How To Survive Autumn with Your Dog

Autumn is finally here!! The best time of year! While the weather does NOT seem to be cooperating with our desire for sweater weather, leaves are starting to change and fall. Squirrels are out in full force, finding and burying acorns to prepare for winter. Is your puppy driving you crazy chasing leaves, picking up acorns, and going bonkers when they spot a squirrel? Read on to teach your dog how to Leave It, and bring back some calm to your walks!

Step One: Teach your puppy to ignore food in your hand.

For this first step, place a low value treat in your hand. This could be kibble, a biscuit, or something of that nature. Have your treat pouch stocked with higher value treats and ready to go! Allow your dog to sniff the hand holding the treat. When your dog stops sniffing, reward with the higher value treat from your treat pouch!

Logan demonstrates Step One

Logan demonstrates Step One


Step Two: Teach your dog to ignore food in your open hand

For the next step, you’ll still be using the same low value treat - kibble or a biscuit - but your hand will be open. If your dog tries to take your treat, close your hand quickly! When your dog backs away, open your hand again. Keep alternating between opening your hand when your dog is not trying to take the treat and closing it when he does. When your dog does not try to take the treat from your hand, reward with the better treats!

Logan demonstrates Step Two

Logan demonstrates Step Two

Step Three: Teach your dog to ignore food on the ground

You’ll notice that each step gets increasingly more difficult! Make sure your dog has been successful at each step several times in a row before moving on to the next step. This round, we’ll have the low value treat -still kibble or a biscuit - on the floor. If your dog tries to take the food off the ground, simply cover it with your hand or step on it. When your dog stops, uncover it. When your dog stops trying to take the treat off the ground, reward!

Logan demonstrates leave it with a low value treat between his front paws.

Logan demonstrates leave it with a low value treat between his front paws.


Step Four: Add the cue, and then generalize. 

Now that your dog fully understands the behavior we want - don’t eat the cookie! - we can start naming it. When you’re dog looks at the treat on the ground, cue “leave it!” Reward when your dog leaves the treat on the ground. If your dog knows “look” you can add eye contact to cue - cue leave it and then look! Reward your dog for eye contact. Over time, fade the “Look!” cue so that your dog automatically looks at you when you cue him leave it

Expand your leave it practice to include move valuable food types, and other things your dog finds tempting to play with but are not allowed to have. You can also bring some leaves or acorns into your apartment to practice with if your dog is chasing these outside! Be creative. Make sure that the reward you use is more valuable to your dog than the object you’re encouraging them to leave.


**If at any time your dog shows aggression while you’re training them to leave items alone, we recommend that you contact us for a private session to tackle this more serious issue.

Logan demonstrates a generalized Leave it, with a high value strip of chicken jerky. 

Logan demonstrates a generalized Leave it, with a high value strip of chicken jerky. 

How to Find your New Best Friend: Part Two

Shelby Semel Dog Training :: How to Find Your New Best Friend: Part Two

Top 5 Signs You’ve Found a Reputable Dog Breeder

Rescuing a dog is not for everyone, and that’s fine. Some people may want a particular dog breed for training opportunities, like tracking, rally obedience, competition obedience, agility, barn hunting, etc. Others require a certain breed due to their own health issues, like allergies or lack of strength to handle a large breed.

So if you do decide to get your new best friend from a breeder, use the following Top 5 list to make sure you choose the right one!

5. Honest and Open Communication

Reputable dog breeders should have no hesitations in allowing you to tour where the puppies are being raised. Make sure that the environment is clean and well put together. You should be able to interact with the puppies and at least their mother to get an idea of the temperament of your potential puppy as it ages. Some breeders will also have the father on the premises, so make sure to meet him as well if you have the opportunity! Excellent breeders also want to keep in touch with you after you’ve purchased a puppy from them. They are excellent sources of information and can often be called upon for advice when you need it.

4. Contract

Just as in the previous post about responsible rescues, a responsible breeder will require all puppy purchasers to sign a contract. This contract will usually stipulate basic care for the puppy, when to have the puppy neutered (if purchased as a pet quality rather than show quality), and will often give the breeder the right to  physically check in on the puppy to ensure he is being well cared for. The contract will also require that the puppy be returned to the breeder if you are no longer able to care for it. Often the contract also will provide a health guarantee for the puppy.

3. Breed Improvement

Breeders should be breeding with a goal of contributing to the breed, to improve the health, conformation, and/or temperament of the breed. To this end, breeders should be conducting health tests on their animals prior to breeding, and will often require health tests of the puppies when they reach the correct age. Common tests include those for hip and elbow dysplasia, and  heart, eye and thyroid problems. Good breeders will not breed dogs that do not score well on these tests, and they also will not breed dogs who show troubling temperament issues, like fearfulness or aggression. Look for breeders that do not advertise unusual sizes of the breed (either very small or very large), and do not breed for “rare” coat types or colors as these often have corresponding health issues and do not fall within the breed standard. You should look for a breeder that regularly competes with his or her dogs, whether in conformation shows, agility, obedience, etc, and that has titled their dogs within these sports.

2. Age at Purchase

It is important that puppies remain with their mother and littermates until at least 8 weeks of age. Some breeds benefit from staying with their mother and littermates for longer, and these breeders will not make their puppies available until 12 or even 14 weeks of age. Make sure that you have done plenty of research on your breed of choice so you are aware which is the optimal age for your puppy to come home to you. During this time, puppies are learning important information, like social skills and bite inhibition, and removing them from their litter too early often leads to behavior problems, like aggression (to dogs or people), social deficits (inability to read or display proper social cues), and excessively hard bites even when in play.

1.  Socialization and Training for Puppies

The most important quality of an excellent breeder is early and extensive puppy training and socialization program. Ideally, puppies should be raised in a home environment where they get to experience all the sights, sounds, and smells of home life so it is not a difficult transition when they go to their furever home. Responsible breeders will start crate training and potty training their puppies to ensure an easier transition to their new home. Excellent breeders will have arranged plenty of “puppy parties,” where a lot of varied people are invited over to help socialize the puppies, and introduce them to being handled by strangers. These puppies will also be exposed to different sounds, textures to walk on, uneven surfaces, different environments, and so on. You can find breeders who excel at socializing their puppies through the Puppy Culture website:

Let us know in the comments how you found your dog’s breeder!