Caring for your dog in the summer heat

While some dogs up north are still playing in the snow and wearing snow boots and jackets, here in St. Petersburg, FL it’s getting hot, sunny and humid! 

Tips to help your dog beat the heat

Never leave your dog unattended in direct sunlight or in a closed car.

Leaving your dog in a car can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion and in some cases death. The temperature inside a car increases rapidly and the air supply is limited. Even when you think you will only be a few minutes you never know what might prolong your absence from the car, like a long line at the grocery store.

Make sure your dog has access to clean, fresh and cool water

It’s usually best to have two bowls full of water, just in case one gets empty, knocked over, heats up in the sun or becomes dirty. Don’t be afraid to overdo it with the water if you are leaving your dog alone for any amount of time.

Ensure that there is some shade in the yard for your dog to rest and get out of the sun

A tree, or if need be an umbrella, can provide adequate shade, but access to a well ventilated structure such as a shed or porch is ideal. During really hot days it’s always best to keep your dog inside the house if possible, rather than leaving them outside.

Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day

Try walking your pooch first thing in the morning, or in the evening, and try to walk somewhere you know there are lots of trees and shaded areas. Avoid certain kinds of pavement, asphalt and sand as those surfaces can get extremely hot and burn your dog’s paws.

When going out with your dog make sure you have a bottle of cool water with you at all times

Dogs don’t sweat like us and they pant to release heat, so having a nice cool drink is one of the best ways to reduce their body temperature.

Dogs can get sunburnt just like us

White and light colored dogs with pink skin are especially susceptible to sunburn. Apply pet sunscreen on the ears and nose 30 minutes before going out in the sun. If your dog stays outside every day, apply sunscreen daily.

Going to the beach

It’s great fun going to the beach with your dog, just make sure there is plenty of fresh water and shade available. Also ensure your dog does not drink seawater as they can dehydrate quickly.


Swimming is great exercise for you and your dog, but it uses muscles not often used. Make sure your dog doesn’t tire especially if they have a long coat.

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Let’s Celebrate National Pet Day

April 11th is National Pet Day, a perfect time to show your pet how much they mean to you! The pet holiday began in 2007 and was the idea of celebrity pet and family lifestyle expert Colleen Paige, who is also the creator of other pet holidays throughout the year. 

Need ideas on how to spoil your fur babies on National Pet Day? A trip to the pet store for a new squeaky toy, fuzzy mouse, hay or a bag of new treats as a gift can mark the occasion. On the other hand, spending some quality time with your pet, holding and snuggling them, is just as good to show them how much they mean to you. 

Want to get more creative? Schedule a photo shoot for them, try making them homemade pet treats, or throw a National Pet Day party and invite all of their four-legged friends. But while National Pet Day is all about celebrating pets and the joys they give us, National Pet Day can also be about helping others, both two and four-legged.  

Have an elderly neighbor or family member, or know someone who is financially struggling? Surprise them by stopping by with a bag of pet food, litter, bird seed, hay or other needed items for their pet. On your way home, stop by the animal shelter and drop off any donations that you might have like old blankets, beds, or toys. If you want to give your time instead of a donation, sign up to become a volunteer at the shelter to help take care of the animals in the shelter until they find forever homes.  

If you or anyone you know is thinking about opening their heart and home to a pet, go visit a local animal shelter or pure breed rescue organization. After all, love is the greatest gift to give to a pet. 


Top tips for toilet training your puppy

The key to successfully toilet training a puppy lies in the motivation of the trainer – you!

You are the key to successfully training your puppy to eliminate in the spot that you would like them to go. If you don’t set them up for success by teaching them that it is far more beneficial to go on the spot that you would like them to, and only punish them for their mistakes, then you are on the road to setting them up to fail.

Anywhere up to 6 months of age, puppies’ bladders are not fully developed and they have a high metabolism at this stage in their lives, which means that they have weak bladder control. After 6 months of age this should start to improve and your puppy should be able to hold it in overnight without needing to go, which will make the toilet training a lot easier. Until then, here are some fundamental guidelines that will help you successfully toilet train your puppy.

Be aware and take action

Be aware of the signs and key times when your puppy will need to go, and then take action. The most common times when your puppy will need to go are:

  • When they first wake up from a nap
  • When you arrive home after being out
  • After they’ve eaten or had a big drink
  • After any playtime that you have engaged in with them

Common signals to look out for when you are at home with your puppy:

  • Sniffing the ground and moving in a circular motion
  • Moving around and looking agitated
  • Crying
  • If, during training, you all of a sudden lose your puppy’s focus and she becomes restless

Monitoring your puppy

  • Keep your puppy in sight when in the house with you so that you can look out for the ‘I need to go to the toilet’ signs and take them out to the spot.
  • If your puppy stays inside during the day leave the newspaper or training pads in one area rather than in spots all over the house as this causes a little inconsistency and confusion for the puppy.
  • It is best to confine your puppy when you are out to a small area such as the laundry, puppy play pen or crate equipped with a bed, safe toys, food and water, and training pads.

Use a verbal cue

Get a word on cue. My verbal cue to let my dogs know that it is toilet time is ‘go potty’. When my dogs hear this cue, they know exactly what it means. Not only can a verbal cue be useful when sending your puppy out to do their business at bedtime, it can be useful for road trips.

Hot dogs are my go to high value treats

Implement a reward system

Work out what motivates your puppy to listen to you and train for you. I use a high value reward system such as small pieces of raw hot dogs when training a cue or behavior that is important to me. So if toilet training is on the top of your training priority list use rewards that your puppy loves in order to pair the reward with going to the toilet outside, on the training pad, or wherever it is that you want them to go.

Successful toilet training during the early stages is all about being consistent with taking your puppy to the spot that you want them to eliminate on and rewarding them every time they go on that spot. A lot of patience and guidance is required on your part. When you are at the desired spot and they’re about to go to the toilet, you say the cue that you are going to use and when they have just about finished give them that high value treat.

Once they’re reliably going to the desired spot with an 80% success rate you can start to reduce the amount of treats that you give to them, making your schedule of reinforcement variable and unpredictable. This is so they can’t predict when they’ll be rewarded with treats, but will still work for you in the hope that they may be rewarded.

Use the right cleaning products

Make sure that you clean the spot where your puppy has made a mistake in the house thoroughly in order to remove any trace of urine. Not cleaning up the area properly may encourage your puppy to continue eliminating in that particular spot because it smells like a doggy toilet.

Cleaning tips to follow:

I use these products exclusively as I found nothing else works as well:

Simple Solutions Stain & Odor Remover (for carpeted areas)






Simple Solutions Hardfloors Stain + Odor Remover




In summary

Look out for the signs, keep an eye on your puppy in the house, and limit their access in the house when you are out. The more you take them to the spot at the key times (after meals, when you arrive home, when your puppy wakes up, etc.) the quicker they will understand that this is where you would like them to go, as they are not interrupted each time. Instead, they’re rewarded with a yummy treat and lots of verbal praise every time they go there.


How to Find a Missing Cat

Important steps to prevent and reunite missing cats

First of all, make sure your cat has some kind of identification such as a microchip or collar with tag.

A collar is a visible way of showing that a cat belongs to someone, but will not enable people to contact you unless it has an identification tag. Be sure to get a breakaway collar that will release if it gets stuck to something so your cat does not become trapped.

Microchips are a form of permanent identification. They are not visible but can be found by scanning the animal at a shelter or veterinary clinic. If you find a cat, be sure to have them scanned for a microchip.  A Microchip requires you to update the microchip registry any time you move your home or change telephone number.

Make sure you have a photo of your cat that shows clearly what she looks like. If you ever need to make flyers, you’ll have a photo to use.

Tips to find a missing cat

If your cat has literally just run out of the door, don’t chase her. Keep her in sight and try to persuade her to come to you.  This may involve getting low down, calling her, not looking directly at her and reaching your hand or a finger out to see if she will come up to you. Shaking the treat packet may also help. An indoors-only cat will want to get home again, so make sure she has a clear path back indoors.

If you are not sure where your cat is, search carefully inside the house in case she is under furniture, in a closet, or some other hiding place. Cats can get into some surprising places, especially if they are fearful and new to your home. I once had a cat hide inside a box-spring mattress, and similarly they may be able to get inside your settee, open cupboard doors or drawers, hide in small gaps behind furniture, get in behind the washing machine or fridge, hide behind books on shelves, or curl up underneath your clean linen.

Since most cats are found close to home, search very carefully in the immediate area. Look in places where a scared cat might hide such as in bushes, in sheds, under decks. Remember to look up too, since cats like high places and might be hiding in the branches of a tree or on the roof of a shed.

It’s a good idea to search at a quiet time of day. After dark, you can search with a flashlight. You might see the light reflect back from their eyes.

When searching, take a treat packet with you and shake it from time to time, but remember a scared cat may not dare to come out to you.

If your cat is an indoors-only cat, you could put her litter box outside close to the point where she left. The idea is that cats have great noses and will be able to smell it. She may find it reassuring, come back to use it, or wait nearby.

Make a hiding place right by the door. A cardboard box turned upside down and with a hole cut out to make an entrance will do. Put some of your cat’s bedding inside it. You’re providing somewhere for your cat to hide in case they come back when you aren’t there to let them in. You can put food and water nearby as well.

Speak to neighbors and ask if they have seen your cat. Ask them to carefully check hiding places on their property, or if they will let you search their yard for your cat.

If you find your cat in a tree and believe her to be stuck, call local arborists to find one who will go up to get your cat. Sometimes shelters will keep a list of arborists who are willing to rescue cats from trees.

Make ‘lost cat’ flyers with your cat’s photo on them and put them up in the neighborhood where people will see them, such as on utility poles. Include your phone number so that people can contact you if they see your cat, but don’t put your name and address for security reasons.

Post your ‘lost cat’ flyer to social media too. Make the post public so that it is shareable, and share it to any missing pets and neighborhood groups in your area. Again, don’t post your address.

Call your vet and tell them your cat is missing. You might be able to put up a flyer at their office too.

Visit your local animal shelter and animal control in case someone has taken your cat there. Some will take details of missing cats to keep on file.  

If you have recently moved, you should also search back at your old address, as there have been cases of cats going back to where they used to live.

If you want to put out a trap for your cat, your local shelter, community cat rescue, or animal control may be able to assist.  They will charge a small fee for trap rental. Also, many areas have a pet finder business that will try to locate your missing pet.

Above all, keep searching close to home. This is the most important thing to do.

When you find your cat, remember to update social media postings and take down the flyers you put up in the neighborhood.

Good luck finding your cat!

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Alligator Mating Season Begins April 1st – Tips For Keeping Your Pet Safe

As you know, I am a native Floridian and have been around alligators my entire life and I want to give you a few tips on keeping your pet safe.  Alligators will and do eat pets. If you live in Pinellas County, or anywhere else in Florida, alligators occupy every body of fresh water in the state.

Alligators Generally Avoid Humans

Human-alligator encounters do happen, as you well know from recent news accounts.  Although some years do not see any fatal attacks, other years have seen many. These numbers appear low in comparison to many other deadly animal encounters. This may be due to the alligator being primarily water-bound. 

Safe Distance

Local Florida wisdom tells that one should stay at least twenty to thirty feet from the water to be safe from an alligator attack. Some suggest greater distances, up to 60 feet. Alligator experts say that alligators will most often try to avoid contact with humans. This is not true of smaller animals, especially dogs and cats. Alligators see these animals as potential meals. Every now and then, a pet goes missing and is never seen again. Though the cause of death in such cases is a mystery, alligators are usually to blame. Some pet owners are not so lucky however; being on-scene when an alligator attacks and eats their pet.

Control Your Pet

Your pet cannot be expected to know what is best. It is up to you, the pet parent to take precautions. Keeping your pets away from waters that contain alligators is simple. If you’re walking near a body of water, keep a safe distance – 20 to 30 feet or more from the water.  We have a leash law in Pinellas County but if you happen to be visiting an area that allows off leash dogs, be aware the only protection your pet has is a mere growth of cattails or weeds along the bank and you would be wise to keep your pet on a leash if there is water nearby.

Coddled Critters’ Suggests Some Alligator Do’s and Dont’s

  • Never feed alligators. It’s dangerous and illegal. When fed, alligators overcome their natural wariness and learn to associate people with food.
  • Dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at boat ramps and fish camps. Do not throw them in the water.
  • Be aware of alligators when you are near fresh or brackish water. Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn. Avoid wading or swimming after dark or at dusk and dawn.
  • NEVER swim with your dog. Dogs attract an alligator’s interest. Dogs and cats are similar in size to an alligator’s natural prey. Don’t allow pets to swim, exercise or drink in or near waters that might alligators.
  • Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators. Observe and photograph alligators from a distance.

 For further information about alligators in Florida, visit the website of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 

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Pet Owners Beware! Bufo Toads Lurking in Yards Pose a Deadly Threat to Dogs

Exposure to the toxin the toad produces can cause symptoms ranging from drooling and head-shaking to loss of coordination and convulsions

One of Coddled Critters’ clients took her dog out in mid-June last year when it suddenly ran across the backyard. She saw her dog was

Female Bufo toad on the left. Male on the right.

eyeing a toad and started smacking its lips.

Within minutes, the dog started showing signs of “being drugged,” so she rushed him to her veterinary clinic. During the car ride, the pet began having seizures.

Upon arriving at the clinic, the dog received fluids and three separate doses of anti-seizure medication. Ice packs helped bring the animal’s temperature down.

The incident is a common occurrence when dogs and Bufo toads interact. The poisonous amphibian secretes a toxic white, gummy-like substance from glands behind its head when it feels threatened. Curious dogs intending to play with the toads may get taught a deadly lesson.

Toads are bad news for dogs. These are not frogs. Toads look warty. Assume every toad is poisonous to your dog.

Also known as Cane toads, the Bufo toad is not native to the U.S. The species was introduced to Florida’s sugar cane fields to control pests in 1936. Intentional and accidental releases caused them to spread. Those scattered throughout Florida’s panhandle escaped from a zoo, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Pet dealers accidentally released them in South Florida, according to the Florida Wildlife Extension. 

Bufo toad sightings have been reported in Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the USGS reported.

Confirmed locations of the Bufo toad

The toads, which flourish in warm, humid climates, are also likely to be found in Georgia and Texas.

They often emerge after heavy rainfall and lay their eggs in still or slow-moving water.

And while this invasive species of amphibians pose no major threat to humans, it presents a danger to beloved pets. Exposure to the toxin it produces can cause symptoms ranging from drooling and head-shaking to loss of coordination and convulsions. It can also kill your dog.

If you catch it early, the chances of a successful recovery are very high. The heartbreaking truth is people who leave their dog outside all day will come home to a dog that’s no longer with us. There’s the chance of heat stroke or a potential toad.

The first symptoms of a toxic toad encounter can be evident within five to 10 minutes of exposure.

Coddled Critters advises pet owners who suspect their dog may have been poisoned by a toxic toad to rinse the animal’s mouth out with water and wipe the substance away from its lips and tongue. Dog owners should watch for panting, disorientation and dilated eyes — signs of toxicity — and get the pet to a doctor.

Pet owners, especially those living in areas where Cane toads are prevelant, should avoid low branches, long grass, letting their dog out without a leash and leaving food outside. They should also keep their dog away from objects that accumulate water, such as plant pots. Keep your dog on a leash, even while roaming the backyard.

 Dogs find the scent of this thing very attractive. “he best preventive is don’t leave your dog unattended.

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7 Things to Avoid Doing to Your Dog

Committed dog owners often have to learn how to gauge their dog’s behavior through trial and error. From puppies to rescues, there are some things that are written and unwritten about the do’s and don’ts of being a dog owner.

Just as it is with kids, we can send mixed or wrong messages to our pets. As smart as they are, they’ll figure out for themselves how to interpret what you’re communicating through your actions. They also depend on you to do the right thing for them at all times, like keeping them safe, well-fed, and healthy.

That said, let’s go through a few good practices to keep in mind as a dog owner. Some are common sense, some are reminders, and others may be new tips to keep in your pocket.

The list below is a list of things you DON’T want to do with your dog…

Neglect Medical Care

Regular visits to your vet will ensure your dog is up to date on shots, is free of major dental problems, and can live longer. An annual visit at the very least is recommended, but if you are experiencing financial challenges, look for low-cost pet clinics in your area.  One that Coddled Critters Professional Pet Services recommends is the SPCA Veterinary Clinic,, located at 3250 5th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, FL.

Also learn to be on the lookout for abnormal behaviors, as they could be indicative of a more serious issue.

Don’t Use Physical Punishment

When your dog chews up your favorite pair of shoes or poops on your white carpet, you might be tempted to pop him on the fanny. Don’t! For one thing, you’re teaching your dog to fear you, rather than respect you.

The other problem is that they really don’t have a concept of time when it comes to physical scolding. A toilet paper party that happened 2 hours ago isn’t worth the spanking you’re about to dish out because your dog doesn’t remember what he did wrong. Instead, learn to reward good behavior.

Let them Eat Anything

You already know that chocolate and onions aren’t for dogs, but do you know which other foods and plants are harmful? The list is quite extensive and includes: azaleas, alcohol, wild mushrooms, tulips, Easter lilies, avocados, macadamia nuts, grapes, and tomato plants. In addition to household chemicals and insecticides, dogs like to get into garden fare and food scraps that you like to share.

Some of these items will cause mild stomach upset, while others are fatal. Know what things to keep out of sight and out of your dog’s dish.

Take Puppies and Untrained Dogs to a Dog Park

This works two ways. Like kids, puppies and untrained dogs are susceptible to peer pressure and bullies. Yours might even be the culprit! Letting them run free with dogs who have questionable manners and habits could open them up to bad influences. Worse, they could become targets for meanies. Scope out parks first and see who’s who, looking for fair play or an empty park.  Coddled Critters Professional Pet Services does not endorse taking your dog to a dog park.

Leave the Harnesses or Collars On Inside

You’re relaxing inside your home after you’ve just taken your dog for a walk. Don’t be lazy.  Take that harness and/or collar off. Harnesses and collars are really meant for walks and leaving them on while dogs are playing or doing their thing could become a safety hazard. How? They get caught on things around the house or even your dog’s jaw. If you have more than one dog, one can get tangled up with the other.

Punish for Indoor Accidents

Old wives tale says to rub your dog’s nose in his mess to housetrain him. Along with physical punishment, yelling and other forms of scolding for indoor potty accidents results in fear and anxiety. It’s counterproductive. Instead, use treats as positive reinforcement when the dog goes to the bathroom outside, thus training her where to go.

Skimp on Stimulation

How would you like to be stuck in one space, day after day, night after night for months or years? Sounds boring and mind-numbing right? Well the same goes for your dog. Long stays in a crate as prison or lack of exercise can break them down mentally and emotionally.

Regular walks and play time is great for physical stamina and stress relief, helping dogs to release energy, be social, and stay healthy. Dogs that stay home alone for long periods need stimulation and an outlet too. Get them out and about!

Loving dogs is so easy, but it’s also important to know realistically what you can handle. Even if you’ve had your dog a long time, becoming complacent with a routine is normal. It’s always good to try something new or break old habits.

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Reminder About Our New Service – ‘Private, Cage Free In-Our-Home Dog Boarding”

Coddled Critters Professional Pet Services is happy to announce our new dog boarding service.  We specialize in small dogs, under 30 pounds, with only one pet family at a time.  Why send your dog to a boarding kennel where they will spend their time in a small enclosure and only let out for a run, when they can come to us instead and be treated like royalty! Our home dog boarding service will welcome your dog into our dog friendly home where they will be cared for as part of the family, with plenty of love, cuddles, walks, and attention.  During your dog’s home boarding they will enjoy the use of our fully enclosed backyard and also have at least 2 walks per day.

We do have our own resident dogs “Pookie” and “Pepper”  who are 9 pounds Pomeranians.  They are great with other dogs so providing your dog is okay around other dogs too and you’re happy for your dog to board with ours then please get in touch!

All dogs are required to show proof of vaccinations for Rabies, Distemper, Parvo, and Bordetella. Puppies must be 10 days past their final round of distemper/Parvo Vaccinations before we accept them for boarding. Vaccinations must be given no less than 7 days prior to boarding.  They are also required to be up to date on flea prevention.

  • We Strive to keep a healthy and clean atmosphere.
  • Safety and fun are our number one priority.
  • Our goal is for your dog to have a fun, stress free vacation away from home. 

 We suggest that you bring anything that makes your dog feel right at home. Some suggestions would be to bring his crate or bed, bowls, food, collar and leash, treats and toys.

  • Boarding Service is $40 daily for one dog and $20 daily for each additional dog.
  • Drop off time: Preferably before 11:00am
  • Pick up: Before 11:00am or another daily fee will be added.
  • We try to be flexible with drop off and pick up times to allow our clients to have a stress free experience as well.

 Coddled Critters does NOT do forced crating.  If you prefer crating for your pup, we can accommodate your request. We have a “free roam” home, but can separate dogs, if needed.

We’re sorry, we cannot accommodate large, high-prey or high-energy dogs in our home.

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Tips When Bringing Home a New Cat

This is an exciting time for you and your family. You’re about to bring home a new family member. Regardless of where the cat is coming from here are some tips to help make the transition easier for everyone. It’s important to not rush the process in order to give your cat time to adjust to her new surroundings and new family members.

Visit Your Vet

Even if your new cat is already up-to-date on vaccinations, visit the veterinarian for a medical check-up. To give this newest family member the best start, have her checked by the veterinarian. This is also the time to talk to the veterinarian about any questions you may have about your new family member. During this visit you can also have her microchipped. Your cat may also be dewormed for internal parasites and you may be advised to start a flea control program.

Cat-Proof Your Home

If you haven’t lived with a cat before you’ll be surprised at the places a kitty can hide and the trouble she can get into. Look at cat-proofing as you would baby-proofing but consider your cat as a super toddler who can jump almost seven times her height, squeeze into spaces that seem completely impossible, use her teeth to chew through cords, among many other talents that a new cat parent probably never thought possible.

Give Your New Cat a Place of Her Own

Even though you plan on providing a loving home for your new cat, she’s not ready to see all of it yet. A cat is a territorial creature of habit and it’ll be overwhelming for her to simply be placed in the middle of the living room the first day you bring her home. Instead, set up a sanctuary room so she can take time to get her bearings.

Allow Time for Your Cat to get her Bearings

Depending upon where she came from and her anxiety level, it’s normal for her to not want to eat, use her litter box or drink any water right away. Provide a small amount of food and give her privacy. She may feel more comfortable to eat when no one is around initially. If she doesn’t show any interest in eating the first day, just keep providing small meals and fresh water. Don’t put out too much food so you can monitor whether any is getting eaten or not. By the second day she should be hungry enough to start nibbling. If not, talk to your veterinarian. You don’t want the cat to go more than a day without eating but your veterinarian will provide specific instructions on how you should handle the situation based on your cat’s specific history and circumstances.

Slowly Introduce Other Family Members to the New Cat

Everyone in the family will be anxious to get to know the new cat but she may not be ready to have several unfamiliar people crowded in her sanctuary room. Do individual introductions slowly. If she’s hiding and seems not yet ready, back off and let her continue to gain confidence in her new surroundings. There will be plenty of time later to make formal introductions.

Let Your New Cat Explore

When your new cat feels comfortable and is no longer hiding, you can start to let her explore beyond her sanctuary room. If you live in a large home, don’t overwhelm her by letting her wander around in every room. Let her explore slowly, a little at a time so she always knows the route back to her sanctuary.

Start Trust-Building and Training

It’s never too early to start training. Your new cat is always learning and what she learns depends on the messages you send. Be consistent and humane in your training process. Provide what she needs, use positive, force-free training that sends a consistent message and always let her know when she’s done it right. The decision to bring a cat into your life may have been a sudden and impulsive move but providing for her health and happiness should never be.

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Dogs and Doorbells: How to Manage the Madness

Dogs and doorbells.  They go together like oil and water. The doorbell rings, and my two Pomeranians, Pookie and Pepper, go wild. The heightened excitement as the dogs race to the door, the barking which escalates in pitch with each step of the dogs, the pushing and pulling to get your dogs out of the way so you can answer the door, and the frantic conversation you have while simultaneously trying to prevent your dogs from squeezing through the open door to run outside. And if you actually have to let the person in the house, this situation is even more chaotic! How can you manage the madness that happens when the doorbell rings?

Here’s one thing that has worked at my house:

Teach your dog to go someplace else when the doorbell rings.

When my kid was younger, I didn’t want them opening the door with the dogs nearby. I was worried my dogs would race outside, or that they would scare another child coming over for a play date.  So, I taught my dogs to run to the kitchen, rather than the front door, when the doorbell rang.

Dogs are not hardwired to know what a doorbell means. It is through their daily life with their family that they learn the association between the doorbell and the front door. Instead, why not just teach your dogs that great things happen in another room when the doorbell rings?

Dogs are masters of learning associations.  The leash means a walk. The opening of a cupboard means they get a treat. Picking up the food bowl means dinner is on its way. You can make a similar association with the doorbell. For my dogs, the doorbell meant it was time to search for food in the kitchen!

To teach this simple association follow these five steps:

  1. Have someone ring the doorbell.
  2. Pick up some very tasty treats and show them to your dog.s
  3. Toss the treats in the kitchen.
  4. Answer the front door.

With practice, your dogs will soon learn the doorbell means treats show up in another room and will run to that location willingly. Eventually, my dogs would run to the kitchen when the doorbell rang even without treats being thrown. This allowed me to safely open the front door.

Rather than fighting the dogs at the front door, the dogs are now in a completely different room.

What do you do to manage the madness at the front door?