July the 4th is fast approaching! While this is an exciting time to celebrate with family and friends, every year I hear so many heart wrenching stories of family dogs who have run away during fireworks. This doesn’t have to happen. No matter how well-behaved, calm, and reliable a dog is, just like humans, they are not perfect. They do get spooked and scared, especially when left alone outside with very loud noises. It doesn’t matter how high your fence is. If frightened enough, your dog will find a way to escape.

Here are some suggestions for keeping your dog safe and calm during the July 4th celebration:

  1. Keep your dog inside. Shut the blinds and curtains to eliminate additional triggers. If for

some reason, your dog isn’t allowed inside, please make an exception. If you have a

garage, you can also let him stay there. Make sure there is plenty of fresh water and

entertaining toys to keep him occupied.

  1. Make sure your dog has a safe place. If your dog loves his crate, by all means let him

rest there. Freeze some plain boiled chicken in a Kong and give to him before you leave

for the evening. This will keep him busy for quite a while.

  1. Play some soft music. There are many music playlists specifically for anxiety in dogs

available on Spotify and YouTube. Try to find something that has

more piano music. Crank up the volume to help drown out the sound of the fireworks but

be sure not to turn it up too loud as dog’s ears are much more sensitive than ours.

  1. Turn the TV on and the volume up loud enough to cover the sound of the

fireworks. See #3 for a note on volume. Although we may turn the volume up loud, dogs

can still feel the vibration of the booms which can be frightening as well.

  1. Contact a positive dog trainer and work on Behavior Modification for next year!  

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 Columbia County, GA area.

 

Many years ago when I got one of my dogs, someone suggested using a crate for potty training. I thought that was the most horrendous and cruel thing. Why would I want to confine my dog when he could be with me? He should be able to have the run of the house while I’m gone. I mean, why not?

Several years later I got married and my husband and I decided to get a puppy. We lived in an apartment at the time and we were very concerned with our new pup having accidents in our home while we were away at work. It was then that I did some research and found that crates weren’t that bad if used correctly. I proceeded to crate train our pup and the next two dogs we got after moving into our house. After successfully housebreaking them, we decided to remove their crates to see how they would do while we were away. We were astonished when we arrived home, to find each of them laying in the exact spot that their crates had been. They were perfect little angels. It was almost like they missed their crates!

After that experience I swear by crate training. It is important to first understand that crates should NEVER be used as punishment. They should not be used as a babysitter where your dog stays hours at a time. They should be a safe place that your dog loves to be in. I use crates for 2 main reasons:

2 Reasons for Using Crates

  1. Housebreaking/Potty Training
  2. A safe place if there will be many people in the house or if I’m leaving the house for more than an hour. I never crate for more than 3 hours at a time and usually it’s no more than a couple of hours.

Crate Training

Choosing the correct crate is just as important as the training itself. When selecting a crate, pick one that allows your dog to stand up completely, turn around, and be comfortable. If you are crate training a puppy, you can purchase a crate that has a divider. Use the divider while he is small and as he grows you can remove the divider to make a regular sized crate. If you give him too much room, he will eliminate in the crate if not potty trained.

Start by encouraging your dog to approach the crate. Use his favorite treat or toy and toss it in the crate allowing him to go in on his own. Never force your dog to go in the crate. This will create a negative experience from the beginning and your training will be unsuccessful.

Let him come back out of the crate and toss another treat or toy inside, again allowing him to go in on his own, leaving the door open.

After he has gone and in an out several times, continue tossing a treat or toy inside and begin closing the crate door and opening a little at a time. Allow your dog to come out if he chooses. You want your dog to know that he is free to come out.

As he gets more comfortable, close the door completely. Make sure to have a safe chew toy, some food and water inside of the crate.

Work your way up to longer periods very gradually beginning at 2 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 10 minutes and so on. You will be able to tell what your dog can tolerate.

Potty Training

If you are potty training, work your way up to 30 minutes or so crate time, then take your dog outside immediately to eliminate. Give him play time when he comes back in, then have him go back in his crate for another 30 minutes to an hour. Repeat the process reducing the amount of crate time each time. Your goal is to eliminate the crate. The amount of time you leave your dog in the crate and the frequency you take your dog outside will vary depending on his age. For instance, young puppies don’t have complete control over elimination while older ones have more control. For this reason, it is important to have a lot of patience and be very consistent.

NEVER, EVER Punish Your Dog for Having an Accident in the House! I can assure you that your dog DOES NOT potty in the house out of revenge! If your dog is eliminating in the house, there is either a medical or behavioral problem such as anxiety or stress.

As with any training, consistency is the key. It won’t take long before your dog understands that the potty is outside and not in the house.

 

*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.


 

If you have any questions about Crate or Potty Training Your Dog or would like to schedule a consultation, call or contact me today at 762-218-3708. We currently serve the Columbia County, GA area.

 

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.

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.