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Enjoy our articles written especially for pet parents, by our guest writers like Leanne Behrle, cat lover, Carrie Rotarris, dog behaviourist, and Terese Houle, breeder. Don’t miss Boréal videos on important dog and cat topics.

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Responsible Dog Parenting: Teaching the “Take-It / Leave-It” Command

- August 21, 2017


As dog parents we worry a lot about keeping our furry friends healthy by feeding them nutritiously balanced food, providing them with regular exercise, and of course, showering them with our love. We also do our best to keep them safe by providing them with shelter, making sure they have the proper collar and identification, and having them micro chipped. However, our responsibility to our furry companions does not stop there. Teaching our pets to have good manners, both in the home and in public, is one additional measure we can take to ensure our pet’s safety.

Some training opportunities to consider working on with your dog include loose leash walking, sit/stay, wait, drop-it, and come. Another command that could keep your dog safe is the “leave-it” command. As dog parents, we know how our companion’s nose and mouth can get him into trouble, so teaching the “leave-it” command could help you save your pet. Here are step-by-step directions on helping your dog to learn this command:

“Take-It / Leave-It”
    1. Place a treat in your hand and say “take-it” as she grabs it. Repeat this three times.
    2. On the 4th time, don’t say anything and instead, close your hand as she reaches for it.
    3. Wait and don’t pull away - be ready for her to paw, lick, nibble, etc. BE PATIENT!
    4. When she pulls away and waits a few seconds, open hand and say “take-it”.
    5. Repeat the hand closing until she stops going for the treat and instead waits for you to say “take-it”.
    6. Once she has grasped the idea that she should not take the treat until you say “take-it”, and then leave your hand open with the treat in your hand. When she goes for the treat, close your hand and say “leave-it”.
    7. Repeat until she pulls away. Wait a second and then open your hand and say “take-it”. Repeat this step, extending the time of the wait before saying “take-it”.
This command can eventually be expanded to include teaching it with items not just in your hand, but also on the floor. Additional ways to expand your companion’s understanding is by scattering treats around the floor and having him wait to get each treat until you say “take-it”. Having your dog understand the “leave-it” command can be especially important when outdoors, where there are a number of potentially dangerous things he can find and put in his mouth. Teaching our dog’s how to have good manners is one additional way we can help to keep them safe.

People Foods to Avoid Giving your Dogs

Written by: Terese Houle - July 24, 2017

While there are a number of people food options that offer numerous health benefits for our canine companions, there are also several foods that you should avoid giving to your dog. The following is a list of toxic people foods that could seriously harm your dog:

Candy, Gum, and Sugar

Similar to humans, your dog risks, dental problems, obesity, and diabetes with the consumption of too much sugar.

Be extremely cautious about having candy laying around that could be easily accessed by your dog. Oftentimes candy and gum contain xylitol, which is a sugar substitute that is extremely toxic to dogs. Even in the smallest amounts, it can lead to seizures, liver failure, and even death in some occasions.


While most people know that chocolate is toxic for our canine friends, it bears repeating. It’s not just the caffeine that is harmful to your dog, but it also contains toxic substances called methylxanthines, which can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, and can damage your dog’s heart and nervous systems.

Dairy Products

While giving your dog small servings of dairy products, such as milk or sugar free ice cream, will not harm your dog, it can lead to digestive irritation, as many adult canines are lactose intolerant.

Fruit Pits/Seeds (Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, etc.)

While slices of apples, peaches, and pears are safe for your dog, be sure to carefully cut out and remove the pits and seeds before serving. The pits and seeds contain amygdalin, a compound that dissolves into cyanide when digested.

Grapes and Raisins

Both of these foods are extremely toxic to dogs and even small amounts can lead to liver and kidney failure. Do not, under any circumstances, give your dog grapes as a treat.

Garlic and Onions

Garlic, onions, leeks, chives, etc. are part of the allium plant family, which is poisonous to most pets. Regardless of the form they’re in (dry, cooked, raw, powdered, or within other foods). These plants may cause anemia and can also damage red blood cells.


Avoid giving your canine friend any foods that contain salt (ie. potato chips). Consuming too much salt can deplete their electrolyte levels and cause dehydration.

If you suspect that your canine friend may have ingested one of these toxic items and notice that he is acting strangely or experiencing symptoms such as weakness, vomiting, and/or diarrhea, contact your vet immediately.

Socializing Your Puppy

Written by: Terese Houle - June 26, 2017

Exposing your puppy to new experiences is the first, and probably most important step to having a well-adjusted adult dog.

Introducing them to all kinds of sights, sounds, and smells will help to ensure that they are adaptable to all situations. If you ensure that your dog experiences different people, things, voices, and more, then they are less likely to be surprised, scared, or even worse, aggressive when they encounter something new.

The following is a checklist of suggested situations to expose your puppy to as he/she grows up:

  • Child on a bike
  • Man wearing a hat
  • Crying baby
  • Person walking a puppy/dog
  • Person in a wheel chair
  • Man with a beard Child dancing and jumping
  • Lawn mower Tractor
  • Person using a broom Vacuum
  • Jogger Veterinarian
  • Shy person
  • Loud person
  • A festival or party
  • Mailman
  • Person pushing a baby stroller
  • Person in a trench coat
  • Cat/kitten
  • Women in a dress
  • Man in a suit
  • Person with a ball
  • Screaming child
  • Ride on an elevator
  • Child playing with a loud toy
  • Child with a stuffed toy
  • Delivery person
  • People of different races
  • Person with sunglasses
  • Horse
  • Children at a playground
  • Person at a drive-through window
  • Pet store
  • Downtown sidewalks
  • Busy streets
  • Trucks and Cars
  • Shooting range
  • Dump trucks
  • Garbage trucks
  • Fire trucks
  • Sirens Person in uniform
  • Elderly person
  • Outdoor sporting games (basketball, baseball, tennis, etc.)

Of course, these are only a few suggestions, as there are a number of other opportunities you may be aware of based upon your own neighborhood situations. The greater the variety of experiences, the more comfortable your dog will be when she comes into contact with these situations. A knowledgeable dog is a confident dog, which produces a more socially acceptable dog that is not fearful.

We also highly recommend registering you and your puppy in a puppy kindergarten class. This is not only a great way to expose your puppy to a variety of different breeds of dogs, but also will teach you how to help your puppy be a responsible citizen!

A thought on wolfdogs

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary in Cochrane Alberta - June 4, 2017

- Dan and wife Kathy recently visited the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary in Cochrane Alberta along with Carson Morris. Carson volunteers at the sanctuary and works at Global Pet Foods in Cochrane Alberta.


These are wolves with varying parts of dog bread into them. When people find that ‘wolfdogs’ are often too difficult to handle the sanctuary looks after them. The wolfdogs we saw are very well cared for and we think this group is doing a great job. For more check out their website at


Healthy Garden Treats for Our Canine Companions

- May 30, 2017