- Listen to Your Dog Learn to listen to your dog. If your dog appears to be uncomfortable meeting another dog, animal or person, don’t insist that he say hello. He’s telling you that he isn’t comfortable for a reason, and you should respect that. Forcing the issue can often result in bigger problems down the line.
- Be Generous with Your Affection Most people don’t have a problem being very clear about when they are unhappy with their dogs, but, they often ignore the good stuff. Big mistake! Make sure you give your dog lots of attention when he’s doing the right thing. Let him know when he’s been a good boy. That’s the time to be extra generous with your attention and praise. It’s even okay to be a little over the top.
- Does He Really Like It? Just because the bag says “a treat all dogs love” doesn’t mean your dog will automatically love it. Some dogs are very selective about what they like to eat. Soft and chewy treats are usually more exciting for your dog than hard and crunchy treats. Keep your eyes open for what he enjoys.
- Tell Him What You Want Him to Do There is nothing inherently wrong with telling your dog “no,” except that it doesn’t give him enough information. Instead of telling your dog “no,” tell him what you want him to do. Dogs don’t generalize well, so if your dog jumps up on someone to say hello and you say no, he may jump higher or he may jump to the left side instead of the right. A better alternative would be to ask him to “sit.” Tell him what you want him to do in order to avoid confusion.
- Be Consistent Whenever you’re training your dog, it’s important to get as many family members involved as possible so everyone’s on the same page. If you are telling your dog “off” when he jumps on the couch and someone else is saying “down,” while someone else is letting him hang out up there, how on earth is he ever going to learn what you want? Consistency will be the key to your success.
- Have Realistic Expectations Changing behavior takes time. You need to have realistic expectations about changing your dog’s behavior as well as how long it will take to change behaviors that you don’t like. Often behaviors which are “normal” doggie behaviors will take the most time such as barking, digging and jumping. You also need to consider how long your dog has rehearsed the behavior. For example, if you didn’t mind that your dog jumped up on people to say hi for the last seven years and now you decide that you don’t want him to do that anymore, that behavior will take a much longer time to undo than if you had addressed it when he was a pup. Remember it’s never too late to change the behavior some will just take longer than others.
- Don’t Underestimate the Benefits of Feeding a High Quality Food Feed your dog a high-quality diet with appropriate amounts of protein. If your dog spends most of his days lounging in your condo, don’t feed him food with a protein level that is ideal for dogs who herd sheep all day. The money that you will spend on feeding an appropriate quality food will often be money that you save in vet bills later on. I recommend you always check with your veterinarian for the right diet for your dog.
- You Get What You Reinforce – Not Necessarily What You Want If your dog exhibits a behavior you don’t like, there is a strong likelihood that it’s something that has been reinforced before. A great example is when your dog brings you a toy and barks to entice you to throw it. You throw the toy. Your dog has just learned that barking gets you to do what he wants. You say “no,” and he barks even more. Heaven forbid you give in and throw the toy now! Why? Because you will have taught him persistence pays off. Before you know it you’ll have a dog that barks and barks every time he wants something. The solution? Ignore his barking or ask him to do something for you (like “sit”) before you throw his toy.
- Bribery vs. Reward The idea of using treats to train is often equated with bribery. Truthfully, dogs do what works. If using treats gets them to do what you want, then why not? You can also use the world around you as a reinforcement. Every interaction you have with your dog is a learning opportunity, so when you think about it, you probably don’t use food very often except during active training sessions. So why does your dog continue to hang out? Because you reinforce him with praise, touch, games and walks. Just remember, the behavior should produce the treat; the treat should not produce the behavior.
- Freedom Let your new dog gradually earn freedom throughout your home. A common error that many pet parents make is giving their new dog too much freedom too soon. This can easily lead to accidents relating to house training and destructive chewing. So, close off doors to unoccupied rooms and use baby gates to section off parts of the house, if necessary. One of the best ways to minimize incidents is to keep your dog tethered to you in the house and by using a crate or doggie safe area when you can’t actively supervise him.
Swimming is a great exercise for dogs, and can also be the perfect relief from summer heat. Whether you're boating with your dog or simply letting it have a dip in the pool, there are many safety precautions pet owners should take while swimming with their dogs. First and foremost, make sure that your dog can swim. Most dogs can be taught to swim, but others are not made for it or are simply too afraid. Other dangers are less about the dog, and more about the place they're swimming. For example, In the summer of 2007, at least three dogs in Minnesota died after swimming in lakes that contained blue-green algae. In Michigan, a nine-month old border collie named Vita died shortly after swimming in a pond with the algae.
Health officials have known about blue-green algae for years, but there is little documentation regarding pets. "There are not many cases written up,'' said Robert Poppenga, DVM, PhD, of the California Animal Health and Food Safety Toxicology Laboratory at the University of California School of Veterinary Medicine, Davis. "They happen. Owners may not see the animal ingest the material, so they may not make the connection. However, now there is more attention about the harmful effects of algae blooms in people, so it's beginning to transfer to dogs.''
Though swimming is great exercise for dogs, he says, each body of water where pets can cavort - ponds and lakes, pools, or ocean - has its own dangers. Pet owners can minimize risk by knowing what they are and how to prevent or avoid them.
Ponds and lakes Other than the blue-green algae, ponds and lakes can be good places for dogs to swim because they don't have tides or currents, but owners should watch the water carefully, no matter how clean it looks.
For example, many parks, golf courses or subdivisions that have lakes or ponds treat them with chemicals to prevent algae. The chemicals can cause skin irritation. "Chemicals,'' Poppenga said, "can cause liver damage, and in some cases, neurologic damage. If you suspect something along these lines, take the animal to a vet immediately.''
Also, ponds and lakes in the country may contain materials toxic to dogs such as fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides that are "run-off'' from area farms. Larger lakes where motor-boating is allowed might have higher concentrations of motor oil. If you are on a boat and your dog jumps from it, make sure there is a logical way to get the dog back in.
Never let a dog drink from a pond or lake, so take fresh water for drinking as well as for bathing the dog after a swim. If you fear that your dog has ungested bad water or has swam in water that may be toxic, call for help immediately.
Swimming pool safety The most important thing about pools, says Paula Patton, professional dog trainer at The Gray Dog Lodge in Lenoir City, Tenn., is that they have steps and dogs should know where they are. "Dogs should never be allowed to swim alone,'' she said. "When pools are not in use, they should be covered. But most importantly, your pet should know how to get out of the pool without struggle.''
She also recommends the following:
Her other recommendations:
***Adapted from webvet.com
Before bringing a new puppy or dog into your home, it's important to consider the following:
Dr. Karsten Fostvedt