Get Rid of Dog’s Fleas and Ticks

March 24th, 2014 by | Comments Off on Get Rid of Dog’s Fleas and Ticks | Filed in Dogs Grooming, Fleas and Ticks Control

The most common pet pests are fleas and ticks. Dogs are naturally cuddly and nice to hug but if they have fleas and ticks, you’ll have second thoughts of hugging them. Fleas and ticks bites are not only a nuisance but they can be dangerous. Dogs can develop skin allergies, infections, permanent hair loss and other diseases from flea and tick bites. Fleas can consume a large amount of your dog’s blood in such a short period of time that may result to anemia and in rare cases, death.  Pest bites can also result to changes in your pet’s appetite and behavior. Humans can also develop allergies and diseases from fleas and ticks that is why most people are hesitant to hug pets with pests.  It is important to get rid of dog’s fleas and ticks to protect yourself and your pet.

Fleas and ticks can be a challenge to control because they can reproduce in large numbers in such a short period of time. Fleas can lay thousands of eggs in a month to ensure their generation will last for a long time. It is important to eradicate them and prevent them to flourish as much as possible. The following tips can be very helpful to get rid of dog’s fleas and ticks

Get rid of dog’s fleas and ticks as early as possible. Fleas and ticks season depends on your location. Pests like fleas and ticks survive in warmer climate and it is ideal to start controlling them at the beginning of its peak season.  In places where it is really hot all year round, tick and flea infestation can be all year round too. In some areas in the Unites States, the worse season for fleas and ticks infestation is from May to September. It is ideal to start your pest control at the beginning of its peak season to eradicate the pests as early as possible.

Maintain a flea and tick-free environment. It is important to continue protecting your pet from pests to totally get rid of dog’s fleas and ticks. Create a healthy tick and flea-free environment. Your home and yard are the best places where animals can be exposed to flea and ticks so make your home and yard pests-free. Practice cleanliness in your home and yard. Eliminate the things that can serve as breeding spot for pests such as leaves, pet hair, grass clippings and other trash. Keep your home clean and dust-free especially the carpet, floor and furniture where pests like fleas usually hide. Keep your dog house clean especially the bedding and check it for ticks and fleas.  You may need the help of a professional pest control if you are unable to get rid of dog’s fleas and ticks in your home and yard.

Regularly check your dog for pest infestation. Check your dog for ticks and fleas regularly especially when they spend time outdoors. One tool that you can use to check your dog for fleas and ticks is a comb designed to caught fleas and ticks. Comb your dog’s hair especially those areas where fleas and ticks usually hide such as the neck and the tail area. If you find some, remove and kill them right away. Wear gloves to protect yourself from flea and tick fluids.

Consult your veterinarian. Ticks can be hard to detect, if you need professional help, ask your veterinarian to conduct regular pest check on your dog. If you already know that there are pests thriving in your dog’s skin and you are clueless on how to control them, it is best to consult your veterinarian about the best way to get rid of dog’s fleas and ticks.

Fleas and ticks control products.  There are a number of products available in the market to get rid of dog’s fleas and ticks. They come in different forms such as spot-on products, shampoos, collars, sprays, powder, oral medications, etc. Some products like oral medications may need a veterinarian’s prescription, so make sure to ask your veterinarian before giving medications to your pet. Make sure to follow the safety procedures in using fleas and ticks control products. Read and follow the product label carefully and use the appropriate product for your dog. There are various fleas and ticks control products so make sure you pick the one for dogs only. You also have to take into consideration your pet’s health and age when using flea and tick products. Carefully check the label for prohibitions such as prohibitions against aged, sick, pregnant or nursing pets, etc. After applying the product, monitor your pet for any sign of side effects. Keep the package or the label with the product so that you have the instructions on hand if you ever need it.

There are various flea and tick control products in the market, find one here:

Merial Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Control for Dogs and Puppies 8 weeks or older and up to 22lbs, 6-Pack




Bayer Seresto Flea and Tick Collar, Large Dog

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Giving Rewards to Your Dog- What You Need to Know

March 22nd, 2014 by | Comments Off on Giving Rewards to Your Dog- What You Need to Know | Filed in Dog Treats

Most people are happy to receive rewards on a job well done whether in school, work or home. This makes them want to do a good job over and over again because their efforts are recognized and rewarded. Dogs like humans also need recognition and reward to reinforce their positive behavior. Giving rewards to your dog can be a great tool to help you teach your dog to behave properly but giving rewards is not that easy because you have to follow some rules to make the rewards more of a positive reinforcement than a bribe. The following guidelines can be very helpful when giving rewards to your dog.

Know the significance of giving rewards to your dog. Giving rewards to your dog serve as a motivation. Rewards encourage your dog to repeat the good behavior that was recognized and praised.  Dogs need motivation to continue what they are doing. With the appropriate rewards, dogs are motivated to listen, follow commands, behave and do well on trainings.

Correct timing. When it comes to giving rewards to your dog, perfect timing is everything. The timing must be perfect to educate your dog that a certain behavior is commendable and worth of a reward. When your dog obeys a command or show positive behavior, it is important to reward him immediately after that certain behavior. Timely recognition and reward of a positive behavior will give him the idea that he is doing a good job.  It will also give him the understanding that correct or good behavior means rewards. In giving rewards to your dog, a perfect timing teaches him the connection of good behavior to rewards.

Know the different kinds of rewards.  As a dog owner you should know the different kinds of rewards that you can give to your obedient canine friend. Rewards can be given in different forms such as praises, giving him toys, playing with your pet and the most common reward that gives dogs high motivation is giving him treats.

Be consistent. Giving rewards to your dog is a great tool to help you train your dog to learn good behavior so you need to be consistent in giving rewards to effectively teach your dog and avoid confusion. You have to consistently reward your dog with every correct behavior to encourage him to repeat the correct behavior.  Consistency is the key in teaching your dog about good behavior.

Be in control.  The important thing about giving rewards to your dog is to make your dog respond to you. Giving rewards is training your dog to understand that you are pleased with his behavior. It is important that you are always the one in control and not the other way around. It could happen that the dog will not perform the desired behavior unless he gets his treats which should not be the case.  You should be always in control and not your dog controlling you.

Giving rewards to your dog if executed correctly can help you shape an obedient and intelligent dog.

There are a number of rewards and treats that you can give your dog. Take your pick


Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food, Hi Prairie Canine Formula with Roasted Bison & Venison, 30-Pound Bag



Greenies Dental Chews for Dogs, Regular, Pack of 27





Zuke’s Mini Naturals Dog Treats Roasted Chicken Recipe, 16-Ounce






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Get Rid of Dog’s Tear Stains

April 3rd, 2013 by | Comments Off on Get Rid of Dog’s Tear Stains | Filed in Dogs Grooming, Dogs Tear Stain

Dogs are naturally cute but their cuteness can be reduced with the presence of stubborn stains under their eyes. Tear staining is a common problem of dogs especially to some breeds. Stains under a dog’s eyes are caused by excessive tearing brought by a number of eye problems such as dog eye infections, eye lids and eyelash problems, shallow eye socket problems, blockage in the tear drainage holes and food allergies. The long hair in the face and the hair growing in the skin folds around the eyes can also irritate the eyes resulting to excessive tearing.  Whatever the cause of your dog’s excessively watery eyes, it can lead to another problem which is the visible tear stains under their eyes. Of course it is best to consult your vet to resolve his watery eye problems but at the same time you also have to get rid of the tear stains and make him look cute again. So how to remove your dog’s tear stains?

Eliminate the cause of excessive tearing. There are causes that cannot be stopped, for instance, it is impossible to stop your dog’s excessive watery eyes if it is caused by conditions such as shallow eye sockets but there are causes that can be minimized or can be eliminated. If eye infection is the cause, this should be addressed with the help of a vet to treat the eye infection. If it is caused by eyelids or eyelash problems, surgery can help address these problems. Excessive watery eyes caused by excessive hair growth around the eyes can be addressed by regularly trimming the long hair around your dog’s eyes. Eliminating the cause of excessive tearing can help prevent the formation of tear stains. After eliminating the source of your dog’s excessive watery eyes, it is much easier to remove your dog’s tear stains.

Regularly wipe your dog’s face. It is important to practice good grooming and cleanliness to remove your dog’s tear stains. Wipe your dog’s face especially around the eye area with damp cloth at least twice a day. Wiping your dog’s face cannot remove your dog’s tear stains right away but by wiping regularly, the stains will eventually fade away. Wiping your dog’s face regularly will not only help you remove your dog’s tear stains but it is also refreshing for your dog.

Look for a good tear stain remover. Tear stains are more visible on white dogs so it is best to find the best tear stain remover for your dog. Stains are very visible on white fur making your dog look dirty. There are whitening products that can be very helpful to remove your dog’s tear stains. Hydrogen peroxide can help remove stains on white fur. Stain removal products like Angels’ Eyes Natural Tear Stain Eliminaton and Remover has helped many dog owners to get rid of dog tear stain. It has natural antioxidants, antibacterial, and anti- inflammatory properties and can help get rid of dog tear stain by reducing oxidation released through tear ducts. Satisfied customers stated that they even use this everyday for years to keep tear stains at bay and achieve crystal clear dog’s eyes.

Angels’ Eyes Natural Tear Stain Eliminaton and Remover, Chicken Flavor, 300 gm





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Dealing with the Digging Behavior of Dogs

April 3rd, 2013 by | Comments Off on Dealing with the Digging Behavior of Dogs | Filed in Dogs Digging Problem

There are two extremes of opinion when it comes to dogs and their digging habits: one, that a dog is a dog, and we should permit him to express his true canine nature by allowing him free reign over the yard and flowerbeds; and two, that a flowerbed is a flowerbed, and no dog should even think about expression his dogginess if such an expression comes at the price of a season’s worth of rosebuds. My own viewpoint tends to favor the middle ground.

Although plenty of dogs do love to dig, and it’s healthy for them to be permitted to indulge in this habit from time to time, there’s a difference between permitting your dog to express his inner puppy, and allowing him to run rampant in the yard. I don’t see why a dog should have to come at the price of a garden, and vice versa: flowers and dogs can coexist peacefully. If your dog’s developed a taste for digging, it’ll just take a bit of time (and some crafty ingenuity) on your part to resolve the issue satisfactorily.

First of all, if you have yet to adopt a dog and your concern for the fate of your flower-beds is purely hypothetical, consider the breed of dog that you’d like. If you’ve got your eye on a specific mixed-breed dog, what seems to be the most prominent? The reason that I ask is simply because breed often plays a significant role in any given dog’s personal valuation of digging as a rewarding pastime – terriers and Nordic breeds in particular (Huskies, Malamutes, some members of the Spitz family) seem to particularly enjoy digging. Of course, when you get right down to the sum and substance, each dog is first and foremost an individual, and there’s no guaranteed way to predict whether or not your chosen familial addition is going to be a burrower or not. But if you’re trying to reduce the likelihood of an involuntarily-landscaped garden as much as possible, I suggest you stay away from all breeds of terrier (the name means “go to earth”, after all!) and the Nordic breeds.

Why do dogs dig? In no particular order, here are some of the more common reasons that a dog will dig:

  • Lack of exercise. Digging is a good way for a hyped-up, under-exercised dog to burn off some of that nervous energy.
  •  Boredom. Bored dogs need a “job” to do, something rewarding and interesting, to help the time pass by. Digging is often the ideal solution for a bored dog: it gives him a sense of purpose, and distracts him from an otherwise-empty day.
  •  The need for broader horizons. Some dogs are just escape artists by nature – no matter how much exercise and attention they get, it’s nearly impossible to confine them. For a four-legged Houdini, it’s not the digging in itself that’s the reward, it’s the glorious unknown that exists beyond the fenceline.
  • Separation anxiety. To a dog that’s seriously pining for your company, digging under those confining walls represents the most direct path to you. Separation anxiety is an unpleasant psychological issue relatively common among dogs – but because it’s so complex, we won’t be dealing with it in this article. Instead, you can find excellent resources for both preventing and coping with the condition at Secrets to Dog Training

Curbing the habit Many of the reasons contributing to your dog’s desire to dig suggest their own solutions: if your dog’s not getting enough exercise (generally speaking, at least forty-five minutes’ worth of vigorous walking per day), take him for more walks. If he’s bored, give him some toys and chews to play with during your absence, and wear him out before you leave so he spends most of the day snoozing. An escape-artist dog might need to be crated, or at least kept inside the house where he’s less likely to be able to break free.

For those dogs who just like to dig as a pastime in itself, though, here are a few basic tips for controlling inappropriate digging as much as is reasonably possible:

  • Restrict your dog’s access. This is the most effective thing you can do: if he’s never in the yard without active supervision, there’s no opportunity for digging.
  • Use natural deterrent. 99.9% of dogs will shy back, horrified, from the prospect of digging anywhere that there’s dog poop. Even the ones who like to eat poop (a condition known as coprophagia) generally won’t dig anywhere near it – it offends their basic, fastidious dislike of soiling their coat and paws.
  • Use nature’s own wiles. If the digging is bothering you because it’s upsetting the more delicate blooms in your garden, plant hardier blossoms: preferably, those with deep roots and thorny defenses. Roses are ideal.
  • A more time-consuming, but super-effective way of handling the issue: roll up the first inch or two of turf in your yard, and lay down chicken-wire underneath it.

Your dog won’t know it’s there until he’s had a few tries at digging, but once he’s convinced himself that it’s pointless (which won’t take long), he’ll never dig in that yard again. Accept your dog’s need for an outlet: give him a place to dig If your dog is set on tunneling your yard into a grassless, crater-studded lunar landscape, but you’re equally determined to prevent this from happening at all costs, please take a moment to consider before embarking on a grueling and time-consuming preventative strategy.

Setting yourself the goal of eradicating all digging behavior, period, is pretty unrealistic: it’s not fair on you (since, really, you’re setting yourself up for failure), and it’s not really fair on your poor dog either – if he’s a true-blue digger, it’s just part of his personality, and he needs at least some opportunity to express that. But a lawn and a dog don’t have to be mutually exclusive: the most humane and understanding thing for you to do in this case is simply to redirect his digging energy. You do this by allocating him an area where he’s allowed to dig as much as he pleases. Once this zone’s been established, you can make it crystal-clear that there’s to be absolutely no digging in the rest of the yard – and you can enforce your rules with a clear conscience, since you know your dog now has his own little corner of the world to turn upside down and inside out as he chooses.

But what if you don’t have a “spare corner” of the yard? What if the whole thing, grass, flowerbeds, and gravel path, is just too dear to your heart? That’s OK too – invest in a sandbox, which you can place anywhere in the garden. You can even make one yourself (the deeper, the better, obviously). Fill it with a mixture of sand and earth, and put some leaves or grass on top if you like – get your dog interested in it by having a scratch around yourself, until he gets the idea. Make sure the boundaries are clear To make it clear to him that the sandbox is OK but that everywhere else is a no-dig zone, spend a little time supervising him. When he starts to dig in the box (you can encourage this by shallowly burying a few choice marrowbones in there), praise him energetically – and if he starts digging anywhere else, correct him straight away with an “Ah-ah-aaaah!” or “No!”. Then, redirect him immediately to the sandbox, and dole out vociferous praise when digging recommences.

To really clarify the lesson, give him a treat when digging gets underway in the sandbox – the close proximity between the correction (for digging out of the sandbox) and praise/reward (for digging in the sandbox) will ensure that your point strikes home.

Further reading For more information on recognizing and dealing with problematic behaviors like digging, chewing, barking, and aggression, check out Secrets to Dog Training. It’s a detailed how-to manual for the responsible owner, and is packed with all the information you’ll need for raising a healthy, happy, well-adjusted pooch: from problem behaviors to dog psychology to obedience work, Secrets to Dog Training has it covered.



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Understanding and Handling the Barking Habits of Dogs

April 3rd, 2013 by | Comments Off on Understanding and Handling the Barking Habits of Dogs | Filed in Dog's Excessive Barking

Some owners seem to want their dogs to stop barking, period: a good dog is a quiet dog, and the only time that barking’s permitted is when there’s a man in a black balaclava and stripy prison outfit, clutching a haversack marked ‘Swag’, clambering in through your bedroom window. Dogs don’t see barking in quite the same light. Your dog has a voice, just like you do, and she uses it just how you do too: to communicate something to the people she cares about.

I don’t think that barking is necessarily a bad thing – in fact, I think it’s encouraging that my dog wants to “talk” to me, enough so that I can overlook the stentorian qualities of his voice (which, in enclosed spaces, is positively overpowering) in favor of his desire to communicate with me. It’s the thought that counts (even though I feel better-equipped to stand by this sanctimonious belief when my ears are sheltered safely behind industrial-quality ear-plugs).

Unfortunately, the language barrier between dogs and humans is pretty well impermeable, which means it’s up to us to use the context, the body language of our dogs, and the circumstances of the vocalization to parse meaning from a volley of barks. So why do dogs bark? It’s not easy to say (it’s like trying to answer the question, “Why do humans talk?” in so many words).

Let’s start off by saying that dogs bark for many different reasons. A lot of it depends on the breed: some dogs were bred to bark only when a threat is perceived (this is true of guarding breeds in particular, like Rottweilers, Dobermans, and German Shepherds); some were bred to use their voices as a tool of sorts, to assist their owners in pursuit of a common goal (sporting breeds such as Beagles and Bloodhounds, trained to ‘bay’ when they scent the quarry), and some dogs just like to hear themselves talk (take just about any of the toy breeds as an example of a readily-articulate dog!). However, all breed specificities cast aside, there are some circumstances where just about any dog will give voice: * She’s bored * She’s lonely * She’s hungry, or knows it’s time for a meal * Something is wrong/someone is near the house * She’s inviting you to play * She sees another animal * She needs the toilet If your dog is barking for any of these reasons, it’s not really realistic for you to try to stop her: after all, she’s a dog, and it’s the nature of all dogs to bark at certain times and in certain situations.

Presumably you were aware of this when you adopted your friend (and, if total silence was high on your list of priorities, you’d have bought a pet rock, right?). Of course, there are times when barking isn’t only unwarranted, it’s downright undesirable. Some dogs can use their voices as a means of manipulation. Take this situation as an example: You’re lying on the couch reading a book. Your dog awakes from a nap and decides it’s time for a game. She picks up her ball, comes over, and drops it in your lap. You ignore her and keep on reading.

After a second of puzzled silence, she nudges your hand with her nose and barks once, loudly. You look over at her – she assumes the ‘play-bow’ position (elbows near the floor, bottom in the air, tail waving) and pants enticingly at you. You return to your book. She barks again, loudly – and, when no response is elicited, barks again. And this time, she keeps it up. After a minute or so of this, sighing, you put down your book (peace and quiet is evidently not going to be a component of your evening, after all), pick up the ball, and take her outside for a game of fetch. She stops barking immediately.

I’m sure you know that respect is an essential part of your relationship with your dog. You respect her, which you demonstrate by taking good care of her regardless of the convenience of doing so, feeding her nutritious and tasty food, and showing your affection for her in ways that she understands and enjoys. In order for her to be worthy of your respect, she has to respect you, too. Something that many kind-hearted souls struggle to come to terms with is that dog ownership is not about equality: it’s about you being the boss, and her being the pet.

Dogs are not children; they are most comfortable and best-behaved when they know that you are in charge. A dog has to respect your leadership to be a happy, well-adjusted, and well-behaved pet. In the situation above, there was no respect being shown by the dog. She wasn’t inviting her owner to play; she was harassing her owner to play. In fact, I’d even say bullying. And even worse, the behavior was being reinforced by the owner’s capitulation – effectively, giving in to this behavior taught her that to get what she wants, she has to make a noise – and she has to keep it up until her goal is achieved.

Affection and play-times are obviously necessary aspects of life with a dog, but they have to be doled out on your own terms. If she learns that she can get what she wants by barking, then your house is going to become a Noise Pollution Zone (and this is not going to endear you to your neighbors, either). To prevent this bullying behavior in your dog from assuming a familiar role in her repertoire of communications, you have to prove to her that you’re not the kind of person that can be manipulated so easily. It’s simple to do this: all you have to do is ignore her. I’m not talking about passive ignorance, where you pay her no attention and simply continue with whatever it was you were doing – you need to take more of an active role. This means conveying to her through your body language that she is not worthy of your attention when she acts in such an undesirable manner.

The absolute best and most effective thing for you to do in this case is to give her the cold shoulder. When she starts trying to ‘bark you’ into doing something for her, turn your back on her straight away. Get up, avert your eyes and face, and turn around so your back is towards her. Don’t look at her, and don’t talk to her – not even a “no”. She’ll probably be confused by this, and will likely bark harder. This is particularly true if you’ve given in to her bully-barking in the past – the more times you’ve reinforced the behavior, the more persistent she’s going to be. In fact, the barking will almost certainly get a lot worse before it gets better – after all, it’s worked for her the past, so it’s understandable that she’ll expect it to work again. As in all aspects of dog training, consistency is very important. You must ensure that you don’t change your mind halfway through and give in to what she wants – because by doing so, you’re teaching her to be really, really persistent (“OK, so I just need to bark for ten minutes instead of five to get a walk,” is the message she’ll get). But what can you do in other situations where bullying isn’t an issue and you

just want her to stop the racket? If you want to get the message across that you’d like her to cease fire and be quiet, the most effective thing you can do is to use your hands. No, I’m not talking about hitting her: this is a perfectly humane, impact- and pain-free method of conveying that what you require right now is peace and quiet.

Here’s what you do: when she’s barking, give her a second to ‘get it out of her system’ (it’s a lot kinder, and a lot more effective, to give her a chance – however brief – to express herself before asking her to be quiet). If she doesn’t calm down under her own steam, reach out and clasp her muzzle gently, but firmly, in your hand. She’ll try to shake you off, or back away, so you can place your other hand on her collar to give you greater control. This method is useful for two reasons: firstly, it effectively silences the barking (since no dog, no matter how loud, can bark with her mouth shut!).

Secondly, it reinforces your authority: you’re showing her through direct physical action that you’re a benevolent but firm leader who will brook no nonsense, and who won’t balk when it comes to enforcing your guidance. Hold onto her muzzle and collar until she’s stopped trying to break free: only when she calms down and stops wriggling does it mean that she’s accepted your authority. When she’s still, hold on for one or two more seconds, then let her go and praise her. In addition to this short-term fix, there are also a few things you can to do to reduce your dog’s need to bark in the first place.

The number-one cause for unwanted barking (as in, the kind of barking that’s repetitive and is directed at nothing) is nervous, agitated energy – the kind she gets from not getting enough exercise. Most dogs function best with one and a half hours’ exercise every day, which is a considerable time commitment for you. Of course, this varies from dog to dog, depending on factors like breed, age, and general level of health. You may think that your dog is getting as much exercise as she needs, or at least as much as you can possibly afford to give her – but if her barking is coupled with an agitated demeanor (fidgeting, perhaps acting more aggressively than you’d expect or want, restlessness, destructive behavior) then she almost definitely needs more.

Fortunately, the fix for this problem is pretty simple: you’ll just have to exercise her more. Try getting up a half-hour earlier in the morning – it’ll make a big difference. If this is absolutely impossible, consider hiring someone to walk her in the mornings and/or evenings. And if this is impossible too, then you’ll just have to resign yourself to having a loud, frustrated, and agitated dog (although whether you can resign her to this state remains to be seen).

The second most common cause of excessive vocalization in dogs is too much ‘alone time’. Dogs are social animals: they need lots of attention, lots of interaction, and lots of communication. Without these things, they become anxious and on edge. If you’re at home with your dog, you’re not paying attention to her, and she’s spending a lot of time barking at what appears to be nothing, she’s probably bored and lonely and would benefit from a healthy dose of affection and attention.

Recommended reading If you’d like more information on unwanted behaviors that your dog’s exhibiting, you’ll probably be interested in taking a look at Secrets to Dog Training. It’s a complete, A-Z manual for the responsible dog owner, and deals with recognizing, preventing, and dealing with just about every problem dog behavior under the sun.



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Understanding The Licking Habits of Dogs

April 1st, 2013 by | Comments Off on Understanding The Licking Habits of Dogs | Filed in Dogs Licking Habits

For us humans, it can be a bit difficult to identify with the doggie habit of licking one another in greeting. We don’t do it, after all, and though our tongues come in handy for things like ice-cream eating and sucking that last dollop of peanut butter off the knife, we certainly wouldn’t welcome a visitor into our home by giving them a long, lingering lick on the cheek (unless you were brought up to embrace certain social mores currently unheard of in Western society).

Dogs use their tongues to explore the world. A dog’s tongue is as important (and useful) to him as our eyes and hands are to us: it’s a multi-purpose utility tool, used to taste things, explore the presence of new people and animals, express submissiveness, and to let you know that he values your companionship and friendship. Licking is a completely natural behavior for dogs, and most of the time, the experience isn’t something to worry about: the odd lick from a warm, moist tongue on your hand or ankle is, at worst, tolerable (and, I must admit, I actually find it pretty adorable when my dog licks me – but then again, he’s trained not to overdo it, so I don’t have to worry about the smothering capacities that a 100-pound male Rottweiler’s tongue possesses!)

Some dogs just take things too far though, and this is where problems can set in. It’s not pleasant to be persecuted in your own home by a far-reaching, agile, mobile, and slobbery tongue: some won’t let you get a moment’s rest, but will pursue you from bedroom to hallway to lounge to kitchen, making sporadic dive-bombings of affection on your toes, ankles, calves – anywhere that flesh is exposed and available. And for a tall dog, the available terrain is much more varied, and thus, enticing – ever had a long, wet dog’s tongue lathering your bellybutton as you stretch up to those elusive top shelves? When unexpected, the resultant shock is more than a trifle unbalancing!

Plenty of dogs won’t restrict themselves to your skin alone, either, and owners of these dogs will attest to the always-visible consistency of dog saliva on clothing: whether your outfit is black, white, or any of the myriads of shades in between, there’s nothing like a viscous patch of dog slobber on a freshly-laundered hemline to advertise your ownership status (and your dog’s personal level of demonstrativeness) to the world at large. And once it’s dried, it’s there ’til the next laundry run: the physical evidence of a dog’s friendship is like egg white. It’s there, it’s dried on, and it’s not coming off until a combination of suds, hot water, and vigorous effort is applied. And all this because your dog wants to say “I love you”! But there’s often a bit more to it than just plain affection.

As with all animal behavior, the logic behind licking is usually more complex and subtle than you might think, and the same gesture can have multiple meanings dependent on circumstance, your dog’s state of mind, and the other behaviors being exhibited at the same time. So, although we can postulate until the cows come home (or until your dog stops licking – whichever comes first) as to why your dog’s licking you, such generalizations aren’t always 100% accurate: it’s partly up to you to determine the reasoning behind the actions.

And, since you know your dog better than anyone else, you’re the ideal candidate for the job. If your dog is licking you because he’s feeling affectionate and wants to let you know, it’ll be pretty easy to figure out whether this is the case or not. His body language will be relaxed, and although the circumstances will be variable, the surrounding mood will generally be stress-free and happy: for example, when he licks you on the shoulder or ear from his vantage-point in the backseat as you’re driving him to the park, or lathers your hands and wrists with goodwill and devotion when you return home from a hard day at the office. “Puppy love” is by far the most common cause of licking: it isn’t anything to worry about, and it’s simple to ‘cure’ him of the habit if the behavior is a problem for you. (We’ll get to that further down the page.)

Another not-infrequent reason for repetitive, owner-targeted licking is that your dog’s feeling anxious and stressed. If there are things happening in your dog’s life to cause him unhappiness or tension, he’ll often show it through obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and licking is a pretty common manifestation of these. Some dogs will lick themselves, others will lick you – it’s really a case of individual preference. It shouldn’t be too hard for you to pinpoint the cause of your dog’s less-than-relaxed mindset: is he getting enough attention and mental stimulation, or is he cooped up inside for long hours each day by himself? Does he get enough exercise and outdoors time for sniffing, exploration, and general exuberant tomfoolery? Do you pay him lots of attention when you’re at home, or tend to greet him hurriedly before rushing off to your next commitment? These are all things that you’ll need to consider, before adapting your lifestyle to address the issue accordingly.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the licking, and the overall quality of your dog’s life, you may need to make some general adjustments of your own to ensure that, when the licking does stop, it’s because you’ve treated the cause, not the symptoms – otherwise, you’re just trying to take away a valuable outlet for his negative emotions, which is unrealistic (and unfair on your friend, too). Perhaps you need to come home more often during the day.

Perhaps you need to get up half an hour earlier in the morning to give him a more substantial pre-work walk (it varies from dog to dog, but as a general rule of thumb, most dogs function best and are at their most relaxed with an hour and a half’s exercise each day). Or maybe you just need to spend more time with him in the evenings, playing, grooming, training, and just hanging out together. Make sure you’re paying attention to his demeanor (does he seem content?) and his activity levels before you try to get rid of the licking behavior as a stand-alone problem: even though he can’t talk, he can still use his tongue to try and tell you something, and this might be what’s happening here. Having said that though, most of the time excessive licking is simply due to excessive exuberance in your dog: he’s happy, he loves you, and he has to let you know right now.

When you want to get the point across that his licking’s getting a bit too much for you, a simple change in your body language will convey your message loud and clear. All you need to do is withdraw the outward display of your affection for him to understand that, actually, you don’t like it when he covers your skin in a composite of saliva, dog-food particulate matter, scraps of debris from his fur, and general oral-cavity detritus.In plain English, this means that you just have to turn yourself away from him: when he starts to lick, get up and move away instantly. Make sure your face and eyes are dramatically averted from him: face in the complete opposite direction. Preface this with a revolted-sounding “No!” if you like (I say “No lick!” but you can use whatever comes naturally. Just keep the phrase short and easily-identifiable so your dog quickly learns to recognize it).

At this point, he’ll probably get up and follow you. Wait for him to do so: the licking should start again soon. When it does, repeat the process. Withdraw all signs of affection from him again: turn away, get up and leave, and don’t pay him any attention or talk to him (apart from another “No!” in a disgusted, I-can’t-believe-you-haven’t-got-the-message-yet tone of voice). It’s likely that your dog will be persistent. He’s not to be easily deterred; you’re the undisputed centerpiece of his life, after all, and he needs to let you know this whenever the opportunity should present itself. You just need to outmatch him in persistency. Be consistent with your actions, and the message will sink in. Don’t feel that you have to shout or react negatively – the simple withdrawal of your love (or the appearance of this, anyway) is quite enough. A word of warning: some people really like it when dogs lick them, even if the dog concerned is not their own.

If visitors to your house (or admiring passersby on the street) greet your dog and allow him to lick them, you’ll need to intervene or else they’ll undo all your good work. It’s best if you can explain ahead of time that you’re training him not to lick, and then explain the appropriate response for them to take if he should start to lick them. This way, you can be sure that your dog’s not going to be corrupted into unwanted behaviors again – and that he’ll learn to express his affection in other, more desirable ways.

For more information on licking and other problematic dog behaviors … You’ll probably want to check out Secrets to Dog Training. It’s a comprehensive, A-Z manual for the responsible dog owner, and deals with just about every canine behavior and training technique under the sun, from aggression to digging to whining to dog whispering to obedience work.



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Dealing with Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

April 1st, 2013 by | Comments Off on Dealing with Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety | Filed in Dog's Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is one of the most common problems that dogs develop. It’s an anxiety disorder, and is defined as a state of intense panic brought on by the dog’s isolation/separation from her owner(s). In other words: when you leave for work in the morning, your dog is plunged into a state of nervous anxiety which intensifies extremely quickly.

Dogs are social animals – they need plenty of company and social interaction to keep them happy and content. No dog likes to be left alone for long stretches of time, but some dogs do a lot worse than others: these are the ones most prone to separation anxiety.

There are a number of contributing causes to the condition: – Some breeds are genetically predisposed towards anxiety and insecurity, which is something you should consider when deciding which breed you’re going to go for (particularly if you’re going to be absent for long stretches of time). A few of these breeds include Weimaraners, Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, and Airedales.

A significant proportion of dogs from shelters develop separation anxiety. Most of these ‘shelter dogs’ have undergone significant trauma in their lives – they’ve been abandoned by their previous owners – and thus they have little trust that their new-found owner (you) isn’t going to pull the same trick.

Dogs that were separated from their mothers and siblings too early have been identified as being especially prone to separation anxiety. Puppies from pet-stores are a perfect example of this: they’re usually taken from their mothers well before the earliest possible age (which is 8 weeks), and confined to a small glass box in the petstore for anywhere between a few weeks to two months. This early weaning, coupled with the lack of exercise and affection while in the petstore, is psychologically traumatic for the dog.

Neglect is the number-one cause of separation anxiety for dogs. If you’re absent much more than you’re present in your dog’s life, separation anxiety is pretty much inevitable. Your dog needs your company, affection, and attention in order to be happy and content. The symptoms of separation anxiety are pretty distinctive: your dog will usually learn to tell when you’re about to leave (she’ll hear keys jingling, will see you putting on your outdoor clothes, etc) and will become anxious. She may follow you from room to room, whining, trembling, and crying.

Some dogs even become aggressive, in an attempt to stop their owners from leaving. When you’ve left, the anxious behavior will rapidly worsen and usually will peak within half an hour. She may bark incessantly, scratch and dig at windows and doors (an attempt to escape from confinement and reunite herself with you), chew inappropriate items, even urinate and defecate inside the house.

In extreme cases, she might self-mutilate by licking or chewing her skin until it’s raw, or pulling out fur; or will engage in obsessive-compulsive behaviors, like spinning and tail-chasing. Upon your return, she’ll be excessively excited, and will leap around you in a frenzy of delight for a protracted period of time (more than the 30 seconds to one minute of a happy, well-balanced dog.) This extended greeting is a source of some misunderstanding: without realizing that such a greeting actually signifies the presence of a psychological disorder, some owners actually encourage their dog to get more and more worked up upon their return (by fuelling the dog’s excitement, encouraging her to leap around, paying her protracted attention, and so on.) If you’re behaving in this way with your dog, please stop. I know it’s tempting and very easy to do, and it seems harmless – after all, she’s so happy to see you, what harm can it do to return her attention and affection in equal measure? – but in actuality, you’re just validating her belief that your return is the high point of the day. So she’s as happy as Larry when you return – but, when it’s time for you to leave again, her now-exaggerated happiness at your presence is under threat, and she gets even more unhappy when you walk out that door.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize your dog’s tendency towards anxiety. Here’s a short list of do’s and don’ts: Do: – Exercise the heck out of her. Really wear her out: the longer you expect to be away, the more exercise she should get before you leave. For example, if you’re leaving for work in the morning, she’ll probably be by herself for at least four hours; and, if you’ve got a dog-walker to take her out mid-day instead of coming back yourself, she won’t see you – the person she really cares about – for at least nine hours. So she needs a good, vigorous walk (fifteen to twenty minutes is the absolute minimum here!) before you walk out that door. More is even better. –

Distract her from her boredom, loneliness, and anxiety by giving her an attractive alternative to pining, pacing, and whining. All dogs love to chew – why not play on this predisposition? Get a couple of marrowbones from the butcher, bake them in the oven for 20 minutes (so they go nice and hard and crunchy – and so she can’t smear marrow all over your furniture), slice them up into chunks of a few inches long, and give her one about 15 minutes before you leave. It’ll keep her happy and occupied, and will act as a smokescreen for your departure.

When you leave, put the radio on to a soothing station: classical music is ideal, but any station featuring lots of talk shows is also ideal. Keep the volume quite low, and it’ll calm her down a bit and give her the feeling that she’s got company. If at all possible, supply her with a view: if she can see the world going by, that’s the next best thing to being out and about in it.

Acclimatize her to your leaving. Taking things nice and slowly, practice getting ready to go: jingle your keys about, put on your coat, and open the door. Then – without leaving! – sit back down and don’t go anywhere. Do this until she’s not reacting any more. When there’s no reaction, give her a treat and lavish praise for being so brave.

Next, practice actually walking out the door (and returning immediately), again doing this until there’s no reaction. Gradually work up – gradually being the operative word here! – until you’re able to leave the house with no signs of stress from her.

Do not: – Act overtly sympathetic when she’s crying. Although it sounds very cold-hearted, trying to soothe and comfort your dog by patting her and cooing over her is actually one of the worst things you can do: it’s essentially validating her concern. Make sure she can’t tell that you feel sorry for her: don’t ever say, “It’s OK, good girl” when she’s upset!

If you’re interested in getting a more detailed look at how to deal with your dog’s separation anxiety, you might like to check out Secrets to Dog Training. It’s a great learning tool for anyone who wants to learn how to deal constructively with their dog’s problem behaviors. All of the common behavioral problems are dealt with in detail, and there’s a great section on obedience commands and tricks too.


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Dealing with Your Dog’s Aggressive Behavior

April 1st, 2013 by | Comments Off on Dealing with Your Dog’s Aggressive Behavior | Filed in Aggressive Behavior

A dog is an instinctively aggressive creature. In the wild, aggression came in very handy: dogs needed aggression to hunt, to defend themselves from other creatures, and to defend resources such as food, a place to sleep, and a mate. Selective breeding over the centuries has minimized and refined this trait significantly, but there’s just no getting around it: dogs are physically capable of inflicting serious harm (just look at those teeth!) because that’s how they’ve survived and evolved. And Mother Nature is pretty wily – it’s hard to counteract the power of instinct! But that doesn’t mean that we, as dog lovers and owners, are entirely helpless when it comes to handling our dogs. There’s a lot that we can do to prevent aggression from rearing its ugly head in the first place – and even if prevention hasn’t been possible (for whatever reason), there are still steps that we can take to recognize and deal with it efficiently.

Different aggression types. There are several different types of canine aggression. The two most common ones are: Aggression towards strangers  and aggression towards family members. You may be wondering why we’re bothering categorizing this stuff: after all, aggression is aggression, and we want to turf it out NOW, not waste time with the details – right? Well … not quite. These two different types of aggression stem from very different causes, and require different types of treatment.

Aggression towards strangers

What is it? It’s pretty easy to tell when a dog’s nervy around strange people. He’s jumpy and on the alert: either he can’t sit still and is constantly fidgeting, leaping at the smallest sound, and pacing around barking and whining; or he’s veerrrry still indeed, sitting rock-steady in one place, staring hard at the object of his suspicions (a visitor, the mailman, someone approaching him on the street while he’s tied up outside a store.) Why does it happen? There’s one major reason why a dog doesn’t like strange people: he’s never had the chance to get used to them. Remember, your dog relies 100% on you to broaden his horizons for him: without being taken on lots of outings to see the world and realize for himself, through consistent and positive experiences, that the unknown doesn’t necessarily equal bad news for him, how can he realistically be expected to relax in an unfamiliar situation?

What can I do about it? The process of accustoming your dog to the world and all the strange people (and animals) that it contains is called socialization. This is an incredibly important aspect of your dog’s upbringing: in fact, it’s pretty hard to overemphasize just how important it is. Socializing your dog means exposing him from a young age (generally speaking, as soon as he’s had his vaccinations) to a wide variety of new experiences, new people, and new animals.

How does socialization prevent stranger aggression? When you socialize your dog, you’re getting him to learn through experience that new sights and sounds are fun, not scary. It’s not enough to expose an adult dog to a crowd of unfamiliar people and tell him to “Settle down, Roxy, it’s OK” – he has to learn that it’s OK for himself. And he needs to do it from puppyhood for the lesson to sink in. The more types of people and animals he meets (babies, toddlers, teenagers, old people, men, women, people wearing uniforms, people wearing motorcycle helmets, people carrying umbrellas, etc) in a fun and relaxed context, the more at ease and happy – and safe around strangers – he’ll be in general.

How can I socialize my dog so that he doesn’t develop a fear of strangers? Socializing your dog is pretty easy to do – it’s more of a general effort than a specific training regimen. First of all, you should take him to puppy preschool. This is a generic term for a series of easy group-training classes for puppies (often performed at the vet clinic, which has the additional benefit of teaching your dog positive associations with the vet!). In a puppy preschool class, about ten or so puppy owners get together with a qualified trainer (often there’ll be at least two trainers present – the more there are, the better, since it means you get more one-on-one time with a professional) and start teaching their puppies the basic obedience commands: sit, stay, and so on. Even though the obedience work is very helpful and is a great way to start your puppy on the road to being a trustworthy adult dog, really the best part of puppy preschool is the play sessions: several times throughout the class, the puppies are encouraged to run around off-leash and play amongst themselves. This is an ideal environment for them to learn good social skills: there’s a whole bunch of unfamiliar dogs present (which teaches them how to interact with strange dogs), there’s a whole bunch of unfamiliar people present (which teaches them that new faces are nothing to be afraid of), and the environment is safe and controlled (there’s at least one certified trainer present to make sure that things don’t get out of hand). Socialization doesn’t just stop with puppy preschool, though. It’s an ongoing effort throughout the life of your puppy and dog: he needs to be taken to a whole bunch of new places and environments. Remember not to overwhelm him: start off slow, and build up his tolerance gradually.

Aggression towards family members

There are two common reasons why a dog is aggressive towards members of his own human family: – He’s trying to defend something he thinks of as his from a perceived threat (you). This is known as resource guarding, and though it may sound innocuous, there’s actually a lot more going on here than your dog simply trying to keep his kibble to himself. – He’s not comfortable with the treatment/handling he’s getting from you or other members of the family.

What’s resource guarding? Resource guarding is pretty common among dogs. The term refers to overly-possessive behavior on behalf of your dog: for instance, snarling at you if you approach him when he’s eating, or giving you “the eye” (a flinty-eyed, direct stare) if you reach your hand out to take a toy away from him. All dogs can be possessive from time to time – it’s in their natures. Sometimes they’re possessive over things with no conceivable value: inedible trash, balled up pieces of paper or tissue, old socks. More frequently, however, resource-guarding becomes an issue over items with a very real and understandable value: food and toys.

Why does it happen? It all boils down to the issue of dominance. Let me take a moment to explain this concept: dogs are pack animals. This means that they’re used to a very structured environment: in a dog-pack, each individual animal is ranked in a hierarchy of position and power (or “dominance”) in relation to every other animal. Each animal is aware of the rank of every other animal, which means he knows specifically how to act in any given situation (whether to back down, whether to push the issue, whether to muscle in or not on somebody else’s turf, etc etc). To your dog, the family environment is no different to the dog-pack environment. Your dog has ranked each member of the family, and has his own perception of where he ranks in that environment as well. This is where it gets interesting: if your dog perceives himself as higher up on the social totem-pole than other family members, he’s going to get cheeky. If he’s really got an overinflated sense of his own importance, he’ll start to act aggressively. Why? Because dominance and aggression are the exclusive rights of a superior-ranked animal. No underdog would ever show aggression or act dominantly to a higher-ranked animal (the consequences would be dire, and he knows it!) Resource guarding is a classic example of dominant behavior: only a higher-ranked dog (a “dominant” dog) would act aggressively in defence of resources. To put it plainly: if it was clear to your dog that he is not, in fact, the leader of the family, he’d never even dream of trying to prevent you from taking his food or toys – because a lower-ranking dog (him) will always go along with what the higher-ranking dogs (you and your family) say.

So what can I do about it? The best treatment for dominant, aggressive behavior is consistent, frequent obedience work, which will underline your authority over your dog. Just two fifteen-minute sessions a day will make it perfectly clear to your dog that you’re the boss, and that it pays to do what you say. You can make this fact clear to him by rewarding him (with treats and lavish praise) for obeying a command, and isolating him (putting him in “time-out”, either outside the house or in a room by himself) for misbehaviour.

If you’re not entirely confident doing this yourself, you may wish to consider enlisting the assistance of a qualified dog-trainer. – Brush up on your understanding of canine psychology and communication, so that you understand what he’s trying to say – this will help you to nip any dominant behaviors in the bud, and to communicate your own authority more effectively

Train regularly: keep obedience sessions short and productive (no more than fifteen minutes – maybe two or three of these per day). Why doesn’t my dog like to be handled? All dogs have different handling thresholds. Some dogs like lots of cuddles, and are perfectly content to be hugged, kissed, and have arms slung over their shoulders (this is the ultimate “I’m the boss” gesture to a dog, which is why a lot of them won’t tolerate it.)

Others – usually the ones not accustomed to a great deal of physical contact from a very young age – aren’t comfortable with too much full-body contact and will get nervy and agitated if someone persists in trying to hug them. Another common cause of handling-induced aggression is a bad grooming experience: nail-clipping and bathing are the two common culprits.

When you clip a dog’s nails, it’s very easy to “quick” him – that is, cut the blood vessel that runs inside the nail. This is extremely painful to a dog, and is a sure-fire way to cause a long-lasting aversion to those clippers. Being washed is something that a great many dogs have difficulty dealing with – a lot of owners, when confronted with a wild-eyed, half-washed, upset dog, feel that in order to complete the wash they have to forcibly restrain him. This only adds to the dog’s sense of panic, and reinforces his impression of a wash as something to be avoided at all costs – if necessary, to defend himself from it with a display of teeth and hackles.

Can I “retrain” him to enjoy being handled and groomed? In a word: yes. It’s a lot easier if you start from a young age – handle your puppy a lot, get him used to being touched and rubbed all over. Young dogs generally enjoy being handled – it’s only older ones who haven’t had a lot of physical contact throughout their lives that sometimes find physical affection difficult to accept. Practice picking up his paws and touching them with the clipper; practice taking him into the bath (or outside, under the faucet – whatever works for you, but warm water is much more pleasant for a dog than a freezing spray of ice-water!), and augment the process throughout with lots of praise and the occasional small treat. For an older dog that may already have had several unpleasant handling/grooming experiences, things are a little more difficult. You need to undo the damage already caused by those bad experiences, which you can do by taking things very slowly – with an emphasis on keeping your dog calm.

The instant he starts to show signs of stress, stop immediately and let him relax. Try to make the whole thing into a game: give him lots of praise, pats, and treats. Take things slowly. Don’t push it too far: if you get nervous, stop. Dogs show aggression for a reason: they’re warning you to back off, or else! If your dog just can’t seem to accept being groomed, no matter how much practice you put in, it’s best to hand the job over to the professionals. Your vet will clip his nails for you (make sure you tell him first that he gets aggressive when the clippers come out, so your vet can take the necessary precautions!).

As far as washing and brushing goes, the dog-grooming business is a flourishing industry: for a small fee, you can get your dog washed, clipped, brushed, and whatever else you require by experienced professionals (again, make sure you tell them about your dog’s reaction to the experience first!)

For more information on handling aggressive and dominant behaviors, as well as a great deal of detailed information on a host of other common dog behavior problems, check out Secrets to Dog Training. It’s a complete owner’s guide to owning, rearing, and training your dog, and it deals with all aspects of dog ownership.



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Stop Your Dog’s Destructive Chewing

April 1st, 2013 by | Comments Off on Stop Your Dog’s Destructive Chewing | Filed in Destructive Chewing

The act of chewing seems to be a matter of individual preference among dogs: some have an innate desire to chew as a pleasurable activity in itself, and some seem to have no need to chew whatsoever unless they’re driven to it out of sheer boredom.

The phrase “destructive chewing” may sound redundant, because – by its very nature! – all chewing is destructive. Your dog has strong jaws full of sharp, pointy teeth: just about anything she starts to chew on is probably going to show the effects of it inside of a minute. So just to clarify, when I use the phrase “destructive chewing”, I’m referring to inappropriate chewing: the kind of chewing that’s focused on your own possessions and household items, instead of on your dog’s own designated toys and chews.

The three main reasons why dogs chew:

– Most dogs have a natural desire to chew. It’s fun, it passes the time, and it’s a self-rewarding, self-reinforcing activity (for example, if she’s chewing on something that tastes good.)

– Chewing provides a nervous, bored, or lonely dog with an outlet for her emotions. To an anxious dog, the repetitive act of chewing is soothing – it’s the doggie equivalent of comfort food.

– Under exercised dogs often use chewing as a way of burning up nervous energy and giving themselves something to do.

How to stop your dog’s destructive chewing?

Dogs are perfectly capable of learning not to chew your stuff – you just have to put in a little effort first, that’s all.

1. Take control of the situation: manage your own possessions. Your first step should be to dog-proof your home. Even if you have the best-behaved dog in the world, there’s still no reason to test her self-control – after all, dogs explore the world with their mouths.

Dog-proofing your home means taking whatever you don’t want to end up in her mouth, and making it unavailable. Consider her size and agility when deciding whether something’s out of reach: can she jump? Can she climb, or leap onto something else to reach the desired object? How tall is she when standing on her back legs?

Common targets in the home include books, eye wear, clothing, shoes, garbage, and small crunchy appliances like cameras, cell phones, and remote controls.

It should go without saying that all food needs to be put securely away: don’t leave snacks on low tables (or even counter tops – you’d be surprised how acrobatic she can be when there’s food at stake!), put all food into containers or the pantry. Rinse your dirty plates clean of any food scraps before leaving them by the sink.

2. Prevent her from learning the joys of illegal chewing. The more times she manages to snatch a jawful of a forbidden substance – a chair-leg, a pillow, a running shoe – the more readily she’ll target those items in future. If you can prevent her from chewing your stuff in the first place, it’s a lot easier for her to understand what you expect of her. Practically speaking, this means confining her in a dog-proofed area until you’re confident of her understanding of the house rules.

3. Don’t set her up for failure by blurring the boundaries between her stuff (OK to chew) and your stuff (not OK to chew). Don’t offer your dog cast-off clothes, shoes, or towels to chew and play with: realistically, you can’t possibly expect her to be able to tell the difference between your current shoes and the one she’s got in her mouth that you gave her five minutes ago.

4. Provide her with lots of tasty alternatives to your stuff. If her environment is relatively barren of attractive, appropriate chewing objects, you can hardly blame her for targeting your possessions. Remember, most dogs need to chew; if she’s an adolescent (under three years) or a puppy (under one year), her needs will be even more pronounced. Go on a toy and chew shopping spree, then give her two or three to play with at a time. Rotating the available toys every few days will keep things novel and interesting for her.

5. Spend lots of time in active supervision. Yes, it might be easier for you to just keep her penned up in her crate, run, or the yard – but that’s boring and horrible for her, and hardly much fun for you either (if you wanted a pet that you don’t need to interact with, you’d have got a goldfish, right?) She can’t learn what you expect of her if she’s spending all her time boxed up in the dog-proof zone: she needs the opportunity to explore the boundaries of your expectations, so she can understand what’s appropriate and what’s not.

6. When you catch her chewing something inappropriate, interrupt her by making a loud noise: clap your hands or make an “Ah-ah-aaaah!” noise. Then, immediately hand her a tasty and dog-appropriate alternative (a rawhide bone or other chew toy); as soon as her jaws close around it, praise her lavishly. There is no better way to get your dog to understand that chewing “her” toys equals praise from you, but everything else equals trouble.

– Maintain a productive attitude –

Above all, remember to keep your expectations realistic. You’re not perfect, and neither is your dog: there’s likely to be at least one incident where a cherished item is damaged by her curiosity.

Particularly in the early stages of your relationship, she’s still learning the ropes: it’ll take awhile before she’s completely reliable (and even then, if she’s left by herself for too long or feels neglected, she may choose your stuff over hers to occupy her time and jaws with.) Remember to give her time to learn the rules, and plenty of ‘you-time’ to help her learn faster – and don’t forget to take precautions and keep things out of reach until she’s got the hang of the chewing rules!

For more information on dog training techniques and how to deal with problem dog behavior (like chewing), check out Secrets to Dog Training. It’s the complete manual for dog ownership and is designed to fast-track your dog’s learning.


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