Don't disguise your dog's communication system
You may be ready, BUT is your house
Chocolate Mulch, REALLY?
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Alex and Ty
If you are dressing your dog today. make sure if he goes out, other dogs can still read his body language and signals. Don't cut off your dogs communication system.
Bark Out
Lhotse' face
We wish warmth and safety to all the human and dog search and rescue teams helping  earthquake torn countries.  

Safie on slide

"Sometimes, when I think about it, it seems that dogs have a bad deal. We teach them to sit and roll over. They teach us dignity and heroism and the unfettered joy in being yourself. Have you ever seen a golden retriever mope around wishing she was a spitz?"
        Arthur Yorinks

Issue: SevenApril 2010
kona's touch
April Puppies Bring May.....Now What Do I Do?

As promised we begin this month's newsletter with more information on bringing home your new puppy or shelter dog. Loose Leash Talking is right below offering many important tips on your beautiful home vs. your newest canine challenge. It does not have to be a battle and can be a win-win situation.
Also spring is truly here and as we start venturing outside, take a look at the latest important information on gardening mulch and your dog.

As always join us on Facebook, and check out more articles on kona's touch blog to keep up to date with other valuable information


Be gentle, after all isn't that what you would want for your best friend,
Laura Dorfman, CPDT-KA
Owner and Founder
Loose Leash Talking
Alex and Ty

Is Your Home Ready for the New Puppy?

Not long ago, as I rushed around my house preparing for a new arrival, I realized that I hadn't had a puppy in a long time. Every room was a wonderful adventure for my new pup, and every room was a disaster waiting to happen.

Sometimes when a new puppy arrives, you and your house are totally prepared and you've even contacted a positive trainer for a few pre-puppy consults. Sometimes you go to a movie on a Saturday afternoon and come home to find you have a new puppy. Life is not always predictable.

However you acquire your new best friend, once your house is ready, the fun can begin.

Puppy-proofing Your Home

Before you bring a new pup into your home, take a slow walk around your house to assess and prepare. If you've been thinking about putting away Aunt Jean's crystal candlesticks, now is the time to do it. No matter how well you manage the puppy situation, there will be times when your pup strays. For that reason, keep all irreplaceable items up high, preferably in a cabinet or a room your pup won't have access to. You don't have to put everything away -- just the things that are valuable to you or dangerous to your dog.

Rubber bands, paperclips, pencils, pens, children's toys, golf balls and anything small that can be swallowed should be unattainable. Clear floors, tables and open shelves of these kinds of things. Phone cords computer and electric wires should also be out of reach.

Get down on the floor to get a dog's perspective of your home. If an item looks interesting, move it. Make it a habit to start closing doors to the rooms in your house, especially children's bedrooms and bathrooms, so that if your puppy gets away from you, the only place she can run to is an empty hallway. Also keep those kitchen counters clear in the first months until training kicks in, so you don't start the puppy off with a life of food thievery. This is not one of those cute bad habits.

Make your garbage inaccessible. To us it is garbage; to our canine family it is the king's feast. Check the house and your backyard for plants that may be toxic to pets. Check fences for holes and loose boards or nails popping up. Check the basement and garage for rat poison and other toxins. If you don't know the history of the house, deny access to rooms where toxins may have been used.

Manage Well

Puppy-proofing your home is about putting away paperclips, legos and telephone wires so the house is safe when the puppy gets away. But don't forget, puppy proofing is also about management and training. Positive training can start as soon as the dog moves in, and the earlier she learns house rules, the easier it will be.

Not that it will be easy. Puppies need constant supervision, as do any new dogs in your home. Shelter dogs of any age should be considered puppies until you get to know them. This supervision ensures that your dog does not develop bad habits and enables you to reinforce all good behavior when it happens. After you have told your dog a few times to leave the shoe and have traded it for an appropriate toy, you'll be surprised how the value of the shoe goes down and the value of the toy goes up. (I recommend that you keep a few different kinds of toys around for those first months, and when you learn what kind she loves best, stockpile those for trading.)

When you or another adult in your family is supervising your dog, it is a good idea to tether her to you with four to six foot leash. This helps with all management issues and house training. You can prevent unwanted behavior and therefore prevent bad habits. If your new dog is underfoot you will know when she starts sniffing and wiggling to get her outside and avoid an "accident." This makes housetraining quicker and less painful.

Leaving a puppy alone in the house is akin to leaving a two year old alone. It's not safe for anyone: the pup, the house, or your other pets. If you or another adult in your family cannot be there with your new dog, she should be in a crate or gated area. Dog crates are very important for managing your dog.  See the blog on Crate Training Safety Tips

The Cute Factor

Puppies are not really smarter than us; they just make us think that they are. And as much as we may think otherwise, their will is not stronger. Their secret: The Cute Factor. Don't let it fool you into letting the puppy can get away with unwanted behavior. You are the leader and your dog needs you. You are the one your dog counts on to make the right choices to keep him safe and healthy. Some tips on how to be a gentle leader.  
Happy new adventures and gentle teachings.
Healin' News

Alex and TyAs Far as Mulch goes: Do We Really Need Chocolate?

We need it, we definitely need it. Some of us need it more than others and some of us "need it bad". In fact, more than a few of my best friends would rather spend the afternoon with it instead of me, if they actually had to choose. I'm talking about chocolate and you know who you are. Yes many words have been written about chocolate and our dogs. But today we're going to talk gardening mulch and yes, for some reason I still can't figure out, it involves chocolate.

In the early 2000's a new gardening mulch was developed and most likely for reasons that I mentioned above, it got popular very fast. It is called Cocoa Mulch and you guessed it it smells just like our favorite fix. Chocolate! The problem is, it is made with the one ingredient which makes chocolate lethal to dogs. It's called theobromine and it's concentration is more than in the chocolate we eat. So it makes the mulch all the more dangerous. 

There are a few different conversations about this and here's the first. It is a well accepted theory that chocolate is dangerous to dogs. Words have been used like poisonous, toxic and the most scary lethal and fatal. This is all true. It is also true that dogs have grabbed whole chocolate cakes off their humans counter and chowed it down leaving only the foil behind. Nothing happened. It all comes down to how much is ingested, the size of the dog and what kind of chocolate it is. Some people are very serious about never allowing a morsel on their dog's tongue and others use chocolate kisses as treats for the stressed out dogs at their rehabilitation vet clinic. I think the first extreme is a better idea.

Dark bakers chocolate has the highest concentration of theobromine and is the most dangerous to dogs. White chocolate has very little and can be less toxic. But here's the issue. Why? Why is it necessary to give dogs chocolate or any candy at all for that matter? Our own eating habits are styled for us as infants by our parents and then later by our schools and friends. We are the masters of our diets and some of our practices are set in stone. But our dogs' eating habits are totally in our hands, and there is no reason in the real world that we need to give them chocolate.
Manufacturers are reporting numbers that only 2% of all dogs actually eat the cocoa mulch, (wonder where they get that stat) and then only 50% get sick and only "some" die. Houston we have a problem. Even if the stats are correct, that means there are anywhere from 500,000 to 700,000 dogs in this country whose lives are in danger. All for chocolate smelling gardening mulch. You make the call.
kona's touch offers positive dog and puppy training or consultation for Chicago's North Shore. Our positive training and consultations help you and your dog to create a respectful, loving relationship.
At kona's touch, we use peaceful clicker training techniques based on scientific knowledge and years of experience in canine behavior for fun family dog training. For dog training or your personal consultation, call 847-204-7100 or email me at


Laura Dorfman, CPDT-KA
kona's touch, inc.