- Puppy Visit Schedule
- Crate Training 101
- Puppy Biting
- Puppy Kindergarten Classes
- Socialization Information
- Recommended Trainers
- Important Phone Numbers
Congratulations on your new puppy!
We are so excited that you get to start on a new adventure with your brand new dog! Puppies can be so much fun but they can also be a lot of work. That is why Eastown Veterinary Clinic has prepared a welcome home puppy pack to get you started. Today we are starting your puppy binder which will include information about how to raise your puppy. At each visit we will add additional information so you and your puppy can continue to learn more as your puppy grows. There are tons of training tips and good facts to consider for your puppy’s future, like spaying or neutering, crate training, and why it’s important to vaccinate. You will also find a free dose of Trifexis or Interceptor, depending on your preference. This will help get you started on the right track with monthly preventatives. That’s right; puppies and adult dogs need monthly heartworm and parasite prevention year round for the rest of their lives in order to stay healthy! Lastly there will be a schedule of all the wellness visits that your puppy needs to attend and what will be involved in each visit. It’s important that your dog go to all visits to get the vaccines and healthcare that he/she needs. Eastown Veterinary Clinic also offers puppy classes all year. The best way to help your pup become a successful member of the family, he/she should enroll in a class. These classes are held in the evenings and last six weeks. Your puppy will learn necessary cues like “sit” and “stay” along with getting the socialization from other dogs and people he/she needs. As an owner you will learn tips on how to tackle regular puppy behaviors such as potty training and chewing. Ask any of our staff about more information if you are interested in signing up!
This may sound like a lot of work right now, but having a healthy puppy that grows into a healthy adult will definitely pay off. Eastown Veterinary Clinic is here to answer any questions that you might have in between visits. Please don’t hesitate to call or come in to say hello. We love seeing our clients and their furry friends! So good luck, have fun and thank you for choosing Eastown Veterinary Clinic!
The crate is an important tool to be used in your dog’s puppy hood and adolescence. It will help develop great bathroom habits and household manners, and will serve as a safe place for your pup to retreat to when they need a break. The crate should also serve as your “playpen” to use when you are not able to directly supervise your puppy.
The first step is to make the crate your puppy’s favorite place. The easiest way to do this is with food! Start feeding meals in the crate, and reserve favorite chew toys on a shelf, giving them only in the crate and putting them away when you let puppy out. Food dispensing toys (Kong wobbler, twist & treat, atomic treat ball, etc) are also a fantastic way to draw out fun in the crate.
If puppy doesn’t enjoy the crate, start out with small increments of time with high-value food rewards. Stuff a kong with canned dog food, peanut butter, or yogurt and then placed in the freezer for several hours or more. Put puppy in the crate with the stuffed frozen kong, and let them have it for 2-5 minutes. Open the crate to let puppy out, and take the kong and put it back in the freezer (Refill if necessary.) Repeat again throughout the day, adding several minutes of crate time as puppy gets used to being confined.
Tiring puppy out with play and a potty break right before going in the crate can also help them adjust to confinement. Naps always come after play time, and being in the crate when puppy is sleepy will help make it feel like a cozy bedroom.
Playing a game of luring puppy into the crate with a treat, rewarding them, and then letting them come right back out again without closing the door is a good way to prevent crate avoidance. Repeating this for several minutes and then ending with no confinement will show puppy that going in the crate doesn’t always mean that they will be left.
Short-term close confinement allows you to predict when your puppy needs to go so that you can plan to get puppy to the designated spot and reward him or her for doing the right thing in the right place at the right time. During periods of crate confinement, puppy’s bladder and bowels are slowly but surely filling up. Whenever the crate is opened to let puppy out, they are likely to eliminate within the first few minutes of being out of their bed. Knowing when puppy wants to go allows you to choose the spot and most importantly to reward your puppy for using it. Rewarding puppy for using his toilet is the secret to successful house training. Please see our house training handout for further details.
Housetraining is one of the first and most important skills you must teach your dog. While it is a relatively simple concept to us, housetraining can be confusing for your dog. Dogs and humans don’t have the same concepts of “inside” and “outside”, so you need to spend the time to help your dog understand exactly what the rules are. The best approach is to remain calm and positive. Scolding or punishing your dog for accidents is actually counter-productive, and can actually slow housetraining down, because they will be afraid to go to the bathroom in front of you, whether inside or outside. Instead, interrupt accidents if you catch them in the act by quickly picking them up and taking them out, and ignore the accidents that you didn’t see happen. If your dog is repeatedly going in the house, you are either not paying enough attention to your dog’s schedule or signs that they need a potty break, or you are giving them too much freedom in the house for the stage that they are in.
Recommendations for Housetraining Success
Your dog should be in one of the following three situations at ALL times while they are learning:
• Outside, under your direct supervision so that you can reinforce any urination or defecation.
• Inside, under your direct supervision so that you can catch any signs that your dog needs to go (see list), or notice if he is engaged in an activity that will result in needing a potty break afterwards.
• In their crate or gated in a small room that has been puppy-proofed.
When going outside:
• Take yummy treats out with you to reward your dog for going to the bathroom, doing so immediately after they eliminate. This means you need to be out in the yard with them. Giving them a treat when they come back in will reward coming back in, not going to the bathroom.
• It is fairly easy to teach dogs a command to let them know you’re waiting for them to go to the bathroom. Say “go potty” or any word you choose when your puppy is about to go to the bathroom. As soon as he is done, praise and reward puppy. Soon they will make the connection and your bathroom breaks will be much shorter.
• You can also keep your dog on a leash until they go to the bathroom in the area that you choose. As soon as you reward with a treat, unclip the leash (if your yard is fenced). Off-leash playtime can be another way you can reward going potty.
• If your dog has not gone to the bathroom recently and doesn’t go during the bathroom break, go back inside and watch them like a hawk or put the dog in their crate. Try again in 10-15 minutes. Repeat this process until puppy goes to the bathroom.
• Restrict your dog’s range in the house to one or two rooms. Dogs try hard not to go to the bathroom in their “home”, but to a dog, the guest bedroom or back office may qualify as “not the home” if it isn’t somewhere that they see people spending lots of time in. As the dog gets older and finishes house-training you can expand their boundaries. If your dog has an accident when you do this, backtrack and go back to basics.
• Potty breaks can’t be overdone. When your dog is awake and active, take them out every 1⁄2 hour to hour. Very young puppies should be taken out every several hours until they gain control of their bladder and bowels. Between 20 and 30 weeks (longer for smaller breeds) they should be able to make it through the workday ( it is recommended that your dog have a bathroom break at lunch or with a dog walker/pet sitter if you have a full day of work). Your puppy may be able to make it through the night before this age, but don’t expect them to do this during waking hours.
Signs or Circumstances that May Indicate Your Dog Has To Go Out
• Puppy just woke up
• Puppy just ate or drank
• Puppy just got out of his crate
• Puppy just got up from a chew toy session
• Puppy stops playing and wanders to a different area
• Puppy has been playing hard/running/roughhousing (interrupt playtime for a potty break)
• Puppy is sniffing the floor
• Puppy is circling while sniffing
• Puppy wanders over to or is looking in the direction of the door you usually take him out
• Puppy appears distracted or confused
If Your Dog Has an Accident
If you find that your dog has relieved themselves indoors, this means that you were not paying close attention and missed an opportunity to let them go to the bathroom in the appropriate place. This is your mistake, not your dog’s. We don’t yell at human children when they are learning to use the bathroom, and we shouldn’t yell at dogs in the same circumstances. Rather than focusing on mistakes, make it worthwhile for your dog to do things the right way, with guidance, praise, and rewards.
Cleaning Up Accidents
Dogs operate by smell much more than we do. If accidents are not cleaned up properly, then the odor will linger. If it smells like an area that dogs use for the bathroom, then logic will dictate to your dog that they should go to the bathroom in that area. Make sure that you remove ALL waste and follow up with a cleaner specifically formulated to eliminate pet urine odors, following instructions on the label. You can find products like these at most pet stores.
A Note About Paper Training & Puppy Pads
Using this method is generally discouraged due to the confusion it can cause your dog. We view paper- training as teaching our dogs to go to the bathroom on a certain material, but our dogs view this training as teaching them what part of the house is appropriate for elimination. It can be very challenging when you try to remove the pads or paper when your puppy is older, only to find that they will still go to the bathroom in that area instead of asking to go outside. If you are in an apartment and want to continue using pads for the life of your dog, then the earlier you teach them, the better. If you want your puppy to go to the bathroom outside, don’t set them up to go to the bathroom inside.
*Information from Brister, J., DVM. (2018). VetPartner Featured Articles. Retrieved July 14, 2020, from https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239
Puppies bite. And thank goodness they do! Puppy play-fighting and play-biting are essential for your puppy to develop a soft mouth as an adult.
Puppy Biting is Normal, Natural, and Necessary!!
Puppy biting seldom causes appreciable harm, but many bites are quite painful and elicit an appropriate reaction—a yelp and a pause in an otherwise extremely enjoyable play session. Thus, your puppy learns that his sharp teeth and weak jaws can hurt. Since your puppy enjoys play-fighting, he will begin to inhibit the force of his biting to keep the game going. Thus your puppy will learn to play-bite gently before he acquires the formidable teeth and strong jaws of an adolescent dog.
Forbidding a young puppy from biting altogether may offer immediate and temporary relief, but it is potentially dangerous because your puppy will not learn that his jaws can inflict pain. Consequently, if ever provoked or frightened as an adult, the resultant bite is likely to be painful and cause serious injury.
Certainly, puppy play-biting must be controlled, but only in a progressive and systematic manner. The puppy must be taught to inhibit the force of his bites, before puppy biting is forbidden altogether. Once your puppy has developed a soft mouth, there is plenty of time to inhibit the frequency of his now gentler mouthing.
Teaching your puppy to inhibit the force of his bites is a two-step process: first, teach the pup not to hurt you; and second, teach your pup not to exert any pressure at all when biting. Thus the puppy’s biting will become gentle mouthing. Teaching your puppy to inhibit the frequency of his mouthing is a two-step process: first, teach your puppy that whereas mouthing is OK, he must stop when requested; and second, teach your pup never to initiate mouthing unless requested.
It is not necessary to hurt or frighten your pup to teach her that biting hurts. A simple “Ouch!” is sufficient. If your pup acknowledges your “ouch” and stops biting, praise her, lure her to sit (to reaffirm that you are in control), reward her with a liver treat, and then resume playing. If your pup ignores the “ouch” and continues biting, yelp “Owwwww!” and leave the room. Your puppy has lost her playmate. Return after a 30-second time-out and make up by lure-rewarding your puppy to come, sit, lie down, and calm down, before resuming play.
Do not attempt to take hold of your pup’s collar, or carry her to confinement; you are out of control and she will probably bite you again. Consequently, play with your puppy in a room where it is safe to leave her if she does not respond to your yelp. If she ignores you, she loses her playmate.
Once your pup’s biting no longer hurts, still pretend that it does. Greet harder nips with a yelp of pseudo-pain. Your puppy will soon get the idea: “Whooahh! These humans are soooo supersensitive. I’ll have to be much gentler when I bite them.” The pressure of your puppy’s bites will progressively decrease until play-biting becomes play-mouthing. Never allow your puppy to mouth human hair or clothing. Hair and clothing cannot feel. Allowing a puppy to mouth hair, scarves, shoelaces, trouser legs, or gloved hands, inadvertently trains the puppy to bite harder, extremely close to human flesh! Off!! Once your pup exerts no pressure whatsoever when mouthing, then —and only then—teach him to reduce the frequency of his mouthing. Teach your puppy the meaning of “Off!” by hand feeding kibble. Your puppy will learn that gentle mouthing is OK, but he must stop the instant you ask him to stop.
Puppy Must Never Initiate Mouthing
At this stage, your puppy should never be allowed to initiate mouthing (unless requested to do so). Please refer to our Preventing Aggression booklet for a detailed description of the essential rules for bite-inhibition exercises such as hand feeding, play-fighting, and tug-of-war. By way of encouragement, mouthing-maniac puppies usually develop gentle jaws as adults because their many painful puppy bites elicited ample appropriate feedback. On the other hand, puppies that seldom play and roughhouse with other dogs, puppies that seldom bite their owners (e.g., shy, fearful, and standoffish pups), and breeds that have been bred to have soft mouths may not receive sufficient feedback regarding the pain and power of their jaws. This is the major reason to enroll your puppy in an off-leash puppy class right away.
Should a dog ever bite as an adult, both the prognosis for rehabilitation and the fate of
the dog are almost always decided by the severity of the injury, which is predetermined by the level of bite inhibition the dog acquired during puppyhood. The most important survival lesson for a puppy is to learn bites cause pain! Your puppy can only learn this lesson if he is allowed to play-bite other puppies and people, and if he receives appropriate feedback.
© 2004 Ian Dunbar
Reprinted from www.dogstardaily.com with permission of Dr. Ian Dunbar and James & Kenneth Publishers
Our classes allow the puppies to develop appropriate social skills in a safe and controlled environment. With a trainer present and supervising to ensure appropriate play, shy or fearful puppies quickly gain confidence in leaps and bounds, while pushy and overbearing pups learn to tone it down and play appropriately. All puppies in our classes are up-to-date on their vaccines, providing a much safer opportunity to socialize than going out in public and interacting with dogs of unknown vaccine history.
Off-lead puppy play sessions are incredibly important. Play is essential for young dogs to gain confidence and learn canine social etiquette, so that later on as socialized adult dogs they would much rather play than either fight or flee from other dogs. If not properly socialized as puppies, dogs typically lack the confidence to have fun and play as adults. Moreover, once they are fearful or aggressive as adults, dogs can be challenging or impossible to retrain. Thankfully, these potentially serious problems with mature dogs are easy to prevent early on, simply by letting puppies play with each other. So give your puppy this opportunity. It’s the easiest way to a happy, safe, and friendly adult dog.
This is not to say that a well-socialized dog will never become scared or upset with another dog. A socialized dog may be momentarily startled, but he gets over it quickly. Poorly socialized dogs do not. Also, well-socialized dogs, which have encountered all sizes and sorts of dogs, are better equipped to deal with occasional encounters with unsocialized or unfriendly dogs.
The most important reason for attending puppy class is to provide your dog the opportunity to fine-tune his or her bite inhibition. Whether your puppy is still biting you too much, or whether he is biting less than needed to develop reliable bite inhibition, puppy play time is the essential tool to help. Other puppies are the very best teachers. They very clearly let each other know, “Bite me too hard and I’m not going to play with you anymore!” Since young dogs want to spend all their time play-fighting and play-biting, they end up teaching each other bite-inhibition.
Classes of young puppies in the same age bracket generate high energy and activity levels. Each puppy stimulates their class-mates to give chase and play-fight, such that the frequency of bites during puppy play is very high compared to everyday life at home. In addition, each puppy tends to wind up all the others, such that the physical nature of their play and the amount of pressure used in play-bites periodically increase to the point where one puppy eventually bites another too hard and receives the appropriate feedback. A puppy’s skin is extremely sensitive, so classmates are likely to provide immediate and convincing feedback when bitten too hard. In fact, your pup is likely to receive more feedback regarding the force of his biting during a single hour-long puppy class than he would all week from his family at home. Further, much of the learned bite inhibition with dogs will generalize to good bite inhibition with people, making training at home easier and more effective.
As mentioned earlier, even well-socialized dogs may have occasional disagreements or squabbles. After all, who doesn’t? But just as we have learned how to resolve disagreements with each other in a socially acceptable manner, so can well-socialized dogs. Although it is unrealistic to expect dogs never to squabble and disagree, it is realistic to expect our dogs to work out their differences without mutilating people or other dogs. It all comes back to the level of bite inhibition they develop while mouthing other puppies in play. Use the opportunity puppy class presents to help your dog learn these vital skills early on.
What if my puppy gets enough socialization at home
Your puppy may be very comfortable with family members and other pets in the household, but you may be in for a shock when your puppy goes out alone, whether for a walk on the street, to a dog park, or to training class. Removing a pup from their comfort zone can help you see how important socialization is. She or he will likely run and hide and defensively growl, lunge, and snap. Your puppy may appear to be extremely well-socialized and friendly at home, but he is only socialized and friendly to the things and people in your home. When he goes out alone for the first time, he may fall apart, missing the security and safety of home. Socialization requires meeting a variety of dogs and people in a variety of different environments. Puppy
class provides a fun, easy way to help accomplish this while protecting young dogs from contagious diseases by ensuring all participants are up-to-date on their medical care, including vaccines and parasite screening.
While socialization is the most important aspect of puppy class, we also learn basic obedience, handling, and boundary-setting for a happy home life. We spend time during class discussing ways you can help your puppy learn house manners and addressing individual problems & concerns. By the end of the class, you will have learned how to teach your dog the following commands/skills:
What do I need to do/bring for puppy class?
Your puppy needs to be on a flat buckle collar (no choke chains or pinch collars) or a head harness (Gentle Leader/Halti Harness) with a leash. Bring lots of small, tasty treats to class with you. Please skip your dog’s dinner before class. High levels of activity combined with a full belly can sometimes cause stomach upset. It is best to feed your puppy after you get home on class nights.
Who teaches puppy kindergarten at Eastown Veterinary Clinic?
Amy Townsend is our class instructor. She is a licensed veterinary technician and a member of the Society for Veterinary Behavior Technicians and The Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
Amy’s approach to training focuses on positive reinforcement and building a bond with your dog through communication and understanding. She spends time in each class explaining how your puppy interprets your actions and body language, and how you can use those things to your advantage in helping your dog understand what you expect from them. Most importantly, Amy strives to make training fun for both you and your pooch. Training is something that will continue for the life of your dog, so learning how to enjoy it and making learning fun will set you up for a strong positive relationship between you and your dog for years to come.
Amy Townsend, LVT, LMT
Amy is a licensed veterinary technician and manual therapist who has loved training animals since elementary school. Her veterinary nursing career spanned spay & neuter clinics, shelter medicine, emergency/ICU nursing, and day practice before she found her niches in behavioral and physical rehabilitation. She enjoys working with pets and their owners to restore physical and emotional well-being and open communication using positive, force-free training, science, and mindfulness. Amy is a member of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America & the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians. She has handled two therapy dogs and her favorite dog sports are agility and rally obedience. Amy also volunteers with 4-H, helping kids learn how to train their dogs.
Amy shares her full house with Trevor, an Australian Cattle Dog; Simone, a pit bull/coonhound mix; Fern, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel; Iris, an Australian Shepherd/Labrador mix; three kitties, and a revolving door for small animals in need of a home, along with her husband and two children.
- Walking on a leash
- Dog Emotions
- Crate Training Games
- Desensitisation Tips
- The Engage-Disengage Game
Puppy teething doesn’t surprise most families, although just how much puppies use their teeth may. Human babies have hands, so they use hands and mouths for necessary learning and exploring as their brains develop. Canine babies must do this exploration mostly with their mouths.
Puppy teeth are quite sharp, and the sharp tips become somewhat smoother through teething/chewing. When the permanent teeth emerge, they are not as sharp. At this point the pup may be housetrained, and early teething has largely subsided. Whatever confinement the family was using to keep the pup out of trouble, they may decide to discontinue. Then it happens.
What Nobody Told You
The chewing is not over when puppy’s adult teeth come in. Most dogs will continue to engage in chewing behavior for the rest of their life, although the amount of chewing that they do may lesson as they age.
This completely normal stage of dog development is more pronounced in some breeds than others, and in some individual dogs than others. It can be greatly aggravated by anxiety, including separation anxiety, but some dogs who are simply going through the destructive chewing stage are diagnosed with separation anxiety.
To complicate the situation, you can give your dog separation anxiety by 1) coming home when you’ve imprudently left your dog with access to toothsome possessions of yours, 2) seeing a mess, and 3) freaking out at the dog. Do this enough times, and any dog will develop anxiety. Some dogs will develop anxiety if you do it just once. You think, using human logic, that the dog full well knows why you had that conniption fit at the sight of your sofa in pieces. The dog, on the other hand, has no earthly idea why you got mad.
Naturally, the next time you’re gone and leave the dog with access to tempting toothables, the physical urging (it may even be pain) in the dog’s jaws will result in another chewing episode. After all, the dog is not able to make a mental connection between chewing stuff at 2 p.m. and you getting angry at 5:30 p.m. You come home to the mess, and your human logic interprets this as deliberate defiance.
You act like a human, and the dog acts like a dog. Most dogs will submit to your anger the first few times, until your not accepting the submission and insisting on punishing the dog anyway results in the dog feeling cornered. Then all bets are off as to how the dog might react. You can ruin the dog’s temperament.
Other dogs, not so submissive, will see your anger-completely unexplainable from the dog’s point of view-and react in a defensive manner. Either way, there are no winners here, only losers. The dog may ultimately lose his or her life, since destructive chewing is a major cause of people giving up their dogs. Often the first step is to put the dog outdoors to live. This can weaken the family’s bond with the dog and also introduce new issues, such as barking that disturbs neighbors and brings authorities to your door.
How to Fix It
Dogs need chew toys of good quality that are safe for the chewing habits of each particular dog. It takes observation to determine which toys are okay for which dogs. Provide the dog with a variety of textures, so that whatever the teeth are screaming for at any given moment, the dog can locate a toy-within reach-that will fill the need. Cow hooves, antlers, and real bones are too hard and can break teeth. Any toy that can be dented with a fingernail is acceptable.
When you’re not able to supervise the dog, provide a safe area for the dog to rest. A crate, a comfortable dog run and a room in the house with a baby gate (or two, one stacked above the other to provide adequate height) are all possibilities that work for some dogs. Avoid putting the dog behind a closed door in a room, since this often leads to the dog developing habits such as clawing up doors or the flooring at the bases of doors. Baby gates that allow the dog to see through the doorway tend to avoid these complications.
The destructive chewing stage can last for quite some time, but in most cases will end by the time the dog is 2 years old or so. If you do an excellent job of directing a puppy to appropriate toys using the instructions below, some dogs will be focused on their toys by the time they’re a year old and able to have more house freedom. If you’ve waited until a destructive chewing problem has emerged and are now starting to deal with it in a dog several months of age, plan on restricting house freedom until the dog is a bit older.
Either way, don’t just give up and toss the dog outside because you don’t want to use a crate or other confinement forever. Rarely does it need to be forever, unless you have a situation that requires confinement for other reasons. Destructive chewing is a stage that, with your help, the majority of dogs can come through very well.
Another tool you need for this training is a bottle of Bitter Apple spray or similar product. Bitter Apple has been around for a long time, doesn’t harm dogs if they ingest it, and doesn’t stain most surfaces. It’s also readily available. This is a training tool, not a protect-the-house tool. Alcohol-based, the spray evaporates quickly and has to be applied three to four times a day to keep its bittering effect active.
Let’s look at a teachable moment. You are in the same room with your dog, perhaps watching television or reading a book. A few good dog toys are within easy reach on the floor. The Bitter Apple spray is also handy. The dog, exploring, starts to chew (or any movement showing intention to chew) an inappropriate object.
You get up. Take along the Bitter Apple spray and a dog toy as you calmly go to the dog. Spray the OBJECT the dog is chewing (do not spray the dog), while you calmly say, “Leave it.” Instantly animate the dog toy and get the dog excited enough to want it. Do not carry this to extreme teasing-it’s not a game. Your goal is simply to direct the dog’s attention to the toy, not to agitate the dog into a state of high activity. You want the dog to continue thinking of chewing, which dogs do when relaxing.
As soon as the dog wants the toy, give it to the dog. When the dog settles with it to chew, softly praise the dog and withdraw, back to what you were doing before. You’ve completed a successful lesson.
You will need to repeat this many, many times. You’re helping your dog form strong chewing habits of choosing a dog toy every time. A young dog with jaws urging “Chew! Chew! Chew!” is apt to make many mistakes. You actually want these mistakes made in front of you-you do not want to scare the dog into hiding from you to chew.
The longer the dog was allowed to keep making mistakes about chewing before the human family wised up and started this training, the more habits there will be to overcome. Additionally, the dog needs time to mature. Your patience will pay off. Your dog is learning a lot of other good things in the process of this training, including the fact that you’re smart and a good person.
If you notice the dog going back to an inappropriate item of a certain texture unlike the dog’s toys, by all means get some toys of that texture. This may be a texture your dog’s teeth need at that point in development. Don’t use discarded human items for toys. It’s not fair to expect a dog to consistently know the difference between old shoes and new shoes! Use dog toys. During the most rampant chewing stage, it pays to bring in new and interesting toys frequently. Some people rotate the toys to keep them interesting. Just remember to keep an assortment of textures available to the dog at all times. This will likely mean you have some toys in every room where you and the dog spend time.
Please note that cow hooves and antlers are not appropriate chew toys for your dog. Chew toys must have some give to them; a great way to test this is to see if potential toys can be dented with a finger nail.
If you find something your dog has chewed and damaged when you weren’t watching, it’s okay to do the training maneuver (calmly) if the dog is still chewing it. If the dog is done chewing it, you’ve missed your chance. There is nothing you can teach your dog about destructive chewing by punishing the dog. Your best bet is simply to do a better job with confinement and supervision, so that the dog is not again put into a position to make this mistake without your help to choose the right toy.
You’re helping your dog form habits for life. Not only do you want the dog to chew dog toys instead of your things, you also want your dog to form the chewing habit! Yes, that’s right! The dog who continues to chew on appropriate toys through life will typically have better dental health. If you’ve ever had a dog with teeth that quickly got dirty and infected and had to have a lot of dental work, you’ll realize that you want a dog who chews. Of course, you want the dog to chew the right toys!
Lundgren, B., DVM. (2017). VetPartner Featured Articles. Retrieved July 14, 2020, from https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239
Introductory Crate Training Games for Dogs
A crate-trained dog makes traveling, potty training, and bedtime much easier and more enjoyable for both you and your dog. A crate will also give your pooch it’s own safe, familiar place to rest and relax.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not an all-around guide to crate training. It will give a few general don’ts and do’s and then provide some basic games to play as you are introducing your dog to his crate. There are several training blogs, books and other resources for additional crate training. If you take your time and stay positive your dog will learn to love their crate in no time!
The goals for the following crate training exercises are:
• Teaching the dog that they receive rewards (in the form of praise and cookies) for being in the crate.
• Teaching the dog to be quiet and calm in the crate.
• Teaching the dog to enter the crate and stay inside until they are given a release word.
It’s important that you pick the right sized crate for your dog. The crate should be large enough so that the dog can stand up and turn around. If you have a puppy, buy a crate that will be the appropriate size when the dog is full grown and use a space divider that can be adjusted as the pup matures. A cardboard box is the perfect space divider since you can simply replace it with smaller sizes as the puppy grows. If the crate is too large the puppy is more likely to go to the bathroom inside it.
Do’s and Don’ts of Crate Training
• Don’t use the crate as a time out or punishment tool. The crate should always be a positive place for a dog.
• Don’t force the dog to go into the crate. The pooch should enter on their own.
• Don’t leave toys in the crate that a dog can potentially chew to pieces and swallow.
• Don’t allow children or adults to tease your dog when it is crated.
• Do keep your training sessions brief and very gradually build up to more time spent in the crate.
• Do toss treats into the crate and encourage your dog to retrieve them and explore the crate on its own.
• Do feed the dog meals in the crate, keeping the door open so the dog can exit after the meal is finished.
• Do place the crate in a social area of the house, such as the living room or kitchen so your dog doesn’t feel isolated when its in the crate.
• Do be sure to let your dog outside to eliminate before crating him.
Game #1 The Magical Crate of Treats and Toys!
This is an easy first exercise. When your dog isn’t in the room place a few “cookies” in their crate, this could be a favorite toy, peanut butter kong, hot dogs, etc. For the sake of clarity we will call all treats “cookies.” Let your dog discover the cookies on their own. The crate isn’t scary, it’s the bearer of delicious fun! Leave the door open the first few times you do this. If your dog seems happy and secure in the crate close the door for a few seconds, while he is happily munching, then open to allow him to exit.
Game #2 The Cookie Toss Game
Once your dog is entering the crate on his own you can move on to more interactive games. Get a large amount of small cookies ready and begin by tossing one into the crate. Let your dog enter on its own, do not coax or force the dog into the crate. Once the dog enters immediately praise them, after they eat their cookie call them back to you and then throw another cookie into the crate so they will re-enter. Repeat this process for 5-10 minutes. Remember to stay positive and pay attention to your dog, if they are getting bored with the game be sure to give them a break, you can always play again later.
Game #3 Closing the Door
After your dog is comfortable retrieving cookies in the crate it’s time to add to Game #2 by closing the door for short periods of time. Start by tossing a cookie in. Fido will enter to retrieve the cookie, now close the door for 2-3 seconds. The goal here is for your dog to stay quiet and calm, we don’t want to close the door for too long or they may bark, whine or scratch at the door. If they do any of these things and we open the door we are reinforcing bad behavior. “If I just whine a bit, they open the crate door…” So keep it brief and slowly add a few more seconds to each training session.
Game #4 Meal Time in the Den
This is an incredibly easy exercise that I have used for all of my foster dogs. Simply feed your dog their meals in the crate. I start with the door open but usually after a few days you’ll notice the dog is so excited about dinner time that they won’t even notice if you close the door. If you do close the door be sure to stand by and open it before they finish their meal so they can exit freely.
Game #5 No Bolting, Please!
We want our dog to exit their crate gracefully and calmly. This is for two main reasons. #1 A dog that bolts out of their crate may run into you or someone else. More importantly #2 For safety. Imagine you’re transporting your crated dog to the vet for their annual check-up. You open the car door then open their crate and the dog excitedly bolts from the crate into a busy parking lot or street. It’s very important that your dog stays put until you tell it otherwise. Once a dog is comfortable being crated, with the door closed, you can teach them to exit calmly. The easiest method I’ve found is simply closing the door when your dog tries to bolt. Toss a cookie into the crate. When your dog enters close the door. Now open the door. If your dog stays put then praise them and give them a cookie. If they begin to move forward close the door. Wait until Fido has settled down again and open the door a few inches. If he moves forward, close it. If he stays put open it a bit wider, and wider, until you can give him a cookie. Then call him out of the crate, or better yet assign a release word such as “ok” “release” “break” or any other word that you use for releasing your dog from other commands such as sit and stay. If you are unfamiliar with release words then give it a Google! Release words make training much easier! Repeat this exercise for 5-10 minutes at a time. It won’t take long for him to realize that bolting out the crate isn’t ok.
Game #6 This is Your Safe, Relaxing Place
Once your dog is comfortable entering the crate, and when you close the door for a few minutes at a time, you can begin rewarding relaxation. Remember, one of our goals is to make the crate the dog’s calm, safe place where they can sleep/relax. Toss a treat into the crate and give your dog their command to lie down. Praise and treat. Do not release the dog from their down. Wait for cues that the dog is relaxed, these include: sighing, rolling onto it’s side, stretching, yawning, licking their lips, resting their head on their paws, and even blinking. Praise them every time they do one of these things, try not to use large treats or excitable praise, just a calm “good” or “yes” or a light pet works great. After they have relaxed, and you have praised them, you may give them their release word.
You may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned using a command, besides a release word, in any of these games. Before we can assign commands the dog needs to feel comfortable with the game/task as well as execute the desired behavior entirely. For instance, if you want your dog to enter the crate, lie down and stay then avoid assigning a cue until the dog is consistently doing all of the above. Also, if we assign “kennel up” or “crate” to entering the crate and the dog hasn’t decided that it loves it’s crate yet then the dog may learn to dread the command and associate it with negative consequences. Once your pooch is exhibiting the full behavior for entering their crate, laying down, staying put and relaxing without exhibiting signs of frustration or anxiety you can begin using a verbal and/or hand cue.
Crates are much like a wolf’s den; a safe, warm, place for your dog to rest. Crate training has several benefits. A small investment of your time and patience will help make traveling, potty-training, and leaving the house much easier and more enjoyable for both you and your dog. Check back soon for more crate-related training posts including: How to Teach your Dog to Sleep in their Kennel Through the Night and Advanced Crate Games.
Introductory Crate Training Games for Dogs. (2015, February 16). Retrieved July 14, 2020, from https://www.twincitiespetrescue.org/blog/introductory-crate-training-games-dogs/
- Smart dog training consumer
- Dog Training
- Positive Reinforcement Training
- Dog's Social Tolerance
- Barking at Other Dogs
- Prevent Jumping 101
- Walking On-Leash
- AVSAB Information
Be cautious of anyone who isn’t willing to be transparent about how they train.
Many dog trainers don’t openly disclose their methods, which leaves you in the dark about what will happen to your dog. If you come across someone like that, keep looking. There is no reason to keep anything a secret unless there is something to hide.
Unfortunately, dog training is an unregulated, unlicensed profession. That means that anyone can claim they are a dog trainer and take your money. Many outdated or non-scientific methods potentially make a problem situation worse, sometimes even dangerous.
At Eastown Veterinary Clinic, we support the American Veterinary Medical Association’s stance on using positive reinforcement based training. Behavioral issues should be approached using the least invasive, minimally aversive techniques available.
The questions from the “smart dog training consumer section” should be asked to any trainer who may have the privilege.
What will happen if my dog gets it right?
If your dog gets it right, good things will happen: your dog will be reinforced for doing the right thing.
Dogs have many reinforcers—food, toys, play, attention, petting, etc. One of the things a good trainer will work on is figuring out which thing is actually reinforcing for your dog.
Likely, we will work with food as a reinforcer a lot. So much, that you will likely need to replace some of your dog’s mealtime food with training food. Food is the easiest reinforcer to use for a variety of reasons:
• A dog has to eat to live. That makes food quite motivating as a reinforcer, and the dog doesn’t have to learn that food is reinforcing.
• When learning a new behavior, we want to give the dog a ton of opportunity to perform and get reinforced for that behavior. The more times the dog does the behavior and gets reinforced, the more the dog will do the behavior joyfully.
• Food is the easiest and fastest reinforcer to deliver to get the most repetitions in.
Worried that using food is bribery? Or that it’s too distracting? Come back to read more about the use of food in dog training.
What happens if my dog gets it wrong?
The short answer is: your dog won’t get reinforced for that behavior.
The simple, but not easy reality of dog training is that we reinforce right behaviors, and don’t reinforce wrong behaviors.
First, we need to look at why the dog is doing that behavior. For example, if your dog is jumping on people, most likely it is to get attention. And what happens when your dog jumps on people? “Off Fido, Down, Now!” Which is . . . you guessed it! Attention. Exactly what the dog wants. So you may actually be reinforcing your dog for behaviors you don’t want.
If while you are training, are you sometimes give your dog a treat for sitting politely and other times saying “Off, Fido” when he jumps, what you get is something known in behavior science as “Matching Law.” If you reinforce 60% of the time for sitting politely, and reinforce by giving attention (even if it is yelling) 40% of the time, then what do you think happens to a dog’s behavior?
If you guessed that you will get sitting 60% of the time, and jumping 40% of the time, you are correct! That’s the not-so-easy part of dog training: being very aware of how you might be inadvertently reinforcing your dog. But like any skill, with practice and coaching, you can get great at it.
We work on setting your dog up for success, so that doing the right behavior is the easiest thing to do. Perhaps that is having your dog behind a gate when people come into the house so she doesn’t jump up. Perhaps that is avoiding walking your dogs around other dogs if your dog is aggressive to them.
This science term for this is called “changing antecedent events”—setting the environment up so that both you and your dog can be most successful.
Finally, what we work on is replacing an unwanted behavior with a behavior we’d like to see. This is called “Fair Pairs”—if you remove a behavior you don’t like, then it’s only fair to be very clear and train a behavior you do like. Have you ever had a boss who only told you what you were doing wrong and didn’t tell you what to do instead? Feels really bad, doesn’t it?
So if we don’t want a dog to jump up on people coming into the house, we can teach them to really love going to their mat and waiting politely with positive reinforcement. Now the dog has a behavior they love to do when people come in the door that eliminates the behavior of jumping you don’t want. This is called “differential reinforcement of an incompatible behavior.”
Is there a less invasive alternative to what you propose?
None known at this time. But we keep up on the current science to practice evidence-based approaches to training and addressing behavioral challenges. If or when there is something new added to the current body of science that is replicated, we will use it.
At Canine Behavior Science, we use what’s known as LIMA—the Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive approach to developing training plans and approaches to working with your dog.
This approach is based on the same ethical guidelines that are required for education and behavior modification for humans.
Barking problems are among the most common complaints that dog owners have. Why do dogs bark? Well, for a variety of reasons. Dogs will bark if they feel threatened. They may bark when they play and get excited. Some dogs will bark for attention. Some will bark if they are in pain and they’ll even bark when they’re lonely, bored or stressed. Certain breeds or breed types are also genetically inclined to bark more than others.
How you’ll prevent or resolve your issue with barking will partially depend on what is triggering your dog to bark. For example if your dog is barking or vocalizing because they’re in pain, treating the source of his pain would be the obvious solution. If your dog is barking through the front window as dogs pass by your house, blocking off his access to that window is a simple way to help prevent his barking.
Keep in mind that the more your dog practices barking the better they’ll get at it. So identifying what is triggering your dog to bark and if all possible, removing the trigger or trying to stop the barking before it occurs is the simplest way to prevent the barking.
Anti-bark collars which use shock are inhumane and are inappropriate for most kinds of barking problems (and often make the problem worse!). With the right kind of help and a strong desire to stop the problem, most pet parents can successfully resolve barking issues in a safe and humane way.
The Alert Barker
If your dog is barking to alert you to someone or something outside, the answer is quite simple. Remove the source of what triggers his barking. For instance if your dog barks at people as they walk past your home, prevent his access to the window using furniture, closing blinds, blocking off the area with a baby gate or confining them to a room or their crate while you aren’t at home.
The Lonely Barker
Fortunately the remedy for the lonely barker is often simple. Try changing your dog’s environment a bit. Remember that your dog probably wants to be with people. Dogs who are left outside for long periods of time are often the worst offenders of barking. Your dog needs to play with you and feel like they are a part of the family. Dogs typically don’t do well when left alone for long periods of time. Make sure you set aside time for regular walks, playtime – even some training sessions. You’ll want to be sure that you give them the social contact that they need to keep his body and mind occupied.
Barking when left alone may also indicate separation anxiety. If you think that anxiety is the source of your dog’s barking, contact a professional dog trainer in your area who specializes in working with anxiety. You may also want to work with your veterinarian to see if medication is necessary to help improve your dog’s behavior.
Attention seeking barking is a learned behavior! When your dog brings a toy over to you, drops it on the floor, barks and you pick it up and throw it. You have just taught your dog, “When I bark you play!” Even if you look at them or verbally scold your dog when they bark, you will still be teaching them that their barking is a successful way to get your attention. How can you remedy it? You need to ignore his demands. Their barking may initially increase and so don’t give in or they will learn that persistence pays off. However, if they bark and you really ignore them or even better if you ignore them and walk away until they are quiet, they will eventually learn that barking doesn’t work and it will decrease.
For more information on the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.
Visit our Web site at www.apdt.com or call 1-800-PET-DOGS (738-3647) or email [email protected]
Prevent Jumping 101
How many dogs have been relegated to back-yard living because they jump all over family and guests whenever anyone walks through the door? Then when someone goes out to visit the lonesome dog, the jumping is worse because the dog is even more excited to see someone. Only now the dog is dirty, too. Not good! Let’s talk about how to solve this problem once and for all.
We humans encourage dogs to jump on us by petting them, starting in puppyhood, when they stand on their hind legs to get closer to our loving face and hands. This normal unruly behavior is most likely attention-seeking in nature when it’s not accompanied by aggression. They don’t mean anything bad by jumping up, but very few people like being jumped on by a dog. As the dog gets older and stronger, they may scratch people and knock people down. It’s not only children and elderly people, but bigger, stronger dogs can potentially knock adults down as well. The behavior becomes a way to get your attention, even you start pushing them off and telling them “No.” The person may see this as a punishment, but your dog may not see it as aversive at all.
When a dog is still a very young puppy, the best way to handle jumping up is never to allow the puppy to even start doing it. Don’t let anyone pet your cute little tootsie of a puppy unless all four feet are on the ground. If you teach your puppy that all petting happens when four feet are on the ground, your big dog will not be jumping on people. Instead, the dog will develop sweet ways of greeting people such as laying a head lovingly against your knee.
This training is harder than it sounds because dogs are usually rewarded by someone for this behavior, and chances are you have an adolescent or adult dog who is jumping on people. What do you do now? It’s the same principle as with the puppy, only it will take longer.
Attack this problem on more than one front. Here are the ingredients for training your dog to greet with four on the floor:
1. Teach your dog to sit, even when excited. When the dog is IN the sit position, give petting, praise, and treats. Do not praise AFTER the dog has gotten up, because that is not the desired behavior. Praise and reward DURING the desired behavior, the sit. This is the crucial training step that most people miss. Teaching the dog not to jump isn’t enough. We have to teach the dog that the petting will come when the dog is doing the right behavior. Put your focus on this moment. You’ll start this training in unexciting situations (i.e. in your house without visitors) and gradually build to more and more exciting situations (i.e. your backyard, then a quiet park) until the dog is totally steady. It takes time and practice. Then start to incorporate strangers. Teaching a dog to sit in more distracting situations sounds easy, but they not only have to be able to sit, they have to be able to do it when they are highly excited, and that is not an easy feat! So don’t expect it to be all fixed in a week. Signing up for a positive reinforcement training class may be a good way to start increasing distractions and the participants will be more likely to follow your instructions of asking your dog to sit when they approach them and ignoring jumping behavior.
2. Teach your dog that when they come to you or anyone else their default behavior is to sit and not jump. People should ask them to sit every time they approach them. Alternatively, teach them a come cuddle command (see below).
3. When you come into the house, come in quietly. Excited greetings when you come in encourage a dog to jump on you.
4. When you have guests arrive, keep your dog under leash or other control (i.e. confining them to a separate room) for about 15 minutes until everyone is settled. This is the time of wildest excitement for the dog, and it will be much easier for the dog to muster self-control after this initial period. Eventually you will want to train this behavior without a leash, too.
5. Never let anyone pet or otherwise give your dog attention when they are standing on their hind legs. The best remedy for jumping up is to withhold attention. This is different for every dog. For some dogs you can keep your hands to yourself and turn a hip toward the dog or turn your back on the dog, but for some dogs you may have to actually leave the room (separating yourself from the dog), until your training has progressed to the point of being able to get the dog to “sit” on cue. When the dog has been jumping and stops jumping, ask them for a couple of commands before petting to separate the jumping behavior from the reward of petting. This request is recommended because some dogs are so smart they will jump and then sit just to be petted.
6. If you are going to do anything to interrupt your dog’s jumping, keep in mind that your goal is a dog that is safe with people. Don’t fall into the trap of trying quick-fix methods for jumping up, such as stepping on the dog’s toes or whacking them in their chest with your knee. These methods cause pain, which could make them fearful of people, or worse, injure them. Any training method that punishes your dog when, in their mind, they are being friendly to your guests, could damage your dog’s good attitude toward guests, so be careful about that too. You want to give them a chance to earn praise for good behavior, not be getting in trouble when all they are trying to do is say hello.
7. Finally, a head collar may help as it gives you more control as you increase distractions.
People can be inconsistent about ignoring undesirable behavior and rewarding good behavior, so you may have to choose who your dog interacts with. If even one person encourages jumping, they will continue to perform the behavior.
One good way to teach your dog to greet without jumping is a simple cue to go to the person’s knees. Start by putting your open hands, palms facing outward, on the front of your knees. You’ll be bending forward to get your hands here. Tell your dog “come cuddle,” and your dog will likely be drawn to your inviting hands. Pet your dog.
Do the “come cuddle” practice over a few sessions until the dog responds quickly. Then find someone else to help you, have them take the position, point to them, and tell your dog to “go cuddle.” Have them encourage the dog verbally to come to them, and give petting when the dog arrives. Then you call the dog to “come cuddle” to your hands at your knees.
Do a few repetitions back and forth, stopping before the dog gets bored. Repeat this, and soon you’ll find when you say “go cuddle,” your dog will aim for a person’s knees even if their hands are not there. Prompt the person to lean down and pet the dog at knee level—be firm with people that they must not ruin your training by inviting your dog to jump up on them!
A Note about Little Dogs
You may not mind your small dog jumping up on you, but give this some thought. You’re not going to want the dog to spoil someone’s clothing by clawing at their legs. Also, a little dog jumping and expecting to be caught can be injured if the person misses.
Many of us see no reason to teach our dogs not to jump up. We don’t mind, and if a friend or relative needs the dog not to jump, we simply put the dog on leash.
We get older, though, and our dogs age even faster than we do. Besides age, many physical problems can arise that make jumping up downright dangerous. At some point in your dog’s life, jumping will become a hazard to them. Your dog will live with less risk of pain if taught early on not to jump.
The non-jumping dog’s life will include more petting and love, because it’s so much easier and more enjoyable to pet a dog who has four feet on the ground.
Copyright 2014 – 2018 by the Veterinary Information Network, Inc. All rights reserved.
A dog whose exercise needs are met may rest more calmly at home and be less fretful when left alone. The modern dog-management mantra of “A good dog is a tired dog” is gospel to many people. Exercise can improve bone and joint health. Heart and lung function can improve. Sport and working dogs need the right exercise to be able to perform well. Exercise makes show dogs look better and feel better to a judge’s exploring hands.
Some exercise is better than other exercise. The best exercise channels the activity of both mind and body. The best exercise is purposeful, with a purpose that increases the dog’s ability to live happily in human society. The best exercise is balanced by teaching the dog how to be calm and physically composed through regular practice of this skill.
Excessive or inappropriate exercise can damage a dog’s body and mind. Jumping high in the air to chase a toy and landing awkwardly has crippled many dogs. The epidemic of dog knee injuries testifies to the results of human thinking that “if some is good, more is better” when it comes to wild canine exercise.
You don’t need to take up marathon running in order to adequately exercise your dog, and in fact you could harm your dog that way. Walks with your dog can be great for both of you, but even these don’t have to be long distance.
Going to training classes with your dog will help educate you on how to give purpose to your outings together-several months of classes for large and working-type breeds. Practice and use the skills you learn in class when you’re out with your dog. Choose places for your outings that help you form the right belief system in your dog’s mind for the temperament your dog needs to live safely with humans. A dog that tries to “guard” against all strangers is neither happy nor likely to live out a full lifespan. Help your dog learn to enjoy human society and to enjoy meeting friendly people.
Teach your dog to retrieve, using one of the many positive teaching methods available now. Some dogs may require months to learn, but that’s okay-it’s all good mental exercise and bonding time between you and your dog! A dog who retrieves is easy to exercise by throwing a favorite toy. If you don’t have a fenced area, keep the dog on a long line during this game, and of course don’t throw the object farther than the length of the line.
Dogs enjoy catching tennis balls, and lightweight toys like these are okay for catching. Don’t throw a heavy object for a dog to catch, because it could damage the teeth, neck, or other part of the body. Don’t throw sticks for a dog to catch or fetch. Too many dogs have suffered serious injury from sticks jammed into the back of the mouth or throat.
Whatever you throw, keep the throws low so the dog doesn’t jump up and land on just the hind legs. Injuries can result from these landings. Since flying discs often rise on the wind higher than you intended, you may choose to completely avoid them for retrieving games outdoors.
As in most other things, moderation works admirably for dogs when it comes to exercise. Dog use body language to communicate, and many dogs will get enough exercise just from spending interesting days with people and other animals they enjoy. Exercise that is healthy for both mind and body is the very best kind of exercise. 30-60 minutes of daily exercise is best and better than a 2 hour hike once a week as the only source of exercise. If training for distance than use training similar to runners and increase distance 5-10% each week until goal distance is achieved. If pet seems stiff or sore back off distance to when the dog was not sore.
Dogs can experience heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Unlike humans, dogs do not have an efficient body-cooling system. Young dogs and old dogs have poorer temperature regulating abilities than dogs in the prime of life and the peak of physical condition. Dogs with shortened muzzles are at an enormous disadvantage in heat tolerance. Black dogs in the sun are at greatly increased risk of overheating, as are long-haired dogs whether in sun or not.
Under ideal conditions, consider the top temperature for working a dog (or allowing a dog to play hard) to be about 85° F (29.4°C). If the dog is young, old, black, long-haired, short-muzzled, not in perfect health, not acclimated to the outdoors, etc., 85°F would be too high. That would also be too high when humidity is also high. Note that this situation can easily exist inside a house that is not air-conditioned. Some dogs are dependent upon air conditioning for their very survival in summer.
If your dog is going to be jumping, doing a lot of running, pulling a sled, or other physically intense exercise, make sure the dog receives the correct regular exercise that our human “weekend athlete” forgets to do! Don’t just take the dog to a dog park to run crazy and call that adequate.
In the House
Teach your dog how to rest calmly. It may be fine for your dog to scamper around your house-depending on the size of the dog, the size of the house, and the dog’s individual tendency to crash into furniture. Some dogs are quite agile in close spaces, and others not at all.
Avoid the routine of crating your dog all day, and then having the dog “explode” out of the crate for a wild-eyed exercise session. This can lead to future behavior problems. Delay exercise until a few minutes after letting the dog out of the crate. Also give a dog time to unwind after exciting exercise before you crate the dog and leave for work.
Spindel, M., DVM, MS. (2004). VetPartner Featured Articles. Retrieved July 14, 2020, from https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239
By and large, leash-pulling masks the real problem: without a leash you would probably be without a dog. It is indeed a sobering thought to think that most dogs prefer to forge ahead to sniff the grass or other dogs’ rear ends than to walk by their owner’s side.
There are some dogs who simply don’t want to walk beside owners who keeping yanking the leash. However, regardless of why your dog pulls, all dogs need to be trained to walk nicely on leash. If not, they are unlikely to be walked at all.
Trying to teach a dog to heel using leash prompts and corrections requires a lot of skill and time. And even then, all you have is a well-behaved dog on-leash. Let them off-leash and they’re history; you cannot safely take them for off-leash rambles, and you still cannot control them around the house, where there is off-leash all the time. Luckily, there are more effective and enjoyable ways to get the job done. First, teach your dog to follow off-leash. Second. incorporate many sits and stays for control and attention. Third, teach your dog to heel off-leash and on-leash. After following these steps, you will find it is easier to teach your dog to walk calmly on-leash.
Teach Your Dog to Follow Off-Leash
Your dog’s desire to follow and remain close is the necessary foundation for walking politely onleash. You must become the center of your dog’s universe. You need to stimulate and strengthen your dog’s gravitational attraction towards you by moving away enticingly and heartily praising your dog all the time they follow. Click your fingers, slap your thigh, or waggle a food treat or a toy in your hand to lure the dog to follow. Proceed with a happy heart and a sunny disposition: talk to your dog, tell them stories, whistle, walk with a jaunty step, or even skip and sing.
Do not accommodate your dog’s improvisations; you are the leader, not the dog. Whenever your dog attempts to lead, accentuate his “mistake” by doing the opposite. Stretch the psychic bungee cord: if your dog forges ahead, slow down or smartly turn about; if your dog lags behind, speed up; if your dog goes right, turn left; and if your dog goes left, turn right. Practice in large areas, such as in your backyard, friends’ yards, tennis courts, dog parks, and safe off-leash areas. Feed your dog his dinner kibble, piece by piece as you walk. Once your dog is following closer, time yourself while practicing following-courses at home, going around furniture, from room to room, and from the house to yard.
Sits, Downs, and Stays
Enticing your dog to follow off-leash takes a lot of concentration and it is easy to let your dog drift. Consequently, instruct your dog to sit or lie down and then stay every ten yards or so. Frequent sits, downs, and stays teach your dog to calm down and focus. They also give you the opportunity to catch your breath, relax your brain, and to objectively assess your dog’s level of attention. Sitting is absolute: either your dog is sitting or not. Only have the dog sit or lie down for a couple of seconds (just to check that they’re paying attention) and then walk on again. Occasionally ask your dog to lie down for a minute or so to watch the world go by. You will find that the more down stays that you integrate into the walk, the closer, calmer, and more controlled your dog will be when following you.
Teach Your Dog to Heel Off-Leash & On-Leash
Instruct your dog to sit, and then lure them to sit using a food or toy lure in your right hand. Transfer the lure to your left hand, say “Heel,” waggle the lure in front of your dog’s nose, and quickly walk forwards for a few steps. Then say “Sit,” transfer the lure to your right hand to lure your dog to sit, and maybe offer the kibble as a reward if your dog sits quickly and stylishly. Repeat this sequence over and over. Practice indoors and in your yard, where there are fewer distractions, before practicing in the dog park and off-leash walking areas. Then just attach the dog’s leash and you will find they heel nicely on-leash.
Teach your dog not to pull while you are both standing still. Hold the leash firmly with both hands and refuse to budge until your dog slackens the leash. Not a single step! It doesn’t matter how long it takes. Just hold on tight and ignore every leash-lunge. Eventually your dog will stop pulling and sit. As soon as they sit, say “Good dog,” offer a food treat, and then take just one large step forward and stand still again. Hold on tight; your dog will likely explode to the end of the leash, thereby illustrating the reinforcing nature of allowing your dog to pull for just a single step. Wait for your dog to stop pulling again (it will not take as long this time). Repeat this sequence until your dog walks calmly forward (because he knows you are only going one step) and sits quickly when you stop and stand still. Your dog quickly learns they have the power to make you stop and to make you go. If they tighten the leash, you stop. But if they slacken the leash and sit, you take a step. After a series of single steps and standstills without pulling, try taking two steps at a time. Then go for three steps, then five, eight, twelve, and so on. Now you will find your dog will walk attentively on a loose leash and sit automatically whenever you stop. And the only words you have said are “Good dog.”
Alternate heeling and walking on-leash. For most of the walk, let your dog range and sniff on a loose leash, but every 25 yards or so, have your dog sit, heel, and sit, and then walk on again. Always sit-heel-sit your dog when crossing a street: sit before crossing, heeling across, and then sitting on the other side of the street.
To learn more, read the Open Paw Four-Level Training Manual and Doctor Dunbar’s Good Little Dog Book and watch the Training The Companion Dog DVD series—all available from your local pet store or www.amazon.com.
- Spaying Your Female Dog
- Neutering Your Male Dog
- Benefits of Spaying or Neutering
- Post-Surgery Care
- Our Cycle of Service
Spaying Your Female Dog
Surgical sterilization of the female dog, commonly referred to as spaying, is one of the most significant aspects of female dog care an owner can provide. The benefits to the dog far outweigh simply not having puppies, though as pet over-population looms as a societal problem, it is important to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
Spaying involves removal of the uterus and ovaries. It is a major surgery but a commonly performed one, ideally performed while a female dog is still in puppyhood, prior to her first heat cycle.
4 Reasons You Should Spay Your Female Dog
1. Mammary Cancer Prevention
A female dog spayed before her first heat will have a near zero chance of developing mammary cancer.
After the first heat, this incidence climbs to 7% and after the second heat the risk is 25% (one in four!). It is easy to see that an early spay can completely prevent what is frequently a very difficult and potentially fatal form of cancer.
But is it too late if a dog is already past her second heat? No, in fact spaying is important even in female dogs who already have obvious tumors. This is because many mammary tumors are stimulated by estrogens; removing the ovaries, the source of estrogens, will help retard tumor spread.
Spaying removes both the uterus and both ovaries and is crucial in the prevention as well as the treatment of mammary cancer.
2. Pyometra Prevention
Pyometra is the life-threatening infection of the uterus that generally occurs in middleaged to older female dogs in the six weeks following heat. The hormone progesterone, which primes the uterus for potential pregnancy, does so by causing proliferation of the blood-filled uterine lining and suppressing uterine immune function. It is thus easy during heat for bacteria in the vagina to ascend to the uterus and cause infection. The uterus with pyometra swells dramatically and is filled with pus, bacteria, dying tissue, and toxins. Without treatment, the dog is expected to die. Despite her serious medical state, she must be spayed quickly if her life is to be saved.
How Can Spaying be Helpful for Preventing Pyometra?
- Pyometra is an extremely common disease of unspayed female dogs. 1 in 4 female dogs who have survived to age 10 will get it.
- Without treatment, the dog will die.
- Treatment is expensive.
- Treatment involves surgery in a potentially unstable patient. Mortality rates with surgery have been reported as high as 17%.
- Spaying prevents the whole thing.
The older unspayed female dog has an irregular heat cycle. There is no end of cycling comparable to
human menopause. If you still decide against spaying, be familiar with the signs of pyometra, which
include loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, excessive thirst, and usually (but not always) obvious vaginal
3. Simple Convenience
The female dog comes into heat every eight months or so. There is a bloody vaginal discharge and local male dogs are attracted. Often there is an offensive odor.
All of this disappears with spaying.
4. It’s Not Just a Good Idea; in Some Places it’s the Law
While only a handful of cities have passed mandatory spay/neuter laws for pet owners, state statutes which require the sterilization of pound or shelter animals prior to release are relatively common. In addition, many city ordinances and state statues require higher licensing fees for intact animals and mandatory sterilization for dangerous or vicious dogs. The state of Michigan requires sterilization or a promise to sterilize in order to adopt an animal from a pound, animal shelter, or pet animal rescue.
*Source: American Veterinary Medical Association
Now That We Know Why it is a Good Idea to Spay, What Exactly Happens?
It is important that the patient has not been fed in at least 8 hours. Anesthetic medications commonly induce nausea and vomiting can be dangerous in a sedated patient (vomit can be inhaled/aspirated leading to pneumonia).
A preoperative evaluation is performed; blood work is recommended for older females and may be recommended as a normal preanesthetic consideration. An intravenous catheter may be placed to facilitate the administration of anesthetic drugs, for any fluid administration, and for use in case of emergency. This necessitates shaving a small patch of skin on one of the legs.
A tranquilizer or other pre-anesthetic medication may be administered to ease the induction of anesthesia.
A medication is given intravenously to induce sleep. This medication is called an induction agent and lasts only long enough to establish the maintenance of anesthesia by the inhalant anesthetic (gas). Once the dog is asleep, a tube is placed in her throat to ensure that a clear airway is maintained through out the procedure.
Sometimes a cough is noted for a couple of days after surgery. This may have been caused by the tube in the throat. Such coughs only last a couple of days; anything that persists longer should be re-evaluated.
The tube is hooked up to a machine that delivers a specific concentration of inhalant gas mixed in 100% oxygen. A technician is assigned to monitoring this pet so that the concentration of inhalant gas can be changed as needed and patient mucous membrane color, heart rate, respiration and other parameters are followed.
In the surgical prep area, the abdomen is shaved and scrubbed. The bladder is emptied and the patient is moved to a surgical suite, where she is draped with surgical cloths or papers to isolate the area where surgery will take place.
An incision is made on the midline of the abdomen, and the three points where the ovaries and uterus attaches are tied off and cut. The abdomen is checked for bleeding and two or three layers of stitches are placed to close the incision.
It is helpful to know that should the skin stitches come out, there are two layers below holding everything closed. Sometimes skin stitches are not placed but if they are, you will need to return in 10 to 14 days to have them removed.
The anesthesia technician continues monitoring until the dog wakes up and coughs out the throat tube.
The patient is kept in an observation room until she is able to walk.
We use a surgical heating blanket to keep our patients’ body temperature normal throughout the surgical procedure, as low body temperature can contribute to anesthetic complications. A licensed veterinary technician monitors heart rate, rhythm, blood pressure, blood oxygenation and depth of anesthesia the duration of general anesthesia to ensure the safest surgical experience for your pet. A surgical assistant sits with your pet during recovery and alerts the veterinarian if there are any concerns.
What to Expect at Home
Most spay patients go home the next day as if nothing had happened, although some will need pain medication for a few days.
Some nausea may occur in the first couple of days after surgery and it would not be unusual for the dog to refuse food for a day or two after surgery.
As noted above, a cough may persist for a couple of days as a result of the throat tube.
This should not persist longer than a couple of days.
Dogs who show a propensity to lick their stitches will need an Elizabethan or “E” collar to restrict access to the stitches. This is not very comfortable for the dog but it must be used strictly until the stitches are out and the incision is healed.
Activity should be restricted during the week following surgery. Excessive activity can lead to swelling or fluid accumulation under the incision or even worse, a tear in the internal incision line. If a fluid pocket forms, it should resolve on its own after a few weeks. If something has torn inside, obviously the situation is more serious so it is prudent to have any incision swelling inspected at the veterinarian’s office. Fluid drainage from the incision would also be reason for a recheck.
What About Behavioral Changes?
The female dog’s reproductive tract is dormant for most of the year. It only activates for the three-week period of heat. This means that from a behavioral standpoint, the female dog acts spayed most of the time. This said, there has been a documented slowing of metabolism after spays and it may be necessary to use a reduced calorie food in an adult dog. Contact us for nutritional recommendations.
*Information from: Wendy Brooks, DVM, DABVP for veterinarypartner.com
Neutering Your Male Dog
Aside from helping control the current overpopulation of dogs, neutering a pet dog generally makes for a healthier dog and a better pet. Neutered dogs tend to live longer and have fewer behavior problems (see below). They are less likely to be relinquished to the shelter and do not contribute to over-crowding in community animal shelters with their off-spring. The local government is more interested in having fewer roaming dogs that could be dangerous and having less burden on the animal services budget. Pet owners are more interested in having a well-behaved and long-lived family pet.
10 Frequently Asked Questions About Neutering
1. What are the Health Benefits to the Dog?
There are several health benefits to neutering. One of the most important concerns the prostate gland, which under the influence of testosterone will gradually enlarge over the course of the dog’s life. By age five years, it is usually significantly enlarged in an unneutered male dog. As the dog continues to age, his prostate is likely to become uncomfortable, possibly being large enough to interfere with defecation. The prostate under the influence of testosterone is also predisposed to infection, which is almost impossible to clear up without neutering. Neutering causes the prostate to shrink into insignificance, thus preventing both prostatitis as well as the uncomfortable benign hyperplasia (enlargement) that occurs with aging. It is often erroneously held that neutering prevents prostate cancer but this is not true; neuter benefits on the prostate are about preventing enlargement and infection. Other health benefits of neutering include the prevention of certain types of hernias and tumors of the testicles and anus. Excessive preputial discharge is also reduced by neutering.
2. What Behavioral Changes Can be Expected After Neutering?
Numerous studies on the behavioral effects of neutering have been performed evaluating playfulness, fear of strangers, territorial aggression, mounting, urine-marking, roaming and other behaviors. The behaviors that are most consistently altered after neutering are inappropriate mounting, urine marking, and fighting. These behaviors were significantly reduced or completely eliminated in 50-60 percent of male dogs after neutering. Most pet owners look forward to curtailing these actions and thereby improving their relationship with the dog.
3. What Exactly is Done Surgically?
An incision is made, generally just forward from the scrotum. The testicles are removed through this incision. The stalks are tied off and cut. Castration is achieved. If the testicles are not removed, the desirable benefits listed above cannot be realized. The skin incision may or may not have stitches.
4. What Can I Expect Upon Discharge from the Hospital?
The scrotum is often swollen in the first few days after surgery, leading some people to wonder if the procedure was really performed. If the dog is immature at the time of neutering, the empty scrotum will flatten out as he grows. If he is mature at the time of neuter, the empty scrotum will remain as a flap of skin. Sometimes the incision is mildly bruised. Most male dogs are eager to play by the day after surgery but, to keep the incision intact, it is best to restrict the dog from boisterous activity.
5. At What Age Can Neutering Be Performed?
Male dogs can be neutered at just about any age though the traditional age for neutering is six to nine months of age, which is still before puberty. There is some controversy regarding when the best age for neutering should be: after puberty, traditional age or “early”, which can mean any age from eight weeks up to six months.
The younger the pup is at neutering, the longer his long bones will continue to grow, which changes his conformation to a taller stature. This appears to have some musculoskeletal consequences, though surgical recovery at younger age is faster and there are fewer complications with the neuter itself. Shelters have had problems with adopters of young puppies failing to return for neutering. A common solution is to neuter prior to adoption to preclude the pup’s ability to contribute to pet overpopulation himself when he is older. Adopting an already neutered pup also helps avoid developing the above mentioned behavior issues that could lead the pup to be relinquished back to the shelter at a less adoptable age.
Senior dogs can also benefit from neutering. A diseased, enlarged prostate will still shrink down to a comfortable size even in an older dog. The neuter is a relatively simple low-risk surgery, which means that even an older dog can still benefit.
6. Will He Become Over-Weight or Lethargic?
Metabolism changes with neutering in such a way that there is a moderate risk of becoming overweight after neutering. The dog owner should be prepared to make adjustments in diet or exercise if the dog seems to be gaining too much weight.
7. Will He Still Be Interested in Females?
His interest will be reduced but if he is around a female dog in heat, he will become aroused by her. Mounting behavior often has roots in the expression of dominance and may be expressed by a neutered male in a variety of circumstances that are not motivated by sexuality.
8. What if a Dog Has an Undescended Testicle?
Undescended testicles have an increased tendency to grow tumors. They may also twist on their stalks and cause life-threatening inflammation. For these reasons, neutering is recommended for dogs with undescended testicles. This procedure is more complicated than a routine neuter; the missing testicle can be under the skin along the path it should have descended to the scrotum, or it may be inside the abdomen. Some exploration may be needed to find it, thus there is often an incision for each testicle. The retained testicle is sterile and under-developed. If there is one descended testicle, the dog will be able to breed but since retaining a testicle is a hereditary trait, it is important that the male dog not be bred before he is neutered. It is not a good idea to pass on the retained testicle trait.
9. What Are the Negative Aspects of Neutering?
This turns out to be a more complicated subject to study than one might think. The issues that are typically studied are orthopedic/joint related problems and different types of cancers and whether neutering a male dog truly changes the incidences of these. The Hoffman study of 2013 looked at over 70,000 canine medical records and found that neutering increases a dog’s lifespan by 14 percent. They found that neutered dogs were less likely to die of infectious diseases, degenerative diseases or trauma but were more likely to die of cancer or immune-mediated disease than their unneutered cohorts. Upon scrutinizing different cancers, incidences are still low. For example, the risk of developing prostate cancer is several times higher in neutered dogs vs. unneutered dogs but still less than one percent in both groups. Cancer development is more about environmental exposures and heredity/breed predispositions than about testosterone, so it has been difficult to draw conclusions.
With regard to hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament rupture, probably the most common joint problems of dogs, body condition/obesity, general size of the dog, and genetics are likely to be the major risk factors but there does seem to be an increased risk of these issues in dogs neutered before puberty when their bones are still growing and conformation is not set.
10. Is Neutering Legally Required?
While only a handful of cities have passed mandatory spay/neuter laws for pet owners, state statutes which require the sterilization of pound or shelter animals prior to release are relatively common. In addition, many city ordinances and state statues require higher licensing fees for intact animals and mandatory sterilization for dangerous or vicious dogs. The state of Michigan requires sterilization or a promise to sterilize in order to adopt an animal from a pound, animal shelter, or pet animal rescue.