How to Pick the Perfect Dog For Your Family

Who can resist that squishy pug face? Or those stubby little doxie legs? How about those piercing blue Huskie eyes?

When choosing a dog for your family, there is so much more to consider than looks. Choosing your dog based solely on looks could spell a sad ending for the pup, who will likely end up in the shelter if you choose a dog ill-suited for your lifestyle. We’re outlining the top four things to consider before choosing your new furry friend.

1. Research Breed Characteristics

Dachshund mix puppy

Puppy searching can be fun but make sure you know your breed’s behavioral characteristics to avoid frustration down the road.

While not set in stone, breed characteristics are a guideline for what behavior you can expect from your new pup. You want to make sure your family can meet the dog’s exercise and attention needs.

“You should understand the key characteristics of the breed, but you should also make sure the dog’s energy level matches yours,” California dog trainer and founder of The Pooch Coach, Beverly Ulbrich, says.

2. Added Expenses From Breed Stereotypes 

Although you might be looking for a protective dog, keep in mind your homeowners’ insurance could go up based on the breed you choose. Breeds that are considered aggressive by some could cause a spike in your rates.  These breeds typically include:

  • Pit Bulls
  • Bull Terriers
  • Rottweilers
  • Siberian Huskies
  • German Shepherds

Some landlords may outright ban certain breeds or charge an additional deposit. If you can demonstrate your dog is well-trained—with AKC Good Canine Certification, for example—you might be able to convince the insurance company or a landlord with liability concerns that your dog is safe.

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Can the ThunderShirt Cure Your Dog’s 4th of July Anxiety?

Does your dog howl or hide when 4th of July fireworks go off? Does he cower when thunderstorms hit? Does he dread the car and even have accidents on car rides? Can he not stand when you leave his side and destroy things while you’re gone?

yellow dog wearing a thundershirtIf you answered yes to any of these questions, the ThunderShirt might be for you.

If you’ve never heard of the ThunderShirt, it is often compared to swaddling a baby—it applies gentle, comforting pressure in key spots, thereby calming your dog’s nerves. It is a low-cost, drug-free option for pet owners with an anxious dog or cat.

The company says it works for more than 80% of pets—based on customer reviews—for issues ranging from separation anxiety to people shyness to problem barking. The company even offers a money-back guarantee if it does not work for you.

But did it work for us? We took a trial run to see if the ThunderShirt might work for you this 4th of July.

Our trial run

dogs in car

Yellow Dog was nervous in the car prior to ThunderShirt, unlike his brother Sundown.

We adopted Yellow Dog at five months old and he was a skittish dog from the start. He pooped in the car within a minute of driving away from his foster home. He’s never been relaxed on car rides; he never lies down and sleeps like Sundown but instead sits and stares at us the entire drive, even on long road trips. He is also sensitive to loud noises—like fireworks or strong thunderstorms.

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The Pros and Cons of Treating Your Dog Like a Baby

Jacqueline Bennett with Yellow Dog, all dressed up.

Dressing your dog up and carrying him around? Probably not a good idea. But we’ve been guilty of it, too.

Most pet parents are guilty of it at one point or another—babying your dog. Whether it’s extra cookies, carrying them around, dressing them up in cute outfits or letting them get their way, we can treat our furry friends the way we would treat our toddlers. But could this be making a good dog go bad?

We talked to The Pooch Coach, San Francisco based dog trainer Beverly Ulbrich, to outline the pros and cons of treating your dog like a child.

Signs You’re Guilty of Babying

You might not even realize you’re doing it, but there is a good chance you’ve babied your dog.

“There is a wide range of possibilities,” Ulbrich says. “But typically it has to do with owners feeding into bad behavior, such as begging or whining, or allowing their dog to not obey commands.”

Here are some common behaviors that baby our dogs:

  • Giving into whining or barking for attention or food
  • Carrying an able-bodied dog around or pushing him in a stroller
  • Letting your dog ignore commands he knows
  • Not correcting bad behavior such as posturing, resource guarding, and forms of aggression—including dog-on-dog aggression, food aggression, and people aggression

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Choosing the Right Leash for Your Dog

Is your dog wild on walks, pulling, sniffing, and wildly darting back and forth? Your leash may be to blame! We consulted with California trainer Dan Perata on how choosing the right leash can lead to a safer and more enjoyable walk.

four types of leashes

Lights, Camera, DOGTV!

Yellow Dog, Sundown and Mocha were recently part of a segment for DOGTV, the first TV channel dedicated completely to dogs! Check it out:

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As you can see, DOGTV helps entertain and stimulate your dog when you’re away. It’s on channel 354 on DirecTV. If you don’t have DirecTV, you can watch online!

Resource Guarding; Why Dogs Protect Their Stuff

By: Beverly Ulbrich, Guest Writer

Most people have heard that you should mess with a puppy’s food when he’s young to ensure he doesn’t growl at or bite you. But did you know that you need to keep doing this throughout your dog’s life?

Yellow Dog chewing on a bully stick

You should be able to grab a bone from your dog’s mouth without him growling or otherwise reacting to you taking it away.

You never know when you’ll need to grab something dangerous from your dog’s mouth, or when someone might try to pet your dog while he’s chewing on something. So you need to make sure your dog knows that it’s okay.

Make sure your dog doesn’t react in any of the following situations:

  • Put your hand in his food bowl and take the bowl away while he’s eating
  • Pet him while he’s eating food
  • Pet him when he’s chewing on a bone or other chew toy
  • Take away anything he’s chewing on or playing with
  • Once you’re assured he’s safe, ask other household members or friends to do the same actions

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Training Tips to Use with the ThunderShirt

yellow dog wearing a thundershirtWe’ve already detailed how the ThunderShirt works but if you’re planning on using the shirt for the first time this 4th of July, make sure you know how you should act when fireworks go off.

Did you know you shouldn’t yell at your dog for barking? ThunderShirt offers some training tips on their website to use with the shirt.

We also consulted The Pooch Coach, trainer Beverly Ulbrich, for tips on dealing with 4th of July noises. Here’s what she suggests:

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The Yellow Dog Project Gives Dogs Their Space

By: Kyle McKay, Guest Writer

Everyone is unique. We each have our own likes, dislikes, personality and comfort zone.

Dogs also have these character traits but sometimes, it’s hard to remember that when meeting a dog for the first time.

dog showing fear

Sometimes dogs get spooked and need space from humans and/or other dogs. Usually a tail tuck or a dog hiding behind its owner are clues the dog needs space.

Some canine companions are incredibly friendly. They’ll run to you with a furiously wagging tail, practically begging you to pet them and play with them. This scenario is often a default expectation among most people when encountering an unfamiliar dog in public.

But it’s important to know this is not always the case. And even if your dog is friendly, that doesn’t mean every dog the two of your encounter will be, too.

Just like humans, some dogs need a little more space than what people expect. A dog may be a bit skittish and leery around new animals or people. But how do you know when this is the case?

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Free Training Videos Now Online

Our official dog trainer, The Pooch Coach, is now sharing her training tips in online videos on her exclusive YouTube channel.

The Pooch Coach has been hard at work creating new videos, including how to keep your dog from jumping on people, how to sniff politely on leash and how to keep your dog from barking at people.

All the new videos have been recorded at SF Dog Connector meetings around the Bay Area where The Pooch Coach gives free training tips and advice. You can see up for free meetups through her Facebook page.

How to Deal With Aggressive Dogs; The Pooch Coach Trains USPS Workers

We’ve been bringing you her expert tips here at Yellow Dog Blog and now our training expert is the official trainer of San Francisco USPS mail carriers on how to deal with aggressive dogs.

Beverly Ulbrich visited the main mail-sorting facility March 21 to lead two talks to a group of postal carriers before they headed out on their daily routes.

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Beverly talked about how fear is the driving force for why dogs attack.

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