by Valerie Broadway, the Canine Coach

Dogs are much more complex than people may realize. Listed here are some things to know that can contribute to a better relationship with our canine friends.


Before bringing a new puppy into the home, be sure they have been with their littermates for at least eight weeks. Otherwise, they are more likely to have anxiety issues for their entire lives.

Take puppies everywhere possible during their first year of life. This is socialization and helps them to be comfortable in any situation.

While They Are Still Learning

Crate dogs when they can’t be supervised if they are likely to pee or poop in the house, chew something up, or bother other pets in the home.

Keep a leash on dogs inside the house until they will come when called and when verbally instructed from a distance to stop doing unwanted activities.


A whole treat may be too many calories for a small dog. It’s okay to break it into smaller pieces, 

Don’t throw away the crumbs in the bottom of treat packages. Add them to the dog food for a little extra flavor.

The best way to stop dogs from begging at the table is preventing it in the first place. Any human food should be given to them away from the table or area where the humans eat. 


Dogs respond better to hand signals than talking. There are universal hand signal commands, but people can make up their own signals as long as they are consistent in using them.

Dogs will pee or poop faster if they think no one is looking at them.

Shy or nervous dogs warm up to people quicker when the people ignore them.

To keep dogs from getting too excited, avoid making eye contact. 


Nail trims are important for dogs. When ignored, nails can grow into the pads of paws. 

For smaller dogs, human toenail clippers can be used instead of larger dog nail trimmers. Dogs aren’t as intimidated by the smaller clippers and it makes it less likely that the nail will be cut too short.

How often baths should be given depends on the breed and what activities dogs have been doing. Some breeds require a weekly bath while others can go for months. Use dog shampoo,
not human shampoo or dish soap, to prevent stripping the skin of its
natural oils.

Wash collars occasionally. They can get quite dirty and irritate the skin on the dog’s neck. (I usually throw the collar in the washer when I bathe the dog.)

Place a non-slip mat or a towel in the bottom of the tub to allow the dog to have a more secure footing. 

The temperature of bath water should be a bit cooler than people like it. 

Giving treats during bath time can help make it a more positive experience for dogs who are not comfortable with the process; or any dog, really.

The Vet

Make veterinary exams easier by practicing looking into the mouths and ears, starting in puppyhood. Also, routinely handling the paws prepares them for nail trims.

When possible, make short visits to the vet clinic when the dogs don’t have an appointment. Make it positive by giving treats and praise. Do this several times before the real appointment.

Bite Prevention

Most aggressive dogs have their first bite sometime between their first and second birthdays. If dogs are showing signs of problem behavior prior to a year old, seek professional help to help prevent them from becoming aggressive. 

Intact males bite more people by far than any other type of dog. Neutering is very important in keeping people safe.

Infants and young children should never be left unsupervised with dogs. The number one age group for dog bites is five years of age and under. In most cases the children were left alone with one or more dogs.

Communication and a good relationship are crucial to having dogs that are enjoyable to live with. It is my hope that the information shared here will help people achieve that. 

Valerie Broadway, the Canine Coach, is a dog trainer and behavioral specialist. Contact: 919-542-4726 or