Training Tip Tuesday ~ Introducing the “Scary” Vacuum

For many puppies and adult dogs a like, the vacuum can be a very scary thing. It’s weirdly shaped, vary loud, and moves in frantic forward and backward motions. Since we vacuum regularly on the weekends in my household, I knew that I had to start introducing the “scary” vacuum to the new foster puppies ASAP. If you take the time from the very beginning and slowly introduce the vacuum to your new dog, it’ll be less stressful for the dog when the time comes to actually flip the switch and get the job done.

Step 1: Introducing the vacuum. When you first introduce the vacuum to your dog, you want to do it while it’s stationary and turned OFF. Maybe practice some basic behaviors in the same room as the vacuum and let the dog investigate it while positively rewarding the dog with yummy treats.

Investigating the big weird yellow thing

Investigating the big weird yellow thing (First introduction with the vacuum OFF)

Step 2: Moving the vacuum. Once the dogs seem to be comfortable around the vacuum. You’ll want to start to move it (again still keeping it turned OFF). What I did with my current foster dogs (pictured above) was walk around my house with the vacuum turned OFF while tossing them treats at the same time. In no time the pups thought it was an awesome game. When the vacuum moves we get treats!!

Step 3: Turning ON the vacuum. Going back to having the vacuum stationary. You want to flip the vacuum ON for a second or two while simultaneously give treats (very generously). Once you switch the vacuum OFF, treats stop. So it’s Vacuum ON: Treat, treat, treat. Vacuum OFF: No treats. You want to repeat this step several times until your dog is happily waiting for treats when the vacuum is switched on. You also want to vary the time you have the vacuum switched into the ON position. At first 2 or 3 seconds, then 10 seconds, then 5 seconds, then 20 seconds, then 7 seconds then 30 seconds…. and so on. *Note: Another option could be giving your dog a stuffed Kong or a very high value treat (like a bully stick) to chew on when the vacuum is switched ON.*

What is that noise? Gypsy investigates further as Bandit eats some treats.

What is that? Gypsy investigates further as Bandit eats some treats.

Step 4: Moving the vacuum while turned ON. Once your dog seems comfortable and happy with the vacuum being switched ON and stationary, you then want to begin to move the vacuum around the house while in the ON position. Again, every time the vacuum is in the ON position you are tossing treats like there is no tomorrow. Like in step 3, you want to take baby steps in the amount of time the vacuum is ON and moving. You want to slowly build up your time vacuuming. Start out with a few seconds, then few minutes (or maybe one small room of the house) at a time and then gradually increase as your dog becomes more and more comfortable. *Note: This whole process may take a few days/weeks so be patient and go at your dogs pace. You want to make sure this is a positive and fun experience for you pup. Start out by vacuuming small portions of your house each day. Depending on your dog in a few days/weeks you can be back to vacuuming your entire house in the same day.*

Luckily, our young foster puppies took  to this vacuum thing fairly quickly. It only took them a little more than a week to get used to the vacuum and by the end of the second week I was able to vacuum the entire house while the pups lay quietly on a dog bed enjoying a delicious stuffed Kong.

What ways do you help your dog feel more comfortable around new “scary” things?

Gypsy and Bandit (both pictured here) are available for adoption through Mutts Matter Rescue.  If you are interested in adopting one (or both) of these cuties please visit the Mutts Matter Rescue page and fill out an adoption application.

Say Hello to Harley!

Hi I’m Harley!

Last Thursday we got to pick up our 4th foster pup Harley. He came to Mutts Matter Rescue with his brother Marley & sister Carley (also up for adoption).

Me and my siblings Carley & Marley.

The vet thinks I am some sort of Lab mix… possibly with a Basset Hound since I have extra floppy ears, a longer body, and shorter legs than the average Lab pup. More and more everyday though, my foster mom believes I could even be mixed with a Standard Dachshund (doxie). I am a young pup although my age is questionable, when I was first brought in they thought I was a 10 week old pup weighing about 10lbs but the vet thinks my teeth show I might be a few weeks older than that 14, 16 or ever 18 weeks. Either way I am still a puppy and love to play!

It’s kind of hard to see but my body is a little longer than most Lab pups.

My foster mom say’s I’m super sweet. Although my name is Harley she keeps calling me Little’n (Little one) and her little Shadow. I love to follow her wherever she goes. It’s fun cause a lot of the times I hear this “click” sound and treats magically fall from the sky. Foster mom say’s those are special training sessions but sometimes she catches me off guard when I’m laying down quietly and treats still appear at my feet! I know how to “Sit” and do this thing called “Touch” where I touch my nose to my foster mom’s hand and get a click and treat. I’m also learning this thing called “Down” too. Foster mom say’s these things will help prepare me for my new home. I don’t mind cause I get yummy treats and lots of pets and loving when I do them!

I know how to “Sit”

So far my foster mom say’s I have been wonderful. So wonderful in fact that she keeps telling foster dad that if I don’t find my forever home soon it’s going to be really hard to let me go. I am also a GREAT snuggler! Whenever I am ready for a nap I will just crawl into your lap and go to sleep. If I can’t crawl into your lap I will lay on your feet to keep them warm or if foster mom picks me up and puts me on the couch, I like to curl up right next to her to help keep her warm.

Love to snuggle up with foster mom and take naps

Foster mom say’s that I’m great in the crate whatever that means?! I just like it cause when I get put in the crate I get this yummy cold red thing that tastes like peanut butter and when I’m done with it, I’m ready for a nice nap so I just quietly go to sleep. Apparently I take long naps cause sometimes I go to bed and it’s dark out and then when I wake up foster mom say’s good morning and the sun is out again! I’ve already started learning new things to. I really like my foster home but foster mom say’s that I have a forever family out their waiting just for me! Is that you? I promise to love you forever!

If you are interested in adopting Harley, his brother Marley, or his sister Carley, please go to Mutts Matter Rescue and fill out an adoption application.

3rd Times The Charm ~ Meet Sabrina!

Meet Sabrina!

Our 3rd official foster pup is Sabrina, a 3 and 1/2 month old mix breed puppy who is up for adoption through Mutts Matter Rescue. We’re not exactly sure what she’s mixed with but some people think she might be a Collie mix, or maybe even Saint Bernard mix. What we do know is that at 3 and 1/2 months and already 20+ lbs, she’s gonna be a big girl. No worries though, she is as sweet and gentle as can be.

I am always on the move!

Sabrina might have had a delayed start on puppy socialization but she is super lucky her foster mom is an OPERATION SOCIALIZATION Certified Trainer and knows just how to get this girl on the right track! Since day 1 Sabrina has been in training, learning a variety of things that are important to a puppy her age. She’s gotten the opportunity to meet several well mannered dogs & puppies as well as over a dozen or so new people of all ages, genders and races. She is also being introduced to new sounds and situations daily.

"I'm gonna be an Operation Socialization Certified Puppy!"

Along with good puppy socialization Sabrina is also doing very well with a couple other important puppy behaviors, potty training and crate training. In fact, Sabrina is so comfortable in her crate that you will often see her slip off into it on her own for a nap after a good round of play with her foster brothers.

Goofing around in the yard... Sabrina runs the show.

Nap time.

Sabrina is becoming a very Clicker Savvy pup. She has learned several great foundation behaviors so far such as “sit” and a nose target behavior “touch” and is in the process of learning “down.” One of foster mom’s main goals is to teach her to sit automatically while someone say’s “hi” (being greeted). Sabrina is going to be a big girl so it is very important that she learns early that jumping is not a good idea. She is doing GREAT! Sabrina almost automatically sits when she comes up for attention. If 4 paws are on the floor we are also rewarding for this and usually she sits the moment you reach down to pet her. Such a smart girl!

Foster mom say's I have a very lovely "sit"

Today we’ll be taking a mini trip for lunch to one of the nearby Operation Socialization Destinations to get some more real world experiences into her repertoire. Whoever is lucky enough to adopt this sweetheart won’t be disappointed, I promise!

If you are interested in adopting Sabrina or others like her,  just visit Mutts Matter Rescue and fill out an adoption application.

Here are some more pictures cause we all know you can’t get enough of puppy pictures!

Always on the move!

Hi there.

Don't you want to love me forever?

Training Tip Tuesday ~ Don’t Repeat the Cue

Ever find that sometimes you sound like a broken record when cuing your dog to do a specific behavior?

You ask: “Fido, Sit…”

Dog: {looking at you inquisitively}

and before he gets a chance to

You continue: “Sit…Sit…Sit”

Dog: {Sits}


This is a common issue among many owners. We are people of habit, and habits are hard to break. But guess what? Dogs are smart and they are quick to pick up on those habits and small patterns that form when we are asking behaviors from them. Dog’s will learn that they don’t have to “Sit” the first time you ask because you will ask exactly 3 more times “Sit…Sit…Sit” before the dog has time to perform the behavior. Before you know it, yes you’ve taught your dog to “Sit” but only after you repeat the cue 4 times.


How you can fix it: This is more of a problem that we the owners have to fix for ourselves. The next time you cue your dog “Sit” give the dog time to process what you’ve asked and perform the behavior. If he does, GREAT! Reward with treats or lots of praise for doing it correctly. If he doesn’t, reset the dog (walk him nicely over to a different area) and try the cue again. You will find that this will be harder for you to remember not to repeat the cue, than it is for the dog to learn to perform the cue the first time you ask.

Training Tip Tuesday ~ It’s what you DO want

When it comes to addressing your dogs behavior problems most people tend to think of it like this: “My dog jumps on me all the time, I don’t want my dog to jump on me anymore.” We automatically think about what we don’t want our dog to do and this makes the solution to the problem seem much more difficult than it needs to be. Of course you don’t want your dog to jump on you, but what do you want your dog to do?

The first step in fixing a problem that you don’t want your dog to do (jumping, barking, chewing, pulling on the leash, etc.) is to think what you do want your dog to do instead. I know, you’re thinking “can it really be that simple?” Yes, it can be! For the dog who jumps on you when you come home, what do you want your dog to do instead? Let’s say you want a dog that comes up to you and sits to say “hi” and get your attention. Perfect! Now you know what you need to train in order to fix the problem. You need to teach your dog that sitting for attention works better than jumping up for your attention.

If you approach each problem behavior with the same mind set, “what do I want my dog to do instead of (insert annoying behavior here)?” Then the solution will be much clearer and easier to work on.

Old man Brewer knows all about what to DO!

We did it, Nannie is ADOPTED!

My Sweet Nannie Girl

I like to believe that we really got lucky with our first foster pup, Nan. She might have been a little scared and skiddish at first, but in less than two weeks we’ve had the opportunity to watch her blossom into a much more confident and happy go lucky dog!

In less than two weeks Nannie has learned so much. She has become trusting of new people, in fact she’s been greeting strangers with kisses and tail wags when they come in the door, a far cry from 2 weeks ago when she would run and hide in her crate. THANK YOU CLICKER TRAINING! She picked up on it so quickly, like most dogs do, and it helped her to associate new people with good things. In her short time here she has learned to sit nicely and wait outside of the kitchen with her foster brothers while her food is being made, she’s learned to sit for attention, and “sit” on cue as well as “down.” She has also learned to “wait” at the door before exiting the house as well as targeting her nose to my hand when I hold it down and say “touch.” She was also the first dog I have ever had that didn’t know how to play with a toy. It was a joy to watch her learn how to play with my two boys and to see her excitement when she was flailing her head around with a toy in her mouth. So sweet and smart, I know she’s going to make a great new dog for her new family.

Speaking of…. Nannie is going to live with a wonderful family. New mom H and new dad W as well as her new sister Josie will be adding Miss Nannie to their family. I got lucky with this adoption; H & W are both friends of mine from college so I’ll be able to see Nannie whenever I get to see them! How awesome is that?! Her new parents have already picked out a cute name for her too, Callie. I am doing my best to start calling her Callie so that she becomes familiar with it before going to her new home.  It’s tough though, I think she’ll always be my sweet little Nannie girl.

Lucky me! I get to spend two more days with her until her new family picks her up on Saturday and she goes to her new forever home. Then the hard part comes, having to say goodbye. Nannie is my first ever foster so I’m not sure how this is truly going to affect me. I know it’s going to be tough, and I’m probably going to cry, especially since I’m already getting a bit teary eyed typing this. I just have to remember this is what I signed up for, to help save her life and  to help her find a forever home to live happily ever after in. Although I will still miss her dearly…I’m sure she will always hold a special place in my heart.

So…here’s to Nannie, I mean Callie, on her new forever home! May she get to live the life she was always meant to have with a loving family who will give her the world! Thank you H & W for adopting this sweetheart, I know she will make a great addition to your family!



First post, first foster

So, I decided to start a blog. Not just any blog, this blog will be about my love for dogs and dog training with a little bit of my life mixed in as well. For this first post I wanted to introduce you all to my first foster dog Nan (Nannie.)

Nan (Nannie)

When Nannie first came to us she was very sweet but a little scared of people and new situations. I don’t know her full background but I do know that she was not fed, socialized or taken care of well. When she first meets new people she’s very cautious and insecure, but once she gets to know you she loves to cuddle up next to you.  She is very dog friendly, and for not being socialized seems to know her manners and understand other dogs body language and signals very well.

I’ve introduced her to clicker training and she has taken to it like a champ! She is beginning to learn what I like to call “basic life skills” and in just a few short sessions she learned her first behavior “sit.” I then moved on to her second behavior “touch” (learning to target or touch her nose to the palm of my hand). I chose this as her second behavior because it can be useful in redirecting her attention in what she may find a scary situation, it can also help her to meet and greet new people.

Nan showing how she can "sit"

In just a few short days Nannie has come a looooooong way! I’ve watched as her confidence level in new situations and around new people has slowly started to rise. The first couple of new people who came to the house she hid  in her crate or behind me for a while before slowly peeking out to see what was going on. Even then she still wouldn’t approach anyone and kept her distance.  Just yesterday though, we had a couple other visiters come over and this time she didn’t run in hide. Infact, after they were settled on the couch for about 15-20 minutes she even built up the courage to go say “hi.” To them and get lots of love and affection in return.  She has also become a little more adventurous outside, running and playing further and further away from me. I cannot express in words the joy I feel when I see her running carefree.

Confident Nan enjoying a little romp in the yard

It’s only been a few days but this beautiful girl has already begun to blossom into one super sweet pup! She will be an amazing addition to anyone’s family! She would do best in a home with a brother or sister dog who will continue to help her build confidence! If you are interested in adopting this sweet Nannie girl go to Mutts Matter Rescue and fill out an adoption application