Introducing our newest service... Holly's Scholarship

As part of Best Paw Forward's ongoing commitment to local communities, we are announcing the first of many new services in 2014 to provide access to quality dog training and behavior services to our local communities.

Holly's Scholarship was created because our youngest German Shepherd Dog, Holly. Holly began to show signs of aggression at a very young age of 4 months. Her owners, unable to handle her biting surrendered her to a rescue group where Michael began her behavior modification which was then continued when Jamie fostered her for 6 months.  Two failed adoptions and a lot of work later, Holly is responsible for the partnership between Michael and Jamie and a loving member of their family.

In her honor, we have created a scholarship the provides full and partial financial help for community members that would greatly benefit from private and group training but cannot afford to do so.

Applications for funding will be accepted at from January 2, 2014 through January 8, 2014.  The Best Paw Forward, Inc. Board of Directors will review applications and award scholarships based on need and availability.  Lucky recipients will receive financial assistance with private training or group classes with Best Paw Forward, Inc.

This is the first of several programs set to roll out in 2014 from the trainers and behavior consultants at Best Paw Forward as we move forward in our goals of creating well behaved canine companions in our communities.

For more information on Holly's Scholarships or any of the other services provided by behavior consultants, Michael and Jamie Badial, visit

Applications for Holly's Scholarship can be found here.

Join us for a FUNdraiser and support local Non Profits. 

Best Paw Forward and Pet Valu are hosting Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue 
and Santa for Holiday Photos on

Saturday, December 7th at 11am until 3pm

Emailed Photos $8    Printed Photos $10

All proceeds will be donated to Champ's Fund and Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue
Please click below to support our new Non-Profit Endeavor.  

Jamie Badial, of Best Paw Forward, has started a new Non-Profit to help individuals and rescues fund training and behavior modification in an effort to keep dogs in their homes. 

96% of dogs in shelters and rescues have never had any kind of behavior training.  It is the number one reason that dogs are surrendered.  Our mission is to help connect rescues and individuals with quality trainers.  By providing funding, we are making quality training and behavior modification affordable for all. 
A common complaint from dog owners is that their dog jumps on them and guests. Puppies jump on people to say hello and investigate visitors more easily.  Jumping is also a self-rewarding behavior because the puppy gets what s/he wants .... ATTENTION!!
Teaching dogs not to jump is an easy task but you must be consistent!

The first step to a polite dog who greets people with all four paws on the floor is preventing the jumping from happening.  You can accomplish this by having the dog on leash when meeting new people. Only allow your dog to meet others when s/he is calm.  Another option is to put him/her in their crate or another room when people come over until the excitement has worn down.
Teach your dog an incompatible behavior, such as sit, to prevent jumping.

If you are expecting guests, put your dog on leash before they arrive and have training reinforcements ready (something delicious or a special toy). 

When guests come in, have your dog sitting politely by your side away from the door.  Tell your guests to approach and say hello to the dog ONLY if his/her paws are on the floor.  If the dog jumps, your guest retreats and removes attention.  If your dog remains seated, have your guest say hello, pet calmly and reinforce the good behavior.
Tip: If the doorbell sends your dog into an excited frenzy, hang a sign on the door to let visitors know that your dog is in training and to not ring the bell and to please be patient while you get the dog settled.
Dogs repeat behavior that works.  If jumping on people no longer provides your dog with the attention they desire you will begin to see it less and less. You must remember to not allow the behavior to work.  This means you will need to be in charge of greetings and remind people that it is never okay for your puppy to put his/her paws on someone.  
To stop people from sabotaging your progress, let them know your dog is in training and ask if they would like to help.  Most people are more than happy to comply.
Another option to stop jumping is to turn your back on the dog and walk away.  Most times the dog will start to follow you.  If they do turn around and address the dog telling them to sit and then try again to interact with the dog when all four paws are on the floor.
Inconsistency - In order to extinguish an undesirable behavior, it must never work. Training fails when the information the dog receives is inconsistent.  For this reason, you must ensure that everyone that interacts with your dog enforces the same rules. If it is too difficult to be sure the dog is not reinforced for jumping, it is best the interaction doesn't happen until s/he has generalized the behavior.

Behavior is Reinforced - If the behavior is continuing it is because it is being reinforced.  Many people attempt to stop dogs from jumping on them by pushing them off or kneeing them.  Aside from being uncomfortable for both the dog and the human, the dog often considers any interaction reinforcing as they are getting the attention they desire. 
Remember to practice calm, friendly greetings with all four paws on the ground in many different environments and with as many people as possible. Once the behavior has been generalized, you will notice your dog offering it every time they see someone they want to greet.
Safety with dogs and kids is a VERY important one and one that has recently become a main focus for us at Best Paw Forward since having our first baby. 

Michael and I welcomed a beautiful baby boy, Michael Jr, on July 31st of this year but for 9 months before we prepared our dogs – Raven, Kaiser and Holly – for how their lives were going to change.  
I was appalled when we told a client that we were pregnant and they instantly asked if we would be getting rid of our dogs. I replied “No, of course not. They will adapt.” and stood there stunned. How could anyone “get rid of” their family member just because it was no longer convenient? How would someone think that a couple whose life is dogs and dog behavior would even consider such a thing?
Raven and Kaiser have always shown excellent manners around young children and babies.  In fact, Raven was TOO friendly with kids wanting to always smother them with kisses.  Holly was a different story.  Holly was officially adopted by us in July 2012 but we have worked with her since August 2011 on her fear aggression while she was in rescue. Holly is high drive, high intelligence and energetic. She was surrendered to rescue at a very young age for biting her owners.  Unfortunately, they had caused some pretty significant damage to her behavior by using harsh techniques to deal with her biting during a critical period of socialization when she should be learning to trust. 

We had decided not to push Holly’s interactions with kids at the time because she needed work in so many areas and chose management instead.  While she has made so many great strides in those other areas, we were unsure of how she would react to a baby despite her training and more mature nature at 2 years old. She has shown aggression toward kids in the past and this would worry any new Mom, even one who changed behavior every day.

Halloween is a favorite holiday for children across the nation but it can be a confusing time for man (or women’s) best friend.  Costumes and excited children running around can spook even the most stable dog causing them anxiety or to behave in a way that can might be considered inappropriate.

We recommend leaving your dog safely at home after dark to keep them and other safe.
What to do if your dog is home alone

If you and the kids are venturing out in pursuit of the best candy bar and leaving your pup home alone, it would be a good idea to give him/her a yummy bone or frozen kong to keep them occupied. We also recommend leaving on the television or a radio to help drown out the noise outside and keep anxiety levels low.  Pets should be kept away from windows or doors where kids might be walking by.  A crate in the back of the house is always a good choice. Remember to turn off porch or fronts lights so trick or treats don’t knock on your door. 
What to do if you will be home

If your dog regularly barks at doorbells or knocks, don’t let them repeat this behavior over and over again on what should be a fun night for all.  Keep an eye on the outside and leave the door open with a sign that lets parents know there is a dog in the house and to please not knock or ring the bell. Instead, greet trick-or-treaters at the door (either with or without the dog depending on your dog’s ability) so that bad behavior isn’t practiced. 

Place a baby gate across the doorway to prevent accidental escapes but allow for passing out candy and participating in the night’s festivities. 

PRACTICE!  There’s plenty of time to practice door behavior before the big night. Take 5 minutes each night to work on your dog’s “place” and “stay” commands while answering the door.  For more information on how to teach both of those, check out our handout sheets.
If answering the door with your dog

If you plan on answering the door with your dog, make sure that s/he won’t be scared by the costumes and if he barks at the kids, promptly and calmly remove him from the situation.  Make sure that your dog is wearing a collar and identification in case of an escape.  To prevent accidents, it is a good idea to keep your dog on leash throughout the night for quick handling.  Giving your dog a release cue to say hello to interested guests is a good way to show them when it is appropriate to interact with people.
Other Tips to Have a Safe and Fun Holiday

· No costumes for pooch.  It is unnatural and restricting for dogs to wear clothing which can add stress to
   an already confusing evening.  A nice custom collar or fun bandana is a better choice.  If you are going to
   dress up your canine companion, try the costume on a couple of times before the big night and REWARD
   big for being calm.

 · Keep candy and treats out of reach.  Store your goodies in a cabinet or closet far away from the curious   
   nose of your canine companion.  Not only is chocolate bad for pets but so are many of the other
   ingredients in your favorite treats.  To avoid issues, keep your goodies in a safe place.

· Don’t wear masks in the house.  Costumes can be very confusing for dogs who don’t understand why their
   beloved family members suddenly look very different. When dressing up, save the finishing touches
   such as makeup, masks, wigs or hoods for when you are out of the house. 

· Don’t leave your lit jack-o-lantern in puppy’s reach.  Jack-o-lanterns pose a serious fire hazard especially
   when combined with curious dog noses.  Keep open flames protected or outside.  Better yet, swap the 
   candle for a flameless LED light for the safest option.

· DO enjoy your holiday and don’t stress over leaving your dog home. They don’t know what they are 
    missing and will be happy you are home but not scarred by being forced to take part in the festivities.

Recently, we have seen some horrific things while traveling from a terrified Mastiff tethered in the back of a pickup doing 80mph to a young energetic lab hanging out the passenger side window on our local streets. Let's face it, many of us get a dog to do things with and this means taking them in the car from time to time.  If you are travelling with your dog, there are some things you need to know in order to keep them safe and the first is: How to Keep Them Safe!

Does your dog love sitting on the passenger seat with his head hanging out the window?  Or sitting on your
lap?  Does your dog wander around loose in the backseat or cargo area?  If so, then you are putting yourself, your dog and other drivers at risk every time you venture out!  Not only is that loose dog a distraction for you, s/he could be seriously injured or worse, seriously injure you in a collision.

Take a look at this crash test video.  In a collision, dogs can become projectile objects and seriously injure themselves or passengers in the car.
If you are an active dog owner then chances are you love taking your dog to new places – hiking groups, local events or to your local dog store for treats and food.  As a responsible dog owner you would never want to see your dog harmed, so what is the best way to keep your dog safe and still bring them along?

Keep that dog restrained! There are various products marketed toward dog car safety and we will briefly discuss each of those below.

While a barrier will keep your dog from being jumping from front to back in your car and distracting you while driving, they offer little to no protection in the case of an accident.  If using a barrier in the cargo area of an SUV, you are placing your dog securely in the crumple zone and putting them at risk in the event that you are rear ended. Also, unless the barrier is permanently mounted in the car, the impact of a collision could still send your dog flying through the barrier and into the front seat. 

Crates are one option for confinement but are a poor choice for keeping dogs safe in a crash.  Soft sided crates offer the least amount of protection. Sturdy metal or plastic crates can offer some protection but since they are often placed in the crumple zone of the car, their frames have a hard time withstanding the pressure.   

See this video on a crash tested crate.
Seat belt harnesses are perhaps your best option for securing your dog in the car and the best part is they can be easily transferred from car to car.  But not just any harness will do, you want to look for a harness with thick straps and some padding to provide maximum comfort and distribute pressure evenly against your dog’s body. 
Each seat belt harness will usually have a tether which can be adjusted in length.  You want to keep the tether short to prevent the dog from moving around too much and getting tangled or again, from becoming a projectile object in the case of a crash.

Seat Belt Options:
 Champion Canine Seat Belt System 

Ruff Rider Harness 

AllSafe Harness 

Bergen Dog Auto Harness 

After choosing the proper restraint, remember to take other considerations in mind.  Have water and some food in the car in case of unexpected delays.  Don’t let your pet hang their head out the window as dust and debris can get into their eyes can cause issues.  You also don’t want your window to be open far enough that your dog can jump out, especially if they are tethered by a leash or seatbelt. 
Remember to always have ID on your dog in the form of a collar with a tag with contact information. 
If you are injured in an accident and your dog gets loose, he will be confused and scared and may try to run away from good Samaritans trying to help him.  Making sure you have ID on him with updated contact information will ensure his safe return to you. 
It is also a good idea to have a folder with important information on your dog in the car with you in case of an emergency. This information can and should include:

 · A photo of your dog
 · Your dog’s name, age and breed
 · Any medications your dog may be taking
·  Veterinarian’s Information
·  Emergency Contact Information
·  Temperament considerations if any (ie: shy or unfriendly)

For more information on car safety for dogs, check out these resources: 

If your dog does not ride well in the car, give us a call and we can help make car rides fun and safe for you again! 

Wishing you and your pet many safe travels!
The American Kennel Club (AKC) has declared September as Responsible Dog Ownership Month.

To celebrate, we will be offering several promotions during the month of September and hosting a Responsible Dog Owner Weekend at Pet Valu in Philadelphia on Saturday, September 21st and Sunday, September 22nd.

Saturday & Sunday, September 21st & 22nd
11am - 3pm

Pet Valu
2250 Grant Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19114

Canine Good Citizen Testing
Gift Basket Raffle
Give aways
Special Discounts for Training
Come visit us - meet our trainers, shop at Pet Valu, socialize with other dog lovers and have a good time celebrating being a responsible pet owner!!
Yes it's true, it's summer time.  And during the summer months we experience heat waves.  This week temperatures are expected to be in the mid to high 90s with high humidity which is not only comfortable for us humans but for our pets as well.

Here are some of our safety tips for keeping your dog safe and fulfilled physically and mentally.

Exercise Safety Tips
    * Take walks in the early morning or late evening hours 
    * Avoid hot sidewalks and roads as they can burn paw pads
    * Bring along lots of water and take frequent breaks
    * Walk on shaded trails or near water if possible
    * Keep walks or exercise sessions brief

General Safety Tips
    * Keep coats long and well groomed - long coat dogs should not be shaved as their coats  
         help them regulate their body temperature
    * Light skinned dogs can get sunburn so minimize sun exposure especially midday
    * Leave your dog at home when running errands 
    * Make sure your pet has access to fresh water
    * Know the signs of heat stroke

Mental Stimulation Tips
Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise for keeping dogs happy and fulfilled and sometimes can be even more tiring than lots of exercise.

Kibble and Treat dispensing toys such as the Kong Wobbler and the Kibble Nibble make your pet "work" for their meals.  The added challenge works the dog's brain and makes meal time fun.  Here's a video of Junior eating breakfast from his Kong Wobbler.

For an inexpensive alternative to treat dispending toys, you can use an old muffin tin and a couple of tennis balls or other toys.
You can always practice your life skills and every day manners or teach a new trick.

Today's challenge:  Teach your dog to
Take a Bow!