How to Prepare Your Home for a New Dog

How to Prepare Your Home for a New Dog

Are you thinking about getting a new dog? Maybe you’re just beginning your journey to doggy parenthood. You want to prepare for the good and the not so good of being a new dog parent. There are a few preparations to make before bringing your dog home. Doing these ahead of time will make your new venture much easier for both of you.

If you haven’t chosen your new companion yet, be sure to read last week’s post, 8 Things to Consider When Choosing a New Dog.

Just like bringing a new baby home, there are several things to do before bringing your new dog home. You will want to make sure that your house is safe and you have the needed equipment and supplies ready.

Let’s get started!

1. Decide where your dog will spend most of her time.

In the beginning she will need a quiet place to retreat while she gets acclimated to her new home. This place should be away from children and too much activity. Having a “safe” place for her to relax the first few days to a week is best.

2. Purchase a Crate.

A wire or metal crate is preferable. Make sure that the crate is large enough for your dog to stand and move around comfortably. A crate will also come in handy if she is not housebroken. In the next few weeks I will have a post on Crate Training. Take into consideration that your dog may grow if she’s not a year to a year and a half old so purchasing a crate that “grows with the dog” is a good idea.

3. Buy at Least 2 Food Bowls

Buy one for food and one for water. I recommend a bowl with some weight to it to keep it from moving around or getting tipped over. You may want more than two so that you can keep water in more than one room.

4. Research and Purchase Dog Food.

Try to stay away from the normal commercial brands. In most cases, these are not as nutritional as they should be. They also contain many fillers that are unhealthy. A great place to research is Dog Food Advisor.

5. Purchase a Collar, Harness, and Leash.

If you decide you want a different color later, you can always buy a different one. Choose a snap release collar. These are the safest and most reliable. A standard harness is usually fine. If you are familiar with the dog and you suspect she may be a puller, consider the Easy Walk or Gentle Leader harness instead. A 6 foot leash is the preferred length for walking your dog. Retractable leads are NOT recommended. These are unsafe for you and your dog. For a larger dog, you want to consider a wider lead.

6. Get a Good Bone That Will Last.

It is in a dog’s nature to chew. Some chew more than others and bones can be expensive. I like to invest up front and avoid running out. I recommend the NylaBone brand. These come in different sizes and flavors and last a very long time even for the most aggressive chewers.

7. Find a Bed That Works for Your Dog

Wait until you “know” your dog before spending a lot of money on a bed. If you buy an expensive bed and find out that your dog has a chewing problem, you’ve wasted a lot of money. I recommend an inexpensive crate pad that can be used as a bed outside of the crate. Check the manufacturer sizes on the bed to ensure that it is the right size for your dog.

8. Buy a Car Seat Cover

Unless you have a vehicle that you don’t mind getting slobbered and shed on, a car seat cover is invaluable. There are many different kinds. A great simple cover that stays in place is this cover by Epica. If you want to make sure your dog doesn’t try to ride up front, this cover by Taotronics is a great affordable option.

Enjoy and love your companion!

If you have any questions about Preparing for a New Dog or would like to schedule a consultation, call or contact me today at 762-218-3708. We currently serve the Evans, Martinez, and Grovetown areas.

Puppy in Santa Hat

8 Things to Consider When Choosing a New Dog

Thinking about adding a new dog to your family? A dog is a permanent commitment. This new addition should be considered as much a member of your family as the humans. For this reason, it is important to choose a dog that fits your family’s lifestyle. Here are 7 things to consider when choosing a new dog.

What is a typical day like in your household?

Is anyone home during the day who can care for the dog? If not, are you willing to hire someone to walk and care for your new friend? There are also several Doggy Day Care facilities in the area where your companion can spend the day. You will be surprised at how affordable it is.

Do you Own or Rent?

If you rent, you will need to make sure that pets are allowed and find out if there is a pet deposit. Is there a sufficient and safe space to take a dog out to do their business and play?

If you own your home, do you have a fenced year so that a dog can run freely without worry of escape? You will want to take in to consideration the type of dog you choose and where you live. For instance, you would not want to get a high energy dog if you live in close quarters or an apartment.

Finally, what are your future plans? Is there a possibility of a job transfer? Are you prepared to take your companion with you?

What are your hobbies?

Do you like to be outside and are an active person? Do you like to stay home and watch television? Are you a crafter? Do you work at home? It’s important to choose a dog that matches your activities.

If you like to hang around the house and aren’t much of an outdoor person, you would do better with a dog bred for chilling out and relaxing.

Small Low Energy Dogs: Pekingese, Pug or Shih Tzu. 

Large Low Energy Dogs: Greyhound, Great Dane, Old English Sheepdog, Bulldog, Basset Hound

Small Active Dogs: Miniture Pinscher, Jack Russell Terrier,

Large Active Dogs: Labrador Retriever, Standard Poodle, Boxer, Dalmation

For more breed suggestions, visit www.petbreeds.com. Here you can make more selections to find your perfect match.

Who will be responsible for the dog?

It is critical that your dog is on a schedule. Communication with other family members is a necessity when establishing a schedule. Dogs are creatures of habit and do best when on a regular regimen.

Are you prepared for medical bills?

Petfinder gives a thorough breakdown of what to expect to pay on an annual basis for a healthy adult dog. Preventative care is a proactive way to keep vet costs down.

What will you do with your dog if you decide to go out of town?

Will you take your dog with you? There are more and more pet friendly hotels and accommodations. Maybe you will want to board your companion. Visit boarding facilities first and make sure you keep your dog socialized.  Stay up to date on all vaccines including kennel cough.

You may also choose to have a pet sitter stay at your home. These services are usually affordable and give you the peace of mind of your dog not being alone. Be sure to check references and do a thorough interview before deciding on the right sitter.

Who will train your dog?

Training your dog is one of the most critical and kind things you can do for your dog and yourself. Training develops an understanding between you and your dog. It sets expectations, teaches manners and builds a strong bond. An untrained dog is an unruly dog. No one wants that.

If you don’t feel that you are up to training a dog, professional dog training is not as expensive as many think. It is a smart investment for your peace of mind and your dog’s happiness.

Are you prepared to be there for the long haul?

When your dog gets older are you willing to give him the support, love and time he needs and deserves? If he becomes ill, are you prepared to care for him and make accommodations for him?

As a final thought, regardless of which dog you choose, remember that all dogs need exercise. They need daily walks, training, one on one time with you and others in the family. They are social beings like us and need lots of love and attention.

Planning to give the gift of a dog? Please stay tuned for my next post on the 21st on How to Prepare Your Home for a New Dog.

If you have any questions about Choosing the Right Dog for you or would like to schedule a consultation, call or contact me today at 762-218-3708. We currently serve the Evans/Grovetown area.

Shepherd with Toy

7 Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Your Canine Companion

 

Before you Christmas shop for your dog, make sure you get a gift that will delight your dog for a long time.

Your dog has needs unlike humans. Let me explain. Say that all your life, you have had a dream to be a singer or songwriter. You have never been able to pursue your dream and instead have a career in Sales. You work long hours and have no time to pursue many outside interests. You love to sing and feel like you are missing out on something, so bad that you feel empty. You may feel frustrated and at times feel that you can’t stand to work at your job another day.

Your dog has these same strong desires. Dogs are here for a purpose – sporting, hunting, retrieving, and even cuddling. If you’re dog doesn’t get to use her talent, she will become frustrated. This will lead to inappropriate behaviors, like excessive barking, panting, scratching, licking, and hyperactivity.

Stimulating your dog mentally is just as important as physical exercise. Mental stimulation satisfies some of the natural urges she has. It also promotes a strong bond between the two of you. Interactive games are one great way to do this.

So if you’re wondering what gift to get your companion for the Holidays, I recommend one or more of the interactive toys listed below.

Never leave your dog alone with these toys. These are meant for bonding with your dog and to utilizing their natural foraging skills. Your pup will be impressed with your thoughtful selections!

Dog It Mind Toy Interactive Game

There are 3 puzzles that dog must figure out to get to treats.

Dog It Interactive Toy

Kyjen Puzzle Toy

There are 2 to choose from and reasonably priced. Your dog figures out how dispense treats.

kyjen treat triad

Kong Wobbler Treat Dispenser

This uses coordination to dispense treats or food. Great for aggressive eaters by slowing food consumption.

Kong Wobbler

Kong Extreme Toys

Great for the aggressive chewer. Although the Extreme line is limited, you can choose from different sizes in a Tire, Treat Dispenser and a Ball.

Kong Interactive Toys

Exceptionally made and a nice variety, Kong interactive toys will surely keep you and your dog entertained.

Kong Rambler

Dog Life 4 Knot Rope Toy

Great for indoor or outdoor exercise and play. Fantastic tool for draining excess energy on a rainy day.

4 Knot Rope Toy

Pupjoy Subscription

Pupjoy offers a variety of choices in your box including Organic! You can order a single box or use their subscription service. They also donate $2 from every box purchase to help animal welfare organizations with pet adoptions, spay/neuter programs, microchipping and foster care.

Paws for Life wishes you and your fur family a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season!

If you have any questions about toys best suited for your dog or would like to schedule a training consultation, call or contact me today at 762-218-3708. We currently serve the Evans/Grovetown area.

Dog Anxiety

How to Help Your Dog with Anxiety in a Car

Earlier this week, our house was being shown so I had to leave with our pups for a couple of hours. Emmett, my assistant, has always had anxiety when riding in cars. When we first found him as a stray, just getting him in the car was almost impossible. It is obvious to me that someone dumped him from their vehicle. We work with him regularly to help him overcome his fear and anxiety and he has improved dramatically.

As always, I did my “flight of the bubblebee” act, cleaning like a mad woman on the day of the showing. For some reason, this cleaning episode was much more stressful than the others. I could almost feel stress oozing out of my pores. I knew that I had to keep it together around the dogs. Dogs are very good at sensing your stress and other emotions. Unfortunately, I didn’t do such a great job. I was rushing to get them harnessed and in the car. Because of my rushing, they became excited. I realized what I had done but at this point it was almost too late. I knew when I loaded them in the car, Emmett was going to be stressed. And he was. Fortunately, he calmed down after a few minutes. but all this could have been avoided if I had kept my own stress level to a minimum.

Like us, dogs have life experiences – some good, some not so good. The impact these experiences can have on them varies both in intensity and in behaviors. Although a dog may not remember exactly what happened, they do remember the good or bad feeling associate with a particular event. For example, a dog was spanked by her human. When you reach your hand out to pet her, she cowers away from you. She remembers that a hand is bad and anticipates something negative is about to happen to her. The good news is that these bad feelings can usually get better. There is no guarantee that they go away completely, but they can improve.

If you have a dog who is anxious riding in vehicles, here are 6 things you can do to turn the anxiety into calm.

1. Practice First & Be Fun

Practice loading in the car before you actually have somewhere to go. To get your anxious dog to agree to get in your car, you’re going to need to be happy and sound fun. You may even want to get her favorite treat or toy and have it in hand. In a happy voice, say “Load” and pat the seat or put the treat/toy in front of her and let her follow it into the vehicle. Be sure to praise. Say “Good” “Load” and give a quick pet.

If this method doesn’t work, you can try having someone hold the leash. Go to the other side of the car and call her through the back seat. Many times, seeing you on the other side will give her enough encouragement to jump on in. Don’t forget to praise and reward!

2. Prepare Ahead of Time

Where are you going? How long will you be gone? What will you need to take with you? Is there something you need to take for your companion – water, treats, food? Get everything together and in your vehicle ahead of time. Then, you only have to worry about getting your dog in the car.

3. Do a Self Check

Are you in the right frame of mind? Are you stressed, rushing, frustrated? If you are, you are showing your dog your emotions. Step away for a few minutes. Take a deep breath and regroup. Don’t try to handle your dog until you have calmed.

4. Be Patient

This may take several tries. You want her to make the decision to get in the car on her own. Don’t force her or her anxiety will become even worse. Don’t scold her. Only offer encouragement.

5. Play Some Relaxing Music

Any relaxing music will do, but I’ve got a Spotify playlist that I use and my dogs love. I’ve shared it with you below.

6. Go Somewhere Fun

Make your companion glad she got in the car. If you only take your dog to the vet when they load up in the car, they’ll never be enthusiastic about going. Change it up and take them to the pet store or a walk along the canal. You can also take her on an impromptu vet visit to get weighed and hang out for a few minutes. This will show her that going to the vet is not always bad.

If you have any questions about anxiety in your dog or would like to schedule a consultation, call or contact me today at 762-218-3708. We currently serve the Evans/Grovetown area.

 

*NOTE:  If your dog is unresponsive to these techniques or you don’t feel comfortable implementing them, contact a trainer who is familiar with behavior modification in dogs. Do NOT attempt to do anything that will jeopardize your safety.


 

What to Do When Your Dog is Out of Control

What to Do When Your Dog is Out of Control

We have almost all been there. You’re cute pooch is jumping on everything…you, the furniture, your guests. You tell her, “No,” “Off,” or “Down.” Nothing works. It seems as if she didn’t even hear you or is completely ignoring you. This is one of the reasons dogs are surrendered to a shelter.

Most of us tend to think of our dogs like our children. We teach them what is right and wrong. When they do wrong, your first instinct may be to scold them. When they do right, we sometimes forget to give them praise. This is normal, but it doesn’t actually tell your dog what type of behavior you’re looking for.

Today we detail 2 methods of general behavior modification. These simple yet effective tools will help you control unwanted behaviors and reinforce good ones.

Positive Reinforcement

Praise reinforces good behavior. It encourages good behavior in the future, because it becomes associated with something positive. In the dog training world we refer to this as “Positive Reinforcement.” Here are the guidelines for Positive Reinforcement:

  1. The Positive Reinforcement (Reward) must be given immediately following the “good” behavior – within a few seconds. Using a Clicker will help mark the desired behavior immediately.
  2. Waiting too long to reward may inadvertently mark an undesired behavior. If you miss the opportunity (even by those few seconds) continue with the training and praise at the next good behavior.

Distract (Positive Reinforcement)

Have you ever had a song that you can’t get out of your head? You may not even like the song, but you can’t help singing it over and over again! You can get the song out of your head if you start thinking about something else. When you are free from distractions later the song may re-enter your mind and the same thing happens again. Some behaviors in dogs are very much the same.

Example: Your dog barks obsessively and you can’t seem to get her to stop. Try distracting her with her favorite toy or bone. Giving her something more rewarding will get her mind off the barking, breaking the trance and letting her know that there is something else more rewarding than that behavior. It is also important to praise her when she chews the bone instead of barking.

Negative Punishment

Wow! This sounds horrid! It’s not what it seems. Let’s break it down. In [Negative Punishment], we are removing something that is desired. In dog training, “negative” means “remove” instead of “bad.”

Example: Your dog is tearing up a toy. You take it away from her until she can play with it correctly. In this case, Negative Punishment would be that you have removed the toy and it is something she likes to play with.

Ignore (Negative Punishment)

If you watch multiple dogs interact with each other, you may notice that when one dog is behaving inappropriately one or more of the dogs may turn and walk away. It’s the dog’s way of saying, “I don’t like your behavior.” This is an excellent way to tell your dog, in her language, that her behavior is inappropriate.

You can ignore your dog’s behavior by:

  • Standing perfectly still and not looking at her until she calms down (jumping or over-excited).
  • Turning away from your dog until the behavior subsides. (jumping)
  • Going about your business until she settles down. (When you come home from work to an over-excited, jumping dog.)

*When your dog is acting appropriately, be sure to give her praise and, if appropriate, a reward. When working with an over-excited dog, remember to keep your voice low since excitement will re-ignite her.

Consistency

In dog training, consistency is the key. You must intervene in unwanted behaviors every time. If you allow a behavior sometimes and not others, your dog will not understand that it is never appropriate. They will be confused about when it is ok and when it’s not. Consistency applies to all aspects of dog training. You must be clear in your expectations and follow through with them each and every time. Get every family member on board too. It’s important that everyone follows the same rules so that your dog will be perfectly trained.

If you have any questions about behavior modification or would like to schedule a consultation, call or contact me today at 762-218-3708. We currently serve the Evans/Grovetown area.

 

*NOTE:  If your dog is unresponsive to these techniques or you don’t feel comfortable implementing them, contact a trainer who is familiar with behavior modification in dogs. Do NOT attempt to do anything that will jeopardize your safety.


 

4 Essential Elements to Effective Dog Training

This post is part of a series. Click below to learn more.

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