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Your Top Dog Questions, Answered


By: Sara Borzatta


Wondering why dogs eat poop? Us too. Searches for how to train them out of it are among the top dog questions asked online*. Whether you’re a new pet owner or an old dog who wants to learn new tricks, keep reading for the answers we’ve tracked down to your most pressing pup-related questions.

1. Why do dogs wag their tails?

Most people probably guess that dogs wag their tails in excitement. That’s true, but it’s not the whole story. According to Live Science, dogs use physical motion to convey feelings. The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, and vice versa (just like us humans!). Positive thoughts are stored on the left side of a dog’s brain, so a tail that wags to the right means happy and excited. Tail wagging to the left? Your pup might be showing signs of stress and agitation. So check-in, and show them love if they need it.

2. How do I crate train my puppy?

Crate training starts with getting the right-sized crate for your puppy. Get something that is big enough for your pup to stand up, turn around and comfortably stretch out for a nap. But don’t get something so large that your dog can use one side as the toilet and the other side as the bedroom.

The Humane Society recommends introducing your pup to the crate and making sure it’s a positive association early on. Take the door off the crate, place a cozy towel or blanket inside, offer treats inside the crate and place the crate in an area of the house where humans like to hang out (like the living room). The idea is that the dog will tap into his "den-dwelling" instincts and start considering the crate as his comfy safe place.

Once your dog is happy with his crate, it’s time to replace the gate and try leaving them alone in the crate, with toys and a water feeder attached to the gate. For puppies under six months, just test out a couple of hours at a time. Using the crate as their bed for the night will reinforce the crate training.

The perks of crate training are that it’s a rather easy and inexpensive method of housetraining, and it’s a great way to prepare pets for future travels when they may have to be crated.

Make sure you remove your pup’s collar and pet tracker when you put them in the crate.

3. How do I register a dog with the AKC?

The only way to register your purebred dog with the American Kennel Club is with the Individual Dog Registration Application form provided by your breeder. (If you lost the registration form the breeder gave you, don’t worry! Just ask your breeder to call the AKC and request a duplicate for a $15 fee).

If a dog’s litter has been registered, the form will have a unique pin number. You will use this number to register your pet online. If your form does not have a pin number, you can register by mail.

Don’t have a purebred pup? The AKC might not let you register them, but we still love all our adorable mutts just the same.

4. How do I keep my puppy from eating poop?

This is nasty, but part of any dog owner’s life—so how do you stop it?

According to the American Kennel Club, pups do this for a number of reasons. It could be a vitamin deficiency, a habit from living in small spaces, or it could just be that they’re trying to absorb nutrients.

It doesn’t hurt dogs to eat their own feces (except maybe their pride), but eating feces from other animals could expose them to unhealthy bacteria or parasites.

Help them break the habit with these quick tips:

  • Supplement their diet with Vitamin B
  • Keep the house and yard free of droppings
  • Clean up after your dog immediately
  • Teach them the "leave it" and "come" commands


Make sure you speak to your Vet before altering your dog’s usual dietary regime.

5. Why do dogs chew their paws?

Dogs chew and lick their paws for a variety of reasons. According to Pedigree, they might have something lodged in their paw, like thorns, splinters, or even a tick.

Another possible reason for your pet to start chomping on his paws is an allergy or irritant. Common allergens are mold, pesticides, and soap. In the winter, salt used on sidewalks could dry out paw pads, and in the summer, sweaty paws can pick up chemicals from lawns and fields.

Sometimes, it’s a bad habit built up from past experiences. Dogs can get used to licking and biting their paws out of boredom, as a reaction to an old injury, or to comfort themselves.

If you’re noticing an excessive amount of chewing, follow these quick tips to help your pup find relief:

  • Talk to your vet about your concerns
  • Check paws for anything to remove
  • Give them a soothing homemade foot soak
  • Try a new chew toy
  • Schedule doggie playdates



6. What breed is the Target dog?

The dog in Target commercials is a Bull Terrier. The adorable little guy comes from a long line of English terriers who were created to catch rats, mice, and other rodents. He’s definitely cute, but we’re partial to our own Whistle dogs!

7. How do I paper train my puppy?

Ah, the joys of potty training a new dog. It feels like you spend an eternity outside waiting for your pup to do his business (no go), yet moments after returning home there’s a new wet spot (oh no). Paper training is one technique that’s helped a lot of pet owners.

Paper training a puppy takes a watchful eye. Here are the basic steps: Start feeding your pup at regular times and keep track of when he will need to go to the bathroom. Place the pup on an absorbent pad or in a dog litter box. Then give him a verbal cue that you will always use to encourage him to do his business.

Puppies need to go every couple of hours, so put him on the paper every 2 hours and see if he needs to go.

A few important tips for success:

  • Never move the paper location. Once a puppy has used it once, it will be confusing to change locations.
  • If you catch your puppy having an accident, bring him to the paper to finish.
  • If you didn’t see the accident, clean it and keep an eye out for next time.


It takes time and patience to train your new puppy, but it will pay off tremendously in the future. Especially when there’s bad weather out!

So there you have it, your most searched dog questions answered. Tune in for more pet-related info each week. Make sure you take a look at our Expert Tip column for cool tricks you might have missed on your Whistle App.


* According to a Google Trends report for 2015





About the Author | Sara Borzatta
With a B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in tourism, Sara loves nothing more than writing and traveling, except animals. As the Content Manager at Whistle, she spends her days researching trends, creating content and playing with the office pups. As an avid country-hopper, her favorite thing about visiting new places is befriending stray animals and tasting exotic food.




Oct 10, 2016

Tags:   dog training   pet parenting   dogs  

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