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Country-Side Breeders

The Ten Training Commandments:

  • Praise Your Dog when he performs an exercise correctly. This is what your dog is working for...your praise! Make training worthwhile to your dog. Use motivation instead of compulsion in most cases.

  • Correct Your Dog Firmly when he fails to perform an exercise properly. Do this ONLY if you are sure that he understands what is expected of him.

  • Think Like A Dog. Put yourself in your dog's shoes, and train him accordingly. Don't punish your dog for performing an exercise incorrectly when it is likely that he does not understand what you want.

  • Have Patience. If you lose your temper, you will do more harm than good. Put your leash away until tomorrow if you feel yourself losing patience.

  • Do Your Homework. Your instructors can show you HOW to train your dog, but the important part is up to you.

  • Have Your Dog's Attention while working with him. Talk to him enthusiastically, pat your leg or use the leash to keep him attentive. Use tidbits of food or other training aides if necessary. Smile and make training a fun game for your dog.

  • Don't Call Your Dog to You and then Punish Him! He will think that he is being punished for coming. Make the recall a pleasant experience always. If he does not come, go and get him and do not correct him. Keeping the dog on leash until the recall is very reliable is very important. You NEVER want to set your dog up for failure.

  • Consistency Is The Name Of The Game. Your dog will not learn right from wrong if you allow him to do something one day and then punish him the next day for doing the same thing...jumping on the couch for example. Use the same command word every time, and make sure all members of the family do, too.

  • Be Your Dog's Master. Don't ask your dog to do something...tell him. A dog will happily obey a master he respects. Moreover, dogs equate respect with love. The firmer you are with your dog the more he will love you. You need not be cruel, but develop a confident attitude towards your dog. You are "alpha".

  • Practice Everyday, Rain or Shine. Practice in different locations. Also, as your dog becomes more reliable, practice with many distractions for reliability. Many think that there dog is well trained until they go to a setting foreign to the dog or with tempting distractions. Thus, it is very important to train in many places with many sights and sounds and temptations

Getting Started

To start off on the right foot (and paw!) with your pup, he’ll need to know what you expect from him. This will make him feel secure in his ability to meet the goals laid out for him going forward.

The foundation of training should be based on positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is the process of giving a dog (or person!) a reward to encourage the behavior you want, like getting a pay check for going to work. The idea is not to bribe the behavior but to train it using something your dog values.  Avoid using punishment such as leash corrections or yelling. Punishment can cause a dog to become confused and unsure about what is being asked of him.  It is important to remember that we can’t expect dogs to know what they don’t know – just like you wouldn’t expect a 2-year-old child to know how to tie his shoes. Patience will go a long way in helping your new puppy learn how to behave.

Reinforcement can be anything your dog likes. Most people use small pieces of a “high value” food for training treats — something special — such as dried liver or even just their kibble. Lavish praise or the chance to play with a favorite toy can also be used as a reward. Dogs must be taught to like praise. If you give the dog a treat while saying “Good dog!” in a happy voice, he will learn that praise is a good thing and can be a reward. Some dogs also enjoy petting. Food is often the most convenient way to reinforce behavior.

Puppies can begin very simple training starting as soon as they come home, usually around 8 weeks old. Always keep training sessions brief — just 5 to 10 minutes —and always end on a positive note. If your puppy is having trouble learning a new behavior, end the session by reviewing something he already knows and give him plenty of praise and a big reward for his success. If your puppy gets bored or frustrated, it will ultimately be counterproductive to learning.


How To Teach A Dog To Come

You’ll want to begin training a recall (come when called) in a quiet area and indoors. Sit with your puppy and say his name or the word “come.” Each time you say “come/name,” give your puppy a treat. He doesn’t have to do anything yet! Just repeat the word and give a treat. Easy!

Next, drop a treat on the floor near you. As soon as your puppy finishes the treat on the ground, say his name again. When he looks up, give him another treat. Repeat this a couple of times until you can begin tossing the treat a little further away, and he can turn around to face you when you say his name. Avoid repeating your puppy’s name; saying it too often when he doesn’t respond makes it easier for him to ignore it. Instead, move closer to your puppy and go back to a step where he can be successful at responding to his name the first time.

Once your puppy can turn around to face you, begin adding movement and making the game more fun! Toss a treat on the ground and take a few quick steps away while calling your puppy’s name. They should run after you because chase is fun! When they catch you, give them a lot of praise, treats or play with a tug toy. Coming to you should be fun! Continue building on these games with longer distances and in other locations. When training outside (always in a safe, enclosed area), it may be helpful to keep your puppy on a long leash at first.

When your puppy comes to you, don’t reach out and grab him. This can be confusing or frightening for some dogs. If your puppy is timid, kneel and face them sideways and offer him treats as you reach for the collar. Never call your dog to punish! This will only teach him that you are unpredictable, and it is a good idea to avoid you. Always reward your dog heavily for responding to his or her name, even if they have been up to mischief!

How To Teach a Dog Loose Leash Walking

In competition obedience training, “heel” means the dog is walking on your left side with his head even with your knee while you hold the leash loosely. Puppy training can be a little more relaxed with the goal being that they walk politely on a loose leash without pulling. Some trainers prefer to say “let’s go” or “forward” instead of “heel” when they train this easy way of walking together.

Whatever cue you choose, be consistent and always use the same word. Whether your puppy walks on your left side or your right side is completely up to you. But be consistent about where you want them so they don’t get confused and learn to zig zag in front of you.

First, make sure your puppy is comfortable wearing a leash. This can feel strange at first, and some puppies may bite the leash. Give your puppy treats as you put the leash on each time. Then, stand next to your puppy with the leash in a loose loop and give him several treats in a row for standing or sitting next to your leg. Take one step forward and encourage him to follow by giving another treat as he catches up.

Continue giving treats to your puppy at the level of your knee or hip as you walk forward. When he runs in front of you, simply turn the opposite direction, call him to you, and reward him in place. Then continue. Gradually begin giving treats further apart (from every step to every other step, every third step, and so on).

Eventually your dog will walk happily at your side whenever he’s on his leash. Allow your dog plenty of time to sniff and “smell the roses” on your walks. When they’ve had their sniffing time, give the cue “Let’s Go!” in a happy voice and reward them for coming back into position and walking with you.

How To Teach a Dog To Sit

There are two different methods for showing your puppy what “sit” means.

The first method is called capturing. Stand in front of your puppy holding some of his dog food or treats. Wait for him to sit – say “yes” and give him a treat. Then step backwards or sideways to encourage him to stand and wait for him to sit. Give another treat as soon as they sit. After a few repetitions, you can begin saying “sit” right as he begins to sit.

The next option is called luring. Get down in front of your puppy, holding a treat as a lure. Put the treat right in front of the pup’s nose, then slowly lift the food above his head. He will probably sit as he lifts his head to nibble at the treat. Allow him to eat the treat when his bottom touches the ground. Repeat one or two times with the food lure, then remove the food and use just your empty hand, but continue to reward the puppy after he sits. Once he understands the hand signal to sit, you can begin saying “sit” right before you give the hand signal.

Never physically put your puppy into the sitting position; this can be confusing or upsetting to some dogs.

How To Teach a Dog To Stay

A puppy who knows the “stay” cue will remain sitting until you ask him to get up by giving another cue, called the “release word.” Staying in place is a duration behavior. The goal is to teach your dog to remain sitting until the release cue is given, then begin adding distance.

First, teach the release word. Choose which word you will use, such as “OK” or “free.” Stand with your puppy in a sit or a stand, toss a treat on the floor, and say your word as he steps forward to get the treat. Repeat this a couple of times until you can say the word first and then toss the treat AFTER he begins to move. This teaches the dog that the release cue means to move your feet.

When your dog knows the release cue and how to sit on cue, put him in a sit, turn and face him, and give him a treat. Pause, and give him another treat for staying in a sit, then release him. Gradually increase the time you wait between treats (it can help to sing the ABC’s in your head and work your way up the alphabet).  If your dog gets up before the release cue, that’s ok! It just means he isn’t ready to sit for that long so you can make it easier by going back to a shorter time.

Once your dog can stay in a sit for several seconds, you can begin adding distance. Place him in a sit and say “stay,” take one step back, then step back to the pup, give a treat, and your release word. Continue building in steps, keeping it easy enough that your dog can stay successful. Practice both facing him and walking away with your back turned (which is more realistic).

Once your dog can stay, you can gradually increase the distance. This is also true for the “sit.” The more solidly he learns it, the longer he can remain sitting. The key is to not expect too much, too soon. Training goals are achieved in increments, so you may need to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. To make sure the training “sticks,” sessions should be short and successful.

And Remember …

Keep training sessions short and fun. End each session on a positive note. If you feel your dog is having a difficult time learning or being “stubborn,” evaluate the speed of your training and the value of your rewards. Do you need to slow down and make the steps easier, or does your dog need a bigger paycheck for a harder exercise?

The “Basic 4” commands will give your puppy a strong foundation for any future training.

Crate Training

One of the best investments you will make before you bring the puppy home is to purchase a "crate". They are available at Wal-Mart, Pet stores, some grocery stores and often can be found in the "for sale" column of your newspaper. Most of them are plastic or fiberglass, but you can also buy metal ones that allow the puppy to see everything that is going on. Remember that he is a baby and requires many hours of undisturbed sleep in his crate. A crate is not a "cage". It is - HIS PLACE - HIS BED - HIS ROOM - HIS SECURITY. DON'T FEEL GUILTY OR ALLOW YOUR FRIENDS TO MAKE YOU FEEL GUILTY BECAUSE YOU ARE CONFINING HIM PERIODICALLY. HE IS A DEN ANIMAL and likes to feel enclosed. He can get away from the cat, the kids, or the other dog, and be secure in the only place in the house that is "his". He can't get hurt while in the crate, he can't get into mischief when you're busy or at work, and he can't destroy anything of yours when left to his own devices.

A crate is also a wonderful housebreaking aid.Animals never want to 'soil' their den. Even 3 week old puppies will crawl away from the warmth of their mother to piddle on the newspaper 4 feet away. When he barks or whines after a sleep in the crate, you MUST rush him outside immediately. Ignore that cry and you'll defeat your housebreaking attempts and have an 'accident' to clean up. If you can, borrow a 'starter' crate that is the right size for the puppy, rather than a large one that he'll 'grow into'.  When his space is a little restricted, but big enough to stretch out, he'll settle down better. If you must use a larger crate from the beginning, then put a cardboard box into the back portion to close off some of the area. It's best to use a bath towel in the crate for bedding.If the puppy has an accident it can be washed with soap and a little bleach easily. When his bathroom habits are more under control , you can give him a cushion for comfort. Your first few nights with him in the house will no doubt be noisy and you'll all be sleep-deprived. He'll probably howl like a banshee when he's put to bed with a firm "night-night" and the lights turned out if he's sleeping in an area by himself.Plug your ears, occasionally holler "quiet" at him, but don't go to him, unless you feel that he needs to go out for a bathroom break after an hour or so of racket. If the crate is put by your bed, the puppy often settles much more quickly, but many people do not want a dog in their bedroom area.

You and your family will have to make the decision as to where the pup will be sleeping.During the day, he'll need morning and afternoon sleeps too. These should also be in the crate - not on the couch or the carpet. He'll play very strenuously for a short time, then, like a baby, fall sound asleep. When this happens, gently pick him up, carry him to the crate and put him in with a quiet 'nite, nite', close the door and let him sleep. Be sure to listen for the wakeup cry and take him outside right away.

Potty Training

There should be no outdoor play until he has it firmly in his mind that the outdoors is the place to go to relieve himself, and is giving you signals that he needs to go out ( and RIGHT NOW). This may be whining, circling, sniffing at various places or going towards the door. IT'S UP TO YOU TO LEARN TO READ HIS MESSAGES !!!

Remember that you are dealing with a baby with a small bladder, and you should expect to have accidents to clean up until he is about 6 months old.

When accidents do happen, DO NOT RUB HIS NOSE IN IT, OR HIT HIM. A rolled up newspaper has no value in teaching a dog.

The dog crate will be your most valuable asset in the house-training effort. Dogs are den animals and he will not want to soil his sleeping area if he can help it.

He will whine or bark from the crate when he needs to go out, but he will do that too if he just wants to be with you. This is what is called the "Puppy Con" and you'll have to learn to differentiate between them. Ignore the message and you might be cleaning up a mess!

GSP Breed Specific Training

As a versatile hunting breed, the GSP is most happy when doing what he or she does best; hunting with his or her master or mistress.

GSP's can be used to hunt for a variety of game, including upland game birds such as woodcock, pheasant, quail, partridge, and grouse, waterfowl such as ducks and geese, furred game such as rabbits, and for the blood tracking of wounded large game such as deer, elk, or moose. The training of a versatile GSP begins early. Much as a human child learns most of what he needs to learn about learning by kindergarten, your versatile puppy will learn most of what he needs to know about learning by the time he or she is six months old.

Take advantage of his or her sponge-like capacity to soak up learning by exposing him or her to as many new people, places, and experiences as possible during the first few months. Take your pup for long walks in fields and on sidewalks, with you to city parks, schools, offices, shopping areas, woods, streams, etc. Encourage his or her contact with people, children, and other pets, and culture his or her exposure to wildlife early, and your formal training later on will be much more successful and come much easier.

While they make excellent pets, hunting is their designed purpose. Without the stimulus that hunting provides them, these dogs will not receive specialty bonding, training, guidance, activity, and time afield needed to achieve their fullest physical and mental potential. The GSP is a dog for the hunter who is looking for a loyal hunting companion that performs equally in the field, forest, and water. If for some reason you don't plan on training your dog for hunting, you should at least plan on formal obedience training, and some other structured type of activity to do with your dog to provide an outlet for his or her natural hunting instincts, such as agility, showing, obedience trials, hunting or tracking tests or trials, long hikes or nature walks, Frisbee or fly ball, etc.

If you are planning to train your versatile dog to hunt, be aware that THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR LIVE BIRD EXPOSURE! If you don't have access to land with sufficient wild birds on it for training several times a week, you can "make do" with pen raised birds and either manual or remote controlled bird launchers up to a point! Remember, though, that the time will come when you MUST get your dog on wild birds to "finish" him or her in the field. Joining a hunting dog club, reading books and articles, subscribing to one of the internet chat lists or bulletin boards, or working alongside a local dog trainer or friend who may be training his or her own dog can be a great support to you during this process.

Consider training your GSP to recognize and respond to voice, whistle, and hand signals, to avoid problems later when the dog may not be able to hear you in the field. If you decide on an electronic training collar, you might consider one with the "pager" feature built in to assist you with getting your dog's attention in the field without electrical stimulation.

GSP Specific Exercise

A common problem many owners face is calming their easily-excited, high-energy hunting dogs. Everybody wants a dog that’s non-stop in the hunting fields, but also calm and well behaved in the house.  It is possible to have both, as the  GSPs in our house are proof of it, and it all begins with showing the dog how we would like him or her to act.


It’s important to understand that dogs feed off our energy, as well as crave attention and affection. It’s also important to realize that dogs are great at learning by association.

So, if your dog behaves in an excited manner and gets ‘rewarded’ with attention, then your dog will learn to associate his hyperactivity with attention. The cycle sets itself up. Your dog has come to learn that all he has to do, in order to get your attention and/or affection, is to get into this over excited state of mind.

On the other hand, if your dog receives attention and affection as a reward for showing calm behavior, it becomes more likely that your dog will exhibit calm behavior more often. It’s important to know that we need to exhibit calm energy ourselves when we are offering this affection. If we are excited, the dog will naturally follow suite and join in our excitement.


To help you better understand your dog, it can be helpful to realize that dogs are very closely related to wolves, from a genetic history. In the wild, a wolf will hunt (which gives them both mental and physical exercise), eat, sleep and play. Your dog is naturally equipped to follow this same routine. Exercise is a large part of what creates calm in them. If your dog gets adequate exercise, food, water and affection, they really have nothing left to do but rest and relax.

A walk/run with your dog by your side– you slightly in front– at least 30 minutes a day, is a great place to start. Letting your dog run around in a big back yard is not much more than running inside a big cage. Dogs can get frustrated, watching or chasing what the dog sees as rivals, threats, or prey outside the fence, which they can’t get to. Different dogs have different energy levels.Some are going to require more exercise than others. If you believe your dog gets enough exercise, but doesn’t seem to calm down easily or still has plenty of energy, you may want to try wearing them down more with longer walks, runs or swims. If all you have time for are shorter walks, walk your dog with a back pack full of water. This way they will have to work harder during their walk.


The best way to exercise a dog for someone who can’t seem to find the time is to get them running on a treadmill. Most dogs can be taught to run on a treadmill with minimal effort and maximum benefits. To teach them to run on the treadmill, first put a lead on the dog. Then, help the dog stand on the treadmill with no motion.  It is very important for you to be the leader through this exercise. (If they get uncomfortable or nervous and you end the session for them, they are learning that this is something to be fearful of, in order to get out of something they don’t want to do they need to react this way, and then they are the ones telling you when it’s over.) Stand on the treadmill next to the belt, turn it on, slowly at first. Let the dog get used to the idea of the ground moving. Expect them to struggle a bit. Do not physically hold the dog, but hold the lead. It is best not to keep constant pressure/tension on the lead, because when a dog feels tension, it’s natural reaction is to pull against it. It’s best to give the lead a ‘tug’ forward. If your dog starts moving back, ‘tug’ him forward again. Once he starts walking comfortably you can step off the treadmill, but remain close in case your dog tries to jump off. Turn the speed up a bit to get him into a natural gait. This exercise is very mentally stimulating, because it demands the dog’s concentration. On your first attempts, as you get off the treadmill, chances are the dog will lose his concentration and try to get off, too. When this happens, help him get back on the treadmill and keep going. Tug him gently back into place, and help him get back into that comfortable gait.  If the dog jumps off again, keep the treadmill going and lead him back on as quickly as possible.Strive to build on success and not failure. The more a dog jumps off the treadmill, the more it conditions them to jump off and allow for failure. We want them to stay on, to build on success, and learn that we want them to keep concentrating and running.  Stand next to your dog, until he is confident and will not try to jump off. Then, slowly move away, but in one-step increments. Again, if the dog jumps off, he is failing, and we want success. If your dog will run comfortably with you two feet away, then he’ll stay there with you three feet away, then four and so on. Your dog will let you know if you are moving too fast. Your first session should be about 10 minutes at 2-4mph, depending on the dog. This can be extended to wherever you would like to take it. You want to stop the treadmill on your terms, not our dog’s terms. If he jumps off and you stop the exercise, then he has made the decision to stop. If he jumps off, you put him back on the treadmill until he is running along comfortably again– and then you shut it off. This way, you, as the leader, have decided when it’s time to stop, and the session ends on a successful, positive note.


For your dog, learning to run on a treadmill is a great pack leadership exercise. The treadmill provides unstable ground, and dogs do not like unstable ground. If you successfully lead your dog through this uncomfortable situation, you gain trust and respect. This will make all training easier for you and your dog.  As you gain little victories on the treadmill, extend your role as leader to other areas. For example, teach him how to stay on his dog bed. In fact, right after he has had some exercise on the treadmill is an ideal time to have him stay on his bed. It’s a natural time to rest– after physical and mental exercise.  Here’s how to teach him to stay on his bed.  Lead him onto his bed and instruct him to stay. Stand there for a few seconds and start slowly walking away. As the trainer, it’s your role to feel confident that he will stay on the bed. If you expect the dog to leave the bed, it will surely fill that expectation.  If he does try to follow you when you leave, walk to him, and help him get back onto the bed. If he tries to walk around you, block him, and corner him so he has to get back onto the bed. Because you are the leader, he will accept your direction, because it is the law of nature to him.Your dog has to learn that, once placed on the dog bed, it must stay until released. Your dog will learn that this is the way the world works, with no exceptions. If this rule is set in stone, your dog will never question its validity. You may also use a sound created just for this.  This helps to associate your motions and corrections with a sound. After your dog has familiarized himself with this exercise, if he decides to come off the bed before you release him, you can look in his direction, make the noise, and he will sit back down on the bed.  Dogs can only think about one thing at a time. When they start to come off of the bed, they are thinking about following someone into the other room or going to get a bone etc. When they hear that noise, it puts their attention back onto you. At that point, you can redirect his attention to the bed.


Throughout these exercises, you are letting the dog know that you are higher on the totem pole than they are. This is a very calming reality for your dog. Once they realize that they don’t have to make decisions, such as when it’s time to go for a walk or when it’s time to play, they will be more at ease and comfortable. Daily dominance exercises around the house will help keep your dog calm and balanced. Through physical and mental exercise, daily care, and by you asserting dominance, you will quickly see positive changes in your dog’s behavior.

Resource Guarding

Resource guarding in dogs, also called "possessive aggression," can be quite alarming and scary for a dog owner to experience. You go to grab a chew that your dog has whittled down to a tiny piece, so they don't swallow it — but are confronted with teeth-baring, growling, or even lunging and biting. Or perhaps you go to sit down next to your dog on the couch and get a hard stare and a low growl. This can — and should — send a chill down your spine.

Resource guarding can happen between pets as well. A dog may show food aggression if another dog walks by. Or they might even guard you from the other dog, especially if there are food items or toys involved. If you've recently brought home a new puppy or adopted dog, your other dog might be showing some new aggressive behaviors around their toys and food.

What should you do if your dog is guarding their food bowl, chew toy, or space? Your reaction to the behavior can either help resolve your dog's resource guarding or make it worse. Let's look at why resource guarding in dogs happens, what you should do to prevent it, and what to do if your dog exhibits resource guarding.

What is Resource Guarding?

Resource guarding is when a dog reacts when they perceive a threat to a valuable resource in their possession. The dog feels they are about to lose something and takes action to keep it. Resource guarding does not always have to end with growling, lunging, biting, or fighting. Patricia McConnell defines it well, as "any behavior that discourages another to take, or get too close to, an object or valued area in the dog's possession." This behavior could be as simple as a look, head turn, or slight baring of the teeth.

Guarding resources is a natural dog behavior. It's a natural animal behavior — humans included! Access to resources like food, water, and a safe space is essential to survival. It's hardwired into animal nature to protect the things we believe we need to survive.

While resource guarding is a normal dog behavior, it's not a desirable one. Resource guarding becomes a dangerous problem if a dog is willing to bite or fight to keep an item. Aggression around food, toys, or space, can result in dog bites to humans or fights between your pets. This is especially worrisome in a home with young children, elderly family members, or if the dog is not predictable in what items they decide to guard.


Common Items That Trigger Resource Guarding in Dogs

While most often seen around food items, a dog can develop resource guarding with any item that they deem "valuable." This might be something we don't consider very important, like a sock, but that sock could be your dog's most beloved possession. That sock might be the Ring to their Gollum. In one behavior case, a client's dog would guard the open dishwasher, and react whenever the owners tried to close the dishwasher door.

Food Aggression

  • Food and Treats

  • Food Bowl (filled with food or empty)

  • Bones and Edible Dog Chews

Non-Food Aggression

  • Toys

  • Stolen "contraband" (tissues, socks or laundry items, shoes)

  • Space (dog bed, crate, their position on the couch or bed, their feeding area)

  • Their owner (from other pets in the home or even from other people)


Signs of Resource Guarding in Dogs

These are the most obvious signs of resource guarding. Unfortunately, too often it isn't until a dog is doing these things that I get a call for help from the dog's owner:

  • Growling

  • Lunging and Air Snapping (a no-contact bite)

  • Chasing you or another animal away

  • Biting

In developing and "milder" cases of resource guarding, a dog might show less intense (and therefore less obvious) signs of guarding behavior. A certified dog trainer, veterinary behaviorist, behavior consultant, or someone with experience reading dog body language, will often see these more subtle signs prior to the actions described above:

  • Freezing

  • Eating faster

  • Taking an item and moving away

  • Braced body position over the item

  • Subtle shifting of body weight to "block" the item

  • Side eye staring or tracking of the person or pet approaching

  • Raising lips and baring teeth

  • Ears pinned flat against the head

  • Hard stare

Sharing our lives with our dogs means that we need to make sure they feel okay with us approaching things they find valuable. There's no need to guard food, toys, or space if we teach them that our removing an item, such as their chew, results in something equal or better than what they had. Giving up something to us willingly and happily needs to be trained and rewarded for our dogs so that resource guarding doesn't become an issue.

Unfortunately, the collective human response to a dog who is resource guarding has been the wrong one for too long. Using punishment and aversives as a response to resource guarding can result in MORE resource guarding.

What Causes Resource Guarding in Dogs?

You may feel confused by why your dog is exhibiting food aggression or guarding other items, especially if you've worked hard on early socialization and feel like you always provide more than enough resources for them. Remember — resource guarding is a normal and natural dog behavior!

Resource guarding in and of itself should not be surprising. However, the intensity with which a dog guards their food, items, or space can be affected by other contributing factors, such as:

  • History of resource scarcity

  • Stress

  • The added value of specific items based on how we present, interact with or take certain things (have we made a big deal about this thing in the past?)

  • The inherent value of the item

  • Context or physical needs of the dog (e.g. lack of enrichment, tiredness, hunger, thirst, etc.)

  • Underlying medical issues, such as pain

  • Actions of the person or other animal

Any dog may exhibit intense guarding behavior, whether they are adopted from a rescue or received from a breeder. 


Resource Guarding Between Dogs

Dogs will guard resources from each other. This is called dog-directed resource guarding. Guarding behaviors could happen over a certain resting place, food bowls, or high-value chews and toys. When resources are limited, such as when there's only one chew but two dogs, we tend to see an increase in guarding.

Fortunately, most dogs will gauge whether a particular resource is worth enough to fight over. There's no point in risking injury by fighting with another dog for something of lower value. Many dogs will communicate with each other using body language and vocalizations to express their desire for the thing the other dog has, or to tell the other to leave them alone.

If you have a multi-dog household, you might see the ebb and flow of resource guarding "conversations" they have.

In multi-dog households or environments, resource guarding becomes a problem if the dogs resort to fighting over their resources, and the environment is not managed to prevent these conflicts from escalating.


Treating Dog-Directed Resource Guarding

Addressing food aggression or other resource guarding behaviors between dogs follows a similar plan as human-directed resource guarding treatment. 

Management is crucial! Dogs who exhibit food aggression towards another household dog should always be fed in separate and secure areas. If a dog becomes aggressive towards another dog over toys, it's important to make sure that these toys are not just sitting willy-nilly over the house. For dogs who guard space from each other, blocking access to these areas outside of training and close supervision is imperative.

If your dog is food aggressive towards your other dog or pets, or guards toys, space, or even you, connect with a certified behavior consultant to start working on changing this behavior and creating a more positive emotional response in these scenarios.



What NOT to Do if Your Dog Resource Guards

Don't Punish the Growl

Never punish a growling dog. You can punish away a growl, sure, but all you've done is make a dog bite more likely. If your dog learns that growling to express their discomfort at your approach results in an aversive (such as yelling, hitting, a "tap" from a shock collar), and the loss of the item they were guarding, the next time you reach for it, they're more likely to skip the growl and go straight for a bite.

Ignored warnings will escalate behavioral responses, in both humans and dogs. You don't want to take away important warning signs that your dog needs to communicate with you.


Don't "Play" With Their Food and Chews

So many clients come to me for help with resource guarding and tell me, "We wanted to prevent resource guarding, so we'd always stick our hands in our dog's food bowl while they were eating, or randomly take away their chew. That way, they know who's boss and that the food or chew belongs to us." Instead of the desired result, they now have a dog who snaps when they reach for the bowl or a dog that lashes out even at just their walking by the bowl.

Without taking the necessary proactive and preventive steps, sticking your hand in your dog's food bowl while they're eating, or just taking away their chew toy will backfire. All you're doing is annoying your dog and teaching them that when you reach for something, they'll lose it. Not the association we want our dogs to make!


Don't Leave Out Items That Your Dog Might Guard

If your dog loves to grab socks from the laundry basket, and then growls or tries to bite when you try to take them away, set yourself up for success from the get-go (and avoid the possible surgery to remove the sock foreign body) by removing the opportunity. Don't leave items lying around that your dog might find valuable enough to guard. Keep your laundry basket up high. Pick up their food bowls between meals after they've finished eating and have walked away. Don't give them certain toys or high-value edible chews that they've become protective over.

What to Do If Your Dog Resource Guards

Connect With a Certified and Qualified Dog Trainer or Behavior Consultant

Before diving into ways you can start to address any resource guarding with your dog, I want to stress that working one-on-one with a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, or veterinary behaviorist should be your first step. Not only will your certified trainer build a trainer-client relationship with you and your dog, but they'll also be able to help you through the steps that I'll briefly outline below. Due to the potentially dangerous situations that resource guarding can create, it's important to keep safety first — both for you and your dog.

Manage the Environment

Make a list of all of the things your dog has become possessive over. Then think about how you can change the environment to remove access to these things. Obviously, this doesn't work with everyday necessities, like food bowls.


Let Your Dog Eat (and Chew) in Peace

For things that you can't just remove from your dog's environment, think about managing the context. If your dog guards their food bowl, set up a separate area where they can eat in peace. Use a gate to block off this area during mealtimes, so that no one can approach and make your dog feel the need to react. This is imperative if you have young children or elderly parents in the home who might not understand that they can't pet your dog during mealtimes. Blocking off separate feeding areas is also important if you have more than one dog, and one shows inappropriate resource guarding behavior.

If your dog guards things like a chew or long-lasting treat, give these to them in their safe space, crate, or other areas where they won't be bothered and let them enjoy it in peace. Ensure that everyone in your home knows that if the dog is eating or enjoying a chew, they are to let them be.


Start Desensitization and Counter Conditioning Training

This step is the bread and butter of changing resource guarding behavior. Because it's easy for us to rush through the process, your dog trainer should be involved in every step. The goal is to change your dog's emotional response to your approach and removal of the item they usually guard. Instead of the dread and fear of losing it, we want them to think, "Oh goodie! She's coming over here, and that means something awesome is about to happen!"

Basics of Counter Conditioning for Resource Guarding

  • Find a high-value treat that your dog loves more than the thing they are guarding. Usually moist and smelly works best, such as small pieces of chicken, or turkey hotdog.

  • Know the distance at which your dog begins to resource guard. Some dogs don't get possessive of their item or food until you're a few feet away. Others get tense if you're even in the same room while they eat. The goal here is to find the distance at which they know you are there, but aren't becoming tense or reacting with guarding behavior. For example, if your dog begins eating faster when you're three feet away, start this exercise from six feet away. You're determining what their distance threshold is for guarding a resource.

  • Give your dog their meal or chew as usual, then walk away.

  • Approach your dog, but stop a few feet before their distance threshold. Toss a piece of chicken to them. Once they eat it, toss another. Do this a few times before leaving the area.

  • Continue this exercise any time your dog has something they guard.

  • After a few sessions, begin to add one more step towards them before tossing the treat, and then step back. This is where you're decreasing their distance threshold. Don't rush this step.

  • If your dog gets tense or shows other signs of resource guarding, take the training back a step.

Think about working in small "slices" when treating your dog's resource guarding. Don't rush through the process and just reach for their bowl — that's setting them up to fail, and you might get bit.


With practice and consistency, your dog will learn to anticipate good things when you approach them. In many cases, these dogs choose to leave their food bowl or chew to happily approach you. When before they might stiffen or growl at your approach, with treatment, they instead show loose bodies and happy soft faces in anticipation of something good. This change in body language is the gauge by which we behavior consultants know if the treatment is progressing as expected.


Teach Your Dog to Drop It and Leave It

Both the drop it and leave it cues are important skills for all dogs to learn, but especially those that struggle with resource guarding. Drop it means to let go of something that's already in their mouth or possession, and leave it means to turn away from something.

If your dog guards food items, start practicing drop it with toys and then move on to practicing food trades. If they drop a low-value chew, they get a high-value treat. Make sure you're rewarding with something equal or better!

Using a reward of equal or higher value to your dog will help speed up the training practice and increase your success with the leave it cue.


Teach Your Dog to Come When Called

Training a reliable recall with your dog is useful for preventing resource guarding behavior. You can call them away from something that they have, rather than approaching them and trying to grab it.


Teach Your Dog to Go to Place

If your dog guards a particular place, such as a spot on the couch or your bed, creating a go to place cue means you can ask them to move to another designated spot where they will not be disturbed. This is often termed "stationing" by trainers. Having a behavior like this on cue means you do not need to physically guide your dog to a different space – keeping you safe and helping to prevent your dog from practicing unwanted guarding behaviors.

Preventing Resource Guarding from Developing in Puppies

The process of preventing resource guarding isn't much different from the tips outlined above. Prevention is always easier than treatment!

Set your puppy or new dog up for success by:

  • Letting them eat or chew in peace. Don't put your hand in their food or pet them while they're eating.

  • Practicing positive-sum trades. They drop a chew, they get a high-value treat, and then their chew back.

  • Teaching them to drop it and leave it.

  • Managing their environment. If you don't chase after them when they have a sock, the sock will have less value.

  • Make sure to properly socialize your puppy. Socialization is crucial for preventing a variety of dog behaviors, such as resource guarding, fear aggression, and separation anxiety.

Emergency Recall

The Emergency Recall is an incredibly useful tool to keep in your training toolbox. It's meant to be used in potentially dangerous situations where you need your dog to come back to you as quickly as possible.

Imagine if your dog bolts through your front door at the sight of a squirrel and is running full tilt towards a busy road (check out this article about what to do if you have a dog who likes to door dash).

The Emergency Recall can be used to stop your dog from running into the road and being hit by a car. It can also be used in environments like the dog park, where your dog might be off leash and running towards another person or dog and you need them to leave those distractions alone. You can teach your dog this cue in just four easy steps!

Real Life Emergency Recall Examples

The emergency recall has proven useful for quite a few of my training clients in real life, and often they're surprised how soon after introducing this cue to their dog that they've been able to use it successfully. One client was able to call her dog back to her when he bolted out the front door to chase after the sleds of the neighborhood children who were taking advantage of their snow day. Another was able to call his dog back to him even though they were chasing a squirrel and were headed towards a busy intersection. And this was only a few weeks after they'd started training this behavior! It's all about building a strong association for the dog that can get their attention even in the midst of prey drive or other high distractions.

What's the Difference Between a Regular Recall and an Emergency Recall?

I like to teach both a regular recall along with an emergency recall because I know that there might be a situation where a dog will be much too distracted and not motivated enough to respond to their normal recall word, such as if they've taken off after a squirrel. Their brain becomes hyper focused on chasing prey that they might not even hear the word "come." But because of how we've conditioned the emergency recall cue, it cuts through all that squirrel-static in a dog's brain.

We train the emergency recall a little differently than a regular recall:

  • The reward for an emergency recall is MUCH more valuable to your dog than any other reward they receive for other behaviors — we also use it as a "jackpot" reward. What's a jackpot? This means you give multiple treats in a row, piece by piece. This is much more valuable to a dog than offering the same amount of treats all at once.

  • Once fully trained, we do not use the emergency recall unless it is truly an emergency or we are prepared with the highest value "jackpot" reward.

What You'll Need to Train the Emergency Recall

  • High Value Treats: Use a treat that your dog considers the highest value. I recommend using liverwurst, cooked fish/fish skin, or tripe. Another good option is freeze-dried raw dog treats. The treat for the emergency recall should not be a regular training treat (and even better than most "high-value" dog training treats), but something they will only get when training this cue. Do not use this reward for anything other than when you are practicing the emergency recall.

  • Choose A Verbal Cue: Use a word that is heard very rarely or not at all in everyday life. It should be a word that is easy for you to yell loudly and one that you will remember in a moment of panic (which is when you'll be needing to use it!). Here are a few examples:

    • Use a dog whistle

    • Aquí (or other non-English words that mean come or here)

    • Kookooey

    • Howdy

    • Boomerang

How to Train an Emergency Recall 

1. Charge Your Verbal Cue

(In this example we’ll be using the word “Kookooey”.)

  • Start with your dog close to you and call out your emergency recall cue “Kookooey!”.

  • Immediately give your dog 30 seconds of jackpot reward. This means small bites of that highest value treat, one right after another. Pair this treating with over-the-top excitement and verbal praise.

  • Then give your release cue — “All done” or “Okay”. Wait about thirty seconds to a minute, then repeat.

  • Practice this 5 times a day for a week, or until your dog shows immediate response and anticipation at the word before moving on to step 2.


Recall Training Tips:

A dog is never too young or too old to learn this behavior, so start today!
You can move around while you charge (reinforce) your dog's cue, but you don't want your dog wandering too far away just yet.
We are building a strong foundation of: "Kookooey!" = the best thing ever for your dog! Just as in clicker training, where the clicker is charged to predict a treat, this word becomes a predictor for the highest value reward.


2. Add Distance

Once your dog has connected the word "Kookooey" to predicting an amazing reward, you want to start to add some distance before you give your dog the cue.

  • Start just a short distance away, about 6 feet. Say your verbal cue for the emergency recall. If you’ve been consistent in charging the cue, when they hear the word they should run over to you for their 30 seconds of reward!

  • Release them with their release cue, let them wander away and lose a bit of focus, then repeat.

  • Slowly work on adding more and more distance to the emergency recall. Don’t work too far away too quickly, as this is setting up the cue for failure. Start with about 6 feet (or the length of a leash), then add a few feet the next training session.


Training Tips:

If your dog doesn't respond, go back to step one and consider whether your dog has a strong association built, if you are too far away, or if there are too many distractions.

Mix up which side of the dog you are on when you give the cue; start in front, then move to one side, then give the cue when you're behind your dog. This will help your dog respond to the cue no matter where you are in relation to them.

As you add distance to this cue, keep distractions as low as possible at first. Practicing in your home on a quiet afternoon or evening and calling from a different room is a good way to practice distance for this cue.


3. Add Distractions

After getting your dog conditioned to the recall word and working on adding distance, you can start to practice around distractions.

  • Start with low-level distractions and make sure that you’re using the highest value reward, treating and praising for a continuous 30 seconds each time.

  • Don’t go to the off-leash dog park and wait until your dog is mid-playtime to practice this cue at first – that’s not setting your dog up for success. Start in a fully fenced yard, where your dog is off leash but has some distractions with different smells and noises, or use a long lead and practice in a small park or field. If you live near a busy road, attach your dog to their long lead for safety and control, and practice in front of your home to build a strong response in the real-life context.

  • Practice while out on walks when your dog is engrossed in a smell, then give the cue and reward.

  • Your tone: When you're practicing this cue, try to keep your tone of voice happy and your volume should be rather loud. Think about when you'll be using this cue in an emergency — you'll be a bit panicked as your dog takes off away from you, and if you've only ever practiced in a soft or quiet voice, your dog might not even hear you! A happy tone encourages your dog to come back to you for fun and rewards and can help keep you calm in an emergency situation.


4. Maintain the Cue

Now that you've worked on adding distance and distraction to your dog's emergency recall, you'll want to maintain the value of the word. You do not need to practice this cue as often as you did while first introducing it, but keep the power of that emergency word by randomly practicing it one or two times a week. You always need to have your high value reward ready for when you ask your dog for their emergency recall. I like to prepare my dog's emergency recall reward the night before I plan on practicing it, and then I can easily pull it out of the refrigerator the next day.

Do not overuse this cue! It is meant to be used in emergency situations only, and the word needs to retain its powerful charge for it to be reliable. If you do use it in an emergency where your dog does not receive the jackpot food reward, you do want to still reward with lots of high-energy praise and petting. Make sure your dog knows how amazing they are for running back to you when they heard their cue! Then spend the next couple of days re-charging your emergency recall cue, working through steps 1 through 3 as needed to make sure your dog still has a strong response and association to their word.


Tips to Encourage Your Dog to Come to You in Emergency Situations:

While you work on teaching your dog the emergency recall, you might need to get your dog to come back to you in a high-stress situation, if they door dash or you accidentally drop their leash while out on a walk. There are a few things you can try to entice them to come back towards you.

  1. Make a distinctive noise! Dogs are attracted to novel things, so if you make a lot of commotion and act super excited, they will want to come to check you out to see what all the fuss is about.

  2. Run the other direction or at an angle towards your dog. Many dogs love to play chase, so getting their attention with a noise and then running away from them might encourage them to chase you. Do not run straight towards your dog – they then become the thing you’re chasing and can turn this into a game of “catch me if you can.” Or if your dog is frightened, having someone running straight at them can be very scary and make them continue running away (towards danger).

  3. Fall down and do the “Dying Fly,” legs and arms straight up and moving around. This will be hard for your dog to ignore, since you’re down on their level and they’ll want to come to see if you’re okay and what the big deal is.

  4. Pretend you’ve found something and make a big deal about it! Pretend there's food on the ground and act like you're eating it. Your dog will want to come to investigate if they think you’ve found something that they should be involved in too.

Ear Cleaner Solution

Occasionally, our dogs ears get dirty and need to be cleaned.  For a simple home solution, use the following ingredients:

Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)

Powdered boric acid (If you can't find it on the shelves, ask your local pharmacist.)

White vinegar

Betadine antiseptic (or the generic version, known as Povidone-Iodine Solution) Please note: do not use "Betadine Scrub", use "Betadine Solution"

Directions for mixing the solution together, in the order listed:

Pour 6 ounces of isopropyl alcohol in to a plastic applicator bottle. Add 1/2 tablespoon of boric acid powder. Be careful not to get any boric acid on your skin or clothes. If you do, wash it off immediately. Add 2 ounces of white vinegar.

Shake the solution extremely well, until the boric acid powder is fully dissolved. Once the powder is dissolved, add one teaspoon of the Betadine antiseptic, and shake it up some more. Be careful not to get any Betadine on your skin or clothes. If you do, wash it off immediately.

Squirt the solution inside your dog's ear until the ear canal is completely full. Massage the outside of the ear to help slosh the cleaning solution around inside. Hold the dog still for about a minute.

If you get any of the ear cleaning solution on your skin, wash it off as soon as possible.

Be sure to shake the solution up really well before each and every time you use it. The boric acid has a tendency to settle at the bottom of the bottle. Store at room temperature.

Use the cleaning solution daily until you start to see some improvement. Gradually cut back to once per week when you are happy with the condition of the ear. When the ear seems completely free of infection, you can go two weeks between treatments.

Warning: Do not use this ear cleaning solution on dogs with ruptured ear drums, or on dogs with open sores or wounds in the ear area. An ear exam by a veterinarian is recommended prior to beginning treatment with this ear cleaning solution.

Inducing Vomiting

Frequently, dogs ingest items, chemicals or foods that have the potential to be dangerous or even toxic. If you see this ingestion, you may be able to avoid the potential danger by forcing your dog vomit. 

Inducing vomiting should be done only if instructed by your veterinarian. The procedure can be hazardous. We strongly encourage you to contact your family veterinarian or local veterinary emergency center for advice regarding the appropriateness of inducing vomiting for each specific incident. The item or substance ingested, the time and amount of ingestion, as well as the overall health of your dog should be considered prior to recommending the induction of vomiting.

Method to Induce Vomiting

Hydrogen Peroxide: 

Three percent hydrogen peroxide is quite effective in making dogs vomit. You must be sure to use three percent peroxide and not hair coloring strength peroxide. Despite the label indicating that hydrogen peroxide is toxic, it is safe to give to dogs for this purpose. It is considered toxic since it induces vomiting and therefore does not stay in the body.

The appropriate dose of hydrogen peroxide is one teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight. If you have an oral syringe, one teaspoon equals 5 cc or 5 ml. Once given, walk your dog around or gently shake the stomach area to mix the peroxide with the stomach contents. Vomiting should occur within 15 to 20 minutes. If no vomiting occurs, you can safely repeat the three percent hydrogen peroxide once. If it is still not effective, your dog may need to be seen by a veterinarian for stronger vomiting medication.

Once the hydrogen peroxide is given, it is important to watch your pet so that he does not re-ingest the substance. If there is concern about toxicity, collect and take a sample of the vomit to your veterinarian.

What Do You Do Following a Porcupine Attack?

As hard as it will be, don’t panic. Your first few actions following the attack are important.

  1. Get your dog away from the porcupine (they don’t need more quills).

  2. Be careful not to touch any quills yourself.

  3. Do not let your dog rub any area where the quills are embedded, and get to your nearest veterinarian immediately.

  4. That all sounds simple – NOT! Just do your best. The most important thing is to get to a veterinarian.


Do Not Attempt to Remove the Quills on Your Own

Not only is the process very painful for your dog, which puts you at risk of getting bitten, but it can also create significant complications for your dog. If the quill ends up breaking off in your dog’s skin, your dog will likely end up with an abscess. Broken quills swell and splinter. If multiple quills get left in the skin and abscesses develop, your dog can end up with a body-wide infection. This could be fatal.

Additionally, the quill can migrate deeper into the body and potentially pierce and damage not only vital organs but blood vessels as well. The sooner you get to a veterinarian, the better. The longer the quills are embedded, the more brittle and rigid they get. This can complicate their removal.


How Veterinarians Remove Porcupine Quills from Dogs

The veterinarian will need to heavily sedate or place your dog under general anesthesia to remove the quills. There are times when the quills are deeply embedded, that ultrasound may be necessary to locate the quills. Other times, especially if large areas are affected, quills have broken off, or if there was a delay in treatment, a CT scan is needed to ensure complete removal of all quills.

The length of time for removal and the difficulty of the removal will depend on the number of quills, the location of the quills, how many have been broken off, and the length of time the quills have been in the skin.

Follow your veterinarian's discharge instructions closely. Be sure to administer and finish all medications as they are prescribed. This will likely include antibiotics, pain medication, and possible wound flush or ointment. Be sure to monitor any incisions closely for redness, swelling, or discharge. If you notice any of these signs or your dog doesn't seem to be improving, contact your veterinarian.

Your dog will likely be painful and swollen for a few days following the procedure. Allow them plenty of peace and quiet and be sure they have a soft place to rest.

Since there may be surgical sites and sutures, it will likely be a 10 to 14 day recovery period. Do not bathe your dog until the sutures, if present, have been removed and you have approval from your veterinarian to do so.

Since it is possible that some quills could not be removed, monitor your dog closely for at least two weeks following the attack. Look for any redness, swelling, or painful locations on the skin.

Unfortunately, there are times some quills cannot be removed. This can be due to the fact that they were embedded too deep or they broke off and could not be found. This will require you to diligently monitor your dog, for at least two weeks following the attack, for any signs of infection or health issues. Some potential complications are as follows:

  • Deep tissue infections

  • Migrating quills – they can enter joints, eyes, brain, and other organs

  • Death


How to Protect Your Dog From Porcupines

Prevention is the key to protection. Many dogs are repeat offenders when it comes to porcupine curiosity or predation. Dogs are curious predators after all. But you can take steps to prevent encounters and teach your dog what to do instead when they see a porcupine.

  • Do not let your dog roam at dusk or dawn.

  • Do not let your dog go into areas with known porcupine dens. Porcupines tend to reuse the same den year after year, so if you've had them in your area before, you'll likely have them again the following year.

  • Keep your dog on a leash/harness while walking or hiking, especially in the woods or field edges. Remember, this is important during the summer months when days are longer.

  • If you live in porcupine country, teach your dog how to avoid porcupines — this can be done through positive reinforcement training.

  • Teach your dog an emergency recall behavior. While your dog may come when called for the most part with their regular cue, having an emergency recall cue can be especially beneficial for high distraction and dangerous moments, such as when your dog takes interest in a porcupine. 

Skunk Spray Removal


1 quart hydrogen peroxide

1/4 cup baking soda

2 teaspoons dish washing soap (liquid)


Thoroughly wet your smelly dog’s coat with water. Now, work the vinegar solution through the fur. Let the solution sit for about 5 minutes; then rinse thoroughly. Work carefully and be sure the solution doesn’t drip into your dog’s eyes (it would sting).

The quantities listed should make enough deskunking solution for a medium-size dog (30 to 50 pounds), so use less or more as needed for the size of your dog.

Baking soda neutralizes the smell, dishwashing liquid breaks up the skunk oil and the hydrogen peroxide bubbles the oils off the hair.

Treating Diarrhea

Nothing gets a pet owner moving faster than the preemptive sounds of their pet preparing to vomit or have diarrhea.

Diarrhea is the term used when your dog passes non-formed loose or watery stool more often and in larger amounts than they would normally defecate. It is a common condition that is a sign or symptom of other diseases or issues rather than a disease itself.

It can be the result of a minor condition, such as a dietary indiscretion, that only requires simple treatment for its resolution, or it can be the result of a serious illness, such as cancer, that requires more involved treatments.

Dogs can become dehydrated and develop electrolyte imbalances. Therefore knowing why your dog may have diarrhea and the possible cause helps you know when it is critical to seek medical care versus treating your dog at home.

How to Know When You Can Treat Diarrhea at Home

  1. Your dog is acting normally

    • normal energy

    • normal appetite

  2. No vomiting

  3. Your dog is up–to–date on their vaccines (such as vaccines for parvovirus or distemper virus)

  4. Your dog is a young adult (not very young or old)

  5. There are no pre-existing health issues such as Addison’s disease, kidney failure, cancer, etc.

How to Know When Diarrhea is a Medical Emergency

  1. You suspect your dog has ingested a toxin or poison 

  2. You suspect your dog has ingested a foreign body, such as a toy or clothes

  3. Your dog is low energy and may seem weak

  4. Loss of appetite

  5. Vomiting (typically more than once or any time water and/or food is consumed). Always contact a veterinarian if any blood is noted, even if they vomit only once. 

  6. Frequent bouts of diarrhea repeated over a couple-hour window of time

  7. The diarrhea has lasted more than 24 to 36 hours despite home remedies

  8. There is a lot of blood (red) in the poop – small spots of blood are not necessarily an emergency

  9. The stool is black and /or tarry

  10. Your dog is continually straining to poop and not much is coming out

  11. Your dog’s gums are pale, bluish, whitish, or gray in color

  12. Your dog’s stomach is painful (rapid panting, groaning, or avoids being touched) and bloated

  13. Your dog is passing worms in their stool or you see worms in their vomit

When in doubt, call your vet or an emergency hospital for advice.

How to Treat Your Dog's Diarrhea at Home

There are times when your dog may be off, and you can manage their diarrhea without a trip to the veterinarian.

If you have determined that it will likely be ok to try and “ride out” your dog’s diarrhea for 24 to 36 hours, then here are some options to help.


Just like with us, rest is important. Give your dog a quiet and comfortable place for them to recover. It is likely best to be a place close to a door to go outside and that has an easy-to-clean floor for those unfortunate poop accidents.


Ideally, fast your dog for 12 hours to allow their gastrointestinal tract to rest and recover. This means NO treats, regular meals, snacks – food of any kind.


It is critical that you maintain your dog’s hydration. During this period of time, you can give your dog rice water. The benefit of rice water over plain water is that it may help improve digestion, help alleviate gas and bloating, provides some beneficial minerals and the carbohydrates provide some energy.

You want to use good quality white rice (not minute rice). Brown rice is not recommended since it has too much fiber.

How to make rice water


  • 1 cup of White Rice

  • 4 Cups of Water


Boil 1 cup of white rice in 4 cups of water for 10 to 30 minutes (maybe longer) until the water turns a creamy white color. Remove the liquid and allow it to cool. Save the cooked rice for later use. Once cooled, give it to your dog as often as they will consume it.

Discontinue if your dog starts vomiting and contact your veterinarian. For those dogs not interested, you can add a couple of teaspoons of low sodium chicken broth powder or pet-safe bone broth (be sure it does not contain any onions or garlic).

Alternatives to rice water

If you find that rice water isn’t your dog’s thing, you can try clear, unflavored Pedialyte. Gatorade is not recommended because it is high in sugar, and that can cause further intestinal inflammation. There are electrolyte solutions made specifically for pets, as well.

After Fasting

Once you are past the first 12 hours of fasting, you can begin offering your dog small amounts of a bland, low-fat, and easily digestible diet.

Bland Diet Options

1. Plain, boiled, boneless, skinless chicken and rice (the leftover from the rice water).

2. Chicken or turkey baby food (be sure it does not contain onions or garlic)
3. There are prescription veterinary diets that work well as bland diet alternatives if cooking isn’t your thing. It is always helpful to regularly keep a couple of cans or packets at home.

Note: If your pet recovers and you have leftover dry GI food, you can keep it fresh by putting it in a Ziploc® bag and placing it in the freezer for emergency use.

How Long to Keep Your Dog on a Bland Diet

Generally, you will keep your dog on a bland diet for one or two weeks. During that time, continue feeding small amounts every 3 to 4 hours. If the diarrhea goes away, then over another one to two weeks, you will slowly transition them back to their regular dog food diet. Do not give treats or any other food than their regular dog food. Once they have been transitioned fully back to their regular dog food for a couple of weeks, then you can begin slowly offering extras such as their treats. 

If you switch back to your dog's regular food too quickly, and don't leave enough time for healing and reduction of inflammation, you could end up right back where you started.

Other Things That Can Help With Diarrhea

In addition to rest, fasting, and a bland diet, there are some other things you may find helpful in dealing with diarrhea issues at home.


Probiotics may be helpful when dealing with diarrhea. Since the digestive tract makes up about 60 to 80% of your pet’s immune system, keeping it healthy is important. Probiotics help support a healthy immune system by keeping the intestinal bacteria in good balance and aiding in digestion. You can try regular, unflavored, probiotic-rich yogurt (you want as low a sugar content as possible).


Fiber, such as pumpkin, has been found to help with some cases of diarrhea. It acts as a prebiotic because it stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria by lowering the pH and providing the nutrients they need. Additionally, it helps inhibit the harmful bacteria in the intestines. Always be sure that your dog has access to plenty of fresh water when giving them fiber supplements. In the case of stress-induced diarrhea, starting a fiber supplement a few days prior to the stressful event can help prevent the diarrhea from starting.

Over-the-Counter Medications and Why They Are Best to Avoid

You may be wondering why I have not mentioned over-the-counter (OTC) human medications, such as Kaopectate®, Pepto Bismol®, or Imodium®, for your pet. The reason being, depending on the cause of the diarrhea, these medications can do more harm than good. They should only be given if recommended by your dog’s veterinarian and only at the dose they advise.

These medications can be toxic to your dog, especially if dosed incorrectly. Pepto Bismol’s and Kaopectate’s active ingredient is bismuth subsalicylate. This ingredient is a derivative of salicylic acid or aspirin. If your dog gets the wrong dose, toxicity can result.

If your dog has intestinal bleeding that you are unaware of, bloody vomit and diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weakness may result. These medications may also affect platelet function, which can affect blood clotting times. When blood does not clot, bleeding continues, which can lead to other issues. If given with any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as Rimadyl®, DeramaxxTM, etc., there is an increased risk of intestinal ulcers or perforation. It can cause your dog’s stool to look blackish.

Blackish stool in dogs is referred to as melena (digested blood in stool) which can indicate serious medical conditions. This can make diagnosing certain medical issues difficult and possibly add the need for more costly tests. Lastly, the tablet form of the anti-inflammatory will appear radio-opaque (white) on x-rays. This may appear as a metallic foreign body and result in unnecessary surgery or other treatments.

Why You Should Use Extreme Caution With Imodium® 

Imodium (which goes by the generic name Loperamide) is a synthetic opioid. All opioids are known to cause constipation. They work by slowing down gut motility which allows for more fluid and salts to be drawn back into the body system.

Imodium, when administered at safe levels, is not helpful for pain and, therefore, will not relieve any abdominal discomfort your dog may have. While, in some cases, Imodium may help, there are others where it can cause potentially serious side effects. Some of these side effects include constipation, sedation, bloating, and even pancreatitis.

What If Home Treatment Doesn't Work?

When in doubt, when concerned, or when the diarrhea extends beyond a day or two, despite your best at-home efforts, your best bet is to have your pet — and their poo — evaluated by your veterinarian. No amount of internet searching and no number of trial and error home remedy attempts can compete with the comprehensive history taking, thorough physical examination, diagnostic testing, and the ability to prescribe safe and effective medications or supplements that only your veterinarian can offer.

Dehydration is a Big Concern

Diarrhea causes dehydration because your dog is losing more fluids than they can take in. This lack of fluid balance prevents their bodies from functioning properly. 

Diarrhea Can Cause Nutrient Deficiency

The small intestine is where dogs absorb most of their nutrients from what they ingest. Therefore, when the cause of diarrhea relates to the small intestines, your dog is missing out on a lot of the nutrients they would normally gain from their food. In addition to diarrhea, issues of the small intestines usually cause vomiting (increasing the risks of dehydration) and weight loss (because of the lack of nutrients).

Why Dogs Get Diarrhea

There can be many causes of diarrhea in dogs. Typically, dogs will vomit or have diarrhea due to:

  • Eating something toxic (grapes, chocolate, human medications, etc.) or a foreign object (part of a dog toy, piece of a stick, underwear, and socks are common culprits)

  • Too many table scraps or fatty foods like grease, bacon, etc. can also upset your dog's stomach

  • Food allergy

  • Rapid food change (switching between types or brands of food too quickly)

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

  • Intestinal parasites

  • Intestinal cancer

  • Metabolic disease: kidney disease, pancreatitis, thyroid disease, and others

  • Viral or bacterial conditions, like hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE)

  • Reaction to medications

When fecal matter moves through the intestines faster than normal, and there is decreased absorption of water, nutrients, and electrolytes, the result is diarrhea. It is a symptom of diseases or other issues like toxins, foreign body ingestion, etc., that affect the small intestines, large intestines, or other organs outside the gastrointestinal tract.

There are different characteristics for when diseases cause small intestinal diarrhea versus large intestinal diarrheas, and the diagnosis and treatment for both are generally different. Here are some details to pay attention to when you suspect your dog has diarrhea.

Characteristics of Small Intestinal Diarrhea:

  • Large amounts of stool

  • Mild increase in frequency (3 to 5 bowel movements per day)

  • No straining or difficulty pooping

  • Often accompanied by vomiting

  • Pets often lose weight

  • Excess gas may be noted

  • Prominent gut sounds may be heard

  • If blood is present, it is digested, and the stool will look black or tarry


Small intestinal diarrhea can be caused by any of the following:

  1. Canine parvovirus

  2. Canine coronavirus

  3. Canine distemper

  4. Salmonella

  5. Clostridia

  6. Campylobacter

  7. Intestinal parasites

  8. Giardia

  9. Foreign bodies such as sticks, bones, etc. that get stuck in the intestines

  10. Inflammatory bowel disease

  11. Dietary indiscretion

  12. Sudden changes in diet

  13. Food allergies

  14. Toxins

  15. Intestinal tumors


Characteristics of Large Intestinal Diarrhea:

  • Small amounts of stool

  • Increased frequency of pooping – greater than 5 times per day

  • Straining is noted

  • If blood is present, it is bright red

  • Stool may contain mucus

  • Normally vomiting is absent

  • Pets normally do not lose weight


Large Intestinal diarrhea can be caused by the following:

  1. Stress

  2. Whipworms

  3. Polyps

  4. Inflammatory bowel disease

  5. Cancer

  6. Colonic ulcers

As mentioned, there are organs outside the intestinal tract that can potentially cause diarrhea. Diseases that affect the kidneys, liver, and pancreas can all cause diarrhea.

It is important to regularly (several times per week) monitor your dog’s bathroom habits – even if they are shy about it! This helps you know what is normal and abnormal for them. It will alert you to problems sooner – which may avoid a vet visit. These key pieces of information – change in pooping habits, changes in poop color, firmness, amount, etc. – are very valuable when providing information to your dog’s veterinarian. It may save you a lot of time and possibly eliminate a lot of extra testing.

GSP Vet & Health Care

. . . Choose your vet as wisely as you would choose a pediatrician!

Choosing a veterinarian for your new GSP puppy should entail just as much care as choosing a new pediatrician for your child or a new General Practitioner for yourself. Ask friends for referrals, visit vets in their offices, do research on the web, interview vets by phone, etc. before making a decision.

Pay attention to the demeanor of the vet in question with his or her clients--both canine as well as human. Have they been in practice long? Have a long list of clients? What services can they offer in their office? (Can they do x-rays and labs there, or must your pet be referred elsewhere?, etc.) Is the office clean and updated? Are the "sick" animals kenneled in the same area with the well animals? Does the vet offer boarding in his or her clinic? What type of health care does the vet provide-- traditional, homeopathic, chiropractic, holistic, trauma, etc.? Is the vet primarily a large animal specialist (for cows & horses, etc.), or a small animal practitioner (dogs, cats, etc.)? Does he or she breed, show, judge or hunt? Belong to clubs or professional affiliations? Does he or she have experience with sporting breeds? GSP's specifically? Versatile breeds in general?

Your pup should be taken to the vet shortly after you bring him or her home for a brief check-up. Take along your health records that you were provided with, which should outline what healthcare your pup has received, and when. Your vet will then be able to recommend a continuing schedule that's right for you and your pet.

Use your judgment for when to take your GSP to the vet--annually for vaccine boosters, quarterly for stool checks, anytime vomiting, fever or diarrhea persists for an extended period of time, when your pet is in an accident, requires stitches, has unexpected weight loss or gain, extraordinary thirst, hunger, etc.

Remember: it's always better to be safe than sorry, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. . .


In order to learn how to choose dog food, you need to understand a few key points. While it’s not quite as simple as buying the most expensive food to ensure that you are buying the best food for your dog, there is a lot of truth to the idea that you get what you pay for with dog food. Price is often an indication of quality. However, there is no need for you to pay for food your dog doesn’t need or to pay more than you have to pay. The cheapest food in the grocery store aisle is virtually guaranteed to be made from ingredients you do not want to feed your dog. If you feed your dog this food you can count on bad skin, greasy coat, and eventual health problems. But, don’t let the price tag of the higher quality dog food scare you. At the cash register you might balk at the higher costs and wonder if it’s even worth it. However, here are a few reasons why the more expensive dog foods are worth it:

You’ll Use Less: When you choose dog food of a higher quality your dog is able to digest more nutrients from less food. 

You’ll Have Fewer Health Issues:  With better quality foods you can expect your dog to have good skin, a shiny coat, bright eyes, good energy, small, firm stools, and to feel good.

Another aspect to choosing the right dog food is to know what the ingredients are. It’s best to take 30 seconds to look at the label. You’ll be able to tell very quickly if the dog food is high quality or not.

The Top 5 Ingredients Are What Matter Most

There should be a meat item within the first three ingredients and preferably as the top ingredient. There are 3 different types of meat products, however, and it's important to know the differences:

Meat By-Products

Meat by-product basically means any part of an animal can be used. So, for instance, if the label says Chicken By-Product, that means anything can be included like feathers, beaks, feet, eyeballs, intestines, etc. They can also include animals which are very sick or animals which died before slaughtering. It’s the leftovers and the garbage nobody wants.

Meat “Meal”

Meat items labeled as “meal” can only include actual meat. Unlike meat by-products, they can’t use other parts of the animal like beaks, intestines, horns, feathers, etc. Meals consist entirely of meat, skin, and bone. The reason dog food contains meat meal is because it’s a condensed meat which make it very high in protein and animal fat. Meat meals are very nutritious and beneficial for dogs. 

Whole Meats

If you’re in the mood to spoil your dog, you can find something with whole meats. These types of meats will simply be labeled as chicken, beef, lamb, salmon, etc. They may also say something like Fresh Chicken or Whole Chicken. This is the premium stuff and may be human grade meat. The main difference with whole meat is it can contain up to 70% moisture before cooking whereas meal has the moisture removed before being processed into kibble. That means, whole meat contains less nutrients than a meat meal.

While the first 5 ingredients don’t have to be only meat and likely won’t be, they should consist mostly of meat products and the other ingredients should be free of corn. If there is a carbohydrate this high on the list, it’s better for it to be something such as potato (especially sweet potato), oatmeal, millet, amaranth, or rice (except brewers rice). These carbohydrates are much easier for a dog to digest than wheat or corn products.

Dog Food Ingredients To Stay Away From


Your dog will do better if you keep the grains and other carbohydrates in the low to moderate range. 

Whether you choose to feed your dog a grain-free food or not is up to you but, if you do, you will probably find that there are other carbohydrates in the food to make up for the lack of traditional grains, if for no other reason than the fact that extruded dog food (and that covers just about all kibble food) requires some grain/cereal/carbohydrate in the food to help it form a paste so it can go through the machinery. From a nutritional viewpoint, it’s also a good idea for your dog to have some complex carbohydrates in his digestive tract so he can digest them slowly and continue to feel full after eating.

Meat By-Product

Meat by-product can include bones, blood, intestines, lungs, ligaments, heads, feet, and feathers. Your dog would probably enjoy eating these parts, but it’s not what you want him to eat.

Animal Fat

This is a very generic term for mammal or poultry fat that has been rendered from miscellaneous sources. Again, you want fat, meat, and other ingredients to be as specific as possible.

Food Fragments

This usually consists of low quality leftovers from some other types of food manufacturing processes such as leftover waste rice which was used in the production of alcohol products. You also want to avoid any labels which say potato product, middlings/mids, mill run, cereal food fines, corn bran, oat hulls, rice hulls, peanut hulls, distillers grain fermentation solubles, brewers rice, and cellulose (ground up wood particles).

Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

Not only do you want to avoid sugar, but you also want to avoid cane molasses, corn syrup, sorbitol, sucrose, fructose, glucose, ammoniated glycyrrhizin, propylene glycol, and xylitol. This is used to make food more tasty for your dog. They add additional calories unnecessarily and have absolutely no nutritional value. 

Animal Digest

Unspecified animal parts are cooked down into a broth and sprayed onto food or sometimes mixed right in. Avoid it.

Artificial Coloring

Food coloring, including blue 2, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, and titanium dioxide should be avoided. They are unnecessary as your dog doesn’t care what size, shape, or color the food is. The coloring is added to be more appealing to the human.

Hydrochloric Acid

Some dog food companies use this in their food to help dogs digest their food better. Hydrochloric Acid is produced naturally in a dogs stomach to break down food. Any food which needs to have hydrochloric acid added in addition to what the dog naturally produces should be a clue that it’s a terrible food! Do not purchase any dog food containing hydrochloric acid

You now have the knowledge to choose dog food with confidence! Want some recommendations? Well, we feed all our dogs Native dog food. We've found that it performs very well for the breeding and hunting stages of our dogs, as well as for the puppies. Native has developed NutriVantage® Nutrition Optimizer®, a research-driven food supplement designed to help animals obtain optimum nutrition from their diet. 

NutriVantage for dogs formula is made with their exclusive nutritional components that consist of a blend of organic macromolecules, trace minerals, antioxidants, and chelating agents that provide optimal nutritional supplementation to your animal’s digestive tract. Native then take these exclusive components and have their Ph. D. nutritional staff add them to their proprietary specie specific dog formulas to optimize the nutritional absorption in your dog’s digestive tract.  This means that with every feeding of research-driven NutriVantage for dogs formula, your animals are getting a food supplement that supports your dog’s precise nutritional needs.

Together, the ingredients in NutriVantage may help support normal digestive activity and overall health. Maintaining a healthy digestive tract environment is known to help support the immune system. That means you can relax in knowing your dog is getting the needed nutritional support to stay healthy for a lifetime of companionship and performance.

Bio Sensor Method

The U.S. Military in their canine program developed a method that still serves as a guide to what works. In an effort to improve the performance of dogs used for military purposes, a program called "Bio Sensor" was developed. Later, it became known to the public as the "Super Dog" Program. Based on years of research, the military learned that early neurological stimulation exercises could have important and lasting effects. Their studies confirmed that there are specific time periods early in life when neurological stimulation has optimum results. The first period involves a window of time that begins at the third day of life and lasts until the sixteenth day. It is believed that because this interval of time is a period of rapid neurological growth and development, and therefore is of great importance to the individual.

The "Bio Sensor" program was also concerned with early neurological stimulation in order to give the dog a superior advantage. Its development utilized six exercises, which were designed to stimulate the neurological system. Each workout involved handling puppies once each day. The workouts required handling them one at a time while performing a series of five exercises. Listed in order of preference, the handler starts with one pup and stimulates it using each of the five exercises. The handler completes the series from beginning to end before starting with the next pup. The handling of each pup once per day involves the following exercises:

  •  Tactile stimulation - holding the pup in one hand, the handler gently stimulates (tickles) the pup between the toes on any one foot using a Q-tip. It is not necessary to see that the pup is feeling the tickle. Time of stimulation 3 - 5 seconds.

  • Head held erect - using both hands, the pup is held perpendicular to the ground, (straight up), so that its head is directly above its tail. This is an upwards position. Time of stimulation 3 - 5 seconds

  • Head pointed down - holding the pup firmly with both hands the head is reversed and is pointed downward so that it is pointing towards the ground. Time of stimulation 3 - 5 seconds

  • Supine position - hold the pup so that its back is resting in the palm of both hands with its muzzle facing the ceiling. The pup while on its back is allowed to sleep struggle. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds.

  • Thermal stimulation - use a damp towel that has been cooled in a refrigerator for at least five minutes. Place the pup on the towel, feet down. Do not restrain it from moving. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds.

These five exercises will produce neurological stimulation, none of which naturally occur during this early period of life. Experience shows that sometimes pups will resist these exercises, others will appear unconcerned. In either case, a caution is offered to those who plan to use them. Do not repeat them more than once per day and do not extend the time beyond that recommended for each exercise. Over stimulation of the neurological system can have adverse and detrimental results.

These exercises impact the neurological system by kicking it into action earlier than would be normally expected. The result being an increased capacity that later will help to make the difference in its performance. Those who play with their pups and routinely handle them should continue to do so because the neurological exercises are not substitutions for routine handling, play socialization or bonding.

Five benefits have been observed in canines that were exposed to the Bio Sensor stimulation exercises:

  • Improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate)

  • Stronger heart beats,

  • Stronger adrenal glands,

  • More tolerance to stress

  • Greater resistance to disease

In tests of learning, stimulated pups were found to be more active and were more exploratory than their non- stimulated littermates over which they were dominant in competitive situations.

Puppy Supply List:

It’s the most wonderful day of the year! Not Christmas, or New Years”’ or even your birthday although any of them might coincide. It’s the day you get to bring home your new puppy!

You picked out the pup and did all of your research. You’ve got new toys and a collar with their name in shiny new letters on a tag. You’ve booked an appointment at the vet and figured out the best place to take him/her to play. Everything is ready for your new furry friend to come to his/her new home!

This may be a time of planning and expectation for you but for a puppy, it’s all very new and while exciting, can also be very scary. Never fear! There are lots of things you can do like his new person and family to help ease the puppy into this transition and help him (and you) adjust to his new life!

Having a dog is one of the most rewarding and sometimes frustrating experiences. Hopefully, this new puppy checklist helps you feel a little bit more prepared for your new puppy or dog:

  • Food: Every dog needs food! Start your puppy on the food they’re used to eating and gradually change brands (if you want to) to avoid upsetting their stomach.

  • Bowls: Your puppy is going to need something to eat that food from. You’ll need two bowls, one for food and one for water. 

  • Collar and leash: Your pup might not be able to go on walks until fully vaccinated, but you’ll want a soft collar and leash to get them used to it around the house and in the garden.

  • ID tags: Even though your puppy is microchipped, it’s always best to have ID tags, too. Plus, in some areas they’re required by law. These should have your name, address and phone number on, plus your dog’s name if you want.

  • Harness: Many owners are now choosing harnesses over regular collars, which can damage a dog’s neck if they pull on the leash. Something to think about.

  • Bedding: Your pup will need a comfortable bed to call their own. You can decide whether to choose a puppy-sized one or one that they can grown into.

  • Crate: If you decide to crate train your dog, you’ll need an appropriately sized crate. To avoid buying more than one crate, you can get one big enough to fit your adult GSP and make it puppy-sized using dividers.

  • Poop bags: You’re going to need a lot of these, not only from when your puppy starts going on walks, but right away, to clean up your garden and any little accidents around the house.

  • Toys: You’ll want to get a range of toys to keep your puppy entertained. Chew toys are essential to help direct chewing away from your belongings. Balls to play fetch and treat-dispensing toys are also nice to have. Choose appropriately-sized toys that aren’t small enough to lodge in your puppy’s throat.


Register Your Microchip

​AKC- Register your


Northland Dog Supply -


Inukshuk Dog Food -

Native Dog Food -

Perfection Kennels GSP Training DVD - 

Gun Dogs Online Magazine - 

Bird Dog and Retriever News -

German Shorthaired Pointing Club of America - 

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association - 

Ruffed Grouse Society - 

Pheasants Forever - 

Quails Unlimited - 

National Bird Hunters Association -

Located just north of Green Bay, WI, we have been specializing in the care, training, standards and love of the German Shorthaired Pointer since 1999.  A pup purchased from us will fit your lifestyle both in the home and hunting aspects. We guarantee all our AKC pups, for both health, and hunt. 

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