Information From Alison, Lead Dog Trainer at Top Paw Training:

    In my dog training experience, I've found some products & tips that are truly useful to pass along. This list is random, collective and always growing! Please email Top Paw Training if you have any questions regarding my suggestions and use for your dog. If you want to learn more and download ebooks or listen to podcasts, please go to the Free Dog Training Info page.

Dog Training Tips

How Long Do I Train or Practice with My Dog?

    When your dog comes home from Obedience Boarding School, you'll begin using the commands in everyday life immediately. You won't need to "train" your dog- he'll already be trained. You'll just USE the training. Your dog will have a much longer attention span and can focus on his work for a long time. The following advice is for new dogs in training by their handlers, at their home.
    Untrained dogs normally do best when formal training sessions are about 3-5 minutes long. Keep each session short, purposeful and end if you or your dog are tired or frustrated- even if it's not on a positive, successful behavior. Often dog training advice will tell you to "always end on a positive note" with the intention to motivate you to practice again, but I find that once things aren't going well, I'm not going to push a dog to a "positive note". I'd rather just end when they knowledge that I didn't get frustrated and my dog isn't stressed out by pressure of problem solving. Next time, you'll be ready to practice where you left off, knowing by failure what needs practice. 

    Short, goal-based sessions help your dog focus on a certain skill, instead of exhausting and confusing his brain, but if you are taking breaks in between behaviors and practicing fun and simple exercises, then you can easily train up to a half hour as long as your dog is having fun and setting the pace.
    Once your dog is more fluent in the exercises, just practice it in everyday situations to make learning more relevant and incorporate distractions. Pretty soon your dog will be engaged in the games and skills in real life. Rewards should begin moving from treats to praise and transferring to rewards such as access to what your dog wants after doing the command (going outside, sniffing, playing, running, ball throw, etc.) 


What Age Can a Dog Begin Training?

Your dog can start RIGHT NOW! Read my article:
My Dog Can Begin Training Now

50+ Dog Training Rewards

Don't get hooked on using food for all your rewards. If your dog likes it, use it as a reward! Read my article: 50 Different Rewards for Training

Health, Nutrition, Treats, & Chews

What food do I feed my dogs?

Personally, I have fed Evo, Taste of the Wild, a Raw diet, Earthborn Holistic (Great Plains Feast (bison) formula.) 
I also recommend the very affordable Evolve brand, available at H.E.B grocery. It's simply meat, rice and veg.
I currently feed Orijen dog and cat foods because they are so high quality and natural for our carnivorous pets.
I highly suggest that you research your dog's food through a site I found most helpful: Dog Food Advisor  
Research your current food and look up others to find the right food for your dog and your budget. 

The Furminator: Dealing with Dog Hair? 

One word when dealing with a dog that is shedding: Furminator- and, of course, a really good vacuum. Some double coated breeds blow their coat, or shed, twice a year (labs, german shepherds). Do they ever STOP shedding!? The Furminator gets the undercoat out before it ends up on your clothes, sofa, and floor. I like to use it for stripping terrier's coats also. Brushing can become awful if you're pulling your dog's hair, so go slow and use praise and rewards if your dog needs some extra encouragement.

k9 Advantix for Monthly Flea Control

There are several types of flea control on the market. The short answer is that I use k9 Advantix. I also like Comfortis. I have found that Frontline is strangely ineffective from personal experience. I have had client dogs in my home that were using Frontline and actually had fleas still on them! They switched and also experienced relief from fleas and itching. I'm sure there is some explanation a vet could give... Sorry Frontline. Go k9 Advantix. I have also heard of bad reactions for a newer product called Trifexis. I've had client's dogs use it and it seems that it can upset their stomachs for weeks after the dose. 


How Much Water Does My Dog Need?

This is a good question if you are potty training your dog or puppy. Often, dogs that aren't potty trained need to have their food and water intake controlled and scheduled to hep with the process. Without that, it's nearly impossible to have potty training success. Of course, you always need to check with your vet to determine the proper hydration level for your particular dog based on age, health, activity level etc. but I've found that monitoring your dog's water intake is very helpful for potty training. Many veterinarians recommend that a dog's water needs should be measured at a rate of 0.5-1.0oz of water for every pound of body weight. For example, a 10lb dog would require 5-10oz a day, minimum.
Try this with your dog to help during potty training in order to avoid overwatering your dog and creating unneccesary urination in the home or to avoid limiting water too much and causing thirst and dehydration. I've found that marking a bottle or a pitcher and filling it to the proper amount averyday is very useful.

Raw Chew Bones

Raw bones are safe, natural chews for your dog- the perfect dental care!  My dog can chew through anything and she could eat food from an interactive toy all day if I let her. Many of my clients have dogs with similar appetites and working drive. When I leave the home and crate the dogs, I give them a chew I know is safe, tasty, and will keep them occupied, not bored after 10 minutes.
Tucker's Raw Frozen bones are good chews for road trips, crate time, nutritional supplements and as a chew for the bed command. My dog's teeth are pearly white (I get comments about it!) and she is gaining muscle in her jaws and head from chewing. I love the instinctive look in her eyes when she gets a bone- it's like the call of the wild!
Simply remove bone from dog and refreeze in a plastic bag until the next chew time.
There is a slight "raw" odor, but nothing that nature didn't make- it's not a rotten smell. Raw bones don't shard into splinters and are completely digestible, unlike diarrhea-causing-rawhides or smoked knuckles (unsafe!).
Worried about e coli or salmonella? Read this informative article: Dogs Don't Get E-Coli or Salmonella
Want an easier choice? Try beef feet from your local grocery. They're just as fun. Bag them individually, freeze and parse out as needed. It's about $5 for 6-7 chew bones. Their mostly softer cartilage and tissue so it's good for beginner chewers. Call me if you have questions. *Note of Caution: Raw beef feet can cause major diarrhea for dogs that aren't used to digesting raw meat. Please allow dog only 20 minutes of crated chew time per day to avoid gastrointestinal upset!

C.E.T. Chews for Healthy Teeth and Gums

These are great for dogs on a diet of kibble, senior dogs, small dogs, light chewers or dog that already have teeth problems. They really do help the dog's breath too!

Calming Treats for Stressful Situations

I've found a wonderful treat that works to calm my cats and dogs during stress like, thunderstorms, fireworks, car trips, company at the home or construction noise in the neighborhood, etc. Vetri-Science Composure treats for cats or dogs & Pet Naturals of Vermont Calm Treats for cats or dogs or any similar brand treat, contain natural chemicals that the calms the body. Herbs like chamomile and natural relaxing agents like colostrum and L-Theanine help calm your dog with two-three treats or more depending on the level of calm needed. They work with clients dogs to help adjust to the home if they are nervous around new places.

Herbal Bladder Control for Spayed Females

As your spayed female ages, she may develop urine leaking, as my dog did. As a potty trained dog, this unexplained puddle by her tail while sleeping or lying down was as disturbing for her as it was for me to find on my floor! The smooth muscle of the bladder is partially supported by estrogen, which is lacking in spayed females as a result of the removal of the reproductive organs. It can also become weak from lack of exercise or an injury to the hips, back or even from the spay incision through the abdominal muscles that synergize with the bladder and pelvic muscles. Rather than risking the side effects of common prescription medications as your vet, give any herbal bladder control and strengthening tablets a try FIRST. 

Collars for Dogs that Slip Out

A safe collar for dogs that have muscular necks that narrow near the skull is called a Martingale Collar. It is like a regular, flat buckle collar except is has a limited-restriction so when the leash pulls on the collar it gently tightens so it cannot slip off, but it does not choke the dog. 

Daily Schedules for Your Dogs

One of the most frequent questions I get is about schedules I set for my dogs. We do not have a schedule. Each person's life is different and may vary based on the day, week or month. A trained, confident dog is adaptable, flexible and does not need a consistent schedule to stay secure. Instead of a timed schedule, try a flexible routine that follows an order, rather than the clock. Keep certain interactions consistent, like good communication, boundaries, and meeting your dog's needs- these are more important than times. 

Dog Toys & Training Games

Top Paw Training Best Dog Toy Picks

Okay, here's a list of what your dog will like, use, and not destroy. I use them, recommend them and you should buy these before all other toys. Send a suggestion of a toy I may not know about to me via email.
Approved Crate Toys & Interactive Toys: IQ Treat Ball Dog Toy, Kong Wobbler, Kong Original or Black, Squirrel Dude, Buster Cube,
Tug & Fetch Toys: Chuck-it (if your dog likes to fetch), Braided Fleece Tugs

Training Equipment

Starmark Training Collar


SAFETY: Backup Your Training Collar

Purchase a Nylon Choke Collar to backup your training collar in case it ever pops off, which is a risk inherent with all training collars.