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!

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!

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

Boarding Your Dog With Separation Anxiety

If you’re planning a fun vacation away from town, you might be thinking about boarding your furry loved one while you’re away. While this option lets you relax knowing your pet is in caring hands, your dog’s anxiety might give you second thoughts. Your dog’s separation anxiety can make you feel like you have to limit your traveling opportunities — but don’t cancel your vacation just yet.

With the proper boarding professionals by your side, you can take memorable trips while your furry friend receives training to combat their anxiety. Take a look at how our boarding and training facility can help train dogs with separation anxiety.

What Happens During Our Board and Train Program

Sometimes, owners can feel just as anxious as their dogs when going away for the first time. We totally get it! That’s why we designed our Board and Train Program to make boarding your dog as comfortable as possible for you and your furry friend.

Our two overnight programs offer opportunities for your dog to learn basic commands and manners while socializing with other pets. These positive interactions can help distract your pet from being separated from you.

Our Board and Train Programs include:

  • One-week training camp: While you take a well-deserved vacation, your dog will learn basic commands such as sit, come and wait. Their new training will allow them to roam freely off-leash on beaches, parks and playgrounds so they can get to know other furry friends. After the week is over, you can join us to learn how to do these commands with your fluffy loved ones!
  • Two-week training camp: In two weeks, your dog will learn basic obedience and commands that allow them to socialize positively with other dogs and people. Our high-distraction approach teaches them how to behave outdoors and off-leash for the long term so they can greet you with new obedient behaviors to practice at home.

How to Board Dogs With Separation Anxiety

While separation anxiety training can be a big help, you want your dog to be as comfortable as possible. Here are a few other ways you can ease your pet’s anxieties when it’s time to board them.

Bring a Comfort Toy for Your Dog

Familiarity and a little piece of home can make a huge difference for your dog when they stay at a boarding facility, especially for the first time. Make the transition from home to boarding easier with your furry friend’s favorite toy.

A squeaky toy, stuffed animal or another small reminder of their playtime with you can offer a lot of reassurance for a dog’s anxiety. When preparing your dog for an extended stay at a boarding facility, this small factor can give them something to snuggle up with as they sleep on the exciting memories of the day.

Ease Your Dog Into Being Away From You

Dogs are incredibly observant — they may even notice that you’re preparing for a fun trip out of town. When you start packing and finalizing your plans, this time is perfect for getting your dog used to the idea of being away from you.

There are a few ways you can help your dog get comfortable being at a distance from you. A few simple steps you can take can include:

  • Keep them in a separate room at home while sleeping: If you and your furry friend sleep in the same bed, they might have a hard time spending nights away from your presence. To make the transition a little easier when you travel, you can try putting a dog bed in your living room, kitchen or another cozy area for them to sleep in so they can get used to not sleeping close to you. The sooner you start doing this, the easier it will be for you and your fluffy companion to be apart.
  • Do a trial run: The best way to know how your dog will react to being away from you overnight is to do a trial run of the boarding process. You can contact a trusted friend or family member nearby to see if they can watch your pet for a day. If they’re comfortable with this, bring your dog’s favorite toys, foods and bed to the other home and let them get used to being around other people. Let your dog get settled in and see how they do away from home.

The only time you don’t want to slowly ease your dog into things is when it’s time to drop them off. When the time comes to say “goodbye” to your fluffy loved one, try not to make the departure too long. Prolonging your separation from them can make it more challenging for you and your dog to truly go your two different ways. Instead, give them one last snuggle and their favorite toy and look forward to seeing them again soon.

Ask Your Vet About Anxiety Medications

A quick trip to the vet’s office can make your travel plans easier for you and your pet. When easing them into being apart doesn’t seem to do the trick, anxiety medication can benefit your dog’s attitude and actions when they realize you’ve left.

If you think this route can help, try to make an appointment ahead of time, so there’s plenty of time to ease your furry friend into the medication. Allowing them to get used to the medication can help make them feel ready to be apart from you while you travel. You might even want to visit if you notice any of these common symptoms of your dog’s separation anxiety:

  • Aggression
  • Excessive panting, barking and drooling
  • Restlessness and pacing
  • Destructive behavior
  • Urinating in the house
  • Compulsive actions
  • Depression

These signs can be subtle, but the sooner you notice them, the better for you and your dog. Vets typically recommend antidepressants or Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to calm their nerves and reduce these common symptoms.

Off Leash K9 Training Maryland Boards and Trains Dogs With Separation Anxiety

For a boarding facility that puts your fluffy companion’s needs first, Off Leash K9 Training has your back! Our team of professional trainers takes extra steps when training anxious dogs to ensure they’re comfortable and receive the proper sessions to socialize positively with people and other furry friends.

When you book a session in our boarding and training facility in Maryland, we can walk you through a detailed plan that fits your needs and your dog’s. We are happy to work with dogs of any breed, size and age!

Contact Off Leash K9 Training professionals to discuss training package options that’ll work best for you.

Reactive vs. Aggressive Dog

Aggression is one of the most common reasons dog owners seek professional help. It’s also very common to confuse an aggressive dog with one that is reactive. Learning the difference can help you appropriately deal with the issue at hand.

Aggressive dogs may be guarding territory, resources or another family member. They might also be frightened, frustrated, in pain or have a prey drive. In any of these situations, a dog can transition quickly from reactive to aggressive.

Learn more about the behaviors that can trigger aggression in your dog to help you prevent it.

What Is Dog Reactivity?

A reactive dog is one that is overactive or in a heightened state of arousal to stimuli. They may be in this state due to panic, irritation or a lack of socialization.

A dog constantly jumping, barking or pulling on the leash can stem from a lack of training. They may want to meet another dog but aren’t sure how to express themself correctly. They could also fear a human or another dog and want to frighten them off. For instance, a bad experience with a human could cause a dog to jump or pull and try to bite. For this reason, it’s essential to assess your dog’s intention.

If you have an otherwise happy dog who does well with other animals and shows a desire to go after another dog, they’re likely just overstimulated and excited. Puppies often fall under this category, which is why teaching them how to be patient is essential.

If you’ve never trained your dog or it’s your first time walking them on a leash, they’re likely just showing leash reactivity behavior. Professionals will work with your dog if it displays these behaviors. This way, they can learn to behave positively toward a leash so you can go on enjoyable walks with your furry companion.

What Is Dog Aggression?

Dog aggression is dangerous, hostile and destructive behavior toward a human or another animal. It’s commonly mistaken for reactivity and can be tricky to identify if the dog has not yet escalated.

In many cases, a dog displaying behaviors like snarling, lifting their lip or stiffening the body is communicating fear or anxiety. If pushed, they may bite, which is when you know a reactive dog has transitioned into aggressive.

Typical dog aggressive behavior includes:

  • Muzzle punching or punching someone with their nose
  • Snarling
  • Snapping
  • A bite that damages the skin
  • A bite that causes a bruise
  • A bite that causes puncture wounds
  • Repeated bites

There’s typically some fear involved in aggressive dogs. If they lift their lip, growl, snap or lean forward to bark or back up as they bark, they are putting space between themselves and what they fear. When the person or animal backs up, it reinforces the dog’s behavior, as they believe when they act this way, the source of their fear will go away.

That’s not to say you should ignore your four-legged friend when they growl or snarls their teeth. It’s essential to note these signals, as they are a dog’s way of letting you know they feel anxious or afraid. If you think your companion could be displaying reactive or fear-based aggressive behaviors, it’s helpful to find a positive reinforcement trainer who can teach strategies to keep your dog comfortable in triggering situations.

If your dog lashes out by chasing someone or even jumping and attempting to bite, this isn’t normal behavior. In this case, the dog’s owners should contact a trainer to help them work on aggression. Through aggressive dog behavior training, professionals can provide tips for navigating triggers and preventing a hostile situation.

Behaviors That Look Like Aggression

Behaviors That Look Like Aggression

Listed below are some of the dog behaviors commonly mistaken for aggression:

  • Mouthing or nipping puppies: When puppies play with their owners or other dogs, they might nip harder than they should. This behavior doesn’t stem from aggression but rather a puppy that is over-stimulated and needs a break.
  • Rough play: Dog play is mock fighting and a form of normal canine interaction. Dogs learn this behavior from a young age and may become loud or appear aggressive while playing. As long as both dogs respect each other’s body language, the behavior is not aggressive and is an excellent activity for socialization and exercise.
  • Physical discomfort: A dog who suddenly starts growling or snapping might actually be sick or in pain. As stated above, a vet should rule out any sudden, unexpected aggressive behavior to determine a medical cause.

Behaviors That Sometimes Lead to Aggression

Dog owners should be aware that dogs who display reactive, fearful or guarding behaviors can quickly become aggressive:

  • Reactivity: Reactivity can stem from genetics, lack of socialization, a frightening experience or insufficient training. Reactive dogs usually have specific triggers, such as children, fast-moving objects or vehicles. They may suddenly feel trapped by their leash and attempt to escape. If a reactive dog approaches you, give them space rather than approaching or greeting them.
  • Fight or flight: Fear is the most common reason for aggressive dog behavior. In situations where dogs cannot flee from the thing scaring them, they may fight to protect themselves. Watch for body language that might indicate fear, such as shaking, pacing, whining, barking or cowering.
  • Resource guarding: Dogs usually protect things they deem most worthy, such as toys, food, sleeping areas and even people. This is an evolutionary instinct, as their ancestors were forced to protect their resources to survive in the wild. Teaching dogs behaviors like “leave it” or “off” can help put an end to this behavior. Aggressive dog behavior training by professionals can also help your dog learn these commands to keep you in control of a situation before it turns hostile.
  • Leash reactivity: Leash-reactive dogs grow, bark or lunge toward things that make them anxious or fearful. These triggers can be specific, such as children, men, women or male or female dogs. Dogs that display these behaviors are trying to prevent a fight by putting distance between themselves and the threat or by scaring it away.

Aggressive Dog Behavior Training

Aggressive Dog Behavior Training

Whether you have an aggressive or reactive dog, the professional dog trainers at Off Leash K9 Training can help you train your dog and put you back in control. Our aggressive dog behavior training package teaches obedience and manners while helping your dog build confidence and trust every step of the way. We offer private one-on-one training, so your dog will get the individual attention they need. Aggressive behavior will reduce after eight private lessons as your dog learns commands and get used to other canine friends.

Learn more about our dog aggression training package, or contact us today with any questions.


Service Dog vs. Therapy Dog vs. Emotional Support Dog

Service Dog vs. Therapy Dog vs. Emotional Support Dog

Dogs are caring, loyal companions. They bring us joy and help protect us when we feel stressed or unsafe. Service, therapy and emotional support companion dogs offer unique support for people with additional needs. This can include people with disabilities, people prescribed animal support and people residing in hospitals or nursing homes. Let’s compare therapy vs. emotional support vs. service dogs and how they each offer a service for individuals who require extra care and attention.

What’s the Difference Between Service, Therapy and Emotional Support Dogs?

While all dogs can bring comfort to us when we need it, some dogs receive specific training to provide services for people who might need extra assistance. Service, therapy and emotional support animals (ESAs) all have different roles to play — while they’re all dogs that help us in some way, these roles have different limitations and functions.

Service Dog

Service dogs are protected and regulated under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Not just any dog can become a service dog — service dogs are defined as dogs who are trained to perform tasks or do work for people with disabilities. These animals are not pets but working dogs. Their job is to provide a specific function for someone who requires extra assistance.

Some tasks service dogs are trained to perform include:

  • Calming someone during a panic attack
  • Reminding someone to take their medication
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Alerting someone who is deaf
  • Guiding someone who is blind
  • Alerting others and protecting someone during a seizure

These are not the only tasks service animals are trained to carry out — to be considered a service animals, dogs need individual training in a task directly related to someone’s disability.

Emotional Support Dog

Mental health professionals prescribe emotional support dogs for their patients. These dogs are typically prescribed to patients with diagnosed emotional or psychological disorders, including panic attacks, anxiety disorder and major depression. Emotional support animals provide comfort and security for their owners, supporting them when needed.

Therapy Dog

Therapy Dog

Therapy dogs aren’t trained to work for and live with a specific handler. Instead, they go with their handler — usually their owner — and visit facilities like schools, mental health facilities, hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. In these settings, the therapy animal’s purpose is to provide affection and comfort for residents. Unlike service dogs and emotional support dogs, therapy dogs are not used to support one person — they comfort many people as they go about their visits.

Since they go from place to place and visit lots of new people, therapy dogs are specifically trained to handle this work — therapy dogs should understand essential commands and listen well. They need gentle temperaments and must remain calm when interacting with unfamiliar places, sounds and people.

What Rights Do Service Dog Owners Have?

Since service dogs are protected under the ADA, service dog owners must receive reasonable accommodation for themselves and their dogs. Service dogs are permitted to go anywhere the public when accompanying a person with a disability. Even in spaces that normally don’t allow animals for health reasons, like restaurants, service dogs are permitted to accompany their person inside. While service dog owners can take their animals into public spaces, the dogs must remain under their handlers’ control at all times.

Additionally, service dog owners can only be asked two questions regarding their dogs:

  1. What task has the dog been trained to perform?
  2. Is the dog a service dog needed due to a disability?

Service dog owners do not have to disclose their disability or their dog’s documentation — these questions are protected under the ADA.

What Do Emotional Support Animals Do?

ESAs provide essential care and support services, easing loneliness, anxiety, depression and some phobias for their owners. They must be prescribed by a mental health professional who has evaluated their patient and determined that their life would benefit from an ESA.

Is an ESA the Same as a Service Animal?

Emotional support dogs are not service dogs. They don’t have the same protections under the ADA, and they’re not trained to perform a specific task for a person with disabilities. This is the main reason service dogs are not the same as emotional support dogs. This doesn’t make them any less essential to their owners, and they still provide critical care and support daily.

Therapy Dog Roles

Therapy dogs provide comfort and affection while remaining calm in various spaces. They should receive special training to ensure they can stay obedient and relaxed at all times. Their roles are to bring enjoyment into the lives of everyone they visit as they move through various clinical facilities. Therapy dogs might sit with children as they work on math or reading or visit sick patients in a hospital. Their job is to bring joy to other people instead of performing a role for their owners like service dogs and ESAs.

Can You Bring a Therapy Dog Anywhere?

Since therapy dogs aren’t exclusively working for people with disabilities, they aren’t protected under the ADA. Therapy dogs receive the same privileges as most pets — they’re permitted in public spaces and areas specifically designated for dogs. Additionally, dogs working as therapy animals will be allowed in various clinical facilities like hospitals with permission from the facility. Once established as therapy dogs at a facility, they can visit patients and residents as permitted.

How to Get Your Dog Certified as a Therapy Dog

To become a therapy dog, your pet needs therapy dog training from a certified evaluator. Completion of therapy training demonstrates that your dog understands and follows commands well. It will provide your pet with the training and techniques to ensure they remain calm and attentive in new and potentially stressful environments. Training helps your dog stay a happy and soothing presence as you take them through various clinical facilities to help residents.

Get Certified Therapy Dog Training With Off Leash K9 Training Maryland

Get Certified Therapy Dog Training With Off Leash K9 Training Maryland

Well-trained, certified therapy dogs can bring joy and comfort to people everywhere. Therapy dogs provide valuable support for residents and patients at clinical facilities. Getting your dog’s certification through a reputable, certified evaluator ensures your dog has the training and temperament for therapy work.

At Off Leash K9 Training Maryland, we’ll teach you and your dog the essential techniques and commands to ensure they are ready to handle the obedience requirements of being a therapy dog. We offer a therapy dog development program with eight private courses — four for basic commands and four specially tailored to your unique pet. After the course, we will evaluate your dog for certification. Enjoy many rewarding experiences with your therapy dog after receiving your certificate.

If you’re interested in certifying your pet as a therapy dog, sign up for our therapy dog training program today!

Correcting Leash Aggression

Correcting Leash Aggression

Leash aggression is a common behavior for dogs of all ages. Without the proper training, dogs can feel overwhelmed on walks where they face distractions from other animals, people or objects. Going on a relaxing walk with your fluffy companion can seem like a distant goal if they do not like their leash.

Correcting this behavior can take time and patience, but you can achieve it! Take a look at the following tips to reinforce positive reactions toward leashes, distractions and walks.

Behaviors to Look for in Leash-Reactive Dogs

Leash reactivity may occur when your dog feels agitated or overwhelmed while walking on a leash. A leash can feel restricting around their throats which can cause them to show aggression toward you or at the sight of other dogs. Reactive dogs do not respond well to external factors on walks, which can cause owners to stop taking them out for exercise.

If you want to keep your dog active with frequent walks, you can start to take note of their behavior on a leash now to make the training process more straightforward in the future.

Common leash reactivity behaviors include:

  • Lunging: When on a walk, you may notice your dog lunges toward other animals, objects along the path or people passing by. Whether this behavior results from aggression or excitement, it can make each walk challenging to complete.
  • Freezing: Some dogs feel overstimulated by a leash and completely freeze. They sit or stand still until you remove the leash from their collar. This behavior can result from fear if they are not used to the material.
  • Playing or biting: When on a leash, some dogs begin to bite the leash playfully because they think the rope is a toy. They may not recognize that the leash is for walking, so you must establish the difference between play time and going on a walk to reduce leash reactivity — even if the playing looks pretty funny.
  • Running and pulling: Dogs can begin to run uncontrolled when they feel overwhelmed. With their speed and strength, taking off can be a challenge for owners who have to chase after them.

Establishing a Safe Space for Your Dog

Dogs are incredibly intelligent animals. However, they may not understand why they have to go through training in the first place. They can observe your positive and negative reactions to certain behaviors, but they will not realize until training is over that they need to adapt to a leash.

To ensure a positive training experience, you can start correcting leash aggression inside your home. The environment where you live with your dog is, most likely, where they feel the most comfortable. Any open space in your home is perfect for beginner training one-on-one with your pet.

Patience, positivity and a calm attitude can make your pet feel stress-free during training. If they feel comfortable during training, they’ll be more able to relax in their favorite spot after a training session.

You can create a safe space in your home for your dog to unwind after training, allowing for a calming period of recuperation. Resting is essential to the training process so your fluffy friend can retain the new commands they learned in a comfortable setting. Establishing a designated space in your home for your dog’s relaxation also makes training inside the house more manageable.

Implement Positive Reinforcement

Implement Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is essential for training your leash-aggressive dog. This step allows you to reward them for any progress they make as they get used to being on a leash.

Dogs repeat behavior that they know you will reward them for completing. Their intelligence allows them to pick up on details quickly during training, so they know when to expect a treat and how to get one. Your job is to implement goodies effectively so they know when you will introduce them during the training process.

When Should You Give Treats During Training

Consistency is vital when implementing treats into your positive reinforcement routine. Make sure to reward your furry friend only when they can make progress — even when it is tempting to reward them for being too cute.

You should give them a treat during training when:

  • They behave positively toward the leash: You can start beginner training at home by placing the leash in front of them on the floor or in the palm of your hand. Encourage your dog to sit calmly with the leash in their presence without running off or biting the material. Repeat the introduction process until they show no reaction to the leash. Give your dog a treat whenever they do not behave negatively toward it.
  • They do not react to clipping the leash to them: After your dog becomes more comfortable around the leash, you can try to clip the leash onto their collar or harness to see their reaction. The weight of the leash might confuse them at first. Remember to establish a calming presence and take as much time as necessary to make your dog feel relaxed. Similar to the first step, you can reward your dog with a treat each time they show little to no reaction to this difference.
  • They walk calmly with the leash: Beginner training at home is also beneficial for starting to walk your dog with a leash in a familiar environment. You can practice walking them in your backyard or a room large enough to walk laps around. After they let you clip the leash on their collar or harness, hold the leash firmly beside you so they walk next to you. You can reward them with a treat if they can take calm steps with the leash on.
  • They can maintain a steady speed: As you begin walking, take slow steps first to avoid scaring your dog or encouraging them to run off. You can encourage your dog to walk at their own pace as long as they remain calm and are aware of distractions around them. React calmly to external factors to promote a relaxing tone with your dog during the walk. If they can pass any distractions without reacting to them negatively, reward them with a well-deserved treat.

These steps are only the beginning of a long training process to ensure a positive relationship between your dog and its leash. A little practice goes a long way, and staying consistent allows you to get back to enjoying relaxing walks with your companion.

Call in the Professionals

Call in the Professionals in Elkridge, MD

Leash aggression training can take time to correct if you do it alone. Luckily, Off Leash K9 Training is here to help! Our dog trainers specialize in establishing a calm environment for your fluffy friend to enjoy as they learn to walk on a leash comfortably. Aggressive behavior will minimize after our eight private lessons, where your dog will get used to commands and other canine friends.

Take a look at our dog aggression training package, or contact us today with any questions.

Introducing Your New Puppy to Your Older Dog

Introducing Your New Puppy to Your Older Dog

Gaining a new fluffy addition to your family is exciting for any household. Getting a new puppy used to your home can take some preparation and careful introductions to their new living space. This process can take a bit longer if you also have an older dog in your family.

When the dog of the house does not expect a new family member, it may seem tricky to introduce them to each other and create a good relationship between the two. With the right preparation and gentle introduction, you can create a strong bond between your two furry friends that will last a lifetime. Consider the following tips before bringing your new puppy home!

Prepare Before Bringing Your Puppy Home

Before you take your new puppy home for the first time, there are a few precautionary measures you can take. These preparations can create a smooth transition for your older dog, your new puppy and your home.

Have Designated Sleep Spaces for Both Dogs

Help your pups start their friendship off on the right foot — or paw — by encouraging respect. Do this by keeping your older dog’s current sleeping setup and designating another sleeping space for your new puppy. Your older dog can observe where the puppy will be staying, while your puppy gets their own space where they can comfortably adjust to their new home.

Dogs can become possessive over their spaces, especially when a new furry friend enters the family. If you crate your dogs at night, place them across the room from each other. Your dogs can respect each other’s spaces while becoming accustomed to each other.

Buy the Proper Supplies

Going shopping before the new puppy officially becomes a family member creates a smooth transition for everyone in your home. Take inspiration from what your older dog currently uses regularly as you prepare for your new puppy, like toys and items for walking. Just make sure you find the right puppy food and keep this separate from your older dog’s food — they have different diets and needs, after all.

The essentials that you need to have before the puppy arrives include:

  • An adjustable collar or harness
  • Food and water bowls
  • A bed or crate
  • Puppy food
  • A tag with their name and your home address
  • Treats to reinforce good behavior

Let the Dogs Meet on Neutral Ground

Let the Dogs Meet on Neutral Ground

First impressions are important for everyone — even for dogs. Help your pets build a healthy relationship with each other by letting them meet in a comfortable environment from a safe distance.

Introduce your new puppy and older dog on neutral ground in an open but secure area. This space can be your fenced-in backyard or field. The enclosed space will help prevent one of them from running away.

Start by placing both dogs on a leash. Begin to walk around the fenced-in area with each dog about 10 feet away from the other. With this practice, they can begin to feel the presence of the other from a safe distance. After a few minutes, you can have both dogs face each other in the middle of the backyard or field so they don’t feel stuck in a corner.

While still on their leashes, allow the dogs to approach each other on their terms. You can observe their level of comfort through their tails more than any other body part.

Interpreting Body Language

As your dogs recognize each other’s presence, keep an eye out for their body language. Dogs are usually pretty easy to read. Watch for tell-tale movements and expressions from either furry friend, like:

  • Tail movement: If you notice your dogs wagging their tails, this is a sign that they are excited by each other’s presence. They are comfortable and open to the other pet being around them. If their tails are between their legs, they are demonstrating fear. You can take more time walking them around the enclosed area until they are more relaxed around each other.
  • Bowing: When dogs place their front paws stretched in front of them with their hind legs straight to lift their backside into the air, they’re feeling playful. This sign means they are ready to interact with the other dog and want to play.
  • Rolling over: This move can have two different interpretations. Your dog may roll over while wagging their tail. If you notice this body language, they are telling the other dog that they are not a threat by showing their underbelly — which is a vulnerable position for dogs. If you notice that they roll over with their tail tucked between their legs, they are cowering in fear. Separate the dogs in this case and let them walk around the enclosed area again before reintroducing them.

Keep Food and Toys out of the Way

Dogs are as protective of their food and favorite toys as they are of their sleeping areas. Without the proper training, dogs can become aggressive over their possessions. To avoid tension between the new puppy and your older dog as they become acquainted, take the food and toys to a separate area.

When you bring a new puppy home, establish where their food and toys will be. The space you designate for these essentials should be separate from your older dog’s feeding and play area for now. When you create a physical difference in location, the older dog won’t become more possessive or jealous of their things.

After your puppy and older dog have lived together for a few weeks or months, you can start to place their toys in the same area to encourage shared play. Just keep the food separated to avoid one dog overeating the other’s food, especially if they have different diets. But you can let them share a larger water bowl in one area of the house.

Enroll Your Puppy in Training to Help!

Enroll Your Puppy in Training Near You

Puppy training can make the introduction process go smoothly for you, your new friend and your older dog. At Off Leash K9 Training Maryland, we help your playful companions become well-behaved and receptive to training commands. Puppies can be spontaneous and rowdy bundles of fur when you first take them home. Together, your family and new puppy can go through training for obedience, manners and social skills.

Your new companion can start puppy training when they turn 8 weeks old until they’re 5 months of age. After 5 months, our effective e-collar training promotes positive reinforcement as your pup continues learning good behavior in public and at home.

Contact us today to enroll your puppy in training!