Introducing a New Dog to Your Home

The first few days in your home are a special, yet anxious, time for you and your new dog. Your new dog will likely be confused about where he is. He won’t immediately connect your home with his home. It’s a completely different environment than what she knows (whether she came from a shelter or a family- it’s still different). It’s up to you to ensure she has the smoothest transition possible.

Before Your Bring Her Home

Before you bring your new dog home, you should determine which area of your home your dog will spend the most time. Then, dog-proof that area and place the crate somewhere comfortable (if you’re crate training). Usually, the kitchen works best. It’s easy to clean up in case of any accidents. Their knowledge of house-training may be lost during a time of great stress like this.

If you plan to crate-train your dog, the crate should be set up before you bring your dog home. Don’t forget to place a mattress of some kind in the crate with them. The type of mattress you should have varies based on the breed of dog you are bringing home, and the age of the dog. Be certain to do proper research on this before bringing your new dog home.

Now, dog-proofing. Dog-proofing your home is critical to keep your dog safe. Tape off any loose wires. Place household cleaners, medications, and other chemicals up high. If you have plants on the floor, do some research and see which plants dogs can and can’t be near.

Finally, have their collar and leash ready to go. On the collar, there should be identification tags already attached. If your dog doesn’t already have a microchip, this may also be something to consider. The microchip isn’t a GPS device, but if your dog were to ever get lost, the microchip would be scanned and an identification code unique to your dog containing all your details would be available.

On the First Day

The first day home could be extremely stressful or overwhelmingly exciting for your dog. Either way, give your dog time to acclimate to your home before you allow any ‘strangers’ to come over. Even if you think your dog is doing wonderful with the transition- one new event could spark stress in the first week. If you have children, show your children the appropriate way to approach a dog.

When you pick up your new dog, don’t forget to ask what she ate that day (and the type of food). If you feed your new dog a completely different food, this could lead to an upset stomach and diarrhea. We don’t want that. An upset stomach could make the transition even more stressful for both him and us.

If you would like to feed a different brand/type of food, do so over a one-week period adding in the new food to their old food slowly. Watch for any signs of stomach upset or loose stools. If you do notice any symptoms, lessen the amount of new food and extend the transition time.

When you arrive home, immediately show your dog where the potty area is and softly say “potty-potty” or similar. Be patient during this time. Even if your dog is fully potty-trained, don’t forget there could be accidents. Your dog may not act like he has to use to the bathroom while he’s outside, then come in and immediately have an accident. Don’t panic, this is a completely normal behavior when being introduced to a new home.

A routine should be put in place immediately. Structure is extremely helpful to a dog adjusting to a new home, and your resident dogs as well if they don’t already have a routine. Feeding, potty-time, and play/exercise, should have an approximate time each day. If the time changes by a half hour occasionally, that’s okay.

For the first few days of your dog being home, try to be as calm and quiet as possible. Limiting excitement during this time will help her adjust. And, it will give you time to get to know your dog better. Take this time to build a foundation for the bond you will share.

Training should also begin immediately. But, after the first week, you can increase the amount of physical and mental stimulation your dog is receiving. Training also helps a dog settle in further and strengthens the bond you are building.

Introducing Your New Dog to Another Dog

If you have a resident dog, introduce your new dog to your resident dog outside in a neutral area. If you have more than one resident dog, introduce one at a time. Don’t rush the introduction. Each dog should be on a leash, and each leash should be loose to allow the dogs to get to know one another.

After the outside introduction, you can bring your new dog inside and do the in-home introduction (if all goes well outside). If you bring your new dog inside immediately without the outside introduction, this could spark a huge list of problems. Keep each interaction between your new dog and your resident dog(s) short and as pleasant as possible. If you see any sign of tension, immediately separate the dogs and try again an hour or so later.

Don’t leave all the dogs alone together until you know it’s safe to do so. Watching your dogs’ body language can help you understand when it’s safe.

The Bottom Line

The most important take-a-way here involves patience. Be patient with your new dog’s behaviors, training levels, and the bond you are establishing. Some dogs adjust quickly and form a bond immediately. Others take more time. Commit as much time as possible to getting to know your new dog while spending time with your resident dogs. Watch your new dog’s body language to understand what she is communicating to you and others.

dog-with-treat

Eliminate Food-Guarding Behavior in 7 Steps

Guarding possessions, whether it be food, a special toy, or any other item, is a normal behavior in dogs. When dogs ran wild, they were forced to guard their possessions to survive. Those who did guard their food, and/or their family were more likely to survive and thrive. Unfortunately, this could become an issue for us, as their family.

Guarding behavior can range from completely harmless to extremely aggressive. Some dogs guard their resources from everyone. And, others guard their possessions from only certain people (like ‘strangers’).

Some dogs guard their bone. Some dogs guard their toy. Some dogs guard their food.

Which of the above is your dog doing?

We’ll talk about how to resolve these issues. And, if your dog isn’t resource guarding, we’ll talk about how to prevent resource guarding as well.

Prevent the Behavior

dog-with-treat

If you have a puppy, now is an excellent time to begin preventing resource guarding. Puppies are prone to developing food guarding behavior because they must compete with their litter mates.

As soon as you bring your dog home, you should begin hand-feeding. Sit down with your puppy and feed him one piece of kibble at a time. Speak softly to your puppy as you’re feeding.

Once your dog is comfortable with hand-feeding, you can move to the bowl. Set the bowl in your lap or directly next to you. Watch your dog’s behavior as she’s eating with you. Continue speaking to your dog in a soft, positive voice as she’s eating.

My Dog is Already Food Guarding

If your dog is currently guarding her food, there are ways to desensitize your dog. The process we will use is known as counterconditioning.

While completing these exercises, be sure to listen to vocalizations and watch your dog’s body language. This will help you understand how he or she is feeling during this time.

The First Step: Only Standing Nearby

You need to go about this step-by-step. Try standing a few feet away from your dog while she’s eating her kibble. During the first step, you should not try to move closer. Calmly talk to her in a reassuring manner while she’s eating. This should be repeated a minimum of ten times before moving to the next step.

The Second Step: Standing and One Step

In the second step, you should still begin by standing a few feet away from your dog. But, you can take one step closer to your dog at this time. When you take your step, throw a treat toward your dog’s food bowl. Then, step back to where you were in the first place. Each day, you can take an extra step (as long as your dog is calm/relaxed). Step 2 should also be repeated a minimum of ten times before moving to step 3.

Step 3: Standing and Walking Away

If your dog has successfully mastered steps 1 and 2, you can move on to step 3. If your dog is still uncomfortable, please stay with the first two steps.

In the third step, continue talking to your dog in a soft tone, while walking toward his food bowl. Stand next to your dog’s food bowl, place a treat in the bowl, and walk away slowly. This step should be repeated a minimum of ten times.

Step 4: The Treat Trick

Continue applying what you have learned in the first three steps. In this step, while your dog is eating, you can hold a treat in your hand. Slowly show your dog the treat as he’s eating his meal. This step should encourage your dog to stop eating what’s in the bowl and take the treat. Once your dog has taken the treat, walk away and stand a few feet away from your dog. Continue to do this at each mealtime until your dog has finished eating.

Step 5: Pick Up the Bowl

The next step… raising the bowl. Please only attempt this step if your dog is 100% comfortable with steps 1-4.

Stand next to your dog and pick up her bowl with one hand. Don’t pick it up all the way… only lift the bowl slightly from the floor. Then, return the bowl to your dog immediately.

Step 6: Now She’s Comfy

Once your dog is comfortable with step 5, you can take the bowl away, place a treat in the bowl, and return it. Your dog now associates you with goodies. At this point, your dog should no longer have any problem with you being near her food.

Step 7: The Final Step

The final stage is to help the other members of your family go through all six steps. Be sure everyone in the household completes the steps in the same manner you did. And, don’t skip a step! This will allow your dog to learn there’s no reason to guard his food… not only from you but from anyone.

DO NOT PUNISH

Do not punish your dog for guarding her food. Your dog is guarding her food because she thinks you’re going to take it away and she won’t get it back. Punishment often results in the behavior worsening as the trust between you and your dog is lost.

DISCLAIMER:

If your dog becomes aggressive with his or her food, you should not attempt to resolve this behavior on your own. Please contact a Canine Behaviorist to assist in the process.

 

Why Dog Owners are Happier

Written by Nat Smith, Rover.com community member. Rover is the nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers. They say that dog owners live happier, longer lives. One big reason? Dogs can help you get out more often, stick to your workouts, and stay upbeat while you’re at it. How can your pet […]

via Dogs Help You Exercise — simple Ula

Be Prepared: Make a First Aid Kit for Your Dog

April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month, Canine Companions would like to help pet parents prepare for the unexpected, and we have a few tips to share with you.

firstaidfordogs

Taking care of your dog in the case of an emergency can be challenging, frustrating, and all around overwhelming. Most families view their dog as an important member of the family, and seeing them in pain is heartbreaking.

Putting together a pet emergency kit can help tremendously in the event something should happen.

Supplies and Phone Numbers Every Dog Owner Should Have

There are certain supplies every dog owner should have in case of an emergency. First, before you put together all of the necessary materials, jot down all of the important phone numbers. Write down your veterinarian’s phone number, the phone number for the American Poison Control Center (888-426-4435), and don’t forget to write down any important medical history.

Most veterinarians will recommend the following in your dog’s first aid kit:

  • Gauze for wrapping wounds, cuts, etc.
  • Milk of magnesia
  • Active charcoal
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Adhesive tape
  • Nonstick bandages
  • An eye dropper
  • Digital thermometer
  • Muzzle
  • Blanket
  • Dog leash

You should also make sure the information on your dog’s collar is correct. And, microchipping your dog is a great idea should he run away or get lost somehow. In cases of emergency, like a natural disaster, your dog could easily become lost. A microchip will provide a pet professional with your information so your dog can quickly be returned home to you.

Don’t Take it Personal

A dog who is in pain isn’t likely to act like himself or herself. A dog in pain might nip, growl, and show other forms of aggression. It’s absolutely crucial not to take these behaviors personally.

Think about when you’re in pain. Are you irritable? Most people who are in pain are irritable, they don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings. They’re just not feeling well. It’s the same with our dogs.

Learn More About Pet First Aid

You can learn more first-aid procedures at the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website by clicking here. The AVMA has detailed instructions on how to take care of the following:

  • Poison and exposure to toxins
  • Seizures
  • Fractures
  • Bleeding
  • Burns
  • Choking
  • Heatstroke
  • Shock

Being fully prepared is critical to your dog’s well-being. And, if you’re reading this article, you’re in the right place.

6 Unwanted Dog Behaviors That Dog Owners Encourage

Every dog parent strives to raise a behaviorally balanced dog, but most of them end up asking what’s wrong with my dog? We, accidentally, promote some unwanted behaviors in our dogs.

A lot of dog parents encourage unwanted behaviors because they find it cute. If the behavior has been rewarded for a long time, it becomes difficult to change it.

As it takes double to effort to ‘untrain’ a dog, so it’s best to avoid encouraging these six behaviors in dogs:

  1. Biting:

The nipping or biting habit is encouraged at puppy stage when the pooch is teething. As a dog parent, you should take appropriate measures to avoid prolonging of nipping behavior past the teething stage. If we let this behavior continue, the adult dog will find it acceptable to communicate through teeth and skin. A puppy’s nip doesn’t hurt. It can be ignored due to the cuteness of the puppy. But, when the adult dog plays rough by biting the skin, it becomes unbearable and difficult to stop.

It is best to curb the behavior at a young age by making loud, painful sounds whenever the puppy nips and bites your hand. You can distract him with chew toys. You can ignore the pup for a while after he bites you so that he learns his lesson and suppress the bitey behavior.

  1. Bark For Your Rights:

Dogs that get what they want when they bark for toys or food learn ‘demand barking’ behavior. The dog owners support the bossy behavior by paying heed to him when he barks. Most of the dog owners listen to barking dogs only to stop the noise. But, it trains them negatively to behave harshly rather than politely to get something.

To curb such demanding behavior, train him to sit down whenever he wants something. Make him calm down and sit before you serve food, give a chew toy, toss the ball, etc. If he barks at you due to impatience, walk away and do not concede to his demands.

  1. Jumping Up In Excitement:

Dogs usually jump up in excitement as you enter the house. We nurture the dog jumping behavior with equal excitement, laughter, and pats of encouragement. But, when a large breed dog grows up, his jumping behavior can cause injury. In case of small dogs, the behavior can be hurtful when a new baby arrives. The jumping up of dog can be irritating if you are leaving for a meeting and the dog messes up your shirt.

To avoid jumping up of dogs, simply ignore his leaps when you return home. When the dog calms down, pat and hug him for his nice behavior. It will train him to avoid the overexcited behavior.

  1. Anti-Social Behavior:

Anti-social behavior develops when your puppy or dog returns shivering after having an interaction with other dogs, and you hug him instantly to provide protection. This encouraging hug will stimulate him to behave fearfully every time he comes in contact with other people or dogs. There can be other reasons for a shivering dog, so understand the cause before you respond.

To avoid anti-social behavior, encourage your dog for interacting with other dogs. Give him treats or a pat on the back every time he interacts and plays with other pets in the park. This will boost his confidence to make new friends everywhere he goes.

  1. Pulling at the Leash:

If your dog continuously pulls on the leash as you go for a walk, then it’s a behavior that should be discouraged. Otherwise, the dog will consider the leash around its neck to be a trigger for pulling on it and moving forward. It can be irritating when you want him to sit and wait for you.

You should teach your dog that leash pulling will never work, and he can go forward only when the leash is loose. Don’t walk ahead when the dog pulls on the leash. When he lets the leash loose, reward him for behaving right. Give him treats for walking close to you to encourage the good behavior.

  1. Begging:

It is hard for a puppy owner to resist the begging pooch when he asks for food. However, it becomes a trouble when your dog is an adult, and you have to manage his diet requirements. If he gets obese, putting him on diet food will not be easy as he will continue to beg and you may persist to give in.

It’s best not to share your food with the dog, but give him his specific dog meal to eat. Ignore his begging face and do not feed him a single scrap of food to avoid development of such unwanted behaviors.

If you succeed in discouraging these six behaviors in your puppy, you will not have to worry about the wrong things in your dog.

 

Save a Life, Adopt a Dog

“What a good doggie you are, you always let us know when you need to go out!””

This is just one of the reasons busy people should consider adopting a pet from their local shelters instead of buying from pet stores. It takes a long time- with a lot of patience and consistency- to get your dog trained properly.

Other Reasons to Adopt

What other reasons would someone want to adopt for?

They’re giving up that little bundle of fur that is so cute in the store, but he may be more trouble then you are expecting once you get home?

The only thing I can think of that is on the down side of adopting is the fact you more than likely wouldn’t be getting a “puppy” or “kitten”.

Shelters Have Puppies, Too

Shelters, at times though, DO have litters of animals that need to be adopted out or someone’s pet has babies and family can’t afford to keep them and hand them over to a shelter. Are they purebred? Not usually. Will they love you as much as an expensive store bought animal? Absolutely.

Opening Up a Space

As I am thinking of good reasons to adopt an animal… there is an obvious fact that crosses my mind. And, the fact is that you would be saving a pets life.

There are few no kill shelters, as they fill up the long term animals that haven’t been adopted have to be euthanized to make room for more to come in. So not only are you saving one pets life you are saving two by making room for another pet to be sheltered.

A Certain Dog in Mind

Depending on you and your family, you may have a certain kind of dog in mind.

Is it for companionship, for protection or just to add joy to the family?

Shelters usually have many different breeds at one time and some will even give you a call if you are looking for a certain breed if one happens to come in. If you want to just check them out and see what is available, most shelters will take a dog out to play area and let you interact with it to see if you are interested and if the dog likes you.

You are able to see their personality, how they act with your children, or with another pet. If you are older you might just need a low key pet but find one you like really wouldn’t work because of the energy they have. It is a good time to see if you and the pet would connect personalities.

When you’re adopting from a shelter, you can rest at ease knowing your dog will already be spayed/neutered, vetted, and often microchipped. Pet store dogs don’t offer this. The vetting is your responsibility.

And, there could be more veterinary costs than you think… because most of the puppies found in pet stores are straight from the puppy mill.

On top of these points, if you watch your local shelters, most will have specials throughout the year.

Saving a Dog is a Wonderful Feeling

Adopting a pet is a wonderful feeling as the pet picks you just as much as you pick them!

Be a hero not just to your family but to a loyal companion who will love you until the end.

MY HERO SAVED ME; WILL YOU BE A HERO TOO? (Pictured: Smokie, my rescued Pit)

 

I’m Hesitant to Hire a Pet Sitter, But I Have to Work

Whether you’re considering hiring a pet sitter for vacation stays or an everyday stay while you’re at work, you might be hesitant or nervous to give someone else the opportunity to care for your dog. And, that’s completely understandable. Looking at the benefits and learning how to hire a qualified professional may ease your mind.

A professional dog sitter will ensure your dog gets the right amount of exercise all day. The sitter will make sure your dog has plenty of interaction and is fed properly. Professional pet sitters should also be comfortable, and qualified, to provide your dog with medication should he or she take any daily.  

Hiring a pet sitter will also make sure your dog has plenty of human interaction throughout the day. Socialization and play is critical for our dogs- and they won’t have to be lonely during the day with the pet sitter.

If you choose a professional pet sitter from a service like Rover, you can rest assured knowing your dog is covered under a pet insurance plan. If for any reason, something were to happen, you would pay a small deductible and pet insurance would cover the rest of the bill.

You should decide if you feel comfortable bringing your dog to the sitter’s house… or if you’ll require the sitter to come to your house for the day.

Finally, make sure you schedule a meet-and-greet once you think you have found ‘the one.’ See how your dog interacts with the prospective sitter. And, take that time to learn more about their qualifications. Tell them about your dog’s schedule. Make sure the fit feels right for you, your dog, and the pet sitter.

To learn more about your dog, grab a copy of Amber L. Drake’s book, Dog Talk: What Your Dog Wants You to Know, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

4 Common Dog Adoption Mistakes

When you’re planning to adopt a new furry family member, there are a few important tips to keep in mind.

A dog will be in your life for a decade or longer, and you’ll be his heart for his entire life. This is not a commitment to take lightly.

Mistake #1 When Adopting a Dog

The number one mistake is adopting a dog on the spur of the moment. You might see an adorable little puppy as you scroll through your Facebook or your news feed. Of course, he’s adorable. But, are you ready for the commitment?

 

Mistake #2 When Adopting a Dog

The second mistake dog lovers make when adopting a dog is underestimating the cost of being a responsible dog guardian.

Whether you choose a purebred dog from a breeder, or a mixed breed from the local shelter, making sure you understand this will not be the only cost is critical.

Keep in mind you’ll also have to pay for dog food, veterinary care and any other necessities your dog has… and he will count on you to take good care of him.

Mistake #3 When Adopting a Dog

If you’re adopting a dog to ‘replace’ a dog you lost, tread carefully. It’s important to remember that your new dog will not be able to replace the one you lost.

Each dog is unique and the dog you are adopting will fill a new place in your heart.

Your adopted dog’s personality will not be the same as the dog you lost, even if she is the same breed.

Mistake #4 When Adopting a Dog

A dog is a part of a family, so you should make sure all of your family members are on board with being a part of your dog’s life.

Some breeds do tend to ‘prefer’ one person, but they all want to feel loved by everyone in the home. And, they should be treated with respect and have a sense of belonging.

A Wonderful Companion

Adopting a dog and welcoming her into your home is the most wonderful experience. But, be sure to take your time when deciding which breed, age, size and personality is best for your family to ensure all of you are happy.