CATCH Canine Trainers Academy Blog

CATCH Director Teaching at Shelter Pro Education Series

Behavior Workshop for Dog Shelter Staff & Volunteers

Working with shelter dogs is a passion of ours at CATCH.

If you are a volunteer or staff member at a shelter in the NJ-NY-PA region, come out for a great day of studying dog body language with CATCH School Director, David Muriello, CPDT-KA. St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center has invited David to be a presenter for their Shelter Partner Workshop series. Please note, St. Hubert’s requires that you show proof of working at a shelter in order to register because the event is part of a special program where attendees only pay $10 to participate.

This is going to be a fascinating day of exploring how to interpret canine body language and better understand how dogs see you. Audience participation with video analysis and live demos with shelter dogs will all be part of the action.

The upcoming workshop is on Wednesday, January 27th at 10am. For more details or contact info to register, visit the Professional Education section of St. Hubert’s website.

CATCH Graduate Wins the APDT Brochure Contest

Congratulations to Gabrielle Kelly, CCDT

A peek at two sections from the winning brochure which highlighted positive training and an approach tailored to each individual dog.

A peek at two sections from the winning brochure which highlighted positive training and an approach tailored to each individual dog.

Gabrielle, a graduate of the CATCH Master Class, recently attended the Association of Professional Dog Trainers Conference in Dallas and won the Brochure Contest for her business, The Good Mannered Dog.

Gabrielle’s brochure highlights her use of reward-based training methods, her customized private lessons services, and her certification from CATCH.

Wining the contest earned Gabrielle access to the entire online library from the 2014 APDT Educational Conference. That should be some outstanding learning material!

The Good Mannered Dog brochure design will also be featured in the upcoming edition of the APDT’s Chronicle of the Dog Magazine. Way to go, Gabrielle!

When Students and Shelter Dogs Succeed, Our Hearts Sing

There’s Nothing Better than Teaching Great Students

Shelter Dog Training - Puppy Training - CATCH Canine Trainers Academy

Whether they were naive puppies or savvy seniors, maniac mutts or powerful purebreds, the Class of Spring 2015 was excited to train, and we trained ’em all!

During the Spring session of the CATCH University for Dog Trainers (our 6-week on-campus course), Pia Silvani and I were reminded of all the reasons why we love teaching. There is something magical about sharing what you know with enthusiastic students. When you see them work hard to build their skills, and then turn around and use what they’ve learned to make a positive difference with shelter dogs, it is hugely rewarding for everyone.

Tears of joy were shed during graduation when we looked back on all that was accomplished and talked about the wonderful dogs we got to work with (many of which got adopted during the course). A huge thank you to the shelter staff at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center and the hard-working students themselves. Here are some video examples of the fine work they did.

Chocko at Risk of Never Getting Adopted Due to Poor Kennel Presentation (Before Training)

Chocko is Quiet and Friendly When His Kennel is Approached (After Training)


Hooper Can’t Stop Jumping on Everyone (Before Training)


Hooper Greets Politely (After Training)


Sparky Climbs on People (Before Training)

Sparky Sits to Greet (After Training)

If you are interested in taking your love for dogs to another level by learning professional skills, get in touch with us through the Quick App here. Our friendly Student Support team would love to hear about your questions and goals. You can also call or email: 877.752.2824 (877.75.CATCH) |

Biting Puppies – How Do You Stop Them?

Are You Rewarding Biting (by accident)?

Puppy training is critical when they are very young.

Good boy! Teeth on toys is ideal, but you have to teach it – or you become the toy.

Anyone who has ever raised a puppy has experienced the bite marks and torn sleeves that little snapping jaws leave in their wake. Pups of every shape, size and breed will bite at your hands, clothing, and even your face if you lean in too close! The frenetic jaws of puppies are especially active between the 2 and 4-month-old period, but for many dog owners it doesn’t get better after that. For some, it gets worse. The reason for this is that many dog owners don’t realize that every interaction is a lesson. Most times when they play with their pup, they are accidentally rewarding “impolite” behavior with jaws and teeth. How? Just by continuing to play with a pup whose mouth is out of control. The simple fact is that if you keep playing a game while a pup is snapping at you or snatching a toy from your hand without waiting, you reward out-of-control biting. In other words, by continuing any interaction that includes you getting bitten, you are rewarding the biting. You have to STOP the interaction, otherwise the attention and the game (grabbing and tugging on you) is an instant and continuous reward. Any behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated. With a strong reward history, mouthing and grabbing will become part of your dog’s social repertoire and harder to change over time. On the other hand, if you pay careful attention to your responses, and make sure you never reward biting with attention, play, touch, praise, or the like, then most puppies will grow out of it. You will see steady improvement, especially in the period between 3 to 5 months, at the end of which the pup should have very good control of its mouth and demonstrate polite behavior with it in all interactions with your body and clothing. Here’s a great method for getting pups on the right track towards this goal.

Step 1: You must teach pups to focus their mouths on toys.

Especially during play with you.

Here’s how:  Get a toy that is easy for your pup to grab.  Engage her natural instinct to CHASE by moving it along the floor. If your pup is not chasing it, you are not making it interesting enough!  I hate to say it, but you have to make the toy move like a wounded squirrel. Make it dash about, then suddenly stop and move very slowly, then make it dash about again. (Sorry for the faint of heart on the squirrel reference, but I didn’t invent this predator/prey stuff, mother nature did.) If the toy has a squeaker, use it.  It’ll dial up enthusiasm as needed. Once your pup starts focusing on the toy, praise her. Lavishly. Come on, get into it.  Tell her how proud you are that she’s choosing toys over your body parts.

Step 2: You must teach the pup to become aware of what her mouth is targeting – and choose NOT to target skin or clothing.

One great method for teaching puppies not to bite is to use a hand block when you are playing games with toys. This is a way for your puppy to learn the hugely important lesson of self-control with her mouth and jaws. The goal is for the pup to learn that teeth on toys is acceptable and fun, whereas teeth on skin or clothing is NOT allowed and will end all fun immediately.

Select a toy that is small or “scrunchy” so that you can easily hide it behind your two hands when the time comes. A tennis ball, small rope bone, small stuffed animal, or small squeaker – all will work great. Once you have a dog who loves to play with a toy, you are ready to go! Get the dog excited about the toy by letting him chase it and pounce at it. Then, suddenly pick up the toy and hide it behind your two hands with the back of your hands facing the dog.  Watch the video to see what I mean.

When you hand block the toy, it is critical that you keep your hands out right in front of the dog to give him a choice. He can either bite your hands, or stand back for a second and wait.  If he bites your hands you will NOT continue the game. You can completely ignore him and keep your hands still, right where they are, or you can stand up and turn away for a few seconds. I like to completely ignore, but some people find their pups bite too hard for that. If you did ignore the biting, you will notice that at some point the pup stops and stands back. Watch for that split second when the pup stops biting and moves back. NOW, praise and immediately start moving the toy around on the floor again as a play reward!  You are rewarding the instant the pup decides to stand back and wait rather than jump at your hands and bite them.

Repeat this over and over, making it NO fun if the dog bites or jumps at you (no play), and LOTS of fun when the dog shows self control by waiting for you each time you do a hand block (the reward for the pup standing back is another chance to chase the toy, tug, or fetch). Notice how the Westie in the video never touches his teeth to my skin. Watch him carefully when I hand block. See how he turns his mouth away right when I do it? He didn’t start out that way. He learned it! This exercise accomplishes a lot:  mouth control, respect for your space, patience, and focus on toys rather than human body parts. Playing with your dog also enhances your bond – BIG TIME. And playing with rules sets the groundwork for a relationship based on RESPECT. Try it and see the difference.

Thanks to the wonderful and handsome puppy, Fergus, who will help me demonstrate the technique in this video.


Have you always had a way with dogs and wanted to do something more with it? Our national courses are designed to make you a pro. Click here to discover what you can learn at CATCH and how you can help dogs and their owners with your skills.

No Time = No Love?

Strengthening the Bond with Your Dog in a Busy World

 (How to make quality time count.)

One of our Master Class graduates, Sara, spending some quality time with her old pal Ruddy.

One of our Master Class graduates, Sara, spending some quality time with her old pal Ruddy.

We all love our dogs. How could you not adore that wagging tail and panting smile that always seems to say, “you’re the best” – unconditionally?! But, in today’s busy world with our jobs, kids, errands and more – sometimes it’s hard to find time to make that deeper connection with your dog.  Sometimes, in the thick of the week, you might feel like you haven’t done much more than make sure the food and water is down and you’re opening/closing the door to the yard. The good news is that our wonderful, loving dogs appreciate every minute of attention we give them. So, even during the busy times, here are a few simple things you can do to keep showing your dog the love and keep your bond strong. Most of these activities have a big effect even if you only do them for five or ten minutes.

 Things you can do at mealtime

  • Hand feeding – this one couldn’t be easier. Just give your dog his kibble from you palm, a few pieces at a time. Such a simple thing, but one that you’ll both enjoy and it really cements a bond.
  • Hold a training session with the meal. Take your dog through his obedience and tricks, rewarding each positive performance with a piece of kibble (or a handful of it). This is great not only for bonding and communication – but for keeping obedience and manners sharp.
  • Give your dog a food puzzle toy and help him solve it. This can be anything from a simple Kong to one of the more advanced Nina Ottosson-type games. Your dog will not only appreciate the chance to “hunt” and problem-solve, but will love it if you are involved in him getting a payoff. Dogs dig teamwork.

Fun with toys

  • Hide it: Get your dog excited about a particular toy by rubbing your hands on it, showing it and letting her sniff it – then quickly pull it away. When she seems interested in getting it from you, hide it somewhere nearby. If your dog has never played this game, you can make it really easy by hiding it under a towel right in front of her. If she is very excited about the toy, you can start to hide it farther away, even to the point where she needs to use her nose to find it. Each time she finds it, make a fuss and have some fun with it.
  • Fetch is the classic game that keeps on giving. It's worth taking the time to teach your dog a retrieve.

    Fetch is the classic game that keeps on giving. It’s worth taking the time to teach your dog a retrieve.

    Retrieve: The classic game of fetch never gets old. Especially if you have a retrieving or herding breed! If your dog has never done this, it may take a little work, but persistence can often teach fetch in a few sessions at the most. Start by getting your dog excited about the toy and then placing it farther and farther away (as in the hiding game above). The key to fetch is not to chase the dog when he has retrieved the item, but to coax him to you and then give him lots of praise and rubs when he brings the toy back. The ultimate reward is for you to throw it again! Or, to play…

  • Tug: Many dogs go bonkers for a good game of tug. This is one that requires rules for the dog – no biting, no grabbing, no getting out-of-control with your mouth or body. If your dog gets too excited or unruly, you’ve got to teach and enforce the rules – or just stick with a calmer game of fetch.

Games with no food or toys

  • Chase/hide and seek: These are classic games that dogs catch on to right away. For chase, simply get your dog excited by clapping quickly while you jog away. This will probably bring your dog in for a rousing rub.  Even a few romps back and forth in this way are a fun way to connect with a playful pooch. If you have a partner who can hold the dog while you run away and hide, you have an instant game of hide-and-seek. Make a fuss when your dog finds you – you’ll both have a smile on your faces guaranteed. If your dog is trained to Stay, you can play this one without a partner, too.

Have fun with these “quickie” games. Even just a few minutes of these are sure to show your dog some love and keep your bond strong!


Have you always had a way with dogs and wanted to learn more about training and behavior? Our national courses are designed to make you a pro. Click here to learn more about what CATCH can do for you.

In Case You Missed it: the Best Viral Dog Stories of This Summer

Every now and then there are viral-worthy dog videos, pictures and articles that dog lovers can’t seem to pass up reading and watching; this past month has been no exception! In case you missed it, we’ve put together some of the best of the Summer for you. So, just for fun, here are some of the cutest, funniest and most interesting viral dog stories we’ve seen lately…

Did this dog just apologize for stealing baby’s toys?
This is one of the cutest dog videos we have seen in a long time! After Charlie the Beagle makes this sweet girl cry by stealing her toy, it looks like he makes it up to her by giving her every toy in the house! We may never know if dogs can understand the human concept of “making up” – but this makes for a pretty hilarious scene either way!


Dog teaches baby how to crawl
When Buddy, the Jack Russell Terrier, noticed that the baby was trying to crawl he appears to step in to show her how it’s done. His unique wriggling and sliding motions are must see!


Pit bull saves Chihuahua and now they need a new home
This is a beautiful story of canine friendship. Chachi the Chihuahua and Joanie the Pit Bull were found wandering the streets of Savannah before they were picked up by a local animal shelter. Joanie was carrying Chachi in her mouth, whilst seemingly looking for someone to help her injured friend! Chachi had a badly infected eye, which Joanie kept putting her down to clean. The local animal shelter is now looking for a new home for the pair – they don’t want to separate them! See photos and learn more about the story of these two cuties here.

pitbull saves chihuahua


Cute dogs show you how to beat the heat
This one is a cute collection of photos that are pretty useful, too! Get some good ideas on how to keep your dog safe in the blaring heat of summer, as told by these adorable pooch pictures. This is a must-read for dog owners in July and August.

dogs show us how to beat the heat



Funny dog barking compilation
Last, but not least, is this compilation of unique dog vocalizations. We all know dogs have different ways of trying to communicate with us; some loud and daunting, whilst others are more…unusual. Does your dog sound like any of these guys? The Mastiff in the middle is particularly amazing. Is he doing that in his sleep?

Thinking About Becoming a Dog Trainer? Infographic About Starting Your Own Business

Ever wondered what it would be like to follow your dreams and finally become a professional dog trainer? Check out the latest infographic from CATCH and learn ways to earn a steady income, and attract a following of loyal customers!

professional dog trainer infographic

3 Ways to Combat Bad Dog Breath!

Like their human counterparts, if you get a whiff of your dog’s breath it isn’t going to smell like roses, but there is a big difference between normal doggie breath and a bad case of halitosis.  Here are three important tips to your dog’s dental hygiene and how to keep their breath fresh and clean.


According to the American Veterinary Dental College, the single best way to ensure dental health

bad dog breath

Even kisses from this cutie can naturally be a little stinky!

and fresh breath is brushing daily.  Like their humans, dogs can have plaque build-up which can lead to periodontal disease.  Pet stores will carry dental products for your dog like angled toothbrushes to easily reach their back teeth and pet-appropriate toothpaste.  Never use human toothpaste on your pet!  It is too abrasive and they are more likely to swallow or inhale the foam.

Puppies are more likely to get into the habit of a daily brush, but this doesn’t exclude older dogs.  Patience and positive reinforcement is the key.  Add a few treats into the session and before long they may be telling you it’s time to brush!

Crunchy Kibble & Fresh Water

Many people are in the habit of feeding their dogs only wet food; unless directed otherwise by your veterinarian, it is not ideal. Canned food is soft and likely to stick to your dog’s teeth where it can sit and fester.  Dry dog food, on the other hand, promotes chomping and helps keep teeth strong and healthy because it gently rubs away any soft plaque and tartar build-up. Try mixing half a portion of wet food with some dry food – your dog will love it!

Be sure to keep the water bowl clean and bacteria free.

Always give your dog fresh water and make sure you rinse their bowl.  Fresh water is crucial to overall health. A dehydrated pup will have a dry, sticky, or pale mouth and gums.  Giving them the best water in the world will do no good if they drink from a dirty bowl because it can host bacteria and harmful microorganisms.

Just remember: Crunchy food “brushes” their teeth and gums and fresh water rinses the gunk away.

Crunchy Treats & Chew Toys

Like crunchy kibble, there are benefits of having crunchy treats and chew toys for your canine friend.  Crunchy treats like rawhide or dental biscuits promote chewing, which in turn promotes saliva thus keeping their mouth moist.  Their natural inclination to chew and chomp also promotes strong, healthy teeth.  There are treats that contain anti-tartar ingredients as well.  Chew toys gently rub the gums and help disperse soft tartar build-up.

Always monitor your pet.  You should be familiar if your dog is a chewer or a large chunk swallower.  If they are the latter then you must remove the treat before they can swallow a large piece, as it can get stuck in their digestive tract and cause a blockage.

Crunchy Treats & Chew Toys

Like crunchy kibble, there are benefits of having crunchy treats and chew toys for your canine


I may not know how to brush, but I’m happy to chew a brush!

friend.  Crunchy treats like rawhide or dental biscuits promote chewing, which in turn stimulates saliva thus keeping their mouth moist.  Their natural inclination to chew and chomp also promotes strong, healthy teeth.  There are treats that contain anti-tartar ingredients as well.  Chew toys gently rub the gums and help disperse soft tartar build-up.

Always monitor your pet.  You should be familiar with your dog’s habits and know if they are a chewer or a large chunk swallower.  If they are the latter then you must remove the treat before they can swallow a large piece, as it can get stuck in their digestive tract and cause a blockage.


It isn’t hard to maintain a healthy dog with fresh breath, but if you find that your furry friend has offensive breath no matter what you try, it may be time to visit the veterinarian, as you may be dealing with a more serious health issue beyond stinky breath.



ASPCA.  Ten Steps to your Dog’s Dental Health.

AVDC.  Home Care for Dogs.

Leonardi, L.  Wet or Dry Dog Food: Which is Better?  Water: A Nutritional Requirement.

Doggie Bag Do’s and Don’ts

learn the do's and don't of doggie bags with Catch Dog Trainers

This may be a “slice of heaven” going down, but once eaten, it could cause health troubles.
Image source:

Every dog owner loves to gift their pet with a special treat because it shows appreciation and love for the adoration and joy they give us.  But did you know that your leftovers from dinner out could be harmful and even fatal to your cherished pup?

Here are two reasons why doggie bags are not for dogs.

Leftover bones

Don’t feed your dog chicken bones!  You probably heard this since childhood and the reason is: cooked chicken bones will splinter and can harm your dog.  This is true for all cooked bones: chicken, beef or pork.  It’s true that your puppy will salivate and gnaw on a large bone, especially if it has pieces of meat stuck to it.  What’s the harm in that?

A cooked bone, though rich in calcium and phosphorous, becomes brittle.  The bone will eventually break and splinter as the dog chews on it.  Splinters have the potential to puncture and tear the digestive tract.  Should this happen, your cherished pet can become septic and possibly develop a fatal illness.

Raw bones do not splinter but proceed with caution and do your research if you go this route.  There is a chance of food poisoning due to bacteria.

Human food

Chances are someone in the family slips the dog a “treat” from the table.  In small portions, this may not harm your dog but it would be in their best interest to leave the human food to humans.

Alliums are bulbous plants that are often used in recipes: onions, garlic, leeks and chives.  When ingested by your dog, these ingredients destroy red blood cells and may cause toxic anemia.  Xylitol is a sugar substitute often found in many foods.  If your pet eats foods with too much of this, it may cause a drop in blood sugar, which may cause depression, loss of motor function, seizures, and possibly death.  Too much salt can cause kidney failure and too much fat may cause pancreatitis.

We may feel good about “breaking bread” with our pets.  There is something comfortable and social about sharing a meal, however, routinely giving your dog leftovers might be doing harm to your dog and the vet bills will eventually harm your wallet.

Remember: Dog food is specially formulated for the canine metabolism and health.  Human food and leftover bones are not critical to their diet, but it could put them in critical care.  When in doubt – refrain, but if you still have questions, contact your local veterinarian.

Do's and Don'ts of feeding your dog human food

Small and large breeds alike can be harmed by being over weight. It puts undue pressure on their joints and makes it harder for them to get healthy exercise.
Image source:


1-800-PetMeds.  Feeding Bones to your Dog.  8 Foods that are Toxic to Pets.

PetMD.  Holiday Leftovers for your Pets?

My Dog Made me Exercise

Running with your dog is a great way for both of you to get exercise

Dog owners have always known that their dogs are key in motivating them to get outside and move! Now research is confirming it.
Image source

In her article about walking with dogs, Taya Florez follows the research of Assistant Professor of Nursing, Elizabeth Richards, in conjunction with Assistant Professor of Animal Behavior, Niwako Ogata, both of Purdue University. Their research is complimentary because they both focus on two factors:

1. Encouraging dogs and their owners to walk for better health, and

2. Finding ways to promote large groups to exercise.

Florez’ article compiles several examples of how owning a dog can motivate their owners to exercise more, and why your furry friend might be a great choice for a workout buddy.

In 2012, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimated that 167 million households had pets, which translates into about 62% of American households. Of those households, 70% of individuals owned a dog (Humane Society, 2014).

According to Richards’ study, most people felt compelled to go walking because they knew it would make their dog happy. As walking became a habit, initial feedback suggested that dog owners had increased their walk times from an average of 10 minutes to 80 minutes a week (Richards).

Take a online dog training course with Catch Dog Trainer

A well-exercised dog is more likely to be a happy and healthy pet!
Image source:

There’s that old excuse, “The dog ate my homework.” Well now you can blame one more thing on your furry friend: The dog made me exercise. Richards’ study cited that many of her participants only went walking because it made for a healthy, happy dog – and prevented their pet from getting bored enough to misbehave.

By going for walks you can reduce your dog’s hyperactivity and maintain optimal weight, help stir up the digestive tract for healthy bowels, relieve attention-seeking behaviors like whining and constant pawing, and keep muscles healthy and strong (PetMD).

Essentially, humans would rather do for their canine friends before recognizing that they too reap the health benefits of exercising. In fact, many stated they would never go walking if they didn’t have a dog. Prior to having a pet they would make excuses: no time, lack of interest, or perhaps their human exercise partner couldn’t make it. For the most part, those excuses disappear with a dog, especially when the great motivator is saving your home from a bored puppy. So the next time your furry friend looks at you with those puppy eyes, grab the leash and go for a walk. You will be healthier and happier for it.



Humane Society of the United States. (2014, January 30). Pets by the Numbers. Retrieved from

Florez, T. (2014, June 17). Study: Dogs motivate owners to exercise. Retrieved from

PetMD. (n.d.). Top Ten Health Benefits Walking Your Pet Provides. Retrieved from

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