Tired Dogs are Good Dogs!

Winter is winding down and before we know it the warm weather and longer days will be upon us. This is great news for our dogs because it means we can spend more outdoor time with them. A long hike or romp in the park is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to helping our furry friends to shed those winter pounds, get back into shape and even prevent unwanted behavior problems that often arise out of boredom. If it is difficult to get out due to available time or weather, there are indoor things we can do with our dogs to prevent boredom and keep their thinking sharp. One of my favorite things to do with my dog is to teach her tricks. This is very fun for both of us and is a great way to wear your dog out … think about how your brain feels when you’ve tried to learn something new ….tired huh?

Some of my favorite tricks include but are not limited to:

  • Take a Bow
  • Crawl
  • Sit Pretty or Beg
  • Shake Hands
  • Speak on cue
  • Shush on cue
  • High Five
  • Play Dead
  • Clean up their own Toys.

In addition to tricks there are fun games like teaching your dog to fetch & drop items using a hallway or other narrow space. Playing hide and seek is also another great game and if you have children this one can keep them and dogs occupied at the same time. If you don’t’ have children, hiding a dog’s favorite toy and then having them “find it” to earn a game of tug, chase or even a belly rub and some praise can be lots of fun.

If you need to keep your dog occupied while you are away there are lots of “puzzle toys” designed for dogs. I’ve watched my dog spend hours with her “Canine Genius” bottle. Check out this link for other great puzzle toys.  Regardless of your choice of activity, playing with your dog is fun, builds strong relationships and provides great stimulation. Tired dogs are good dogs!

Potty Training

This is definitely one of the top 3 things every puppy needs to learn when he comes home. Every accident in the house is a minor setback to the house training process; there are smells left behind for the dog to find and reuse and the dog learns and repeats inside relief.

Errorless housetraining includes a few simple but very important steps:

  • Crate Train your dog for night time and short-term confinement. Dogs do love their crates too!
  • Use a long- term confinement area during the day and when the dog will be alone for longer than 1hr.
  • Put your puppy on a feeding schedule; this allows you to predict when he will need to go out.
  • Every 30-45 min during the day take him where you want him to go, reward him with super yummy morsels in that spot when he does. If he doesn’t go, continue vigilant supervision.
  • NEVER punish or reprimand a puppy for going in the wrong place. This will only teach him not to go in front of you.
  • Do NOT leave your puppy unsupervised.

Puppy Socialization.

While this includes learning to play with other dogs in a friendly way, socialization is much, much more. It is teaching our dog to be comfortable with people, dogs, new and novel things, strange noises, etc. There is evidence that the optimum window for doing this is the dogs first 12 –14 weeks or so of age, after which it gets harder and harder as fears start to emerge from lack of positive exposure to things.

Be sure to work with your veterinarian regarding ensuring your dog is properly vaccinated before allowing him to free roam or interact with unknown dogs but do get him out to meet new people and places EVERY DAY…take his favorite toys and yummy foods to make experiences fun and memorable!

Dog Bite Prevention Month

I am encouraged by the level of interest and support in spreading the “dog bite prevention word”.

If there is one thing that I wish for our dogs, that is a more educated human population when it comes to reading and understanding the nonverbal messages our dogs give to us every day.

If we can work on just this one thing, we can not only prevent dog bites but we are likely to help the shy and fearful dogs among us to be more confident around the scary two legged beings in their world.

Some data to help you understand the scope of this problem:

Unites States Annually:

  • 7 Million dog bites per year (Pit Bulls not most!)
  • California Leads the Nation in dog bites.
  • 1 in 5 (800,000) require medical care.
  • 1/2 (400,000) require emergency room care.
  • 16,000 require reconstructive surgery.
  • 16 people die annually.
  • 1/2 or nearly 400,000 are children under 12 years.
  • Many bites go unreported
  • MOST bites come from the family dog or a familiar dog.

What can you do?

  1. Become fluent in dog body language.
  2. Always allow the dog to choose to greet or not.
  3. Supervise all dog/child interactions.
  4. Don’t hug dogs.
  5. Refrain from direct eye contact.
  6. Never Approach a tethered or confined dog.
  7. Teach children to leave dog toys, food and beds alone…respect the dogs personal space.

Fabulous resource for children and Adults:  Www.doggonesafe.com