Engaging Activities For Puppy Training

Yellow Lab Puppy Playing with a Tennis Ball

Engaging activities for puppies are essential for their mental and physical development. Here are some ideas for engaging puppy activities:

1. Puzzle toys

Provide puzzle toys that require puppies to figure out how to get treats or toys out. This stimulates their problem-solving skills and keeps them entertained, which has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety. You can use puzzles during meal time to help them slow down and avoid inhaling their meals like a hoover.

2. Tug of war

Play a gentle game of tug of war with a rope toy or soft tug toy. This helps puppies release energy and strengthen their jaw muscles. Remember to establish boundaries and teach them to release the toy on command. It is a myth that tug playing will cause your dog to be aggressive. When played correctly it can improve impulse control, strengthen your bond, and provide mental stimulation while also tiring them out.

3. Hide and seek

Hide treats or toys around the house or in the yard and encourage puppies to find them. This engages their sense of smell and provides mental and physical stimulation. Giving puppies a healthy and constructive way to channel their natural instincts to hunt, track and trail will help them become more balanced and behaved while also giving them a confidence boost. Off Leash K9 Training offers nose work classes for dogs of any age; you do not need obedience training to join this program.

4. Water play

If your puppy enjoys water, set up a shallow kiddie pool or sprinkler for them to play in. This can be a fun and refreshing activity, especially during hot weather. Puppies have a young immune system; having them in a safe controlled water environment will help minimize the risk to parasites and bacteria that can be found in lakes, ponds and other bodies of water.

5. Outdoor exploration

Once your puppy has had the required shots, take your puppy for walks in different environments, such as parks and nature trails. This helps with socialization and keeps them curious and engaged. Socialization is more than just meeting people and other dogs. It is exposing your dog to as many different sights, sounds and smells as you can.

Desensitizing is all about variety without overwhelming your puppy. Start with small and short exposure. Go to the park early in the morning when it isn’t very busy. As your puppy becomes more confident, you can build towards visiting during peak times. In our puppy programs, we focus on desensitization and exposure to help you raise a more confident, well-mannered dog.

6. Obedience training games

Turn obedience training into a game by incorporating fun elements. For example, play “Simon Says “; with basic commands or have a mini agility course set up in the backyard. At your first puppy lesson, we provide you with many games and activities to keep training fun and engaging. A fun game you can play at home to strengthen engagement with your puppy is the Name Game.

Why Should You Train with the Name Game?

The Name Game helps your pup with name recognition which is the foundation for your runaway recall. The name game and recall command are the only two commands we include your pup’s name for. For example, we say “Fluffy come” whereas for “sit” we just say “sit”, no need to add your pup’s name.

How To Play

  1. Get some high-stakes rewards, something special such as liverwurst, chicken, liver, or roast beef. Choose something your pup will only get during the Name Game.
  2. Hang out in a room with your pup. Try to be a few feet away; you can watch some TV, read a book, or get dinner ready.
  3. When your pup isn’t watching, say their name in a cheerful tone and present the high-stakes reward right to their face.

In the beginning stages, don’t wait for your pup to look at you in order to get the reward, get it to your pup. By doing this you will produce a reflex in your pup where they will automatically turn their head towards you to get a treat sooner. When your pup is turning their head towards you, you can begin to build distance, until you are across the room. Eventually, you and another person can call your pup from room to room.

Take the Name Game Outside

When the Name Game is good inside, take it outside!

  1. Start on a 6ft leash.
  2. Let them get distracted by sniffing the grass, dirt or bushes.
  3. Say their name in a bright cheerful voice and present the high-stakes reward when they look at you.
  4. When your pup begins to look towards you, begin to build distance.

7. Playdates with other puppies

Arrange playdates with other well-socialized puppies for supervised play sessions. This allows them to interact, learn appropriate play behavior, and burn off energy together.

Picking Activities For Your Puppy

Remember to adjust activities based on the age, breed, and individual preferences of your puppy. Always prioritize safety and supervise any activities to ensure a positive and enjoyable experience for your furry friend.

Enroll Your Puppy in Training to Help

Training a puppy can be challenging, as it is difficult to keep them engaged. At Off Leash K9 Training Maryland, we offer fully comprehensive puppy obedience training that includes a multitude of engaging activities you can utilize at home! Contact us today to enroll your puppy in one of our training programs.

Enroll Your Puppy in Training to Help!

Preparing Your Dog For The Holidays

As the holiday season is upon us, there are many things to consider when preparing for all the festivities to come. The holidays can be overwhelming for your dog, but they don’t have to be! Preparing your dog for the holidays can be a fun and enjoyable experience for both you and your furry friend. Here are some tips to help get your dog ready for the holidays:

1) Start with a Grooming Session

Start by giving your dog a good grooming session. This includes brushing their coat, trimming their nails, and cleaning their ears and teeth. A clean and well-groomed dog will not only look great but will also be more comfortable during holiday gatherings.

2) Dress Your Dog Up in Festive Attire

If your dog enjoys wearing clothes, consider getting them a cute holiday-themed outfit or sweater. Just make sure it fits properly and doesn’t restrict their movement or cause discomfort. If your dog isn’t comfortable wearing clothes then opt for a new holiday collar or bandanna.

3) Refresh on Key Obedience Training

Brush up on basic obedience training to ensure your dog behaves well during holiday gatherings. Practice commands like “sit,” “place,” and “off” to keep them calm and well-behaved when there are lots of people or tempting food around. If your dog jumps on people, keep a leash on when company comes to the door. Having control while people are entering will help ensure that no one gets knocked over or drops any gifts or food dishes.

4) Create a Safe Space

Create a safe and quiet space for your dog during holiday parties or gatherings. This could be a separate room, a crate, or a designated area with their bed, toys, and water. This will give them a retreat if they feel overwhelmed or need a break from the festivities.

5) Be Weary of Decorations

Ensure your holiday decorations are safe for your dog. Avoid using decorations that can be easily knocked over, chewed on, or ingested. Keep electrical cords out of reach, and be cautious with plants like poinsettias, holly, or mistletoe that can be toxic to dogs if ingested. If your dog has ingested any toxic plant, contact your veterinarian immediately.

6) Engage in Pre-Event Exercise

Make sure your dog gets plenty of physical and mental exercise before holiday events. A tired dog is more likely to be calm and well-behaved. Take them for a long walk, play fetch, or engage in other activities that will help burn off excess energy.

7) Be Careful with Access to Food and Treats

Many holiday foods can be harmful to pets. Avoid feeding them chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, alcohol, and anything sweetened with xylitol. Keep an eye on your pet during holiday meals to prevent them from sneaking food off the table or from guests. Provide pet-safe treats and keep their regular diet consistent.

8) Prep Your Dog for Guests and Children

If you’re expecting guests, especially those with children, prepare your dog for the additional excitement and noise. Socialize them with new people and teach children how to properly interact with dogs to avoid any potential stress or accidents.


Remember that each dog is unique, so consider their individual temperament, health, and preferences when preparing them for the holidays.

Off-Leash K9 Training, Maryland is Here to Help!

Need extra help training your dog for the holiday season? Our expert trainers at Off-Leash K9 Training Maryland can help you find the right training program to teach your dog the manners and tools they need to behave properly.

Call us at 443-743-3221 or contact us today to experience a holiday season that is enjoyable for both you and your furry friend.

Dog Socialization Guide

Dog Socialization Guide

A puppy’s socialization period begins when they’re three weeks old and continues until they are about 12 weeks old. During this time, you’ll want to expose your puppy to a wide variety of people, animals and places in a safe manner. Socializing your dog helps them become friendly and confident in new situations.

However, sometimes we find ourselves with a new best friend who missed early socialization or needs some extra help — and patience! In this guide, we discuss common socialization challenges, why our pups have these behaviors and what you can do about it.

How to Train Your Dog Not to Bark at Strangers

Your concern: “I want Oliver to behave around people. I’m wondering how to train my dog to ignore strangers.”

It’s natural for some dogs to get excited when they see strangers, but it’s not great if those strangers don’t want dogs to approach them. Make public outings less stressful by trying some of these training methods:

  • Distract: The moment you notice your dog approaching strangers, use a toy to distract them, then reward them with a treat.
  • Call: Divert your dog’s attention from others by calling their name. Reward them when they respond to you.
  • Ignore: When a friend comes over for a visit, ask them to ignore your dog until they calm down. Then, ask your friend to award them with a treat for calming down.
  • Focus: Practice the “sit” and “stay” commands with your pup, which you can use to make them stay away from strangers.
  • Practice: Taking trips to populated areas will help your furry friend get used to seeing strangers. Eventually, the urge to greet people will become too tiring.

And here’s a quick bonus tip! Ask strangers not to pet your dog without asking first, especially if your dog is the one who’s not good with strangers.

How to Train Your Dog Not to Bark

Your concern: “I’m worried Poppy’s barking will annoy my neighbors. How do I train my dog not to bark?”

Barking is how your dog communicates, whether they’re conveying excitement, boredom or fear. Because there are many types of barking, you’ll need to know what’s causing the barking to stop it. Here are a few things you can try:

  • Hand out toys: Distracting your pup with toys can help keep them busy.
  • Use background noise: Putting on the TV, turning on the radio or playing white noise can distract dogs from outside noises, such as barking dogs.
  • Teach quiet commands: Train your dog with quiet commands, such as “enough,” “quiet” or “hush.” Award them with a treat once they stop barking.
  • Ignore it: Teach your dog that barking for your attention doesn’t work. Stop what you’re doing and ignore them or leave the area until they calm down.
  • Exercise more: After a good workout, your pup will be less alert to external distractions and less likely to bother you for attention.

Even though persistent barking can be frustrating, try not to yell at your dog. Yelling at your dog to be quiet won’t reduce the barking, but it can trigger a fear response.

Barking is how your dog communicates

How to Train Your Dog Not to Bite

Your concern: “Bella nips my ankles every time I walk around the house. I want to know how to train my dog not to bite.”

Any dog can bite, but it mostly happens because of fear, frustration or protectiveness. Even though almost 81% of dog bites don’t require hospital visits, they can still hurt. Here are some training methods to lower their chance of biting:

  • Bite inhibition: When your dog bites too hard during play, either give a high-pitched yelp or use a timeout procedure. Resume playtime after a few seconds.
  • Noncontact play: Play fetch and tug-of-war rather than playing with your hands.
  • Redirection: Use toys as a substitution or distraction when your pup tries to chew your toes.
  • Body language: Before biting, pups may growl to show they’re frightened or upset. Give your dog space and remove them from the situation if they start to display uncomfortable body language.
  • Obedience training: Use basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” “down” and “leave it” to keep your dog focused and teach impulse control in uncomfortable situations.

Also, keep in mind that dogs may lash out when in pain. You may want to take them to the vet to rule out medical reasons for biting.

Why Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety and How You Can Help

Your concern: “Max gets upset every time I leave the house. How can I help my dog feel calmer?”

Separation anxiety affects one in four to six dogs. Some anxious dogs howl or bark in excess when their owners leave the house. Here are a few different ways you can try to help them feel more at ease:

  • Desensitization: Get your dog used to spending time alone. Start by leaving them for short periods of time and gradually increase their alone time.
  • Counterconditioning: Change your dog’s perception of being alone from anxiety to excitement. You can do this by giving them special treats or food only when you leave.
  • Disassociation: Do the actions linked to leaving throughout the day, like picking up your keys or putting on shoes, so your dog learns not to associate it with you leaving.
  • Keep calm: Don’t make a big fuss when you leave or come back home. Stick to a simple pat on the head so they can calm down.

Separation anxiety doesn’t typically go away, but you can use these tips to ease your pup’s mind.

Why Your Dog Is Aggressive and What to Do About It

Your concern: “I’m worried about Buddy’s aggressive behavior. I’m trying to think how to train my aggressive dog so he won’t hurt anyone.”

First, you need to distinguish between a reactive dog and an aggressive one. A reactive dog is usually fearful due to a lack of training or bad experiences. They might become aggressive — determined to cause harm and destruction — as a result. Some tips on how to socialize a reactive dog may include:

  • Keep track: Any dog can show aggressive behavior, so continue to track their patterns and triggers to determine the reason behind it.
  • Positive reinforcement: Train your pup with treats to get used to different situations that cause them to react aggressively. Soon, your pup might associate the triggers with something positive!
  • Focus commands: Teaching dogs commands like “leave it” and “out” can help curb their reactive behavior.
  • Resource trading: Exchange the object your dog is guarding aggressively for a treat to distract them.

When guests come over, calmly but firmly tell them that your dog is working or training so they will respect your dog’s space.

Get Faster Results With Off Leash K9 Training Maryland

Remember that socialization is a gradual and continuous process that can be challenging for some dogs, even when they have a lot of practice. If you’re a dog owner in the Maryland area and feel like you need some encouragement, professional help or advice regarding your dog’s behavior, it’s time to find the right training program.

Off Leash K9 Training Maryland can help you come up with a training plan so that you don’t have to overcome these obstacles alone. We can help you and your dog — all you have to do is get in touch with us today.

Get Faster Results With Off Leash K9 Training Maryland

Causes of Bad Behavior in Dogs

Causes of Bad Behavior in Dogs

In the United States, 65.1 million households have a dog, and 56% of dog owners report their dogs are naughty — that’s a lot of mischievous dogs. Bad behavior can impact your bond with your dog, resulting in destroyed belongings, unhappy pets and frustrated owners.

Learning how to correct bad dog behavior starts with knowing how it began. Once you identify the cause, you can correct the symptom. Your dog’s behavior might be more common than you think, and you can resolve it with a little help.

What Are Common Behavioral Issues for Dogs?

Bad dog behavior comes in many packages, and 85% of dogs are estimated to exhibit at least one problem behavior. Some problem behaviors are a little obscure, but many are common challenges for pet owners across the country, including:

  • Excessive barking and whining: Barking and whining are part of a dog’s language, but when they take it to extremes, it can be highly disruptive.
  • Chewing: Dogs naturally explore their environments with their mouths. They don’t know what items are allowed in their mouths, which can lead to many damaged pairs of shoes.
  • Nipping and biting: These behaviors are common in puppies and younger dogs and are often due to overexcitement. As your dog matures, however, nipping and biting can quickly become dangerous.

How to Correct Bad Dog Behavior

Understanding what bad dog behaviors mean is essential to curtailing them. We’ve compiled some of the most common bad behaviors and provided a quick overview of what the causes could be and how to fix them.

How to Stop Excessive Whining

Whining can be many things — a greeting, an appeasement or sign of submission, a sign of pain, or a plea for attention. Your first step is to determine what triggers your dog’s behavior. Take the following steps to remove whining from your dog’s vocabulary:

  • Visit the vet: Take your dog to the vet for a checkup to eliminate the possibility of physical pain as a cause.
  • Listen: Pay attention to the pitch and sound of your dog’s whine to see if you can identify different sounds for different things. “I want something” could sound completely different from “I’m excited to see you,” for example.
  • Approach carefully: Be calm and careful if you think the whining comes from pain or anxiety. The whining can turn into snapping or aggression if your dog feels threatened.
  • Stay positive: Punishing or yelling at your dog will only confuse them and worsen the behavior.
  • Consider the cause: Look at the situation objectively and try to identify the trigger for the whining. If it’s you coming home from work, it could be excitement. If your dog whines when they jump off the couch, it could be pain-related.
  • Meet basic needs: Whining can be a positive in some cases, like if your dog whines at the door when they need to go outside.
  • Avoid encouragement: If your dog is whining because they want something, don’t encourage the habit by giving in right away. For example, if they whine for food, ask for a “sit” and reward them with the food when they quiet down.
  • Start in puppyhood: A whiny puppy quickly becomes a whiny dog. Avoid relenting in the puppy phase and redirect your dog’s attention instead.

How to Stop Destructive Dog Chewing

Chewing is one of the most frustrating of all problem behaviors. Try these tips to preserve your belongings:

  • Remove temptation: If you don’t want your dog to chew your slippers, close them in the cupboard. If your dog is stealing the toilet roll, close the bathroom door. Set your dog up for success.
  • Give your dog appropriate toys: Any toy you give your dog should differ from household items you want to keep intact. For example, a toy shoe is a no-go.
  • Up the exercise: Your dog could be chewing out of boredom, and exercise is the best cure.
  • Make a trade: If you catch your dog chewing something they shouldn’t, trade with them for something appropriate until they pick up the habit.
  • Change the taste: You can use several taste deterrents to make furniture and other items seem unappealing. You can also use organic home alternatives, like hot sauce or aloe vera.
  • Stay positive: Yelling and punishing can cause more behavioral problems, like aggressively guarding resources. Focus on positive reinforcement.

How to Stop Your Dog From Biting

Dogs bite for many reasons, including fear, defensiveness, territoriality, hunting instinct and correction — disciplining other members of their pack. Biting is a behavior you must address immediately, and depending on the cause, getting professional help may be the kindest and safest alternative.

You can take specific steps in the meantime, including:

  • Go to the vet: Biting can occur due to pain or discomfort. Eliminate these potential causes before modifying your dog’s behavior.
  • Spay or neuter: Sterilizing your dog can reduce the risk of bite-related behaviors. Discuss this option with your vet during your checkup.
  • Exercise and play: Reinforce the bond with your dog with calm exercise and play sessions. Avoid rough games, which can increase the risk of playful nipping.
  • Go to training: Training is an effective way to establish yourself as the pack leader and teach your dog basic commands, which can diffuse a potentially volatile situation.
  • Know the signs: Dogs often exhibit other behaviors before they resort to biting. Look for warning signs like growling, ears pinned back, retreating and yawning — a show of dominance.
  • Substitute a toy: If your dog nips playfully, make the same trade you would for chewing and give them a toy.
  • Yelp: Sometimes, communicating with dogs in their language makes a difference. Your dog may not know he is hurting you, and yelping can help them understand their limits.
  • Consult a professional trainer: Don’t leave things to chance and risk a dangerous mistake. Contact your local dog training facility and explain your concerns. They will help you navigate this challenge before it becomes a severe issue.
Be Disciplined with Your Puppy

How to Address Behavioral Issues in Dogs

Just like every dog is different, so is each problem behavior. Some behaviors require a unique approach, and a professional trainer is your most valuable asset in approaching these issues. You can also take some general steps at home to address behavioral problems:

  • Set boundaries from the beginning: Be disciplined with your puppy from the outset. Stay calm and firm, never aggressive, and address issues as they happen.
  • Reward good behavior: Be clear when your dog exhibits good behavior so they learn the difference between right and wrong.
  • Focus on training: Positive, reward-based training is critical to tackling behavioral problems. It teaches your dog they get rewarded when they do what you ask and gives you the tools to refocus their attention.
  • Get some exercise: Your dog is likely better behaved when tired, and good exercise also gives them adequate mental stimulation.
  • Be consistent: If you want to remove a behavior, you must respond the same way every time it occurs. Allowing a behavior sometimes and then preventing it will only confuse your dog.
  • Understand the behavior: You’ll be more successful in addressing a problem if you understand why it’s happening. Try to identify your dog’s triggers and respond calmly and positively. Never yell or resort to physical punishment.

Contact Us Today to Enroll Your Dog in One of Our Training Programs!

Lousy dog behaviors can be challenging, but with the right approach and compassionate training, you can address the root cause and take steps to restore a harmonious household. Off Leash K9 Training Maryland can help you manage bad behaviors correctly. Our compassionate, knowledgeable trainers have experience in various behavioral issues and have several training options to suit your needs, including private training sessions to give you and your dog individual attention.

Whether you have a puppy and want to instill the basics or an adult dog with a behavioral problem, we handle any age, breed and size. Contact us today to learn more, and let the bond with your dog be off-leash.

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How to Keep Your Puppy Engaged in Training

Puppies are naturally playful and curious creatures, so training sessions can be a great opportunity for them to have fun while learning new skills. Here are some  ways puppies can have fun during training:

1. Interactive training games:

Incorporate interactive games into training sessions, such as hide-and-seek or fetch. This makes training more engaging and exciting for the puppies, encouraging them to actively participate.

Here is a fun game to incorporate when playing a game of fetch.  The Drop Game

Why train The Drop Game?

There will be times when your pup will pick up something that he is not supposed to have. By  Teaching your pup a simple cue, your pup will drop whatever he has in his mouth.

How to train the Drop Game:

Step 1: You may use two toys or a treat stick.

Step 2: Placing one object behind your back, offer, the other to your pup to either tug or chew on.

Step 3. Once your pup has it firmly in his mouth, place the higher stake treat or toy under his nose. Once he figures he can’t have both in his mouth say “drop it” in a firm voice.

Step 4. Once he drops the object immediately mark “yes” and reward with the higher stake reward.

2. Treat Rewards for Puppies:

Use small, tasty treats as rewards for correct behaviors or successful commands. Puppies love treats, and this positive reinforcement helps them associate training sessions with a fun and rewarding experience.  Here at Off Leash K9 Training Maryland we recommend beef liver treats since a  lot of dogs develop into chicken allergies. Some dogs can be picky when it comes to treats. If you are struggling to find a high-value reward our trainers can offer some suggestions such as using their kibble.

3. Puppy Play Breaks:

Intersperse training exercises with short play breaks. This allows puppies to release pent-up energy and have a little fun before continuing with the training session. It also helps to keep their attention and motivation levels high. A good rule of thumb is 3-4 minutes per skill session.

4. Incorporate Toys into Training:

Use toys as training aids to make sessions more enjoyable.  For example, teach puppies to fetch or retrieve specific toys as part of their training routine. This adds an element of fun and playfulness to the training process. Safety is always a top priority. Our Trainers like to use balls that have openings to allow airflow in case of accidental swallowing. When choosing toys for your puppy it is important to purchase the right size to avoid injuries.

5. Socialization Opportunities with Other Dogs and People:

Training classes often provide opportunities for puppies to interact with other dogs and people. This socialization aspect can be a lot of fun for puppies as they get to play and learn alongside their peers.

Our puppy camp program is a great way to combine socialization and obedience training. Our Puppy Camp is on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday with drop off as early as 8:00 am and pick up by 5:00 pm. While your puppy gets to socialize all day with other dogs their age, they will also be taken out several times throughout the day to train one-on-one with a Professional Trainer.

6. Variety in Exercises:

Keep training sessions interesting by incorporating a  variety of exercises and commands. Puppies enjoy the challenge of learning new things, and this keeps their minds stimulated and engaged.

Remember, while having fun is important during training, it’s also crucial to maintain structure and consistency. Balancing playfulness with discipline helps puppies develop good manners and behavior while enjoying the process.


Off-leash K9 Training, Maryland is Here to Help!

Our training specialists are happy to help you identify your dos individual needs and get them into the training program that is best for them!

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Where Can Therapy Dogs Go?

Many misconceptions exist about what therapy dogs do and where they can go. If you have a therapy dog or you’d like to train your dog as a therapy dog, you need to know where you’re allowed to be. There are specific laws that govern the circumstances under which dogs are allowed.

There are also significant differences between therapy dogs, service dogs and emotional support animals. Each category of assistance animal is allowed to do different things. Knowing the facts about therapy dogs and their limitations is the first step to training a successful therapy dog yourself.

What Is a Therapy Dog?

Therapy dogs, also known as comfort dogs, support people’s mental health by providing emotional support and comfort. They are trained to be calm, sweet and reassuring for people facing health or emotional difficulties. Therapy dogs and their owners work as a team to improve people’s lives, whether visiting an older adult in an assisted living facility or comforting a child in foster care.

What Makes a Good Therapy Dog?

Therapy dogs must display certain characteristics in tense or anxious situations. A successful therapy dog is:

  • Obedient, gentle and calm.
  • Fond of socializing with different people.
  • Well-mannered.
  • Comfortable in new environments.
  • Unbothered by unfamiliar noises and movements.
  • Happy being touched and petted.

The Difference Between Service Dogs, Emotional Support Dogs and Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs, emotional support dogs and service dogs perform different functions. While a therapy dog provides support and comfort to different people or a group of people, service animals perform specific tasks for their owners. They receive additional training aimed at helping their owners manage disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows service dogs to accompany their owners in public places.

Service animals must be dogs, whereas a therapy animal can be any animal calm and gentle enough to provide reassurance. An example of a service dog could be a dog who guides a blind owner or helps a person with a physical disability complete daily tasks. They stay with a specific person and have special privileges in public places.

Emotional support dogs are similar to service dogs in that they help specific people. They provide emotional support to their owners, who may have a mental or emotional condition, such as anxiety or depression. While they are not trained to complete specific tasks, they are still considered essential to their owners’ well-being. They may be allowed in housing that doesn’t typically allow dogs.

Do Therapy Dogs Have the Legal Right to Enter Certain Locations?

The quick answer is no. Therapy dogs are not classified the same way as service animals, and their access to specific locations is more limited. While a therapy dog can work anywhere, the venue must invite them to the premises. Therapy dogs work closely with their owner and handler and come as a team.

Therapy dogs are not protected under federal law, so they don’t have the same access to public places as service dogs. However, they serve a vital purpose — their calm temperaments and willingness to work with various people make them invaluable in many situations. Some familiar places you might find therapy dogs include the following:

  • Hospitals and mental health facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Schools and libraries
  • Foster care facilities
  • Crisis situations such as natural disasters or accident scenes

Therapy dogs have the same legal rights as regular pets. As the owner of a therapy dog, you must ask permission before taking your dog somewhere new.


So, Where Can You Take a Therapy Dog?

If you want to take your therapy dog to various locations and lend a helping hand, all you need is an invitation. You may find that individual service providers allow you to take your therapy dog places where a regular pet would not be welcome, but it depends on the circumstances.

There is no legally protected status for therapy dogs, but you may find they’re allowed in some of the following spaces:

  • Colleges: Therapy dogs have been proven highly beneficial for college students under stress, and many colleges are open to the idea. You may make an agreement with a college to bring your dog to the library or another public area once per week to interact with students.
  • Airplanes: Your therapy dog is not covered by the same laws that would enable service and emotional support dogs on planes. Some airlines may allow your therapy dog to travel with you as a pet, but this is rare.
  • Holiday accommodation: If you’re bringing your therapy dog to a location that requires you to travel, you may have to make special arrangements for accommodations. You might find your hotel or Airbnb allows well-behaved pets, but the venue reserves the right to tell you whether or not your dog is allowed.
  • Work: Whether your dog is allowed at work is entirely up to your employer. While service dogs are legally covered in the workplace, your therapy dog requires permission before entering the building. Your employer might be open to the idea of bringing your dog to the office on certain days to interact with employees.

Many laws concerning pet ownership and access vary from one state to another. While most regulations don’t cover therapy dogs, their obedient temperaments and excellent manners make them welcome in more places than you might imagine. Always double-check with a venue before bringing your therapy dog along. You might be pleasantly surprised at the reception.

Should You Train Your Dog to Be a Therapy Dog?

If your dog has a suitable temperament to be a good therapy dog, training him is an excellent option. Dogs with calm and pleasant temperaments enjoy meeting new people, and taking them to different environments is mentally stimulating.

Often, a canine good citizen (CGC) test is a prerequisite of therapy organizations, so it’s an excellent place to start. It covers all the basics required for a therapy dog, including the following:

  • Accepting a friendly stranger
  • Sitting calmly for petting
  • Walking through a crowd
  • Sitting and staying in place
  • Reaction to distractions
  • Calmness around other dogs
  • Obedience and coming to the handler when called

Once your dog has completed their CGC test, you may be ready to take the next step and become a therapy dog team.


Train Your Dog to Be a Therapy Dog With Off Leash K9 Training Maryland

If you think your dog has all the makings of an excellent therapy dog, training them will be incredibly rewarding. Off Leash Canine Training Maryland can help you turn your dog into a phenomenal therapy dog. We offer a canine good citizen preparation course and a therapy dog course assessed by our in-house Therapy Pets Unlimited evaluators. After our eight private lessons, we can evaluate you and your dog as a team for certification.

Our compassionate and knowledgeable trainers are here to help you one-on-one and can provide extra individual attention to help you achieve your goals, no matter your dog’s age, breed or size. Contact us to sign up for our therapy dog training course!


What to Know About Overnight Training Programs

If you’re looking for ways to successfully teach your dog commands and desired behaviors, a board and train program might interest you. Below, learn about these programs and whether one might be the right fit for you and your four-legged friend.

What Is a Dog Board and Train Program?

A board and train program is an intensive dog training solution, beneficial for dog owners with busy schedules or those looking to address specific behavioral issues.

Your dog will live with a qualified trainer during this training, participating in daily training exercises and enrichment activities. When not learning new skills, your pup will live in the trainer’s home or in a kennel socializing with other dogs, depending on the trainer you work with.

What Can Extended Stay Training Programs Do for Your Dog?

Overnight training programs can offer various services depending on the trainer and your dog’s age, needs and prior training experience. At the most basic level, these training programs can teach your dog standard commands, including “sit,” “down,” “stay,” “heel” and “come.” Trainers can also address issues like jumping, leash pulling, stealing food off the counter and more. Others may work with your dogs to teach them fun tricks.

Enrolling your dog could also be a valuable attempt to correct more serious behavioral issues like aggression or anxiety. If you want to address these kinds of problems, it’s crucial to find a trainer with an extensive track record and proper qualifications to properly and safely work with your dog.

Advantages of Dog Board and Train Services

Here are a few key benefits of these services to consider:

  • Most of the training is done for you: Overnight training takes care of most of the heavy lifting, providing basic obedience training and solutions tailored to your needs. Keep in mind that after the training is over, you’ll still have to spend some time with your four-legged friend working on commands and behaviors.
  • Fully immerse your dog: When your dog is placed in a new environment with new people, they may be more open to adopting new habits. Plus, training every day speeds up the process of teaching your pup the manners and obedience you’re looking for in no time.
  • Endless socialization opportunities: Sending your dog away from your home is a great way to expose them to new places and faces. They’ll begin to feel more comfortable and confident with other people and dogs and in new environments, drastically improving their quality of life.

Disadvantages of Dog Board and Train Services

For some dogs, board and train services may not be the best fit. Board and train programs are far from a one-size-fits-all solution and won’t deliver results overnight. They’re an excellent resource to instill or remove desired behaviors, yet you’ll likely have to continue reinforcing what they learned after they complete the program.

Some other reasons overnight training programs might not be a good fit for you or your best friend include:

  • Separation anxiety: If your best friend suffers from separation anxiety, a dog board and train service might not be the right solution. In addition to being away from home, your dog will meet new faces and dogs, which can be further sources of anxiety and impact how much they learn.
  • Dogs have difficulty generalizing: Most dogs learn within the context of their location. So, your dog may have difficulty repeating their skills for you once they’re back in their home environment. You’ll likely have to continue training and reinforce what they learned with the trainer.  
  • Your dog will be away for a while: Daily activity creates a strong bond between you and your canine. You’ll miss out on some crucial trust formation when you send them away, especially during longer programs lasting weeks. 

Tips for Finding a Quality Training Program

Finding the right extended stay overnight training program for your dog is crucial to ensure they stay safe as they’re trained. If you’re searching for a program, consider the following tips:

  • Understand the methods trainers use.
  • Look for the right certifications and qualifications.
  • Schedule a visit to a trainer’s home or facility.
  • Speak with former clients and ask them about their experiences.
  • Be wary of anyone who guarantees results.

Work With Off Leash K9 Training Maryland for Train and Board Training Programs

If you think a train and board program is the solution you’re looking for, Off Leash K9 Training is ready to help. We offer various training programs to give your dog the manners and tools to behave properly at home and beyond. Our trainers have years of experience, giving us the knowledge and skills to safely and successfully train your dog.

You can contact us to learn more about our programs or fill out a registration form to sign up today!

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Introducing Your Dog to Your New Baby

Introducing Your Dog to Your New Baby

The arrival of a new baby is exciting and nerve-wracking, especially if you have dogs. Having a dog in the family has many benefits, but worrying about how they will respond to a new baby is an added stress you don’t need when welcoming your bundle of joy.

The good news is that there is a way to introduce your dog to your baby the right way. A smooth introduction takes a little preparation and a lot of patience, but knowing what to expect goes a long way toward ensuring positive dog behavior with the new baby.

What to Expect When You Bring Your Baby Home

Dogs love routine and feeling comfortable in their home. Bringing a new baby into the mix can upset their routine and expose them to sounds and smells they’re unfamiliar with.

Your dog needs time to adjust to these changes. In many ways, their temperament will determine how they handle them. Your dog may be stressed by a new baby if they are already anxious. If they have a relaxed nature, a baby may not phase them.

Regardless of your dog’s temperament, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect if you take the time to prepare them, which is where training comes in. Any training you do with your dog before the baby benefits you all. For example, you may want to train your dog not to jump on the new furniture so that they do not accidentally harm your sleeping or resting baby. Your training should focus on the skills and commands your dog needs to understand when interacting with the baby. If you can master these, you’ll have more control over their first interaction.

Do Dogs Understand Human Babies?

Do Dogs Understand Human Babies?

No definitive research suggests dogs know what a human baby is. They have a rudimentary grasp of communicating with people and understanding their body language, so they’ll notice you care about the baby and are treating them gently. They can tell the difference between fully grown humans and small children, as they often display more protective behavior toward babies and toddlers.

How to Introduce Your Dog to Your New Baby

Thinking ahead will make introductions easier for you, your dog and your baby. Learn how to prepare your dog for a baby with the following steps:

1. Prepare Your Dog Ahead of Time

The most significant adjustment for your dog is the change in routine. Acclimating your dog to these changes as early as possible will help eliminate stress and ensure they don’t associate the changes with the baby. Consider playing your dog recordings of baby noises and allow them to smell all the new baby supplies as you bring them home.

Crate training provides your dog with their own space — off-limits to children — where they can go if they feel scared or uncertain. Training your dog to go to their crate will be especially vital as your baby grows and starts walking.

Throughout the preparation phase, ensure you address the following:

  • Feeding: Provide a space where your dog can eat undisturbed. Dogs may correct puppies who come near their food, and you don’t want them directing that action toward your baby.
  • Exercise: Dogs are easier to work with when they get adequate exercise. You may want to teach your dog to walk alongside your baby’s stroller so that they get the movement they need while you and your baby get some fresh air.
  • Training: Training should be your top priority when preparing your dog for a new baby. Commands like “leave it,” “sit,” “stay,” and “go to your spot” will be invaluable in managing dog and baby interactions.
  • Health: Before you bring your dog and your baby together, you want to ensure your dog is healthy and parasite free, so they can’t pass anything on to the baby.
  • Crate training: Crate training takes advantage of your dog’s natural instinct to seek out a safe space when discomforted by their environment. When done correctly, your dog will associate the crate with something pleasant and will learn to love their safe space. Consult a professional for assistance here.
  • Area blocking: Block off areas like the baby’s room in advance so your dog can adjust to the new rules.

2. Bring Your Baby Home

Have someone take your dog for a long walk before you bring your baby home. The introduction will go smoother if they are calm. When you get home, let your partner hold the baby while you enter the house and greet your dog. They will be happy to see you, so let them greet you properly — and expend some excess energy.

Once all the greetings are out of the way, have someone leash your dog and be ready with treats. Bring your baby into the house calmly — if you’re nervous, your dog will pick up on it. Greet your dog in a cheerful tone. Ensure your helper provides plenty of treats and praise when they stay calm.

Always reward your dog for calm behavior. If they are anxious or fearful, harsh corrections will compound those emotions. Be ready with treats and rewards whenever your dog is calm around the baby.

3. Introduce Your Dog to Your Baby

It’s up to you whether you introduce your dog and baby immediately. Remember, stay calm and positive throughout the experience and follow these simple steps:

  1. Pick a room your dog doesn’t see as their territory, and sit in a chair with the baby in your arms. Have someone bring your dog in on a leash.
  2. Once your dog’s body language is relaxed, give them the command to come to you.
  3. Allow your dog to sniff the baby gently, and praise them using a soft, positive tone.
  4. If you’re comfortable, give your dog more time to get to know your baby. If too much interaction makes you anxious, allow your dog and baby to interact in short bursts so that your emotions don’t stress your dog. Build their relationship slowly, allowing more supervised time as your dog adjusts.

Tips and Tricks for a Smooth Introduction

It all sounds straightforward, and it should be if you’ve done your homework. If you’re still nervous about the introduction, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Train and train some more: If your dog can follow basic commands, introducing and letting them interact with your baby is much easier. Whether your dog has basic obedience training or not, consider enrolling them in a class, and let your instructor know your goal is a harmonious home.
  • Buy plenty of dog toys: If your dog has plenty of toys, they will be less likely to steal from the baby.
  • Teach your baby about your dog: As your baby grows, teach them about your dog’s safe space. Encourage your child not to touch your dog like you would teach them not to touch a hot stove. You can maintain this rule until your baby is old enough to interact with your dog positively.
  • Prioritize supervision: Never leave your child and your dog together unsupervised. A simple miscommunication could end in disaster, so ensure someone responsible is always around to oversee their interactions.
  • Allow the growl: Growling is your dog’s way of communicating that they’re uncomfortable with something. Punishing them for communicating will only remove the behavior, not the emotion behind it, so your dog might feel he has no choice but to nip without warning.
  • Keep the diapers away: Your dog will eat diapers if they can find them, so always ensure they’re out of reach and disposed of properly.
  • Wait until your dog is calm: If you notice that your dog seems overstimulated by the increase in activity, don’t let them smell the baby. Wait until they are calm and settled. You want to instill rules about being calm around the baby from the beginning.

Set Your Dog up for Success With Obedience Courses From Off Leash K9 Training

Set Your Dog up for Success With Obedience Courses From Off Leash K9 Training

At Off Leash Canine Training Maryland, we believe in strengthening the bond between you and your dog through obedience training. We offer individual and group obedience training classes based on mutual understanding and building your dog’s confidence.

Whether introducing a new baby or wanting a happier, more obedient dog, our compassionate and knowledgeable trainers can help you. Please feel free to reach out to us today to learn more about letting the bond with your dog be off-leash!

What Are Therapy Dogs Used For?

What Are Therapy Dogs Used For? 

Humans have long relied on dogs to work in the fields or protect their homes. As time has passed, we have also learned more about their exceptional qualities in comforting and loving us, which make them perfect for other roles, such as being therapy dogs.

What does a therapy dog do, and how can your pup become one? Let’s dive in!

What Is a Therapy Dog?

When you’re feeling down or you’ve had a bad day at work, what’s the first thing you turn to for reassurance? Your little pup! They improve your mood and motivate you to push through on days you don’t feel like it. That’s precisely what therapy dogs do — they provide comfort and much-needed attention to strangers in challenging situations.

Owners volunteer their certified therapy dogs at hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, group homes, nursing homes and schools. Residents, patients and students hug, pet and play with these dogs, benefitting from their relaxing and reassuring presence. However, unlike service dogs, therapy dogs are not protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, meaning they can only enter public places with their owners if they are granted permission.

Why Do People Need Therapy Dogs?

Dogs are sensitive and attentive creatures that provide unconditional love. Therapy dogs can offer psychological and physiological benefits to anyone, although they are most often utilized by those suffering from mental health challenges, psychiatric disorders or traumatic accidents. A dog’s companionship can:

  • Reduce stress levels.
  • Take someone’s mind off their problems.
  • Decrease feelings of loneliness.
  • Boost confidence.
  • Encourage exercise.

How Can Your Dog Become Therapy Certified?

To become a therapy dog, your four-legged friend must be an adult, pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test and obtain certification from a therapy-specific program. The CGC test teaches dogs basic obedience skills such as sitting and staying on cue, allowing handling from strangers and walking on a leash. This test is often a prerequisite for therapy programs, which prepares your dog to work in various therapy settings.

Dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds can become assistance dogs in therapeutic settings. Having a pleasant personality is essential to their success in providing emotional support. Ideally, they should be calm, confident, friendly, affectionate, disciplined and adaptable. If your dog has these qualities and loves to meet new people, volunteering might be the perfect job for them.

Sign up for Therapy Dog Training at Off Leash K9 Training

Our skilled and certified trainers at Off Leash K9 Training Maryland are here to help if you’re interested in train and evaluate for certification your dog as a therapy volunteer. We offer private, personalized therapy dog training sessions seven days a week, so you can prepare your dog while checking everything off your packed to-do list.

Want to learn more about our Therapy Dog Development Course? Call 443-743-3221 or contact us online!


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Calm Your Reactive Dog

Calm Your Reactive Dog

A reactive dog means they find stimuli in their immediate environment challenging to handle, which causes them to overreact. Reactive dogs are not necessarily aggressive, although they do an excellent job of looking like it. Overreactions to stimuli include barking, growling, lunging and posturing.

Several factors could contribute to dog reactivity, including genetics, socialization and triggering episodes in their early development. Handling reactive behavior can be challenging, especially while your dog is on its leash. Overstimulation also affects a dog’s quality of life. Responding to reactivity with calm behavior is the first step to calming your reactive dog.

Setting Your Reactive Dog up for Success

A reactive dog responds to triggers in their environment. For whatever reason, they see these triggers as a threat. Calming your reactive dog requires training, desensitization, a good understanding of their body language and clear boundaries. Before you start training, set your dog up for success using the following tips and tricks:

  • Avoid triggers: When your dog is triggered, instinct takes over and they go into fight or flight mode. For your dog to pay attention to you and learn, they need to be calm.
  • Manage your dog and the environment: Training a reactive dog requires awareness of your environment to avoid triggers. When you take your dog out in public, ensure you always have a backup plan — another route you can take, a quiet street or a quick exit.
  • Put yourself in your dog’s paws: Your dog isn’t being naughty — they are reacting to a perceived threat. You must provide them with positive experiences from a safe distance to change thought patterns.
  • Remove triggers: Often, the most effective way to stop unwanted behavior is to remove the trigger. Removing a trigger not always be possible, but you can control what your dog sees. Block unwanted visuals and move your dog to a place in your home with limited access to triggers.
  • Study canine body language: Dogs communicate with their bodies, and there’s plenty of research available on canine body language. Read up, watch videos and compare your dog’s behavior in different situations. In time, you’ll be able to predict a reactive outburst.
  • Make some changes: Identifying triggers might give you the information you need to change your routine.
  • Focus on safety: Reactive behavior is often a result of your dog feeling threatened. Think about how you can make your dog feel safer and boost their confidence in different situations.
  • Plan: When unsure how your dog will react to a new stimulus, avoid it in the early stages. If there’s no need to expose your dog, it might be best to avoid it altogether.

Creating and Sticking to a Schedule

Routine means security. It may not be something you’ve considered before, but dogs thrive on routine. When you think about it, it makes sense — a schedule makes the world more predictable and less frightening.

Creating and Sticking to a Schedule

Our canine friends are already more aware of our routines than we realize. An anxious dog might be happier with a straightforward and constructive schedule. Start your routine at home where your dog is comfortable, and try to do the same things at the same time every day.

Once you’ve solidified your home routine, you can start adding to it by going for walks and car trips. Remember, these outings must be part of your schedule so your dog knows when to expect them.

Desensitizing a Reactive Dog

Desensitizing your dog involves pairing a trigger with something positive. Start small and from a safe distance before gradually incorporating the trigger into your dog’s immediate environment. Make a list of your dog’s triggers, from the most acute downward. When these triggers appear, be ready with a high-value treat. If your dog doesn’t take the food, they are over the threshold and needs to be further away from the trigger. Consider the following stages of reactivity. You can think of them in terms of color — the red zone, orange zone, yellow zone and green zone:

  • Highly reactive (The red zone): Your dog is barking and lunging and can’t respond to verbal cues. They won’t take treats and may bite if feeling threatened.
  • Moderately reactive (The orange zone): Your dog will be tense and strain against the leash. They’ll have a stiff, alert posture and may growl or give low, huffing barks as a warning. They may not accept treats.
  • Somewhat reactive (The yellow zone): Your dog is alert, stares at the trigger and may require several cues to focus on you.
  • Calm and focused (The green zone): The green zone is where you want your dog to be during desensitizing training. They’ll be happy to sniff the ground and take treats, so they can focus on you and follow your commands on a relaxed leash.

When desensitizing your dog, watch their behavior closely. If they move into more reactive zones, increase the distance between them and the trigger until they are comfortable. Reward your dog when they focus on you and follow your commands.

Reactivity Training Tips

Training your dog requires a combination of desensitization and management. Management means taking control of your dog’s environment and making it as trigger-free as possible. Ideally, training will result in a dog that can self-soothe and handle external situations without too much human interference. Consider the following tips to make your training more successful:

  • Watch your body language: As you approach a potential trigger, you may feel compelled to shorten the leash and tense your body. Your dog picks up on your body language changes and becomes more fearful. Stay calm.
  • Know your dog: Knowing your dog well gives you time to react and respond before they reach the highly reactive zone.
  • Give your dog plenty of exercise: Exercise burns off excess energy and makes your dog calmer, more responsive and more comfortable.
  • Provide mental stimulation: Keeping your dog’s mind busy is just as important as exercise. If your dog has something else to focus on, they will feel less threatened by external triggers.
  • Train your dog to focus: Start your training at home. Bring a high-value treat up to eye level and instruct your dog to “watch.” Reward your dog when they make eye contact.
  • Be patient and consistent: Training takes time. Your dog may not always understand what you’re saying, but getting frustrated will make them more anxious. Your dog will understand what you’re asking more quickly if you train consistently.
  • Stay away from punishment: Verbal and physical aggression will heighten your dog’s fight or flight response and make it difficult to respond to your commands.
  • Give your dog plenty of praise: Praise your dog enthusiastically when they perform the behavior you’re looking for, so they know the difference between right and wrong.
  • Consult a professional: Professional help from experienced experts is more likely to have a successful outcome. Do your research if you’d like to bring in an expert, and make sure you choose a reputable trainer.

Register for the Off Leash K9 Training Reactive Dog Course

With Off Leash K9 Training Maryland, you can have a well-behaved dog that’s good at solving problems. If you’re struggling with a reactive dog anywhere in Maryland, we provide an individualized approach to training to work on triggers one step at a time. Our knowledgeable and compassionate trainers will assess your dog’s personality and training needs to provide personalized instruction for each unique pet, regardless of age or breed.

No unwanted behavior is too much of a challenge for us. Please get in touch with us today, and let the bond with your dog go off-leash!

Register for the Off Leash K9 Training Reactive Dog Course