Month: September 2013 (Page 1 of 3)

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Puppy Mouth Training

Dog Separation Anxiety

Adopting A Rescue Dog

Dog Forum

Buying A Puppy


Choosing A Puppy

Choosing A Dog Leash

Choosing A Training Collar

Choosing A Dog Bed

Clipping Your Dogs Claws

Why Use A Hepa Filter?

Coping With A Dog Allergy

Stopping Your Dog Jumping Up

Puppy Socialization

Cleaning Your Dog’s Teeth

Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

Cleaning Your Dog’s Eyes

The Come Command

House Training

Dog Obedience Training

Alpha Dog

Dog Psychology

Teaching The ‘Sit’ Command

Teaching The ‘Down’ Command

Teaching The ‘Stay’ Command

Leash Training Your Dog

Dog Grooming

Dog Quotes

Dog Jokes

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Teaching The Stay Command

The stay command is something that should be added after the basic sit and down commands and nice and solid. Your dog should also by now know it’s name and respond to it when called. The stay command is another that is so useful for keeping your dog safe, stopping him from approaching something he shouldn’t like a busy road instance. Use the dog’s lead, attached to his collar, then tell your dog to sit. Praise him and give him a little treat, then hold your hand out, palm facing your dog, and walk backwards one step, saying “stay” in a firm calm voice. If your dog stays where he is then praise him and give him a treat. If he moves, then simply ignore this behavior and start again, taking him back to his starting place and telling him to sit.

Once he has successfully stayed when you take one step back, you can gradually increase this to two three and four steps. Take it slowly and be patient – it can be very confusing for your dog is you hurry things or get frustrated with him. Repetition is the key to success, but make training sessions short and always make sure your dog is happy and having fun. He’ll learn much more quickly that way!

Soon you’ll be able to dispense with the lead, and take ten or twenty steps away from him. You will need to decide on a release command that you use each time to tell the dog he can move. The stay command can be used in many ways – try walking around your dog, or just walking a short distance away, sitting down and making him wait for one, two three then four minutes. Remember to lavishly praise your dog when you release him from the stay command.

Once your dog has successfully learned the sit, down and stay commands, it’s time to start leash training.

Choosing A Puppy

Deciding to get a puppy is a big decision and not one to be rushed into. Never buy a puppy on impulse and always do plenty of research about the type of dog that will suit you, your family and your home. It is a good idea to talk to dog owners about their breed of dog, borrow books from the library and read information on the Internet about the different breeds of dog that might interest you. Remember that a puppy will grow into an adult dog with a temperament, personality and needs all of its own. You will need to think about who is going to walk the dog, are your house and garden big enough for the breed you have in mind, who will care for the dog when you go on holiday, who can walk it if you are ill or unavoidably detained away from home. These are very important questions to think about before getting a puppy – a dog is a big responsibility for many years and you must take this seriously. Also consider the cost of caring for a dog. Food, beds, training classes, puppy crates, chews, toys and other equipment cost a considerable amount of money and vaccinations and vet’s bills are expensive, even if your dog remains in good health. Do you have the means to pay for treatment for illnesses and injuries? Sometimes dogs, like people, will have illnesses that require expensive medicine, sometimes this will be required every day for the rest of their lives. Are you willing and able to take on this responsibility? Getting a puppy should be fun, but it must also be very carefully considered to ensure that you and your dog are prepared for the future.

So, having considered all of the above, you must look at your lifestyle and see what dog suits you and your family. Do you have the time and enjoy long walks every day? If not, don’t consider an energetic breed such as a Dalmatian, Border Collie or a Doberman. Every dog needs walking but certain breeds go cranky without a very large amount of exercise. Are you looking for a dog to go running with you? Then don’t choose a small breed that cannot tolerate too much exercise. Do you have children? Are you planning or likely to have children in the future? Remember, dogs live for many years and you need to plan for their happiness and security in the future. It’s not fair to get a dog then give him away if your circumstances change. So, if children are a part of your life, or likely to be in the next ten or more years, you must get a breed that is known to get along with children easily, such as a Labrador. But bear in mind that dogs and children still need supervising while playing together to ensure safety.

Another consideration is that of allergies. Many people have allergies these days and many more develop them each day. There is not such thing as a hypo-allergenic breed of dogs, no matter what you may read. Make sure that you and your family are not susceptible to dog allergy by spending time with a friend’s dog. Perhaps you could have a dog to stay with you for a week or so, during a friend’s holiday, and monitor how everyone reacts. If sneezing, wheezing and itchy skin reactions are evident, it is better not to get a dog. These allergies do not disappear and will more likely become serious health issues over time. Dogs need to live in the house with its family – never consider getting a dog and making it live outside due to allergy problems. Dogs are social animals and need affection and contact from their family.

Remember that having a puppy in the house generally means more housework. They shed fur, they crunch up biscuits on the carpet, they come into the house with mud on their paws and coat and are sometimes destructive with furniture, shoes, books and other items in the house. Are you able to cope with this? If you enjoy a fastidiously clean house, then maybe you wouldn’t make a good dog owner. Certain breeds shed less fur than others so that’s worth considering when deciding which breed, if any, would suit you.

In all, the key here is to give yourself a lot of time to consider if a dog is really for you, and if so, which breed would truly suit your lifestyle and family circumstances, both now and in the foreseeable future. A dog can truly be a joy in your life, but only if you’re prepared for the reality of taking on such a responsibility.

Clipping Your Dog's Claws

(These notes are for guidance only. Please ensure that you seek veterinary advice to avoid hurting or injuring your dog during claw-clipping.)

Although most dogs do not enjoy having their claws clipped, it is sometimes necessary as allowing them to grow too long can cause other health problems in the paws and even further up in the legs. It is best to start with a regular clipping routine whilst a dog is young so they become accustomed to it and aren’t scared or nervous. If a dog is confident and happy, they may well sit on your lap or quietly on a table while you clip their claws. Other dogs may need to be carefully restrained to prevent sudden movements during the clipping session. You may need to ask someone to help you by holding your dog while you clip their claws.

Firstly, make sure you have the right tool for the job. Buy some high-quality dog claw clippers and keep them sharp and in good repair. There are two types available, a guillotine type and a scissor type. Many dog owners agree that the guillotine type is easier to use. The scissor type is more often used for curling claws such as the dew claw, to clip it and stop it from ingrowing, although the claw can usually be gently pulled away from the skin to allow the guillotine clippers to be slid over the claw for cutting purposes. The cutting blade on guillotine cutters should be replaced immediately when they begin to lose their sharpness.

Dark-colored or multi-colored claws should be cut carefully to avoid cutting into the “quick”, the live area of the claw that contains the blood vessels and nerves. Cut the claw in several tiny pieces – as you cut, look carefully at the cross-section of the claw. When you see a grey-pink oval begin to appear at the top of the cut surface, you should stop cutting as you are approaching the quick.

In paler claws, the quick can be seen through the claw so it obvious where to cut. Never cut closer than 2mm of the quick as this may hurt your dog or make the claw bleed. If in doubt, ask your vet for advice or assistance.

Dog Grooming Tips

The importance of a good grooming routine for your dog cannot be overemphasized. It helps remove dead hair and dirt, spreading the natural oils from the skin through the coat to moisturize it and make the fur shiny and healthy. The act of grooming is also a wonderful way to bond with your dog, giving him affection and attention while caring for him at the same time. Perhaps more importantly, grooming reinforces your position as the alpha dog

which is vital to ensure the happiness and mental well-being of your dog.

It is important to get your dog used to being groomed from a young age. Certain breeds with long fur and who shed a lot, should be groomed most days. This prevents mats and tangles that could otherwise be very difficult to deal with. Grooming is good for you dog and good for you too, as there will be less fur on your carpets in the house! Breeds that need frequent grooming to prevent tangles and keep their coats healthy include the Cocker Spaniel, Afghan Hound, Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, Newfoundland, Samoyed, long-coated St. Bernard, Maltese, English Toy Spaniel, Pomeranian, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier, Silky Terrier, Australian Terrier, Bichon Frisé, Chow Chow, Tibetan Spaniel, Tibetan Terrier, Finnish Spitz, American Eskimo, Bearded Collie, Old English Sheepdog, Collie, Briard, and Shetland Sheepdog.

Make sure you buy good quality brushes and combs, specially designed for your dog’s length and texture of coat. Keep the brushes and combs clean and in good condition and replace immediately if there is any sign of wear or damage.

Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth

Dogs, just like humans, can suffer from tooth decay and tartar build-up leading to gum disease. The best way to prevent this is to feed your dog only foods that will not damage his teeth. Avoid all sugary foods and give him plenty of dog biscuits and chews that are especially designed to clean the teeth and remove plaque. Check his teeth regularly for early signs of problems and make sure your dog gets used to you opening his mouth and is comfortable with you gently inspecting and touching his teeth. If you feel that your dog needs extra help, or your vet has advised cleaning his teeth, then make sure you use a brush (or similar recommended item) and toothpaste especially designed for dogs. Human toothpaste is not recommended for dogs as dogs cannot spit it out – it is not edible and could damage your dog’s health. You will find there is a variety of flavors of dog toothpaste, so start by finding one he enjoys. So, when you and your dog are ready to begin, get into a position where you can restrain your dog (or get someone to help) and access your dog’s teeth comfortably. Carefully lift your dog’s upper lip and begin to brush in a circular motion, in a similar way as you would brush your own teeth. Be sure to brush where the tooth meets the gum-line. Don’t forget to get the very back teeth, since this is where your dog is most likely to develop problems. When you are finished the top, move on to the bottom in the same fashion.

Remember to praise your dog and give him a teeth-healthy doggy treat when you’re done so he’ll look forward to his next teeth-cleaning session.

Buying a Puppy

Before buying a puppy, read my article about choosing and buying a puppy. This will help you focus on what kind of dog suits you, your family and your circumstances, both present and future. You need to think about the different breeds of dog, but you might also decide that an adult dog would be better for you and your family than a puppy.

If you do decide to buy a puppy and you have researched the breed you are interested in, here is some basic advice to help you avoid mistakes.

The first rule is never buy from a pet shop, always buy direct from a reputable breeder. Contact several breeders and talk to them about the breed in general and about their breeding practices and policies. Visit them and ask them about genetic problems that the breed is prone to and how they avoid them in their puppies. A reputable breeder will have a policy of screening their parent dogs for hereditary diseases, thus giving their puppies the best possible prospects of a long, healthy life. This is also the time to ensure that the breeder holds all relevant legal paperwork.

Choose a breeder that inspires you with confidence and really cares about the dogs and puppies. Discuss the price and make sure that it is within your budget, bearing in mind all the other costs of having a new dog. Also keep in mind that a breeder that charges more may well be better, as they spend more on their dogs, puppies, vets fees etc.

When choosing a puppy, make sure you see the litter with their dame, preferably see both parent dogs. Look at the puppies carefully for signs of ill-health. Puppies sleep a lot but once awake, they should be active, alert and energetic. Inspect the general environment that the dogs are in – is it clean and comfortable? Do the dogs have everything they need – fresh water, clean bedding, a dry, clean room at a comfortable temperature? Do the dogs and puppies respond well and in a friendly manner to the breeder?

Look for signs of diarrhea, vomitting, bloated stomach (a sign of worms), discharge from eyes and nose (a sign of a bacterial or viral infection) and never buy a puppy with any signs of ill-health. Leaving the litter and dame and going in to a new environment is stressful on a puppy in the best of health, but an ill puppy will quickly deteriorate. It is the breeder’s responsibility to care for the puppies and get them into good health before they can go to a new home.

You should receive a written health guarantee from the breeder that allows you to return the puppy within 72 hours for a full refund if any disease is found by you or your vet within that period. This sounds heartless to some people – how can you return a poor sick little puppy? – but the point is to put the onus of repsonsibility onto the breeder to care for the dogs and puppies in his charge and provide healthy puppies to new owners.

Once you see a puppy that you are interested in, ask to see it away from the litter and the dame. You need to get an idea of how this puppy will respond to you one-to-one once you get it home. If you decide it’s the puppy for you, go ahead with the purchase but make sure that all the paperwork is in order. A good breeder should be happy for you to phone them to ask questions and advice after you get the puppy home.

You should already have prepared your home for your new dog. A comfortable bed, food and water bowls, collar and leash and some safe chew toys should be ready for your new companion, plus a dog crate if you have decided to use one. It is usually advisable to keep the puppy on the same food as the breeder was feeding him, at least to start with. This can gradually be changed over the following week if you prefer a different brand, by blending the existing food with the new one. Sudden changes could upset the puppies tummy, so take your time with this.

Read my other articles for help with house training and generally caring for you new dog.

Puppy Mouth Training

This is a short guide to training your puppy to stop chewing your furniture and to play-bite appropriately. This will give your puppy a good grounding in canine manners which will help prevent him becoming an adult dog that bites or a dog that is destructive in the house when left alone.

Bite Inhibition

The first thing to teach your puppy is bite inhibition. This is the process where you show your puppy that it is advantageous for him to play-bite or mouth softly. Puppies have weak jaws and exceptionally sharp teeth and they always use biting and mouthing as a way of playing with each other, with adult dogs and with humans. If a litter of puppies are playing together, there will be a loud yelp and a halt to the play if one of the puppies bites too hard. Once the puppy is away from his littermates, you must continue this instruction so he learns what is correct behavior. The way to do this is to play with him every day for a minimum of four weeks (little and often is always best in puppy training), allowing him to play-bite until he nips too hard. You must say “ouch” straight away, loudly enough to stop and startle the puppy, then turn away and stop playing for a couple of minutes. Resume play, only stopping when he nips to hard again and repeat the procedure. He will soon learn what he needs to do to keep the game going. When you want to stop playing, even when he is being gentle, praise him and give him a little treat so he knows that he has been good and is not being punished. As your puppy matures you will need to make the rules of the more strict. After four weeks of the above method, switch to say “ouch” every time his teeth make contact with your skin. Ignore him for several minutes, then start again, thus encouraging him to have a “soft mouth” when playing.

Chewing

Chewing is a common problem with dogs that are left alone in the house or car, and a lot of damage can be done in just a few short minutes. Training your puppy or dog to chew on appropriate objects is very often a successful way of avoiding a lot of damage of treasured items around the home. You must also train yourself and your family to put away precious items and not leave things out in accessible places. This will help your dog to learn that there is usually nothing of interest on the table or the kitchen counters and he will learn not to look or search there. You can only scold your dog for chewing something if you catch him in the act. If you arrive home to find some damage, scolding him will only increase his anxiety next time you are out and he anticipates your angry return. He will not be able to make a link between his previous behavior (which has already forgotten) and your scolding. If you do catch him chewing something he shouldn’t, shout “off” and give him an appropriate toy or chew. Provide him with plenty of these and praise him whenever he chews them. Do not give him old shoes to play with as he cannot distinguish which is old and which is new and precious. A rubber kong is great, especially when stuffed with kibble or some other tasty treats, and raw hide chews from the pet shop are also ideal. Be sure to inspect the chews and toys regularly and make sure there are no small pieces that your dog could choke on.

You may also wish to protect your furniture with a special bitter-tasting spray from the pet shop which discourages chewing. Until he truly understands chewing rules, never leave him alone with access to inappropriate chewables.

If chewing and destructive behavior continue to be a problem, you may find it helpful to read my article on separation anxiety as this often plays a role in these types of issues.

Puppy Socialization

People often talk of the importance of socializing your puppy, but what exactly does that mean? And how does one put it into practice? This article will help to explain exactly what socialization is and how to implement it to minimize behavioural problems later in life and to ensure that your dog is able to interact well with other dogs and other species.

Socialization is the process whereby a puppy is given the opportunity to communicate and build relationships with other dogs, with people of different ages, races and genders, and with other animals, such as domestic and farm animals. Through socialization, the puppy will learn the necessary skills to interact with people and other animals, thus avoiding unnecessary stress or nervous aggression. The dog will also learn to cope with a variety of social situations and will be less likely to overwhelmed by stress as an adult. The term “socialization” often includes habituation, that is, where a puppy is introduced to different places, sights and sounds so that she becomes confident in coping with new situations and gets used to as many different stimuli as possible.

There are specific times in a puppy’s development that are more sensitive than others. The most important socialization period is between 3 weeks of age and around 12 weeks. Peak sensitivity is between 6 and 8 weeks of age. It should be stressed that most dogs will need continued social interaction to maintain their socialization and failure to do so will mean that they may become fearful and display nervous aggression. The period between 6 and 8 months is another important time for socialization and owners and trainers should use this time to reinforce socialization and introduce their dog to more surroundings, people and animals.

So, having looked at the advantages of socialization and the periods when it is most effective, we must now look at how to put it into practice. As a general rule, your puppy be introduced to new stimuli, people and animals in a careful and controlled fashion. Bear in mind that these formative experiences will affect the behaviour of your puppy for the rest of her life, so you must make them pleasurable and fun. They should give your dog something to think about, but if carried out in the right way, your puppy will learn that there is no threat and she is safe to explore and meet new friends and situations without being fearful. This will give her the best possible chance of developing a good temperament and capacity to cope in a large variety of situations.

The earliest part of a puppy’s socialization is carried out by the breeder, so if you choose a good breeder you can have confidence that they will have ensured that the puppies were handled frequently, as well as being exposed to normal household stimuli such as the television, vacuum cleaner, washing machine, doorbell etc. Puppies who are raised in too quiet an environment may have trouble getting used to a normal family environment.

So when you get your puppy home with you, it is your job to continue carefully socializing her with different people, animals and other stimuli. Remember the importance of introducing the puppy to new people, places, objects and situations only when you are in complete control of what is going on. A frightening experience will often be detrimental to your puppy’s confidence and development – avoid aggressive dogs and adults or children who do not understand how to be kind and gentle with animals. It’s a good idea to invite friends to your house soon after you bring your puppy home so she can quickly learn that guests are welcome in her new home. Give your friends small treats to give to the puppy so she is rewarded for successfully interacting with them. Try introducing her to one or two other friendly, healthy, fully-vaccinated dogs – she can join in with bigger groups once she has all her shots and has learned some interactive skills and has over-come any initial fears. Be vigilant during these sessions and always be ready to intervene if your puppy is scared, threatened or being bullied by another dog.

When socializing your puppy, it is important to evaluate your home and surroundings and assess what situations are lacking. For instance, if you live in the country, take your puppy to town and gradually and carefully let her become accustomed to crowds of people, noise and cars. Conversely, if you live in a town and these things are no problem, take your puppy to the countryside so she can see and smell farm animals and become accustomed to their proximity. In the same vein, make sure your dog meets some cats and other domestic animals who are dog-friendly. Don’t let her chase them as this will start a life-long habit that will be difficult to break. If you have no children, be sure to introduce your puppy to some children who can regularly play gently with her. Always supervise them to ensure the children are gentle and that your dog is responding well and not becoming nervous or aggressive.

During the process of socialization, it is important to always protect your puppy’s health before she is fully vaccinated. Don’t put her down on the ground where there may be dog urine or faeces, and don’t let her interact with other dogs that may not be vaccinated or may carry disease. You can still socialize your puppy by carrying her into different situations and taking her in the car, allowing her to see many different things from a safe environment – she will also get used to trips in the car at the same time. Use treats and praise to reinforce good behaviour. Do not comfort your puppy if she is fearful as this can be interpreted as praise for the wrong behaviour. Simply control the situation by asking people to back off or control their dogs, until she feels safe and secure once more.
All interaction with your puppy at this age involves consistently rewarding desirable behaviour which will increase the likelihood the dog will repeat this behaviour. It will also help to prevent the development of undesirable behaviour.

Another helpful step would be to enroll in puppy socialization and training class. This provides a great opportunity for puppies to socialize with other dogs, for puppies to learn obedience training in a playful environment with plenty of distractions and also for owners to learn training and communication techniques.

Why use a HEPA filter?

If you suffer from a dog allergy, a HEPA filter is a great tool in your fight against dog allergens. A HEPA filter is a High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter which is incredibly effective and can filter out 99.97% of air contaminants down to the minuscule size of 0.3 microns in size. To put that into context, pollens are usually between ten and one hundred microns in size and normal household dust is from 0.5 and 5 microns. The size of the air contaminants is important because the smaller they are, the more problems they can cause for asthmatics and allergy sufferers. Small air contaminants such as pollens and dog and cat allergens are blown around easily and are also small enough to easily penetrate the lungs and nasal passages. The first HEPA filter was launched in the 1940s and they are composed of a mat of randomly arranged fibers that effectively trap the particles moving through it. The filter itself must be washed and/or replaced regularly so always follow the manufacturers instructions for optimum performance.

So, the HEPA air filter is a valuable tool for all allergy sufferers as it effectively filters out the dander and allergens that provoke those troublesome symptoms. Some vacuum cleaners have a built-in HEPA filter to ensure that the air that is blown out of the cleaner is free from dust and allergens.

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