Babies and dogs

This week I have visited two families, one with a 3 yr old dog and the other with a 10 week old puppy. Both families want to keep their baby safe and were worried about the excitable behaviour from their furry friend. Although the needs of the two dogs were quite different the principles behind how to improve their behaviour is the same.

Teach your dog what to do, if you don’t want him to jump up, reward him for keeping his feet on the floor. Food rewards are easiest to manage and can be part of their daily food allowance to prevent weight gain.

The arrival of a new baby changes many things in your dog’s life. It is important to maintain his regular walks and give him some one-to-one time so that he doesn’t try to gain your attention when you are busy with the baby.

I recommend ‘Babies, Kids and Dogs’ by Melissa Fallon and Vickie Davenport for in depth advice and support to help you and your family as they grow. But just like any recipe book, the results may not be quite what you expected and advice from a knowledgable and experienced dog trainer may be just what you need.

Houseline help with puppies

Since my Border Collie puppy, Riff, came home I have had a houseline attached to his collar or harness whenever he is out of his safe area and I am able supervise him.

Why?

Because prevention is better than cure:

If he was free to roam he could be:

  • learning to bite my laces when I’m tying them
  • chasing my cat
  • putting his head in the fridge when I open the door
  • jumping up to greet people
  • rushing out through open doors
  • playbiting people
  • bothering my older collie, Braccy
  • falling in the pond

As a result of using the houseline to guide him he is learning to:

  • watch me tie my shoes
  • look at the cat and allow her to approach
  • watch me open and close the fridge
  • keep feet on the floor to meet people
  • keep teeth on toys
  • investigate the pond safely
  • not to play roughly with Braccy

How?

By preventing unwanted behaviour I can more easily guide and reward him for ‘good’ behaviour.

For example, when my cat comes in I stand on the line to keep the puppy still so that she can approach and investigate him in safety. If she moves away I reward him so that he is less likely to have the urge to go after her, which will make her run and will cause him to chase and learn a new game which will distress my cat.

This makes for a calmer household, I avoid having to rush after him, grab him, scoop him up or tell him off I can just stand on or lift up the line and he cannot go wrong

Simples!

Playing with your dog

Playing with your dog or puppy;

  • builds a lifelong relationship that teaches them that you are fun to be with
    • if you don’t they will be more interested in other dogs/people etc.
  • provides appropriate games for their natural drives
    • if you don’t they will start to play the ‘wrong’ games e.g. chasing and not coming back
  • is a great way to use up their energy, mentally and physically
    • if you don’t they’ll use it another way e.g. jumping up

A recent survey of 4000 dogs, carried out by Emily Blackwell at Bristol University, found that those who play less with their owners are more likely to show behaviour problems such as anxiety, aggression, jumping up, not coming when called.

So getting into the routine of playing with your dog 3 or more times a day can really help your dog to be more contented

Many dogs love ‘fetch’ they also love using their noses to find toys/food – look out for my next Scent Games date – tugging, shaking, hide and seek.

Play your dog’s favourite games and he will be a more settled dog to live with.

To learn more about how to play with your dog or puppy appropriately, contact me to find out more information about dog training and puppy training classes.

A brief overview of neutering your puppy

The surgery for the removal of the internal reproductive organs is termed:
Castration (testicle removal) in males
Spaying (womb and ovary removal) in females

There are arguments for and against the operations and when might be the best age for surgery.

Pros of spaying

  • no risk of womb infection
  • no risk of ovarian tumours
  • prevents phantom pregnancies
  • prevents unwanted pregnancy
  • if carried out before her second season can reduce the risk of mammary tumours
  • avoids the mess and inconvenience of seasons (usually twice a year for 3 weeks)

Cons of spaying

  • increased risk of incontinence (urine)
  • affects growth rate
  • affects maturation
  • can affect coat
  • more likely to put on weight

Pros of castration

  • no prostate problems
  • no testicular cancer
  • may reduce aggression (take advice from a qualified behaviourist as it may become worse)
  • will reduce inappropriate sexual behaviour e.g. roaming, mounting

Cons of castration

  • affects growth rate
  • affects maturation
  • can affect coat
  • more likely to put on weight

For more information: http://www.apbc.org.uk/system/files/private/apbc_summary_sheet_of_castration_risks_and_benefits.pdf

It is important that you and your vet have a full discussion before deciding what is best for your dog.

House training your puppy

Dice-asleep-croppedAs dogs have a natural tendency to move out of the nest to go to the toilet, from three weeks of age your puppy will begin to leave the sleeping area to do so.

When he comes home, you need to teach him that your house is his ‘nest’

When you take him outside stay with him, otherwise he may be too anxious to go when he is alone and instead will do so when he comes back indoors to ‘safety’.

When he is about to go introduce a cue e,g, hurry up, be quick etc

Once he has been praise him well and reward him with titbit or a favourite game

Wait for a few minutes, if he doesn’t go, take him in and keep him with you using a lead or houseline and try again later.

If he begins to go indoors you can interrupt him with a ‘Quick, quick’ and easily guide him outdoors.

Swooping down suddenly and scooping a puppy up in the air can be frightening for them and make them worried about hands coming towards them.

When you cannot concentrate on your puppy, confine him to an area with suitable flooring so that any accidents can easily be cleaned up and the floor washed with warm diluted biological washing solution.

As your puppy learns where he should go to the toilet he will begin to show signs that he needs to go out, such as going to the door, pawing at it or whining.