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Socializing Your Puppy or Dog

June 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Socializing Your Puppy or Dog

When you have a child, you have a responsibility to introduce him or her to a wide range of people and experiences to better prepare them for the world. The same is true when you have a puppy or a dog. This process is known as socialization. Let’s look at some of the reasons why this process is so important and how you can be sure to properly socialize your canine companion.

Good Reasons to Socialize

If you’ve seen aggressive dogs before, you’ve also seen the consequences of poor socialization. When dogs haven’t been introduced to these new experiences, they become fearful and anxious when encountering them. Just think of how you felt on the very first day you ever worked at a job or the first day you went to school.

Socialization, therefore, helps make dogs more comfortable when they have these experiences, such as meeting a new dog at the pet store or being petted by children or riding in the car. Positive early experiences are the best way to prevent future anxiety and aggression problems in your dog.

Another good thing about socialization is it helps you meet new people and have new experiences. Taking your dog to the park, for example, is a great way to start up conversations with people if you are normally a shy person.

Methods of Socialization

Obviously, the best time to start is when the puppy is very young. Take him or her with you whenever you can, and let people approach and pet him. Take him to the puppy education classes of your local pet shop where he will interact with other puppies. Take him to the small dog area of your local dog park. See how he reacts, how he acts, and get to know him well.

If you adopted an adult dog, hopefully he will have been exposed to other people and dogs in positive situations, but you still have to see for yourself how he reacts around people and animals.

Dogs at the Park

The most important part of the socialization process is the positive experience. If you take your dog to the dog park for the first time and the experience is horrible, she is going to be more reluctant to return the second time. She may be fearful or anxious which could lead to another bad experience. Before you know it, the dog park is off limits. You obviously don't want that to happen.

So, take her at a time when there are not a lot of dogs around. Don't bring her in with the leash on. By now you should know how she reacts to other dogs she might have encountered on her walks. If she tends to be aggressive, you might need to do some training before exposing her to a large dog park. How can you guarantee a positive experience? Remove your own fear and nervousness about the situation. If you’re nervous, your dog will be, too. Always be positive and assume that the experience is going to go well.

Another way to do it is taking him to the pet shop, where she or he will probably encounter other dogs. When you go to the pet store, keep your dog on leash at all times (and do not use extensible leashes) and pay attention to his or her behavior. A dog that starts acting nervous or becomes very alert needs to be corrected immediately.

If your dog becomes nervous under certain circumstances, it’s a good idea to calmly make him or her confront what is causing the nervousness... unless it is a real threat. If you’re walking your dog on the sidewalk and a city bus drives by and startles your dog, the next time a bus comes, make him sit instead of letting him hide from it. Have him sit until the bus passes and then praise him like crazy.  Now, if an unleashed, threatening dog were approaching you, this would require a different tactic and would not be the best time to confront the problem.

The important thing is to have your dog encounter as many new experiences and people as possible. Walk him or her in different locations: your neighborhood, the park, the river, around shopping areas that permit dogs, near roads, around noisy areas, and around quiet areas. You also want your dog to interact with other animals and people, including people of all types and ages. Make sure your dog is also socialized to lots of experiences, including riding in the car, having his feet touched, being groomed, getting a bath, being petted, and more.

The bottom line is that thorough socialization does take time and commitment from you, but the results are well worth the effort.

The Awful Reality of Puppy Mills

You've probably heard about puppy mills. But did you know that if you purchase a dog from a pet store and many of the breeders online or in the newspaper, you could be helping keep the puppy mill industry afloat?

Most people don’t realize where those dogs who suffer so much end up. They often don’t even know how much suffering the dogs have to endure. Below is some information you should read before you decide how to find your new canine companion.

The Abuses of Puppy Mills

If you’re not familiar with the term "puppy mill", you may want to learn about them before you start looking around for your new puppy or dog. Basically, puppy mills operate like factories to produce new offspring that can be sold.

Female dogs are bred from their first heat cycle and again each time until they are no long able to reproduce. Then they are “disposed of.” The puppies are kept with their mothers in tiny cages, usually stacked on top of one another in cramped and dirty environments. Because the cages are made from wire, the excrement and urine from the above dogs can fall down onto the lower dogs. The wire cages also cause foot injuries and are very uncomfortable.

A Living Hell

A Living Hell

Most of the dogs are underfed. Most have worms because of their close quarters and their unhygienic environment. Fleas and mites are huge problems because most of these puppy mills are located in the country and none of them receive any type of preventative care. Some even contract heart worms and other serious illnesses. They also tend to have emotional problems because they lack any human contact during their formative years, and because their mothers are usually too weak to give them much compassion.

In some of the worst of these places, dead dogs are left in the cages to decompose with the living ones.

Where the Puppies Go

As you can imagine, most "hell operators", as I like to call them, do not sell their “stock” from their factory. Instead, they have other ways of connecting with potential customers. Pet shops are one of the largest buyers. Most of the dogs you see being sold in pet stores for hundreds of dollars were bought for a fraction of that from puppy mills. However, since the puppy mills sell hundreds of dogs every couple of months, they are profiting from these sales in major ways.

But pet stores are only one method. Many of the breeders who advertise online and in the newspaper are also puppy mills themselves or are selling supplies of dogs they have gotten from puppy mills.

What you get is a puppy facing an array of immediate medical problems and with genetic diseases that will surface years later.

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Signs of a Puppy Mill

Regardless of what pet stores may say, their supply of dogs comes from puppy mills. However, with breeders, you may have a harder time recognizing the possibilities. To protect yourself, always ask to visit the puppies on-site so you can view the condition of the mother and possibly the father. For obvious reasons, if you are buying directly from a puppy mill, they will have some excuse as to why you cannot do this.

If you do arrive on-site but are not allowed to see the mother of the puppies, this is also a sign the puppies may be from a puppy mill and that the mother may be another location altogether.
Never buy a puppy without seeing where they and their parents are raised and housed with your own eyes.  Do your research; get references about breeders in your area.

While your heart may go out to these suffering puppies, when you buy them from these sources you’re only contributing to the problem and continuing the puppy mill business. That’s why I always urge and encourage people to adopt either from a humane society, a rescue, or a shelter, and help put those torture chambers out of business for good.

How to Choose the Right Dog

March 24, 2009 by  
Filed under How to Choose the Right Dog

You might think that deciding whether to adopt a dog or not is the toughest part. However, wait till you get to the shelter! With so many little adorable four-legged fur-balls and puppy-eyes around, you just won’t know which one to take home! They come in so many shapes and sizes and each of them has one adorability factor or another and it can just get to be too much. You have to understand that if you don't know how to choose the right dog there will be problems down the line.

It would be really unfair, incorrect actually, to say that one breed is better than other, especially in a shelter, where any one of the dogs could be a treasure. What is actually of essence is to see which dog would be better for your specific situation, needs and limitations. Therefore, the following points might help:

1. Understand your limitations

Understanding your constraints as an owner is the first step. This is more important than deciding which dog looks cutest. Let’s say you live in condo or an apartment, in which case you would want a dog that is small and can do without much daily exercise. If you have a large house with a backyard, then almost any breed will work fine. Think about your time commitments, the other members of the household, even your social life will decide which personality, breed and size will work for you.

2. Learn about different breeds

Chuck and Terry

Chuck and Terry

The breed of the dog considerably influences his or her personality, behavioral traits and physiology – and you need one that matches your considerations. Essentially there are two basic classifications: pure breeds and mixed breeds. Purebred dogs come from a family of same breeds and thus it is easier to know for sure what traits he will display and what his health might be like. With a mixed breed, the parental lineage could include just about any dog. These breeds tend to be genetically more sound, and often show very good health when cared for well. Also, you get the qualities of various dogs in one. Of course some people prefer pure breeds for the certain snob value they hold, but after all, it’s all about who wins your heart.

3. Visit the shelter

Once you have some idea about the different breeds, a visit to the shelter will prove beneficial. Now, a shelter is not exactly the best place for a dog and most of the time the dog will not be himself. Therefore first impressions could be wrong. It is good to have an adoption counselor by your side as you walk through or a volunteer who might be able to give you a better insight into the dog’s personality and help you make a decision. Insist on spending sometime alone with a few dogs that you might like and consider the following:


Age: A younger puppy is usually desired since it is easier to habituate a pup to your home and lifestyle. However, puppies also require some training – especially toilet training and general obedience training. Older dogs, on the other hand, are already trained by their owners which would be saving you some effort. However, they might also posses certain habits that don’t go down well with you and it’s hard to change that with older dogs. Decide depending on your lifestyle.

Size: Think if you want to be able to take your pet along often, in which case you need a smaller kind. However, if you have young kids, the smaller dogs are not the most appropriate. Again, check your breed characteristics.

Personality: Dogs are usually shy and quiet or assertive and active. If you like some peace and quiet, then a terrier who barks his head off at any new thing may not be for you. But if you like jogging, running around parks or have active kids, then an active retriever will suit you just fine

Social disposition: Depending on their past experiences with people, certain dogs are very picky about social interaction. They will just not let anyone but their owner touch them and could turn quite hostile if someone intrudes on their privacy. Therefore, try to find out a little about the dog’s background to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Most dogs however, tend to be social and very friendly. Take a look at the dog’s history and discuss his general behavior with the counselor or volunteers and you will have an idea how good he is with people.

Usually, if a dog’s previous owners were unkind to him, or even violent, the dog might be untrusting of all people. Although such dogs deserve love and care as well, it’s up to you to decide if you are in a situation to provide it with the patience that it requires.

A dog will be your best friend for life!

A dog suited to your personality and lifestyle can bring you great joy and fun, and a wrong decision might bring you some inconveniences that shadow on the happy parts. Although all dogs can be your best friends, this is going to be more like a live-in relationship; so you need to be very sure of your compatibility. Trust me, breaking up with your dog can be very painful.

 

Dog Breed Selector Tool by TrainPetDog

Bringing a New Puppy Home

March 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Life With Dogs

You got your new puppy almost a week ago. Since then, the little angel has eaten your favorite shoes, two of your favorite novels, gnawed the trim around every doorway, chewed through the power cord of your computer and this morning he found boxes and boxes of kleenex in your bathroom... what a mess! This is getting really expensive and it's starting to get very dangerous for the puppy also. Maybe you should do something.

What do you do?

You need to understand that chewing is a normal and healthy part of any pup's development, but they should know what to chew, right? Puppies are like human children, they learn about their world through chewing. They use their senses to explore the new world, and their tactile sense and sense of taste is brought into play as they chew on various objects.

Like human children, pups need our protection from the dangers of the dangers that lurk in their explorations.
Everything from needles, electrical cords, houseplants and household chemicals, to chocolate and raisins, all pose very real threats to your pet. It is your duty to protect her from these threats.

You have to be very consistent training him with the "NO" command. You puppy should learn and respond to the word "No" instantly. This one word has saved many dogs from horrible fates. The puppy is trained by using the "NO" command every time a situation occurs. If you catch your pet chewing on your shoes, say "NO" in a serious tone, not screaming, not angry, and take the item from him or her. Don't let it become a tug-o-war. Just remove the item quickly and give him a suitable toy. Also, try not to chase him when he has the object in his mouth or he'll think it's a game.

Gorgeous White Puppy

Lady Pee

When I bring a puppy home, I like to use one of my unwashed pillow cases, and put a lot of different toys with different textures (hard plastic, cloth, soft plastic, rubber, etc.) in it. Then I choose one toy of each textures, and those are his toys for the day. That way he doesn't get bored, and since the toys have my scent, it helps the bonding process as well.

Another thing I do is buy marrow bones and boil them just a few minutes just enough to get the marrow out. Then I wrap them in foil and freeze them. This serves two purposes: one, it keeps him entertained and happy for hours, specially if I give it to him just before I leave. And two, the frozen bone alleviates the pain of his growing teeth, so he'll be grateful. Just be careful never to boil the bones more than 4 or 5 minutes, and never give him any other kind of bone!  You can give him raw-hide bones, but not too many, just once in a while. Pieces of ice are also a good idea. My dogs have always loved to chew on those!

With these simple suggestions, you can insure your puppy's good health and the well being of many, many shoes.

Adopting from an Animal Shelter

March 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Adopting From an Animal Shelter

Animal shelters from your local Humane Society are your best source when looking for a cat or a dog to bring into your family. Not only do they have a great selection of adult animals for adoption, but they also have kittens and puppies, even purebred animals. On average, purebreds account for about 25 to 30 percent of a shelter's dog population.  So before you look for a dog or a cat for sale, go to the American Humane Society, and take the steps to adopt a dog, or a cat that really needs a home.
Many pets at your local shelter are waiting for new homes because they were obtained by someone with unrealistic expectations of the time, effort, and money required to sustain a lifelong relationship with their pet. National figures indicate that about half of the animals in shelters must be euthanized for lack of homes. Animals at your local shelter are eager to find a new home and are just waiting for someone like you.

You can depend on responsible shelters to assess the animals' health and temperament in order to make the best adoption matches possible. When animals are relinquished by owners, the shelter staff makes every attempt to collect a thorough history of that pet. Then, while caring for animals, staff and volunteers try to learn as much as they can about these animals as well as those who come to the shelter as strays.

Don't be discouraged if, when you first visit the shelter, there are no animals of the breed or type you want. Shelters receive new animals every day.

dog_shelterYour shelter may also have a waiting list and can call you when an animal matching your preference becomes cat_shelteravailable. Before choosing your pet, you can even speak with an adoption counselor about whether your choice of a particular type or breed will be best for you. In an effort to make good matches between people and animals and to place pets in lifelong homes, many shelters provide adoption counseling and follow-up assistance, such as pet parenting and dog-training classes, medical services, and behavior counseling. Or they may be able to refer you to providers of these services.

Another advantage is that shelter adoption fees are usually much less than an animal's purchase price at a pet store or breeder. And your new pet is more likely to be vaccinated, dewormed, and spayed or neutered.

To locate your local animal shelter, check the Yellow Pages under "animal shelter," "animal control," or "humane society." Many shelters have websites on which they display the animals they have available for adoption. Some sites allow you to download adoption forms and read about responsible pet care. |

A growing number of shelters also promote their web sites, and the animals they have for adoption, on sites such as Pets 911, Petfinder, and 1-800-Save-A-Pet.com.

Reprinted by permission of The Humane Society of the United States