You’ve brought a new dog into your home—congratulations! Now comes your first dog-training challenge: house training.
House training is not an exact science—there’s no sure-fire formula or timetable that will work for every dog. The important thing is to make it a positive, not a stressful, experience. Being attentive, patient and consistent are the keys to success, along with the following dos and don’ts:
Do: Closely supervise your dog. Limit the dog’s run of the house to the one or two rooms where you are able to see her at all times. Dogs usually show “pre-pottying” behavior such as sniffing, circling and walking with stiff back legs; all signs that you should get her to the potty area ASAP! As the training begins to take hold, you can slowly enlarge her territory as she learns where the potty area is—and that the house is not a toilet!
Don’t: Yell at or spank a dog for a mess she made earlier. If you catch her in the act, it’s okay to startle her by clapping or making a noise (hopefully this will stop her long enough for you to whisk her outside). But a dog will not learn anything by being scolded for a past accident, even one a few minutes old. Just clean it up and soldier on.
Do: Offer big, enthusiastic praise when she gets it right. Whether your goal is for your dog to eliminate on pee pads indoors or to do it outside, you have to really throw a party for her when she succeeds. Lavish her with praise, affection and some yummy treats!
Don’t: Rub her face in it. Ever!!! In addition to this action making your dog fear you, she’s incapable of making the connection that it’s the act of soiling indoors you object to—to her, you just really hate pee and poop. If she thinks that the waste itself is what you dislike, she’ll only get sneakier about hiding it from you.
A disturbing new trend—“pet flipping”—has been getting a lot of attention this week.
Pet flipping involves a criminal picking up a pet, either by stealing the animal or claiming to be the pet parent of a missing pet, and then quickly selling the animal for a profit. Is your blood boiling yet? It gets worse!
According to Time, pet flipping is on the rise in cities including Kansas City, St. Louis and Indianapolis. The stolen dogs are often purebred and very valuable. In March, an Indianapolis man was arrested after a three-month investigation found he had been stealing dogs for years, mostly purebred German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Pit Bulls.
“Many of these pets are housed in puppy mill-like conditions until they can be flipped—no food or water, caged and sick,” Dawn Contos, of Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, said in an interview following the arrest.
It’s hot out there! And if your Golden Retriever or long-haired kitty seems to suffer when the mercury rises, you might feel some temptation to break out your grooming tools and give your pets a full shave-down. We get where you’re coming from.
But wait! Put down those clippers! According to experts, you’ll be doing your pet a disservice. Here’s why:
While you or I would hate to sport a fur coat in 100-degree weather, your pets’ fur coats are actually providing them with heat relief.
“A dog’s coat is kind of like insulation for your house,” explains Dr. Louise Murray, Senior Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Hospital. “Insulation stops your home from getting too cold in winter, but it also keeps it from overheating in summer—and your dog’s coat does the same thing.”
Dogs’ coats have several layers, and these layers are essential to your dog’s comfort in the heat. Robbing your dog of this natural cooling system can lead to discomfort and overheating. And keeping your dog cool isn’t the only reason to leave his coat intact, Dr. Murray warns.
Your dog’s coat prevents your pup from getting sunburn and helps protect her from skin cancer.
To protect your pet from sunburn and skin cancer, save longer walks for evenings, and consider applying pet-specific sun block to thinly covered areas like the bridge of your dog’s nose, the tips of his ears and his belly, Dr. Murray suggests, noting that pets with thin coats, as well as those with white or light-colored coats, are especially at risk for sun damage.
There are better ways to manage your pets’ coats to keep them cool: trimming and brushing.
“It’s OK to trim your long-haired dog’s long hair, such as any hair that hangs down on his legs,” Dr. Murray says. Just never attempt to clip mats off your pet’s coat with scissors, Dr. Murray adds. And if you’ve got a long-haired kitty, leave her coat intact. Instead, brush her a little more frequently during the hot summer months.
Of course, pet parents should remember to keep pets inside with plenty of water during hot days—hydration is key! For more important information on summer pet care, visit our Hot-Weather Tips. Stay cool out there!
As the country dons its red, white and blue to celebrate Independence Day, nothing says patriotism like a good old-fashioned barbecue with a side of fireworks. But beware pet parents, what’s fun for people can be a drag for our furry friends.
Even if your pooch is a pro picnicker, we recommend keeping him indoors as much as possible during backyard parties and Fourth of July festivities. From toxic food and beverages to raucous guests and fireworks, the holiday is rife with potential pet-astrophes.
“Even the most timid dog can leap a six-foot fence if he’s spooked by loud noises,” says Dr. Pamela Reid, Vice President of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team. If your dog shows signs of distress from fireworks or boisterous revelers, Dr. Reid suggests giving him a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter. “The persistent licking should calm his nerves,” she says.
The ASPCA offers some more expert advice to keep your pet singing, “Oh Say Can You See,” all the way to the fifth:
Keep your pet on the wagon. Since alcohol is potentially poisonous to pets, place all wine, beer and spirits well out of paws’ way.
Avoid scraps from the grill. Stick with your pet’s normal diet—any change, even for a day, can result in stomach upset. Certain foods like onions, avocado, chocolate, grapes and raisins are especially toxic to pets.
Skip the sunscreen. Avoid lathering your pet with any insect repellent or sunscreen not intended for the four-legged kind. Ingestion can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy.
Stay fire smart. Keep your pet away from fireworks, matches, citronella candles and lighter fluid, which if eaten can irritate the stomach, lungs and central nervous system.
Be cool near the pool. Don’t leave pets unsupervised around a pool or lake—not all dogs are expert swimmers! Also, pools aren’t large water bowls—they contain chlorine and other toxic chemicals that can cause stomach problems.
Now that school’s out for summer, why not spend a bit of extra time with your pooch? By working with your dog to teach her new tricks or by providing her with some TLC, you’ll strengthen the bond between you two. Summer is the perfect time to take your dog on a hike, or to bring her along on your next road trip.
As temperatures rise, it’s a good idea to brush up on hot weather safety tips. And, for some additional guidance, Houlton Institute is launching its Fundamentals of Dog Care course on July 15, developed in collaboration with ASPCA experts. The first online course of its kind, which will run for six weeks, is designed to provide pet parents with knowledge and competencies necessary to navigate the responsibilities of caring and creating a proper environment for a dog. There’s still time to register for the course. Check out what one attendee had to say about it!
“This course really CHANGED things for me. I feel like this course gave me a new set of eyes, a new set of skills, and a real sense of responsibility! I am always sharing things that I learned from this class. I have already told everyone I know about it! In other words, this course basically blew my mind!”
Whether you’re an experienced dog guardian or a new pet parent, we find that there’s always more to learn about caring for our canine companions. For a complete list of tips for dog guardians, visit our Pet Care page.