The Importance of Dog ID Tags
You might think that it can never happen to your dog. When your dog goes outside, it is in a fenced yard. But doors and fences are not escape proof. Once your dog is lost, it is now at the mercy of the environment. In fact, just 16% of dogs turned into shelters are reunited with their owners.
Why the low return rate? Time is the critical factor. Most lost dogs are found less than a mile from home, but many are never returned because the owner could not be reached immediately. Therefore, the faster you can be contacted, the greater your chances are of being reunited with your “best friend.” If there is no tracking system in place, your dog stands little chance. If the person that finds your lost dog has difficulty with the system and is unable to reach you quickly, he may just move on. Many individuals finding a lost dog will, at best, provide care for a short period before they decide to keep the dog, or let the dog go. If your dog is turned into a shelter and you are unaware, it will get a new home or be put to sleep.
Pet identification tags
To help insure a lost dog’s safe and speedy return, all dogs should have a collar. Proper fit is crucial – you should be able to slip two fingers under the collar. On the collar should be an up-to-date pet ID tag with current contact information. This will provide the person finding your lost dog with the basic information necessary to reach you. Studies show that the first thing that someone will do, when they find a lost dog, is to look for a tag. Although there is no perfect protection, the pet ID tag is the most widely accepted method for tracking lost pets, and stainless steel pet ID tags are the most reliable. No matter what system you use (pet ID tag, microchipping, tattooing, etc.) your dog’s information must be up to date.
Any tracking system should be as easy as possible for you and the person that finds your dog, to help get your dog back home. Direct contact with the person that finds your dog works best! The system should be:
- Easily accessible
- Easy to update with your and your dog’s information
- Available 24/7 and have an 800 number back up
Pet lD tags are a must and the first level of protection for your dog. Although collars and tags are very reliable, they can be lost or misplaced. Therefore, you may also want to look at other safety options that can be used in conjunction with a pet ID tag. Two of the most effective methods are microchips and tattoos. Remember that microchips or tattoo numbers must be listed with the proper registry, and it is important that you keep the registry up to date with current phone numbers and addresses, so you can be contacted should your missing dog be found.
Also, while microchipping and tattooing are valuable backups, they do not replace the need for a pet ID tag and are not intended to quickly return your dog to you. If the individual finding a lost dog realizes that the dog has a microchip, they must then find and travel with that pet to an appropriate location (vet, shelter, etc.), where the microchip can be scanned or the tattoo number checked in a registry. These methods are valuable to shelters that might recover a dog with no pet ID tag, or a basic tag with out of date information, and thus would have no other way to contact the owner.
Checklist for Your New Dog
- Leash: A sturdy nylon or leather 6’ leash; a good two ply nylon works well.
- Collar: A sturdy nylon or leather collar; for Dobermans, usually 18″, 20″, 22”.
- I.D. tag: with your address & phone number; attach to the collar. Your dog should wear this at all times. Some pet stores have machines were you can create an ID tag immediately.
- Dog license: local dog license & tag; attach tag to the collar. Your dog should wear this at all times.
- Training collar: (also called a choke chain or choker collar) Use only for obedience training. Don’t keep chain collars on the dog; the dog can get injured. For Dobermans, usually 18″, 20″, 22”. No prong collars!
- Dog Food: high quality, premium dry kibble
- Wet food: a small amount of high quality canned food may be added, or ideally a little chicken and chopped vegetable such as carrots and broccoli.
- Containers: for holding dry food and treats are convenient.
- Scoops: for scooping dry food.
- Treats: stick to bland small biscuits without preservatives and added dyes.
- Bowls for Food and Water: Stainless steel and glazed crockery are the easiest to keep clean.
- Grooming supplies: brush, shampoo, dog toothpaste & toothbrush, nail clippers, ear cleaner, etc.
- Dog Bed: Every dog should have a place to call his own. Beds with the zip-off washable covers are best. Be sure to launder regularly.
- Crate: if you need to leave your pet alone, if you are house-training, or plan to travel with your pet.
- Bedding: You can acquire bedding at garage sales. What works best are baby blankets, or thin blankets which fit in the washing machine. Often cast-off, bulky comforters can be cut into quarters.
- Heartworm preventative
- Flea & Tick Treatment: Two very good ones are: Frontline, good for fleas and ticks, or Advantage, fleas only. No flea collars.
- Toys: Be sure they are suitable toys for a Doberman!
- Doggie First Aid Kit
- Nature’s Miracle and Pet Force: (Stain and odor neutralizers) specially formulated cleansers to remove the odor of urine, vomit or feces.
- Pooper scooper: do we need to explain this one?
- Bags for picking up dog waste: from your own yard, but especially if you plan to walk your dog elsewhere. No one wants to dodge doggie doo, so make sure you clean up after Fido.
- Auto containment: needed if you ever plan to travel any distance with your dog.
- Books: Get a good book about Doberman Pinschers. Also, be sure to get a good book about dog training. Well-behaved dogs don’t magically appear; they take work on your part.
- Veterinarian: If you don’t already have a veterinarian, you’ll need to pick one.
- Obedience Classes: Sign up right away for a basic obedience class. A MUST for every good family dog.
OR, HOW TO OWN A PRINCESS, BEFORE SHE OWNS YOU!
Many people think housetraining a dog is difficult and time-consuming. But if you are conscientious, it takes just a few days! The trick is to manage the dog closely for a few days, making sure she only uses the proper spot. If you are extra-careful for just a few days, you will set a pattern that will stick very well, with few accidents.
To do this we use two techniques: Crating and leash-bonding.
House training is your first major trial as a dog owner. Yes, your new dog is cute and you want her to be happy. Well, the way to make a dog happy is to establish a natural order, with you in charge, as pack leader. Corgis are cute, but they are not wimpy little fluffballs! Bred to herd 1000-pound steers, these dogs are not pushovers. Unless you establish the roles clearly, your dog may assume you exist to serve her!
Your dog will be more secure and easier to train if you establish who’s the boss. Leash bonding and the crate are wonderful devices to make this clear.
The only way to ensure quick housetraining is by ensuring that you maintain full control over when and where she does her business. One way to do this is through leash bonding. This means that during the day while you’re going about your normal routine, you put a leash on your dog and attach the other end to your belt. Don’t make a big deal out of it, just pour your coffee, read the paper, work on your computer, follow your usual routine — with her attached!
Using the leash bonding is also a good way to get your dog to bond with you. She learns that being with you is the best place to be!
Be conscious of times when it is likely that she will have to go:
- First thing upon waking in the morning
- 10-15 minutes following a meal
- After she wakes from a nap
- After rigorous play
- Within 3-4 hours of her last yard tour
- Before bed at night
You will soon start to get a feel for her regular schedule and can work with that.
When you suspect she has to go, take her outside, to the place you want her to go and give her a potty command. Choose a command that is unlikely to come up in normal conversation. As you might imagine, that could be pretty important!
For the sake of example, let’s say that your potty command is “Get Busy.” As soon as you see her squat you give her the command and follow it with praise, “Get Busy!” Then praise her: “Good Girl!” Praise her hugely, but just for a few seconds — if you keep going, she won’t connect it with the action.
Soon, you should be able to give her the command and she will respond. This is a handy thing to train — especially when you are out somewhere and want her to do it at a specific time.
Continue to keep her leashed to you for the first 3-5 days when in the house. That way you have complete control over where she goes and when she might decide to go indoors.
Mistakes are a great learning opportunity!
At some point, she will likely squat to do it in the house. You MUST catch her in the act! This is absolutely essential! You will probably need to catch her in the act two or three times. When you catch her, tell her firmly “NO!” Use a deep voice and look her in the eye. Scoop her up immediately and whisk her outside. Give her the potty command. Hopefully, you’ve caught her in the act and she still has some to do. When she does, praise her as if she’s won the Nobel Prize!
Consistency is everything
The key to successful housetraining is to avoid uncaught mistakes: If she associates going on command, in the right spot, with heaps of praise; and attempts to go in the house are met with a clear “No!” then she will get the idea quickly and clearly.
If you allow her to mess in the house and you don’t catch her, you make it difficult for your dog. Sometimes she gets scolded for going inside and other times she doesn’t! She gets confused and doesn’t know where the approved potty spot is. Once this happens, house training takes a lot longer. You have to undo this pattern before you can teach her the correct one.
Your Dog Will Love Her Crate
Generally, it isn’t practical to have the dog leashed to you 24 hours day. When she can’t be leashed to you, she must be crated to prevent her from messing in the house.
Dog crates, commonly used to ship dogs in airplanes, are widely available and every dog owner should have one. They are extremely useful tools and crucial in housetraining. And it will have many additional uses throughout your dog’s life.
Step one is to get past the natural concern you may have about crating your dog — you’re thinking like a person, not like a dog! We think of it as a “cage” or as confinement — but dogs are descended from den-dwellers. They like small, closed, safe spaces because that is a “den” to them. In the wild, dogs make dens underground. Your dog may resist the crate at first, but once she gets that it is her special place, she will be just fine.
Learning to use the crate
If your dog is reluctant to go into the crate, toss a treat in and encourage her to go in and get it. Do that a few times and let her come right back out if she wants to. You’re just letting her get the sense of the crate.
Do this every few hours for the first day. At the end of the day, encourage her in to the crate and shut the door for 30 seconds. Walk away so she can’t see you. Wait for 30 seconds. If she is crying and upset, wait till she calms down. Don’t let her think she can pitch a fit and be released. After she’s calm, open the door and let her out. Don’t make a big fuss over her when you let her out. This is just business as usual.
Repeat this over a three day period and monitor her comfort level. She will most likely adapt pretty quickly. If she settles down in the crate, try leaving her there for successively longer time periods — 10 minutes, then 20, etc. When she is up to 30 minutes or so, she’ll probably be comfortable being left there for an hour or more. It is crucial that she get used to the crate, as this is an important tool in housetraining.
The crate’s role in housetraining
Remember how the crate is the dog’s den? Dogs don’t mess their den — it is instinctive. Similarly, a dog will not mess in its crate unless it is desperate.
When you take a shower, put the crate where she can see you and put her in it. She will soon see that the crate isn’t a bad place. To the contrary, dogs like the crate because it is a safe den, a room of their own.
Until she is housetrained, she should also sleep in the crate. This way you have complete control over her at night. I know this might be hard to put her in the crate at night, but it will give you a housetrained dog within 5-7 days, if you follow this advice and combine it with the leash bonding.
Open the door and go outside with her, the first thing in the morning, before you get your coffee (or do anything else)! You can be almost 100% assured that she’ll go right away in the morning so it is an excellent opportunity to give her the potty command and praise her.
Are we getting it?
The way you will know your dog is really housetrained is when she asks to go out! Keep in mind that the asking might be a very subtle thing. My Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Elbee, just sort of walks toward a door with a concerned look on her face. It is so subtle that you can easily miss it, if you don’t know her sign. My Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Kenai, actively asks by giving me a single bark to get my attention and putting her paws in my lap if I am sitting down.
It is also helpful, but not required, to teach the dog a phrase that allows you to check to see if they need to go out. Oddly enough, I use “Do you want to go out?” with mine. Kenai springs into the air and runs to the door when I ask her this question.
My Corgi mix, Bart, is a firm house dog. He wants to be inside with me at all times. He knows this phrase and if he has to go, he will walk toward the door when I ask him. If he doesn’t have to go, he will lie down in response.
I taught them the phrase by simply repeating it when I walked toward the door to take them outside. In short order, they associated the words with going outside.
Cleaning up accidents
Be sure to clean up all spots with an enzyme cleaner, such as Nature’s Miracle or similar product. If you use standard rug cleaners, there will still be smells she can detect. Do not use ammonia-based cleaners as they smell like urine to a dog. This causes her to want to revisit those spots. If you know there are obvious places that she’s started to mark as hers, such as the bedroom, close that door to be sure she doesn’t have access.
I think I get it!
When she seems to start asking to go out you can let her off the leash for the 30 minutes after you’ve seen her do her thing outside. You might then limit her area. Close her in a room with you and give her the chance to go in 2-3 hours. She may just realize that she’s going to get regular opportunities and not really ask very obviously. This is OK, as long as she is clear that going in the house is not an option.
A good start
Housetraining is the perfect opening exercise for new dog owners. Pack animals by nature, dogs thrive in a setting with clear established roles. The first days are crucial. Careful housetraining, using crating and leash bonding, can be the perfect beginning of a long, happy relationship between you and your dog.
“Private room with a view. Ideal for traveling dogs or for those who just want a secure, quiet place to hang out at home.”
That’s how your dog might describe his crate. It’s his own personal den where he can find comfort and solitude while you know he’s safe and secure—and not shredding your house while you’re out running errands.
Crate training uses a dog’s natural instincts as a den animal. A wild dog’s den is his home, a place to sleep, hide from danger, and raise a family. The crate becomes your dog’s den, an ideal spot to snooze or take refuge during a thunderstorm.
- The primary use for a crate is housetraining. Dogs don’t like to soil their dens.
- The crate can limit access to the rest of the house while he learns other rules, like not to chew on furniture.
- Crates are a safe way to transport your dog in the car.
A crate isn’t a magical solution. If not used correctly, a dog can feel trapped and frustrated.
- Never use the crate as a punishment. Your dog will come to fear it and refuse to enter it.
- Don’t leave your dog in the crate too long. A dog that’s crated day and night doesn’t get enough exercise or human interaction and can become depressed or anxious. You may have to change your schedule, hire a pet sitter, or take your dog to a doggie daycare facility to reduce the amount of time he must spend in his crate every day.
- Puppies under six months of age shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than three or four hours at a time. They can’t control their bladders and bowels for that long. The same goes for adult dogs that are being housetrained. Physically, they can hold it, but they don’t know they’re supposed to.
- Crate your dog only until you can trust him not to destroy the house. After that, it should be a place he goes voluntarily.
Selecting a crate
Several types of crates are available:
- Plastic (often called “flight kennels”)
- Fabric on a collapsible, rigid frame
- Collapsible, metal pens
Crates come in different sizes and can be purchased at most pet supply stores or pet supply catalogs.
Your dog’s crate should be just large enough for him to stand up and turn around in. If your dog is still growing, choose a crate size that will accommodate his adult size. Block off the excess crate space so your dog can’t eliminate at one end and retreat to the other. Your local animal shelter may rent out crates. By renting, you can trade up to the appropriate size for your puppy until he’s reached his adult size, when you can invest in a permanent crate.
The crate training process
Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog’s age, temperament and past experiences. It’s important to keep two things in mind while crate training:
- The crate should always be associated with something pleasant.
- Training should take place in a series of small steps. Don’t go too fast.
Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate
Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at his leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn’t one of them:
- Bring him over to the crate, and talk to him in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won’t hit your dog and frighten him.
- Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If he refuses to go all the way in at first, that’s okay; don’t force him to enter.
- Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If he isn’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days.
Step 2: Feed your dog his meals in the crate
After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding him his regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate.
- If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate.
- If he remains reluctant to enter the crate, put the dish only as far inside as he will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed him, place the dish a little further back in the crate.
- Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat his meal, you can close the door while he’s eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as he finishes his meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until he’s staying in the crate for ten minutes or so after eating.
- If he begins to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving him in the crate for a shorter time period. If he does whine or cry in the crate, don’t let him out until he stops. Otherwise, he’ll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so he’ll keep doing it.
Step 3: Lengthen the crating periods
After your dog is eating his regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine him there for short time periods while you’re home.
- Call him over to the crate and give him a treat.
- Give him a command to enter, such as “kennel.” Encourage him by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand.
- After your dog enters the crate, praise him, give him the treat, and close the door.
- Sit quietly near the crate for five to ten minutes, and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time, and then let him out of the crate.
- Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave him in the crate and the length of time you’re out of his sight.
- Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving him crated when you’re gone for short time periods and/or letting him sleep there at night. This may take several days or several weeks.
Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave
After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving him crated for short periods when you leave the house.
- Put him in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave him with a few safe toys in the crate.
- Vary at what point in your “getting ready to leave” routine you put your dog in the crate. Although he shouldn’t be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate him anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving.
- Don’t make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give him a treat for entering the crate, and then leave quietly.
When you return home, don’t reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to him in an excited, enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low key to avoid increasing his anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you’re home so he doesn’t associate crating with being left alone.
Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night
Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night, and you’ll want to be able to hear your puppy when he whines to be let outside.
Older dogs, too, should initially be kept nearby so they don’t associate the crate with social isolation.
Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with his crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet.
Whining. If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether he’s whining to be let out of the crate, or whether he needs to be let outside to eliminate. If you’ve followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn’t been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from his crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, he’ll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at him or pounding on the crate will only make things worse.
If the whining continues after you’ve ignored him for several minutes, use the phrase he associates with going outside to eliminate. If he responds and becomes excited, take him outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you’re convinced that your dog doesn’t need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore him until he stops whining. Don’t give in; if you do, you’ll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what he wants. If you’ve progressed gradually through the training steps and haven’t done too much too fast, you’ll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again.
Separation Anxiety. Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won’t solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but he may injure himself in an attempt to escape from the crate. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counter-conditioning and desensitization procedures. You may want to consult a professional animal-behavior specialist for help.
Dog and Cat Instructions
The key to successful cat-dog introductions is to expose them to one another gradually under controlled conditions. You want to avoid creating situations where the cat runs away and the dog’s prey-chase instinct is activated. If your dog has previously lived with a cat, and your new cat has previously had positive experiences with dogs, they may progress quickly to tolerating one another. However, if you have an adult dog who has never been socialized to cats, the introduction should be a very gradual process lasting up to 30 days. In either case, train your dog to sit and stay reliably before bringing your new cat home. This may give you somewhat greater control once the introductions have been made. Remember that these steps are progressive, so go on to the next step only when you feel your dog and cat have “mastered” the previous one.
1. On day 1, confine your new cat to his or her own room at first. After a few hours, confine the dog in a fenced-in yard or basement or separate room, and allow the cat to explore the rest of the house. Then put the cat back in his or her own room, so the dog has an opportunity to become familiar with the cat’s scent. Put a baby gate up but leave the door closed.
2. On day 2, crack open the door to the cat’s room a couple inches and allow the dog to sniff and see through the opening for 30 seconds. Reward the dog for appropriate behavior. Repeat this step a couple more times during the day. Continue to give the cat the opportunity to explore the house when the dog is securely confined out of sight.
3. On day 3 and subsequently, increase the “viewing intervals” by short increments until the dog can watch the cat quietly for a few minutes. Reward good behavior.
4. Allow the dog to view the cat with the door completely open, with the baby gate still in place, for a few minutes at a time. If the dog is tolerating the cat, go into another room. Call the dog to you and play a game with him or her. Then ignore both animals (but keep attuned to them!) and engage in some other activity. The dog will start to lose interest in the cat.
5. Eventually work up to leaving the door to the cat’s room open, with the baby gate still up, whenever you are at home. Always close the door when you are not present! Some pet owners will always need to keep the dog and cat separated when they aren’t around to supervise, but others will find that after a couple months’ probation, the dog and cat are OK together by themselves. It’s far better to err on the side of caution, however, to prevent tragedy. Even after your dog and cat are peacefully co-existing, make sure that the cat’s food bowl and litter box are out of the dog’s reach. Keep the cat from approaching the dog when the dog is eating or chewing on a bone.
Stop Dog Chewing Dog Behavior Training
|Every dog owner will be required to stop dog chewing problems at some stage.When our puppies and dogs chew it is a perfectly acceptable and natural behavior for them. The real problem arises when they chew on inappropriate, dangerous or expensive items.Dogs chew on just about anything they can wrap their mouths around. My dog’s favorite chewing objects are socks, shoes, furniture and my whippet, Pocky actually chewed a large whole in the side of our house!
What Causes Dogs To Chew?
It’s important that we stop our dogs chewing not only because it frustrates us, but also because it can be very dangerous for our dogs. If your dog chews into electric wires, poisons and any number of other objects they could be in serious danger. Having said this it should also be noted that chewing on appropriate items offers many benefits to the health and wellbeing of your dog.
Dog Chewing – Prevention Is Your Best Option!
As with most dog behavior problems it is far easier to prevent chewing problems from arising rather than trying to extinguish an established chewing habit. Try these simple steps to help manage your dog’s chewing:
How To Stop Dog Chewing Problems
Always keep in mind that your dog can’t tell the difference between a $200 pair of shoe’s and a worthless old rag. And your dog is not chewing to spite you, dogs don’t think like us humans.If your dog has a particular liking for a certain object like a furniture leg you can try this method. Coat the object with a foul tasting substance (non toxic) such as bitter apple, cayenne pepper or tabasco sauce.
In order to control your dog’s annoying chewing habit all you need to do is consistently follow the above training methods. Add a touch of common sense and patience and you will be well on your way to stopping your dogs chewing problem.
Separation Anxiety In Dogs
One of the greatest joys of dog ownership is the tight bond we experience and encourage with our dogs. However, if your dog becomes too reliant or dependent on you, dog separation anxiety can occur when you and your dog are apart.
Separation anxiety in dogs is an enormous problem for around 10% of all puppies and older dogs. Somewhat ironically, problems related to separation anxiety are the major cause for dogs ending up in animal shelters. I wish I could say canine separation anxiety is an easy fixed, but in many cases it is a very difficult problem to overcome (hence this is the longest article on my website!).
Look At It From Your Dog’s Perspective
To your dog you are the most important thing in his/her world. Dogs are pack animals who are very sociable creatures and thrive on company for many reasons. Your dog would spend every bit of his life with you if he could. So it’s only natural that when you go out, your dog experiences varying degrees of distress or anxiety. He becomes confused, doesn’t know where you are going, why he can’t be with you and if you will be coming back to him. When the two of you are separated all he wants is to be reunited with his pack – which is you.
Punishment is NEVER the answer
to solving Separation Anxiety in dogs!
Does Your Dog Suffer From Separation Anxiety?
There’s every chance your dog is suffering from a separation anxiety disorder rather than another dog behavior problem if:
- Your dog gets really worked up and anxious when you are preparing to leave the house. Actions such as picking up your car keys or putting on your coat can be enough to trigger the behavior.
- Your dog engages in inappropriate behavior only when you are separated. I expand on this topic further down the page, but behavior such as urinating inside, excessive barking and destructive behavior are common symptoms of canine separation anxiety.
- Your dog follows you everywhere you go and immediately becomes distressed if he can’t be near you.
- When you arrive home your dog is over the top with his greeting and takes a while to calm down.
Why Do Dogs Experience Separation Anxiety?
There are many theories on this one. In some cases the cause or trigger can be pinpointed to a particular event, but often there appears to be no explanation for the dog separation anxiety to commence. What I can say is that separation anxiety in dogs regularly occurs:
- Straight after a change in routine. Such as your work hours changing or a family member leaving home. Remember dogs are creatures of habit and any changes can be very unsettling and confusing to them.
- If you have been on vacation or unemployed for some time and have been spending heaps of time with your dog. As a result of this when you go back to work your dog becomes anxious and distressed.
- Unfortunately dogs rescued from animal shelters contribute a highly disproportionate number of dog separation anxiety cases.
- After your dog experiences a traumatic event while on his own. If a thunderstorm lashes your home while your dog is alone, this can trigger separation anxiety in the future – your dog will associate your absence with the traumatic event.
- If your dog is rarely left alone and becomes overly reliant on his human family – Golden Retrievers are very susceptible to this type of separation anxiety in dogs.
- When you move house to a new neighborhood.
How Does Separation Anxiety In Dogs Manifest?
|Inappropriate Urinating||House Soiling|
|Diarrhea||Loss Of Appetite|
|Jumping Through Windows||Crying|
What Can You Do To Help Your
Dog Overcome Separation Anxiety?
Separation Anxiety Treatment
The treatment administered to your dog’s separation anxiety problem depends on its cause and severity. A mild case of separation anxiety in dogs will be easily fixed by applying some of the proven methods listed below. More severe cases will take lots of time, commitment and possibly a visit to your Vet for some medication. Commence these techniques as soon as you identify separation anxiety to be the problem.
The golden rule is that you must educate your dog to accept the fact that sometimes you will need to be apart from each other. The earlier you start getting your dog used to this fact, the easier it will be, for both of you.
- Ensure that your dog feels safe and comfortable when you are away from him. Provide plenty of fresh water and clean, warm bedding for your dog.
- Be sure to give your dog plenty of exercise when you are around. On leash walks, a run at the park with other dogs and some obedience training will all ensure your dog is happy and stimulated. Importantly it can also mean your dog will rest while you are out, instead of tearing up the garden.
- Provide some appealing dog toys to help occupy his time. Kongs stuffed with frozen treats are a favorite with my dogs.
“It’s Your Job To Provide Your Dog With Everything Required To Ensure He Is Happy, Well Balanced & Worn Out!”
- Leave your dog a blanket or piece of clothing that has your scent on it. This may comfort a distressed dog – make sure it is something you don’t mind being torn up though.
- Try feeding your dog his main meal just as you are leaving the house. You can also hide part of his meal around the yard, which will give him/her something to do while you are away.
- If you often have the radio on when at home, leave it on while you are away. This can be soothing and comforting in mild cases of separation anxiety in dogs.
- Some dog owners report that buying another puppy or cat can help reduce separation anxiety. I believe that this action may reduce boredom, but won’t stop your dog from missing you when you are apart.
- Leave your dog in a safe and secure crate or kennel run. This has a two fold effect, it provides a comfortable “den like” area where your dog will feel comfortable, and it means your dog won’t be able to act out many of the problem behaviors listed above. Be sure that your dog is completely happy in this area before you go and leave him for any length of time. I’ve never crated my dogs for separation anxiety treatment purposes, but many dog trainers and owners recommend this training technique. Crating your dog is not recommended for extended periods day in day out.
- Give your dog some obedience training. Teach and practice some basic obedience training commands like sit, down and stay. Be a strong leader or the “Alpha Dog” in your owner-dog relationship, your dog will respect and trust you for it. When you establish yourself as the trusted leader, your dog will respect your right to come and go as you please.
- Drop your puppy or dog off at a doggy day care center, to friends, neighbors or a family member’s home.
- Some trainers recommend the use of No Bark collars. These are an effective tool for stopping excessive barking problems. If your dog is barking as a result of suffering from separation anxiety it is highly likely that the barking will cease, but the problem will surface through any number of other destructive behavioral problems. Not an option I would pursue for treating separation anxiety.
- I appreciate this one is difficult for many dog owners (including myself). Don’t let your dog become too “clingy” and dependent on you every second you are together. Little by little teach your dog to be on his own when you are home. Put him in a crate, outside or just in the next room. Prove to him that it’s not a bad thing to be separated from you, give him his favorite treat in another room and leave him there for a while. When he is quiet and calm go and give him some praise, make it clear you are happy with him. You can also practice your down stay obedience training command for this purpose.
- Pay little or no attention to your dog when preparing to leave the house. Ignore him for 10 minutes and then slip out the door with no fuss. Same thing when you arrive home, just go about your business for about 10 minutes, ignore your dog. When he is calm, you can initiate some contact with him. You don’t want him to believe that his behavior (barking, whining etc.) has contributed to bringing you back home. Don’t inadvertently reward his behavior by giving a big over the top greeting every time you arrive home.
The 4 Step Program I Used To Fix My Dalmation’s Separation Anxiety Problem
My dalmation Harrison developed separation anxiety seemingly for no reason when he was about 7 years old. He would start digging and crying as soon as I left the house, even if my other family members were home. My Veterinarian suggested this training process, it achieved the desired result but took plenty of time and patience.
Aside from the 4 step program listed below, I continued to practice the general day to day duties of responsible dog ownership. By this I mean things like providing a safe and comfortable bed, plenty of exercise and obedience training.
Harry would start to get anxious (his whole body would shake) at the very first sign of me leaving the house. This typically would be putting my shoes on or turning off the TV or heater. It became a real problem for Harry, myself and the rest of my family, this is how we eventually solved it:
Step 1: Canine Separation Anxiety Treatment
Since Harry was always by my side when I was home I had to slowly teach him that he didn’t always need to be close to me. I started out by ignoring his attention seeking behavior (jumping up, barking etc.) and then did some solid practice of his down stay. Little by little we extended the time and distance we spent apart, until he was happy to be alone for up to 30 minutes. Of course, we still spent lots of fun time together.
The next step was to get him used to being outside while I was inside. Again we started off with very small periods apart and gradually lengthened the time over a couple of weeks.
If you try this Separation Anxiety in dogs treatment make sure that you don’t just leave your dog outside to get all worked up and stressed. The trick is to start out leaving your dog out for a few seconds, then going out and reuniting before he shows any signs of separation anxiety. Give your dog a treat or dog toy to keep his mind off missing you. Only initiate contact with your dog when he is calm and quiet.
The next step in fixing Harry’s separation anxiety problem was to eliminate the distress caused by me getting ready to leave the house for work. What I did was write a list of all the triggers that started Harry’s anxiety. I then set about desensitizing him to these triggers. I’d put my shoes on, and not go anywhere. Put my coat on, then sit down to read the paper. Pick up my car keys and just carry them around with me, jangling along as I went about my business. After a while (about 3 weeks) Harry barely offered a sideways glance at my shenanigans.
When Harry was completely calm in situations that would have unsettled him in the past, I left the house. At first I just stepped outside, shut the door and came back inside within 20 seconds – before he made a sound. Again this was a slow process, similar to step 2. I extended the time outside the front door and then graduated to starting the car, then driving around the block before I came back inside.
You can provide a tasty treat to your dog on your way out the door, something that he can work on for a while. Harry’s favorite was a frozen Kong stuffed full of peanut butter and a few liver treats, this eventually kept him occupied for hours. Remember that when you return home, don’t make a huge fuss. Come inside, get changed, pour yourself a nice hot coffee, then greet your calm dog.
This process did prove effective for me and my anxious dalmation. All up the 4 steps took about 5 weeks to work through and fix Harry’s separation anxiety problem. My Vet suggested that I supplement this training with some medication. I didn’t go down that path, but it would have been my next step had I required it.
Backyard Dog, Outdoor Dog: Facts, Guidance, Solutions
|Dogs are social animals who crave human companionship. That’s why they thrive and behave better when living indoors with their pack — their human family members. This is substantiated by the experience of rescue volunteers and shelter workers as well as trainers, canine behaviorists, veterinarians and animal welfare associations nationwide.|
This tipsheet includes resources to help educate people with outdoor dogs and owners in general.
1. The Backyard Dog: Guide for owners who leave dogs outside.
2. Why Dogs Should Be Indoor Pets: Outdoor Risks, Solving Indoor Problems
3. Outside Dogs: Why Protection is No Excuse
4. Make a Difference for the Backyard Dog
5. Other Free Resources to Help Neglected Outdoor Dogs
1. The Backyard Dog
by the Humane Society of Silicon Valley
PDF brochure for downloading at http://www.hssv.org/LIBRARY/PDF/Behavior/backyard_dog.pdf
Perhaps the biggest and most widely held misconception about dogs is the belief that they will be healthy and happy living only in the backyard. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Current studies in dog psychology show that dogs isolated in backyards are highly likely to develop serious behavioral problems that often result in euthanasia for the animal.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
DOGS ARE PACK ANIMALS THAT THRIVE ON COMPANIONSHIP. Much like their wolf ancestors, dogs are very social. In fact, dogs are more social than humans and need to be part of human families. When you own a dog, you become the dog’s pack and he wants to be with his pack. Forcing a dog to live outside with little or no human companionship is one of the most psychological damaging things a pet owner can do to a dog.
DOGS ARE ALSO DEN ANIMALS, meaning they like to have a safe, quiet, and secure place to sleep, rest, and hang out, such as your house. Your dog has a wonderful ability to learn and therefore to be housetrained. A dog who resides more in your house than in the yard is a much happier, content animal, because of the security of a den and your companionship.
BACKYARD DOGS HAVE MORE BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS. Since all your dog’s instincts are telling him it is not good to be left alone or isolated from his pack, your dog can become very stressed or anxious. A dog exhibits stress by digging, barking, howling or whining, chewing, escaping, and exhibiting hyperactivity. These problems can become so troublesome that your neighbors may complain about the barking, howling, property destruction, or your dog escaping.
BACKYARD DOGS ARE HARDER TO TRAIN. Considering a backyard dog does not develop a strong bond toward your family, he is harder to train than a dog allowed to be in the house with your family. This also makes him less responsive to commands.
BACKYARD DOGS MAKE LOUSY GUARD DOGS. As a dog becomes naturally protective of where he lives (his territory or turf), he will only defend the place he lives in. If he is never allowed in the house, then the house will not become a place to protect. Most people keep their valuables inside their houses, so why wouldn’t you want your dog to protect the inside of your house? Unless allowed to live inside, your dog will not develop that sense of territory. He will not sound the alarm when someone tries to invade your house. It is not uncommon to hear stories of families being robbed while their backyard dog snoozed through the whole episode.
BACKYARD DOGS HAVE HIGHER RATES OF EUTHANASIA. Backyard dogs are more often given up than house dogs because they were never looked upon as family by their human pack. Sadly, that means they are easier to dispose of. Backyard dogs do not have the opportunity to become socialized to people and other dogs, and may become so fearful or even vicious that they may have to be euthanized.
WHAT CAN YOU DO:
KEEP YOUR DOG WITH YOU! At a minimum, your dog should have access to your living space whenever you are home, including sleeping inside your house at night. You do not have to spend every waking moment actively playing and talking to your dog; just the fact that your dog can lay quietly at your feet while you watch TV, work at your computer or sleep, is very important to his mental well-being.
NEVER TIE OR CHAIN YOUR DOG UP OUTSIDE. Dogs that are tied up or chained outside suffer extreme frustration which can result in hyperactivity and/or aggression against you, your family or friends. Dogs that are tied up cannot escape from other animals or people who mean to do them harm. They can also easily become entangled and do bodily harm to themselves. It has been a sad tale to hear of a dog tied outside because he was a fence jumper, only to hang himself while trying to do so! If you must keep your dog outside, provide a secure, high fence or an enclosed chain link dog run, with a top for those fence jumpers or climbers. Panels of chain link (that can be easily bolted together to provide a dog run) can be found at reasonable prices at your larger home supply stores, such as Home Depot. Provide a top with shade, a dog house for rainy weather, items to chew on, and plenty of fresh water. A dog should always be exercised before being left for the day in an enclosed area, such as a dog run or even your backyard.
THINK ABOUT HOW MUCH TIME YOU’LL DEVOTE TO YOUR DOG. People who keep their dogs outside constantly rationalize it. They insist that they do spend time with their dogs, they do feed them, they do walk them. Spending an hour a day with your dog is not enough for his mental welfare. Be realistic! What about when it is rainy, windy, cold, or just plain too hot? Are you still spending that hour daily with your dog no matter what? Making the backyard your dog’s only home does not make him a real part of the family.
DO YOU FIT THE STATISTICS? Our lives have changed. It used to be that most people did spend a lot of time in the yard; playing, working, gardening, and socializing. Now with the age of computers, televisions, and hectic schedules, we actually spend about 75% less time outdoors in our yards, and therefore less time with our devoted friend, the dog.
TRAIN YOUR DOG! If your dog is untrained, take him to training class so you can develop better communication skills and teach him how to act appropriately in the house. If you have a young puppy, get him into a puppy training and socialization class as soon as he turns 12 weeks old. Don’t wait until he is six months old and has already acquired a taste for tipping over the garbage can or chewing on your rug. If you acquire an older dog, training him as soon as possible will help him adjust to his new household and your family (his new pack).
GIVE YOUR DOG A CHANCE TO BE YOUR BEST FRIEND! Don’t kick him out because you think he is untrainable, unruly, or because it is good for him to be outside. Instead, take the time to make him a part of your family, a part of your pack.
2. Why Dogs Should Be Indoor Pets: Outdoor Risks, Solving Indoor Problems
When people ask, ‘why shouldn’t dogs be kept outside’ and ‘how do I teach my dog to be an indoor dog,’ share this good advice, which contains guidance from ‘The Great, Awful Outdoors’ by canine behavior expert and author Pat Miller, published in Your Dog newsletter.
Dogs like living indoors with their family. They are by nature pack animals, so keeping dogs outside denies them a place in the family pack. According to author and trainer Pat Miller, the reasons given for keeping dogs outdoors fall into two categories:
* Inappropriate dog behavior that can be managed and/or modified (example: ‘the dog’s not housetrained’), and
* People’s preconceived notions, which can also be modified (example: ‘dogs should be outside in the fresh air’).
Certainly, dogs benefit from spending some time outside. But this time should consist of play sessions in the yard and walks around the neighborhood, not solitary confinement outdoors.
Problems that result from leaving dogs outdoors:
* Dogs kept outdoors are deprived of human companionship and have more trouble bonding with human family members. They have more trouble learning to interact properly with humans. And without adequate supervision and guidance from their owners, dogs can and will develop undesirable behaviors.
* Bored dogs left in yards often bark at every sound or movement to occupy themselves … dig holes … fence-fight with neighboring dogs and other animals … chew and damage fencing, siding, decks and outdoor furnishings … dig under fencing … and climb or jump over fences. And when the owners do visit the dog in the yard, the dog is often out of control, having been starved of human companionship.
* Escape from the yard, which can lead to being hit by a car, lost in the woods, hurt by people. Also: they can frighten and even bite people out of confusion.
* Taunting and cruelty from youths or adults on the other side of the fence.
* Neighbor complaints and threats; visits from animal control officers.
* Accidental release by a passerby, meter reader or service technician. And any resulting bites.
* Frustration from wanting to visit with passing dogs and humans, which can lead to barrier aggression, which fuels aggression towards other dogs and humans.
* Illness and chronic health problems from being out in hot, cold or wet weather.
* Sunburn or heatstroke.
* Flystrike on ears and other body parts, which can lead to open wounds and maggot infestation.
* Electrocution when digging up or chewing on wiring outside the house.
* Development of obsessive behaviors such as tail chasing, fly snapping and self-mutilation as a result of boredom and frustration.
Creative solutions to inside-out problems, courtesy of Pat Miller:
* Good manners don’t just happen. The owner needs to take responsibility for helping his dog learn good behavior and house manners. That means spending some time each day in training the dog, being sure to reward him for appropriate bathroom and other behaviors. Remember that dogs are continually looking to their people for cues, so owners must provide, look for and take opportunities to reward positive behaviors and to discourage negative ones. (Example: many owners accidentally reward dogs for jumping up by pushing the dog off. Seemingly unpleasant gestures such as pushing the dog off typically encourage repeated jumping, since the dog is just looking for attention.)
* Enroll in a good training class that focuses on praise and other means of positive reinforcement.
* Provide exercise each day. A tired dog is a well-behaved dog. Throw a ball with the dog. Go for long walks. Give the dog a good exercise session before you leave for work in the morning.
* Provide the dog with lots of opportunities to display good behavior. And praise him whenever he does the right thing. Positive reinforcement leads to repetition of desired behaviors.
* Until the dog learns good house manners, confine him in a dog-safe room, puppy pen or crate inside the house when you’re not there to supervise. Baby gates as well as doors can be used to control access to various parts of your house. Be sure to leave him several safe, interactive dog toys, such as a Kong toy stuffed with some treats and a little peanut butter or cream cheese. Make sure the dog has access to fresh water, especially when you’re gone for a long period. When first using a crate, teach the dog that good things happen in the crate, and reward him when he displays calm behavior.
* Never use the crate for punishment, since that will cause the dog to develop a negative association with the crate. You can use the crate for a time-out, but keep things cheerful — for example, if the dog gets revved up again after an exercise session ends, you might say ‘Oops! Time out’ and instruct him to go to the crate in a calm, upbeat voice. Miller suggests an indoor, portable tether as a good alternative to a crate for time-outs when you are home to watch the dog. A time-out should be a short, pleasant interlude for the dog.
* If you have to be gone from the home longer than the dog can hold his or her urine, arrange with a dog walking service or neighbor to take the dog out. Some people have taught dogs (usually small breeds) to use a box containing commercial dog litter or Astroturf that can be hosed off.
* Avoid leaving food, garbage and debris in areas that your dog can access. Clear off counters and put trash and garbage cans in closets, or use cans with tight-fitting lids.
* If fleas are a problem, use a good, modern form of flea control, such as the easy-to-use topical treatments that include Frontline and K9 Advantix.
* If someone in the house has allergies to animals, the best moves are to see an allergy specialist and to follow practices for reducing the chance of allergic reactions. These include vacuuming, keeping the dog off human furniture, washing hands after touching the dog, etc. You can find free allergy tips on the web.
3. Outside Dogs: Why Protection is No Excuse
by Dennis Fetko, PhD
Unless you’re medically intolerant of the dog (and therefore can’t take care of him in a medical emergency, so you shouldn’t have the dog anyway), making a dog stay outside is a costly waste.
If he’s for protection, what do you think I want to steal — your lawn?
When you leave, do you put your valuables and your kids out in your yard? Just what is the dog protecting out there? Most dogs kept outside cause far more nuisance complaints from barking and escaping than any deterrent to intrusion. Such complaints cause teasing, antagonism, release and poisoning. With your dog a helpless victim, it’s no laughing matter.
If I’m a crook and your dog is out, your fence protects ME, not your possessions or your dog. If I just open the gate, 9 out of 10 dogs will run off! I can safely shoot, stab, spear, poison, snare, strangle them, or dart through the fence and you just lost your dog AND everything I steal!
If he’s tied up and I keep out of reach, he’s useless. He’ll bark, but outside dogs bark so much, they’re usually ignored. But let a dog hit the other side of a door or window I’m breaking into, and I’m GONE! I can’t hurt the dog until he can hurt me, and nothing you own is worth my arm. Deterrence is effective protection.
Protection and aggression are not the same. Protection is defensive, reactive, often passive, and threatens or injures no one. Aggression is active, harmful and offensive, threatens all and benefits none. Yard dogs often develop far more aggression than protectivity because everyone who passes by or enters has already violated the territory that dog has marked dozens of times a day for years. That’s not protection, it’s not desirable and it overlooks two facts of life today:
First, property owners have implied social contracts with others in the community. Letter carriers, paper boys, delivery people, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, meter readers and others are allowed near and at times on your property without your specific permission. And sure that ten-year-old was not supposed to jump your fence after his Frisbee; but neither you nor your dog are allowed to cause him injury if he does. Imagine this: A neighbor looks into your yard or window and sees you, your wife or child laying on the floor in a pool of blood. They call 9-1-1 and your dog prevents paramedics from assisting! Should they shoot your dog or just let you die?
Second, even if the intruder is a criminal, few places allow you or your dog to cause physical injury to prevent property loss. Convicted felons have sued the dog’s owner from jail and won more in the suit than they ever could have stolen! Appalling? True.
And don’t be foolish enough to believe your homeowner’s insurance will cover the loss. Now you see why many feel that an outside dog is a no-brainer.
The more a dog is outdoors, the less behavioral control you have. It’s easier to solve four or five indoor problems than one outdoor problem. The reason is valid and simple: The more you control the stimuli that reaches your dog, the more you control the responses. You’ve got a lot more control over your living room than you do over your entire county! When your dog is bored, but teased by every dog, cat, bird, squirrel, motorcycle, paperboy, airplane, firecracker and backfiring truck in the county, OF COURSE he’ll dig, chew, and bark.
Would you sit still all day everyday? Do you want unnecessary medical fees and parasites, especially as the dog ages?
When a dog is alone indoors, you are still 30% there because your scent and things he associates with you, constantly remind the dog of you and your training. When he’s out, your dog is alone whether you’re home or not. Do you really expect him to keep YOU in mind while the entire world teases, distracts and stimulates him?
The media is full of stories about the family dog saving everyone’s life during a fire. How many people, including children, would be dead today if those dogs were kept outside? SURE — you ALWAYS get up to investigate every time your yard dog barks. And I’ve got this bridge.
An outdoor dog has an address, not a home. Dogs offer real value as companion animals. Stop behavior problems and start enjoying real protection and companionship. Bring your dogs inside.
4. Make a Difference for the Backyard Dog
You can use the other articles and links in this tipsheet to educate other dog owners and persuade them to let their dogs live indoors. But what if the neighbor absolutely refuses? You’ll find guidance in this article, by cruelty specialist Judy McClain, and in the linked articles noted below about Helping Abused Animals and Chained Dogs.
As Helen Keller said, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”
Your help is needed. You can make a difference. Most of our cruelty calls are for the backyard dog. If you know of a backyard dog, please check to make sure it has proper shelter. With winter approaching now is the time to be the voice for those that can’t speak for themselves.
The law requires that the outdoor dog has proper protection from the weather. Dogs can suffer from frostbite, exposure, and dehydration when water freezes.
A doghouse should be large enough for the dog to stand up, lie down, and stretch out without touching the sides or top but not too large that it can’t hold its own body heat. The doghouse should be waterproof and at least 2 inches off the ground. Also it should have a door flap or windbreaker on the entrance during the winter months. The doghouse should have dry bedding (straw or wood shavings are best because blankets and towels tend to hold water and can freeze).
Water should be available for the dog at all times and it should be given adequate food, as dogs need more calories in the winter to increase their body heat. The doghouse should also be in a location where the dog has access to shade from the sun.
The ideal situation for any dog is to be part of the family and live indoors, but some people, for various reasons, don’t bring their animals inside. Please make a difference for outdoor dogs and make sure they have adequate shelter. If you know of an animal that is living under substandard care, report the situation to your county’s humane society. For example, Prince George’s County SPCA/Humane Society’s cruelty line is 301-262-5625; press 1 for cruelty/neglect.
5. More Free Resources:
Materials you can use to help backyard and other neglected dogs
Website about helping chained and other dogs in need
How to help abused animals in your neighborhood
Helping chained dogs
Housebreaking a dog who lived outside
Dig This: How to Get Your Dog to Stop Digging
You can have a dog and a nice yard at the same time—sometimes it just takes a little effort.
Has your dog turned your yard into a moonscape, with craters everywhere? If so, the first thing you should know is that your dog isn’t doing this out of spite or a desire to destroy your landscaping. More likely he’s seeking
• comfort or protection
Step one in solving the problem is to diagnose why your dog digs. Then you can follow advice tailored to your (and your dog’s) situation.
Your dog needs entertainment
Dogs may dig to entertain themselves when they learn that roots and soil “play back.” Your dog may be digging for entertainment if:
He’s left alone in the yard for long periods of time without the company of his human family.
His environment is relatively barren—with no playmates or toys.
He’s a puppy or adolescent (under 3 years old) and doesn’t have other outlets for his energy.
He’s a terrier or other breed that was bred to dig.
He’s a particularly active type who needs a job to be happy (such as a herding or sporting breed).
He’s recently seen you “playing” in the dirt (gardening or working in the yard).
What to do
Expand your dog’s world and increase his people time in the following ways:
Walk your dog at least twice daily. Not getting enough exercise is a leading cause of problem behaviors.
Redirect your dog’s energy by teaching him to fetch a ball or flying disk and playing with him as often as possible. (A tired dog is a good dog.)
Teach your dog a few commands or tricks. Practice these every day for 5 to 10 minutes.
Take a training class with your dog and practice daily what you’ve learned.
Keep interesting toys in the yard to keep your dog busy when you’re not around. Kong®-type toys filled with treats or busy-box dog toys work especially well. Rotate the toys to keep things interesting.
You’re here to help animals. So are we. Please join us. »
Your dog is hunting prey
Dogs often dig in an effort to catch burrowing animals or insects that live in your yard. This may be the case if the digging is:
Focused on a single area rather than the boundaries of the yard.
At the roots of trees or shrubs.
In a “path” layout.
What to do
Search for signs of burrowing animals, then use safe, humane methods to fence them out, exclude them, or make your yard or garden unattractive.
What not to do
Don’t use any product or method that could be toxic or dangerous to your pets or other animals. Anything that poisons wildlife can poison your dog, too.
Your dog needs comfort or protection
In hot weather, dogs may dig holes to lie in the cool dirt. They may also dig to provide themselves with shelter from cold, wind, or rain or to find water. Your dog may be digging for comfort or protection if:
The holes are near the foundations of buildings, large shade trees, or a water source.
Your dog doesn’t have a shelter such as a dog house or her shelter is exposed to the hot sun or cold winds.
Your dog is lying in the holes she digs.
What to do
Provide your dog with the comfort or protection she seeks:
Bring your dog indoors more often to relieve overheating or a chill.
Take precautions to keep your dog safe in extreme heat or cold.
Make sure your dog has a comfortable doghouse that offers protection from wind and sun.
Provide plenty of fresh water in a bowl that can’t be tipped over.
If your dog still prefers lying in a hole in the ground, try providing a digging zone, described below. Make sure this spot is protected from the elements.
If your dog is a dedicated digger, why not set aside a digging zone? »
Your dog needs attention
Any behavior can become attention-getting behavior if the dog learns that he receives attention for engaging in it. Remember, even punishment is attention. Your dog may be looking for attention if:
He digs in your presence.
He has limited opportunities for interaction with you.
What to do
Provide your dog with the attention he deserves.
Ignore the attention-seeking behavior and give your pooch lots of praise for “good dog” behavior.
Make sure your dog has sufficient time with you on a daily basis. Walks, games of fetch, and basic training are all good ways to interact with your dog.
Your dog is trying to escape
Dogs may try to escape to get to something, to get somewhere, or to get away from something. Your dog may be digging to escape if she digs:
Along the fence line.
Under the fence.
What to do
Figure out why your dog is trying to escape and remove those incentives. Make sure her environment is a safe, appealing place for a dog.
To keep your dog in your yard:
Bury chicken wire at the base of the fence. Be sure to roll the sharp edges away from your yard.
Place large rocks, partially buried, along the bottom of the fence line.
Bury the bottom of the fence 1 to 2 feet below the surface.
Lay chain link fencing on the ground (anchored to the bottom of the fence) to make it uncomfortable for your dog to walk near the fence.
For more detailed advice, read our instructions for keeping out burrowing wildlife
Work with your dog to on behavior modification to stop her escape efforts.
Punishing your dog after the fact never works.
What doesn’t work
Regardless of the reason your dog is digging, don’t:
Punish your dog after the fact. This won’t address the cause of the behavior, and it will worsen any digging that’s motivated by fear or anxiety.
Stake out your dog near a hole he’s dug or fill the hole with water.
Next step: A digging zone
If your dog is a dedicated digger, consider setting aside an area of the yard where it’s ok for him to dig and make it clear where that digging zone is:
Cover the digging zone with loose soil or sand. Or use a child-size sandbox.
Make the digging zone attractive by burying safe items (such as toys) for him to discover.
When he digs in the digging zone, reward him with praise.
If you catch your dog digging in an unacceptable area, interrupt the behavior with a loud noise and firmly say, “No dig.” Then immediately take him to the digging zone.
Make the unacceptable digging spots unattractive (at least temporarily) by placing rocks or chicken wire on them.
If you’ve tried all our strategies and you still can’t solve your dog’s digging problem, keep her indoors with you and supervise her during bathroom breaks in the yard. You may also want to consult a behavior professional for additional help.
Adopting an Adult Dog
Adopting an adult dog into your family has the potential for being much smoother than raising a puppy. There can be bumps in the road, or the dog may blend in smoothly right from the first. Having a good plan will help you integrate the new family member in the happiest possible way.
Everything you can learn about the dog’s past is likely to help. Save anything that comes to you in writing (letter from former family, email from breeder, notes from rescue) and make notes you can save from any conversations you have with people who know or have known anything about the dog or the bloodline.
It can help if you can learn the following about the dog:
1. What food has the dog recently been eating, how much, and on what schedule? Is the dog digesting this food well, and producing normal stools?
2. How old is the dog? What vaccinations have been given? What are the dates of vaccinations, fecal checks, heartworm tests, heartworm prevention, flea/tick prevention and other medications? What, if any, illnesses or injuries has the dog had?
3. What experiences has the dog had as a puppy with the breeder, and with each subsequent home since then?
4. Are there any behaviors in the dog that people have considered problems?
5. Is the dog housetrained? Has the dog been LIVING indoors? If not, the housetraining may be a guess! If housetrained, what has been the dog’s schedule for trips outdoors? Or is the dog perhaps trained to papers or a litter box?
6. Is the dog spayed/neutered, and if so, at what age was it done?
7. Has this dog produced any puppies? If the dog later turns up with any genetic health issues, it could be important to let the puppy families know.
8. Are the dam and sire still living? What are their temperaments like? Do they have any medical problems? If you can keep in friendly contact with their families as well as the families of siblings to your dog, you can learn of health issues to watch for and possibly catch something early and treat effectively for a happy outcome.
9. Where has the dog been sleeping at night? Does the dog sleep through the night quietly?
10. Is the dog accustomed to resting calmly in a crate? How does the dog react to confinement behind a baby gate? What about confinement behind a closed door? Has the dog ever left a fenced yard by jumping over the fence, digging under it, or destroying part of it in order to exit?
11. What other animals has the dog been observed with, and what kinds of reactions have been seen?
12. How does the dog react to children? Specify the age of children, because a dog’s reaction to preschool children vs. school-age children vs. older adolescent males can be radically different.
13. How does the dog react to men, women and strangers?
14. Does the dog cope well with new places?
15. What toys and games does the dog enjoy?
16. What types of collars is the dog accustomed to wearing?
17. What training has the dog had? What methods were used? What cue/command words are familiar to the dog? What hand signals?
This is a partial list, since absolutely anything you learn about the dog can turn out to be useful. Keep all this information in a place you can find it. You may want some of it five or ten years from now.
Knowledge is certainly power when it comes to helping a dog adjust to life in your home. If, for example, you discover the dog has had little social experience with men and/or has shown some fear, you can start by having male members of the household do the feeding. If the dog has shown difficulties in any situation, you’ll know to start with low-stress levels of those situation, and build exposure/intensity very gradually, keeping it at all times enjoyable for the dog. If there are indications this is a shy dog, a good resource is the book Help for Your Shy Dog by Deborah Wood.
Dogs thrive on routine and find it very reassuring. When you first bring the dog home, try to keep to your normal daily routine. You may have to do this in stages on some things. For example, let’s say you get up at a different time and go to bed at a different time than the dog’s previous family. You can help the dog’s housetraining by adjusting your schedule to the dog’s previous schedule, and then over a period of days moving the time perhaps an hour each day toward your own normal schedule.
Similarly, if you need to change the food, take a minimum of 4 days for the change. The first day, give 100% of the old food. The next day give 75% of the old, 25% of the new. On the third day, give 50% of the old and 50% of the new. For the fourth day, give 100% of the new food. It’s fine to stretch this schedule out longer and make the change more gradual. With a dog showing any sign at all of digestive sensitivity, that is advisable. Make sure the food you’re changing to is top quality, of course. Every change of homes in a dog’s life is stressful, even when the new home is perfect, and good diet helps.
Duplicate the dog’s former sleeping arrangements the first night or so if feasible. Be aware, though, that changing homes can create anxiety in a dog and result in unpredictable behavior. If the dog is accustomed to resting calmly in a crate (whether or not the dog has been routinely sleeping in the crate at night in the previous home), it’s a good precaution to start by having the dog sleep in the crate in your bedroom at night. If you don’t know how the dog reacts to a crate, try the crate first in the daytime for a few minutes at a time with you staying in the room.
When you must leave the dog alone, take whatever precautions you can. If the dog is known to panic in a crate, try a dog-proofed area instead. This could be one or more rooms in your home with a baby gate across the door. Shutting the door on a dog often leads to the dog clawing at the door. If the dog jumps one baby gate, stack another one above it in the doorway.
It’s prudent not to leave a dog alone in a new home with the complete run of the house until you’ve had a chance to observe the dog awhile. You might come home to serious property damage if the dog gets anxious about being alone. This is not an unusual reaction in a dog new to your home and your schedule. Understandably, the dog may fear that you’re not coming back, or that you’ll be gone so long the dog won’t be able to hold bowels and bladder, or that you’ll come home angry. It takes time for trust and confidence to grow.
Provide the dog with enjoyable but safe toys to enjoy. Toys you can put food inside often have extra calming power for times you must leave the dog alone.
If the dog has a history of escaping from a fenced yard, don’t leave the dog alone in a fenced yard at all for quite some time. This is a powerful habit and instinct that gets reinforced by the interesting things dogs find to do when loose. You’ll want to give this habit a very long time to fade before you take a chance on leaving the dog out alone at all, even if your fence is far superior to the one that previously confined the dog.
Some dogs-many, in fact-will be calm and steady in your home right from the first. This is most likely with dogs over 2 to 3 years of age from stable backgrounds and of breeds that are not highly active. And of course it’s more likely with dogs who have a lot of experience as happy house dogs. But it often happens with dogs who have had multiple bad breaks in life, too. The more stability you provide in the environment, the better the chance of a smooth transition.
If you can arrange time out from work and other responsibilities for the first days or weeks with a new dog, so much the better. Keep your regular schedule in mind and transition the dog to that schedule. Time off will give you the chance to evaluate the dog’s responses to things like confinement before you need to leave the dog along for significant periods of time.
Reading a few good dog-training books before you bring the dog home is wise. It’s a good idea to read three books on something this important, in order to gain more perspective than just one author’s point of view. Two good ones are Pat Miller’s The Power of Positive Dog Training and Jack and Wendy Volhards’ Dog Training for Dummies. The booklets and books by Patricia McConnell are terrific too.
Have your crate, baby gate, dog food(s), toys, collar(s), leashes, and other equipment ready before you bring home the dog. Get an identification tag for the dog’s collar, or use one from a former dog that has your current contact information on it until you get one for this dog. Dogs new to their homes are at higher risk of getting lost, so a tag is important right from the start. Also consider putting a simple little jingle bell on the dog’s collar. This is a surprising aid to supervising a dog in your home.
Arrange a checkup for the dog with your veterinarian within the first two days the dog lives with you. Take all the health information you have about the dog. This visit is necessary even if the dog appears in perfect health and has all vaccinations up to date. Since it’s the dog’s first contact with your veterinarian and staff, take along small treats. Make the experience a happy one.
Also take along a little book you can use for notes on the dog’s medical condition, lifelong. In this book you can record the date of each visit, the dog’s weight and condition, instructions from the veterinarian, results of fecal and heartworm and other lab tests, etc. Use it at home to note when you see symptoms in the dog that you may need to report later to the veterinarian. Record the dog’s temperature every time you check it, and note any medication your dog is given.
Decide where you want the dog to use the bathroom. When you arrive home, take the dog there first. Encourage the dog to relieve, and praise if the dog does so. Continue taking the dog out frequently until you get used to the dog’s relief schedule; every dog is different. Better to take a dog out a few times a day too often, than one time too few!
Delay feeding a meal for an hour or so after you first arrive home, and give water sparingly. It’s tempting to overfeed a dog, especially an underweight one, but getting the tummy upset can cause big setbacks. With a severely underweight dog who has been starving, get your veterinarian’s advice on the initial feeding schedule and amounts.
Keep the dog either in the room with you under your supervision, or in a dog-safe confinement area, until you get to know each other’s habits better. If you slip up on supervision and the dog has a housetraining accident or destructively chews something of yours, do not punish! (See Housetraining Basics and Destructive Chewing articles.)
Turn on your sense of humor! This is the time to make a great first impression on your new family member. Don’t encourage inappropriate behavior, but don’t show anger, either. Adult dogs come with some surprising skills. One memorable case was a large dog who could nimbly spring and land with all four feet on the kitchen counter in a space that looked far too small for him to fit. He could just as easily bounce onto the hood of the car. All it took to get him to do this was simple curiosity to see what was there!
Include a low-stress daily outing in your schedule. At first it might just be a 15-minute walk down the driveway. If you live in an apartment or condo where the dog must go out on leash for relief, those outings are enough for now. Outings and training times (easily combined with outings) are a good habit to start the first day, provided the dog is healthy, but these need to be low-key. This is especially true for the first two weeks the dog is with you. Don’t take the dog out to stressful settings to train or test yet. Give the new family member time to get used to you and your home first.
Start training classes (provided the dog is physically sound) after you’ve lived together for 2 weeks or longer. The class needs to be enjoyable for the dog and also for you. A wide range of classes and methods exist, so do your homework to find one the right fit. A good class will help you and your dog form a great relationship.
Spend a few minutes each day grooming the dog. Comb or brush a long-haired dog, curry-groom or massage a short-haired dog. With an old bed sheet spread over yourself and under the dog, this isn’t at all messy indoors. It will enhance the dog’s bonding with you, your ability to identify medical problems early, the dog’s tolerance of human touch all over the body, and even the dog’s responsiveness to your training. It’s one of the most productive ways to spend 15 to 30 minutes a day with your dog. Incorporate cuddles into this routine.
Adult dogs for adoption are a vast, undervalued resource. Dogs are chosen as young adults for assisting people with disabilities, police work, drug dog work, therapy dog work, circus performing, movie and television work, and a wide variety of other lifestyles.
An adult dog’s temperament and other characteristics are easier to evaluate accurately than those of a puppy, and the dog meets you mentally as an adult. Puppy bonding is an immature relationship that must form again in adulthood before it becomes a real bond.
Dogs adopted in adulthood will bond to you just as well as puppies, and often better. They’ve been around, and if you provide them with a really good home, they’ll recognize and appreciate it.
Dogs come to new homes ready to learn new rules, open to new things. Dogs are highly adaptable. The adult dog you adopt may well become the best dog you’ve ever had.
Choose a dry food intended specifically for puppies, avoiding generic foods and those that sell for unusually low prices. We suggest brand name puppy food because it is impossible to distinguish good dog food from poor dog food simply by looking at the ingredient list on the label. Many things that owners look for, such as high protein levels and extra vitamins, are as likely to be harmful than helpful. For example, overfeeding and over supplementation are factors contributing to hip dysplasia. If you have a large-breed puppy, purchase “large breed” puppy food. The actual formula is different, not just the the kibble size, and is better for very rapidly growing puppies.
Offer food to young puppies three times a day. If your puppy isn’t hungry that often, reduce the frequency. After ten or twelve weeks of age, feed twice a day. Even adult dogs should have their food split into morning and evening feedings. When fed once a day dogs become overly hungry and are more likely to overeat at mealtime.
Let your puppy eat as much as she wants in fifteen minutes and then pick up the food dish. Having food continually available encourages overeating, and chubby puppies are more likely to have hip dysplasia and weight problems later in life. Also, because free-fed puppies never get very hungry, they don’t enjoy their food unless given special treats. The combination of special treats and freely available food encourages them to become bored, overweight and picky.
Do not give people food. If you start with a balanced diet and add goodies from the table, you won’t have a balanced diet anymore, and your puppy will have more digestive trouble. Treats that are reasonably balanced, such as Milk Bone Biscuits are OK, but since they are not really all that great nutritionally, don’t let them become an important part of the diet. Canned puppy food is perfectly all right, but we usually suggest feeding dry food because it is cheaper, easier to use, and better for the teeth.
Between six and sixteen weeks of age, puppies lose the disease protection they received from their mothers and become able to form their own immunity to disease. Unfortunately, we never know when this will happen, so there is often a brief period when puppies have lost the disease protection they received from their mothers but have not yet developed strong immunity of their own. Fortunately, new vaccines for distemper and parvovirus are much more effective than what we had even two or three years ago, and eliminate much of this problem. Also, since the new vaccines work better we don’t have to give as many, which saves money.
Until your puppy is four or five months old, try to prevent contact with stray dogs or sick dogs. Avoid boarding your puppy or taking her places like highway rest stops where lots of other dogs go to the bathroom.
When we say “distemper shot” we are talking about a combination vaccine (DAP) which protects against a group of diseases:
Infectious canine distemper (ICD) is a highly infectious viral disease that attacks the lungs and affects the brain and spinal cord in somewhat the same way polio affects people.
Canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) is a respiratory virus that causes a severe form of “kennel cough”.
Canine parvovirus (CPV) attacks the lining of the intestinal tract, and in very young puppies, damages the heart. It remains our most common fatal infectious disease and is the most difficult to protect against. Dobermans, rottweilers and boxer or bulldog type dogs are especially susceptible.
Causes kidney and liver damage. The disease can affect any mammal, including people, and is spread by urine contamination from infected animals such as raccoons, opossums, rats, coyotes, foxes or other dogs. The newer leptospirosis vaccine protect against four varieties of the disease. We do not recommend using the old Distemper/Lepto vaccines that protect against only two varieties of Leptospirosis because they don’t work against the type of Leptospirosis seen most frequently in our area.
Spread by animal bites or through the saliva of an infected animal, rabies is always fatal. Because infected pets can give the disease to people, rabies immunization is something you don’t want to ignore.
Rabies shots are started at sixteen weeks of age, boostered a year later, and every one to three years after that, depending on local laws and your veterinarian’s recommendation. Unvaccinated dogs that come into close contact with a skunk must be quarantined or put to sleep. Vaccinated dogs that have skunk contact should be given a rabies booster as soon as possible, regardless of when they were last immunized.
Spread by ticks, Lyme Disease has become a significant human health problem in El Dorado County, but because the disease is difficult and expensive to diagnose with certainty, there have been few proven cases in dogs. When we suspect Lyme disease, we treat with antibiotics. The dogs usually get better and we are seldom certain whether the condition being treated was Lyme disease or something else.
Dogs that roam in brushy areas and get lots of ticks should be vaccinated. Those restricted to their own immediate area and never get ticks probably don’t need it. Immunization is given as an initial series of two injections three weeks apart followed by an annual booster.
Bordetella, a common cause of “kennel cough”, is a severe but rarely fatal respiratory disease. Because it spreads through the air in confined areas, kennel cough is common even in clean, well run boarding kennels. If your dog will be at the groomer’s frequently or periodically left at a kennel, it is wise to protect against the disease. Most boarding kennels require it. For dogs that don’t need year ’round protection, the best time to administer the vaccine is two to four weeks before going to the kennel.
Roundworms & Hookworms
Heartguard Plus and Interceptor, two new combination heartworm medications, also kill the intestinal worms common in our area. By using either of these products, we eliminate the need for routine fecal examinations and separate worming medications. However, if your puppy has persistent diarrhea please bring in a small fecal sample to check for other less-common parasites.
If you see little short white worms (1/2 inch long or less), these are probably tapeworm segments. When the segments dry they look like grains of brown rice and may stick to your dog’s hair. If you see anything like this, let us know and we will dispense medicine to use at home. Prescription tapeworm drugs are extremely effective, very safe, and cause no discomfort whatever. Non prescription tapeworm medications don’t work very well and often cause intestinal cramps and diarrhea.
Before dispensing medication, we need to know your dog’s weight. If he is not extremely small or too large to lift, you can be sufficiently accurate by weighing yourself with and without the dog. Otherwise, bring him along. We will weigh him and set up the prescription when you come in.
Because of a mosquito species that lives in oak trees at our elevation, the Sierra foothills of Northern California have a serious heartworm problem-worse than just about anywhere else in the Western United States. In 1972, approximately one fourth of all heartworm cases reported in California were diagnosed at Placerville Veterinary Clinic. In our area, dogs that don’t receive prevention medicine, especially if they sleep outdoors, will probably get heartworms.
If we discover the problem in time, heartworms can be eliminated, but treatment is difficult, dangerous, and expensive. And even with treatment, heartworms cause permanent damage. Although the treatment isn’t nearly as dangerous as many people seem to believe, regular testing followed by treatment when needed is not a reasonable alternative to prevention.
We recommend Interceptor Chewable Tablets, because they taste good and need to be given only once a month. In addition, Interceptor kills hookworms, whipworms and roundworms, eliminating the need for separate worming medications and routine fecal examinations. It is important to use Interceptor every month without fail.
Dogs with heartworm disease ordinarily have adult male and female worms living in the heart, and microscopic baby heartworms throughout the bloodstream. Baby heartworms become adults only after living in a mosquito and then getting into another dog when it is bitten by the mosquito.
Because we cannot detect heartworms until about six months after infection, we never know for sure if puppies already have heartworms when we start them on prevention medication. Although this is a concern, the risk of puppyhood infection is small, and we can safely wait to perform an initial heartworm test until about fifteen months of age, when rabies and distemper booster vaccinations are given. After that, we encourage you to test every two years to protect against the small possibility that a dose has been missed, or the extremely small possibility that the medicine isn’t working.
Puppies have a strong natural instinct to avoid soiling their own area. If you are consistent and patient, this natural urge for cleanliness makes house training fairly easy. You can begin training any time after five weeks of age. A little extra effort and patience in puppyhood will make the difference later on between a happy, cooperative pet and one that causes problems for you.
Establish a teacher-learner relationship
Use two types of rewards-praise and petting. When your puppy asks for attention, you probably respond by petting, which is only natural. Begin using these requests to show that you are the teacher and your puppy is the learner. It may sound silly but it’s important to establish this relationship early in puppyhood.
Each time your puppy asks to be petted, respond by holding your hand about a foot above his nose and saying, “Rover (substitute your dog’s name), sit.” Move your hand back over his ears as you speak. This makes him look up, which is the first part of sitting. Keep repeating “good sit” until he sits. Then pet him on the throat and chest with your other hand for a few seconds as you repeat the praise. If not successful at first, repeat the procedure. When your dog sits from five to ten seconds, release him from the command by saying “OK”, then pet and praise him again. Gradually increase the sitting time until you have reached one or two minutes before you say “OK”. Be sure everyone who lives with the pet follows this procedure.
Consistent treatment from the whole family makes for a better adjusted, happier pet. Insist that your pet earn praise.
Teaching Where to Go
At first, feed at least three times a day. All dogs do not have the same digestive rates-you may need to feed your puppy as often as five times a day in order to avoid overloading his system and causing loose, difficult-to-control bowel movements. When you find the right schedule, the result is a dog that eats and then has a bowel movement within a few minutes.
Feed indoors. Remember, dogs do not like to eliminate where they eat. If your dog is urinating or defecating in a certain area, try feeding him right at that spot (after clean up, of course.)
Right after your dog finishes eating, chase him out good naturedly to his toilet area, ahead of you if possible. Then let him sniff around for a good spot. Do not confuse things by urging him to go. After he goes to the bathroom, crouch down and point at the urine or fecal matter and say “good dog”. Look right at the stuff, not at the dog. If your dog sniffs it, praise and pet him enthusiastically.
Take your puppy outside
After waking up, even from a nap
After extreme excitement
After drinking water
After prolonged chewing on a toy, etc.
If he starts sniffing around the house for a good spot
In about four days your pup should automatically head for his proper place after meals or whenever the urge strikes. If it takes longer, be patient.
After this stage of house training, your puppy knows where to go, but not when to go. Do not try to teach self control (the “when” part) until you can be sure he will always head for the door when it’s time to go.
Teaching When to Go
To teach self control, you must keep feeding times consistent. Don’t feed at 7:30 a.m. on week days and then sleep in on Sunday–you’ll ruin the whole program. Dogs can control their urine for as long as thirteen hours when they need to. To teach self control, you should try to let your dog outdoors only at times when you are ordinarily home to do so. Whenever you see signs that your pup wants to go to the bathroom during the forbidden hours, try to distract him by tossing a ball, playing with a toy or doing any activity that will take his mind off the urge.
If possible, have your puppy sleep in a room with people. Because he will be inclined to tune into your sleeping times, there will be fewer accidents and less night time disturbance. Given a little blanket as a bed, most puppies soon learn to sleep through the entire night.
How to Deal With Mistakes
Old fashioned house training methods tell us to grab the puppy, show him the mess and punish him. This is not necessary and probably harmful. Instead, if you discover an accident, just say “ugh” disgustedly and whisk puppy out to his proper toilet area. Leave him there while you clean up the mess. Make sure he cannot see you cleaning up. Strangely, many dogs find it rewarding to watch their owner picking up stools or cleaning urine, and often leave another such gift as soon as they can. Because puppies seem to enjoy this game, it is a good idea to have them watch you clean up after they go to the bathroom in the correct place.
To discourage repeat visits, accidents must be cleaned up well enough to completely eliminate odor. After blotting and cleaning as best you can with paper towels, soak the stained area with an enzymatic cleaner. Let it remain on the stain 30 minutes or longer, blot up the liquid, and if still necessary, use regular rug cleaner afterwards. To work properly, the enzyme cleaner must be used before using regular rug cleaner.
Puppy’s Place in the Family
The reason dogs are such good pets and fit so well into human society is that they are social animals by nature. Their greatest psychological need is to be part of a group. Whether it’s a family of just you and puppy, or a boisterous household full of children and pets, in order to be happy your new puppy must feel secure about her place in the group.
If you watch puppies at play, you will see a lot of growling and tussling. There is more to this play fighting than meets the eye. Those little guys are already deciding who is going to be “top dog”. Whether you realize it or not, something very much like this play fighting is happening at home between your puppy and the rest of the family.
To be confident and secure what puppies need most is a master they can depend on. For your dog to have a happy life and be a pleasure to own, at least one person in the family must become such a master. Dogs have no mental concept of “friends and equals”. Somebody has to be boss. Assertive puppies will grow up trying to be boss, which won’t make either one of you happy. A submissive puppy may spend its entire life fretting and worrying, never sure what is expected. Everything usually works out just fine automatically–puppies find their place in the family without much trouble and everyone is happy with the arrangement. If, on the other hand, you have a strongly assertive or unusually submissive pet there are some things you should keep in mind:
Working with an assertive puppy
Assertive puppies tend to immediately investigate new people and objects. They are quick to begin play fighting activities with people. When they want to be petted or fed, they are insistent and demanding. These puppies fall easily into the role of family protector because they think the people belong to them. This is well and good, but because dogs cannot really understand human society, there is soon trouble. They may try to defend you from everyone, and biting the UPS man because he invades your yard is not ok. Biting the children is not ok. The most serious problems happen when grandchildren are involved. Perceived either as an outside threat or a competitor, it is not unusual for grandchildren to be badly injured by big assertive dogs.
The training techniques used to establish your teacher-learner relationship are especially important. Remember that your dog will be much happier in the long run if he earns praise and pleasure by obeying you, not by demanding it.
It is especially important for you to be master. Do not allow your dog to nip or bite at you in a friendly way. Do not stimulate your puppy by waving your arms and acting excited or by playing tug of war. Do not become what your puppy perceives to be an equal and competitive playmate.
Working with a submissive puppy
Submissive puppies tend to “shy away” from new people or things, either by lying down or actually running away. It is normal for most puppies to be slightly submissive. They wish for nothing more than to please you and this makes them easy to train.
Teach shy puppies things they can do that will earn your calm, reassuring praise. Try to provide a peaceful environment and a dependable schedule that includes exercise, a daily obedience session, and reliable feeding times.
Most puppies and young dogs have a tendency to urinate in response to new situations, when meeting a stranger, or even when their owners come home and greet them excitedly. This is a sign that your puppy is uncertain about what is expected. Never scold when this happens. Puppy is already trying hard to please. Calmly reassure, ignoring the urination. Clean up later, in private.
If puppies don’t know what is expected of them, particularly if they are beginning to believe that people are supposed to do what dogs tell them to do, they may react inappropriately to strangers. The puppy is afraid, but psychologically unable to be completely submissive. They usually show signs of fear and try to run away from a threatening situation, but when escape is prevented, they bite. It happens when children insist on petting a frightened dog, and happens at the veterinarian’s office. These puppies need the firm leadership and reassurance best achieved through obedience training.
It is natural for puppies to chew–that’s one of the ways they explore and learn. Try to keep valuable objects that are chewable safely out of reach and provide a satisfactory alternative like a Nylabone chew toy. Destructive chewing is merely a way to work off excitement and relieve frustration, not an insidious plan to get even with you. Help encourage your puppy to be calm. Be easygoing. Don’t encourage tug of war or play that involves chewing and biting.
When you leave home for the day, don’t make it into a big deal for the dog. By showing lots of emotion of any sort (threats or cheerfulness, it doesn’t matter) you build up emotional stress. This is often vented in destructive chewing. Your last three or four minutes at home should be spent calmly reading or sitting. Then get up and leave, ignoring your puppy completely–don’t even say goodbye. Arrive home the same way. Ignore your puppy at first and avoid the area where things are most likely to have been chewed. If things are a mess when you get home, don’t let puppy know you care. Behave calmly. Clean up later when your puppy can’t watch. Do not build up more stress by scolding–that just makes things worse. Again, work on teaching simple obedience and building the teacher-learner relationship. Puppies need a calm, dependable master.
Don’t give your puppy anything small enough to swallow that can’t be digested, or things that can be chewed into large indigestible chunks and swallowed.
Chicken bones, rib bones, and pork bones are the most likely to cause trouble. Old gooey rawhide chews or bones from the butcher that have been around for a few days get rotten and stinky and cause diarrhea. If you give things like this (not really a good idea), use good sense. Bones should be too large to swallow and solid enough that they won’t be broken up into smaller chunks. Hooves, pig’s ears, and miscellaneous semi-digestible treats probably aren’t a good idea either, but if you use them be sure they are too large to be swallowed whole, or small enough to go all the way through.
Instead, we suggest using flavored Nylabone or Nylafloss chew toys. If your puppy first learns to prefer bones and rawhide, he probably won’t think chew toys are all that great, so use them from the beginning. Nylafloss looks like a big thick chunk of nylon rope. Puppies like it because they can really sink their teeth into the rope, and it helps keep the teeth clean.
Childproof Your Dog and Bite-Proof Your Kids
If you got your dog as a companion for your children, you need to know that happy canine and child relationships don’t happen by accident. Young puppies play rough and have sharp teeth and claws. They aren’t born knowing how to behave with their new human companions. They’re used to playing with their littermates—puppies play with their mouths and feet, they play rough, and they like to make each other squeal. Your puppy needs to learn that teeth do not belong on human skin.
Neither do children automatically know how to “play nice” with puppies and dogs. They need to be taught that ears aren’t for pulling and eyes aren’t for poking. If you have an adult dog—or adopt one—the same rules apply. Too many people assume that nice dogs will put up with anything a kid dishes out. That’s not fair to the dog, and it’s not necessarily true. All too often we hear about a dog that bit a child “without warning.” Very few dogs bite without warning, but if the child doesn’t understand the dog’s signals and neither do the adults who should be in charge, the dog may eventually nip.
All interaction between puppies and children should be closely supervised by a responsible adult. That doesn’t mean watching out the window while they play in the yard—it means being in a position to intervene immediately if necessary. Teach your puppy to sit or lie down for petting, and teach your children how to interact with the pup without getting him all excited.
Older dogs and older children don’t usually need such close supervision, but both need training. For your dog, that means at least basic obedience training and lots of socialization from puppyhood on. Children should be taught to understand that dogs are not toys but living creatures who feel pain. Don’t assume that because a dog and child know one another there’s no risk of a bite. Most children who are bitten know the dogs that bite them and are on the dogs’ home turf. A child will often take more chances with a dog he knows, and dogs are more confident and more protective in their own homes.
Children are much more likely than adults to be bitten, and boys get bitten more often than girls. Most bites happen because the children weren’t taught how to behave around dogs. You can increase your child’s safety with dogs—at home and in public—by teaching them these basic rules for interacting with dogs. Even if you don’t have kids, teach your neighbor kids—everyone benefits when kids know how to be safe around dogs.
- If you see a dog you don’t know and he’s with someone, ask if it’s okay to pet the dog. Some dogs don’t like kids or are afraid of them. If the answer is yes, then approach the dog calmly and quietly, and …
- Always let the dog sniff your open hand before you try to pet her. Never reach suddenly over a dog’s head without letting her sniff—you may frighten her and she may bite because she’s afraid.
- If you see a dog running loose or in her yard alone, do not approach the dog. Never try to approach or pet a dog that doesn’t have a person with her.
- Don’t tease dogs, even if they are tied or inside a fence or car. Teasing is mean. Besides, the dog could get loose and bite you. Don’t shout at dogs and don’t pretend to bark or growl at them.
- Don’t grab food, toys, bones, or other things away from a dog.
- Don’t bother a dog that’s eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies.
- Never stare at a dog’s eyes, especially if you don’t know the dog.
- Never run away from a dog—he’ll probably chase you and might bite.
- If a dog barks, growls, or shows you her teeth, puts her ears back against her neck, and walks on stiff legs with her hair sticking out, she’s telling you she’s angry and she’ll bite if you come closer. If you see a dog acting like that, look away from the dog’s face and walk very slowly sideways until the dog relaxes or you’re out of sight.
- If a dog comes close to you, “be a tree”—look up, not at the dog, and cross your arms with your hands on your shoulders.
- If a dog attacks you, “be a ball”—curl up on the ground on your knees with your face tucked onto your legs and your arms around your head. Lie still and don’t scream.
- If you get bitten, tell an adult right away. Try to remember where you were when you got bitten, where the dog lives if you know or which way he went if he was loose, who else was around when he bit you, and what the dog looked like.
- If you see a dogfight, don’t try to break it up! Stay away from the dogs, and find an adult to help.
Choosing the Right Dog
Dogs and cats fall into one of two categories: purebreds or mixed breeds.
The only significant difference between the two is that purebreds, because their parents and other ancestors are all members of the same breed, generally conform to a specific “breed standard.” This means that you have a good chance of knowing what general physical and behavioral characteristics a puppy or kitten of that breed is likely to have.
About mixed breeds
The size, appearance, and temperament of most mixed breed dogs can be predicted as well. After all, mixed breeds are simply combinations of different breeds. So if you can recognize the ancestry of a particular mixed breed dog or cat, you can see how a puppy or kitten is likely to look as an adult.
Some people think that when they purchase a purebred, they’re purchasing a guarantee of health and temperament, too. This is simply not true. In fact, the only thing the “papers” from purebred dog and cat registry organizations certify is that the recording registry maintains information regarding the reported lineage and identity of the animal. More on adopting from a purebred rescue group »
Mixed breeds, on the other hand, offer several advantages that prospective pet owners may fail to consider. For example, when you adopt a mixed breed, you get the benefit of two or more different breeds in one animal. You also get a pet who is less prone to genetic defects common to certain purebred dogs and cats.
Which is best for you?
Whether you’re thinking about adopting a dog or cat, purebred or mixed breed, it’s important to make sure your favorite type of animal fits with your lifestyle. You may love border collies, for example, but these active dogs likely aren’t a good match for busy apartment dwellers living in a city. So first become knowledgeable about what kind of animal you want and about what it takes to be a responsible pet caregiver.
There are several types of organizations from which you can adopt a companion animal, whether purebred or mixed breed. Not all sources are the same, however, so it’s important to learn as much as you can, and then choose carefully.
Hot Weather Tips for your Pet
Visit the Vet: A visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up is a must. Make sure your pets get tested for heartworm if they aren’t on year-round preventive medication. You may also want to ask your vet to recommend a safe flea and tick control program.
Made in the Shade: Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of them, be careful to not over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.
Know the Warning Signs: Symptoms of overhearing in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
NEVER LEAVE YOUR ANIMALS ALNE IN A PARKED VEHICLE: On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time, even with the windows open, which could lead to fatal heat stroke. Leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in some states.
Make a Safe Splash: Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool as not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur. Try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.
Summer Hair Styles: Giving your dog a lightweight summer haircut helps prevent overheating. Shave down to a one-inch length, never to the skin, so your dog still has some protection from the sun. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. As far as skin care, be sure that all sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.
Street Smarts: When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, your dog’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.
Avoid Chemicals: Commonly used flea and tick products, rodenticides (mouse and rat baits), and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if you spspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.
Fireworks Aren’t Very Pet-riotic: Please leave pets at home when you head out to Fourth of July celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets, and even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Many types of fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals.
Party Animals: Taking your pet to a backyard barbeque or party may be hazardous to his health. Remember that the food and drink offered to guest may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas. Also, the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.
KEEP YOUR PETS SAFE DURING THE HOT SUMMER MONTHS!!
ANIMAL SAFETY DURING THE HOLIDAYS
The winter season brings lots of fun holiday festivities, but pet-owners should keep in mind the following special precautions:
- Think twice when considering a dog or cat as a gift. Though nothing tugs harder at heartstrings than a cute, cuddly puppy or kitty, every adorable bundle of fur is a lifetime responsibility. It is crucial that you know the recipient truly wants and can care for the pet. This means providing plenty of exercise, training, veterinary care and lots of love and attention.
- Poinsettias, holly and mistletoe may make your pet sick if it chews on the leaves, flowers or berries. Place holiday plants out of your pet’s reach.
- Review holiday gifts for pets to make sure they are safe. Items such as plastic toys and small rawhide sticks may be dangerous.
- Remove holiday lights from lower branches of your tree, and watch out for electrical cords. Pets often try to chew them and may get shocked or electrocuted.
- Tree adornments, candles and other decorations can cause choking or severe intestinal problems if swallowed. Avoid decorating your tree with strands of popcorn or other items that might tempt your pet’s appetite. Tinsel and angel hair can lead to upset stomach and possible intestinal blockage if ingested.
- Avoid using glass ornaments. They break easily and may cut a pet’s feet or mouth.
- Pets may find tree water tempting to drink. If you use preservatives in your tree’s water, be sure they are pet-friendly.
- Though humans may enjoy cookies, chocolate, raisins and other sweets, these rich treats are dangerous for your pet. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can be harmful, and sometimes fatal, to pets.
- While people may indulge in holidays libations, no pet should ever have alcohol.
- Not every guest may be familiar with your pet’s habits. When entertaining, confine your pet securely in its crate or one area of the house. The holiday season can be a stressful time for pets.
Br-r-r It’s Cold Outside!
This winter has been a season of bitter cold and numbing wetness. Here are ways to protect your pet during this cold winter weather:
- Don’t leave dogs or cats outdoors when the temperature drops way below freezing. Regardless of the season, short-haired, very young or old dogs and all cats should never left outside without supervision.
- No matter what the temperature is, wind chill can threaten a pet’s life. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia when they are outdoors during extreme cold snaps as has recently occurred. Exposed skin on noses, ears, and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage.
- Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s stomach, legs and paws when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
- Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach of all animals and children.
- Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies Makes Sense
If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood or tornado depends largely on emergency planning done today. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind that what’s best for you is typically what’s best for your animals.
If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if possible. However, if you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets.
Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can’t care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.
1) Prepare – Get a Pet Emergency Supply Kit.
Just as you do with your family’s emergency supply kit, think first about the basics for survival, particularly food and water. Consider two kits. In one, put everything you and your pets will need to stay where you are. The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you and your pets have to get away. Plus, be sure to review your kits regularly to ensure that their contents, especially foods and medicines, are fresh.
Food. Keep at least three days of food in an airtight, waterproof container.
Water. Store at least three days of water specifically for your pets in addition to water you need for yourself and your family.
Medicines and medical records. Keep an extra supply of medicines your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container.
First aid kit. Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet’s emergency medical needs. Most kits should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Include a pet first aid reference book.
Collar with ID tag, harness or leash. Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Include a backup leash, collar and ID tag in your pet’s emergency supply kit. In addition, place copies of your pet’s registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container and also add them to your kit. You should also consider talking with your veterinarian about permanent identification such as microchipping, and enrolling your pet in a recovery database.
Crate or other pet carrier. If you need to evacuate in an emergency situation take your pets and animals with you provided that it is practical to do so. In many cases, your ability to do so will be aided by having a sturdy, safe, comfortable crate or carrier ready for transporting your pet. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.
Sanitation. Include pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach to provide for your pet’s sanitation needs. You can use bleach as a disinfectant (dilute nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to purify water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented or color safe bleaches, or those with added cleaners.
A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
Familiar items. Put favorite toys, treats or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can help reduce stress for your pet.
2) Plan – What You Will Do in an Emergency.
Be prepared to assess the situation. Use whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and ensure your pet’s safety during an emergency. Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency the first important decision is whether you stay put or get away. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense to determine if there is immediate danger.
In any emergency, local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet for instructions. If you’re specifically told to evacuate, shelter-in-place or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.
Create a plan to get away. Plan how you will assemble your pets and anticipate where you will go. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if practical. If you go to a public shelter, keep in mind your animals may not be allowed inside. Secure appropriate lodging in advance depending on the number and type of animals in your care. Consider family or friends willing to take in you and your pets in an emergency. Other options may include: a hotel or motel that takes pets or a boarding facility, such as a kennel or veterinary hospital that is near an evacuation facility or your family’s meeting place. Find out before an emergency happens if any of these facilities in your area might be viable options for you and your pets.
Develop a buddy system. Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Talk with your pet care buddy about your evacuation plans and show them where you keep your pet’s emergency supply kit. Also designate specific locations, one in your immediate neighborhood and another farther away, where you will meet in an emergency.
Talk to your pet’s veterinarian about emergency planning. Discuss the types of things that you should include in your pet’s emergency first aid kit. Get the names of vets or veterinary hospitals in other cities where you might need to seek temporary shelter. You should also consider talking with your veterinarian about permanent identification such as microchipping, and enrolling your pet in a recovery database. If your pet is microchipped, keeping your emergency contact information up to date and listed with a reliable recovery database is essential to your being reunited with your pet.
Gather contact information for emergency animal treatment. Make a list of contact information and addresses of area animal control agencies including the Humane Society and emergency veterinary hospitals. Keep one copy of these phone numbers with you and one in your pet’s emergency supply kit. Obtain “Pets Inside” stickers and place them on your doors or windows, including information on the number and types of pets in your home to alert firefighters and rescue workers. Consider putting a phone number on the sticker where you could be reached in an emergency. If time permits, remember to write the words “Evacuated with Pets” across the stickers, should you flee with your pets.
Preparing for the unexpected makes sense. Get ready now.
Information adapted from resources developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in consultation with: American Kennel Club, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American Veterinary Medical Association, and The Humane Society of the U.S. and provided by GetReady.gov.