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A New Christmas Puppy??

Is a  new puppy on your family’s wish list this Holiday Season?  I hope you have done your homework and researched this very important decision! Not that it’s a bad idea to ask Santa for a Christmas puppy…the kids are on vacation for a couple of weeks, and sometimes mom and dad are off work for several days.  You have some time to help your new family member adjust to their new surroundings, and remember, your new pup’s wish is that they will be taken care of and not forgotten in the confusion and chaos of the holidays!  It’s important to plan your life with your new puppy, our kids will grow up and leave the nest, but a puppy will be with us for her lifetime!

The excitement of Christmas morning can be extremely frightening to a young puppy.  Between 7 to 14 weeks of age, puppies are in a critical developemental period, and fears learned during this vulnerable time can be very difficult to overcome later in the dog’s life.  If you are considering a pure breed puppy, make sure you are dealing with a reputable breeder!  You should be able to visit the breeder’s facility, observe the puppies and parents, and observe the breeders’ interaction with his dogs and their puppies.  Good breeders will work with their pups during this critical “socialization” period to get them used to human handling, noises and other strange things in their new world.  Most breeders will allow new puppies to leave around 7 to 8 weeks of age, but the social development with litter mates and Mom continues through 14 weeks.  During this period pups learn bite inhibition and how to play nicely with other dogs.  So wait as long as you can before taking your new puppy home.  Don’t forget about your local humane shelters and rescue organizations when considering an older puppy or adult dog for your family!  Many shelters and rescue groups refuse to adopt out animals as surprise gifts because of the time, attention and care needed.

Avoid the convenience of on-line or “mail order” dogs!  Most reputable breeders do not sell puppies as Christmas gifts, therefore, many of the pups bought as holiday gifts are coming from pet stores or were ordered “on-line” – and were originally supplied by “puppy mills”!  In a rush to cash in on the holiday season by supplying puppies that have not spent enough time with their littermates and mama, and  often display genetic weaknesses due to mass-breeding and inbred health issues!

Consider the following points in your decisions:

  1. It’s hard to properly care for a new puppy during the holiday chaos and confusion.
  2. New puppies should not be over-handled.  Down time and lots of naps are needed in a quiet, relaxed environment.
  3. Dangers are everywhere!  During the holidays, there are choking hazards, poison hazards and breaking hazards – everywhere!
  4. People are going in and out.  Your pup may go out with them and not even be noticed!
  5. Hourly housetraining bathroom breaks in the midst of all other activities!

 

If you have made the decision to get a new puppy for the family, consider waiting until after the holidays when you can devote the time, attention, surpervision and care necessary.  Give the kids a stuffed animal pup with a note that says “We’re getting a puppy!”  Or, wrap up several separate items to open on Christmas morning such as, a collar, leash, puppy toys or a package of treats to build the excitement for the after-holiday arrival!

Last, but not least, I would be lax in my duties if I didn’t remind you to contact a professional dog trainer to get your new “best friend” off on the right PAW!!

Have a Wonderful Christmas and Holiday Season!

and…Enjoy Your Dog!

WOOF!!

 

 

Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Throw Me a Bone Blog, Training and Tips

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Dog Training and Consistency

Consistency is a major part of successful dog training.  Consistency in training accomplishes three important points:

  1. YOU establish who is in control, and it should be YOU.
  2. Your dog will feel more comfortable and secure in knowing what’s expected.
  3. Your dog will know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.

Dogs are creatures of habit and are very routine-oriented.  The more routine your training schedule is, the easier it becomes for your dog to learn and continue learning.  Try to work with your dog every day.  Walks are a great time to work on your training.  Distractions are everywhere.  People, other dogs, children playing, squirrels and rabbits all serve to create an ideal proving ground for your handler skills.

ALWAYS EXPECT THE CORRECT RESPONSE TO A COMMAND…After your dog learns the correct behavior to a command, and you give him that command, he should do it!  If you let the dog get away with ignoring a command once, he will use that new-found loophole from that time forward!  One easy rule to keep in mind for your dog is “You Have To”.

BE CONSISTENT IN YOUR USE OF VERBAL COMMANDS…Always use the same word for a certain command – every time.  One day don’t say “Come” and the next day say “Come Here”.

THE POWER OF PRAISE…Praised Behavior results in Repeated Behavior.  When your dog listens and responds to your command, reward him!  A touch, verbal praise (in a light, excited tone) or a release command all can serve as a reward to your dog.

REPETITION REINFORCES…Work with your dog everyday, even if it’s only for a short period of time.  It’s better to have ten minute sessions of training work daily than none at all.  This will help you become a better trainer, too!

BE PATIENT…A dog can’t be trained in a day!  Behavior is changed and molded over time.  Patience, Consistency, and Repetition will give you the behavior you want to achieve.  Don’t yell, don’t get frustrated and above all, don’t give up!

 

Posted by on October 20, 2010 in Throw Me a Bone Blog, Training and Tips

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Adopting a Dog

There are lots of ways that people choose a new family dog.  Some may search the newspaper for advertisements from breeders who are selling new puppies; others find breeders via listings on the Internet, while still more may simply purchase a puppy from a local pet store.  Perhaps the best method, however, in terms of being helpful to society in general is to adopt a dog from a local animal shelter.

Adopting a dog brings a new friend into your life.  It also helps to reduce the number of unwanted and homeless dogs in your area.  Unless the shelter is a “no kill” facility (and these are sadly few and far between), it will also save a dog’s life.  Animal lovers everywhere champion the adoption of dogs from shelters as opposed to any other method of bringing home a new pet for this reason alone, but there are other reasons to choose the adoption option.

Adopted pets have had their shots.  Shelters often have information about a dog’s temperament.  Adopting a pet frees space in the shelter for more dogs.  When you adopt a dog you can be sure that the staff at the shelter has had the dog examined by a vet for diseases and parasites.  This is not always true of dogs acquired by other means such as kids giving away “free puppies” from a box in front of the local grocery store.

The dogs at a shelter are not just strays and often are turned in to the shelter by former owners for various reasons.  When this happens, the shelter collects as much information about the dog as possible, including whether it’s good with children, how much it barks, how playful or obedient it is, whether it’s housebroken, and other important details.  While it’s true that this information is only as good as the honesty of the former owner, most of the time it is fairly accurate.

Animal shelters provide a valuable service to the community that they serve by keeping the streets as free of stray animals as possible.  Because many of them do this with little or no public funding or governmental support, they are very limited in the number of dogs they can have in the shelter at any given time.  The only way that they can bring in more stray animals is if they remove the ones they currently have.  This is done through adoption or euthanasia.  Obviously they would prefer to have the dogs adopted rather than killed.  Adopting a dog could very well save its life and allows the shelter to bring in another dog in its place.  And, unfortunately, there seems to be a never-ending supply of unwanted and neglected animals!

 

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Three Phases of Dog Training

Phase 1: The teaching and control phase –

During phase one, the goal is to achieve control over your dog, teach them the rules, boundaries and desired behaviors you want.  It’s also the time to teach the dog to pay attention and perform these commands around distractions.  This phase lasts between 6-12 weeks on average, however in certain situations it may take longer to gain the reliability needed before moving on to phase two.  Once your dog is capable of performing commands quickly and reliably around a variety of distractions with minimal problem solving required, then your dog and you are ready to move on to phase number two.

Phase 2: The reinforcement phase –

During phase number two, the goal is to begin phasing out your training aid (remote training collar).  In phase number one, we use the dog training collar on a regular basis to regain attention and maintain our rules.  Now, in phase two, we begin to reduce our dependence on the dog training collar and introduce consistency via variable reinforcement.  You may or may not need your dog training collar, but we want to teach the dog that you are still in control even if the perception of the dog is that you are not.  This phase will last between 6-12 weeks on average.  It’s also not uncommon as dogs mature and age to have to revert back into phase one training again for several days depending on how your dog’s performance and behavior is.  When your dog is capable of performing commands without the need for reinforcement for approximately 6 weeks, then your dog is very likely to be reliable without their training aid present.  We are ultimately looking to have your dog learn how to filter out distractions entirely.  When this is achieved, your dog is much less likely to act out in an unwanted manner because of distractions.

Phase 3: The maintenance phase –

The third and final phase of training a dog is the maintenance phase, and is ongoing for the life of the dog.  During this phase, you will likely be using your training collar or other dog training aid very little as your dog is capable of ignoring distraction.  The catch however is that they are still capable of distraction, they are not robots!  A smart trainer recognizes this and is ready to maintain their rules, commands and boundaries at anytime.  It is not uncommon to have a dog who senses the lack of maintenance and begins to revert back in their behavior.  The benefit of having done your dog training properly to begin with is that regression is easily minimized and dealt with by simply jumping back into training for a short time to remind the dog of the expectations.

 

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I rescued a human today!

I rescued a human today.

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.

I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid. As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn’t want her to know that I hadn’t been walked today.

Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn’t want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn’t feel sad about my past.

I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone’s life.  She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.  Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.

I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven’t walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

http://rescuemedog.org/dog-blog/i-rescued-a-human-today-by-janine-allen/

Written by Janine Allen CPDT, Rescue Me Dog’s professional dog trainer. Janine’s passion is working with people and their dogs. She provides demonstrations for those who have adopted shelter dogs, lends email support to adopted dog owners that need information beyond our Training Support Pages, and aids shelter staff and volunteers in understanding dog behavior to increase their adoptability. Copyright 2009 Rescue Me Dog; www.rescuemedog.org

 

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