Lotsa Dogs Lotsa Fun

Lotsa Dogs Lotsa Fun
The Big Dogs Wait at The Door

Friday, February 25, 2005

Stop barking!

Dogs are bound to bark. It goes with the territory (no pun intended). Anything new, or suspicious, or stimulating can produce a woof-fest. It's an instinctive, "vestigial" thing (a behavior left over from when dogs were wild). When dogs live in packs, they bark to let each other know where they are; they also bark to let each other know that a stranger is approaching their territory, and to let the interloper know "this seat is taken!"

Dogs will also bark because someone is going away, which leaves the pack one dog less secure. Dogs hate being alone, and when we domesticated them, that meant they hated being without us. Anyway, it's good to try to figure out why your pup is mouthing off, because that will influence how you should address the problem. First of all, you can't cure barking until you have worked on training him in general. To change a behavior, he has to understand the basic deal: do what is asked and you get a reward. It takes a while for him to get it; he'll want to go straight to the reward and forget the obedience part. So be persistent over weeks and months!!!

There are basically two techniques: distraction and reward. Some people say there's also "correction", like electric shock or citronella bark collars. Forget it. Would you stop your infant son's crying by giving him a shock or squirting him in the face with citronella??? Come on, dogs have nerve endings too. Instead of "house of corrections" training, settle on the command you'll use to stop barking, like "no bark!" Use the command as soon as the dog starts to bark; approach him and stare him in the face as you say "no bark!" Put your hand gently but firmly around his snout and repeat the command. When he stops, reward him (food, praise, both...it all works). Distraction can be any benign event that will interest the dog. Throw a ball or otherwise play with him; give him a hug; take him someplace (like out). With Benny, who needs a barker's 12-step program, I bounce a ball and act all excited about it. Most times he forgets what he was barking about.

When you leave the house, don't pay attention to him for 15 minutes before you leave and 15 minutes after you get home. This is counter intuitive but ESSENTIAL! If you make a big deal out of coming or going his anxiety is going to skyrocket! WOOF! WOOF!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Runaway Dogs

In spite of the best care and training, some dogs run away. Sometimes they're frightened and want to get away from something specific, like loud noise (especially an owner yelling at them). Some dogs just yearn to run as far and as fast as they can. And then, sometimes there's something "out there" that they can't resist - like garbage! Beagles and Bassets are known for bolting on trash collection day. They can smell the goodness in the air! I used to have a Cocker Spaniel who raced me to the gate every Friday morning,'cause he knew what goodies all those curbside containers held! Then we'd do this foot thing with him trying to bolt between my legs and me fending him off with my lower extremities. He occasionally won; the good part was that he never got further than my next door neighbor's goodie bags.

What to do when your dog runs away? If you're there and see her go, grab her favorite food or treat and try to get in front of her and lead her to the treat. For example, you can jump in your car and go in the same direction as your dog, but go ahead of her; stop, open the car door, and try to lure her in with the treats. It's best to offer something that smells good. I've used cheese and raw meat in the past.

If that doesn't work, don't continue to pursue your dog. It's likely that he'll get caught up in the chase and go farther away than if you didn't pursue him. Animal control officers and rescue organizations have learned that dogs who are loose will generally stay within a 1 mile radius of where they got loose, unless chased further. So notify the local police, the local animal control officer, animal shelters, and near-by veterinarians and tell them that your dog is running loose. Describe him and any collar or leash attached to him. If he's not found in a few hours, put up lots of posters, with his picture (keep a jpg. photo of your dog on your computer!!); circle around the point where he got loose as you post. The first line on the poster should read REWARD! because that's what gets peoples' attention. And include your home and cell phone numbers, as well as the phone number of your animal control officer.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Janet and Benny during a training class Posted by Hello

Monday, February 07, 2005


Sometimes the term "housebroken" means you have a dog and he/she has broken your house! My elderly Sheltie, Daphne, has begun to make indoor mistakes on my beautiful Chinese rug in the study. Partly, I think her cues are subtle, and she doesn't have much time 'cause her bladder and bowels aren't as tough as they used to be. So she goes to the door and looks back over her shoulder at me. If I'm not there, or I don't notice right away, she heads for the study. Last Spring I had the Chinese rug professionally cleaned and the guy made me feel guilty about the odor in his shop!

Anyway, I went back to some house training tips that I'll share with you

  • Supervision: young pups and old folks need to be watched more carefully than other dogs.
  • Confinement: dogs that are vulnerable (the young and the old) should be taken out before you leave them alone, then confined to a small, safe place. The dog should have enough room to stand up, take a few steps, turn around, stretch.
  • Praise, praise and more praise: make a big fuss when the vulnerable ones go outside, as in "good girl, Daphne! Good girl!" Then give a gentle hug and some pats.
  • Scheduling: always feed at the same time and don't leave the food down for more than 30 minutes. Feed two meals, morning and evening. Evening should be three to five hours before bedtime.
  • Clean, clean, clean: use a product made especially for pet stains, like "Resolve". Buy a stiff brush to be used only for pet clean-up. After picking up, or soaking up urine with paper towels, spray the affected areas and brush vigorously. If you don't do these things the dog will surely pee or poop in the same place again.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

NAPPS: National Association of Professional Pet Sitters

This weekend (Jan 28-31) I was off to Atlanta (from Boston) for the annual NAPPS conference. It was terrific! There was an unusual ice storm in Atlanta but we holed up in a very nice Sheraton for the conference. There were about 125 petsitters and lots of information was exchanged. I was delighted to spend 3 days with other small business owners, swapping stories and resource hints. NAPPS members come from all over the United States, and it is the most respected professional pet care organization that I know of. While most NAPPS members go to their clients' homes to do pet care, which The Doggie Den doesn't do, we still had lots in common. I found out how others get the word out about their services, especially via veterinarians, pet stores, shelters, and humane societies. In fact, many members volunteer to care for animals at shelters. One woman I met volunteers at a National Wildlife Center in New Jersey where sick and injured wildlife is cared for, then released back into the wild. For more information about NAPPS, or for a list of petsitters in your area, check out www.petsitters.org.