All posts tagged: doggie exercise
Santiago Walking a Dog

We here at Waggy Walkys know that we have some of the very best Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters in the DMV. They’re caring, punctual, and always willing to ensure that your pets get quality socialization time, so that when you return home you are assured they have been well taken care of. But what about those wonderful people who go above and beyond to provide the very best care for your furry family members? The ones who have become so important to your pet that they’ve practically joined the family? The ones who leave Christmas and birthday presents for your dog or cat, and call even when they’re on vacation simply because they miss spending time with your pet?

We’ve been overwhelmed and touched by the thoughtfulness and care shown by quite a few of our walkers, and wondered how best to acknowledge their efforts. That’s why, starting this month, we’re introducing a Walker of the Month!

Each month we’ll be highlighting one special Dog Walker who has demonstrated time and time again that their love and passion for their job knows no bounds.

We are thrilled to reveal that Deneise Tan is our first official Walker of the Month! While we debated over quite a number of our fantastic Walkers and Pet Sitters, we chose Deneise as our winner for August because of the sheer amount of positive feedback we’ve received about her.

For September’s Walker of the Month, we look to the District of Columbia, where we have quite a few fantastic people to choose from. After much debate, we decided that we simply had to acknowledge one of our walkers with the most tenure: this person has been with the company for going on five years, which should speak for itself!
Santiago Berdichevsky began walking with Waggy Walkys back in 2012, and he’s been one of our very best from day one! He somehow manages to walk upwards of 16-18 dogs a day, which is amazing in and of itself, but when you take into consideration that all of his clients claim he provides excellent care, it becomes truly incredible!
He treats each and every pet like a member of his own family, and his clients can tell! One said “My dog adores Santiago. He does a great job walking Goose and Goose is always super excited to see him.” If Santiago becomes your Walker, not only will he become your pet’s best friend, but he also makes sure you’re always kept in the loop! He’s always responsive to both his clients and the office staff, and you’ll never have to worry about the health and happiness of your pet while in his care!
So, here’s to Santiago! Thanks so much for all you do for our furry friends and family members! Keep up the great work!
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.

 

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.

We here at Waggy Walkys know that we have some of the very best Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters in the DMV. They're caring, punctual, and always willing to ensure that your pets get quality socialization time, so that when you return home you are assured they have been well taken care of. But what about those wonderful people who go above and beyond to provide the very best care for your furry family members? The ones who have become so important to your pet that they've practically joined the family? The ones who leave Christmas and birthday presents for your dog or cat, and call even when they're on vacation simply because they miss spending time with your pet?

We've been overwhelmed and touched by the thoughtfulness and care shown by quite a few of our walkers, and wondered how best to acknowledge their efforts. That's why, starting this month, we're introducing a Walker of the Month!

Each month we'll be highlighting one special Dog Walker who has demonstrated time and time again that their love and passion for their job knows no bounds.

We are thrilled to reveal that Deneise Tan is our first official Walker of the Month! While we debated over quite a number of our fantastic Walkers and Pet Sitters, we chose Deneise as our winner for August because of the sheer amount of positive feedback we've received about her.

Deneise has been with our company for a year and a half, and she has left a positive impression on everyone she has met – whether they have two legs or four! When we asked her clients how satisfied they were with her job performance, one of her clients replied: "Deneise is an awesome walker. Very punctual, spends the right time with the dogs and is very caring. We love the pics she send us to reassure us that all is fine. Please keep her and do not let her go!!!"

Her friendly and upbeat demeanor is one of her most glaringly obvious traits, she is always happy to help out with last minute walks, and she has yet to find a dog she couldn't get to fall in love with her. Deneise isn't just a Dog Walker – she's the best friend to many dogs and cats in the Silver Spring area.

Let's put our paws up for Deneise!

Keep an open mind when adopting, and you’ll find the dog (or dogs) that will fit your needs and lifestyle.

The best thing about adopting a dog from an animal shelter or rescue group? So many amazing pooches to choose from! Man’s best friends come in all shapes, sizes and—of course—personalities.

While almost any shelter dog can make a wonderful, lifelong companion for you and your family, some dogs will need more training, some will need more exercise and some will be happy to just sit on your lap staring into your eyes, trying to hypnotize you into providing more kibble.

Which kind of dog are you looking for?

You may have an image of your perfect dog in mind, but is your heart open to a canine Mr. Right you weren’t quite expecting? Browse adoptable dogs near you at The Shelter Pet Project, and consider the following questions:

What’s your lifestyle?

If you live alone in a small, third-floor apartment, for instance, adopting a large, active retriever-mix might not be the best choice … but then, if you’re a runner and want a partner for your jogs, or you have a large family of kids who will play with the dog all the time, it could be fine! A dog’s size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness and compatibility with children should all figure into your decision.

Remember, you’re not just getting a dog; your new dog is getting a family!

Purebred or magical mix?

How do you find out which dogs have the qualities you’re looking for? Information is the key: learn about the personalities of various breeds, visit with animals at the shelter and speak with an adoption counselor for guidance.
Dogs fall into one of two categories: purebreds or mixed breeds. Most animal shelters have plenty of both. The only significant difference between the two is that purebreds, because their parents and other ancestors are all members of the same breed, are similar to a specific “breed standard.” This doesn’t always tell you much about a dog’s good health or how she’ll behave, but it will help give you an idea of how big she’s likely to get and whether her ears will be adorably droopy or sharp and perky (and other such physical traits). With mixes, you’ll get a unique, never-seen-before blend.

More About Mixed Breeds

Of course, the size, appearance and temperament of most mixed breed dogs can be predicted as well. After all, mixed breeds are simply combinations of different breeds. So if you know the ancestry of a particular mixed-breed puppy or can identify what type of dog he is (e.g., terrier mix), you have a good chance of knowing how he’ll turn out, too.
Mixed breeds are also more likely to be free of genetic defects common to certain purebred dogs because of overbreeding.

Visit with Shelter Animals

While you’re at the shelter, keep in mind that the animals there will be stressed out; quite often, a dog’s true colors won’t show until he’s away from other animals and the shelter environment. So even if you walk past a kennel with a dog who isn’t vying for your attention, don’t count him out. He may just be a little scared or lonely.
An adoption counselor can help you select canines who will match your lifestyle. When you spend time with each animal, consider the following questions:

How old is the dog?

You may be thinking about getting a puppy, but young dogs usually require much more training and supervision. If you lack the time or patience to housetrain your pup or to correct problems like chewing and jumping, an adult dog may be a better choice.

How shy or assertive is the dog?

Although an active, bouncy dog might catch your eye, a quieter pooch might be a better match if you just want a TV and hanging-out buddy.

Is the animal good with kids?

Ask questions of the adoptions counselors, but remember, not all shelter dogs will have a known history. In general, a friendly dog who likes to be touched and is not sensitive to handling and noise is a dog who will probably thrive in a house full of kids. If you get a puppy for your kids, remember that baby animals can be fragile and that, regardless of the dog’s age or breed, you’ll want to supervise his interactions with kids.

Choose a Pal for Life

Shelter animals deserve lifelong homes. If you’re looking for your perfect pal, check out The Shelter Pet Project’s website, which can help you with your search. After all, you’re choosing a pal likely to be with you 10 to 15 years—or even longer. There’s a dog out there who will love being part of your family!

Puppy Looking Guilty

You mark your stuff by putting your name on it; your dog marks their with urine. We’ve covered why dogs mark territory, now here’s how to prevent urine-marking behaviors before they happen in your house.

Before doing anything else, take your dog to the veterinarian to rule out any medical causes for the urine-marking behavior. If they get a clean bill of health, use the following tips to make sure they don’t start marking their territory.

Spay or neuter your dog as soon as possible. The longer a dog goes before neutering, the more difficult it will be to train them not to mark in the house. Spaying or neutering your dog should reduce urine-marking and may stop it altogether.

But if they have been marking for a long time, a pattern may already be established. Because it has become a learned behavior, spaying or neutering alone won’t solve the problem. Use techniques for housetraining an adult dog to modify your dog’s marking behavior.

More Tips

  • Clean soiled areas thoroughly with a cleaner specifically designed to eliminate urine odor. Read more about removing pet odors and stains.
  • Make previously soiled areas inaccessible or unattractive.If this isn’t possible, try to change the significance of those areas to your pet. Feed, treat, and play with your pet in the areas where they mark.
  • Keep objects likely to cause marking out of reach.Items such as guests’ belongings and new purchases should be placed in a closet or cabinet.
  • Resolve conflicts between animals in your home. If you’ve added a new cat or new dog to your family, follow our tip sheets to help them live in harmony.
  • Restrict your dog’s access to doors and windowsso they can’t observe animals outside. If this isn’t possible, discourage the presence of other animals near your house.
  • Make friends.If your pet is marking in response to a new resident in your home (such as a roommate or spouse), have the new resident make friends with your pet by feeding, grooming, and playing with your pet. If you have a new baby, make sure good things happen to your pet when the baby is around.
  • Watch your dog when they are indoorsfor signs that they are thinking about urinating. When they begin to urinate, interrupt them with a loud noise and take them outside. If they urinate outside, praise them and give them a treat.
  • When you’re unable to watch them, confine your dog (a crateor small room where they ha never marked) or tether them to you with a leash.
  • Have your dog obey at least one command(such as “sit”) before you give them dinner, put on their leash to go for a walk, or throw them a toy.
  • If your dog is marking out of anxiety, talk to your vet about medicating them with a short course of anti-anxiety medication. This will calm them down and make behavior modification more effective.
  • Consult an animal behaviorist for help with resolving the marking issues.

What Not To Do!

Don’t punish your pet after the fact. Punishment administered even a minute after the event is ineffective because your pet won’t understand why they are being punished.

If you come home and find that your dog has urinated on all kinds of things, just clean up the mess. Don’t take them over to the spots and yell and rub their nose in them. They won’t associate the punishment with something they may have done hours ago, leading to confusion and possibly fear.

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 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.

Woman sitting with Labrador photo

If you have a dog in your life, you already know what joy your pooch brings. We’ll show you some benefits that you might not have known about.

Walk down any residential street in the early hours and you’ll find one unescapable fact: Dogs are popular pets in the US. In fact, a recent study estimates that 44% of all US households have at least one canine member of the family.

If your family is one of these households, your dog is giving you some surprising benefits.

COMPANIONSHIP

You already know how good a friend your dog can be. What you might not have noticed is how much more you talk to other people when you’re out with your dog. You’re simply more likely to interact with other humans when your dog is with you than when you are out for a walk by yourself.

EXERCISE

Having a dog also increases the chances you’ll go for walks and play in the park. It’s harder to skip your morning run when your exercise partner is bouncing excitedly at the door with his leash in his mouth. How can you tell him you want to skip walks today?

Evidence is starting to show that children with dogs have a 50% lower chance of being overweight, as compared with those without. With all the running and walking involved in playing with the family dog, even in the house, maybe this isn’t so surprising after all.

NURTURING

You might have noticed that families are smaller these days. Most people feel a need to nurture that used to be fulfilled by raising a baby or helping to take care of smaller siblings. For people without children and children in small families dogs are increasingly fulfilling the role of substitute child or sibling. The dog gives them someone to care for and nurture with all the positive physical and mental benefits that come with doing so.

EMPATHY

Perhaps the practice in nurturing is the reason behind the observation that kids with dogs tend to be more empathetic than other kids, all else being equal. They also tend to be more popular with their schoolmates and have healthy self-esteem. These are all good things for a child’s emotional and social development, whatever the connection with their canine friend might be.

SOCIAL CAPITAL

Dog-owners tend to interact with other dog-owners in their neighbourhoods. This is true of most groups of people brought together by a common interest, but dog-owners might well meet up several times a day, by chance or design, during walks and playtime at the park. This frequent interaction strengthens the entire community.

READING

Some children read to their dogs. These kids often have higher reading levels than those children who don’t. It’s great for the child and the dog: the dog gets attention and the child gets reading practice. Playing “teacher” with a canine student is fun, anyway.

MEDICAL BENEFITS

Some researchers have noticed that pet-owners tend to have shorter stays in the hospital, fewer visits to the doctor’s office, and lower levels of stress overall. Having a pet might also lower your risk of heart disease, by possibly as much as 4%. If this turns out to be true over the long term, that would be a benefit similar to going on a low-salt diet.

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?

Many of the studies looking into the benefits of pet ownership took into account differences of wealth and social standing. As a result, the benefits of dog ownership are believed to be connected to the pet directly, and not just linked to having the money and leisure to be able to afford a dog.

It’s good to know that having a dog is good for you. However, it is not a wise plan to purchase a pet with only these benefits in mind. Remember that the pooch is a living creature with its own physical and emotional needs.