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Dog Training Articles

Dog & Puppy Chewing Problems

Chewing is an issue which occurs most often with puppies, but sometimes adult dogs have this problem too.

Puppies tend to explore the world with their mouths. A shoe with an interesting odor?… Let’s see what it tastes like! However, while chewing and exploring are normal for puppies, humans should not simply accept the behaviour.

Whenever you catch your puppy chewing something, you must tell him “No”, and replace the item with an appropriate chew toy. Follow with lavish praise. Be sure to keep your dog’s toys available at all times, and provide an interesting variety. It can also help to rotate your pet’s toys so he doesn’t become bored with them.

Adult dogs with chewing problems sometimes simply never learned that chewing things is wrong. Other times it can be caused by owners who have inadvertently taught the dog that chewing household items is okay!

For example, if your dog chews a shoe and you decide to let him keep it, your dog may think that all items in your home with that smell (including your new shoes) are fair game. Therefore, be sure to only give your pet toys that are intended for a dog. Never give old slippers, the kids’ stuffed animals, etc.

If your dog or puppy is having chewing problems only when you’re not home, the problem  could be separation anxiety. This type of chewing is done out of nervousness about being home alone. Often, the damage is done to doors, furniture, or window treatments. Read an additional article about separation anxiety here.

It’s very important that you don’t correct your dog or puppy for chewing unless you caught him in the act. Correction after the fact can lead to much more serious behaviour problems.

No matter which reason your dog or puppy is chewing, working on some dog obedience training can help immensely. For more serious problems you may need to work with an educated dog trainer. Between obedience, supervision, and confining your dog in a crate when you’re not at home, you can have a trustworthy pet who only chews his toys!


Should You Consider a Rescued Dog or Puppy?

People often express that they’d like to adopt a dog or puppy, but are worried about the dog’s past, or are concerned that their new dog may not bond well with their family. However, this is quite the opposite of what most people experience when they adopt a rescued dog or puppy.

Dogs are very adaptable, and most adult dogs or puppies will bond extremely well with their new family as long as you provide love and leadership (dog training). In fact, adopted dogs often appreciate their new homes and are quite eager to develop their new relationships.

No matter where you live, there are numerous animal rescue organizations, many of which involve the dogs being fostered in volunteer’s homes. One of the benefits of this, is that the foster family gets to know the dog or puppy very well, including specific characteristics such as: whether or not the dog is good with cats, enjoys young children (or not), etc. These caring volunteers are not looking to place the dogs with “just anyone.” Rather, they work very hard to match each dog or puppy with an appropriate, permanent home… whether or not that happens to be you.

Adopting an adult dog can have many benefits. A reputable rescue organization makes sure all of their dogs are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, healthy, and more. From an adopter’s point of view, you also have the benefit of knowing what the dog’s mature temperament is like, what size the dog is, and what coat care will be involved.

While some dogs or puppies may have suffered past abuse or neglect, the majority of dogs who find themselves looking for a new home simply experienced having the wrong original owner. You’d be surprised how many people give up their dogs because they’re moving, work too long hours, or simply weren’t ready for a dog in the first place.

To find a reputable rescue organization in your area, visit our resources page. There are many in our directory listed by state, and others in the national section which will help pinpoint local dogs once you’re on their web site. A reputable rescue organization will help you find just the right puppy or adult dog to adopt. There are also rescue organizations for every specific breed as well. Visit the AKC guide for breed specific resources.

Looking for a good book to help you get started? Check out “Choosing & Caring for a Shelter Dog: A Complete Guide to Help You Rescue & Rehome a Dog”, by Bob Christiansen.

By adopting a dog you can save a life, save some money, and have a new best friend… all with one good deed!


Canine Cleanup

When nature calls, no doubt dogs will answer. Cleaning up after your dog or puppy is important for many reasons, and this article will help you understand some reasons why, as well as providing some tips for making the job more bearable.

Some dogs are leash walked for all of their “business,” perhaps due to living in an apartment, or the owner’s preference. Whether around your neighborhood or at the park, it is common courtesy to clean up after your pet. Not only is it important for staying on good terms with neighbours and keeping sanitary, but those who don’t clean up after their dog or puppy can ruin it for others. Places that have problems with dog feces are far more likely to implement strict “no dogs allowed” rules.

Many dogs simply do their business in their back yard. Usually there is one section where the dog eliminates (if not, he should be taught to use a designated area), and that area must be kept clean at all times. Dogs, being inherently clean animals, will not want to use an area that has multiple piles of feces in it. Additionally, especially in hot and dry weather, the urine also needs to be rinsed away and occasionally sanitized.

You can sanitize your dog’s designated bathroom area with a special kennel cleaning solution, or good old bleach and water. Apply with a garden sprayer which you’ll need to label so it doesn’t get used for other purposes. Sanitizing the area once every two weeks should help keep diseases, flies, and odours at bay. If you have multiple dogs you’ll need to do it more frequently.

Solid waste is most easily kept up with by using a long-handled, salad-tong-style pooper scooper, and keeping a small trash can with a step-pop lid in your designated area. The Four Paws Sanitary Rake keeps you standing up far away from the mess. You simply shut the scooper around the pile, and drop it into your nearby pop-open trash can. This small investment in the right supplies can make the job much easier to tolerate.

By having the appropriate tools on hand, and not allowing the job to get too huge, cleaning up after your dog or puppy can be no big deal.


Territorial Marking Dog Training Tips

If your dog is lifting his leg along your furniture, trash can, or other areas of your home, you have more than just a housebreaking issue… you also have a respect problem. More common with male dogs, but also sometimes with females, territorial marking can be a serious problem to say the least.

Perhaps your dog is trying to dominate you (as in “My dog urinates along my easy chair”). Or maybe your dog is trying to dominate someone else, (e.g; the baby’s room, the cat’s scratching post, your other dog’s bed, etc.).

Truthfully, if your dog is dominating the household by marking his scent, urinating is only the tip of your problem! Dogs who feel they’re in charge are also significantly more likely to “discipline” others with aggressive behaviour, be possessive over their food, or at the very least, listen less in general. Following, are some dog training tips to help you prevent or alleviate territorial marking/leg lifting problems:

In order to alleviate this problem, you’ll need to do all of the following:

1) Get your dog spayed or neutered. This can help considerably in cutting down on the instinct to mark his scent.

2) Thoroughly clean all of the affected areas with an odour neutralizer. Learn more about the importance of using an odour neutralizer here.

3) Dog obedience training will be paramount in resolving this issue. Work with your dog on a leash all around your home, especially in the areas where he’s marked in the past. See more articles about dog obedience training here.

5) Earn your dog’s respect in additional ways too: Don’t allow your dog on the furniture. Make him sit/stay before receiving food, water, treats, or petting. Discontinue letting your dog train you into doing things… like throwing the ball because he barks while you’re on the phone. Work on the heel command, so your dog doesn’t pull when you walk him. And make other changes so your dog no longer feels like he’s in charge.

6) Personally leash walk your dog outside to do his business and praise lavishly. Regulate feeding and watering schedules, and supervise or confine when indoors.

7) Look for opportunities to catch your dog in the act of marking on things. You don’t have to wait until he’s physically urinating. If you see your dog sidling up to the easy chair and are positive his plan is to urinate, go ahead and correct him then. Be particularly diligent in areas that have been a problem in the past. Never correct your dog after the fact.

Remember, dogs are instinctively pack animals. If your dog clearly sees you as the Alpha, he wouldn’t dare mark his scent in your territory… your territory being the entire house and all of its contents!

With supervision and obedience training, your dog can soon be a respectful family member who follows the rules of your home! 


The Grouchy Dog Days of Summer

When temperatures start to really rise, even the most mild mannered people can get a little testy… and likewise for our dogs! This is a time when parents need to take extra measures of precaution to protect both children and pets.

Most parents will attest that on hot, sticky days it gets uncomfortable when your children want to hang all over you. Remember that your dog likely feels the same way. Your furry Golden Retriever who normally doesn’t mind being hugged and routinely enjoys the antics of young children, may react differently under such extremely hot circumstances.

Knowing that even pets with the best temperaments can get grouchy, it is each family’s responsibility to create and enforce rules and routines to protect the health and safety of all family members, human and canine.

Here are some things you can do to prevent problems:

  • Practice obedience training and exercise your dog or puppy in the morning or evening rather than midday.
  • Provide plenty of cold drinking water at all times for your dog or puppy.
  • Have your dog or puppy spend time in the air conditioning during the heat of the day.
  • If your dog or puppy lives outside, provide plenty of deep shade at all times.
  • If you’re spending family time outdoors, wet your dog or puppy with a hose, sprinkler, or small plastic pool.
  • Teach children when “enough is enough”. Everyone is entitled to have their own personal space, even your dog.
  • If your pet does behave inappropriately, correct him and provide him with some cool, quiet time. Keep up with practicing obedience training, and contact a professional dog trainer if you see a problem developing.

By using some common sense, you can protect both your children and your pets’ safety, health and well-being. The dog days of summer can be fun for everyone!