Adopting A Pet – We’re Getting A New Puppy (or Dog)!

< A version of this article was published in the
March 2017 issue of Downeast Dog News>

<  UPDATED – 3SEP17 >

We’re Getting A New Puppy (or Dog)!

Prior Planning Makes for Success

By Don Hanson, ACCBC, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA

In January Kate and I did a two-part series on The Woof Meow Show (woofmeowshow.com) about finding the right dog for you and your family. You can read a companion article and get a link to the podcast here (Finding the right dog for you and your family). This column discusses what to do after you have found your dog but before you bring them home.

Adjust your schedule and priorities – Your new puppy is going to need significant time from you, especially during the first few months. A puppy has a key developmental period between eight to sixteen weeks of age, during which certain things need to happen if you want a well-adjusted puppy. This is not something you can postpone until you have time. Block off time in your daily schedule for your pup now, and stick to your commitment. Get other family members to pledge to do their part as well. It takes a family to raise a puppy.

Learn to accept, laugh and relax and ALWAYS be kind –   Your attitude and emotions will be a big factor in your pups happiness and readiness to bond with you. Trust me, dogs read us better than many of our closest human friends, and if you become angry with your dog, it will damage your relationship. Understand that a new dog, whether a puppy, a senior or anything in between, will need you to be patient and understanding. Accept the fact that both you and your dog will find one another frustrating at times. Rather than get mad, laugh and relax. Dogs like kind people with a good sense of humor.

Determine how you will handle your puppy’s housetraining – Your puppy will not housetrain themselves and will need someone present to take them out several times during the day. This need will continue for the first few months of their life. A rule of thumb for how many hours a puppy can “hold it” is their age in months plus one. For example, a four-month-old puppy will be able to “hold it” for five hours, at most. If you work all day long, you need a plan now, if you want your pup to become housetrained. Leaving a puppy in a room or an X-Pen while you are gone is just rewarding them for going to the bathroom inside, which will make training them to go outside take that much longer. If you cannot be there for your puppy, consider hiring a friend or family member to help you.

Make an appointment with your veterinarian for your puppy for the second day they are with you – No matter where you get your puppy, even if it is from your most trusted friend, take them to your veterinarian for their first wellness exam within twenty-four hours of your bringing them home. Make this appointment well in advance, so you are not delayed because your veterinarian’s schedule is booked.

Consider pet insurance – If you want to protect yourself against future major expenses, the time to consider pet insurance is when your dog is young, as it does not cover preexisting conditions. I recently had a client who adopted a new puppy that was diagnosed with a heart condition at their first appointment. While this is rare, it can happen. There are many pet insurance options available, so do your research.

Select a qualified trainer and enroll you and your puppy in a Puppy Headstart class – Do this now, before you have the puppy, so that you can make sure there is room in the class when your puppy arrives. Every dog will benefit from training, as will you, and the relationship between you and your dog. Developmentally, a puppy will benefit starting in class when they are eight to nine weeks of age, definitely before 16 weeks of age, when socialization windows close. A well-designed puppy class will focus on important issues like; socialization and habituation, housetraining, play biting, jumping up on people, and chewing. These are vastly more important at this stage than working on things like sit and shake. Working with a professional, certified, reward-based dog trainer can greatly simplify your life.

  • If you enroll in class, you are more likely to train your dog,
  • a trainer can answer your questions as they come up, and
  • a trainer can teach you how to avoid unintentionally training behaviors you do not want.

Do not just choose a trainer solely based on location, convenience or price. Training is an unregulated profession, and not all trainers are created equal. (How to choose a dog trainer)

Purchase Basic Supplies – You will need some basic supplies for your puppy. Minimally, these include a crate, a leash, a collar, an ID tag, food and water bowls, and toys.

Purchase Food and Treats – What you feed your pet and use for treats is a big decision, which can have significant effects on your puppy’s health. I believe that quality nutrition is the key to health and a long life. Be skeptical of television ads for pet food. The pet foods that you most often see advertised on TV are currently facing a lawsuit for misleading advertising. Avoid anyone suggesting that one and only one food is the best food for all pets. Recognize that breeders, veterinarians, pet stores, shelters; and others trying to sell you food, have a bias. Either commit to learning about pet nutrition, or find someone you can trust to help you.

Find a groomer – Not all dogs will need a professional groomer for their coat, but unless you plan on trimming your dog’s nails on your own, you will need the services of a professional groomer every four to six weeks. If you have a long-haired dog; Poodle, Doodle, Sheltie, etc., you will want your dog to start to become familiar with the grooming process between 8 and 16 weeks of age. I suggest a minimum of two to three visits to the groomer during this period, not for a full grooming, but just to have some “happy time” with the groomer and for your dog to become habituated to the process.

Have fun and enjoy your new companion – If you think I have made raising a puppy sound like lots of work that is because it is. However, the more you know and plan ahead of time the easier it is. The investment you make in your puppy will be paid back in fun and companionship.

 

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Finding the right dog for you and your familyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/16/adopting-a-pet-finding-the-right-dog-for-you-and-your-family/

How to choose a dog trainerhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

Does My Dogs Breed Matter? – Parts 1, 2 & 3http://bit.ly/DoesDogBreedMatter

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 1http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-14Finding_the_Right_Dog_for_You_and_Your_FamilyPart-1.mp3

Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 2http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-21Finding_the_Right_Dog_for_You_and_Your_FamilyPart-2.mp3

How to choose a dog trainer – http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-07How_to_Choose_A_Dog_Trainer.mp3

The benefits of training your dog and 2017 Training Classes at Green Acres – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/12/12/podcast-the-benefits-of-training-your-dog-and-2017-training-classes-at-green-acres/

 

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (greenacreskennel.com) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.

©4MAR17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
<Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Dog Behavior – Crate Habituation to Reduce Anxiety

<Last updated 17MAY16>

 

dog going in crate-canstockphoto3233849Dogs are den animals and often find security and comfort in a den-like space such as a crate, under a table, or in some other small, confining area. In order for a crate to offer your dog security, it must be “den like.” Crates often work best when they are not a wire cage, but are one of the airline style crates that are plastic or fiberglass, and are enclosed on all sides except for a door at the front. In the wild, a den would typically be enclosed on all sides except for an entrance.

If you have a wire crate, you can convert it into a den by placing a board on top of it to make it more den-like. Make sure the board extends a couple of inches beyond both sides of the crate so you can hang a blanket over the board to close in the sides. You do not want the dog to be able to pull the blanket into the crate. Many wire crates have a pan at the bottom which can make noise and move around unexpectedly, which some dogs may find unsettling. You may wish to remove the pan or place an old towel or blanket over the tray, but make sure that your dog will not rip it apart and ingest it.

A crate should be large enough for your dog to sit up, lie down and turn around comfortably. However, if still housetraining, the dog should NOT have enough room to sleep in one corner and eliminate in another part of the crate.

Some beds are specifically made for dog crates, but I do not recommend them for dogs with anxiety issues, as they will often chew and possibly ingest items like this when left in the crate. Until you know your dog will do well in the crate, and is housetrained, I would recommend you do NOT use any bedding material. Muppy Under the End Table

Place the crate in an area that is quiet, but where your dog can still see and hear you. Remember, dogs are social animals and want to be with the rest of the family. They do not like feeling isolated. Putting the crate in your bedroom at night will help to strengthen the bond between you and your dog by allowing him to sleep near you.

Do not to abuse the use of the crate. We want the dog to like the crate so NEVER use it for punishment. If your dog spends a significant amount of time in a crate, it will also need a significant amount of time to exercise and play.

If Your Dog Is Already Acting Negatively Towards the Crate

Some dogs have already had a bad experience in a crate and will panic if you try to put them in a crate. In this case, we need to go slower and start with something crate-like, but different. What I am going to suggest will NOT confine the dog, thus, active management is mandatory, but will hopefully allow them to acclimate gradually to a crate-like environment.

Find a small table, a card table can work nicely for most size dogs, and start practicing the following exercises:

  1. Toss a treat or a favorite toy under the table, so your dog goes underneath to investigate. Do this a couple of times a day for several days.
  2. Start feeding your dog his meals under the table. Place the dish right up near the front of the table so the dog barely has to put his head in, to eat. Over several meals, as the dog becomes more comfortable, start putting the dish further back under the table.
  3. Once the dog is happily eating and spending time under the table, get an old blanket or some pieces of cardboard and cover two sides of the table so that it is now semi-enclosed. The front and back should still be open. Continue the exercises above with this newly configured table, recognizing that you may need to start slowly to get your dog comfortable.
  4. When the dog is happily spending time under the table with two sides enclosed, enclose the back of the table and continue the exercises you started above. After the dog is comfortable in this setting, try introducing a crate as noted below.

Introducing the dog to the crate

  1. Remove the door to the crate and let your dog explore it. Toss in a treat or a favorite toy so he goes in to investigate. Do this a couple of times a day for several days.
  2. Start feeding your dog his meals in the crate. Place the dish right up near the front of the crate so the dog barely has to put his head in, in order to eat. Over several meals, as the dog becomes more comfortable, start putting the dish further back in the crate.
  3. At the same time, you start feeding your dog his meals in the crate, you can also begin some other crate exercises to practice during the day. Have your dog go into the crate and feed him a high-value reward (cheese, a piece of chicken, something really good) through the door of the crate. While doing this, he is learning he gets the best rewards while in his crate. To keep these rewards high value, he should only get this treat for this particular exercise.
  4. When your dog is comfortable going all the way into the crate to eat his meal, put the door back on and quietly close the door behind them, but do NOT latch it. Let him come out when he wishes.
  5. Pick a word such as “kennel” and use it immediately before you put the dog in its crate for eating. When the dog is comfortable with the door closed, start latching it, but stay close.
  6. When the dog is comfortable staying in the crate eating with the door latched, start leaving them in the crate for longer periods after they finish eating.
  7. When you can keep the door latched for 5 minutes after the dog has stopped eating, start leaving the room. Be out of site but close by so you can hear your dog if they become anxious. Return after 5 minutes as long as the dog has not become anxious, and let the dog out of the crate. Do not make a big deal out of letting him out. Continue this until you can stay out of site, with the dog in the crate for at least 15 minutes. What we hope will happen is that the dog will eventually lie down and settle in the crate.
  8. Start using the word “kennel” to put your dog in the crate for short periods other than at mealtime. Give them a sturdy toy like a stuffed Kong or Nylabone to interact with while in their crate. The first time you do this, just step out of site for 5 minutes or less. If the dog does not panic or become anxious, continue to gradually, in baby steps, increase their amount of time in the crate with you out of site.
  9. When you can leave the dog in the crate for at least 30 minutes, with you just out of site, try leaving the dog in the crate, and leaving the house. Come back in the house after a couple of minutes, listen, and see if the dog is still calm. If so, just stay out of site and continue to work on increasing the amount of time left in the crate. Gradually, increase the time you are outside until you can leave the dog for 30 minutes with you outside.
  10. When you can leave the dog in the crate for at least 30 minutes, with you outside, leave the dog in the crate, leave the house, get in the car, start it and drive at least 100 feet away. Turn off the car, walk back to the house and see if the dog is still relaxed. Gradually, increase the time you can leave the dog for in the crate with you driving away until the dog can be left for 3 to 4 hours. Remember, if you want to be successful, you need to go in baby steps. For some dogs, this might mean increasing the amount of time you leave them by just 1 or 2 minutes per session.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (HTTP://WWW.WORDS-WOOFS-MEOWS.COM)

Alone Training – <click to read>

Canine Behavior – Understanding, Identifying and Coping with Canine Stress – <click to read>

Bach Flower Remedies – Bach Rescue Remedy® – <click to read>

Canine Behavior – ADAPTIL™/DAP COMFORTZONE™ – <click to read>

 

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Cat Behavior – Make Your Life Easier – Get Your Cat to Love Their Carrier

< Updated 20JAN19 >

< The following is a short link to this article – http://bit.ly/Cats-Carriers >

Using a carrier is the safest way to transport an animal from your home to another location. I would particularly discourage anyone from transporting a cat that is not secured in a carrier. No matter how well behaved your cat is, if you are in an accident your cat will be terrified and will do everything they can to get away.

Batmanin A Pie Box
Batmanin A Pie Box

Unfortunately, most cats only see their carrier moments before they are forced into them to be taken on a car ride, usually to the veterinarian, groomer or boarding kennel. Often the end result is a cat that runs and hides the minute they are aware of the presence of the carrier. Finding and extracting a cat from a hiding place without getting scratched or bitten can be a prolonged and stressful process; one that is terrifying for your cat and frustrating for you. Wouldn’t your cat be happier and your life significantly easier if your cat enjoyed their carrier and perhaps even walked right in?  Getting there is not as complicated as you might think.

So how do you get your cat to like their carrier?

  1. Make sure you have a carrier that is safe– If you do not already have a carrier; an airline style carrier is the preferred choice. They are usually made of plastic and have a wire door at the front and sometimes a second wire door on the top. Don’t scrimp when you make this purchase. You want a carrier with doors that can be secured and stay secured. Card board boxes labeled as cat carriers can work, but they are not nearly as safe and we have known many cats to escape from these. Soft-sided carriers are easier to store and are lighter, but in the case of an accident offer your cat little protection
  2. Make sure that your cat finds the carrier to be comfortable – By itself, a plastic carrier is not going to be the most comfortable place; however, you can make it quite posh by inserting a blanket or a pillow that your cat already enjoys.
  3. Leave the carrier out so that your cat can explore it – If your cat is like most cats, they love boxes, bags and other things that they can explore and hide in. Take the door off your carrier and place the carrier in an area that your cat frequents. Do not try to coax the cat into the carrier, let them explore it if and when they are ready. To make the carrier even more rewarding, put a small dish with a tablespoon of your cat’s favorite canned food or some favorite treats at the back of the carrier. Now getting in the crate will be very rewarding. If your cat has favorite toys that they will chase and catch, toss a toy in the carrier and let them go get it and play with it. If your cat is hesitant about the carrier talk to your veterinarian or favorite pet care provider about Feliway®, a feline pheromone which has a calming effect on cats.
  4. Keep the carrier out and keep rewarding your cat for using it – Leave the carrier out as an alternative resting place for your cat and continue to reward them for its use by occasionally; feeding them in the carrier, tossing treats in the carrier, and tossing toys in the carrier,
  5. Put the door back on the carrier and practice carrying your cat – Put the door back on the carrier and continue to reward your cat for going in and exploring. After they are used to the door being back on, toss a treat into the carrier and after the cat goes in gently and quietly close the door, wait a few seconds, open the door and wait for your cat to come out. Repeat this a couple of times per day until your cat is used to hopping in and out of the carrier. When this becomes routine, close the door, pick the carrier up, hold it for a brief period and set it back down. Practice this for several days and then start carrying the cat around in the carrier. Eventually get to the point where you can get the cat in the carrier, carry them out to the car, and then immediately bring them back inside and let them out.
  6. Use the carrier to transport your cat to the vet or kennel – Many cats do not travel well and may get car sick. Make sure your cat’s favorite blanket or towels is in the carrier and if you have some Feliway, spray it on the blanket a good thirty minutes before getting the cat in the carrier. Secure the carrier in your car so it is not thrown in case you need to stop fast, and cover the carrier with another blanket to limit visual stimulus. When you bring your cat back home leave the carrier out and continue to reward them for its use.

    Tyler in a box
    Tyler in a box

With this little extra time and attention your cat can soon be an expert traveler. The time spent today helping your feline friend adjust to liking its carrier will pay off immensely in the future when it comes to getting your cat where it needs to go.

 

 

 

This great infographic from our friends at MightyDogGraphics can serve as a reminder as to how to get your cat prepared to travel. You can download the graphic as a PDF file by clicking on it.

 

©2019, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>