Friday, August 26, 2011

The Dos and Donts Of Taking Your Puppy To An Outdoor Event

It's a tradition in my town to attend the multiple Parades and outdoor music events held throughout the year.  Taking a puppy or dog to an outdoor event  can be a great way to expose them to a variety of new sights and sounds, lots of new people, fire trucks, sirens, horses, tractors, motorcycles, the list goes on and on.   It can also be totally overwhelming and terrifying and the wrong choice for your pup.   The socialization process is not a one-size-fits-all as not all puppies and/or dogs are comfortable or prepared for these events.  They could be sound sensitive, nervous in new environments, fearful of strangers, too young to have had proper exposure to all that an outdoor event involves, this includes  concerts, parties and sporting events.

If you're thinking about taking your puppy/dog to an event, here are some things to consider:
  • Pick a location that allows your pup to feel comfortable.  It's best to position yourself a far distance away from the event until you can determine if your pup is comfortable with the noise and activity.   If you can't control the environment for your pet, they should stay home
  • Pick a location that is shaded so your pup will not overheat
  • Bring water if the temps are warm
  • Take YUMMY treats and offer them freely
  • Give them a chew toy or frozen cheese kong and let them enjoy and relax
  • Watch for signs of stress in your pup and know when it's time to leave, even if the event is not over.  Dogs communicate their feelings clearly, it's our job to know how to interpret them
  • Let your pup meet and greet strangers if they are comfortable, don't force them to interact with people
  • Allow your pup to take breaks and to move around, sitting still for long periods of time is not much fun for a pup and can be stressful.
  • NEVER punish your pup for being afraid, nervousness is a cue for you to leave
  • Don't expect your pup to enjoy all your activities......we don't enjoy all of theirs :)
As much as I love spending time with my dogs, sometimes they are happiest staying home :)   

Monday, August 15, 2011

Prevention VS Punishment..........A Better Way To Go!

I'm often asked  how to properly punish and or correct a puppy or dog when they do something wrong.  The list of offenses typically includes, chewing, biting,  digging, barking, jumping up, stealing food and the big one, showing aggression.    When you bring a new puppy or dog into your home you should expect all of these behaviors.    A new puppy needs boundaries and management, this takes time.  An adult dog is adjusting to a new environment and often stressed so expect a host of stress related behaviors.   There is an advantage to expecting your dog to act like a dog, it allows you to approach training your dog in a whole new light. 

Instead of thinking that everything your dog does needs to be punished, look for ways to prevent unwanted behaviors instead of doling out punishment.   All dogs need time to learn and it's our job to teach them the 'house rules'.   We all know practice makes perfect, so lets be sure our dog is practicing behaviors we find acceptable.  For this to happen you have to be proactive and have a game plan.  Here is a list of suggestions that may help you keep your cool and your sanity:

  • My dog steals my shoes- Put all shoes in closets or behind closed doors.  The number one rule in my house is "If you place value on something, put it away"
  • My dog steals food off the counter tops - Keep all counters clean and free of tasty morsels
  • My dog barks out the window- Block their access to the window with blinds, curtains, gates, etc.
  • My dog begs at the table- Crate or contain your dog during mealtime
  • My dog barks at other dogs - Learn techniques to reward him for being calm in the presence of other dogs
  • My puppy bites everyone- Work to teach them bite inhibition using positive methods and don't encourage rough play.  Puppies explore the world with their mouths, give them something appropriate to chew on instead of punishing them.
  • My dog tears up his toys - Buy toys appropriate for your dogs level of chewing
  • My puppy shreds his toys - Don't give puppies cloth, fabric or stuffed toys, these 'feel' just like our belongings, give them Kongs, food dispensing toys, chew bones, frozen carrots, anythings safe and appropriate for a young puppy
  • My dog digs in the yard - Don't put your dog in the yard with nothing to do, play with them or give them a food dispensing toy.  It's not alot of fun for a dog to be left alone in the yard no matter how nice you think your yard is
  • My puppy/dog is afraid of everything - Commit to properly socializing them and helping them overcome their fears
  • My dog is always getting into trouble - Make sure they are getting enough exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom.  Lack of exercise and boredom is a bad combo!
  • My puppy/dog is driving me nuts! - Give yourself breaks by placing them in their crate with a chew toy.  No one should have to spend 24/7 with their dog,  raising a puppy or getting a new dog is stressful, cut yourself some slack :)   Rome was not built in a day and you will not train your dog in a day so pace yourself.
The next time you find yourself wondering how to effectively punish Fido, stop and come up with ways to prevent annoying behaviors from happening, an ounce of prevention goes a long way.