Your Dog and Small Critters – By Ben Kersen

Your Dog and Small Critters
By Ben Kersen

In this video clip I talk about how to create a dog that is good with small critters whether it’s chickens, squirrels, rabbits or cats.  If your dog has already established bad habits with these animals, the approach may vary.

Until Next Time,
Ben Kersen
Ben Kersen & the Wonderdogs
Victoria, BC

crittering ben kersen



Getting Your Dog Ready for Baby

Getting Your Dog Ready for Baby
By Michelle – Pride and Joy Dog Training

Well, it has finally happened! You are changing from a family of two to a family of three…and I don’t mean you are getting a new dog! There is a baby on the way and you’re not sure how your dog is going to react to the new family member.

I know from experience that some dogs can detect a baby in your belly way before a traditional pregnancy test. My dog became much more protective of me and would always sleep with his head on my tummy (which, my very aloof dog has never done before) weeks before I officially knew I was pregnant. Dogs are very sensitive to hormone changes and can sense the difference in you even if you haven’t yet. Whether your dog is aware from the get-go or is a little more oblivious to all the changes going on around him, you will have to get him ready for what is coming.

If your dog has never been around small children before you will need to get him used to the sights and sounds of babies. A great idea is to take him for a walk near a park or field where children play so your dog can hear them while he is being exercised, this will show your dog that children aren’t something to fear, good things can happen when they are around! You can also find recordings online to play of children playing and babies crying to help your dog become accustomed to having a noisy home.

It is great to start a new routine of taking your dog for a nice, long walk while you are still pregnant and then continuing it once baby has arrived. Your dog will need to know that even though he may not be number 1 in your heart anymore, he is still important to you and exercise is that best way to show him that. You can also start walking your dog with the stroller before baby arrives so you aren’t trying to get your dog used to a stroller and worrying about your newborn at the same time. You may want to start by walking your dog in a heel for a while and then once you are confident in his heel, add the stroller and then get your dog to heel. A heeling dog is much easier to walk with a stroller then a dog that is running around, pulling at the leash and bumping into the stroller.

You should also work on basic obedience with your dog before baby arrives because being able to control your dog with commands will come in very handy when your hands are full. If your dog already knows basic commands, make sure they are solid and then start adding in distractions. Training with distractions will be a life saver as life with babies is full of distractions! Make sure your dog will sit or lie down and stay for extended periods of time because when baby comes home you will want to make sure your dog sits (or lies down) before being introduced to the baby and before any other interaction with baby after that. If your dog is jumping and out of control, leave the room and do not introduce the baby until the dog has calmed down.

Many dogs have toys and stuffed animals that they play with, which may start to get confusing when you start adding in baby toys and stuffies. Your dog may think that all these new toys are for him, as they always have been before! I recommend cutting your dog toy collection down considerably to a few main toys that are his favourites, these are your dogs toys, any other toys in his mouth are a no-no. You will need to work with your dog in the months before baby’s arrival on determining which toys are acceptable to play with and which are off limits. A great exercise to help your dog to understand is by giving your dog the option to take the toy, if he goes for it, take it away before the dog can take it and say a firm “No!”, then try again; give him the option to take it and take it away if he goes for it. It may take your dog a few tries to understand but they will eventually get it. When your dog does not go for the toy or looks to you first then say “Good dog!” and praise, praise, praise and use your dog’s toy as a reward to play with! Your dog will slowly begin to understand what is ok to play with and what is not a chew toy.

DSC_0047One of the most stressful days of your life as a parent will be your first day home from the hospital as a family and your dog adding to the stress is not helpful, I will continue with tips in my next article. It will cover what to do once baby is born and at home. Please be aware that if you are stressed while working with your dog, your dog will feel it and in turn, also become stressed. This is a new experience for everyone, including your dog, and it may take him a little time to become accustomed to your new life and routine, just as it will take you some time to get used to being a parent.

Michelle Poitras
Pride and Joy Dog Training
Edmonton, Alberta

Michelle is a graudate of Ben Kersen and the Wonderdogs Professional Dog Trainers Program and currently resides in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband, toddler and husky!

Daily Safety Rules for Your Dog – By Ben Kersen

Daily Safety Rules for Your Dog

By Ben Kersen

In this clip I discuss some of the rules I use with my own and my doggy daycare that ensure good manners and more importantly, safety!

Until Next Time,
Ben Kersen
Ben Kersen & the Wonderdogs
Victoria, BC

Puppy Proofing the House – By Ben Kersen

Puppy Proofing the House

By Ben Kersen

Ben KersenOne of the most common complaints we get from clients when they call Ben Kersen & the Wonderdogs is “my puppy chewed my _____” or “peed of my _____”!  Don’t let this be you!

Before bringing your future wonderdog home, it’s important to check each room of your house for items that may be hazardous. All household cleaners, bleaches, oils, chemicals of any sort should be kept in a high, and preferably locked cupboard.

All electrical cords should be dabbed with jalapeno pepper juice, lemon juice, bitter apple, or some other substance that will taste terrible to the chewing puppy. If you have a Mexican dog or a dog that just won’t take “no” for an answer, try Dave’s Insanity Sauce (this sauce is available in the specialty food section of most grocery stores).

It is important to have lots of chew toys for puppy (as an alternative to your furniture and electrical cords). However, with the exception of Kongs and some of the hard rubber Nylabones, almost any chew toy will break down under determined chewing. Be sure to replace such toys before they become small enough to be swallowed.

For more on things to consider before brining your puppy home, think about doing a consultation with a professional dog trainer.  My business, Ben Kersen and the Wonderdogs offers this service at a good rate.  Visit my website for more information:

Until Next Time,
Ben Kersen
Ben Kersen and the Wonderdogs
Victoria, BC Canada

Boarding – Considering your Outdoor Environment – By Ben Kersen

Considering your Outdoor Dog Environment –  By Ben Kersen 

Wondering where the best place is to position your outdoor dog pen? Based on my own experience building outdoor pens for Ben Kersen and the Wonderdogs doggy day care in Victoria, sun, shade and sight lines are factors you will definitely want to consider when designing your own facility.

Video filmed on location at Ben Kersen and the Wonderdogs, 1639 Charlton Rd., Victoria, BC

Until Next Time, 

Ben Kersen

Ben Kersen and the Wonderdogs

Safety for Your Dog in Your Home – By Ben Kersen

Safety for Your Dog in Your Home
By Ben Kersen

Training gear (whether it’s a “choke”/check chain, harness or head harness)  should only be used for training. It is also important that the equipment is fitted properly so there is less chance of it snagging on something when you turn your back. Dogs can get a training collar that is too long caught on a shrub in the yard or on furniture in the house. If the dog is unsupervised, it may panic, and this can be fatal.

At Ben Kersen and the Wonderdogs we tell all our clients to be careful with feeding and exercising their dogs.  Ensure you feed your dog 20 minutes or more after exercising, and NEVER right before. When a dog has a full stomach then starts to exercise, the stomach can ‘flip’ or bloat (also called a stomach torsion) and this can often be a fatal condition.

Chocolate, though yummy for people, is poisonous for dogs. Semi-sweet chocolate in very small quantities can be fatal; milk chocolate isn’t quite as toxic but can still kill a dog if eaten in large quantities.

Ben Kersen and the Wonderdogs Poison Proofing

Dogs are natural-born scavengers, and they will head for the worst things: a spot of antifreeze in a driveway (which is HIGHLY toxic and often fatal), a discarded chicken bone, chocolate, etc. Because scavenging is such a natural instinct, poison proofing is a vital part of your dog’s training.

We offer Poison Proofing at Ben Kersen and the Wonderdogs.  There are two different concepts when teaching this:

1. teach your dog to take food from your hand only and never to scavenge for food on the ground; or2. if you have to be away or kennel your dog at times, you can teach your dog never to scavenge for food on the ground, but allow it to take food from other people.

Poison proofing is a service that Ben Kersen and the Wonderdogs provide with consistent results. This consultation can be done in our office or by telephone. Visit our website for more information:

There are also many houseplants and some outdoor plants that are poisonous. Most nurseries have lists of these. Before you bring a puppy home, you will want to make an inventory of plants around the house.

The following is a list of plants that can be toxic or fatal to dogs:

Aloe Vera
Apple (seeds)
Apple Leaf Croton
Apricot (pit)
Asparagus Fern
Autumn Crocus
Avocado (fruit and pit)
Baby’s Breath
Bird of Paradise
Branching Ivy
Buddhist Pine
Calla Lily
Castor Bean
Charming Dieffenbachia
Cherry (seeds and wilting leaves)
Chinese Evergreen
Christmas Rose
Corn Plant
Cornstalk Plant
Cuban Laurel
Cutleaf Philodendron
Devil’s Ivy
Dracaena Palm
Dragon Tree
Dumb Cane
Easter Lily (especially in cats!!!!)
Elephant Ears
Emerald Feather
English Ivy
Fiddle-leaf fig
Florida Beauty
Fruit Salad Plant
German Ivy
Giant Dumb Cane
Glacier Ivy
Gold Dieffenbachia
Gold Dust Dracaena
Golden Pothos
Hahn’s Self-Branching Ivy
Heartland Philodendron
Hurricane Plant
Indian Rubber Plant
Janet Craig Dracaena
Japanese Show Lily (especially cats !!!)
Jerusalem Cherry
Lacy Tree Philodendron
Lily of the Valley
Madagascar Dragon Tree
Marble Queen
Mexican Breadfruit
Miniature Croton
Morning Glory
Mother-in Law’s Tongue
Needlepoint Ivy
Oriental Lily (especially in cats!!!)
Peace Lily
Peach (wilting leaves and pits)
Pencil Cactus
Plumosa Fern
Poinsettia (low toxicity)
Poison Ivy
Poison Oak
Precatory Bean
Red Emerald
Red Princess
Red-Margined Dracaena
Ribbon Plant
Saddle Leaf Philodendron
Sago Palm
Satin Pothos
Silver Pothos
Spotted Dumb Cane
String of Pearls
Striped Dracaena
Sweetheart Ivy
Swiss Cheese Plant
Taro Vine
Tiger Lily (especially cats!!!)
Tomato Plant (green fruit, stem and leaves)
Tree Philodendron
Tropic Snow Dieffenbachia
Weeping Fig

Until Next Time,
Ben Kersen
Ben Kersen and the Wonderdogs
Victoria, BC

Your Dog’s Safety Inside a Car – By Ben Kersen

Your Dog’s Safety Inside A Car
By Ben Kersen

If you were involved in a car accident, would your dog be safe? If your dog is free in the car, it could be thrown into a window, out of the car, or otherwise injured.

At Ben Kersen and the Wonderdogs we believe in safety first.  The following are options for save travel for your dog:

1. Traveling crates: many people crate their dogs in a vehicle. This will be the safest if the crates themselves are thoroughly secured to the body of the vehicle.

2. Seatbelts: there are now a variety of dog seatbelt products that can be used in conjunction with human seatbelts.

3. Dividers: in station wagons and vans, dividers can be secured in a vehicle to create a special place for your dog. In pick-up trucks, your dog(s) may ride in a sturdy, canopy-enclosed box.  This option obviously isn’t as safe as the other two options as your dog can still be tossed a good distance in the event of an accident.


Traveling crates, dog seatbelts, and dividers can be purchased at most pet shops. Of course, these alternatives are only going to work if you use them consistently. If you have two or three dogs, ‘ buckling up ‘ before every drive can be time consuming. You will need to judge the value of the companionship and petting time you and your dog (s) share when they can sit beside you against the need for these vehicle safety measures.

Heat in Cars
If the temperature rises to 20°C outside, a dog left in a car may be at risk. With direct sunlight, the temperature in your car will rise dramatically. Even with all four windows open, a dog can suffer heat stroke very quickly on a hot day. Heat stroke can be fatal. In hot weather, parking in the shade or using sun reflector blankets to cover the front window can help, but they are no guarantee of safety. Always avoid leaving your dog in a hot car for its comfort, as well as its safety.

Car Windows
The “‘Houdini Dog'” syndrome can strike if you leave your car windows open too wide. The rule of thumb is that the window should not be open wider than the dog’s head. If a dog can get its head out the window, then it CAN get the rest of its body out.

Car Doors
Just a reminder: car doors are heavy and can cause serious injury. So when putting “Fido” in the car, hold the door until you are absolutely sure that all dog parts and the entire leash are well inside the car. Also, never slam the car door. Close it slowly holding the handle in case of “doggie door dash”.

Car Manners
When driving, the last thing you need is a hairy projectile ricocheting around the car. Also, never let your dog fire out through the car door as soon as it is opened. Teach him/her to sit and wait until given your “okay” to exit safely (more to come on this topic in an upcoming video blog). Car manners are easily taught with a little time and consistency. This a service that Ben Kersen and the Wonderdogs provide.  Visit our website for more information:

Until Next Time,
Ben Kersen
Ben Kersen & the Wonderdogs
Victoria, BC


Ben Kersen – Complaints from Clients About their Dog’s Safety Around Cars

Common Complaints from Clients – Their Dog’s Safety Around Cars

By Ben Kersen

A common complaint I receive from my future Wonderdog clients is about the fact that their dog has no car sense!  Do you remember being taught as a young child to look both ways before crossing the street? Picture the scene: you are playing fetch with your dog. The ball gets knocked out into the street and your dog races after it unaware of anything else including the approaching car.…

Over one million dogs are hit by motor vehicles annually. This statistic should be a big incentive for you to car-proof your dog.  I have offered car proofing through my business, Ben Kersen & the Wonderdogs for over 30 years now and am confident that I have saved many dogs’ lives because of it.

Ben Kersen & the Wonderdogs’ car proofing training teaches your dog:

1. to jump back whenever a vehicle comes directly toward it.2. never to go off curb onto asphalt unless you given your “okay”.

3. to always sit at every curb before crossing the road.

Ben Kersen - Dog SafetyThese three techniques can be taught quite easily and are invaluable in saving your dog’s life. Visit our website for more

Remember you should ALWAYS use a leash when walking near traffic as things can happen quickly. The only exception is if your dog has been through our advanced car proofing training, and even then, you must always be very careful.

Until Next Time,
Ben Kersen
Ben Kersen & the Wonderdogs
Victoria, BC