Dog Owners: Getting Back to Basics

Dog Owners: Getting Back to Basics

Have you ever noticed that once you get your pet’s unwanted behavior fixed, it doesn’t last that long?  And, you can’t figure out why?  If you’re in this camp of people (we’ve been there, too) scratching your heads trying to figure out why your dog went back to his old, bad habits, then we may have some tips to help you get him back on track.

1. Exercise:  Exercise is the first—and crucial—ingredient of a healthy dog recipe that can’t be overlooked and must be adjusted to accommodate your specific dog’s needs.  All dogs are different on their exercise needs, and not all dogs have the same energy level.  Therefore, if you have two dogs, one may be more energetic than the other requiring a different and/or stronger exercise routine. You may need to try a few things before you find out exactly what works for your dog, i.e., how long to walk them, if you need to not just walk but run them, if you need to bike them, etc.

A.  Questions to ask yourself


  • Are you giving your dog daily, adequate exercise for his energy level?
  • On top of daily walks, are you incorporating any breed exercises in his daily exercise routine?


Ein and Roscoe, both herding dogs, love to play Fetch

Just a few examples of breed exercises are:


  • Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Spaniels:  Fetch in or out of the water; swimming.  During the exercise of playing fetch, make sure that your dog brings you the toy, stick or whatever you threw for him.  Have him sit calmly before you throw it again (no barking allowed as barking isn’t a calm behavior).  Why?  Because you’re working on draining his mental energy as well.
  • German Shepherds, Huskies, Malamutes:  Have them wear a backpack bringing you something (they could be carrying water bottles in it, treats for them, etc.) every few minutes for a duration of whatever is appropriate for your particular dog’s energy level, age, health, etc. (after they’ve walked and/or ran).  You can also harness them to a wagon for helping you with yard work by pulling the wagon filled with gardening tools and supplies.


2. Rules and Boundaries:  This is an important step that often gets overlooked.  In everything we do as dog owners, we must always be their calm, supportive leader.  And, as their leader, we need to always be consistent in teaching and enforcing the rules and limitations.

Dogs size us up literally in seconds.  They know–fast–whether or not you’re a leader or a follower.  If you’re currently a follower and your dog is dominant over you, this is something you can (and should) rectify.  No worries!

Just remember that a dog feels at peace when all of his needs are met (not just the love and attention that we humans love to give our animals).

3. Affection: This is the ingredient, in our dog care recipe, that is often out of place. Make sure that you’re only rewarding (this is what affection is to a dog–a reward) your dog for good behavior and when they’re in a calm state. Whatever actions they are displaying at the time you’re giving them affection will only exacerbate whatever they’re displaying the moment before you gave them the affection. Hence, if you’re petting your dog when he/she is scared, you are only telling them that it’s okay to feel that way, which will make their fear grow stronger instead of dissipate (also, try to not say “it’s okay” when they’re scared).

Kit, a great dog teacher

[pullquote_right]A dog’s language is still the same no matter if they’re running with a human pack or in the wild as dogs.[/pullquote_right]

Important to note, if you maintain a consistent, daily routine with your dogs, more often than not, the basics alone will solve most behavioral issues.

Material Suggestion:  Print out a weekly calendar to log how much exercise you gave your dog each day.  You can also journal changes in their behavior and the steps you’re doing to correct bad behavior.

Happy journey with your pup!

Training Tool: Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray

Have you ever had a puppy that liked to use you as a chew toy or use your arm as a navigational source for directing you to their particular problem at hand?  We have.  Years ago in 1995, we brought home our sweet boy, Phoenix, and his methodology for getting us to address his immediate concerns was in the form of the latter:  Leading us.

Phoenix was a soulful, intelligent wolfdog who loved to show us everything and if we were too busy at the time to stop what we were doing to go scout the source of his problem at the time, he had a difficulty waiting on us.  Therefore, his tactic was to show us what was going on by leading us by the forearm.  Intelligent on his behalf?  Yes.  Wise to let it continue?  No.  Why?  Because it was a bad habit to allow as acceptable behavior for obvious reasons.  Not to mention, I bruised easily and going to the bank in the dead of summer (here in the valley, the temps get around 110 degrees some days) with bruises all over my forearms had many an eye quietly shifting the blame to my poor, unsuspecting husband.  Of course, wearing long-sleeved shirts during summer was out of the question.  So, it was time to act on the problem.

We had Phoenix for a couple of weeks before he had his surgery to remove his dew claws and get neutered.  When he came home, the veterinarian had recommended we purchase a bottle of Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray to keep him from chewing on the bandages around his feet.  Since the solution wasn’t supposed to be harmful if swallowed, I called my Vet and asked him that if I used the solution as a training agent by spraying Phoenix directly in the mouth (not a full-blown, all-out spray, but a light tap of spray), would it harm him?  My Vet said “no”.  Hence, the training began.

It didn’t take long for Phoenix to understand the concept that grabbing was not allowed.  I think it took literally two times of me using that bottle on him for him to completely stop.  Afterwards, if he was doing something unacceptable, depending on what he was doing would determine the type of correction but if it was something that warranted the bottle coming out, I would tell him “et-et” and just show him the bottle.  His ears went back, he laid down and immediately stopped what he was doing.

I worked with him to bark if there was something that needed my immediate attention, and he did.  Sometimes, he would come and paw me, give a grunt (he was part Malamute so all of you Malamute owners, you know their “speak” and know where I’m coming from) and as I got up to investigate, he would lead the way to the source of the problem, which was generally one of my kids getting into trouble or someone around the property line that was a stranger.

Since the business opened, when I’m working with mouthy pooches, I advise their owners on the destructive behavior (this behavior transcends from human to object to other animals, too, so it’s a good thing to get a handle on as soon as you can recognize it) and to use Bitter Apple Spray with a calm but commanding presence to correct the behavior.

It’s on our list of demonstrating the training technique in video format as soon as possible so keep watching the site for it.  I’m hoping it won’t take too long for us to get it created and uploaded but it really depends on the amount of time we have and how busy we are.


Phoenix when he was older

We miss you!

Enjoy your training and have fun with your pup!

The Christmas Tree Crashers

Some animals can be more than intrigued with Christmas trees and all of the glittery, shiny balls that adorn them.  With this being said, it is asked, “Are these special little trinkets that we don our trees truly harmful to our pets?”  The answer is, yes.  They are actually.

If you think about it, Christmas is full of things we use for decorations that are right up an animal’s alley in the way of toys.  We use garland, tinsel, pine-smelling this and pine-smelling that, things that jingle, things that jangle, bells, things that squeak like mice and so on.  It’s a pet’s “Graceland” to be surrounded by so many wonderful things!  So, what can we as pet owners do if the furry members of our family refuse to leave the tree alone?  Make it pet-friendly!

Below are just a few suggestions (please feel free to post your suggestions as well at the bottom of this post!):

  • Avoid using the little wire hooks (ornament hangars) and instead use the fabric loops that are already built-in to the ornament.  The wire hooks are nasty little guys when it comes to having them around pets. Think of these things as fish hooks because they can have the same damaging consequences
  • Use fabric ornaments and not plastic or glass, which can break in lots of many little pieces if the pets knock them off the trees;
  • Decorate the lower part of the tree and keep the decorations about 2/3 of the way up and higher.  At least if the decorations are higher, you may be able to grab your pet before they capture an ornament
  • Try and avoid using tinsel or garland, which is extremely hazardous to cats and dogs especially if ingested (garland can cause intestinal obstructions in animals)
  • For those persistent fur-kids that refuse to surrender on pursuing the items in the tree, you can place scat mats down on the floor by the tree 

Finally, keep one eye and one ear open at all times if you have indoor pets.  The trees alone (real or artificial) are toxic in and of themselves if ingested.

A great source for more information can be found on

Merry Christmas and here’s to a very memorable year of decorating your Christmas tree, if you choose to have one!

HomeoPet Nose Relief for URI Symptoms

We have it on good authority from a dear client of ours that HomeoPet Nose Relief works wonders at alleviating upper respiratory infection symptoms allowing her cat to function much easier.  So, we’re trying it for one of our older cat who recently has developed a cough and is sneezing.

If you’re interested in trying it out for your pets, you can purchase it on Amazon where the product boasts some favorable reviews.  Let us know how it worked for you by leaving a comment below.

Our Protocol for Dogs with Anxiety

Oftentimes, we have dogs stay with us that suffer from Anxiety in one form or another.  In lieu of this, we get asked what our protocol is for helping these animals overcome their anxiety when they’re staying with us so we thought we would address this question and let you know what steps we take to create a calm, balanced environment for them.

First, it’s important to note that each and every dog is different; they don’t all respond to the exact same protocol for establishing a calm, secure state but majority of them do.  And, in some severe cases, our methods only substantially ease the anxiety (referring to cases where the dog is more than likely “clinically” anxious), not completely remove it.

Secondly, this article refers to dogs that are not “red” cases; they do not have a bite history as we do not board or provide daycare for dogs suffering from Dog or Fear Aggression.

Quick tip:  It doesn’t matter if you know the background of the dog (referring to rescues predominantly here in this statement) or not.  You treat the symptoms and what you do know—always moving forward.

The following is a pretty standard set of principles that we follow for the first 24-hours that a dog is with us who is suffering from severe anxiety (Separation Anxiety or otherwise).  Usually in these cases, there are elements of fear also mixed in with the anxiety symptoms, i.e., trying to back out of their collar, sitting by the front door while shaking, and running in the backyard while looking for a way out.

Always establish trust and leadership

The dog is tethered to one of us for the majority of the 24-hours.  Where the person goes, the dog goes.  However, the dog never leads the person.  The person is always in charge of the dog and leading the dog as its leader, correcting any anxious body language (before it has the chance to escalate to a more noticeable level such as whining, pacing, etc.).


An emphasis is put on plenty of exercise from the structured leash walk that meets the energy level and physical condition of the dog to breed exercises (before and/or after the walk).  Draining the physical energy greatly enables the dog to psychologically calm down and ultimately hear you; they no longer have so much pent-up energy which causes frustration for them (think of how you get when you get “cabin fever”…same analogy here 😉

Establish Rules and Boundaries

This must be done immediately (while they’re tethered with us) and consistently enforced.  For example, the dog is given a job and is always working on some physical and psychological level.  This is one of the “rules”.  You will earn play time, or you will earn food…everything is earned, i.e., the dogs sit calmly before their food dish is put down.

Power of the Pack

Dogs are the best teachers!  Having other balanced dogs around, helps achieve balance for the unbalanced ones.  As a pack, we give them commands to follow such as “sit”, “down”, “stay”, etc.  Just reinforcing these simple commands keeps their attention on us as their leader, further establishes leadership with them, and aids in draining energy or negative feelings (anxiety, frustration, fear).

These few steps are involved and require a lot of patience and time.  However, this area is usually where we shine and exactly why people choose to bring their dog to us for our style of boarding or daycare.  It’s also important to note that due to the amount of one-on-one attention some dogs may need, we only take one “hard case” at a time.

Bullysticks: The Bomb

The preferred chew snack at KYPSAH is the bullystick.  For dogs that have a hard time digesting rawhides or real bones, most all dogs never seem to be bothered by the beloved bullystick.

Where do we get ours?  Costco.

After the pack’s morning exercise, and subsequent breed exercises, the dogs are tired.  This is a good time to give them a chew stick to chew on.  It becomes a treat for working hard during exercise.

The Power of the Pack

Dogs walk best when they walk in groups–not all dogs mind you, but most.  If you have a dog that just has zero interest in walking, add another dog to the mix.  Take a friend’s dog out with you and your dog and see if this helps motivate your dog to walk.

In the picture, Ein and Lanai are walking together.  They both enjoy each other’s company.

Paw Prints Points: April 2011 Edition

Welcome Friends!

Despite April 15, this month is a great month!  Everything is in bloom, the weather is gorgeous, the grass is a saturated, emerald green color, and all of the animals are ecstatic with the mild temperatures.


For the love of cats


Dogs on the move


Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge

In an effort to showcase a place online that has been helping thousands of grieving pet owners for years now, we introduce you to Rainbow Bridge:  An online community dedicated to helping pet owners get through the loss of their beloved pets by their mutual love for animals.

The founder of Rainbow Bridge, Ginny Brancato, wanted a place to share her pet’s story, as well as, help others.   So, she founded Rainbow Bridge.  It’s a place dedicated to pet lovers all around the world who need a central place to meet and share their grief.  You can dedicate a poem or story to your pet, thereby allowing others to have a glimpse of the character and person your pet was.  The step to your heart created by your pet’s eulogy, furnishes your new-found friends on Rainbow Bridge, a solid step that they can take in order to get to know you and your beloved pet who crossed over.

When your loneliness is at its most palpable, Rainbow Bridge is the place that can reduce its pulse.

If you aren’t going through a pet loss at the moment, consider yourself fortunate.  For every day with the ones we love is nothing short of a gift from God.  And, though you may have your pet by your side this very hour, consider logging on to Rainbow Bridge to help others who just need to talk to someone because they have lost their dear friend.

We thank Rainbow Bridge for providing such a warm, inviting place where anyone can go to get through their heart’s winter storm.


If you’re going to be traveling with your pet soon, a great little “tool” to take with you is an emergency kit.

You can either buy the kits already fashioned together with everything you need (a huge variety of pet kits can be found here, or you can simple create one yourself.

If you decide to design one yourself, here’s a link to  useful materials that you will want to make sure you include

Additional items we believe you need to include in your kit (we couldn’t find these items listed in the About’s Vet Medicine link above) are as follows:


  • A current copy of your pet’s vaccination records (especially dogs)
  • Reflective devices such as reflective collars and leashes just in case something happens at night
  • At least two days worth of medication if your pet is on such
  • A toy for your pet to keep his/her attention on something positive and to reduce their pent-up energy (by playing). For dogs, a tennis ball would be a good thing to have in there as an example. And, for cats, a laser pointer for cats would be great.


Having this kit, and written emergency instructions or booklet straight from a veterinarian, is like having your veterinarian in your back pocket for when emergencies arise.  Of course, this kit doesn’t substitute the need for seeking veterinary care but, in most cases, it will provide you with tools to address emergencies head-on until you can get your pet to a veterinarian.

Pack Style Tip: If you’re creating your own pack, make sure to check out packs that you can carry on your back or waist. The little bags with handles are great but they’re not so convenient when you’re on extended dog hikes (the type of hike where it doesn’t warrant carrying a full backpack but long enough to where carrying a little bag with two handles would become annoying). This tip is just from personal experience over the years.

Happy Traveling!


We're Competing badge

We can’t believe it but it’s that time of year when KCRA starts their A-List Competition. This competition involves businesses in and around the Sacramento-area. You–as the voter–are able to choose your favorite business from any category listed, so make sure to get to KCRA’s website to vote for your favorite businesses. And, if you’re so inclined, please take a moment to vote for us KYPSAH on KCRA not because we’re asking you to, but only if you believe us to be worthy of winning this competition based on our service to you and your fur-kids.

For those of you who do decide to vote for us, we are incredibly honored and sincerely thank you from the bottom of our hearts!


We have a great time at Easter with our pets!  Though egg-hunting is a special time for kids, it can also be a special time for our furry companions, too.  Of course, dressing up as a bunny is completely optional…hehe.

Here are just a few activity ideas that you can do with your cats or dogs.


  • 1. Just like kids, fill a few plastic eggs with treats and hide the eggs. You’ll have a great time watching them scout them out.
  • 2. Instead of hiding just the plastic eggs alone, you can hide them in an Easter basket that they have to find. When they find their basket, they find their treats, toys, etc.
  • 3. Carve out some time to take a nice stroll with your dogs or special lap-time with your cats.
  • 4. Spend some quality time with your pet and create a new Easter tradition for your furry family companions.
  • 5. If you have children, it’s fun to have the pets involved in the egg-hunt, too. You could have a competition on who finds the most eggs: Your pet(s) or your children 😉



Oftentimes, we pet owners spend a great deal of money trying to get our dogs to eat. We buy them every pet food known to mankind, and even cook their food.  However, they still won’t eat.  Here are a few suggestions that we’ve found helpful in turning your photosynthetic dog into a four-legged eating machine (including our own over the years).

1. If at all possible, exercise your dogs before feeding them.

If you don’t have the time to walk them, or the weather is too bad, consider purchasing a cheap but sturdy treadmill.  A good 20-minutes on the treadmill (the time and speed will be contingent upon your dog’s personal fitness and energy level) usually does the trick!

The dog’s language and mentality hasn’t changed throughout the years.  In the wild, they’re used to walking many miles a day to obtain food.  This behavior remains the same even if they’re domesticated companions living with you in your home.

2. Don’t free-feed your dog

Have two specific mealtimes per day for your dog (breakfast and dinner are usually pretty common mealtimes for dogs in conjunction with possibly a snack throughout the day, including but not limited, too, rawhides, bullysticks and/or real bones depending on your dog’s personal health and digestion needs).  If they don’t eat their food within 20-minutes, pull it up and don’t feed them until dinner time–save for a small snack as listed above.

3. Calmly make your dog’s food

Occasionally, when we’re mixing our dog’s food, we’re thinking about many things and some of those things are stressful.  Don’t transfer your negative, stressful feelings to your dog.  Your dog is in-tune with you.  What you feel on the inside, is often what they project or express on the outside.  Consequently, when you’re mixing your dog’s food, think happy thoughts (yep, thinking of the movie “Hook” here).

Make eating a relaxing, joyful time for your dog by being the calm, soothing force your dog needs you to be 🙂

4. Make your dog sit before putting the food bowl down

Again, feeding your dog should be a joyful, calm occasion.  You should be in charge and dictate when your dog eats, how much and so forth. Therefore, make your dog sit before placing his food bowl down.  When he is sitting calmly, then sit the bowl down continuing to keep him in a sitting position.  When it is okay for him to eat, then give the word (“Okay” or whatever word you want to use to signal that it’s okay for him to start eating).

Following these four simple suggestions often makes a world of difference!

Happy Easter!

Since Easter falls in April as well, it’s even extra special this year. Easter is a very special time for our family. For us, Easter represents the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And, though we have cute little, traditional Easter graphics up, our family never wants to overlook the Good News…the real reason behind Easter, at least as far as we are concerned. So, on this note, we wish you, your family and your fur-kids an awesome Easter!

Kitten Bonding Time

Kittens are normally pretty easy to bond with. However, if you’re not part of the family such as a pet sitter or friend of the family, a great way to bond with your friend’s kittens is by letting them lick baby food off of your fingers.

Just grab some Gerber baby food (in the video, the kittens loved Gerber’s Chicken with Chicken Gravy) and put a little on your finger. It’s possible that only one or two kitties in the litter may come to you to begin with, but it won’t be long before they all find their way to your finger during this special bonding time that they will come to enjoy. In fact, once they hear you open the jar, be prepared to be used as a human cat tree! Kittens are pretty smart, very fast, agile and love to eat!

Within a week or less, the kittens will no longer be hand-shy if they were to begin with. You’ll have a great group of kitties to have fun with the next time you decide to watch the bundles of fur for your friends.

Oh to Fetch!

Most dogs love to play Fetch!

In the video attached to this post, we’re using Ein as an example because he is one little guy who loves to play Fetch. Therefore, since we know this is something that he is passionate about, we incorporate a little Fetch time during his daily walk, if we have the time in our schedule to do so.

When we play Fetch with Ein, the way that we play Fetch always works at reinforcing his commands and skill-set. So, in effect, he is getting drained mentally, physically and emotionally.

The way in which we go about draining his mental energy (so he isn’t frustrated or over-anxious) is by staying calm when we talk. It’s easy for people to get carried away and raise their voices when showing praise. In actuality, however, it only amps the already amped-up dog. Therefore, the dog’s energy can skyrocket and get out of control. When it does, an example of such behavior, would be incessant barking. And, if you throw the ball when the dog is barking, you are only reinforcing the behavior. Therefore, for the action of barking, your reaction would be for the dog to be quiet and still, which can take quite a while before they get to this state.

Not only do we keep our voices calm, we have him sit calmly before the ball is thrown. The moment he is sitting calm and doing what we ask him to do, the ball is thrown again.

This is a great way to exercise your dog mentally, physically and emotionally. And, they will love you for it 🙂