of fearful behavior but is only watchful. Immediately try to interest her in doing something that she really enjoys. Get out the tennis ball and play fetch (in an escape-proof area) or practice some commands that she knows. Give her a lot of praise and treats for paying attention to the game or the commands.  As the storm or other noise builds, you may not be able to keep her attention on the activity but it might delay the start of the fearful behavior for longer and longer each time you do it. If you cannot keep her attention and she begins acting afraid, stop the process. If you continue you may inadvertently reinforce her fearful behavior.

Behavior modification

Behavior modification techniques are often successful in reducing fears and phobias. The appropriate techniques are called “counter-conditioning” and “desensitization.” This means to condition or teach your dog to respond in non-fearful ways to sounds and other stimuli that have previously frightened her. These techniques must be implemented very gradually. Begin by exposing your dog to an intensity level of noise that does not frighten her and pair it with something pleasant like a treat or a fun game. Gradually increase the volume as you continue to offer her something pleasant. Through this process, she will come to associate “good things” with the previously feared sound.


  • Make a tape with firecracker noises on it.
  • Play the tape at such a low volume that your dog does not respond fearfully. While the tape is playing feed her dinner, give her a treat, or play her favorite game.
  • In your next session, play the tape a little louder while you feed her or play her favorite game.
  • Continue increasing the volume through many sessions over a period of several weeks or months. If at any time while the tape is playing she displays fearful behavior at any time while the tape is playing, STOP. Begin your next session at a lower volume — one that does not produce anxiety — and proceed more slowly.

If these techniques are not used correctly, they will not be successful and can even make the problem worse.

For some fears, it can be difficult to recreate the fear stimulus. For example, thunder is accompanied by lightning, rain, and changes in barometric pressure and your dog’s fearful response may be to the combination of these things and not just the thunder. You may need professional assistance to create and implement this kind of behavior modification program.

 Consult your veterinarian

Medication may be available which can make your dog less anxious for short time periods. Your veterinarian is the only person who is licensed and qualified to prescribe medication for your dog. Do not attempt to give your dog any over-the-counter or prescription medication without consulting your veterinarian. Animals do not respond to drugs the same way people do and a medication that may be safe for humans could be fatal to your dog. Drug therapy alone will not reduce fears and phobias permanently, but in extreme cases, behavior modification and medication used together might be the best approach.

What not to do

  • Do not attempt to reassure your dog when she is afraid. This may only reinforce her fearful behavior. If you pet, soothe, or give treats to her when she is behaving fearfully, she may interpret this as a reward for her fearful behavior. Instead, try to behave normally, as if you do not notice her fearfulness.
  • Putting your dog in a crate to prevent her from being destructive during a thunderstorm is not recommended. She will still be fearful when she is in the crate and is likely to injure herself, perhaps even severely, while attempting to get out of the crate.
  • Do not punish your dog for being afraid. Punishment will only make her more fearful.
  • Do not try to force your dog to experience or be close to the sound that frightens her. For example, making her stay close to a group of children who are lighting firecrackers will only make her more afraid and could cause her to become aggressive in an attempt to escape from the situation.
  • Obedience classes will not make your dog less afraid of thunder or other noises but could help boost her general confidence.

These approaches do not work because they do not decrease your dog’s fear. Merely trying to prevent her from escaping or being destructive will not work. If your dog is still afraid, she will continue to show that fear in whatever way she can (digging, jumping, climbing, chewing, barking, howling).

©2004. Adapted from material originally developed by applied animal behaviorists at the Dumb Friends League, Denver, Colorado. All rights reserved.


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.