All posts tagged: dog exercise
Dog Aggression

A dog’s bark may be worse than his bite, but most of us would rather not find out one way or the other.

Growling, baring teeth, snarling, snapping, and biting are all aggressive behaviors. Although these messages are among the handful of communication tools available to dogs, they’re generally unacceptable to humans.

Because dog aggression is so complex, and because the potential consequences are so serious, we recommend that you get professional in-home help from an animal behavior specialist if your dog is displaying aggressive behavior.

Types of Dog Aggression

Fear-motivated aggression is a defensive reaction and occurs when a dog believes he is in danger of being harmed. Remember that it’s your dog’s perception of the situation, not your actual intent, which determines your dog’s response. For example, you may raise your arm to throw a ball, but your dog may bite you because he believes he’s protecting himself from being hit. A dog may also be fearfully aggressive when approached by other dogs.

Protective, territorial, and possessive aggression are all very similar, and involve the defense of valuable resources. Territorial aggression is usually associated with defense of property, and that “territory” may extend well past the boundaries of your yard. For example, if you regularly walk your dog around the neighborhood and allow him to urine-mark, he may think his territory includes the entire block. Protective aggression usually refers to aggression directed toward people or animals whom a dog perceives as threats to his family, or pack. Dogs become possessively aggressive when defending their food, toys, or other valued objects, including items as peculiar as tissues stolen from the trash.

Redirected aggression is a relatively common type of dog aggression but one that is often misunderstood by pet owners. If a dog is somehow provoked by a person or animal he is unable to attack, he may redirect this aggression onto someone else. For example, two family dogs may become excited, and bark and growl in response to another dog passing through the front yard; or two dogs confined behind a fence may turn and attack each other because they can’t attack an intruder. Predation is usually considered to be a unique kind of aggressive behavior because it’s motivated by the intent to obtain food, and not primarily by the intent to harm or intimidate.

Individual Variation

The likelihood of a dog to show aggressive behavior in any particular situation varies markedly from dog to dog. Some dogs tend to respond aggressively with very little stimulation. Others may be subjected to all kinds of threatening stimuli and events and yet never attempt to bite.

The difference in the threshold prompting aggressive behavior is influenced by both environmental and genetic factors. If this threshold is low, a dog will be more likely to bite. Raising the threshold makes a dog less likely to respond aggressively. This threshold can be raised using behavior modification techniques, but the potential for change is influenced by a dog’s gender, age, breed, general temperament, and the way in which the behavior modification techniques are chosen and implemented.

Because working with aggressive dogs can be potentially dangerous, behavior modification techniques should only be attempted by, or under the guidance of, an experienced animal behavior professional who understands animal learning theory and behavior.

What You Can Do

First, check with your veterinarian to rule out medical causes for the aggressive behavior.

Seek professional advice. An aggression problem will not go away by itself. Working with aggression problems requires in-home help from an animal behavior specialist.

Take precautions. Your first priority is to keep people and other animals safe. Supervise, confine, and/or restrict your dog’s activities until you can obtain professional guidance. You are liable for your dog’s behavior. If you must take your dog out in public, consider a cage-type muzzle as a temporary precaution, and remember that some dogs are clever enough to get a muzzle off.

Avoid exposing your dog to situations where he is more likely to show aggression. You may need to keep him confined to a safe room and limit his contact with people.

If your dog is possessive of toys or treats, or territorial in certain locations, prevent access and you’ll prevent the problem.

In an emergency, bribe him with something better than what he has. For example, if he steals your shoe, trade him the shoe for a piece of chicken.

Spay or neuter your dog. Intact dogs are more likely to display dominance, territorial, and protective aggressive behavior.

What Not to Do

Punishment won’t help and, in fact, will often make the problem worse. If the dog aggression is motivated by fear, punishment will make your dog more fearful, and therefore more aggressive. Attempting to punish or dominate a dominantly aggressive dog may actually lead him to escalate his behavior to retain his dominant position. This is likely to result in a bite or a severe attack. Punishing territorial, possessive, or protective aggression is likely to elicit additional defensive aggression.

 

Why Dogs Bark

Check out some of the reasons why dogs sound off!

Dogs have a lot to say, and they do it by barking. They bark to go out, come in, to tell you a stranger’s in your yard, and at people, cars, and other animals.

Too much barking or barking at inappropriate times can be a problem. You want to be respectful of your neighbors as well as local laws, so you need to get your dog’s barking under control.

In order to determine why your dog barks, you may need to do some clever detective work—especially if it occurs when you’re not home. You can ask your neighbors what they see and hear, go around the block and watch and listen, start a tape recorder or video camera when you leave the house. After some sleuthing, you may be able to find out which of the following common problems is causing your dog to bark.

Common Causes of Barking

Attention/Demand: Your dog may want to eat, go outside, or your undivided attention.

Boredom/Frustration: Your dog may have been left outside day and night, or confined to one room for a long period of time.

Fear: Your dog may be afraid of objects, people, places, other animals, or loud noises such as thunder and fireworks.

Tip: Your dog’s posture can tell you if he’s barking out of fear. Typically his ears are back, and his tail is held low.

Territoriality/Protectiveness: Your dog is barking in the presence of “intruders,” which may include people and other dogs in adjacent yards.

Tip: If your dog is being territorial, his posture appears threatening with his tail held high and his ears up and forward.

Playfulness/Excitement: Your dog may be overly playful and excited when greeting people.

Health Issues: Your dog may have Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or deafness, causing him to bark because he’s unable to hear himself bark.

Dealing with health-related barking

Some dogs bark because of age-related dementia or deafness. Be patient with your dog. Keep his environment simple and orderly; don’t make frequent changes. Talk to your vet about medications that may help the dementia. Teach your deaf dog the “quiet” command using hand signals or a flash of light or a vibrating collar (NOT a shock collar) as the cue instead of saying the word “quiet.”

Dealing with multiple barking dogs

If you share your home and your life with more than one dog, you know how they can set each other off. The doorbell rings and deafening, out-of-control barking ensues. You must train each dog individually before you can work with them as a group. It takes a little more effort to settle your pack of wild hounds, but you’ll be rewarded with a group of well-mannered dogs. And your friends and relatives will no longer dread coming to your house!

Ten Dog Care Essentials

Learn how to keep your dog safe, healthy and happy

It doesn’t take much to make your dog happy, and the rewards last a lifetime.

Your dog gives you a lifetime of unconditional love, loyalty and friendship.

In return, she counts on you to provide her with the basics, such as food, water, shelter, regular veterinary care, exercise, safety and companionship. Read on to find out the 10 things your dog absolutely needs.

Take care of these 10 essentials, and you’ll be assured to have a rewarding and long-lasting relationship with your canine companion.

1. Identify your dog

External Identification: Outfit your dog with a collar and ID tag that includes your name, address and telephone number. No matter how careful you are, there’s a chance your companion may become lost—an ID tag greatly increases the chance that your pet will be returned home safely. The dog’s collar should not be tight; it should fit so two fingers can slip easily under his collar.

Microchip Identification: Have your dog microchipped by your veterinarian. Microchip ID will ensure that your dog will be returned to you if he is lost, even if his collar came off. When scanned by a veterinarian or animal shelter, your phone number, address and other vital information will appear, and you can be contacted.

2. Follow local laws for licensing your dog and vaccinating him for rabies

Check with your local animal shelter or humane society for information regarding legal requirements, where to obtain tags and where to have your pet vaccinated.

3. When you’re off your property, keep your dog on leash

Even a dog with a valid license, rabies tag and ID tag should not be allowed to roam outside of your home or fenced yard. It is best for you, your community and your dog to keep her on a leash and under your control at all times.

4. Give your dog companionship

A fenced yard with a doghouse is a bonus, especially for large and active dogs; however, dogs should never be left outside alone or for extended periods of time. Dogs need and crave companionship; they should spend most of their time with their family, not alone outside.

5. Take your dog to the veterinarian for regular check-ups

If you do not have a veterinarian, ask your local animal shelter or a pet-owning friend for a referral and check out our information on choosing a veterinarian. If you are having trouble paying for veterinary care, you may be able to employ creative options or find sources of assistance.

6. Spay or neuter your dog

Dogs who have this routine surgery tend to live longer, be healthier and have fewer behavior problems (e.g., biting or running away). By spaying or neutering your dog, you are also doing your part to reduce the problem of pet overpopulation. If you feel you can’t afford to have your pet spayed or neutered, we can help you find low-cost options.

7. Give your dog a nutritionally balanced diet and constant access to fresh water

Ask your veterinarian for advice on what and how often to feed your dog. Dietary requirements change as dogs get older, and a dog’s teeth need to be cleaned and monitored regularly to ensure she can eat properly. Also keep an eye out for pet-food recalls and foods and plants that can be toxic to you dog.

8. Enroll your dog in a training class

Positive training will allow you to control your companion’s behavior safely and humanely, and the experience offers a terrific opportunity to enhance the bond you share with your dog. Check out our information on choosing a dog trainer.

9. Give your dog enough exercise to keep him physically fit (but not exhausted)

Most dog owners find that playing with their canine companion, along with walking him twice a day, provides sufficient exercise. Walking benefits people as much as it benefits dogs, and the time spent together will improve your dog’s sense of well-being. If you have questions about the level of exercise appropriate for your dog, consult your veterinarian.

10. Be loyal to and patient with your faithful companion

Make sure the expectations you have of your dog are reasonable and remember that the vast majority of behavior problems can be solved. Remember, not all “behavior” problems are just that; many can be indicators of health problems. For example, a dog who is suddenly growling or snapping when you touch his ears may have an ear infection. If you are struggling with your pet’s behavior, contact your veterinarian or local animal shelter for advice.

Stop Dog Chewing

Sooner or later every dog lover returns home to find some unexpected damage inflicted by their or their dog; or, more specifically, that dog’s teeth. Although dogs make great use of their vision and sense of smell to explore the world, one of their favorite ways to take in new information is to put their mouths to work.

Fortunately, chewing can be directed onto appropriate items so your dog isn’t destroying things you value or jeopardizing their own safety.

Until they’ve learned what they can and can’t chew, however, it’s your responsibility to manage the situation as much as possible, so they don’t have the opportunity to chew on unacceptable objects.

Understand Your Dog

Puppies, like infants and toddlers, explore their world by putting objects in their mouths. And, like babies, they teethe for about six months, which usually creates some discomfort. Chewing not only facilitates teething but also makes sore gums feel better.

Adult dogs may engage in destructive chewing for any number of reasons. In order to deal with the behavior, you must first determine why your dog is chewing—and remember, they are not doing it to spite you. Possible reasons for destructive chewing include:

  • As a puppy, they weren’t taught what to chew and what not to chew.
  • They’re bored.
  • They suffer from separation anxiety.
  • Their behavior is fear-related.
  • They want attention.

Be aware: You may need to consult a behavior professional for help with both separation anxiety and fear-related behaviors.

Teach What to Chew

Take responsibility for your own belongings. If you don’t want it in your dog’s mouth, don’t make it available. Keep clothing, shoes, books, trash, eyeglasses and remote controls out of your dog’s reach.

Give your dog toys that are clearly distinguishable from household goods. Don’t confuse them by offering shoes and socks as toys and then expecting them to distinguish between their shoe and yours.

Supervise your dog until they learn the house rules. Keep them with you on their leash in the house so they can’t make a mistake out of your sight. Confine them when you’re unable to keep an eye on them. Choose a “safe place” that’s dog-proof, and provide fresh water and “safe” toys. If your dog is crate trained, you may also place them in their crate for short periods of time.

Give your dog plenty of people-time. Your dog won’t know how to behave if you don’t teach them alternatives to inappropriate behavior, and they can’t learn these when they are in the yard by themself.

Give your dog plenty of physical and mental exercise. If your dog is bored, they’ll find something to do to amuse themself and you probably won’t like the choices they make. On the other hand, a tired dog is a good dog, so make sure they get lots of physical and mental activity. The amount of exercise should be based on their age, health and breed characteristics.

If you catch your dog chewing on something they shouldn’t, interrupt the behavior with a loud noise. Offer them an acceptable chew toy instead, and praise them lavishly when they take the toy in their mouth.

Build a toy obsession in your dog. Use their toys to feed them. At mealtimes, fill a Kong-type toy with their kibble.

If your puppy is teething, try freezing a wet washcloth for them to chew on. The cold cloth will soothe their gums. Supervise your puppy so they don’t chew and swallow any pieces of the washcloth.

Make items unpleasant to your dog. Furniture and other items can be coated with a taste deterrent (such as Bitter Apple®) to make them unappealing.

Caution: Supervise your dog when you first try one of these deterrents. Some dogs will chew an object even if it’s coated with a taste deterrent. Also be aware that you must reapply some of these deterrents to maintain their effectiveness.

Offer your dog a treat in exchange for the item in their mouth. As your dog catches on to this idea, you can add the command “Give” as their cue to release the object in exchange for the yummy treat.

Don’t chase your dog if they grab an object and run. If you chase them, you are only giving your dog what they want. Being chased by their human is fun! Instead call them to you or offer them a treat.

Have realistic expectations. At some point your dog will inevitably chew up something you value; this is often part of the transition to a new home. Your dog needs time to learn the house rules and you need to remember to take precautions and keep things out of their reach.

Take Care With Punishment

If you discover a chewed item even minutes after they’ve chewed it, you’re too late.

Animals associate punishment with what they’re doing at the time they’re being corrected. Your dog can’t reason that, “I tore up those shoes an hour ago and that’s why I’m being scolded now.” Some people believe this is what a dog is thinking because they run and hide or because they “looks guilty.”

In reality, “guilty looks” are actually canine submissive postures that dogs show when they’re threatened. When you’re angry and upset, your dog feels threatened by your tone of voice, body postures and/or facial expressions, so they may hide or show submissive postures. Punishment after the fact will not only fail to eliminate the undesirable behavior, but it could also provoke other undesirable behaviors.

Puppy in a Play Pen

Preparation and patience are key to building a happy relationship!

The key to helping your new dog make a successful adjustment to your home is being prepared and being patient. It can take anywhere from two days to two months for you and your pet to adjust to each other. The following tips can help ensure a smooth transition.

Prepare the things your dog will need in advance. You’ll need a collar and leash, food and water bowls, food, and, of course, some toys. And don’t forget to order an identification tag right away.

Establish House Rules

Work out your dog-care regimen in advance among the human members of your household. Who will walk the dog first thing in the morning? Who will feed them at night? Will they be allowed on the couch, or won’t he? Where will they rest at night? Are there any rooms in the house that are off-limits?

Plan the Arrival

Try to arrange the arrival of your new dog for a weekend or when you can be home for a few days. Get to know each other and spend some quality time together. Don’t forget the jealousy factor — make sure you don’t neglect other pets and people in your household!

Prepare for Housetraining

Assume your new dog is not housetrained and work from there. Read over the housetraining information given to you at the time of adoption and check out our housetraining tips for adult dogs. Be consistent, and maintain a routine. A little extra effort on your part to come home straight from work each day will pay off in easier, faster house training.

Ensure All Pets are Healthy

Animal shelters take in animals with widely varying backgrounds, some of whom have not been previously vaccinated. Inevitably, despite the best efforts of shelter workers, viruses can be spread and may occasionally go home with adopted animals. If you already have dogs or cats at home, make sure they are up-to-date on their shots and in good general health before introducing your new pet dog.

Take your new dog to the veterinarian within a week after adoption. There, they will receive a health check and any needed vaccinations. If your dog has not been spayed or neutered, make that appointment! There are already far too many homeless puppies and dogs; don’t let your new pet add to the problem. Most likely, the shelter will require that you have your pet spayed or neutered anyway. If you need more information about why it is so important to spay or neuter your dog, read our online information on spaying and neutering.

The First Weeks

Give Them a Crate

A crate may look to you like the canine equivalent of a jail cell, but to your dog, who instinctively likes to den, it’s a room of their own. It makes housetraining and obedience-training easier and saves your dog from the headache of being yelled at unnecessarily for problem behavior. Of course, you won’t want to crate your dog all day or all night, or they will consider it a jail cell. Just a few hours a day should be sufficient.

The crate should not contain wire where their collar or paws can get caught, and should be roomy enough to allow your dog to stand up, turn around, and sit comfortably in normal posture.

If a crate isn’t an option, consider some sort of confinement to a dog-proofed part of your home. A portion of the kitchen or family room can serve the purpose very well when sectioned off with a dog or baby gate.

Use Training & Discipline to Create a Happy Home

Dogs need order. Let your pet know from the start who is the boss. When you catch them doing something they shouldn’t, don’t lose your cool. Stay calm, and let them know immediately, in a loud and disapproving voice, that they have misbehaved. Reward them with praise when they do well, too! Sign up for a local dog obedience class, and you’ll learn what a joy it is to have a well-trained dog. Also be sure to read our tip sheet on training your dog with positive reinforcement.

Long-term

Let the Games Begin

Dogs need an active life. That means you should plan plenty of exercise and game time for your pet. Enjoy jogging or Frisbee? You can bet your dog will, too. If running around the park is too energetic for your taste, try throwing a ball or a stick, or just going for a long walk together. When you take a drive in the country or visit family and friends, bring your dog and a leash along.

Patience is Key!

Finally, remember to temper your expectations. Life with you is a different experience for your new companion, so give them time to adjust. You’ll soon find out that you’ve made a friend for life. No one will ever greet you with as much enthusiasm or provide you with as much unqualified love and loyalty as your dog will. Be patient, and you will be amply rewarded.

Dog Walker Hugging Dog

Just say yes to training your dog with treats and praise.

Remember how happy you were if your parents gave you a dollar for every A on your report card? They made you want to do it again, right? That’s positive reinforcement.

Dogs don’t care about money. They care about praise … and food. Positive reinforcement training uses praise and/or treats to reward your dog for doing something you want him to do. Because the reward makes him more likely to repeat the behavior, positive reinforcement is one of your most powerful tools for shaping or changing your dog’s behavior.

Rewarding your dog for good behavior sounds pretty simple, and it is! But to practice the technique effectively, you need to follow some basic guidelines.

Timing is Everything!

Correct timing is essential when using positive reinforcement.

  • The reward must occur immediately—within seconds—or your pet may not associate it with the proper action. For example, if you have your dog sit but reward him after he’s stood back up, he’ll think he’s being rewarded for standing up.
  • Using a clicker to mark the correct behavior can improve your timing and also help your dog understand the connection between the correct behavior and the treat.

Keep it Short!

Dogs don’t understand sentences. “Daisy, I want you to be a good girl and sit for me now” will likely earn you a blank stare.

Keep commands short and uncomplicated. The most commonly used dog commands are:

  • watch me
  • sit
  • stay
  • down (which means “lie down”)
  • off (which means “get off of me” or “get off the furniture”)
  • stand
  • come
  • heel (which means “walk close to my side”)
  • leave it

Consistency is Key!

Everyone in the family should use the same commands; otherwise, your dog may be confused. It might help to post a list of commands where everyone can become familiar with them.

Consistency also means always rewarding the desired behavior and never rewarding undesired behavior.

When to Use Positive Reinforcement

The good: Positive reinforcement is great for teaching your dog commands, and it’s also a good way of reinforcing good behavior. You may have your dog sit

  • before letting him out the door (which helps prevent door-darting)
  • before petting him (which helps prevent jumping on people)
  • before feeding him (which helps teach him good meal-time manners).

Give him a pat or a “Good dog” for lying quietly by your feet, or slip a treat into a Kong®-type toy when he’s chewing it instead of your shoe.

The bad: Be careful that you don’t inadvertently use positive reinforcement to reward unwanted behaviors. For example, if you let your dog outside every time he barks at a noise in the neighborhood, you’re giving him a reward (access to the yard) for behavior you want to discourage.

Shaping Behavior

It can take time for your dog to learn certain behaviors. You may need to use a technique called “shaping,” which means reinforcing something close to the desired response and then gradually requiring more from your dog before he gets the treat.

For example, if you’re teaching your dog to “shake hands,” you may initially reward him for lifting his paw off the ground, then for lifting it higher, then for touching your hand, then for letting you hold his paw, and finally, for actually “shaking hands” with you.

Types of Rewards

Positive reinforcement can include food treats, praise, petting, or a favorite toy or game. Since most dogs are highly food-motivated, food treats work especially well for training.

  • A treat should be enticing and irresistible to your pet. Experiment a bit to see which treats work best for your pet.
  • It should be a very small (pea-size or even smaller for little dogs), soft piece of food, so that he will immediately gulp it down and look to you for more. Don’t give your dog something he has to chew or that breaks into bits and falls on the floor.
  • Keep a variety of treats handy so your dog won’t become bored getting the same treat every time. You can carry the treats in a pocket or fanny pack.
  • Each time you use a food reward, you should couple it with a verbal reward (praise). Say something like, “Yes!” or “Good dog,” in a positive, happy tone of voice. Then give your dog a treat.

If your dog isn’t as motivated by food treats, a toy, petting, or brief play can be very effective rewards.

When to Give Treats

When your pet is learning a new behavior, reward him every time he does the behavior. This is called continuous reinforcement.

Once your pet has reliably learned the behavior, you want to switch to intermittent reinforcement, in which you continue with praise, but gradually reduce the number of times he receives a treat for doing the desired behavior.

  • At first, reward him with the treat four out of every five times he does the behavior. Over time, reward him three out of five times, then two out of five times, and so on, until you’re only rewarding him occasionally.
  • Continue to praise him every time—although once your dog has learned the behavior, your praise can be less effusive, such as a quiet but positive, “Good dog.”
  • Use a variable schedule of reinforcement so that he doesn’t catch on that he only has to respond every other time. Your pet will soon learn that if he keeps responding, eventually he’ll get what he wants—your praise and an occasional treat.

Caution! Don’t decrease the rewards too quickly. You don’t want your dog to become frustrated.

By understanding positive reinforcement, you’ll see that you’re not forever bound to carry a pocketful of goodies. Your dog will soon be working for your verbal praise, because he wants to please you and knows that, occasionally, he’ll get a treat, too.

Puppy on absorbent litter

Housetraining your dog or puppy requires patience, commitment and lots of consistency. Accidents are part of the process, but if you follow these basic housetraining guidelines, you can get the newest member of your family on the right track in a few weeks’ time.

Establish a Routine

Like babies, puppies do best on a regular schedule. The schedule teaches them that there are times to eat, times to play and times to do their business. Generally speaking, a puppy can control their bladder one hour for every month of age. So if your puppy is two months old, they can hold it for about two hours. Don’t go longer than this between bathroom breaks or they’re guaranteed to have an accident.

Take your puppy outside frequently—at least every two hours—and immediately after they wake up, during and after playing, and after eating or drinking.

Pick a bathroom spot outside, and always take your puppy (on a leash) to that spot. While your puppy is relieving themselves, use a specific word or phrase that you can eventually use before they go to remind them what to do. Take them out for a longer walk or some playtime only after they have eliminated.

Reward your puppy every time they eliminate outdoors. Praise or give treats—but remember to do so immediately after they’ve finished, not after they come back inside. This step is vital, because rewarding your dog for going outdoors is the only way to teach what’s expected of them. Before rewarding, be sure they’re finished. Puppies are easily distracted and if you praise too soon, they may forget to finish until they’re back in the house.

Put your puppy on a regular feeding schedule. What goes into a puppy on a schedule comes out of a puppy on a schedule. Depending on their age, puppies usually need to be fed three or four times a day. Feeding your puppy at the same times each day will make it more likely that they’ll eliminate at consistent times as well, making housetraining easier for both of you.

Pick up your puppy’s water dish about two and a half hours before bedtime to reduce the likelihood that they’ll need to relieve themselves during the night. Most puppies can sleep for approximately seven hours without needing a bathroom break. If your puppy does wake you up in the night, don’t make a big deal of it; otherwise they will think it is time to play and won’t want to go back to sleep. Turn on as few lights as possible, don’t talk to or play with your puppy, take them out and then return them to bed.

Supervise Your Puppy

Don’t give your puppy an opportunity to soil in the house; keep an eye on them whenever they’re indoors.

Tether your puppy to you or a nearby piece of furniture with a six-foot leash if you are not actively training or playing. Watch for signs that your puppy needs to go out. Some signs are obvious, such as barking or scratching at the door, squatting, restlessness, sniffing around or circling. When you see these signs, immediately grab the leash and take them outside to their bathroom spot. If they eliminate, praise them and reward with a treat.

Keep your puppy on leash in the yard. During the housetraining process, your yard should be treated like any other room in your house. Give your puppy some freedom in the house and yard only after they become reliably housetrained.

When You Can’t Supervise, Confine

When you’re unable to watch your puppy at all times, restrict them to an area small enough that they won’t want to eliminate there.

  • The space should be just big enough to comfortably stand, lie down and turn around. You can use a portion of a bathroom or laundry room blocked off with baby gates.
  • Or you may want to crate train your puppy. (Be sure to learn how to as a method of confinement.) If your puppy has spent several hours in confinement, you’ll need to take them directly to their bathroom spot as soon as you return.

Mistakes Happen

Expect your puppy to have a few accidents in the house—it’s a normal part of housetraining. Here’s what to do when that happens:

  • Interrupt your puppy when you catch them in the act.
  • Make a startling noise (be careful not to scare them) or say “OUTSIDE!” and immediately take them to their bathroom spot. Praise your pup and give a treat if they finish there.
  • Don’t punish your puppy for eliminating in the house. If you find a soiled area, it’s too late to administer a correction. Just clean it up. Rubbing your puppy’s nose in it, taking them to the spot and scolding them or any other punishment will only make them afraid of you or afraid to eliminate in your presence. Punishment will often do more harm than good.
  • Clean the soiled area thoroughly. Puppies are highly motivated to continue soiling in areas that smell like urine or feces.

It’s extremely important that you use these supervision and confinement procedures to minimize the number of accidents. If you allow your puppy to eliminate frequently in the house, they’ll get confused about where they’re supposed to go, which will prolong the housetraining process.

Make Plans for When You’re Away

If you have to be away from home more than four or five hours a day, this may not be the best time for you to get a puppy. Instead, you may want to consider an older dog who can wait for your return. If you already have a puppy and must be away for long periods of time, you’ll need to:

  • Arrange for someone, such as a responsible neighbor or a professional pet sitter, to take them for bathroom breaks.
  • Alternatively, train them to eliminate in a specific place indoors. Be aware, however, that doing this can prolong the process of housetraining. Teaching your puppy to eliminate on newspaper may create a life-long surface preference, meaning that even as an adult they may eliminate on any newspaper lying around the living room.
  • If you plan to paper-train, confine them to an area with enough room for a sleeping space, a playing space and a separate place to eliminate. In the designated elimination area, use either newspapers (cover the area with several layers of newspaper) or a sod box. To make a sod box, place sod in a container such as a child’s small, plastic swimming pool. You can also find dog-litter products at a pet supply store.
  • If you have to clean up an accident outside the designated elimination area, put the soiled rags or paper towels inside it afterward to help your puppy recognize the scented area as the place where they are supposed to eliminate.
Dog walking on leash

Going out for a nice brisk walk with your pooch is one of the great joys of pet ownership. But, it can turn into a battle if you don’t have the right equipment. A tough, stylish and durable collar is an important purchase, and having the correct lead can make a huge difference to the enjoyment and safety of the walk for both you and your dog.

COLLARS

A collar is absolutely essential for your dog. There are a wide range of collars available, from traditional nylon and leather to those used for specific training purposes. If you walk your pet with a collar and lead rather than a harness, perhaps consider a collar that will not come undone with excessive pulling like the durable EzyDog Double Up Collar. The type of clasp is important: metal can rust and the smaller plastic clips can break. Consider spending a bit more to get proper stainless steel and secure clasps.

A collar should be snug enough not to come off over the head, but you should be able to fit 3 fingers underneath. As a general rule, try to choose a wider collar so that if your dog lunges against the leash, the force applied by the collar against the dog’s trachea is spread over a larger area.

Also think about your dog’s daily activities, for example, if your dog likes to swim regularly then a leather collar is not ideal. If your dog does swim, we like the EzyDog Neo Classic, made of neoprene so that it repels water. This style is safe to leave on even when your dog gets wet.

TAG

An ID tag should be easy to read and the engraving should be durable so that continual rubbing is not going to fade the print. Plastic tags can be a little fragile for adventurous pets, but a stainless steel tag should last for a lifetime. Having a mobile number on the tag is ideal, as you need something that can always be contacted. If you also include your address or the name of your Vet, if your pet is found roaming the finder has somewhere to take your dog. Impounding fees can be expensive and if your pet is taken to a shelter over holidays or long weekends, they may end up locked up for longer than you would like.

If your dog is unlikely to allow someone to read their tag, there is also the option of a personalised pet collar that allows you to have your phone number stitched on, so it can be read from a distance.

HARNESSES

If your dog is very boisterous and energetic or frequently lunges against the leash, a harness will be safer and more comfortable when walking. Collars can cause significant trauma to the vital structures in the neck for dogs that pull. Harnesses are also much more secure for dogs that have a tendency to slip their collars.

A front-clip harness gives you much more control, as most harnesses that attach behind the shoulder blades actually allow your dog to pull with his entire body-weight, similar to a pulling a sled. This can be particularly bad if you have a strong dog or shoulder issues. With a front attachment point your dog soon learns that if he pulls ahead it is very difficult to walk in a straight line, and walking by your side is much easier.

Harnesses are also recommended for very small dogs because their tracheas can easily be damaged when they pull against a collar, which is why they will often cough. Dogs that have flat faces and shallow eye sockets are also at risk of eye damage when pulling on a collar or choke chain.

If you regularly take your dog in the car, many harnesses have an additional loop that allows you to thread through the seat-belt. It is a legal requirement to have your pet restrained while travelling in a car and this ensures the safety of your pet should you brake suddenly.

HALTI OR GENTLE LEADER

These are both head halters, similar to what you would use to lead a horse. The lead attaches under the chin, so when your dog pulls ahead, their head turns back towards you. Think about how much control a horse owner has when leading a much larger animal and you will see how this could work for you. These are a great short-cut to getting your dog to heel and to listen to directions. The first time you use one your dog will most likely try to get the head collar off, but give lots of treats, associate it with going for a walk and your dog will soon adjust. View this instructional video on how the Gentle Leader works.

Head harnesses are such a great way to get back control on a walk with a larger, stronger dog and again are excellent for people with shoulder injuries or for those with dogs that can be a little unpredictable on a walk.

BARK COLLARS, PRONG COLLARS, CHOKE CHAINS, ELECTRONIC COLLARS

Collars that aim to use punishment to train are ineffective, add to stress and anxiety and are unnecessary. Trainers that advocate these types of methods are using outdated methods and research has conclusively shown that punishment is highly stressful for the dog and is therefore ultimately detrimental for their training.

If your dog is barking, there are many ways to curb this nuisance behaviour that are much cheaper and more effective than a shock or citronella collar. These collars are also particularly unreliable and most will eventually learn to bark despite them.

Choke chains are very traumatic to the delicate veins and nerves in the neck, increase pressure in the eyes and really do little to stop your dog pulling until you are actually choking your dog (which is why they are called ‘choke chains’). They should never be left on your dog when unattended due to the risk of accidental strangulation. Appropriate use of a choker chain involves having the collar slack and using the sharp ‘check’ noise of the chain as a correction, not the actual choking method which most employ. If your dog is trained enough that the choke chain is always in the relaxed, loose position, there is really no need to use it.

LEASHES

There are several main types of leashes:

Retractable leashes

These allow your dog free reign, while still giving you some control. They are not suitable for larger dogs, as the thin rope can often snap. They can also be a little fiddly to keep in the ‘locked’ position if you regularly need your dog to stay close (for example, when you stop to cross the road).

Double leashes

If you have two dogs, consider a double leash that will allow you to walk both dogs at once. We love the EzyDog Vario 6 multi-function leash.

Hands-Free Leashes

If you run, ride or walk long distances with your dog, a hands free leash can be clipped to your belt or looped over your shoulder. The EzyDog Vario 6 has the versatility of this feature.

For Dogs That Pull

A great option for dogs that pull is the Zero Shock leash from EzyDog. This includes a bungee section that absorbs shock, sending it back out to your dog rather than up your arm. This really can save you from shoulder injuries when walking a larger, strong dog.

DOGGY BAGS & TREATS

Whenever you go out and about, don’t forget your doggy bags. Look for a leash that has an attachment point for a little satchel, where you can store your doggy bags and treats. Having treats with you at all times allows you to reward good behaviour. You also have a way of getting your dog’s attention and rewarding your dog for coming back when off-leash.

We hope this guide has helped you decide which basic equipment you need to walk your dog safely and identify your dog. Buying good quality products ensures longevity and durability. For something that is used daily it is worth spending a little more for something that will last and reflect your personality and lifestyle.

Yorkshire Terrier, Yorkie with his food bowl

Food and water bowls are an essential part of your dog’s kit. You’ll want to put a bit of thought into what you choose for your dog.

Here are some pros and cons of the 3 most commonly used materials.

Plastic Bowls. They’re durable and long-lasting. But if you notice your dog gnawing or chewing on the bowls, plastic isn’t your best choice. Ingesting bits of plastic can harm your dog internally. Plastic can also stain and will often develop a biofilm if not scrubbed and cleaned daily.

Ceramic Bowls. They’re heavy and very stable – a good thing if your dog tends to push its bowl around the floor while eating. But ceramic bowls are also porous and will need to be scrubbed and cleaned daily.

Stainless Steel Bowls. The #1 choice of vets because they are so easy to clean and sanitise. Stainless steel bowls are also the most durable. Look for bowls with a rubber coating on the bottom to help prevent sliding.

BOWLS FOR FAST EATERS OR THOSE AT RISK OF BLOAT

In some situations, you need a specialised bowl for your dog. Dogs that are at risk of bloat or gastrointestinal volvulus are typically large deep-chested breeds (like a great dane), but dogs can bloat even if they don’t have the typical conformation. Eating too quickly is one of the risk factors for this devastating condition. Dogs that eat very quickly often don’t feel satisfied and immediately look for more food, so they could also benefit from a bowl that will slow down their eating. You can buy specialised bowls with ridges in them to slow eating, or simply place an upturned bowl on a flat plate, so that your dog eats the food around the outside of the bowl.

RAISED OR NORMAL FEEDING HEIGHT

There is much misinformation out there about how to feed your dog. Unless your dog suffers from megaoesophagus feeding on the floor is fine. Having an elevated feeding bowl does not reduce the risk of bloat in dogs!

FOOD BALLS

Another option to slow fast eaters and to keep dogs occupied during periods of absence is using a food ball like a Buster Cube. Your dog needs to work at the ball and roll it around to get the food out. There are also a great number of puzzles you can use to deliver your pet treats and there is no reason you can’t use regular dry food for these, rather than high calorie treats. Kongs are also great to fill with food, whether that be soft or hard foods. For the thrifty and crafty among us you can easily make your own food delivery device with an old plastic drink bottle with the lid removed. If you place some dried food inside your pet can roll the bottle until he gets at the food. Just make sure you don’t do this with a dog that is likely to chew the bottle and ingest pieces of plastic! For smaller dogs you can recycle cardboard toilet paper rolls and simply seal one end with paper and masking tape and put some food inside.

CARE OF YOUR FEEDING EQUIPMENT

Whatever bowl you decide for your pet, make sure you clean the bowls daily and do not leave meat or soft foods out for more than an hour (particularly in warmer climates or outside where there are flies). Wash and scrub the bowls with normal dishwashing detergent and rinse well. Many are safe for the dishwasher too, and having more than one water and food bowl means you can rotate them as one set is being washed. Having multiple bowls in different locations and a constant source of fresh drinking water is also important for your pet.

We hope this guide has helped you make an informed choice on the best type of bowl to choose for your pet. This important purchase should be durable and functional, as well as being safe for your pet.

Dog and Cat in Bed

Can you imagine your life without a comfy bed to crawl into each night? Your dog’s bed should be a haven and a place they can spend a good deal of time. It needs to be sturdy, comfortable, safe and of course easy to clean and resistant to parasites.

But what kind of bed should you buy for your dog? After all, people beds come in a bewildering array of sizes and shapes and the same is true of beds for our canine companions.

When looking for a bed for your furry best friend we recommend you ensure that the bed you choose meets the following criteria:

  • Made of non-toxic materials. Synthetic products, including stain-proofing and flame retardant chemicals, may harm your dog. This is particularly important if you dog has sensitive skin or allergies. This is also important for dogs who may chew their bed! When you first bring your bed home give it a good wash to remove any residues from processing.
  • Non-skid bottom. When you canine companion dives into bed the last thing you want is the bed to slide out from under him. A moving dog bed not only poses a risk of injury to your dog but can also become a trip hazard around the home. You can use non-slip matting if the bed doesn’t have its own non-slip base, the style used under floor rugs.
  • Easy to clean. If you have a smaller dog, buy a bed you can throw into the washing machine on a hot cycle over 60°C. This will kill flea eggs and dust mites. If you can also pop it in the sun to dry, perfect. If you can’t wash the bed, make sure the cover is washable or the bed can be hosed off and put in the sun to dry.
  • Warm or elevated. If you live in a cold area or your dog sleeps outside, an insulated bottom or an elevated bed is ideal to get your pet off the cold ground.
  • Water repellent. Many beds have a water repellent cover, particularly useful for pets that head off to bed after getting wet. You can also keep a collection of old towels to throw over the bed if your pet is a little soggy.
  • Indestructible. Particularly for puppies or those that chew, ensure the bed is tough, there are no parts that can be chewed and swallowed and for the chewers, avoid heated beds!
  • Big enough to stretch out fully. You will need something that will allow your dog to stretch out when it is hot, or curl up when it is cold. If your dog is young, ensure you are getting something that will fit when he is fully grown.

A bed suited to your dog and situation

There are many types of beds and depending on whether your dog is old, young or likes to chew you will need a different sort of bed. The type of climate you live in and whether your dog sleeps indoors or out is also a consideration.

Older pets. Pets that have old aching joints need to be kept warm. For these pets an elevated bed, heated bed or orthobed are ideal. Ensuring the bottom is insulated also helps if the bed is sitting directly on cold flooring.

Warmer climates. Cooling beds are a great idea, or you can pop frozen water bottles next to or in your dog’s bed on hot days. Dogs that have snub-noses like staffys are particularly prone to heat stroke. Hanging wet towels near your dog’s sleeping quarters can also provide make-shift air-conditioning. For larger dogs, elevated dog beds (also called trampoline beds) are ideal as the air can circulate under the bed.

Itchy dogs. If you have a smaller pet make sure the entire bed is machine washable and not treated with any chemicals. Avoid washing detergent or use a very small amount of hypoallergenic detergent and wash on a hot cycle (over 60°C) each week. For a larger dog a trampoline dog bed that can be hosed off and put in the sun to dry will be relatively low allergen. Consider getting two beds so you can rotate the beds and wash the bed on a weekly basis. Dust mites and fleas are the most common concerns relating to bedding that can cause allergies in pets.

Kennels and crates. If your dog sleeps outdoors in a kennel, you will need to make sure it is easy to clean. Avoid a carpeted floor, unless it can be removed and washed. Carpet would need a good vacuum, hose and to be put in the sun to dry. Wooden kennels can easily get damp, harbour mites and other creepy crawlies and end up very dirty. Kennels in hot climates also need to be in shade and well ventilated. Crates are very easy to clean and can mimic a ‘den’, providing a safe haven for your dog. They are easy to move should you need to and can be used for car travel. You also then have an area you can secure your dog at night or when guests are visiting. An old blanket or towels that can be washed weekly on a hot cycle are ideal for the base. For some useful information on how to crate train your dog.

Things to avoid

  • Mattresses that can’t be fully washed. Washing the cover is not enough to get rid of fleas and dust mites. These creepy crawlies live in furnishings like mattresses, carpets and cushions and are a common cause of allergies and dermatitis. Some covers such as Gore-Tex are resistant to fleas and dust mites, often by having a very narrow weave, but most regular mattresses are not protective and over time they will become smelly, dirty and harbour all sorts of creatures if they can’t be properly cleaned.
  • Beds with straps, buttons, zippers or piping. Particularly dangerous for those dogs that like to chew. Too much fussy detail can attract the attention of a destructive dog and anything that can be pulled off has the potential to be swallowed and form an intestinal foreign body. You should also avoid cooling or heated beds that have batteries or an electricity connection if your pet likes to chew!
  • Wooden beds and kennels often have a finish or lacquer on them that can be toxic when chewed. Wood also has the potential to harbour mites and can absorb the damp and go mouldy.

Whatever the sleeping quarters you choose for your beloved friend, remember that this is going to be a place that your dog could potentially spend up to 18 hours a day sleeping (half his luck!). Choosing something comfortable, safe and durable that is easy to clean is your priority. Sometimes it is worthwhile spending a bit more to make sure it will last and be resistant to common parasites.