Adopting a dog from a shelter or a breed rescue is an excellent way to find a pet, plus you’re saving a life in the process. However, there are a few things that you should avoid when adopting that new dog for your family.
What to Avoid When Adopting a Dog #1-5
#1 – Aggression With People
If the dog shows any type of aggression, no matter the age, do not adopt it. Although some may take issue with this advice, my stance is based on decades of experience. There are just too many sweetheart dogs out there that need good homes. Your desire to rescue a dog does not have to come with the burden of caring for a dog that you already know is aggressive.
#2 – The Fearful Dog
Quite often I find new dog owners that have adopted a dog that appeared to have fearfulness. Some of these adopted dogs were puppies. I’ve had clients tell me that when adopting their puppy, the observed the litter while seven of the pups ran up to them to play and one little scared puppy sat in the corner. You’d be amazed by how many people take home the afraid puppy, out of shear compassion. However, my advice again would be to pass on adopting a fearful dog. Although it’s possible to help a scared dog interact like normal dogs, it’s unlikely. So my suggestion is to pick one of those outgoing puppies, one that adds to the love and overall happiness of the home. Knowing what to avoid when adopting a dog can go a long way for long-term happiness.
#3 – Dog Aggression
If you already have a dog at home and want to add a new dog to your pack, then adopting a dog that is not dog-aggressive is a must. It’s always a good idea to introduce your new dog to your existing dog in a strange environment not at your home. So keep in mind that the first meeting should be at the local park or out for a walk. Make sure that the adoption agency is willing to take back the new dog if he shows any aggression with your existing dog at home.
#4 – An Unwell Dog
Needless to say, you do not want to accept a sick or unhealthy dog especially if you already have a dog at home. I do realize that there are those of you who are real rescuers and nurturers that will accept the challenges of caring for a sick dog in order to nurse it back to health. However, for the average pet owner, that may be more of a task than they want to take on. On your list of what to avoid when adopting a dog, this is a big one.
#5 – The Unsocialized Dog
When adopting your dog, keep in mind that the period of socialization is from birth to 20 weeks old. If you are adopting a puppy, you have to accomplish that before the five-month mark. If you are considering a puppy that has been at a shelter its entire life and has not been properly socialized that could be a mistake that you will have to live with for years, unless there is still time to do it before the 20 week mark. On the other hand, if you’re choosing an older dog, you’ll be able to tell if he’s been socialized properly by his attitude around people and other dogs.
Knowing what to avoid when adopting a dog is priceless. Adopting a dog can be a fantastic way to select a new best friend. Just take your time and find the right dog that suits your lifestyle and your expectations. When you follow this simple advice, you and your new best buddy will have a happy future together.
Are there rules of dog owner etiquette? You betcha.
We’ve all experienced the awkwardness of a poorly behaved dog. Whether it’s in public or in someone’s home, it’s hard to know what to do. Do we say something? Do we pretend it’s not happening? As a dog owner, it is a good idea to teach your pup to practice their doggy manners. Not sure what this means? We compiled a list for you. These will help you be well on your way to being a good dog parent who practices their dog owner etiquette.
Is Your Dog Jumping On People?
This rule is the one that is most often broken. Yep, you walk into a home and here comes the dog, jumping all over you. Practicing good dog owner etiquette means knowing how to stop this behavior. Some people say it’s okay because they are dog lovers but not everyone wants a dog jumping all over them. In some cases, these exuberant dogs actually knock people down. Depending on the person’s age, this could be dangerous.
So how do you keep it from happening? Put the dog on leash, so he cannot get to the person entering through the door. In fact, teaching your dog to do a sit /stay while on the leash really comes in handy. Eventually, once the proper door behavior has been learned, you may no longer need to use the leash.
Is Your Dog Barking Excessively?
If you have ever been within earshot of a non-stop barking dog, you know excessive barking can be a real annoyance. If you are unable to keep your dog from barking consider making some adjustments for those around you.
For instance, we should all try to be good neighbors and bring our dogs in the house. This is especially appreciated during the evening so that our dogs are not disturbing the peace. If you know a neighbor sleeps during the day, consider keeping your dog indoors throughout the day as well. If necessary, crate your dog, and the neighbors will love you.
How Do Walks Impact Dog Owner Etiquette?
Did you know that dogs that are taken for daily walks will be less likely to feel a need to release pent-up energy in unacceptable ways such as excessive barking of jumping? Even more, if they get used to a regular walk routine they’ll generally be calmer throughout the day.
Are You Allowing Your Dog To Run Free
Unless you live in a very remote area your dog should be within your control or yard at all times. This means on a leash or in your fenced yard. Allowing your dog to run loose in most areas is not only against the law, it is also very dangerous for your dog. Thousands of dogs a year are run over while roaming the streets. A dog owner that cares for his dog will never allow his dog to run loose. If your dog shows any type of aggression while running loose, you are vulnerable to a tremendous amount of liability, should your dog happen to bite a person or another dog.
Picking Up the Poop
One of the fundamental rules of dog owner etiquette is pick up after your pup.
This issue is a real problem for a large number of homeowners. You’ve seen it, someone walking their dog and allowing them to poop on someone else’s property without scooping it up. Surprisingly, this has become such a problem in some communities that all dogs in those communities are swabbed for DNA. Any waste material that has not been picked up is checked with the DNA on file, and the offending owner can be fined up to $500. So, bag the poop to keep your neighborhood clean (and keep neighbors happy with you).
Need Help with the Behavioral Issues?
Practicing good dog owner etiquette will provide a better sense of community for all dog owners and homeowners alike. However, if you have tried working on their barking or jumping and still need some help, fear not. There are several resources to help you with your pet and encouraging him to do his best. This article by the ASPCA helps you find the behavioral help you may need.
5 Warning Signs of Feeding Your Pup Too Many Dog Treats
If you have a dog you probably have some dog treats in your kitchen. In fact, some of our clients have so many snacks that the dog rarely eats real food. Giving your dog too many dog treats can actually cause several types of health and behavioral issues. Be on the lookout for these warning signs and cut back on giving your dog treats accordingly:
1. Your Pup Becomes Demanding
If you are giving your dog too many treats he has probably started demanding them after different activities. For example, you may find that your dog demands a treat when you come home or when you get up from taking a nap. You get the idea. When a dog is given too many treats, they find several situations that require a treat.
2. They Won’t Obey Without a Treat
Did you use treats during the training of your dog? If so, you may find that he won’t sit, or lay down, or stay without a treat in return now.
The simple reason for this is that he was bribed in the beginning and now expects treats all the time for accomplishing any of his obedience tasks.
3. Potty Time?
If treats were used to teach your dog to do his business you may find he is waking you up in the middle the night to take him outside. He probably doesn’t need to go out. He really just wants his treat.
4. Is Your Dog Aggressive?
This warning sign of too many dog treats is a serious one. If your dog shows any sign of aggression with you, eliminate the treats immediately. This is true for other family members, and other pets, too. Until this issue is resolved, usually with the help of a canine behavior specialist, do not introduce treats or bones. Aggression, brought on my treats or bones, can lead to injury.
5. Is Your Pup Putting on Weight?
Last but not least, is your pup overweight? When that little fluff ball of yours begins to look like a rolly -polly ball then it’s really time to eliminate or cut back on the treats. Giving your dog too many snacks is definitely the way to put unhealthy weight on your dog that it does not need. Weight issues often lead to additional health issues.
Finally, keep in mind that when it comes to treats, less is better. Try not to let your dog trick you into giving him more than he should have. According to the AKC, it’s all about calories.
We tell people that dogs are really smart and are really good at training people. In fact, often times, dogs are better at training people than people are at training dogs.
When we think about taking our dog to a dog park we begin to conjure ideas of our pet frolicking with other dogs. We tend to believe that this will be a great experience for them and that they’ll be a happier dog for having had the experience. This couldn’t be more untrue. Furthermore, we warn against taking your dog – and especially a puppy – to a dog park!
Hazards and Risks at a Dog Park Outweigh the Benefits
In March of 2018, in California, a small dog was attacked by two larger dogs at Lodi park and was fatally wounded. While this is an extreme example, it is not uncommon for injuries to occur to dogs at dog parks. Injuries can sometimes occur because of the co-mingling of large and small dogs. In other cases, dog fights erupt between same-sized dogs as they try to assert themselves. If your pet is not well trained for the type of interaction that occurs in a dog park, altercations will occur.
Like People, Not All Dogs Want to Be Social with Everyone They Meet
For some dogs, taking them to a dog park can make them extremely anxious. It is like being afraid of the water and being pushed into the pool for them.
Like people, some dogs prefer the comfort of familiar faces or only in small numbers. Just as we do not chat with everyone we meet, our dogs do not have to play with every dog they meet. The pressure to do so can make them uncomfortable or aggressive. Rather than place our pups in this position, find a more suitable alternative. For instance, schedule a few minutes with the neighbor’s dog every week. This may be all the socialization your dog needs- or wants. Older dogs, especially, tend to prefer to go without playful interaction with other dogs.
The goal is to ensure that your dog feels relaxed and can leave at any time they start to feel uncomfortable. Other options include pet socialization classes where the number of dogs is limited and it is monitored in a controlled environment by pet professionals.
Germs, Illness, and Parasites
If that doesn’t get your attention, we’re not sure what will. Did you know that viruses can live in the soil of the dog park for an extended period of time? This is true for any soil. This makes dog parks a veritable breeding ground for all types of viruses and parasites. Because shot records are not required at the door, your pup could be mingling with unvaccinated or unhealthy animals. This is especially dangerous to a new pup who has not yet completed his full schedule of vaccinations. This pup is therefore more susceptible to the germs. Safer spaces for your pets include training classes, doggy day care, or boarding kennels where shot records are required prior to entry.
The energy in a dog park can often be frantic and chaotic. It doesn’t take long for a dog to get reinforcement from the experience that this behavior is acceptable. This teaches them that their owner has little or no control over them. If you’ve visited a dog park, you’ve noticed at least one frustrated owner trying to get their dogs attention. It is usually to no avail. This behavior can often carry over at home. Undoing what the dog park has taught your dog can be frustrating for both you and your dog.
Elevated Protective Behaviors
Does your dog guard their toys? Do they maybe even guard you a little? Does your pet tend to want to keep the water bowl to themselves? Is your dog the bully of the playground? Dogs can be instinctual when it comes to guarding their resources. If another animal tries to take what they believe is theirs it can result in a combative response.
A young dog may feel long-term affects of an unpleasant experience at a dog park. If they are attacked, especially unprovoked, your dog may begin exhibiting aggressive behavior of their own. As a human, you may witness what you believe to be a small event happening to your dog that unexpectedly has lasting affects. These incidents are likened to childhood trauma in humans. Similar to someone playfully jumping out from behind a corner and yelling “Boo” to a small child who is too young to understand that won’t always happen again, but feels forever as if it will.
All types of dogs come to a dog park. The same is true for the owners. There are some great dog owners who watch after their pets. They keep an eye on them, break up incidents before they escalate, pick-up their messes, watch for inappropriate play or behavior, and are simply aware of their animals. On the other hand, some owners spend more time on their phones or talking to other people to be bothered with their pet. In these cases, their dog is left unchecked and can often create the problems mentioned above that you and your dog are trying to avoid.
To be safe, we recommend that you skip the dog park altogether and find better, safer alternatives for your pet.
At TLC, we know that your dogs are more than just pets; they are family members. And because you want to care for them like one of the family, you do what you can to make sure that they look and feel their best. Nail clipping for dogs is more than just a manicure for them. Learn why dogs need to have their nails clipped and common mistakes to avoid at home. Also, you can trust most professional groomers to offer nail clipping for dogs as part of their services.
Why Clip Your Dog’s Nails?
Did you know that nails that go unclipped can cause your dog pain? Many veterinarians warn that unclipped nails can turn their paws into a splayed foot which reduces traction. Unclipped nails for extended periods of time can also lead to deformed feet or injure the tendons causing pain.
If this is your first time clipping your dogs nails, purchasing clippers meant for dogs only is your fist step. Never use clippers meant for people. When searching for a pair of clippers, find a pair that is comfortable and easy to control. There are clippers available that are motorized, which can sometimes decrease the amount of time spent on each nail and make the process a bit smoother for your furry friend. Grinding your dogs nails also mitigates the chance that you’ll cut them to the quick (which causes bleeding). Take a look here at the 2018 list of best nail grinders for dogs.
Nice And Slow
Don’t rush through the process of clipping your dog’s nails. If you do, then there is a chance that you could tear the nails or clip them too short. This is one of the important nail clipping tips for dogs because cutting the nails too short can sometimes cause excessive bleeding. Make your dog feel like he is special for getting his nails clipped instead of making it seem like a chore or a common task. Prop your dog’s paws on your leg to allow for as much comfort as possible. An idea to consider is to let someone hold a spoon of peanut butter for your dog to lick on while you’re clipping his nails. Massage your dog’s legs to relieve some of the stress in the muscles, making it easier to approach the paws while clipping the nails.
Offer A Soothing Touch
Before using clippers, you can place an item that has a similar feeling on your dog’s paws. This simple action can get your dog accustomed to something being close to the nails and the feet. Try to let your dog get used to the sound associated with the clippers by squeezing them nearby, getting closer to your furry friend until you’re able to gently clip each nail.
Raising a puppy sounds like a good ole’ time of throwing a ball and watching him scurry after it. We all know how holding a sweet puppy can just melt your heart. However, there is so much more to raising a puppy. Becoming a responsible puppy owner requires a lot of work and patience. If you want a great dog, raise a good puppy.
Never Know “No!”
Your puppy was born into this world completely helpless and blind. Now, in your care, he is fully dependent on you to teach him about the world around him, as well as what behaviors are unacceptable. Unfortunately, many trainers using old, outdated methods still tell you that the first thing you should teach your puppy is the meaning of “No!” The science and theory of learning, however, states otherwise. A puppy learns quicker and far more consistently when you can prevent his bad behaviors and reward the good ones. This motivates him to perform good behaviors instead of focusing the bad behaviors. An excellent example of preventing bad behaviors would be the use of a crate or playpen for housebreaking. Keeping your puppy in a safe place while you cannot keep an eye on him prevents him from wondering into another room to potty. When you take him to the proper potty place, you can reward him for doing his business. With time and consistency, he will want to potty in the right place, because you have positively conditioned him to do so!
Training Starts Now
The very first thing you should do with your puppy is begin training. This does not mean that you should begin a full training session before stepping foot indoors, but it does mean that the moment your puppy becomes yours, you should jump straight into his schedule! Dogs rely on schedules, and your puppy is no different. If he is given the ability to potty at the correct times, eat at specific times and given ample exercise and play times you have already started training! Puppies learn from repetition, and a schedule will get his mind and body in sync with the schedule you have made for him.
Even if your puppy is meant to be yours and yours alone, ask others to chip in on his care. Puppy care can be a difficult and daunting task to do it right all alone. Puppies need a potty break every hour or hour-and-a-half. If this doesn’t fit your schedule, ask a close friend of family member to do it and get them involved in your puppy’s life. It will be both rewarding for you, your friend or family member as well as your puppy. There may be times when you cannot be there when your puppy is in need, and it is helpful for him to learn to continue his schedule, even when it is with another person.
It’s Cute Now, But Not Later
Your puppy’s jumping and barking may be cute now, but when that little Labrador grows into an extra-large canine, it will just be annoying! A large, or even medium sized dog can easily knock over a person, making it a dangerous behavior to learn. Begin your puppy’s obedience by reinforcing behaviors like: no pawing, jumping, or being forceful with others in order to get what he wants. It’s simple to teach. First, hold a toy or treat that your puppy wants and wait. Then, he will get excited, jump, bark, or even lay down. These are all typical behaviors puppies use to get what they want. Finally, the moment he gives up and looks the other way is the moment you reward him by giving him the treat or toy! Continue doing this throughout the day, especially during play sessions. He is learning that he must be polite and gentle to get what he wants.
Consistency is Always Key
You will hear this one a lot, but it is for good reason. If you let your puppy get away with something you have just reinforced bad behavior that you were working to change. Telling yourself, “It’s okay, just this one time,” will simply add confusion to your puppy’s understanding of boundaries. Stick with your puppy’s training regimen and schedule. Remember to keep it training fun. After all, it is just one big game to your puppy. With the right attitude, it can be a fun game for you, too!
Looking for some fun things to do with your dog? Think you’ve tried it all? We’ve compiled a list of activities that should keep you both pretty busy! This list will help with training, exercise, and overall fun for you and your dog.
Agility– in, out, over and through this sport is all about working as a team
Buying a new pet? Introducing a new pet into your family is the same as bringing a new family member into your house. Pets do not just occupy space in your house but also in your daily life. You become responsible for your dog. This includes among your family members, your friends and the community you live in. That is why your choice of pet matters. When buying a pet, impulses and your love for them is strong. However, make sure you give them a good healthy life and a comforting home. There are many things to be considered before buying a new pet or adopting an animal.
Are your family members and the choice of your pet compatible?
The very first thing to consider is, whether the other family member in your house or anyone who shares the room with you is okay with having animals around them. Ask them if they have any special allergies with cats or dogs or any animal in general. If you have kids at home, make sure they are friendly and welcoming towards pets. This is important because your pet will not only be sharing its life with you, but also with everyone else living with you.
Is your house compatible with the choice of your pet?
Your pet may not have a say in choosing where you live, but before bringing a pet home, it is important to make sure whether your place would be suitable for them or not. If you are getting a dog, you would have to make sure your house has enough space for them to play around, run and have their own little space.
You also have to make sure your house is fenced, so your pets do not get out. Moreover, the temperature of that place should also be considered. If you live in a place with a hot climate, it is essential for you to make a shady and cool living area for your pet so they can remain unaffected by the heat.
Does your community or your apartments allow pet?
It is understandable that you cannot get a pet if your housing community or your living facility does not allow pets in homes. There might be some exceptions even in such buildings, and they may allow some kind of animals as pet. So, it is better that before buying pet, you discuss it with your property owner about the rules and regulations related to keeping pets in your building.
Is your lifestyle compatible with your choice of pet?
We live in times where most of our time is spent outside of the home. We do not really have much time on our hands left by the end of the day and time is the most important thing your pet would want from you. Dogs are very friendly and they need you around them most of time. Therefore, if you know you cannot make time for them, you should not adopt a pet. However, if you already have decided to get one, then make sure you have someone at home to take care of it and take it on walks everyday in your absence.
While many dog owners believe their dog to be the friendly sort, and they very well may be, the act of socialization goes far beyond just saying his to house guests. It goes beyond meeting new people, trips to the Dog Park and doggy play dates, too! Socialization includes items that may be strange to a dog, different floor textures, sounds that can be scary and more. You can start your dog, at any age, down the road to being well socialized with patience and care.
The Fear Periods
While all dogs are continuously learning throughout their lives, including socialization, the two fear periods in a puppy’s growth are probably the most impressionable. These two times in your puppy’s life are when objects, people, other animals and dogs can hardwire a certain emotion and reaction in your dog. The experiences he has during his fear periods are the ones that he will carry with him for the rest of his life, even the bad ones. This is why trainers, breeders, rescuers and veterinarians always stress socialization during puppy hood, because these emotions and behaviors that your puppy learns at this time become difficult to change in the future.
The first fear period
The first fear period will begin before your puppy is even weaned at four weeks old. If your puppy came from, or is coming from a breeder then it is up to your breeder to begin socialization at or before this time in your puppy’s life. The same can be said for a rescue or shelter! It is incredibly important for a puppy at the beginning of his four weeks of life to begin learning new things and have a positive exposure to things that may seem scary to a dog. This first fear period ends at about twelve weeks of age, which means you will receive your puppy during his first fear period! This is a prime opportunity to begin training immediately and form a wonderful bond with your puppy.
The second fear period
The second fear period is a guess, as each individual puppy may be slightly different. It can occur anywhere between seven and eight months of age and lasts for two weeks. During this time you may see more flighty behavior from your puppy, hence the name fear period! It helps to know your puppy well so you can realize quickly that he has entered his second fear period. While socialization should be taking part on a regular basis no matter what your dogs’ age is, this is the most ideal time to introduce him, or reinforce socialization with items and people specifically as well as work on preventative training so your dog will not become reactive in the future.
Exposure vs. Experience
Exposure is needed to socialize a dog, whether you are working on introducing him to umbrellas or other animals. However, exposure alone will not socialize your dog! The key to a well socialized dog is the brief, positive experience he goes through while the exposure is taking place. This does not mean you need to give your dog a treat after he cautiously explore a scary hat on the ground, but instead encourage him to explore it more and when he’s done give praise and move on. It literally can take minutes to socialize your dog with an item!
When it comes to socializing your dog with people, especially if you have a shy dog, the trick is not to force him to allow others to pet him. Forcing your dog to let strangers put their hands on him will work against you in socialization. If your dog is shy, let him just observe people, and when a stranger asks to pet your dog don’t feel obligated to let them. Just kindly tell the person your dog is in training, and most people will happily accept and understand to respect your dog’s space.
When your dog becomes interested in the people, and not providing fearful or cautious behaviors, like leanings towards someone without stretching out his back legs (as this allows him a quick exit,) you can allow a person to pet him. Ask the person to kneel at his level, while providing their side not chest in his direction and let your dog approach. This makes the person look inviting instead of threatening, and gives your dog the ability to have a positive social experience with a stranger. Once should be plenty for a shy dog, but an outgoing pup may want to meet humans as many as possible!
Dogs learn for life. No dog is too old to learn new things, not even socialization! If you adopted an adult or senior dog, don’t feel as if you don’t need to help him become comfortable with new or strange things. Even if something is scary to him, he will love to learn something new and be more confident instead of fearful. Never stop teaching any dog new things, especially when it comes to socialization!
Family Puppy Meeting: who will feed the puppy and when, who will take the puppy out to potty and when, and who will take the little guy to the vet for vaccinations and deworming. Another topic for discussion was an agreement on the language that the family will use to teach the puppy.
Your veterinarian, kennel owner, day care provider or groomer says your dog should/must be vaccinated against kennel cough, but you’re trying not to over-vaccinate.
What should you do?
More and more, pet parents are finding another vet, kennel owner, day care provider or groomer — or keeping their dog at home! Vaccination is a serious medical procedure with significant potential risks. If that isn’t enough, the vaccine isunlikely to prevent kennel cough. It can even produce kennel-cough like symptoms. The WSAVA Guidelines say, “Transient (3–10 days) coughing, sneezing, or nasal discharge may occur in a small percentage of vaccinates.” It can also cause a serious anaphylactoid reaction. Look it up. You won’t like it.
About kennels, day care providers and groomers: In general, if they have good ventilation and practice good hygiene, kennel cough shouldn’t be an issue. Bordetella is not for dogs playing together in well-ventilated areas — like dog parks or backyards or living rooms.
Think of kennel cough as a canine cold, transmitted as human colds are transmitted — from an infected individual in close contact with another individual with compromised immunity. Like a cold, it is also considered a mild self-limiting disease. A veterinarian friend uses an OTC remedy called B & T Cough and Bronchial Syrup to treat the cough. For small dogs she uses the children’s variety. See your vet for further treatment information.
If your service provider is afraid your dog will contract kennel cough at their establishment, offer to sign a letter of informed consent saying you’ve been informed of the risk and will waive liability. That should do it. Should. It’s really just liability at issue, not your dog’s overall health.
If the person insisting on the Bordetella vaccine is afraid other dogs at their establishment will contract kennel cough from your unvaccinated dog, this person clearly doesn’t trust that thevaccinated dogs actually have immunity. If they don’t believe the vaccine is protective, why insist that you or anyone else vaccinate?
Note: If you decide to give the vaccine, make sure it is the intranasal form, that is, given as nose drops, not injected. And give the vaccine at least a week before contact with other dogs, for the sake of both your dog and other dogs.
Don’t take my word for any of this. Read what two vets and a PhD have to say about the Bordetella vaccine:
World-renowned vaccination scientist, Dr. Ronald Schultz, says [emphasis is mine]: “Many animals receive “kennel cough” vaccines that include Bordetella and CPI and/or CAV-2 every 6 to 9 monthswithout evidence that this frequency of vaccination is necessary or beneficial. In contrast, other dogs are never vaccinated for kennel cough and disease is not seen. CPI immunity lasts at least 3 years when given intranasally, and CAV -2 immunity lasts a minimum of 7 years parenterally for CAV-I. These two viruses in combination with Bordetella bronchiseptica are the agents most often associated with kennel cough, however, other factors play an important role in disease (e.g. stress, dust, humidity, molds, mycoplasma, etc.), thus kennel cough is not a vaccine preventable diseasebecause of the complex factors associated with this disease. Furthermore, this is often a mild to moderate self limiting disease. I refer to it as the ‘Canine Cold.’”
For pet owners, a crate may offer several benefits such as: aiding with house training (as dogs do not like to soil the area where they sleep), limiting their pets’ access to the rest of the house, and as a safe way to travel. However, for a dog, a crate is much more. Dogs are instinctively den animals. Their crates serve as their “den.” Dogs prefer using their crates as a safe place to sleep or take refuge, just as they would use a den to do so in the wild.
It is important for owners to foster that sense of security that a dog feels about their crate rather than creating a mood of feeling trapped or frustrated. Some common mistakes that would cause a dog to experience anxiety while crating them would be: to use a crate as punishment, to leave a dog in their crate for too long without getting human interaction or exercise, confining puppies in crates for longer than 3 hours (which is too long for a puppy to be expected to hold his or her bladder).
Picking the Right Crate for Your Pet
A crate should be the right size for your dog, which would allow your dog to stand up and turn around comfortably. A crate that is too large may be more difficult to use while house training a dog, since the dog may have room to potty in one corner and sleep in another. Some options for puppy owners are: renting a smaller crate from a local animal shelter until their puppy is full grown, and then purchase a crate that is the right size for their full grown dog or simply blocking off the excess crate area while the puppy is small.
Crate Training Tips
Crate training should only take days or weeks depending on each individual dog. Owners should make sure that the process is a positive one for the dog and that they are going at the dog’s pace and not forcing it. Here are some simple steps to make the process go smoothly:
1.Introduce the dog to their new crate- Place the crate in an area where the dog is comfortable and make the crate a relaxing get-away by placing a blanket, towel, toys, and/or treats inside. The dog will become naturally curious about the crate and want to check it out.
2.Feed near the crate- A dog will begin to develop a positive association between the crate and meal times, if fed nearby the crate.
3.Start with short intervals- Owners should first crate their pets for short periods of time while still home, to get them used to the idea.
4.Crate when leaving home- Once the dog has shown that he/she can be crated for longer and longer intervals without anxiety, then they are ready to be crated while the owner leaves home. Owners can use a command and/or treat routinely to prompt their dogs to enter the crate.
5.Crating through the night- At first, owners should place the crate near their bedrooms, so their pets can feel secure that they are close to their owners while still crated. Puppies and older pets should be let out to potty even during the night, as their bladders are not capable of holding through the entire night. The owner can then incrementally move the crate further and further away from the bedroom, once the pet has become accustomed to sleeping in the crate overnight.
Although crate training does offer many benefits to both owners and pets, owners should be aware of some side-effects along the way. While crate training, puppies especially, may whine or cry. Although it is important to make sure that you are not reinforcing the whining behavior by letting the dog out of the crate prematurely, it is also important to give the pet plenty of opportunities to potty. One way to do so would be to have potty breaks at specific times so the pet has a routine, and knows to expect a potty break at a certain time rather than whenever he/she whines. Another possible side-effect is separation anxiety, which may be managed through consulting with a professional animal-behavior specialist. If a pet is displaying signs of hurting himself/herself while attempting to escape the crate or of being especially destructive, please seek help for your pet in order to overcome their separation anxiety.
Information obtained from Human Society 8/17/11. For more information on this topic and many others, please visit their website at: www.humanesociety.org