Review Category : Contributors

Plug in to joy

By Martha O’Regan

Have you truly wrapped your brain around the fact that we are electromagnetic beings?  We are both electric (energy) and magnetic, yet we are humans, not robots or computers. Our left brain wants to know what it sees and see what it knows so we want to see ourselves as physical structures, we want to keep it simple because it’s what we know. While keeping it simple, let’s have a little fun with the electric aspect.

What are you plugged in to? Think of yourself as a rechargeable battery that, provided you got a good nights’ sleep, is fully charged to begin each day with. Imagine that you have wires that come off of you that are either sending or receiving energy, depending on what you are plugged into. Think about the people in your life that are ‘sucking the life out of you’ as well as the ones that are ‘charging you up’. Tune into how you regularly react—is frustration often draining you dry or do you get a boost from finding the good in most situations?  What about the fuel you put into your body?  Is your body using too much energy to digest large lunches or process multiple cups of coffee or are you nourishing it with healthy choices that are actually replenishing your resources?  Who are you choosing to listen to on a regular basis—are they feeding your soul or just filling your head with nonsensical data?  What about your thoughts—are they full of self-doubt, judgment, or worry? Or, are they thoughts of joy and gratitude for even the little things in life?

So, what circuits are you choosing?  Are any in ‘overload’ or just plain ‘blown’?  Do you hear yourself say ‘I am so tired’, ‘I am totally drained’ or ‘I just don’t have any energy’?  If so, tune into what you are plugged into and decide to ‘unplug’ from the non-essential circuits. Instead of allowing someone or something to pull energy from you, just visualize yourself pulling the plug and thinking ‘nope, I’m not going to plug into that today’. Then, stay grounded (pun intended)—don’t plug it back in. Instead, take a breath and think about plugging into something that cranks up your spirit or brings you joy.

As electromagnetic beings, we are designed to recharge from the earth’s electromagnetic fields. Science now tells us that due to ‘advancements’ of shoes, roads, cars, floors and second story bedrooms, we are not as ‘plugged in’ to the earth as the countless generations before us. We aren’t receiving the earth’s energy as efficiently as those who walked the planet in bare feet or slept on the ground for thousands of years. Additionally, we as a society have been made to fear the sun and dirt, taking us further away from natural resources that our body thrives on. With this knowledge, we are now being encouraged to ‘earth’, to take our shoes off and walk in the grass, dirt, sand or surf, or even hug a tree for 15-30 minutes a day to ‘re-charge’ our battery. Who would have thought the word earth would become a verb?   Through personal experience, I will say that it works. So, if you hear yourself say “I am so tired’ and it’s only 2 o’clock in the afternoon, take your shoes off and head outside. Walk or stand for as long your break will allow you, focusing on your breath and visualizing all of those little circuits disconnecting from the stressors or the day and connecting to the earth—try for at least 10 minutes, then resume your day. You may just be surprised—I know I was. Live Awake in JOY!

Martha O’Regan, is Your ‘B.E.S.T. Life’ Coach, supporting you in accessing your magic with the work of Bio Energetic Synchronization Technique and Vibrational Coaching. Contact 843-812-1328 or to discover just how easy it can be to create change in your life.

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Patience Grasshopper…

By Susan Stone

This is the time of year that tests our patience as gardeners. The frost and freezing temperatures have turned our perennials and delicate foliage to limp dish rags hanging on the stalk and vine. Wait…be patient. Don’t do anything you’ll regret later like going out there in the sunshine to pruning everything till it looks neat and tidy again. Just wait…it’s almost time.

If we cut our “dishrags” back, whether it be a giant leopard plant or our beloved bananas, we will expose the plant to more severe damage during the next cold snap. The damaged leaves are now protecting the new growth that is tempted by the fleeting warm temperatures. The rule of thumb I have always used is the last frost. After that you can prune away, but when is the last frost? According to the 2015 Farmer’s Almanac, our last frost will fall between March 1st and 9th.

There are exceptions. You can prune most deciduous shrubs as well as cane berries, deciduous fruit trees, grapes, roses, and wisteria before mid-February. You will want to cut away any diseased branches and cross branching that will damage the plants later in the growing season. Many on-line guides are available to instruct you if you’re not sure where to cut or how to shape. Wait to prune spring-flowering ornamentals like forsythia and quince, and spring-flowering shrubs like azalea and camellia until after they flower.

The first of February is a good time to fertilize spring-blooming flowers and fall-planted annuals and perennials. Wait to feed azaleas, camellias until after they finish blooming; use an acid based fertilizer. Fertilize deciduous fruit trees two to three weeks before they flower. Feed other mature trees and shrubs as new growth starts.

With days getting longer and warmer, many of us are anxious to plant SOMETHING! Fortunately, there are many choices. February is a great month to get started. Set out summer flowering bulbs like amaryllis, calla, canna, dahlia, gladiolus, lily, tuberose, tuberous begonia, and tiger flower. Bare-root vegetables such as artichoke, asparagus, horseradish, and rhubarb can be planted now as well. You could plant spring flowering perennials, like bleeding heart, coral bells, campanula and perennial dianthus. This is also a good time to plant bare-root ornamentals such as roses, shade trees and vines.

Continue covering frost-sensitive outdoor plants. Don’t let the covering touch the leaves, and remove it in the morning. Don’t forget to water! High winds and long periods between rains leave your garden vulnerable to cold damage.

Watch for signs of growth in early spring bulbs. When foliage is 1 inch high, gradually start removing mulch. Cloudy days are best for the initial exposure of the leaves to strong sunlight which can burn tender foliage…even at these cool temperatures.

Pest control doesn’t seem very important at this time of year, but it really is the best time to get ahead of the game. Apply dormant oil or spray neem oil on evergreens and deciduous plants whose buds are still closed to control white fly and scale. Cloudy days are the best conditions for application. The sun is still intense here, even in winter. I learned this lesson the hard way when I applied neem oil to more than 200 camellias on a sunny day. Trust me…not a good idea.

The year ahead looks pretty normal for temperatures and rainfall, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. We’ll be a bit dry for February and wet for March. It looks very dry for June & Sept. Other months look pretty moderate…a little above normal and a little below.

Happy Gardening!

You may send Susan your questions and garden wisdom to

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Look it up

By Lee Scott

“Look it up.” How many times did I hear that line?  Anytime I asked my mother for the spelling of a word she would use that phrase. Of course, my frustrated response to her came in the order of another question: “How can I look it up when I do not know how to spell it?” She would then tell me to get the dictionary, sound out the word and if I still could not find the spelling, she would help. We went through this dialogue countless number of times.

The old “Look it up” line was also used when I needed information about a place or a historical figure. She would point to the bookcase in the living room. There it was the entire set of encyclopedias. Off I would go to find the correct book. The books were in alphabetical order so you had to first determine which one you needed and then proceed. I used them all the time for research on school papers. Many of us remember having to learn about the indigenous plants of some South American country or learn the background on explorers like Ponce de Leon and Ferdinand Magellan. The facts were all there. I just had to look them up. It was really frustrating when you just wanted get an answer to a simple question. Was Madame Curie a chemist, an astronomer or an actress? It was a multiple choice question on a homework assignment. Again, there it was… “Look it up.”

It took a few years of training before I embraced the whole “Look it up” concept. But my wading through Webster’s dictionaries, Roget’s Thesaurus and the Encyclopedia Britannica got easier as I grew older; and the training was helpful for my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Naturally, I used it on my own children who also complained about my “Look it up” response.

What a different world we live in now! I can find out just about everything I want to know without piling through reference books. Just by typing on my computer I can find the local movies playing and what people think of them. I can find out the menu on local restaurants, the hours and whether the food is any good based on how it is rated.

I do thank my Mother for showing me how to do the research. It has been invaluable throughout my life. However, I am not sure how she would react to my new habit. All I have to do is turn on my new Smart Phone and ask Suri. Life just got easier.

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What is dog food?

The Yuck Factor, Part Two

By Tracie Korol

Into the vats of mystery meat meal, rendered bits of what’s left over and grain fillers, dog food manufacturers also stir in additives and chemicals to improve taste, stability and appearance.  Additives include emulsifiers to prevent water and fat from separating, antioxidants to prevent the fat from becoming rancid and artificial colors to make the chow more visually appealing to humans and hopefully, more palatable to their dogs.

A wide variety of additives are permitted in pet food, not counting vitamins and minerals.  Additives can be specifically approved, or they can fall into the category of “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS).  These additives can include anti-caking agents, coloring dyes, antimicrobial agents, curing and drying agents, petroleum derivatives, preservatives, texturizers and thickeners, to list just a few.

Dogs generally will not eat tainted food unless starving. Consequently, all pet foods must be preserved so they stay fresh and appealing. Some preservatives are added to ingredients or raw materials by the suppliers, and others by the manufacturers.  Key among the preservatives added by manufacturers specifically to ensure that dry foods have a 12-month shelf life, are synthetic preservatives such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), propyl gallate, propylene glycol (also used as a less-toxic version of automotive antifreeze), and ethoxyquin. Read the ingredient list on the back of your dog food bag; these are usually listed near the bottom.  For these antioxidants, there is little information documenting their toxicity, safety, interactions, or chronic use in pet foods that may be eaten every day for the life of the animal. Propylene glycol was banned in cat food because it causes anemia, but it is still allowed in dog food. Potentially cancer-causing agents such as BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin are permitted at relatively low levels.

Years ago, I was told by an animal nutritionist that BHA and BHT are also used to preserve carpet. I began reading ingredient labels religiously after that nugget of information was dropped in my path.

Some manufacturers have responded to consumer concern, and are now using “natural” preservatives such as Vitamin C, (ascorbate), Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), and oils of rosemary, clove, or other spices to preserve fats in their products. The shelf life on these products is shorter, only about six months. Again, read the label to check the foods’ viability especially if you’re using a better brand of kibble.

Unfortunately, even with all these products added to prevent this and that, there still remain a slew of potential dangers. We humans are now  routinely to the threat of E. coli bacteria on our factory-farmed produce. This bacterium also lurks in more than 50% of meat meals used in dog foods.

One of my personal concerns now living in a more humid climate is the growth of mycotoxins (toxins from mold or fungi) on dry dog foods. Modern farming practices, adverse weather conditions, and improper drying and storage of crops can contribute to mold growth on an industrial level.  At home, these toxins can form in our kibble containers if we do not close the lids tightly. Pet food ingredients that are most likely to be contaminated with mycotoxins are grains– wheat and corn, and fish meal. While it is more cost effective to buy the big bag of chow, I advocate for smaller bags simply because anything can grow a layer of green fuzz here in the summer months.  Always check the last third of the chow in the bin. If it smells at all funny or your dog balks at eating it, it has probably gone furry. Dump it and scrub out your container with bleach.

Yet to come: recalls, nutrition-related diseases and the secrets of the pet food industry as if the truth wasn’t scary enough.

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Why does it always happen?

By Lee Scott

Why does it always happen?  I try to look nice when I leave the house…hair brushed, clean slacks, nice shirt. But there are those days, when we have been working on the house and my husband will say, “Can you run to Grayco for me?  I leave the house wearing stained khakis, an old shirt covered with paint and my hair tied back, and then I pray that no one I know sees me. Of course, I see five people from my neighborhood…men looking like they stepped out of a GQ magazine and women with their hair done and manicured nails. “Not fair” my brain screams. “You are at a hardware store!”

But it always seems to happen, doesn’t it. I call them “Gotcha moments,” those times when you are just not prepared to see people you know when you are a mess or the house is a mess. My husband and I had one morning when we had been lying around just taking it easy. There were newspapers spread all over the floor, the kitchen sink filled with breakfast dishes;  the dogs old chewed up toys spread all over the house, and the doorbell rang. It was a neighbor who had been out of town and I had collected their mail. Why can’t people ever show up at my house when it is spotless and I am wearing a nice outfit?  Then there was the day when I was trying to get ready for a club meeting. There were boxes of trash placed on the front porch; old broken Christmas ornaments, packing boxes and burned out Christmas lights that my husband was going to take to the convenience center. As I greeted people at the door and saw the trash still on the porch he said, “You do realize it is Wednesday, right?”  The Convenience Center is closed.

Now there is a new “gotcha moment.”  Facetime and Skype! Video calls. I discovered it the other morning after my husband said. “Good morning Phyllis Diller!” My hair was sticking up like the old comedian with her wild hair. I had on an old bathrobe and the phone rang. It was my seven year old granddaughter calling on Facetime. Video Calls. Now one would think that looking as bad as I did that I would not have picked up that phone. But any Grandmother will tell you that one must pick up the phone when a grandchild calls, regardless if it is a video call and you look like Phyllis Diller. It got better on the call when I apologized for looking such a mess. She said, “Don’t worry Nina, you still look like you.”

So, if you stop by the house and Phyllis Diller answers the door, the house is  a mess and there are boxes on the front porch. Come on in. You got me. The coffee pot is on. It is still me.

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Mirror, mirror

By Takiya Smith

At some point in time many of us have heard or even chanted this duel worded phrase from the ever so popular childhood Disney movie “Sleeping Beauty”. As a child and to be honest, not so long ago, I can recall, most recently, watching the Evil Queen, bellow out her demands upon the mirror to know “who is the fairest of them all?” Now, as we most know, the story goes on to share and have the “Mirror” reveal that Snow White was the fairest and most beautiful of all….but let’s leave the whimsical forest, sit tight in the castle and  take a minute to see things from the Evil Queens perspective. I mean, what was her deal anyway? Did she really need to be told that she was beautiful every single day by a normally inanimate but now talking object? Or was she just an ego-boosting seeker at heart knowing that she was already beautiful yet needing others to say it?

Here is how I equate and relate modern day, real world to fairy tale make believe: In this day and age, everything about being beautiful, like the Evil Queen, is seeking to build you up or break you down with comparisons to less being more, more being less, enough being too much and too much not being enough. Well, with all the hidden innuendos how in the world would one recognize to know what true beauty is? The poor Queen seemed to need some sort of pat on the back or a confidence boosting compliment just to  understand who she even was!

Yet, the undiscovered and underlying theme to my rant this week is simply that she did not. She was Queen over all the land, she was the ruler of her castle and heir to her very own throne. No matter how she had acquired her position and regardless of the length and duration of her reign, it was hers! Sadly, she failed to own that. Instead, she chose to spend out her days obsessing over the words of a mirror that foretold of another’s beauty instead of looking deeper into what was already hers.

The heart can be a mirror which speaks directly to and about us, for the the Bible says “for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” – Proverbs 23:7 KJV. What’s in your heart about yourself to today? Or are you like the Queen,so busy about and concerned with the thoughts, actions and words of others…so much so that you can’t see who you truly, truly are? Well, no wonder so many of us are still waiting on our happily ever after. We are seeking and searching in all the wrong places. Know now that it begins and ends with you.

Takiya La’Shaune Smith is a the founding owner of both Beautique Lash & Brow and The Brow Company Beauty Bar & Makeup Studio. She is a published author and mentor as well as a Licensed Cosmetology Instructor and International Beauty Educator utilizing her experience in the industry as a platform to promote inner and outer beauty, health, wellness, social etiquette and positive self-esteem. Find, follow or contact her at

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Laughter is ageless

By Lee Scott

Isn’t it amazing how just the sound of laughter can set you off laughing.  I was in the grocery store on Lady’s Island,  when I heard two females laughing and giggling. I thought they were teenagers, but as I rounded the corner I found two very mature, white haired ladies with beautifully lined faces. They turned and looked at me and stopped chuckling. I laughed and said, “Too late, I could hear you two carrying on.”

This reminded me of a story with my own mother when she was nearing eighty.   I walked in to her house one day and could hear her chatting on the phone with one of her childhood friends. She was trying to tell a story, but was laughing so hard you could barely understand her. I started laughing and I didn’t even know what it was about.

After she got off the phone I said, you sound like you are sixteen years old.  She said “I feel like sixteen. I know I look like an old woman to everyone, but deep inside I feel sixteen. “

My mother then told me what was behind all the laughter.

It turns out that she and her older sister Aunt Rita who was 80 at the time decided to go to a movie. They had heard about a particular film that had won lots of awards and wanted to see it. They walked up to the ticket counter and asked for two tickets to see Pulp Fiction. The Ticket Agent asked them if they were sure they wanted to see Pulp Fiction. They assured her they did.

After they watched the movie they walked out to the ticket agent and said, “What were you thinking about selling two old ladies tickets to that movie.” The Ticket Agent said, “I can’t believe you two stayed for the whole movie!”

They walked away laughing!

As I have gotten older, I have appreciated her comment about feeling young inside. I hear older men and women laugh like children and I am comforted with the fact that joy and laughter are not restricted to young children. That as we age we are allowed the freedom to laugh at jokes and old stories and even shock young ticket agents.

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What’s in your eye vitamins?

By Mark S. Siegel

Americans spend billions of dollars each year on vitamins, some of which are eye vitamins. But not all of these products have the ingredients and dosages that have been proven effective in clinical trials.

Researchers have analyzed popular eye vitamins to determine whether their formulas and claims are consistent with scientific findings. They found that some of the top-selling products do not contain identical ingredient dosages to eye vitamin formulas proven effective in clinical trials. In addition, the study found that claims made on the products’ promotional materials lack scientific evidence.

The leading cause of blindness among older adults in the United States is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A specific formula of nutritional supplements is recommended for AMD treatment when the disease is at certain stages. This is based on two landmark clinical trials known as AREDS and AREDS2. These studies found that high doses of antioxidants and zinc could slow the worsening of AMD in those who have intermediate AMD and those with advanced AMD in only one eye.

The first study included beta-carotene in its formula but, due to beta-carotene’s link to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers, this was replaced with related nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin. The two studies prompted a surge in sales of eye supplements that are marketed as containing the AREDS or AREDS2 formulas. To test whether the products are consistent with the studies’ findings, researchers compared the ingredients in 11 products from the five top-selling brands to the exact formulas proven effective by AREDS and AREDS2. They found that, while all of the products studied contained the ingredients from the AREDS or AREDS2 formulas:

•   Only four of the products had equivalent doses of AREDS or AREDS2 ingredients
•   Another four of the products contained lower doses of all the AREDS or AREDS2 ingredients
•   Four of the products also included additional vitamins, minerals and herbal extracts that are not part of the AREDS or AREDS2 formulas

All 11 of the products’ promotional materials contained claims that the supplements “support,” “protect,” “help” or “promote” vision and eye health, but none had statements specifying that nutritional supplements have only been proven effective in people with specific stages of AMD. There were also no statements clarifying that there is insufficient evidence to support the routine use of nutritional supplements for primary prevention of eye diseases such as AMD and cataracts.

People considering taking eye vitamins should talk with their ophthalmologist about whether these nutritional supplements are right for them. Those who are already taking eye vitamins should compare the ingredients with the AREDS and AREDS2 formulas, below.

•   Vitamin C – 500 mg
•   Vitamin E – 400 IU
•   Zinc (zinc oxide) – 80 mg
•   Copper (cupric oxide) – 2 mg
•   Beta-carotene – 15 mg

•   Vitamin C – 500 mg
•   Vitamin E – 400 IU
•   Zinc (zinc oxide) – 80 mg
•   Copper (cupric oxide) – 2 mg
•   Lutein – 10 mg
•   Zeaxathin – 2 mg

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Make it a good one

By Takiya Smith

Wow…it’s 2015 and can you believe just how fast 2014 flew by? I mean, I can literally recall siting at my laptop and tapping away at one of my last articles, “So, here’s the deal,” in which I spoke of what I was going to personally do in 2014. More time with my children, more time with my family, more time for myself and less time as a product of all business only. I was going to live it up and let loose, relax a little, take a load off and experience life. Well, in true form and fashion, I did that all. I traveled, I ate like a culinary connoisseur, I slept in on days off and days on, I got on my kids’ nerves, because every day was a ‘bonding’ day. I called, sent texts, instant messaged, wrote, emailed and visited every friend I possibly could. I stopped shopping in Rue 21, because according to my now 17 year old daughter, she and I should never shop at the same store; and, I even managed to cut off all my hair and lightened it to blonde…Blonde of all colors! One would think I was having a mid-life crisis when in fact, I was really finding me. It was a blast!

Looking back on 2014, trust me when I say that it was not always all fun and games, good times and laughter. I shed quite a few tears, I lost in order to gain and I even dealt with not one but 2 severe blows to my health that could have dictated life or death; but, as I reflect on all that was and what is now to come, I am grateful, humbled, ready and willing to face this next year with all that I want it to be. The coming year should be a time of focus and faith to do that in which you choose to focus on. Gone are the days of sitting and waiting for ‘it’ to happen. Life stops for no one, as I am sure that every eye reading this paper can relate to the loss or suffering of at least one loved one in this past year. Don’t bury the memories of your sufferings, losses or past failures but use them to spark a flame that will ignite a torch that can’t be extinguished within you. This year I am purposing to use every past mistake, misstep, triumph and trial as my platform to help any and every one that I can. I have personally learned that it is not what we ‘go’ through that makes us stronger, but it’s in the fact that we ‘got’ through which helps make others stronger. Live your life and love it. Own it. Be it. Happy New Year…now, let’s make it a
good one!

Takiya La’Shaune Smith is a the founding owner of both Beautique Lash & Brow and The Brow Company Beauty Bar & Makeup Studio. She is a published author and mentor as well as a Licensed Cosmetology Instructor and International Beauty Educator utilizing her experience in the industry as a platform to promote inner and outer beauty, health, wellness, social etiquette and positive self-esteem. Find, follow or contact her at

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Are you still using pee pads?

By Tracie Korol

Housebreaking means the dog never eliminates in the house. Not even a little bit. Not even once in a while. Not on pee pads. Never. Housebreaking is a people problem, not a dog problem.

Housebreaking is essential, and it’s entirely possible — for all dogs, all breeds, big and teeny tiny, young or old. What people fail to understand is that dogs do not come with the “pee outside” software installed. It is a learned skill and you are The Teacher.  Your responsibility is to tackle the project with consistency, positive reinforcement and patience.  Here are some basics:

1. Establish a schedule.  Dogs love routine. It makes them feels secure and it takes the responsibility off their shoulders about what to do next.  Dogs like to get up at the same time, go out at the same time, take their walks and eat on schedule. A routine teaches her that there are times to eat, times to play and times to potty.

2. Never leave your un-housebroken dog unattended. During training you must have eyes on the dog at all times.   Having the dog in the same room with you doesn’t count. It’s too easy to get distracted, answer the phone, turn away for just a sec. And bam! Raisinettes. The easiest solution is to confine your dog to his crate, his “den”—a cozy, warm private apartment full of snuggly blankets and toys. Or you can gate the dog in a small area where you plan to be. However, if you’re dead set against a crate and don’t want to mess up your décor with an unsightly gate, then your only other option is to tether your dog to you so that no matter where you go, she’s right beside you. Loop the leash around your waist and clip to the collar. The lead shouldn’t be any longer than 4 feet.  Inconvenient? Sure is. You can either suck it up or use a crate/gate.

2. Feed your dog on a schedule.  With an all-day buffet you have no idea how much goes in, when it goes in and no idea of when it needs to come out. Free-feeding is a dumb idea across the board.

3. Be ready to reward for good behavior.  Shortly after a meal, take your pup outside while exclaiming “outside! outside!” (or words to that effect) to a designated area.  Issue a cue word–“go potty” (or words to that effect), stay in the area, no wandering, and wait.  As your pup is completing her business, you’re fishing a high value treat out of your pocket ready to swoop down, treat and praise praise praise within 3 seconds upon completion. Use your Smurf voice. Sound joyful. And then go back in the house immediately. After a short time, she’ll recognize that she makes you happy when she eliminates outdoors, and in return she receives a reward. You want to reinforce that good behavior every time it happens, and there’s no better reward in the beginning than those yummy treats.  Once your dog is fully housetrained, you can reduce and eventually eliminate the food treats and offer only verbal praise for her good potty habits.

4. DO NOT punish for mistakes. If your pup makes a mistake it’s your fault, not hers. You missed an opportunity, missed a signal or just got bored with the whole thing.  Punishing a dog once the deed is done only pushes her to become sneaky because, after all, she has no idea what you’re yelling about an hour after she’s pee’d. From your dog’s perspective, you’re the center of her universe except every once in awhile, unpredictably, you turn into a scary, screaming lunatic.   Clean it up, don’t mention it and keep moving forward.

There are millions of dogs in shelters across the country simply because they were never trained. There are millions of dogs crapping, if you’re lucky, on pee pads in the house (disgusting!). So make your schedule, buy your gate and stick to your plan. Your pup wants to please. Show her the way.

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