Original article by Virginia Simpson, Unleashed Canine Obedience
Dog Training Starts Right from the Beginning
(It’s all about the prep work!)
There is a lot of time and attention given to healing relationships, saving relationships, creating relationships and growing relationships. And for good reason; we are built to be in relationships. People who have strong, supportive relationships not only live longer, but they are generally happier and healthier while living that longer life. And, studies have also shown that people who own a pet or two are less stressed out than their counterparts overall and tend to live longer. Now, I am assuming that these studies were done with people who owned well-behaved pets! I don’t know anyone that has a poorly behaved pet that does not have some stressed out feelings happening! And there are a lot of people out there trying to figure out how to create the perfect relationship with their dog and thankfully for me, many of them find their way to my door with loads of questions.
I wish I could talk to most people right at the beginning of the process! Dog training starts before you even bring your new pup home. It actually starts with the selection process. The importance of spending some time to really research out exactly what qualities would make the best dog companion for you is an imperative step to creating a good relationship with your prospective pup. This is a relationship you are going to have hopefully for many years and spending some time to set up realistic expectations and “must haves” will save you many headaches and much heartache down the road! And remember, just like in that bad relationship you had once upon a time, at some point those quaint little peculiarities you thought were so cute at first, can turn into hair pulling, skin grating, “I want to end this relationship NOW” defects down the road.
But let’s assume you already have your new pup and you are ready to move on to some actual training. Training starts from moment one. Every waking moment your puppy or new dog is learning from you and the environment around them. They are like the proverbial sponge! So prep work is paramount! First thing to think about is how you need to control the amount of access to the different parts of your home your new dog will have. Too much too soon is not a good idea. If it’s a new puppy, potty training efforts will be thwarted if they manage to pee on the carpet too many times. If it is a dog out of the pound, they may become overwhelmed and stressed if given too much freedom too quickly. (Think in terms of a prisoner getting out of jail. Although it would feel great to be out, it can be stressful too if you aren’t given time to get used to it!) Better to start out slowly and let the dog show you when they are ready for more and more responsibility and freedom. Use a crate in the beginning if possible! Crates are not a bad thing. They will help you keep your pup from engaging in behaviors that you don’t want and if they are feeling a little stressed out with all the changes, the crate will create a den like experience which the vast majority of dogs love! Use baby gates in the beginning if needed to help create physical boundaries until your new pup learns the rules of the house. If you use these things properly in the beginning and train your pup, they should not be a forever fixture in your home.
You’ll need to be thoughtful about what your body language, tone of voice and facial expressions are communicating to your new dog. Remember that they cannot understand all your words. Be aware of what you are rewarding. If you give your new puppy a treat when they come inside after going the bathroom outside, does your puppy think you are rewarding them for going the bathroom outside or for coming inside? Whether you are using treats or praise or a favorite toy, try giving rewards as close as possible to the behavior you are looking for. If your new dog acts frightened of anything or seems shy at first, don’t try and soothe them too much. Your body language and tone of voice may actually end up reinforcing their fear and keep them stuck in that state of mind. Either use what we like to call the “happy jolly voice” or even just ignore them for a bit until they come out of it and then pay attention to them when they are not so worried. That way you are rewarding the behavior you want and giving your new pup a chance to be ok! That also gives them time to notice that you are not overly concerned about whatever it is that frightened them.
So, these are just a couple of things to think about here when choosing and bringing home a new puppy or dog. Have any questions? Please feel free to contact us and maybe think about attending a class or coming in for a private consultation. We’d love to help out!
Virginia L. Simpson
Certified Dog Trainer
Unleashed Canine Obedience, LLC
IACP Member #3141
Education is the first step in pet poison prevention.
Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The Pet Poison Helpline provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:
Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by clicking here
A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.
Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.
Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.
In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.
Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.
If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information. Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.