Puppy and Dog FAQs
We have provided information that we will hope answer your commonly asked questions on puppies and dogs. We know this will help build the bond between you and your animal, and we hope it will continue to be a resource for your puppy’s happiness and health for years to come. Please click on the category you are interested in learning more about:
Before Getting a Dog:
All You Need to Know Before Adoption
by: PetPlace Veterinarians
You have decided to adopt one of the millions of pets waiting for a home. The big concern now is how to get ready for your new arrival. Here are some tips to make the transition more enjoyable.
1. Get Your Home Ready. Pet proofing your home is important and can be life-saving. This includes making sure that there are no toxins such as rat poison, slug bait or antifreeze accessible to your new pet. Make sure trash is secure. Pick up clothing and small toys or other objects that may be accidentally ingested by the new pet. Hide exposed electrical wires to prevent injury commonly caused by chewing on the cords. Ensure other dangers are stowed way such as medications, poisonous plants and ashtrays. Check your fencing – is it secure? Are there any places your new pet could get through?
2. Get Your Supplies. Make a list of things you need for your new pet. Bedding, food and water dishes, food (check what he has been eating to start with), treats, crate, safe toys, toothbrush and paste, leash, collar, grooming supplies, and any pet-specific cleaners.
3. Plan for the “What If”. Prepare your medicine cabinet for an emergency. Make a first aid kit. You never know when an emergency may happen. Items should include emergency veterinary phone numbers, tweezers, gloves, gauze, tape, thermometer, hydrogen peroxide, sterile eye wash, antiseptic and antibiotic ointment. Mediations that are beneficial to have on hand include diphenyhydramine (Benadryl®), hydrogen peroxide and aspirin. Only use medication as recommended by a veterinarian. Keep this emergency kit with your other emergency items.
4. Plan the Right Time. Make sure you have time to spend with your pet when he first arrives at your home. Friday is often a good day to bring your pet home – the two of you have the entire weekend to get to know each other.
5. Have a Family Discussion. Discuss how the pet will be cared for, trained and develop general “House Rules.” Care includes feeding, grooming, exercising and walking. When will this be done? Who will do it? Training is a very important issue to discuss as a family. The MOST important aspect of training is consistency. What are the house rules for your pet? It is best to decide as a group upfront. Consider discussing the following questions: What and when is the pet fed? Where does he sleep? Does he get treats – if so what? Will you go to dog school or training class with your pet?
6. Get His History. When you pick your new pet, obtain as much history as you can. This will come in use later if problems arise and to know what he needs. Ask questions that include:
- How long the pet has been at the shelter?
- Where did she/he come from?
- Birthdate if known or approximate age.
- How big were the parents and is anything known about them?
- Has he had any vaccinations?
- When is the next set of vaccines due?
- Has he had any medical problems?
- Is he on any medications?
- Has he been tested for worms?
- Has he been treated for worms?
- Will another dose be needed?
- Has he been tested for heartworms?
- Is he on heartworm preventative?
- Has he been microchipped? If so, get the paperwork so you can register him.
- Has your pet had fleas or been treated for fleas?
- What is the guarantee? Many agencies provide a 1 to 2 week guarantee against illness or problems.
- Is there a mandatory vet check up within a certain time frame?
- What has she/he been eating? You may want to ask for a sample or buy a bag of that food. Many pets get diarrhea from abrupt change. There are enough changes in this pet's environment that it is worth avoiding a food change as well. Gradually mix in you diet of choice and “wean” the pet over to the new food after being adjusted to your home in a couple days.
7. Home. Spend quality time with him. Make sure you place a leash and collar on him. Leash walks only for a couple days. Don’t let your pet run unrestricted. Notice appetite, urinations, and bowel movement for abnormalities. Call your veterinarian if you have concerns.
8. Pet Introductions. Slowly and carefully introduce him to your other pets. Let them smell each other under the door. Gradually, let them see each other from the door crack and eventually let them meet. Do this supervised.
9. See Your Veterinarian. Follow-up within the next week for a check up and anything else your pet needs. Depending on the area of the country in which you live, heartworm prevention is generally recommended year round. Ensure your dog is tested and place him on this monthly preventative. Some new monthly heartworm mediations are combined with preventive flea medications. Follow-up with any needed vaccines and deworming. Strongly consider microchipping if your pet is not already chipped.
10. Train, Train, Train. Dogs especially like to learn and understand what is expecting of them. You may not want a pet that can do tricks but at the minimum training to “come,” “leave it,” “stay” has saved many lives. Sign up for classes at your local shelter or veterinary hospital.
Picking a Breed
Choosing the right dog – the breed, the size, the temperament, the cost – is the key first step to building a loving, healthy and happy relationship with a pet. Get it right and you’re likely to have a deeply rewarding experience. Get it wrong and you’re facing a potential nightmare. So what should you do? First, recognize that there are two parties to this relationship – you (and the fellow humans in your household) and the dog. Both sides of the equation have to be compatible, which means that you have to understand as much about yourself as you do about the animal you’re adopting.
Know ThyselfYour lifestyle, habits and personality will guide the type of dog that’s right for you. So before taking a dog in, it’s crucial that you take a personal inventory. Do you live in a small apartment in a city, in a suburban home with a backyard or in the wide-open spaces? Are you an active person or are you a couch potato? Are you looking for a dog for security, as a companion for children, as an exercise partner? Are you a type-A workaholic with little attention to spare, or do you have more leisure time? Are you away from home a great deal or is the house your base of operation? Are you prepared for the expense?
Know Your DogWhile all dogs are individuals (you could find a timid Rottweiler and an aggressive poodle), specific breeds share general characteristics and make similar demands on their human companions. The choices can be dizzying. The American Kennel Club, for example, recognizes over 150 breeds, and the world is blessed with a nearly infinite variety of mixed breeds. Here are some of the major issues to consider in narrowing you choice:
What the dog was bred for. Each breed has his own history and reason for being that has become part of his genetic code. The basset hound was bred to diligently track rabbits, deer and other game; the Great Pyrenees to protect livestock from foxes and other predators; the Labrador retriever as a hunter’s helper; and the Old English sheepdog to drive sheep and cattle to market.
The AKC divides the breeds into seven groups that essentially reflect their backgrounds: sporting, non-sporting, hounds, working dogs, herding dogs, terriers, toys and a miscellaneous class. Most breeds will look for a job (guarding, herding, retrieving, etc.) that is along the lines for which they have been bred.
How much attention the breed requires. Some dogs are high-energy animals that need a lot of exercise and attention if they are to be properly cared for. These include Jack Russell terriers, border collies, shelties, Australian shepherds and Portuguese water dogs. If you cannot give them the exercise they need – for example, if you are a busy away-from-home type - you probably should not get such a dog. (Actually, if you are really, really busy and away from home an awful lot you should think seriously about not getting any kind of dog! Dogs are very social animals that NEED people and or other dogs around). Other dogs are calmer and need less exercise. These include the Maltese and the mastiff, which despite his large size and appearance is quite docile.
Size and environment. Very big dogs and very small apartments don't (shouldn't) go together, especially if you live on the 99th floor on your block. Think about taking the dog to the bathroom down myriad flights of stairs or in the elevator. Will this work for you? A space shortage problem will be compounded if you bring a very active largish dog, such as a golden retriever, into your apartment.
City apartment dwellers might want to consider a toy breed, such as a Pomeranian, Brussels griffon or Pekingese, if they are looking for a small dog, and could think about a standard poodle if a larger dog is desired. If you live in the suburbs, your household might well be able to accommodate dogs as large as the Great Dane, German shepherd or husky.
You should also be aware of health issues related to the environment. A Mexican hairless would not do well in the cold climate of the Rocky Mountains, but an Alaskan malamute would be perfectly comfortable. The West Highland white terrier might not be a good choice for areas with high spore and pollen counts, such as South Florida.
Grooming requirements. Some dogs require only the most basic grooming, while others need daily attention. With her proud bearing and long silky fur, an Afghan hound looks really swell, but she must be groomed thoroughly every day if she is to stay mat-free and beautiful. A German shorthaired pointer needs only to be groomed weekly.
Ease of training. When it comes to training, some breeds are star pupils while others need more diligence and reinforcement. A Boston terrier or Jack Russell terrier can be a challenge while the English springer spaniel and the Labrador generally learn easily.
Novice owners would be well advised to avoid breeds selected for enhanced aggression, such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, chows, shar-peis and akitas.
Child friendliness. This may be the single most important quality to focus on if you are considering introducing a dog into a household with small children. Many breeds, including boxers, golden retrievers, Newfoundlands, pugs and collies, love children and can be the souls of patience. Others breeds, such as the Rhodesian ridgeback, Kerry blue terrier and Dalmatian, are often not as tolerant of the young.
Expense. The expense of keeping a dog is proportional to his size. A very big dog may be just what you think you need but remember, he will eat like a horse and veterinary bills (for antibiotics, heartworm preventative treatment, etc.) will be sky high.
Common medical problems. Some breeds are prone to specific medical issues. German shepherds and St. Bernards have a tendency to suffer from hip dysplasia, a degenerative disease that causes lameness, while Dalmatians have a tendency toward deafness and urinary stones. Can these problems be avoided with certainty? Probably not. Will you have the resources to provide for such a dog? If not, skip that breed or carefully select within breed lines (but don't always believe the breeder).
Gender. Male dogs are generally more aggressive then female dogs thanks to gender roles inherited from their ancestors who lived in packs. Females are likely to be easier to train and housebreak.
The special issues of mutts. The same considerations come into play if you are choosing a mixed breed dog – only it’s often difficult to tell what breed characteristics will come into play. There’s no question, though, that a mutt makes a wonderful pet and may turn out to be an ideal companion.
Should I get a Dog?
by: Dr. Joan Capuzzi
Integrating a dog into your life requires careful planning.
So, you thought your new dog would become your sprightly jogging buddy but the pup turned out to be a couch potato? Or perhaps you brought a pooch into your home in order to teach your children responsibility, but you’re the only one who learned the lesson: never do anything like that again.
Bringing a dog into your home is a marriage of sorts, a commitment for the lifetime of the dog. With careful planning prior to getting your dog, you can lay the foundation for a beautiful partnership that you and your dog will both cherish.
Questions to Ask
Successfully integrating a dog into your life requires careful planning. Ask yourself several questions and answer them honestly. Can your lifestyle support the demands of a dog? Why do you want a dog? Given these reasons, which dog breeds are most likely to fit the bill? Male or female? Puppy or adult?
When considering whether to get a dog, you need to evaluate the true essence of dog ownership, best described as “dogness.” The cult of dog, dogness is a medley of things. It’s the slightly different odor that permeates your house once a dog moves in. It’s the late-night runs to your veterinarian when your dog ingests your garments. It’s the way the dog leash fits into your hand as comfortably as the tennis racket or the bicycle handlebars once did.
Is Dogness for You?
Dogness isn’t for everyone. Perhaps you need dogness like a carpenter needs termites: A dog might chip away at your hallowed lifestyle, making you feel heavier in the feet. No more spontaneous overnights at a bed-and-breakfast. Vacation getaways are luxuries that require careful choreography – finding a reputable boarding kennel, scheduling boarding, gathering the necessary health records for boarding and so on.
The cost to maintain a dog is significant. Veterinary care can be expensive and unpredictably timed: a sudden problem like a simple fracture can cost several hundred dollars to repair. Dog food and incidentals like grooming, boarding fees and toys are also costly.
The biggest investment you’ll need to make in your dog is time. Plan on three 15-minute walks daily, at minimum. And, if you don’t want paw prints on your walls and ceilings, you’ll need to provide your dog with a daily period of vigorous exercise, perhaps throwing a ball or going for a run.
Get Your Home in Shape
Before you open your home to a dog, you may need to bring your accommodations up to snuff, pooch-style. If you live in a rented abode, find out in advance if your landlord allows dogs to live there. One of the top reasons dogs are surrendered to shelters is that the landlord doesn’t allow them in the dwelling. If you’re planning to buy a large dog or one that needs ample exercise, you might need to make provisions for your dog to spend unsupervised time outdoors, perhaps in a fenced yard. You should also try to ensure that your dog’s barking will not interfere with the peace-of-mind of your neighbors – or yours!
In preparation for your dog’s arrival, you must also set up an infrastructure for canine care. Spell out in advance who will be feeding, walking, grooming and cleaning up after the dog and make sure all parties are in full agreement with the arrangement. If you’re getting the dog for your children to take care of, be prepared: Even the most eager of kids can become bored easily and the day-to-day care of the dog probably will become your responsibility.
Once you’ve established that a dog will fit into your life, you’ll need to select one. First, do you want a puppy or an adult? Raising a puppy can be enjoyable and quite fulfilling. Think of a puppy as a clean slate, an opportunity to “mold” a dog to suit your lifestyle. But also consider a dog’s life span: A puppy means a 10- to 15-year commitment.
Raising a puppy is a lot of work and often very frustrating. Housebreaking is difficult and cleaning up puddles and piles is no fun. At some time or another, almost every puppy chews – often beyond recognition – something that his owner values. Most puppies, particularly the large sporting breeds like Labrador retrievers, are very energetic and require a lot of exercise. Perhaps the hardest part about raising a puppy is teaching him general etiquette, the nuts and bolts of living with his owner.
Bringing in an adult dog has advantages and disadvantages. While an adult dog usually knows the basics of domestic living – how to sit, stay and go to the bathroom outside – he may come with baggage from his former living situation. But in general, his behavior patterns are set –an advantage for an owner that wants to be assured that she “clicks” with her new pet.
You’ll also need to choose between a purebred and a mixed-breed dog. Purebred dogs come with canine “roadmaps” detailing their personality traits, idiosyncrasies and health profiles. However, purebreds are often less hardy than mixed breeds, both physically and often emotionally, as a result of inbreeding. Mixed breeds are also often less subject to the behavioral extremes seen in many of the purebred dogs.
If you’ve decided on a purebred dog, you’ll need to select a breed that is compatible with your lifestyle and with your reasons for wanting a dog. With over 140 American Kennel Club (AKC)-recognized breeds, and many more breeds beyond this, there are a lot to choose from. If you want a rough-and-tumble dog to play with, for example, you’re barking up the wrong tree if you get a lumbering Basset hound. Looking for a mellow little house dog that’s an easy keeper? Think about a Cavalier King Charles spaniel rather than a Border collie, who would probably herd you around the house. Kids at home? Some breeds, like golden retrievers, are known for their gentle disposition. Have allergies? Consider one of the “hypoallergenic” breeds, like the Wheaten terrier. Temperament, size, appearance and general breed characteristics – such as grooming requirements – must be taken into account when choosing a breed.
Gender is another important consideration. Male dogs, particularly those that aren’t neutered are more likely to roam and fight with other dogs. Male dogs often require longer walks because they tend to urinate in multiple locations. Female dogs, on the other hand, are pregnancy risks until they can be spayed.
Where to Find Your Dog
Dog shelters are a wonderful option for locating either a mixed-breed or a purebred dog; some 30 percent of shelter dogs are purebred. At most of the approximately 4,000 shelters in the United States, there are almost endless choices of dogs available in many varieties – some you probably didn’t even know existed. Adoption fees, if any, are nominal. And you’ll feel good knowing you’ve saved a life.
Breeders are a good option if you want to know more about the background of your new dog; the AKC can refer you to a breeder near you (919-233-9767).
Pet shops are another available option but one that is not highly recommended. Pet shop pups, while generally purebred, often originate in inhumanely-operated puppy mills. Also, these pups are often unhealthy and genetically unsound, due to poor housing and irresponsible breeding practices, respectively.
Should I get a Puppy or an Adult Dog?
by: PetPlace Staff
A puppy has the potential to be in your family longer than an adult dog.
You have decided to open your heart and your home to a dog. Now you need to decide whether to adopt an adult or a puppy. Each has advantages and disadvantages and the final decision is based on your family's needs and lifestyle.
Advantages of an Adult
Adult dogs are full-grown when they are adopted. You don’t have to guess how big the dog will get. The trial-and-error learning phase is already over. The adult dog is usually housebroken and sleeps through the night. He doesn't need so many trips to the vet and has outgrown his impulse to take everything in his mouth and chew on it. An older dog – especially one who has already shared a household or played with other pets – is more likely to meld into the existing hierarchy established by your other dogs and cats.
Advantages of a Puppy
A puppy is a clean slate. You get to teach him and watch him grow. Puppies are adorable and entertaining. When adopting a puppy, you get the advantage of developing a strong lifelong bond. A puppy has the potential to be in your family longer than an adult dog.
Disadvantages of an Adult
Some adult dogs are available for adoption due to behavior problems. In an adult dog, some of these negative behaviors can make a difficult pet. You are unsure of the environment the dog came from. The fact that they yelled at him, gave him confusing commands or didn't do a good job of keeping him from tearing up the house might be the reason he ended up in the shelter. Or maybe his previous owners spoiled and pampered him, indulging all his doggy desires. Also, it might take the grown-up dog more time to bond with you.
Disadvantages of a Puppy
Even with the best guess, you are not sure of the puppy’s final size and weight. During their early life, puppies can be destructive. Housetraining can be frustrating and training takes time and patience.
After learning about the positive and negative aspects of puppies and adult dogs, step back and take a look at your life. Do you have the time and patience it takes to raise a puppy? If so, you will have a loving pet that you have trained to fit perfectly into your family. If you are willing to adopt an older dog, even with minor flaws, you will have a greatly, devoted companion.
Click this link for more information on "Picking the Perfect Puppy"
Should I get another Dog?
by: Alex Lieber
Should you get a “pet” for your pet? This question is often asked of veterinarians, but the answer is not as simple as the question. Many people want to get another pet so the resident dog or cat will have a playmate during working hours. The intentions are noble but sometimes they are done out of guilt and not in the best interest of the pet. In many ways, pets are like people; just putting two together does not mean they’ll get along.
In a perfect world, they would. Of course, in a perfect world, there would be peace on earth, perpetually low gas prices and little or no back pain. The worst-case scenario is a nightmare indeed: the animals injure each other and wreck the house. Instead of one pet that you believed was lonely, you have two who are unquestionably miserable.
Cats are especially territorial and not prone to welcoming newcomers. This isn’t to say that all cats will hate a fresh companion. Cats that have been socialized with other kittens when young will more likely accept another cat or even a small puppy.
Incidentally, don’t get a “playmate” for your cat in the form of an animal that she considers prey. Getting a bird or hamster for your cat will very likely result in tragedy.
The same goes for dogs. You should be selective in what sort of playmate your dog may enjoy – if he needs one at all. A dog tends to be more accepting, but remember – they are very hierarchal. A dominant dog may try to usurp the resident dog’s position. If both are dominant, they may fight it out.
The best solution is to avoid the problem in the first place by getting two pets at the same time, while both are kittens or puppies. They’ll grow up with each other and consider all of you to be one big family.
You could also hire a sitter to walk your dog or visit your cat during the day, which may break up the tedium. A solution that is gaining popularity is to drop dogs off at doggie day care, where he gets to play with human handlers and other dogs. (Your dog will have to be carefully screened before being accepted to avoid aggression.)
Although some facilities do offer kitty day care services, cats are more stressed when they are taken from the home and placed in a strange facility day after day. A visitor they like is much more comforting for a cat.
If you think your pet iguana is lonely, you need to brush up on your knowledge. Except for breeding, reptiles should not, as a general rule, be housed together. The same goes for many other pets. Research before you arbitrarily decide if your pet is in need of company.
That said, some animals are quite social and do better with a friend. Rats are very social. They enjoy the company of people and other rats. Birds such as finches, canaries and lovebirds also thrive with a companion. They are so devoted that many bond with their mates for life.
Bringing Your Dog Home:
Avid Friend Chip
Object shown not actual size.
- PASSIVE No power supply to replace or cause harm to animals.
- SMALL About the size of a grain of rice.
- SIMPLE Standard injection procedure implants the identity tag quickly and safely. No anesthesia is required or recommended.
- SAFE The micro-electronic device is encapsulated within a proven bio-compatible glass.
- RELlABLE Accident or injury to the animal will not prevent the reading of the identity tag.
- UNIQUE Each identity tag is manufactured and programmed under computer control to insure against duplication of I.D. codes. No two animals would have the same number.
- UNALTERABLE Once implanted, the identity tag is virtually impossible to retrieve. Surgical removal, using the most advanced radiograph techniques available, is extremely difficult. The number can never be altered.
Microchip Reader :
- Generates a low energy radio signal that energizes the identity tag to transmit its unique number.
- The received number is displayed on a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) in an easy to read format.
- Reading time is measured in "Milliseconds".
- Can transmit via a standard RS-232 interface to a computer supporting custom applications.*
- Manual, Remote or Computer controlled operational capability.*
- Battery powered. Standard 9V or rechargable.*
- Compact and lightweight. Total unit weighs less than two pounds. AVlD's intelligent and thoughtful design has produced an identity tag reader that is practical for use in both field and clinic environment.
Choosing a Name
- Names should be short. A two-syllable name is best because it is short, yet it won't be confused with one-syallable commands such a "Sit" or "No".
- Be consistent. All family members should use the same name, using nicknames or variations may confuse the dog.
- Reward your dog's recognition of his name with lots of praise and play, that way he'll associate his name with good things.
Dog-Proof Your Home
- Restrict access to plants that may be harmful to your dog. Known dangerous plants for dogs are: poinsettas, rhododendrons, azaleas, dumb cane, oleander, English ivy, and Japanese yew.
- Keep household cleaners and chemicals out of the dog's reach.
- Hide or cover electrical cords so the dog can't chew on them.
- Store breakable items safely out of the way.
- Safely store antifreeze, engine oil, lawn chemicals, and laundry detergents.
- Use a cover and/or protectivie fencing if you have a pool or a hot tub.
- Keep kid's toys off the floor, since some parts may be small enough for your dog to swallow.
- Bring him home when it's quiet and you don't have company over. Try to choose a time when your routine is normal.
- Show him the area of the yard that will be his bathroom before you bring him inside. Then take him there whenever he goes outside.
- Give your dog his own room where you can keep his crate (complete with chew toys and bedding) and leave the crate door open. Your puppy will consider this his "den" and will feel safe in it. You may want to put down newspaper to prepare for any accidents.
- Supervise your puppy at all times, and make sure to play with him several times a day. This is the way you will establish yourself as the pack leader.
- Give him bathroom breaks every few hours, as well as right after eating, drinking, sleeping, or playing. Watch your dog for signals that he needs to go outside, such as sniffing or circling. Never punish your dog for accidents in the house, instead praise him when he goes in the correct spot outside. Positive reinforcement always works best.
From the Veterinarians at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
TYPICAL SPECIES EXPOSED AND AFFECTED
COMMONLY OBSERVED SIGNS
Drunken appearance, abdominal pain, respiratory depression, cardiac arrest
Weakness, vomiting, incoordination, tremors
Raisins and grapes
Dogs, possibly other species
Vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, lethargy, kidney failure
Dogs, cats, rabbits, goats, cattle, horses, birds
Vomiting, diarrhea, inflammation of the mammary glands in some species, heart and respiratory problems in some species
Dogs, cats, small mammals
Vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures
Dogs, cats, small mammals
Drunken appearance, vomiting, lethargy, respiratory depression
Dogs, cats, other small mammals, horses, birds, reptiles, livestock
Vomiting, drunken appearance, excessive drinking and urinating, seizures, kidney failure
Dogs, cats, small mammals, birds
Oral and esophageal burns
Dogs, cats, small mammals, birds, horses
Vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, electrolyte imbalances
Dogs, cats, small mammals
Shock or electrocution
Dogs, cats, small mammals
Injury to the mouth or gastrointestinal tract, foreign body obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract
Dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, reptiles
Foreign body obstruction, corrosive injury to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract
Human cough/cold/flu medicines
Dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, reptiles
May affect one or more body systems, life-threatening conditions possible
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
Dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, reptiles
Mild gastrointestinal upset
Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata)
Dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, reptiles
Mistletoe (Phoradendron serotinum)
Dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, reptiles
Gastrointestinal upset, lowered blood pressure, cardiovascualr collapse, other variable signs
American Holly (llex opaca)
Dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, reptiles
Gastrointestinal upset, depression
Christmas tree preservative
Dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, reptiles
Mild gastrointestinal upset
Dogs, horses, cattle
Gastrointestinal upset, foreign body obstruction, kidney failure
- Collar tags. The most common and visible form of I.D., simply attach the tag to your dog's collar with your dog's name and phone number. For this to work, your pet must wear his collar at all times, and there is always the risk of the tags becoming detached.
- Tattoos. Tattoos are more permanent than a tag, and a tattooed pet I.D. number links your dog to the AKC's Companion Animal Recovery Program. Call 1-800-252-7894 to learn more.
- Microchips. Another permanent form of I.D., a microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It is painlessly implanted under the dog's skin (no anesthesia or surgery is required.) The microchip contains an alphanumeric code that can be read by animal shelters equipped with a hand scanner. The shelter then notifies the chip manufacturer that the pet has been found, and the manufacturer contacts the owner. At Dublin Animal Hospital, we would be glad to microchip your animal to ensure a permanent form of identification for your pet. Because a tattoo or microchip can go undetected, it is best to also make sure your dog has a collar with tags.
Meeting Children and Introducing other Pets
Meeting ChildrenYou'll want to encourage your children to play with the new dog, but make sure to supervise the first interactions between the dog and your children. Also, setting play-time limits is a good idea. Try 15-20 minutes two to three times a day at first. Here are some basic ground rules to explain:
- No rough teasing or playing. Tell your kids that forms of teasing, such as tail-pulling, can lead to bad habits like jumping up on people.
- Be gentle. Kids should never shout at the dog, even if he does something wrong. Explain to your children that dogs can be startled by loud noises.
Introducing Other PetsTo help your animal meet your other resident animals, you'll want to:
- Do it gradually. Keep them separated for the first few days.
- Keep him safely in his crate (or behind a doggie gate) as you supervise their first meeting.
- After several days of sniffing each other out, let your resident pet enter the den while your new dog is out of the crate.
Supplies You’ll Need
- Premium puppy food (if he is a puppy) or premium dog food. Talk to your veterinarian about a good food choice for your dog
- Stainless-steel or ceramic non-tipping food and water bowls
- I.D. tags with the contact information for yourself and your veterinarian
- A collar and a 6 foot leather or nylon leash, the collar should fit snugly but still allow 1-2 fingers width of space between collar and neck
- An air-line approved home and travel crate (large enough to transport him as he grows)
- Dog shampoo
- Brushes and combs
- Nail Clipper
- Cleanup supplies such as stain remover, paper towels, deodorizing spray
- Safe chew toys
- Bedding, pick something washable
Taking Care of Your Dog:
Grooming and Veterinary Care
by: PetPlace Staff
Grooming is an important part of your dog’s health program. “Grooming” is a word used to describe shampooing, drying, hair cutting, nail trimming, ear cleaning and anal gland expression. Mats are removed and dead hair brushed out. Not only does grooming make your dog clean and odor free, but it also stimulates the blood supply to the skin, giving your pet a healthier and shinier coat.
Grooming can also help you bond with your pet, but you need to know what’s involved. You may be able to perform some grooming, but want to leave the tougher aspects to a professional. Or you may find that you have the right knack to do it all. Here are some things to think about:
Who Will Do the Grooming? The first question to ask yourself is do you do it yourself or find a professional? The answer to this question lies in the time, money and equipment that you own to groom and the cooperative personality of your pet. Please see the related article on how to find a professional groomer.
How Often? That all depends on your pet. Factors include: his hair coat, hair length, how often he gets dirty, where he lives (if he is indoor or outdoors most of the time), shedding cycle, and any underlying skin problem (please see our related article, "Top Medical Reasons for Grooming Your Dog"). Some dogs need baths only a couple times year while others need weekly grooming. It is beneficial to brush your dog about twice a week. Bathing your dog every month or two isn’t unreasonable, but some dogs will need more frequent cleanings. A good rule of thumb is to bathe your pet only when his coat gets dirty or begins to smell “doggy.
When Do You Start? Start regular grooming when you first bring your dog home and make it a part of his routine. Praise your dog when he holds still and soon he will come to enjoy the extra attention. Get him used to having his paws handled while still a puppy. Once you start using the nail trimmers, go slowly: Try trimming just a few nails in one sitting. Maintain a regular schedule and be persistent. Your pet will eventually develop patience and learn to cooperate.
What Tools Do You Need? That depends on your dog’s hair type and length. Purchase a good-quality brush and comb and get your dog used to being handled. Types of hair coats include a long double, long silky, short smooth, short double, short wiry, curly or hairless. Some breeds have special grooming needs, so ask your vet or a professional groomer for advice on particular equipment necessary for your pet. Certain grooming supplies (see related articles) work best with the different coat types, such as slicker brushes, curved combs and rakes.
If you decide to handle all aspects of grooming, you need to know how to thoroughly take care of your dog’s hygiene. The following gives you a good description of what good grooming is all about.
Brushing and Combing. Many dogs maintain a healthy skin and hair coat with minimal assistance; others – especially some longhaired or curly-haired breeds – require regular brushing. For most dogs, a good brushing once or twice a week will keep the hair coat in good condition and minimize shedding all over your house!
Dealing with Mats. Removing hair mats is fraught with potential complications. Many mats are firmly attached to the skin, so you must be extremely careful not to cut the skin as you cut off the mat. Many small mats can be removed with a thorough brushing. If mats remain, try to make the mat smaller by brushing the hair near the mat. Once you are sure that the mat can only be removed by cutting the hair, then go for the scissors. Clippers are the safest and best way to remove matted hair. Unfortunately, most people do not own clippers and must make do with scissors. Be very careful. For severely matted pets, it is easier and safer to see a groomer for professional help.
Clipping. This is best done using a professional clipper. Follow instructions that come with the clippers. Keep blades sharpened. Clean blades with a professional lubricant. Every breed has “standards” for how they should look. For your dog's “standard”, consult a book at the library for pictures or pay attention to how your pet is clipped when he comes back from a professional groomer. Do not use any sharp objects like scissors around you pet’s eyes and face.
Bathing and Shampooing. Before using any shampoo on your pet, protect his eyes with a drop of mineral oil or eye ointment. Do not use human shampoo since the pH for a dog is different than for you. Bring your dog into the tub. If you have a bathing tether, attach one end to his collar and the suction cup to the bathtub. Ladle the warm water over him. If you use a sprayer, use it on low and hold it gently against his coat so the spraying action doesn't scare him. When he's thoroughly wet, apply the shampoo on his back and work it gently through the coat for about 10 minutes. Be careful not to get soap in his face or mouth. Use a washcloth or sponge to clean and rinse his face, and a soft brush to clean the paws, between toes and nails. When bathing your dog, make sure to rinse all the soap out of his coat. The rinsing cycle is very important. You want to do it twice to make sure all the soap is rinsed off. (Leaving soap on the dog can cause an allergic reaction.)
Skin Care. Skin problems including fleas, ticks and mites or allergies and infections are common among dogs. Most conditions are manageable with early detection and treatment. If you notice excessive scratching, hair loss or flaky skin, contact your veterinarian. If your pet is continuously exposed to fleas and ticks, speak to your veterinarian about products to minimize the impact of these parasites on the skin. Remember that a consistently poor hair coat with lots of skin flaking may indicate a deeper medical problem. Your veterinarian may prescribe a shampoo to combat your pet’s problems.
Drying. After a bath, gently squeeze out excess water and finish drying him with towels. You can dry your pet with a clean absorbent towel, a dryer or let him dry naturally. You can also let him shake off much of the excess water but you may want to wait until he is outside. Hold his head still until you get him outside. He cannot shake if you are holding his head securely. If you use a hair dryer, keep the heat and blow force on low. Special care must be taken not to over heat your pet or burn him if you are using a dryer. Remember to dry the inside of the ears with cotton balls to prevent infection. Keep your dog away from any drafts until his coat is completely dry.
Nail Trims. Dogs’ nails can get very long and eventually get caught on something, causing a painful torn nail. While trimming nails is a painless and simple process, it takes practice and patience to master the skill. Two important factors are knowing where to trim and having the right tools. Have your veterinarian show you how to do it the first time. If you are ready to trim, using a nail trimmer for pets, cut the nail below the quick at a 45-degree angle, with the cutting end of the nail clipper toward the end of the nail. In dogs with dark nails, make several small nips with the clippers instead of one larger one. Trim very thin slices off the end of the nail until you see a black dot appear towards the center when you look at it head on. This is the start of the quick that you want to avoid. Trim nails so that when the animal steps down, nails do not touch the floor.
Anal Gland Expression. Anal glands are small scent glands that sit on each side of the rectum. Some groomers express the anal glands on a regular basis. If your pet is not having problems with them (pain, scooting, constant licking), then we suggest that you leave them alone. Although not often easy to do at home, you can learn to express your pet’s anal glands. Take a thick paper towel or tissues and gently grasp the area around the anal gland. Squeeze the area and usually the content of the anal gland will be released. You may want to ask your veterinarian to show you how to do this before you try it yourself.
Ear Care. Those long floppy ears are endearing but they cover your dog’s ear canal creating a moist warm environment that lacks air circulation. This can cause your dog to suffer from chronic ear infections that can be difficult to cure. Cocker spaniels and golden retrievers are just a few of the breeds that suffer from this common problem. Notice any discharge, redness or swelling. If you suspect an ear infection, see your veterinarian for evaluation and treatment.
Eye Care. Small amounts of discharge can accumulate on the inside aspect of the lower lid, similar to people. Clean any matter from the area around the eye. Before using any shampoo on your pet, protect his eyes with a drop of mineral oil or eye ointment. Some dogs have a chronic problem with drainage from the eyes. This problem may have many causes. Check with your veterinarian to help rule out any medical conditions that can be solved. If the drainage is persistent, make sure you keep it wiped away. Skin and fur that stays constantly moist can discolor and become infected. Eyes without sufficient tears or lubrication can become dry and lead to a variety of eye problems.
Tooth and Dental Care. The end to any good grooming includes checking your dog’s mouth and teeth. Dental disease is common in dogs. Checking the mouth frequently can help you spot trouble before it becomes a big problem. Your veterinarian can show you how to keep your dog’s teeth clean with brushes and toothpastes designed specifically for dogs.
Many canine diseases can now be prevented through vaccination. A vaccination schedule prepared by your veterinarian can thus greatly contribute to good health and a longer life span for your dog. At Dublin Animal Hospital, we emphasize the importance of a vaccination schedule for your canine. Below are the most important diseases for which vaccines are currently available:
Canine Distemper is a widespread, often fatal disease. All dogs should be vaccinated against distemper, starting with distemper-measles vaccination at 6-9 weeks of age.
Canine adenovirus type-1 and type-2 cause infectious hepatitis and respiratory infection, respectively. Hepatitis cause by adenovirus type-1 may cause severe kidney damage or death. Adenovirus type-2 is an important factor in kennel cough.
Canine Bordetella (B. bronchiseptica) may contribute to kennel cough. This bacterial infection can occur alone or in combination with distemper, adenovirus type-2 infection, parainfluenza, and other respiratory problems.
Canine leptospirosis is a bacterial infection which may lead to permanent kidney damage. The disease is easily spread to other pets and to humans.
Canine parainfluenza is another cause of kennel cough. Although parainfluenza is often a mild respiratory infection in otherwise healthy dogs, it can be severe in puppies or debilitated dogs.
Canine parvovirus infection is a disease of widespread distribution which may cause severe dehydrating diarrhea in dogs of varying ages. Parvovirus is especially dangerous for puppies.
Rabies, on of the world's most publicized and feared diseases, is almost always fatal. Rabies virus attacks the brain and central nervous system, and is transmitted to humans chiefly through the bite of an infected animal.
Canine coronavirus infection is a highly contagious intestinal disease causing vomiting and diarrhea in dogs of all ages. Especially in young puppies, dehydration from coronavirus infection can be life-threatening.
Protect your dog from infectious diseases by keeping vaccinations up to date. Vaccinations stimulate your dog's system to develop immunity. Because they prevent disease but do not cure disease, they must be administered before your dog is exposed and infected. Your dog's vaccination schedule depends on several factors: the age and health of your dog, and conditions in your dog's environment. At Dublin Animal Hospital, we would be happy to help you plan a vaccination schedule so that your dog's vaccinations are up to date.
Puppies should receive their first vaccinations between six and ten weeks of age. They also need to have additional vaccinations about three weeks after the first set. Puppy shots are not effective for life, so it is important to keep up with vaccinations throughout your dog's life.
Adult dogs need to receive booster vaccinations every year.
- Exceptional muscle tone
- Healthy bones and teeth
- A luxurious, shiny coat
- Clear, bright eyes
- Small and firm stools
- A happy, healthy, playful attitude
- The name of the food gives clues about how much of an ingredient is actually present. For example, foods that include a protein source in the product name ("Beef Formula") must contain at least 25% of the named ingredient; words "with" or "flavor" ("with beef", "beef flavor") could mean there's as little as 3% of this ingredient.
- The ingredient panel lists all food sources in the product in descending order by precooked weight. For dry food, make sure the first ingredient is a source of high-quality protein, such as chicken or lamb.
- The guaranteed analysis gives the precentage breakdown of the basic nutrients in the formula- protein, fiber and moisture content, for example.
- The nuritional adequacy statement should say that the company conducted "animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures," which indicate that the food was actually fed to dogs and found to be adequate.
- The manufacturer phone number should be included. The words "packed for" or "distributed by" in this area, however, may indicate that the food was processed by a third-party manufacturer.
Like most other animals, dogs are plagued by a wide variety of internal and external parasites. Unfortunately, many of these parasites have complex life cycles which enable them to survive even in the best-kept households.
At Dublin Animal Hospital, we know how to monitor and control canine parasites through regular examinations and proper treatment. Initial deworming may be necessary at 4-6 weeks of age, followed by several treatments during the first year of life. Where heartworms are a problem, regular medication for prevention of heartworm infection should start prior to the mosquito season. It is unwise to attempt to deworm a dog yourself: under certain conditions, you could cause physical damage or even death to the animal.
If left unchecked, parasites can be dangerous for your dog's health. The following are some common parasites to be aware of:
Fleas & Ticks: Ask your veterinarian how to prevent infection.
Ringworm: Actually a fungal skin infection, it frequently attacks puppies and is easily passed to humans.
Intestinal Roundworms, Hookworms, Tapeworms: a common problem in puppies. Puppies may be exposed to these parasites through their environment, mother's milk, or even before birth. Effective treatment is available. At Dublin Animal Hospital, we can examine your puppy's stool to make sure they are parasite-free.
Heartworms: carried by mosquitoes, heartworm disease can be fatal. Talk to your veterinarian for a recommended prevention program.
Fighting the Flea
Types of commercial products available for flea control include flea collars, shampoos, sprays, powders and dips. Other, newer, products include oral and systemic spot-on insecticides.
In the past, topical insecticide sprays, powders and dips were the most popular. However, the effect was often temporary. Battling infestations requires attacking areas where the eggs, larvae, pupae and adults all congregate. Because some stages of a flea’s life can persist for months, chemicals with residual action are needed and should be repeated periodically. Sprays or foggers, which require leaving the house for several hours, should be used twice in 2-week intervals and then every two months during the flea season.
Treating animals and their living areas thoroughly and at the same time is vital; otherwise some fleas will survive and re-infest your pet. You may even need to treat your yard or kennel with an insecticide, if the infestation is severe enough.
The vacuum cleaner can be a real aid in removing flea eggs and immature forms. Give special attention to cracks and corners. At the end of vacuuming, either vacuum up some flea powder into your vacuum bag, or throw the bag out. Otherwise, the cleaner will only serve as an incubator, releasing more fleas into the environment as they hatch. In some cases, you may want to obtain the services of a licensed pest control company. These professionals have access to a variety of insecticides and they know what combinations work best in your area.
The choice of flea control should depend on your pet's life-style and potential for exposure. Through faithful use of these systemic monthly flea products, the total flea burden on your pet and in the immediate environment can be dramatically reduced. Keeping your pet on monthly flea treatments, especially in areas of high flea risk, is an excellent preventive method of flea control. These products often eliminate the need for routine home insecticidal use, especially in the long run. Although it may still be prudent in heavy flea environments to treat the premises initially, the advent of these newer systemic flea products has dramatically simplified, and made flea control safer and more effective. Talk to your veterinarian about flea prevention.
Many methods have been tried to remove ticks, many of which are not recommended. Applying a recently extinguished match or even a still lit match to the body of the tick will NOT cause the tick to back out and fall off. The mouth-parts only let go when the tick has completed the meal. Also, applying fingernail polish will suffocate the tick but will not cause the tick to fall off.
The best recommendation to remove a tick is to use a tweezers or commercially available tick removal device and pull the tick off. Do not touch the tick since diseases can be transmitted. Consider wearing gloves when removing a tick.
With a tweezers or tick removal device, grab the tick as close to the head as possible. With steady, gentle pressure, pull the tick out of the skin. Frequently, pieces of skin may come off with the tick.
If the head of the tick remains in the skin, try to grab it and remove as much as possible. If you are unable to remove the entire head, don’t fret. This is not life threatening. Your pet’s immune system will try to dislodge the head by creating a site of infection or even a small abscess.
Usually no additional therapy is needed, but if you are concerned, contact your family veterinarian. There are surgical instruments that can be used to remove the remaining part of the tick.
Tick Control and Prevention
Control and prevention of ticks is extremely important in reducing the risk of disease associated with ticks. This includes removing the ticks as soon as possible and trying to prevent attachment.
Tick avoidance requires avoiding environments that harbor them. Extra care should be taken in the woods and areas with tall grass or low brushes. When traveling, be aware that certain areas of the country have a much higher incidence of ticks (i.e. the northeast). In addition, since they can be carried unknowingly from one place to another on clothing or the body, it is always possible for an individual or animal to come into contact with a tick.
Ticks may be killed by spraying, dipping, bathing, or powdering, or applying topical medications to affected individuals with appropriate tick-killing products. Tick collars or products applied topically may act to prevent attachment of new ticks and to promote detachment of ticks already attached.
There are many products on the market that control ticks. Some are over the counter; others are prescription, only available through your veterinarian. Whether one purchases an over the counter or prescription product, it is a good idea to consult your veterinarian first.
Some of the safest and most effective products that your veterinarian may recommend include topical spot-on products and certain tick collars. Topical spot-on products are generally applied on the skin between your pet's shoulders once a month. Some are effective against other parasites as well (i.e. fleas, internal parasites).Tick products for dogs should NEVER be used on cats because severe toxicity and death may occur.
Ticks are considered excellent carriers and transmitters of various diseases. Ticks within the Ixodidae (hard tick) family transmit the majority of disease. The brown dog tick and the American dog tick are the most common carriers of disease. This includes cytauxzoon, ehrlichia and Lyme disease.
Although all ticks have the potential to transmit disease, the vast majority of tick bites are disease-free. Still it is a good idea to check your pet frequently for any signs of ticks, after he or she comes back from a potential tick infested area, even if using tick prevention medications. Finding these pests and quickly removing them are important methods of controlling potential disease. The sooner ticks are removed from your pet, the less likely any disease transmission will occur.
The best method of controlling disease transmission is through a combination of tick avoidance and using tick preventative medications.
Your veterinarian can decide the best method of tick control for your pet, based on his or her risk factors (potential exposure, life-style, geographic location), and the need for any additional parasite control coverage. The advent of the many tick control medications has made tick control and prevention of disease easier and safer than ever.
Among the important gastrointestinal parasites of dogs are roundworms (Toxocara species), hookworms (Ancylostoma tubaeforme, Ancylostoma braziliense and Uncinaria stenocephala), stomach worms (Physaloptera spp.), tapeworms (Diplylidium caninum, Taenia taeniaeformis) and microscopic parasites Coccidia, Giardia and Strongyloides species.
How Parasites Are Acquired:
- Ingestion of eggs. Most infections are acquired by ingestion of microscopic eggs. This occurs when a dog licks areas where other dogs have defecated, like yards, parks or grass.
- At birth. Many puppies are born with intestinal parasites (usually roundworms) that have been passed from the mother, where the parasite was in an encysted, quiet state.
- From intermediate host. Tapeworms are transmitted by an intermediate host when a dog swallows a flea or eats a rabbit.
It should be emphasized that some parasites – especially roundworms and hookworms – can also affect people, especially children. For that reason, it is essential to prevent intestinal parasites in our pets and to treat any resultant infection.
Parasitic diseases range from trivial to fatal disease. Parasites can cause severe disease in immature puppies, sick or debilitated pets, or in pets with a suppressed immune system. Younger pets often get acute disease (vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and anemia) whereas older pets get chronic disease such as intermittent diarrhea.
What to Watch For:
- Skin lesions
Because parasitism is easily confused with other debilitating conditions, diagnosis depends on the following:
- Medical history and physical examination, including observations of worms in the stool or vomitus.
- Fecal examination for microscopic eggs or larvae. This is the most common approach to diagnosis as most pets do not appear ill.
- CBC – Complete blood count if anemia is suspected (as with a hookworm infection) or if the pet is showing symptoms of illness.
Other blood tests may reveal concurrent problems.
Treatments for intestinal parasites may include one or more of the following:
Routine deworming in puppies – This is the ideal approach. All immature pets should treated at the first veterinary examination and regularly dewormed during the first year. In general, every dog less than one year of age should be given an anthelmintic (anti-parasite drug) for ascarids regardless of fecal results. This is in part to protect the environment from contamination with microscopic eggs that might infect children.
A yearly fecal check and treatment is recommended for adult pets, especially if they are not taking heartworm preventatives that would prevent development of intestinal worms.
Other treatments may include fluid therapy for debilitated pets or blood transfusion and iron supplementation (if necessary for severe blood loss as with hookworm infections).
Home Care and Prevention
At home administer any prescribed medications and follow-up with your veterinarian for examinations and repeated fecal (stool) tests as needed.
Some microscopic eggs can live in the environment (such as the yard) for weeks to months and cause re-infection. Clean up yard weekly and minimize roaming of pets in places like parks where exposure and infection are possible.
Many health care specialists recommend a fecal sample from all adult animals at least yearly, a sample at each puppy vaccination visit, and a follow up sample at the appropriate interval after the last deworming medication has been given.
With primarily outdoor dogs, it may be advisable to evaluate stool samples every three to six months if risk of infection is high. One may also consider heartworm preventatives that also prevent intestinal parasites.
Intestinal parasites are a common cause of vomiting and diarrhea in dogs; however, other medical problems can lead to similar symptoms.
One must exclude disorders such as viral infection, ingestion of spoiled or toxic food, ingestion of irritating or toxic substances, or bacterial infections, before establishing a definite diagnosis of disease from parasite infection.
Top 4 Reasons to Test Your Pet Before Anesthesia
- You deserve peace of mind. Testing can significantly reduce the medical risk and ensure you pet's health and safety.
- Pet's can't tell us when they don't feel well. A healthy-appearing pet may be hiding symptoms of a disease or ailment. For example, a pet can lose up to 75% of kidney function before showing any signs of illness. Testing helps us evaluate the health of your pet's liver and kidneys, so we can avoid problems related to anesthesia.
- Testing can reduce risks. If results of the pre-anesthetic test are within normal ranges, we can proceed with confidence, knowing the anesthetic risk is minimized. On the other hand, if results are not within normal ranges, we alter the anesthetic procedure to safeguard your pet's health.
- Testing can help protect your pet's future health. These tests provide baseline levels for your pet and become part of his or her medical chart for future reference.
Spaying & Neutering
The First Vet Appointment
Scheduling your dog regular visits to the veterinarian is key to ensuring your dog's health and happiness. If you have time, you can introduce your dog to his new veterinarian by scheduling an orientation-only visit. Let the staff pet him and offer some treats. By projecting a calm and upbeat attitude, your dog will likely remain calm as well. Some experts recommend scheduling "drop-in" visits on a regular basis.
At the first appointment for your dog, you'll be asked basic information, and a staff member will weigh your pet. Keeping track of your dog's weight can help identify any problems associated with weight gain or loss. Afterwards, you'll meet your veterinarian and be asked about your dog's diet and lifestyle. The vet will examine him and may administer his first vaccinations.
Your relationship with your veterinarian is very important, because he or she is your best source of information. However, knowing what is healthy and normal can help you report any abnormalities to your vet as soon as possible. Here are some guidelines as to what's normal:
Eyes: should be bright and clear. Any discharge in the corners should be removed gently with a cotton ball soaked in warm water, wiping away from the eye.
Ears: should be clean and free of discharge and odor. Ear problems are painful and can cause hearing loss if not treated.
Nose: should be wet and clean, without discharge or sores.
Mouth: gums should be pink and healthy. Teeth need to be clean and tartar-free. Bad breath is indicative of poor dental health. Also check the lips for sores.
Coat: your puppy's coat should be shiny and clean.
Weight: Do a rib check- with your hands facing down, thumbs on your dog's spine, run your hand along its sides. Can't easily feel his ribs? If not, your pet is overweight and is at risk for serious health problems. Consult your veterinarian for nutritional advice.
Training Your Dog:
Benefits of Early Socialization
Building the Perfect Puppy:by W Hunthausen, DVM Although dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, puppies are still not born into this world with a natural sense of social comfort with humans. Trust must be learned by the puppies and earned from us. This makes early social interaction essential for normal social development. Timely involvement is the key, since pups go through a very sensitive period during the first few months of life of when they are exceptionally open to developing positive social attachments with humans.
The Socialization Period – That Special Time in LifeAround the fourth week of life, puppies enter into a very sensitive period called the socialization period. This phase lasts through the twelfth week of life, and many important changes occur during this time. The beginning of this stage is closely associated with major maturational changes in the central nervous system. All sensory systems become well developed and functioning by this point and learning capacity is rapidly developing. While previous, early periods involved changes in basic sensory and motor capacities, this period is one of rapid development of social behavior patterns. The early phase of the socialization period is characterized by a willingness to approach new and moving objects. Investigative behavior becomes apparent and puppies begin exploring away from the nest area. Social following and early signs of pack behavior emerge. During this time, there is a marked increase in interaction with littermates, the mother and the environment. Gradually, as the mother spends less time with the puppies, the interaction and relationship between littermates strengthens. This intraspecies interaction is important for normal social development, and that is why it is important to keep puppies with their mothers and littermates for at least the first seven to eight weeks of life. In regard to behavior and temperament development, this is absolutely the most important period in a dog’s life. The experiences the pup has during this period are critical in determining primary social relationships. It is a time during which relationships are easiest to initiate. A small amount of experience during this period will produce a major effect on later behavior. How comfortable and confident the puppy will be with members of the same and other species is directly related to the quality and quantity of social experiences it has during this time. Besides being an open window for development of social relationships, it also is a period of extreme sensitivity to traumatic experiences. The sensitivity necessary to facilitate the formation of social relationships makes the puppy vulnerable to psychological trauma. Fear responses are evident at this time, and startle reactions to sound and sudden movement may be pronounced. With time, though, the puppies will learn to discriminate between stimuli associated with dangerous situations and those that are insignificant. Frequent, gentle handling and avoidance of distressing events are important in order to prevent fear responses and avoidance of humans from developing.
Setting the Puppy Up to Succeed in LifeFriendly interactions with a wide variety of people and other pets are the key to socializing young pups. It is especially important for them to be around all types of non-family members in diverse situations so they will behave appropriately in all kinds of situations when they get older. This should be done gradually to avoid overwhelming the puppy. An excellent way for you to facilitate socialization of your pup is to use “socialization treats.” You should take the pet out to meet people armed with small biscuit treats or a bag of puppy kibble. Whenever your pet sees someone new (e.g. jogger, cyclist, postal delivery person, etc.) and shows no sign of avoidance or anxiety, you should request it to sit and give a treat. As the pup gets the hang of this game, you can give each person a biscuit treat to give to the pup. If there are no children at home, it is particularly important that you frequently take the pet to homes with children or see that children are brought to your home for visits. This is especially important for potential parents and grandparents. Be sure to supervise closely to prevent the children from doing anything that might upset the pup. Socialization before twelve weeks of age is crucial but it should not stop at this age. Social opportunities of various types should continue to be frequently provided throughout the first year of the pet’s life. Puppy training classes and basic obedience classes provide excellent opportunities for social exposure to continue. Most early training classes allow puppies to attend, starting at eight to ten weeks of age, while they are still in the sensitive socialization period. Socialization should also be done with other animals outside of class situations. Pick dogs for the pup to visit that are healthy, vaccinated pets that do not leave their fenced-in yards, and have friendly, nonaggressive temperaments. The care that you provide for your puppy during the first three months of its life is extremely important. To raise the perfect puppy, you must not only provide necessary medical and nutritional care, but you must also satisfy the young pup’s social needs.
Crate Training Your Dog
The goal of kennel training is that a dog will willingly go into the crate or any other enclosure (e.g. cage at the veterinary office) for any reasonable period of time. A properly kennel trained dog will perceive the crate as his “den” or “bedroom”, and will often spend time inside the kennel when bored.
Crate training is an excellent thing to do for any dog. Since dogs are den animals by instinct, it crates a “Safe Place” for the dog. The crate should not be used as a punishment, and should be introduced to the dog as young as possible.
When purchasing a crate, choose one just large enough for the dog to stand, turn around, and lie down in, as an adult. If too large at first, place a box in the back. If there is any chance you will be air shipping the dog, choose a molded plastic “airline approved” crate. If you think it is more likely you sill car travel with the dog, choose a collapsible “Wire” crate. If you use the wire type, it is best to drape a blanket or towel over the crate to give the dog the sense of being in an enclosed den. If it is left open, the dog senses that others can see him, but he cannot escape. The steps to crate training are:
1. When you bring home the crate, act very interested and try to get inside yourself (at least your head)
2. Put a comfortable pet pillow inside. The crate should be the most comfortable place the pet is allowed to lie. Leave the door always open at first, and if possible, remove the top half to be as open as possible.
3. Initially, feed the dog in the crate every meal. Then take out food and put back the pillow for naps. The goal is for the dog to go into the crate without hesitation. When you start feeding elsewhere, still take a few kibbles, and toss one into the crate, and use the command, “Kennel!” to mean “go inside.”
4. Ignore the dog when out of the care. All attention occurs when inside (Until crate trained)
5. Hide treats or favorite toys inside the crate. Begin to close the door for a few seconds.
6. Praise and give a food treat for entering the crate. Ignore him when exiting.
7. Overnight is the first time to lock him in for hours. Initially, put crate next to your bed at night. Move it after several nights if desired, once the pup is used to sleeping in the crate.
8. If he whines, take him to his elimination area. If he only wants attention, don’t give it and put him back into the crate. There should be no reward for waking you up.
9. If he continues to whine and you know he doesn’t need to eliminate, try saying, “Quiet”, then rap on the crate to startle him. Then after 5 seconds of silence, gently praise silence (Good Quiet.) Gradually increase the interval between praising if quiet. (10 seconds, 20, 30, 1 minute, etc.)
10. No trespassing of children allowed inside the crate. (A dog can get away from children in his safe place, including no teasing or pestering while crated)
If he messes in the crate, don’t punish, just clean it up and re-evaluate the feeding and confinement schedule. Consider removing food and water earlier in the evening, and take out later before bed.
A tool related to the crate is the tether. This is a 3 ft lead used to tie the dog to a solid object IN YOUR PRESENCE (e.g. while reading or watching TV.) The idea is to bond the dog to you, confine movement to prevent house soiling, and get the dog used to the useful notion of being tied. This is called, “Close Tethering.”
Dog Travel Tips
- Be certain your dog is in good health. Some states and all foreign countries require current rabies and health certificates. Arrange with your veterinarian for a physical examination and necessary vaccinations and certificates.
- Starting a week or more before a car trip, take a few short rides with your dog to acquaint it with travel.
- Plan to keep control of your dog at all times. This means your dog should have a leash, and perhaps a muzzle. Keep car windows closed far enough to prevent the dog from jumping out.
- Never leave your dog unattended in a closed car during hot weather. Heat builds up rapidly in an enclosed space, resulting in heat stroke and death within a relatively short period of time.
- If motion sickness has been a problem, medication is available to prevent it and calm the dog. Always restrict food and water before traveling.
- Many motels and hotels welcome pets, but you should check to make sure when making reservations. Exercise your dog off the premises and away from lawns or shrubbery- and use a leash.
- Upon arrival, give food and water sparingly and offer plenty of understanding and affection.
Dogs Jumping up on People
by Wayne Hunthausen
From the beginning, every time the young pet walks up to a family member or visitor, it should be asked to sit, especially when children are present. The key to changing this behavior is consistency. Jumping up should not be allowed by anyone at anytime. Appropriate behavior should always be calmly rewarded.
Avoid encouraging or rewarding the behavior. Even verbal or physical discipline can actually reinforce the behavior if it is not strong enough to interrupt it. Train your dog to exhibit an acceptable response at greetings. You can use a sit and settle command or train it to expect a tummy rub when people enter the home. Encourage and reward the desired response.
Use a sharp noise, such as a shake can, as needed to interrupt the behavior. Don’t use any method that involves a physical correction or discomfort, such as stepping on toes, kneeing the chest, pinching paws, alpha rolls, etc. If your pet is incorrigible about jumping up on visitors, you may need to set up a training session that involves a series of repeated greetings.
Ask a friend to knock or ring the bell. Open the door for the person to enter. When the pet jumps up, immediately say “No” and provide a sharp noise that will quickly interrupt the behavior without eliciting any fear or anxiety from the pet (e.g. shake can, air horn). Using a head halter and leash can also do this. Ask the friend to leave and repeat the entrance and greeting. Anytime the pet jumps up, interrupt it. Anytime the pet doesn’t jump up, ask it to sit and reward it with a very tasty treat.
Repeat the exercise until the ratio of rewards to interruptions is at least 2:1.
It is also helpful for family members to do repeated greetings involving interruptions and reinforcements as outlined above when they greet the pet.
Food Lure Obedience Training
By W Hunthausen and G Landsberg
Obedience training is important for all dogs. The best way to get the job done is to start early in the pet’s life, use positive motivation and avoid harsh physical techniques. This will help insure quick learning and make the training process more fun. If you begin the pet’s training when it is a puppy, you’ll find that early obedience training can be a big help in establishing leadership, socializing your pet and controlling unruly behaviors.
An easy, non-force method for teaching obedience commands involves the use of small bits of food for training lures and reinforcements. Most dogs are very motivated to take food, so the best choice for a food lure is the pet’s own dry food. If this is not sufficiently appealing, try small, quarter inch pieces of semi-moist dog treats or freeze-dried liver. An excellent time to train the pet that is picky about treats is just prior to its dinner time, since the dog will be more focused on the food and quicker to respond.
You will use the food to lure the pet into the response you want as you give the command, and then immediately following the response the food will be given as a reward. The food will gradually be phased out as the pet learns the correct response. You’ll do this by picking only the best responses (best position, quickest response, etc.) to reward, and withholding food rewards for less exact responses during subsequent training sessions. One of the advantages of food lure training is that your pet will learn two cues for each command. Since hand movements with the food lure accompany the verbal commands, the pet will also be conditioned to respond to hand signals. Learning a double signal (verbal and visual) will make the pet twice as likely to respond to you.
To help insure that the pet learns with a minimum number of mistakes, avoid training when it seems extra energetic or has a shorter attention span. Work in a quiet area; keep the training sessions short and stop before the dog begins ignoring commands. When the pet’s response to commands becomes dependable, you can gradually take the training to environments with increasingly stronger distractions. Be patient, take your time and make sure the pet knows one command well before proceeding to the next.
Your tone of voice is important. Use a happy, high-pitched tone of voice when teaching, “Come,” “Sit” and “Down.” An upbeat tone will help motivate the pet to move. Use a deep, commanding tone that is more likely to cause the pet to hold its place when teaching the “Stay.” You should avoid repeating a command over and over. If you do this frequently, the pet will learn that it does not have to obey the first time you ask. Whenever you give a food reward, always say “Good dog.” The pet will learn to associate the words with food and the words will eventually become a valuable secondary reinforcer to sustain the response as the food is gradually withdrawn.
Recall on command
This is a fairly straightforward command to teach. Say the dog’s name so it turns and makes eye contact with you. Extend your hand toward the pet with a piece of food in it. Wave your hand with the food toward you and say, “Come” as the pet runs to you. Give the piece of food to it as you say “Good dog.” Take a few steps back. Show the pet a second piece of food, say its name, and repeat the recall for food. The pet will learn two cues to come on command, a verbal cue and a visual cue.
Sit on command
With the pet in a standing position; hold a small piece of food in front of its nose. In a steady, slow motion, move the food over the dog’s head. The pet’s nose will point up and the rear end will ease down to the floor taking it into the sit position. Say “Sit” as the rear hits the floor and give the food. Avoid holding the food lure too high over the head or the pet will jump up instead of sit. It won’t be long before you’ll notice that the dog will go into the sit position when you sweep you hand in an upward movement, even without food. As soon as the pet learns this command, you should ask it to sit before it gets anything it wants. By doing this, you teach the pet that you have control.
Down on Command
Begin this lesson with the dog sitting on a smooth surface. Quickly move a piece of food downward from in front of its nose to the floor directly next to its front paws. As the front end of pet slides down to the floor, say “Down” and give the food. You must make sure that you keep the food on the floor close to the pet’s paws. Otherwise it is likely to stand up and walk toward the food lure.
Eventually, a downward sweep of your hand by itself will cause the dog to go into the down position. This command may take a little more patience and time than the first two. Only use the word “Down” when you are teaching this command. If you use the same word to tell the pet to stop jumping on people or to get down off counters and furniture, it may be confused about its meaning.
Stay on Command
The Stay command is probably the most challenging command to teach a young dog. Don’t even attempt to teach this command unless the pet is calm. A helpful strategy is to wear the dog out with a long walk or play session just prior to training.
Ask the pet to “Sit” without using a food lure. The second the pup sits, lean toward it, look it in the eye in an assertive manner, extend the palm of your hand toward it and say, “Stay” in a firm tone. Wait only one second, then approach your dog, calmly praise it while the pet is still sitting, give a release command, “OK,” and hand it a small food reward. Repeat the command, adding a second to the stay following every five or more repetitions. Once the pet can stay for at least twenty seconds, you can begin working on distance. Ask the pet to “Stay,” and take one step away from it. Gradually work from a one to a twenty second stay at this position, then move back two steps and repeat the process. In now time at all, you will have the pet staying for longer periods at a significant distance.
Common causes of failure to teach the “Stay” command include attempting to make the dog stay too long or at too far of a distance too quickly, as well as attempting to get the response when the pet is too active or distracted. Try to anticipate when the pet will become bored with training and stop well before then. If the pet’s eyes start to wander or it seems like it might move too early, calmly repeat “Stay” in a serious tone of voice, make strong eye contact and lean toward it. Maintain the stay for just a few more seconds, and then quickly release the pet.
Heal On Lead
The goal is to teach the pet to walk without pulling on a slack leash. Before training, try to wear the pet out with some aerobic play. The initial training should be short and held inside without distractions. Later, training can be moved to the yard, and then to sidewalks. If he pet is incorrigible about pulling, use a head halter for more control.
Begin the training session by asking the pet to “Sit.”. Stand on the pet’s right side, facing the same direction. Take the leash in your left hand, holding it about two feet from the pet. Show the pet a treat or toy held in the right hand. Say “Heal” and walk forward, keeping the pet’s attention on the object in your right hand. Take a few steps, stop, ask the pet to “Sit” and reward it with the food or a pet on the head. Repeat, gradually taking more steps between each “Sit” command. Use an upbeat, animated tone to keep the pet’s attention. Say “Heal” and reward the pet with praise and/or a treat whenever it walks along at the same speed and the leash is slack. If the pet begins to pull forward, immediately turn and walk in the opposite direction. When the pet catches up, ask it to “Sit” and repeat the above exercise.
House-training your Dog
by Wayne Hunthausen, DVM
House-training is one of the most important tasks for the new puppy owner. Most dogs spend a considerable amount of their lives inside the home, so this makes successful house-training essential. Successful completion of house-training is so important, that a dog is at risk of being given away or taken to the shelter if it is not trained in an expedient manner to be dependable in its elimination habits. For the most part, house-training involves reinforcing elimination behavior in a desirable location while preventing the behavior in undesirable locations for a long enough period that the appropriate behavior becomes well entrenched. The whole process may take anywhere from several weeks to many months depending on the consistency of the family and the pet’s capacity for learning. A consistent, patient owner should be able to complete house-training within a relatively short period of time, usually within three months. The overall goal of house-training is to teach the puppy when to eliminate, where to eliminate and on what material to eliminate.
General principles for housetraining
Reinforce elimination in a desirable area: The first step is to teach the pet where it is acceptable to eliminate. To do this, the owner must guide the pet to the chosen elimination area, mildly praise any sniffing or other pre-elimination behaviors, and heartily praise it immediately after it eliminates. The owner can also provide a small food reward immediately following elimination to more strongly reinforce the behavior in the desired location. The opportunity to eliminate outdoors should frequently be given to the pet, especially after eating, drinking, napping, playing and before confinement periods. In order to be consistent, the owner must go outside with the pet every time in order to supervise and reward appropriate elimination. Because the act of emptying the bladder and/or bowel is rewarding in and of itself, owners should be counseled that what they want to reward is the act of eliminating in the proper location. It is often desirable to use a phrase (go potty, be quick, hurry, take care of business) as the puppy begins to eliminate. This can often place the elimination behavior under verbal control, which is useful when the puppy is not on its home territory.
Provide a consistent feeding schedule: The owner needs to set up a relatively fixed feeding schedule. Food should be offered for about 30 minutes, two to three times daily, at the same time every day. By controlling the time at which the pet eats, the owner will have some control over when it eliminates, which hopefully will be a time when the owner will be available to take it outdoors. The last meal should be finished about four hours prior to bedtime. Water should be available all-day and taken up just prior to bedtime unless the pet requires access to water throughout the night due to a medical problem.
Prevent elimination in undesirable areas: One the most important facets of housetraining involves preventing the habit of eliminating in the home from forming. The pet must be very closely supervised for an adequate number of weeks until elimination in an appropriate area has been satisfactorily reinforced. To accomplish this, the pet must be kept within eyesight of a family member 100% of the time when it is roaming about in the home. The owner should confine the pet to a small area, such as an exercise pen, or place it outdoors when it can’t be supervised. Baby gates or a leash can be used to prevent the pet from wandering away when the owner is busy. Confining a puppy to a kennel when it cannot be watched is a common way to prevent the pet from house soiling during training. The owner should be counseled not to over use it. The pet should not be confined to a small sleeping area for longer than it can physically control elimination or for more than four to five hours during the day on a constant schedule. Until the pup has not eliminated in the home for at least four to eight consecutive weeks, it should not be considered housetrained or allowed to wander off unattended. Once that time has passed and the pup is exhibiting control, it can gradually be given more freedom in the home unsupervised.
Deal with mistakes: No matter how closely the pet is watched, mistakes are bound to happen. If the house soiling repeatedly occurs in one area, an objectionable habit may readily become established. To help prevent this, urine and fecal odor should be removed from soiled areas with an effective commercial deodorizing product. Fabric and carpets should be soaked with the product, since merely spraying the surface is not likely to be as effective. Closing doors or moving furniture over frequently soiled areas will prevent access to those areas. The pet can be taught to avoid some areas by making them unpleasant. Upside-down mousetraps, balloons set to pop when disturbed and motion-activated alarms can be successful in teaching a pet to avoid an area. However, these items should only be used when the positive approach alone has failed since any aversive stimulus runs some risk of inducing fear in a sensitive young puppy. Another way to prevent resoling is to change the behavioral function of the areas. Since a dog usually won’t eliminate in an area where it eats, sleeps or plays, the owner can place food bowls, water bowls, the pet’s bed or toys in areas where the pet has soiled to stop elimination in those places.
Punishment: Punishment is overused, relatively ineffective and not required for successful house-training. It must be discussed with all pet owners because it is usually used in an inappropriate manner. All owners should understand that physical punishment; harsh reproach and rubbing the pet’s nose in urine or feces are unacceptable, ineffective and may break the bond between the owner and the pet. A sharp noise such as a quick stomp of the foot, a loud handclap, or a sharp thump on a tabletop can be used to interrupt the pet when it is caught in the act of eliminating in an inappropriate area. The sound should be just loud enough to stop the behavior without frightening the pet and it should not be associated with the owner. The interruption should only be given during the unwanted behavior. The pet should then be taken to the area the owner has chosen as an appropriate elimination area and praised for completing its eliminations there.
Kids and Dogs: Avoiding Bite Problems
by Wayne Hunthausen, DVM
Children and dogs can be great companions for each other. Some of the warmest memories for many of us involve our relationship with a special pet dog as we were growing up. Dogs can be great playmates and friends. They listen well, don’t talk back and are always ready to share in an adventure. But dogs and children don’t inherently know how to behave with each other. There are no genes that instinctively steer dogs or children into successful relationships. The success of the bond between the child and the family pet depends upon how well the parents raise both of them. Raising good kids, raising good dogs, and raising kids and dogs to be good with each other require time and a commitment to providing necessary guidance and training.
If the puppy is the first child in the home, then special attention must be given to how the young pup is raised. For an adult dog to be comfortable with children, it is essential that it have lots of positive experiences with children during its early, formative months of life. Pups that grow up without children in the picture may never be comfortable around them when they get older. New couples and grandparents, pay attention! You can’t afford to wait until your dog is one year of age to meet it’s first child or grandchild. If you do, the meeting may be tense at the best, and dangerous at the worst.
If children precede the dog into the home, then you need to consider the ages the children before deciding to adopt a puppy. Depending on the maturity of the children, the number of children and complexity of the home environment, it’s usually best to postpone adopting a pup into the home until around five to seven years of age. Younger children usually don’t have the motor skills or learning skills to be taught how to deal with an active, exuberant young pup. If you plan to adopt a puppy from a large, active breed, like a Labrador Retriever, you might even want to wait until the children are older. Big puppies like to chase and play bite anything that moves. Young children are particularly vulnerable to this type of play, which can be dangerous even if the pup is friendly. When adopting a family pet, look for a pup with an even, moderate temperament. It’s pretty obvious that bold, pushy pups can be too much for a child to handle, but fearful pups can even be more problematic. Shy puppies are quickly overwhelmed by active children and may readily show avoidance behaviors, hand shyness and fear aggression.
A young pup needs to learn two things about children right away. Children have control over it and the children are the good guys. Start by having the child teach the pet to sit on command using puppy food. Once it learns this, the child should ask the pet to sit before it gets anything. Dinnertime provides a good opportunity for training. The child can ask the pet to sit for its dinner, a piece at a time. It’s also a good time to teach the pet to come on command. Simply have the children sit across the room from each other with a handful of the pup’s food and call the pet back and forth for a piece of kibble. This can be an exercise that is educational, as well as fun. It can also head off another serious problem, food-bowl aggression. Dogs are less likely to guard their food if they learn from a very early age that dinnertime is a fun social time, and that they aren’t going to lose their food when humans are around.
Children have to be taught how to play with the pet, how to handle it, pick it up, when to leave it alone, etc. As I mentioned before, they aren’t born with that knowledge. The best way for the child to learn is for the parent to teach by example. Kids are good imitators. When they see parents petting the dog gently and playing appropriately, they’ll follow suit and learn important lessons. But if they see mom and dad swatting the dog or playing highly arousing games of tug of war, the door is open for the development of a variety of undesirable behaviors, including aggression.
For everyone’s safety, an adult should always supervise young dogs and children until both are more mature. Keeping a long leash on the pet can be helpful for controlling the pup and interrupting high-spirited, unruly behaviors. An important fact for all parents to realize is that there are often times when the child and the pet just should not be together. If either one is so fired up or out of control that it overwhelms the other, separation is the most practical strategy. If the pup frequently overwhelms the child, you should temporarily limit the time they are together to a period immediately following some aerobic exercise for the pet. There will be times when the child might want to play with a friend without having the pet play biting and jumping in the middle of everything. To keep the pet from bothering the children, give the pup several toys that will really keep its interest, like a Buster Cube, Kong toys, Goodie Ships, Bite-A-Bones or other toys that can be stuffed with treats.
Kids and dogs can be great for each other. Just remember not to take the relationship for granted. Set aside time to actively shape the relationship to be the best it can be. A little effort in the beginning will pay back major dividends for both the dog and the child in the future.
Play Biting and Teaching Off
Play biting is a common, natural behavior exhibited by puppies and kittens. The intensity and frequency of this behavior by some individuals can be quite intense and a problem for some pet owners. Family members should not engage in rough play with the pets, wear gloves to permit hard bites, or encourage them to attack and bite hands or feet. Likewise, harsh or physical corrections should be avoided. Family members should not strike the pet, thump it on the nose, squeeze the lips against the teeth in a painful manner, scruff shake it, forcefully roll it on its back or side or ram a fist into the mouth.
Pets that receive lots of aerobic exercise will have less energy with which to play attack family members. Puppies should receive frequent opportunities for exercise including romps in the yard, walks and fetch. Kittens should be engaged in activities that involve chasing after toys pulled on a string or dangled from a stick, as well as games of fetch.
Soft, inhibited bites during play should be permitted, but the family member should address any bite that has enough force to be uncomfortable by yelling “Ouch,” immediately stopping play and walking away from the pet. It may also be helpful to teach the pet to stop play biting on command. Giving a command, such as “Enough,” can do this as the pet is biting. If the pet stops, it should be rewarded. If it continues the biting, the owner should respond with an instructive reprimand. This is done by immediately repeating “Enough” with sufficient) volume that the pet backs away, but not loud enough that it is frightened. Eventually, the pet will pet will stop biting every time the command is first given. For this to work, the family must be very consistent in their responses and have precise timing.
PUPPY MOUTHING, NIPPING AND BITING
BITE INHIBITION AND TEACHING OFF
1. No hard bites or pressure
- When the puppy is calm, place your hand in its mouth and praise it when it mouths softly.
- Give an immediate, loud “OUCH” whenever the puppy applies too much pressure, and stop playing with it. Once the puppy ceases, you can give it an alternative form of play or attention (e.g. chew toy, exercise session, training session) or a settle exercise (see our settle exercise handout) and reward the desirable behavior.
2. Mild attempts at deterring the puppy and physically discouraging the puppy can actually serve to increase the intensity of play and biting.
3. Gentle mouthing as a form of play is OK, but the puppy should not initiate it, and the family must be able to stop it on command. Any hard biting or over exuberant play must be discouraged.
4. Avoid tug of war if the pet becomes too excited, aggressive or out of control. Tug of war games should only be allowed when you have initiated it and when you can quickly stop the game on command with an ouch, give, or drop command.
5. If the puppy is constantly demanding attention through mouthing and biting or is over exuberant in its play, then it is likely not receiving sufficient stimulation. You should consider additional or longer periods of play, training and exercise, and more outlets for chewing to preempt the puppies unacceptable play biting.
6. If the puppy cannot be quickly calmed and settled, then confining it away from the target (e.g. children, visitor) until it settles may be necessary. When the puppy is calm it can then be released, and encouraged to play in an appropriate manner.
7. Head halters: For those problems that cannot be quickly and effectively controlled with bite inhibition techniques, a leash and head halter can be left attached when the puppy is with the family, and mouthing or biting can be immediately stopped with a pull on the leash, and tension released as soon as the puppy settles. The leash and head halter can also be used to teach the off command by first giving the command and if the puppy does not immediately cease, pulling the hand back and guiding the dog into the proper response with a pull on the leash.
8. For some puppies in some homes, all forms of hard mouthing and play biting may be unacceptable. This may be the case when there are elderly or young children in the home.
The purpose of this command is to get the puppy to stop mouthing or play biting on command.
1. Present a piece of food to get the pet’s attention, say “OK” in a friendly tone of voice and give the food.
2. Present another piece of food and say “OFF” in a firm tone of voice, but don’t yell.
- If the puppy doesn’t make contact with your hand or the food for two seconds, say “OK” and give up the food.
- If the puppy touches your hand before the 2 seconds pass and before you say “OK”, immediately yell “OFF” loud enough to make the puppy back away without frightening it. Be dramatic, lean toward the pup, make eye contact, and give a forceful command.
- Repeat, gradually increasing the time the puppy has to wait.
3. Once the pup learns to back away from food on command, practice the above exercise using only your hand. Later, repeat the exercise when the puppy is in more excited moods.
4. Work toward the puppy not taking food, or touching your hand, no matter how tasty the treat or how your hand is moving, once you have said “OFF”.
5. You must practice every day to attain a dependable response.