Dogs in our Community
Puppy or Dog Socialization Tips
- Provide pleasant and positive exposure to new experiences.
- Introduce your animal to people of different races, people in wheelchairs or on crutches, kids on bikes, men with beards, people with hats, people in uniforms, etc. so that she is comfortable with all people.
- Make sure that he or she gets to play with WELL-BEHAVED children as often as possible (with adult supervision).
- Carefully introduce the pup to other species he or she is likely to encounter, including cats, pet birds, horses, goats, chickens and waterfowl.
- Encourage your pet to walk on different surfaces, including slippery floors, icy sidewalks, concrete, gravel, and also up and down stairs (be patient).
- Handle (gentle touching and stroking) main parts of pup’s body (muzzle, mouth, ears, paws, tail, etc.) several times a day. Have other people, including children, do the same as you reward pup.
- When leaving your pup or dog alone, make sure he or she is in a safe area (a crate for up to 4 hours), puppy proof room or portable pen for longer periods.
- Praise and reward confident behavior.
The key to training your dog to eliminate outside (where you want him to) is to prevent accidents, and to reward success. Adult dogs have better bladder and bowel control, and can ‘hold it’ for longer than puppies.
The rule of thumb with puppies is: take their age in months, add one, and that’s the number of hours the puppy can ‘hold it’ during the day. For example, a 5 month-old puppy can be expected to be clean for up to 6 hours during the day.
- Feed your dog on a schedule, (he’ll eliminate on a schedule too.)
- Keep his diet simple and consistent, (avoid table scraps and canned foods; a high quality dry kibble produces the least waste.)
- Choose an area, about ten square feet outside where you wish your dog to eliminate.
- Take your dog on a leash to the area, pace back and forth, (movement promotes movement), while chanting an encouraging phrase such as “Do your business, do your business.”
- Do this for a maximum 3 minutes. If he eliminates, praise and play. If he doesn’t eliminate, keep him on leash, go back indoors and keep dog on leash with you or confined in a crate.
- Try again in an hour. Eventually your dog will eliminate appropriately and you can give him huge praise and play.
- After each success, allow 15 minutes of freedom in the house before placing dog back on lead or back into crate.
- After each 3 consecutive days of success, increase freedom by 15 minutes.
- If there is an accident, decrease freedom by 15 minutes for 3 days.
Proper Crate Training
A crate, or in other words, short-term confinement, can be used to help dogs teach themselves two very important skills. The first is eliminating only when and where it’s appropriate. The second skill is keeping out of trouble — behaving appropriately in the house.
Crate Training Theory
The point of training is to make the dog want to do what you want him to do. If your dog doesn’t want to be in the crate – if he has only unpleasant associations with it – use your head. How can you make a dog want to be in the crate?
- Food: Feed this type of dog in his crate, and make the most of his daily ration by feeding it to him in numerous courses — as many as a dozen, even. Put a little food in the crate, let him go in and eat it, and then let him out right after he’s finished.
- Treats: Throw a bit of kibble in the crate. Let him go in and get it; he’ll come right out again. Do this three or four times. Then, throw a bit of kibble in, and when he goes in to get it, shut the door and immediately feed him another couple of bits of kibble through the bars. Then, let him out, and ignore him for three minutes. Then, put a bit of kibble in the crate, shut the door, feed him five bits of kibble through the bars, and then let him out and ignore him for five minutes.The next time, put a bunch of kibble in a Kong toy, along with some freeze-dried liver and a bit of honey in the Kong, so its difficult to get the food out, and put the Kong in the crate. Let the dog in and shut the door. Before he’s finished trying to get all the food out, after about 10 minutes, open the door, take him out, take the Kong away, and ignore him for five minutes. What is he learning? “When I’m in the crate, my owner talks to me all the time. She sits next to me and reads me a book and keeps feeding me. And there are toys in the crate. There are no toys anywhere else — that crate is ok!”
- Every dog develops favorite places to lie down. If you’ve crate-trained your dog properly, that favorites place will be in the crate with the door open. If the dog goes in there of his own accord, it’s a good sign that you have done a good job as a trainer.
How to Use a Crate With Your Dog?
- For Potty Training: teaching a puppy or dog to eliminate only when and where it is appropriate. You can teach this to an adult dog within 4 days. Puppies may or may not take a little longer to potty-train. YOUR consistency will make all the difference.
- When at home, confine the puppy all the time that you cannot watch it 110 percent. Newborns or puppies will soil their bedrooms only when they are really desperate; don’t keep a puppy (or a dog, for that matter) in there long enough to get desperate.
- For House Training: “Potty training” is what most people do but “house-training” is just as important and fortunately, it’s a nice side-effect of crate training. In just a matter of days, the dog will learn that every time he is confined, he gets to chew on toys, and soon, he’ll become addicted to chewing toys. That means he won’t destroy the rest of your house, and it means he won’t become a recreational barker. He’ll still alert when the doorbell rings, but recreational chewers almost never become one of those annoying chronic barkers. The dog will also self-train himself to settle down and to enjoy time spent when at home alone. After a week or two of this procedure, the adult dog can safely enjoy the full run of his home for the rest of his life. Puppies should not be left alone – for any length of time – until they are least 12 months old.
- Are not for punishing your dog for doing something wrong.
- Are not for “warehousing” a number of dogs, so you don’t have too many underfoot.
- Are not for keeping puppies out of trouble all day. Puppies are just like babies, they need to be watched every minute.
- Are not for long-term close confinement of puppies or adult dogs. Any animal suffers when it is forced to stay that closely confined for more than a few hours.
Common Crate Training Mistakes
- The most common mistake is using the crate as a prison, or shoving the dog into the crate when he’s been “bad.” That’s the very best way to teach him to avoid going into the crate at any time. Instead, a dog should regard the crate as his playroom, his doggie den. Confining a dog or puppy to a crate should be on par with confining your child to a room with a TV and VCR, and a ton of toys. This is a simple thing to teach puppies. When a puppy is tired and hungry, you put him in the crate along with his dinner and some toys and you leave him there. He’ll eat his dinner and fall asleep.
- If an adult dog has apprehensions about the crate, though, it will probably take at least a few days to overcome them. The process here is a little different: he’ll need additional time to get over his anxiety that he will be locked and trapped in the crate. While you are trying to convince him of this, DON’T LOCK AND TRAP HIM IN THE CRATE!
Solving Barking Problems
If you ever wonder if your dog’s bark is worse than his proverbial bite, the answer may lie no further than your next-door neighbor. Some canine behavior problems, such as house soiling, affect only a dog’s family. But problems such as escaping and excessive barking can result in neighborhood disputes and violations of animal control ordinances, and that means problems with your pet can soon become “people problems.”
Learn Why Your Dog Barks
- It’s perfectly normal and reasonable for dogs to bark from time to time, just as children make noise when they play outside. But continual barking for long periods of time is a symptom of a problem that needs addressing — from the perspective of your neighbors and your dog.
- Determine when and for how long your dog barks, and what causes him to bark. You may need to do some clever detective work to obtain this information, especially if the barking occurs when you’re not home. Ask your neighbors what they see and hear, drive or walk around the block and watch and listen for a while, or start a tape recorder or video camera when you leave for work. With a little effort you should be able to find out which of the common problems discussed below is the cause of your dog’s barking.
Reasons Why Your Dog May Bark
- Social Isolation/Frustration/Attention-seeking:
- He’s left alone for long periods of time without opportunities to interact with you.
- His environment is relatively barren, without companions or toys.
- He’s a puppy or adolescent (under three years old) and doesn’t have other outlets for his energy.
- He’s a particularly active type of dog (like the herding or sporting breeds) who needs to be occupied to be happy.
- Expand your dog’s world and increase his “people time” in the following ways:
- Walk your dog at least twice daily — it’s good exercise, both mental and physical. Walks should not only be considered “potty breaks.”
- Teach your dog to fetch a ball or Frisbee and practice with him as often as possible.
- Teach your dog a few commands and/or tricks and practice them every day for five to ten minutes.
- Take a dog-training class with your dog. This allows you and your dog to work together toward a common goal.
- To help fill the hours that you’re not home, provide safe, interesting toys to keep your dog busy, such as Kong-type toys filled with treats or busy-box toys. Rotating the toys will make them seem new and interesting.
- Make sure your dog has sufficient time with you on a daily basis (petting, grooming, playing, exercising).
- Keep your dog inside when you’re unable to supervise him.
- Territorial/Protective Behavior
Your dog may be barking to guard his territory if:
- The barking occurs in the presence of “intruders,” which may include the mail carrier, children walking to school, and other dogs or neighbors in adjacent yards.
- Your dog’s posture while he’s barking appears threatening — tail held high and ears up and forward.
- You’ve encouraged your dog to be responsive to people and noises outside.
- Teach your dog a “quiet” command. When he begins to bark at a passerby, allow two or three barks, then say “quiet” and interrupt his barking by shaking a can filled with pennies or squirting water at his mouth with a spray bottle or squirt gun. This surprise should cause him to stop barking momentarily. While he’s quiet, say “good quiet” and pop a tasty treat into his mouth. If your dog is frightened by the noise or squirt bottle, find an alternative method of interrupting his barking (perhaps throw a toy or ball near him).
- Desensitize your dog to the stimulus that triggers the barking. Teach him that the people he views as intruders are actually friends and that good things happen to him when these people are around. Ask someone to walk by your yard, starting far enough away so that your dog isn’t barking, then reward quiet behavior and correct responses to a “sit” or “down” command with special treats such as little pieces of cheese. As the person gradually comes closer, continue to reward your dog’s quiet behavior. It may take several sessions before the person can come close without your dog barking. When the person can come very close without your dog barking, have him feed your dog a treat or throw a toy for him.
- If your dog barks while inside the house when you’re home, call him to you, have him obey a command such as “sit” or “down,” and reward him with praise and a treat. Remember to pay attention to your dog when he’s being quiet, too, so that he comes to associate such behavior with attention and praise. Don’t encourage this type of barking by enticing your dog to bark at things he hears or sees outside.
- Have your dog spayed or neutered to decrease territorial behavior.
- Fears & Phobias
- Your dog’s barking may be a response to something he’s afraid of if:
- The barking occurs when he’s exposed to loud noises, such as thunderstorms, firecrackers, or construction noise.
- Your dog’s posture indicates fear — ears back, tail held low.
- Identify what’s frightening your dog and desensitize him to it. You may need professional help with the desensitization process. Talk to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medication while you work on behavior modification.
- During thunderstorms or other frightening times, mute noise from outside by leaving your dog in a comfortable area in a basement or windowless bathroom, and leave on a television, radio, or loud fan. Block off your dog’s access to outdoor views that might be causing a fear response, by closing curtains or doors to certain rooms. Avoid coddling your dog so that he doesn’t think that he is being rewarded for his fearful behavior.
- Separation Anxiety
- The barking occurs only when you’re gone and starts as soon as, or shortly after, you leave.
- Your dog displays other behaviors that reflect a strong attachment to you, such as following you from room to room, greeting you frantically, or reacting anxiously whenever you prepare to leave.
- Your dog has recently experienced a change in the family’s schedule that means he’s left alone more often; a move to a new house; the death or loss of a family member or another family pet; or a period at an animal shelter or boarding kennel.
- Some cases of separation anxiety can be resolved using counter-conditioning and desensitization techniques.
- Successful treatment for some cases may also require the use of medication prescribed by your veterinarian.