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Harmonizing with Your Dog

What does it take? How do I do it? How do I work in harmony with my dog? It doesn't listen to me.

Have you ever gone to a foreign country and try talking to someone who doesn't know English? Now try it screaming louder, swinging a newspaper and making threatening gestures. Do you think it will help? I can guarantee the only thing you will get is strange looks and some anxious people. Well, the dog feels the same way.

 

The little one "steals" all of the toys.

You have to start thinking like a dog or at least learning to "speak dog" through your body language, voice intonation and timing. Directions and corrections need to be given in a manner and at a time that the dog will understand.

You also need to be consistent and persevere. You have to review your actions. Check if you are inadvertently rewarding unwanted behavior. Stroking the dog and saying "It's OK. Now, now," after the dog has shown aggression to another dog, is rewarding the behavior you do not want. Tossing treats to the dog that barks incessantly while you are talking on the telephone is another example of inadvertently rewarding the unwanted behavior. Do you think the dog will stop barking? It may even get a loudspeaker.


Size isn't everything. "Macho" comes in little packages, too.

Training is important. Develop the ability to communicate with your dog. The result is wonderful. Times shared with a well mannered dog are a pleasure for both of you. Enjoy, play, and have adventures with your "four legged significant other." Remember, your immediate response to what a dog does is what teaches the dog.

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House Breaking Your Puppy

So you choose a puppy and the glorious day arrives when you bring it home. A few days later, the reality of owning a puppy sets in. Housebreaking is crucial to your bonding with the dog. No matter how adorable, smart and how many tricks it knows, if it is making in your house, you are not in harmony with the dog. Below I've listed some tips to make housebreaking easier. Remember your job is to "speak dog" and have the puppy understand in his terms what you want him to do. The key is consistency and structure. Check with your vet first to see if the dog is old enough and ready to go outside.

  1. Structure feeding time so you know approximately when your dog will need to defecate and be outside when this time occurs. Most puppies will defecate after eating.


  2. Limit the water consumption. Dogs need one cup of water for every 8 pounds of dog per day. If given the opportunity puppies will drink much more than they need. It's fun, tastes good and it's something to do. Also note that puppies tend to relieve themselves after they have roughhousing play, got mentally stimulated (such as a training session) or wake up from a sleep so those are the times to have them in the "right place."


  3. Use a crate as a sanctuary and use the dog's own "den instinct" (desire not to make where it sleeps and eats) to support your housebreaking efforts. Never use the crate as a punishment and never keep the dog in the crate beyond the time it can physically hold it's urine and feces.


  4. Walk the puppy, probably every 2-3 hours. Praise it immediately after it urinates or defecates outside.


  5. Mistakes should be odor neutralized according to the dog's ability to smell, not yours. A dog's nose has well over 100 million olfactory cells while we have 5 million. By smelling the grass, a dog can smell the boy who rolled a ball on the grass the day before. A dog can smell the bones of a decomposed body lying 80 feet under the water while sitting in a boat. Their ability to smell is literally beyond our comprehension. Dogs make where they smell it. Therefore odors must be cleaned up with something that will neutralize it for the dog. Never use a product with ammonia, as that approximates the smell of urine. Use either white vinegar or one of the items available in the Products section of this Web site.

  6. Do not punish mistakes if the dog is not caught in the act. The dog will not understand the correction and may become anxious and confused.


  7. If you see puppy starting to make in an incorrect place, startle it with a loud sound (to hopefully stop the making) and bring the dog outside so it can finish the job, and be rewarded. If the dog is not confined, you are watching it. Therefore mistakes not caught will not happen. I know this is optimistic thinking, but do your best.


  8. Consistency and perseverance will pay off. Keep things light and simple so the dog catches on to what you want. If you do it carefully and thoroughly in the beginning, you will reap the rewards in the following years.
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Barking

There are many reasons and stimuli that cause a dog to bark excessively. Without knowing your particular situation, it would be hard for me to give you specifics, except to tell you to examine your circumstances.

Be aware of inadvertently rewarding unwanted behavior. People reward the behaviors they do not want all the time.
    
The woman who tosses cookies to her dog to get it to stop barking while she is talking on the telephone, is one example. Sounds like the dog trained her well.

Another example is the man who picks up and pets the dog that barks at the door and tells it "That's okay, Fido. It's only the mailman." Meanwhile the dog is being cuddled and patted.

We are all guilty of thinking like humans. We have to stop and realize how dogs see things and make our wants clear in terms the dog can understand.

There are also humane devices to curb unwanted barking of all sorts. Please check the Products of this website.

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Chewing

Puppies explore the world through their mouths. They also go through the teething process where they lose their baby teeth and get their adult teeth. Babies chew on teething biscuits and teething rings and puppies need to chew as well. However, they must be taught what they are allowed and not allowed to chew.

Mouthing is relatively gentle chewing that a puppy or dog does when it puts it's mouth on you. This is never allowed. Tell puppy "no teeth," and provide an appropriate chewing toy. Be consistent about this and your puppy will get the idea.

If your puppy is chewing an inappropriate item, say "leave it" and substitute it with a dog toy. If the pup is attracted to a particular item on a regular basis that it shouldn't chew, you might try one of the products available in the Products section of this website that is designed to have a terrible taste to most dogs. I should mention that there is always the "scoffer" dog who likes the taste or can stand it anyway. For that dog check the products section for the "scoffer dog" but don't forget to provide exciting alternatives.

When you leave the house, try giving the dog a special toy, which is only given when you leave and is collected when you return. In the folds of the toy try "spicing it up" with a little peanutbutter or cheese where the dog can't quite get it but will have a wonderful time trying to get it while you are gone. This toy will smell a lot more exciting than the leg of your sofa and cost a lot less too.

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