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A Word About Puppies

A Word About Puppies:      

Spring has arrived. Soon lots of people will be purchasing puppies, possibly for the first time. Please, please, please avoid getting your puppy from a puppy milI. Many people do not know that in our area Lancaster, Pennsylvania and the surrounding towns are a huge puppy mill area. Mill breeders do not care about the temperament or the health of their litters. They do not care about the health or temperament of their breeding dogs! They are strictly in it for the money.

Let’s talk a little about the work that lies ahead for you so you can ensure your puppy becomes the most wonderful companion pet who has no major behavior problems.

Avoid getting your puppy during the winter months. You will have a difficult time house-training your pup to go outside due to bad-weather days and nights. You will also have a much more difficult time getting the puppy out for walks and socialization, both of which are hugely important for all puppies! Avoid giving a new puppy as a gift unless that recipient is with you to select the puppy. Make sure you research the breed that you are thinking about getting, as well as the breeder! Your puppy’s breed will determine some of his future behaviors. If you’re shopping for a puppy, be sure to meet and interact with the puppy’s mom and dad. Afterall, they are the basis that forms your puppy’s genetic makeup. Even if you see a puppy that you fall madly in love with, think {Red Flag !} if the breeder won’t allow you to meet the parents (especially the mom who has enormous influence on her babies), if you see any unfriendliness from either of the parents to your family or even toward any of the litter, or if you notice that the puppy you are most attracted to… is not so attracted to you (puppy comes to sniff you, but is mostly interested in playing with its siblings, or hanging with its mom)!

Avoid bringing your puppy home before s/he is 8 weeks old! Dogs need to be with their moms and littermates at least until then in order to learn important things, like dog to dog social skills and bite inhibition! Puppies who are taken from their litter before 8 weeks will play-bite using a lot harder pressure than puppies brought home at 8 weeks. They may also be lacking in dog-dog social skills! If a breeder seems too anxious to release the puppies before then, that is another {Red Flag !} that the breeder just wants to get rid of the pups and get paid. Also, don’t let the breeder convince you to take 2 littermates! That’s not always the best choice for the humans or those dogs 🙁

Make sure you’re going to be able to get your puppy out for frequent potty breaks. Crating puppies for long periods of time is very counterproductive and can actually cause significant behavior problems to develop. Make sure you have the time to exercise your new puppy, get the kids off to school, go to work, and still be able to meet your puppy’s basic needs. Puppies are a lot of work! You will need to devote time for your new puppy if you want to avoid house-training accidents, chewing and other destructive behaviors. One more bit of absolutely free advice: make sure to teach your puppy how to be alone! From day 2, begin leaving puppy in the crate alone for 10 minutes, then 15 minutes while slowly building up to longer periods of time each day. Rule of thumb for leaving dogs alone in the crate go something like this: At 2 months, leave pup alone for no longer than 1 hour (after doing some “alone” training); at 3 months, leave pup alone for 2 hours, at 4 months, leave pup alone for 3 hours, and so that’s how it goes. I can’t tell you how many dogs develop severe separation anxiety because owners neglect to teach the dog to be alone when they’re very young puppies. If you are a teacher, or your children are off from school for the summer, we often see dogs that do develop separation anxiety because someone has been home for months and suddenly nobody is home come September!

When you get your new puppy or you adopt a new adult dog, do not make the mistake of spoiling him. All too often, we rescue dogs that have had unfortunate past lives and we feel that we have to make it up to them by giving him everything they want. Spoiling a dog will not show him you love him and it will not make up for all that went wrong in his life before he came to you! By spoiling him, you will only be telling him that you’re weak and can’t implement rules. Dogs absolutely need to know there are rules to follow (just like human children). If you give your puppies or dogs everything they want, they will become obnoxious and demanding! Avoid allowing your dogs to get up on furniture or to sleep in your bed or your children’s beds without getting permission (it’s best to wait until puppy is at least 1 year before allowing him to sleep in the bed). Avoid giving your puppies and dogs treats just because they’re cute and breathing! Also, avoid mindlessly petting your dogs. Use treats and petting as a reward because they’ve offered appropriate behaviors that you like.

How Do You Know When Your Dog Needs Training?

All puppies and dogs need at least basic training in manners and self-control. An untrained dog is like an untrained child. As with our children, dogs must learn that there are rules to follow in their lives in order to live successfully with us in a domestic environment. Your dog needs to learn that you are his trusted guide and teacher, you control all the good and necessary resources in his life, and you make all of the critical decisions that affect his safety and well-being. Training also provides us with the ability to communicate to our pup or rescue dog about what we want our dogs to do. I only train in the home, but for young puppies I send my clients to a facility in West Berlin, called Wonderdogs (www.wonderdogs.com) for puppy class. Puppies will get those basic skills there, but they will also play with one another and learn proper dog-dog etiquette.

If your dog won’t listen to you, train him to pay attention! If your dog won’t come when called, train him to come to you! If your dog pulls you when you walk, train him to walk on a loose leash! He will not figure out how to perform good behaviors unless and until you teach him!

If you train your dog at a very early age at 8-12 weeks your dog will be much less inclined to develop major behavior problems throughout its life (although I advise training dogs until they’re 2 years old). If you neglect early training, you may experience some of the following problems with any breed at any age:

  • Jumping on guests and children
  • Digging holes in your yard
  • Stealing things just to get your attention
  • Excessive barking both in the home and outside
  • Pushy and demanding behaviors
  • Nipping and mouthiness
  • Rude behavior with other dogs
  • Anxious and fear-related behaviors
  • Dog can become out of control
  • Food and object possessiveness
  • Pulling on leash
  • Will not come when called
  • Inattentiveness to you
  • Dog to dog aggressiveness
  • Dog to human aggressiveness

One last point: avoid all harsh punishments. Avoid saying “BAD DOG” or “WHAT DID YOU DO?” Don’t think for even a second that your dog feels guilty or knew he did wrong. Cowering, looking away or running away from you is NOT GUILT. It’s your dog needing to feel safe until you become safe to be with again!

Good Luck!

Activities for Separation-Anxious Dogs

KEEP YOUR SEPARATION-ANXIOUS (OR BORED DOGS) BUSY WHEN YOU’RE NOT HOME

Click on these links to get some really wonderful ideas to keep dogs busy, calm, and especially mentally stimulated:

Make your dog tired BEFORE you leave by playing with these toys:

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=videos+of+dogs+playing+with+a+flirt+pole#id=1&vid=340cb13de9fa62081ac60de60627cf81&action=click

Hurrik9 Starter Pack, Launcher and Rings with Free Shipping!

Keep your dog calm by playing this music. However, don’t use the music as a cue that you’re leaving! Play it randomly throughout the day for at least a week! Here you go, as this will help keep you calm too :-):

Good luck!

NO JUMPING!

“NO JUMPING!”

Jumping up on people is an attention-seeking behavior. So telling your dog, “no jumping” is actually reinforcing the behavior because… you’re giving the dog attention by speaking to him or grabbing  his collar to pull him down.

Jumping on the Family

If your dog jumps up on you and your family, everyone should turn their back and completely ignore him. If he continues to jump, leave the room (duck behind the bathroom door). Be careful not to look at him, talk to him, or touch him! But he may surprise you by walking away from you fairly quickly. Once he does that, life goes back to normal. IF everyone is 100% consistent in ignoring the dog for jumping, this behavior will eventually extinguish. Remember that jumping has become a habit! Be patient.

When coming home from school or work, everyone should:

  • Make initial greetings a non-event. Say hello and continue walking through the house. Take your coat off, change your clothes, and then come back to your dog. He should have calmed down by then.
  • If his attempts to jump up stop, go back to your normal interactions with him.

Jumping on Visitors

This is a hard one! People tell me all the time that visitors LOVE to get their dog all excited and ramped up. Someone may say, “I love when she jumps up!” Or, they get down on the dog’s level and begin roughhousing. YIKES! Here is how to control this:

  • When visitors enter your home, make sure to leash up your dog FIRST. Your dog should be right by your side.
  • Your leash is your best friend. It is a tool that gives you immediate control of your dog.
  • Open your door, and quickly back away with your dog giving your visitor enough room to enter without getting mugged by the dog 😉
  • Ask your visitors if they can help you train your dog not to jump, rather than telling them “don’t do this or that.”
  • You ask your dog to sit. Some people allow others to give their dog obedience commands. But that’s YOUR job. You are in charge, right?
  • When your visitor slowly approaches you and your dog to greet you, If his front paws come up, tell your visitor to quickly back away. Repeat “sit”
  • Have the visitor repeat her approach slowly. If your dog remains in his sit, give him a really tasty treat as a reward. You can also give your visitor a treat to give to reward him. Give lots of calm praise also.
  • WARNING: if you take his leash off at this point and have your visitor walk with you through the house, your dog will jump on her!
  • Keep the leash on your dog and keep him with you for however long it takes for him to settle and calm down.
  • Once he’s calm, take his leash off and let him go sniff your visitor.

Summary

  • Make all greetings by you and your family, and all visitors a non-event.
  • Greeters should not pet the dog.
  • Greeters should not stare at the dog.
  • Greeters should not reach over the dog’s head to pet him.
  • Your dog MUST SIT before being greeted by anyone.
  • The calmer people are during a greeting, the calmer your dog will learn to be when greeting people.

Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A MESSAGE ABOUT CHRISTMAS PUPPIES

Christmas Puppies:

For those of you who are planning to purchase puppies this coming holiday season, please give this idea a lot of thought before you make that final decision. Puppies are a lot of work! Ask yourself if you will have the time to devote to this new baby in order to get him housetrained properly. Will you be able to take him for potty breaks every 1/2 hour to 45 minutes throughout everyday? If you are planning to keep puppy in a crate for 8 hours every weekday while you’re at work, your puppy will not be able to hold his water or bowels for long. Puppies have a bladder the size of a pea! Puppy may wind up soiling his crate and get very upset about having to sleep in a mess.  Not only that, puppies should not be kept confined for that length of time without having a few breaks throughout the day to exercise, socialize, play and potty.

Puppies need to be thoroughly socialized. They need to meet a lot of people by the time they are 12 weeks old! They need to visit all sorts of different places and hear a variety of sounds, and walk on many different surfaces. And… they must play with several healthy, friendly and vaccinated puppies and dogs before that 12 week period is over (consider puppy class)! Will you have the time to devote to getting your pup sufficiently socialized throughout this holiday season? If not, you might wind up with a dog that becomes shy or fearful of everyone and everything he was not exposed to during that short window of socialization.

Sadly, June of every year is a month when shelters begin to see 6-month old dogs being surrendered. These were the puppies that were purchased or adopted during the holiday season. People surrender their dogs at this age because (1) they are now showing shy, fearful and aggressive behaviors due to insufficient socialization, (2) they have not been completely housetrained because nobody had the time to get the dog out often enough for potty breaks, and (3) the novelty of having a puppy has now worn off once everyone realizes how much time and work is involved to raise a puppy. Believe me, it is just as much work as raising a baby.

It is best not to purchase a puppy as a gift. I can’t tell you how many people have called me in January of each year for help  with their puppies, and admit they really didn’t want it. If you want to give someone a puppy as a gift, let them pick the puppy out. If they tell you they do not want a puppy, don’t go ahead and get it for them anyway thinking they’ll  fall in love with it! Most people don’t!

If you are seriously wanting to add a puppy to your family, consider getting him/her in the spring or early summer when the weather is 100% better for taking puppy out for potty breaks, and socializing the puppy with its world.

 

 

Prevent Dogs From Getting Lost – Part 1

I get stressed out each time I see an announcement for LOST DOG on Pawboost Alert. I would love to know how and why so many of these dogs are running away and getting lost. I thought it might be a good idea to discuss how to PREVENT this from happening. Keep in mind though if you have recently adopted a shelter or rescue dog, many will try to escape in the early days of coming home. So closely supervise your newly rescued dog for several weeks! Do not allow that dog to be out in your yard unsupervised!

One reason dogs will run away is: it’s more exciting and fun to be outside hunting or scavenging, or playing with a neighbor’s dog rather than being stuck in the house with nothing to do! Dogs need exercise, both physical and mental. You must provide enrichment activities that will keep their brains working and give them something enjoyable to do, especially when they’re alone in the house. There is a blog on my website that has tons of ideas for providing enrichment activities . Click on this link to read it:  “Physical Exercise and Mental Stimulation for Dogs.”

NEVER call a dog to you to do something unpleasant (e.g., to say “bad dog!” or to put him in his crate, or to take him to the vet’s or groomer). No matter when you call your dog, it should be with a happy, cheerful voice, even if you’re mad as hell. Dogs will not come to you if they think they’re going to be punished! Even if your dog comes home hours after you’ve been going crazy trying to find him, BE JOYFUL and praise him for coming home. Remember that punishment will teach him something bad will happen if he approaches you!

NEVER chase your dog! Doing that will teach him/her running away from you is more fun than coming to you.

Below is my handout of games for teaching dogs to COME WHEN CALLED first from inside the house to teach him that coming to you is a good thing. My next article will teach you how to get your dog to come in from outside the house:

BACK UP AND TREAT GAME

Get your treats and begin the game with the dog sitting directly in front of you. Show him the first treat in your hand, and lure him to follow that treat as you take a step backward and he comes forward to you. Say, “COM’ERE” and give him that treat immediately when he reaches you! Keep taking one step back, and each time he comes to you, give him a treat right away using the word, “Com’ere.”

Only use a food lure for 3 repetitions! Once you get past this first part of the game, you should hide your treats behind your back and offer it only when he’s right in front of you. Encourage everyone in your family to play these games. 

DOGGIE IN THE MIDDLE GAME

Start out with the dog standing between 2 family members who are at a small distance from one another. One person calls the dog saying, “Com’ere” and rewards with a treat as soon as he arrives. Then the second person calls the dog and repeats this same process. As the dog gets better at coming to each person, begin slightly increasing the distances that you’re calling the dog back to you. Start calling your dog from different rooms to find both people who are playing the game when he’s doing well.

GO FIND IT GAME 

Toss a treat to the left of the dog and say “Go Find It.” Let him eat his treat. Then call him back to you saying “Com’ere.” When he is directly in front of you, give him a treat immediately. Then toss a treat way out to the right. Tell him “go find it!” Let him get his treat. Then call him back to you saying “Com’ere” and give him a treat immediately when he’s directly in front of you. Toss a treat out front of him and say “go find it.” Repeat this process over and over. Little by little, increase the distance you’re tossing those treats so he has to return back to you from further away to get his rewards!