We are excited and honored to partner with you for your new pet’s health care and wellness needs. Contained in this packet is information to help you and your pet get started on a lifetime of health and happiness.
To help meet your needs, Coastal Sunrise Animal Hospital has the ability to accommodate appointments, bathing, drop off appointments, and surgery Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:30 am until 5:00 pm and Monday and Thursday 7:30 am until 6:00 pm
The Veterinarians and Team Members
Coastal Sunrise Animal Hospital
CRATE TRAINING PUPPIES
Every puppy needs to learn the skill of resting calmly in a crate. This skill will be needed at the veterinary hospital, for traveling, and for restricted activity due to illness. It’s also a lifesaver for many young dogs during the destructive chewing stage that starts at several months of age and can last until age 2-3 in some breeds.
After a dog has become trained and reliable in the house, the crate will often be needed only for specific reasons rather than everyday use. One critical situation that can call for bringing out the crate again is separation anxiety. The ability to relax in a crate can save a dog’s life during this crisis.
Usually, it works best to crate the puppy in your bedroom when you’re sleeping. If you want the dog to share your bed, wait until the adult temperament emerges. Then if it turns out the temperament is not suited to bed privileges, you will not have the difficult job of teaching the dog to stay off the bed. Teaching a puppy to stay off the bed from the beginning is much easier, for you and the pup.
People tend to make the mistake of giving the puppy attention for making noise in the crate. When you do this, you confirm the puppy’s instinct that being alone is death (it would be, in the wild), and that calling for help will bring someone. Having the crate in your bedroom for sleeping tends to help because the puppy can hear, smell and possibly see you. Not being alone, the puppy usually finds it easier to get used to the crate. Your sleeping helps set the scene for the puppy to sleep, too.
Keep the puppy on a good schedule of food, water and outings so the puppy’s body will have the best chance of making it through the night without a bathroom break. If the pup does need a break, make it very low-key with dim lights and soft voices and no playtime. If you completely avoid going to get the puppy when the puppy is making noise, problems usually pass quickly.
But make no mistake; lost sleep comes with the puppy adoption territory! Don’t miss the chance to start your puppy off right, or you will lose a lot more sleep over a longer period of time, because crate-training will take much longer.
The worst thing to do is let the puppy yell for a long time, and then go to the puppy. Doing that teaches the puppy to persistently make noise in the crate. It communicates to the pup that you want to be notified with lots and lots of noise! It also causes the puppy enormous stress that can become a lifelong response to being confined to a crate. Adult dogs in this stressed state can break out of crates and badly injure themselves. This is not the future you want for your puppy.
What you want the puppy to discover is that nothing bad happens from being alone in a crate. You also want the puppy to learn that it’s okay to let you know of a need, but you will not come in response to a loud racket. Check on the puppy after the puppy has become quiet again.
If your puppy isn’t making it through the night without a potty break, schedule it so that the puppy doesn’t have to wake you up and ask. Realize, too, that the puppy’s body will awake and need to potty whenever someone in the household gets up. That person or someone else will need to give the pup a potty break.
Don’t trick a puppy about the crate. Give a treat when the pup goes in, but don’t be sneaky about shutting the door. Don’t put the puppy into the crate when the puppy is sound asleep, to wake up trapped in a crate. That can cause the puppy to distrust you and the crate.
Be careful not to abuse the crate. When you are at home and awake, supervise the puppy in
person rather than using the crate. Puppies need exercise, mental stimulation and guidance from you in order to grow up healthy and happy. Too much crate time is not humane. Puppies sleep 14 hours a day or so. If the crate time is scheduled so the pup can use it for sleeping, that’s ideal.
Make the crate a pleasant place to rest. A few safe chew toys and a treat can help the puppy relax and drift off to dreamland. Everyone in the household can sleep better with a crate-trained puppy.
What are the benefits of spaying or neutering my pet?
Many pet owners think their female pet needs to experience the joy of motherhood at least once or that their male pet will feel less masculine if he’s neutered, but animals simply do not think that way. US pet owners choose not to spay or neuter their pets for a variety of reasons, including:
- They show or breed the animals
- Financial constraints
- Fear of anesthesia
- Lack of understanding of the benefits
These concerns might seem valid, but the reasons to spay or neuter far outweigh the risks of not doing so. Older show or breeding pets who are spayed or neutered can avoid various cancers and infections. Many spay-and-neuter clinics are low-cost and anesthesia in veterinary medicine now is on par with human medicine. If you’re still not convinced that spaying or neutering your pet can lead to a happier, healthier, longer life, consider these benefits:
- Spaying your female pet drastically slashes her risk of mammary cancer, which is fatal in about 50% of dogs and 90% of cats.
- Neutering your male pet eliminates his risk of testicular cancer.
- Spaying and neutering limits pet overpopulation.
- Spaying your female pet prevents heat cycles and eliminates yowling, crying, erratic behavior, and bloody vaginal discharge.
- Neutering your male pet reduces inappropriate behaviors, such as roaming to find a mate, marking inside your home, and fighting with other males.
- Spaying and neutering is more cost-effective than skipping the surgery. A uterine infection that requires emergency surgery to save your female pet’s life easily can cost several thousand dollars, while a simple tomcat neuter costs much less than products needed to eliminate urine odors after your home has been well-marked by your territorial male cat.
- Keep the dog in a safe place when you are not home or are asleep. A crate just large enough that he can lie down and stand fully erect is usually ideal for this. A small room with a baby gate rather than a closed door will also work, provided this is a safe place where the particular dog will not use the bathroom. You are trying to help the dog develop control.
- When you can watch the pup, keep the pup always in the same room with you. If you see a pup start to have an accident, say “No, outside” at the very same time you scoop up the puppy and run outside. For a dog you cannot carry, use a leash. No punishment, EVER. That doesn’t work for housetraining and can cause nasty complications.
- When you are outside in the right place for pup to relieve, use a cue phrase, such as “Go Potty.” This is only used at the time and the place where you want the pup to do it now. Never say it before you take the puppy outside. While you’re still in the house, only use the word “Outside.”
- When pup relieves outside, praise sincerely. If pup likes a treat, you might have some hidden on your person, and whip one out to give at that moment. If pup likes to play outside, allow a little playtime after pup relieves. If your puppy wants to get right back inside, reward the pup by going right back inside.
- Every time a pup has an accident in the house, it confuses the puppy. Therefore, you need to supervise or confine your pup 100% of the time. If necessary to keep you watching the puppy, sometimes you can fasten yourself to the puppy with a leash at your waist.
- If you find an accident the puppy has had in the house that you did not see happen, that is more your mistake than the puppy’s! Whatever you do, never punish your dog for this.
- Before using any other cleaning agents, treat the spot deeply and thoroughly with a bacterial enzyme odor eliminator product such as Nature’s Miracle (available at pet stores). Nothing else has been proven to really work on getting rid of the scent. If you don’t get rid of the scent, it will draw the dog’s instincts to use the spot again. Other cleaning products used before the bacterial enzyme product can cause it to be unable to work. They can literally kill the little bacteria before they have a chance to deal with the odor.
- Make sure your puppy is on top-quality dog food, and is free of intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, coccidia, and giardia. Any of these things can sabotage house training efforts. If the puppy ever seems to be urinating abnormally often, take the puppy to the veterinarian for a physical exam.
- Schedule food and water. Give water whenever you can, but not in the crate, and not right before the dog is going to have to wait in the crate for some time. Modify this, of course, if the vet recommends it for your puppy or your situation. Feed at least twice a day, the best dog food you can get (cheap dog foods cause house training problems, as well as many other problems), and keep the food to a careful schedule. Scheduled food going IN leads to scheduled poop coming OUT, and that is very important for housetraining. You can always ask your Veterinarian for food recommendations.
- When you are at home and awake, take the pup outside about once per hour. As time goes by, you will be able to tell just how often your dog needs to go. During housetraining, you must go outside with the puppy, not just put your puppy outside. That way you are there to praise, and you also know when the puppy relieved and when the puppy did not relieve.
- Puppies generally are not mature enough for bladder and bowel control until at least 16 weeks of age.
- With a small dog, you also have the problem that the dog sees the house as very large. Relieving off in a corner of a quiet room can seem to the small dog’s instincts to be far enough away from the pack. A larger dog will more naturally prefer to go outside. That’s one reason this process can take longer with small dogs. Small male dogs may be stimulated by instincts to mark territory in your house, while larger male dogs would rather mark a larger territory, outside the house. It can be helpful to expand your small dog’s freedom in the house more slowly. Remember, any mistakes that you do not see and correct by taking the dog outside right then will confuse your dog and make housetraining take longer.
- One thing that frequently confuses people is that the dog can hold it for 8 hours during the night or when they are away at work. That makes them think 8 hours is reasonable to ask of the dog at other times, too. However, during sleep, the body quiets the bladder and bowels to allow this longer period. When you’re gone, the dog likely sleeps a lot, too, since dogs sleep about 14 hours a day. When the body has had to hold it like this, then it must cash out. That makes going out every hour even more important. Take your puppy out at least twice in the morning before you leave for work, too.
- Most every dog can be housetrained, if you do it right. However, some take longer than others. If you are minimizing the accidents by providing the proper supervision, and if you are treating any accident spots correctly, having a dog who takes longer to housetrain will not result in you having a smelly house or ruined carpet.
DESTRUCTIVENESS IN PUPPIES
Young dogs begin to explore their surroundings as soon as their eyes open. Mouthing, chewing, and biting objects are part of this exploration. However normal this behavior is, it is generally unacceptable. It can result in injury to your pet and damage valuable household items.
- To be effective, punishment must be timed correctly and must be appropriate. There is no sense in punishing a puppy hours or days after it has chewed up a valuable item. Unless your pet is caught “in the act” or only seconds after it has chewed an inappropriate item, punishment will accomplish little. Your pet cannot make a logical connection between your reprimand and its chewing behavior unless punishment is given during or immediately after chewing.
- If you return home to find that your pet has damaged something, accept it and ignore your pet until you have cleaned up the mess. Yelling and hitting them with a rolled-up newspaper is not only harsh and unkind, but ineffective.
- Punishment should serve to startle your pet, distracting it from its current objectionable pursuit long enough for it to detect your displeasure. Substitute the objectionable activity (chewing) immediately with an acceptable activity. If your puppy is chewing on your slippers, for example, say “no” in a firm tone and gently remove the slipper (without playing tug of war). Follow this immediately with an acceptable toy or rawhide bone and immediate praise (“good dog”).
- Do not give your puppy any article of clothing as a chew toy. This teaches the exact lesson you want to avoid, namely that your clothing or other household items are appropriate and attractive toys.
Most pets quickly discover they will be rewarded with your attention when they misbehave. A dog lying quietly in a corner is frequently ignored, but you become upset when it chews on your expensive new shoes. The dog may overlook the fact that you are unhappy about its behavior and focus on the discovery of how effectively it attracted your attention. A dog that does not have enough positive interaction with its owner may resort to objectionable, attention-seeking behavior.
Young pets learn to distinguish acceptable and unacceptable behavior. If your dog has discovered how to get your attention by behaving destructively, consider how to undo the undesirable pattern you have helped create. If your dog has learned that you will chase it when it has grabbed your glove, for example, do not chase the dog the next time it tries this. Your dog will not care whether you are laughing or shouting angrily, as long as you engage in the game. Instead, ignore the dog, as difficult as this may be. Do not make eye contact, move toward, or look at your pet. Avoid giving any type of attention. If you must, leave the room.
This response will be unexpected and completely contrary to what your pet desires. The dog may even abandon the object and come in search of you (if so, give the dog abundant praise). Be sure to promptly begin another activity, such as a walk, or provide an appropriate object to chew on.
Digging is used to uncover prey in underground burrows and is useful to bury food, which is later retrieved and consumed. Dogs also dig to create a cavity in the snow or earth for shelter from the wind and to conserve body heat. In warmer weather, an excavation may keep the dog cool. Some dogs dig before urination or defecation. Dominant adult dogs kick up soil with the hind legs, perhaps to disperse their scent and increase territorial marking. Glands in the footpads mark the soil with scent during digging.
Even indoors, many dogs appear to dig in preparing a place to rest. This form of digging behavior is not usually destructive, though over time your carpet may be worn down.
Ideally, your dog should not be left unsupervised in your yard, regardless of any misbehavior. Your dog will be less likely to expend energy digging if walked at regular intervals every day and has a variety of appropriate physical activities to pursue. Have daily play sessions that apply obedience skills, such as retrieving objects.
DESTRUCTIVENESS ASSOCIATED WITH SEPARATION ANXIETY
Dogs bond emotionally to their human caretakers and can experience emotional distress at any age. When separated from you or other family members, separation anxiety may take several forms.
Separation anxiety may be seen as whimpering, barking, howling, chewing, scratching, and inappropriate elimination (urine or stool). It may also be expressed as depression (loss of appetite, social withdrawal, decreased overall activity) or self-mutilation (over grooming).
Anxiety may result when an individual experiences social isolation or even temporary separation from others. This anxiety can become particularly intense when the pet anticipates periods of separation.
Dogs are quick to learn when their owners are about to leave the house. Emotional tension builds before your departure. Peak anxiety, expressed as whimpering, barking, or howling, likely occurs within the first minutes after your departure. During extended periods of separation, the pet may engage in more passive displays of anxiety, such as depression, withdrawal, or self-mutilation.
PROPER PLAY WITH YOUR PUPPY
PLAY BEHAVIOR IN PUPPIES
Puppies begin to play as soon as they can walk. Littermates commonly wrestle and chase each other, pulling on ears and tails. Through play with littermates, pups learn just how strong they are or how to turn circumstances to their advantage.
By the time it is weaned, each pup has formed an impression of its own abilities and social standing within the ranks of littermates. This forms the basis for adult behavior, such as achievement of dominance in relation to people and other dogs.
Play allows a young animal to practice important life skills without adult consequences. Running, jumping, hiding, and other playful antics could be invaluable later when hunting for food or escaping an enemy. Play is one of the best ways to teach desirable behavior to a pet by setting standards for a lifetime. By tolerating subtle or not-so-subtle dominant behavior even in young puppies, for example, you may encourage inappropriate social patterns.
UNDESIRABLE FORMS OF PLAY
Wild and uncontrolled forms of play frequently lead to undesirable behavior in juvenile and adult dogs. Games that encourage chasing and jumping on people promote aggressiveness. Don’t encourage your dog to mouth, chew, nip, or nibble any article of clothing or part of a person’s body, even if it’s behaving playfully. Avoid games that arouse your dog’s aggressive instincts, such as wrestling or tug of war with any object.
Forms of play that do not focus a dog’s attention on you or reinforce your authority may lead to misdirection of the animal’s energies. The results of a dog’s unrestricted activity are often undesirable skills.
OBEDIENCE TRAINING DURING APPROPRIATE PLAY
Ideally, a pet should behave in a calm and controlled manner. The ideal dog should obey you and behave gently toward people under normal circumstances.
Play should incorporate obedience training to provide an opportunity for constructive interaction with a practical purpose. As compared with wild play, controlled play is often more enjoyable for both you and your dog and tends to inspire more frequent play sessions.
Use food treats if you believe this will keep your pet’s attention and give additional incentive to obey. Food treats should not become habitual, however, or they can actually work against you. Your dog might not pay attention without them or could become finicky and work for only particular treats from one session to the next. Your dog will enjoy obeying your command to “sit” if this will earn it the right to chase after a ball. Call your dog to “come” as it retrieves the ball and to “sit” again when it returns. Say, “drop it” as it gives the ball to you. This is a chance to practice obedience skills and provides the dog additional opportunities to earn your praise.
Agility training teaches dogs to go up inclines and over jumps. You can build your own obstacle course in your backyard and use it to apply obedience skills for great fun with your dog. Many dog clubs offer agility training at their facilities. This has the added benefit of exposing your dog to others for additional socialization.
CHOOSING A KENNEL FOR YOUR DOG
REASONS TO PURCHASE A KENNEL
House training: It is a dog’s natural inclination toward dens that makes kennels so useful to house train puppies. Since puppies will not normally soil an appropriately sized “den,” kennels are extremely effective for helping puppies gain control over their bladders. They help reduce the number of accidents you will have to clean up and cut in half the time it takes to teach puppies where they are supposed to relieve themselves. When it comes to house training a new puppy, there is nothing that makes the training go faster or easier than a puppy kennel. Placed in a kennel that is just the size they need to lay down and no more, house training is often completed in 10 – 14 days.
Protecting the puppy and your house: Kennels are useful during the puppy period to protect your home from the mad dashes that knock over the plants and furniture, chewing teeth, and generally uncontrollable behavior. Kennels can keep puppies from forming bad habits when they are not under a watchful eye. As an adult, the kennel will be just as useful. If puppies are introduced to a kennel correctly, they will not resent them, and most will consider them their private hideaway spot.
Traveling: Traveling with pets, be they puppies or adults, is safer and easier when you use a kennel to control them. We once had a car come through the wall of our clinic when a dog got down by a driver’s feet and prevented them from applying the brakes.
Plastic and wire kennels are both very good products for dogs and cats. Today’s wire kennels offer convenience and versatility features that usually make them a better choice for most pet owners.
ADVANTAGES OF WIRE KENNEL
- Many wire kennels are collapsible, fold and carry styles, making them easier to store and transport.
- Wire kennels can be sized to your growing dog with removable divider panels that expand living space.
- Wire kennels are easier to clean – particularly kennels with the new, seamless-style polyethylene floor pans.
- Wire kennels offer better ventilation.
- Wire kennels provide more and better visibility for your pet.
ADVANTAGES OF PLASTIC KENNELS
There are, however, instances when plastic kennels are a sensible choice. If you plan on traveling with your pet by plane, plastic kennels are required by law. Also, some owners feel plastic kennels provide a greater sense of security and privacy for their pets. This quiet den-like refuge is good for high activity level households, particularly those with young children. However, a blanket or cage cover placed over a metal wire kennel can provide the same result.
Especially if you are using the kennel to housetrain your puppy, do not make the common mistake of buying one that is too large for your puppy. If it is too spacious, your puppy will eliminate in a ‘remote’ corner. Buy a puppy kennel you will only use for training, or buy one that you can use throughout your dog’s life and add divider panels when the dog is smaller to reduce the area to the appropriate size.
The right size kennel is one in which your pet can lie down, turn around, and have three to four inches of extra head space when sitting or standing. While the right-sized kennel may seem too confining or too small to you, it is not for your dog.
As mentioned above, the divider panels can be used in wire kennels to adjust their size. If you decide on a plastic kennel, understand that you may need to purchase a bigger one later as your puppy grows, since it must be sized to the puppy to ensure successful training.
If you feel uneasy about kenneling your dog, we strongly encourage you to talk to your veterinarian, professional trainers, or other pet owners who have used kennels. Anyone who knows dogs will know the value of kennels.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT VACCINATION
WHAT ARE VACCINES?
Vaccines are biologic products that provoke an immune response to certain diseases. They allow your pet to fight future challenges with viral, bacterial, and sometimes, protozoal agents. Some vaccines protect against infection, whereas others lessen the signs of infection and reduce the course.
IS IT IMPORTANT TO VACCINATE?
Yes! Vaccines play an integral role in both the individual and “herd” (i.e., societal) health. Vaccines have greatly decreased the incidence of many serious animal diseases, but these agents are still present and can cause severe illness and even death.
DOES VACCINATION ENSURE PROTECTION?
For most animals, most of the time, the answer is yes. However, no vaccine is 100% efficacious and there are instances of breaks in protection. These instances are rare if the recommended protocols are followed.
IS VACCINATION SAFE?
Most animals have no side effects from vaccination. Occasionally, acute allergic reactions can occur that can be life threatening and require immediate veterinary care.It makes sense to vaccinate appropriately without vaccinating too often or for diseases for which your pet is not at risk.
Guidelines for Getting Vaccines for my dog
- Get a rabies vaccine for your dog—it’s the law. Rabies is a fatal—and preventable—disease that can be spread to humans by contact with saliva, so it’s mandatory in all fifty US states. Your veterinarian is bound by law to give your dog a rabies vaccine to protect you as well as your pet; if an unvaccinated dog is scratched or bitten by a wild animal, it can lead to your pet being quarantined or euthanized. Learn the specifics about the rabies laws in your state at rabiesaware.org.
- All dogs must have certain vaccines. Some vaccines, like rabies, distemper, and parvo vaccines, are required for all dogs to protect against dangerous infectious diseases.
- Other vaccines are just as essential for your dog, based on lifestyle and other factors. Your veterinarian will ask you questions about your dog’s lifestyle, environment, and travel to help tailor the perfect vaccination plan for him. AAHA’s Lifestyle-Based Vaccine Calculator uses factors such as whether your dog visits dog parks, groomers, competes in dog shows, swims in freshwater lakes, or goes to boarding to help you and your veterinarian develop your dog’s individualized vaccination plan.
- The leptospirosis vaccine should be considered for all dogs. Because of the increasing prevalence of leptospirosis across the United States, all dogs who spend any time outdoors are likely to be at risk of leptospirosis.
- Vaccines required for ALL dogs:
- Combination vaccine:
- +/- Parainfluenza
- Vaccines required for SOME dogs, based on risk factors
- Bordetella bronchiseptica
- +/- Parainfluenza
- Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
- Canine influenza (H3N8 and H3N2)
- Crotalus atrox (Western Diamondback Rattlesnake)
- Bordetella bronchiseptica
- Vaccines required for ALL dogs:
- Some vaccines only need boosters every three years. For example, the distemper vaccine, a combination of distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus vaccines that protects against very serious diseases, can be given every three years after a dog has completed his initial series of vaccinations.
- Protect at-risk dogs annually from certain diseases. If your veterinarian believes your dog is at risk for Lyme disease, leptospirosis, influenza and/or Bordetella (kennel cough), you’ll want to vaccinate him every year instead of every three years because of the differences in how a dog’s immune system responds to these specific germs.
- Serious vaccine reactions are rare. The risk of contracting a dangerous disease by not vaccinating a dog outweighs the potential for vaccination side effects. Seek veterinary attention if your dog begins vomiting and scratching, develops bumps (hives), facial swelling, or has difficulty breathing within a few hours of being vaccinated. Long-term side effects, like behavioral changes, immune-mediated diseases, and other complex conditions, have not been formally linked to vaccinations.
- Don’t administer vaccines to your dog by yourself! While vaccines are available through sources other than your veterinarian, they may not protect your pet against disease unless they are properly stored, handled, and administered. Your veterinary team is trained to do this correctly. In many states and provinces, it is against the law for anyone other than a licensed veterinarian to give a rabies vaccine.
- Communicate any concerns to your veterinarian. You and your veterinary team have the same goal: to provide the best possible care for your dog. Make sure your veterinarian is aware of any concerns or questions you have. Your veterinarian will offer recommendations based on their knowledge of your dog’s specific circumstances and veterinary medicine..
PUPPY CHEWING BEHAVIOR
By T.M. Kollasch, DVM
We have all seen it. A new puppy is introduced to a home and promptly goes about chewing and gnawing on anything and everything it can fit its mouth around, including people’s hands and fingers. As an owner of a new puppy, it is important to realize that chewing is normal puppy behavior. Besides teething, puppies will use chewing as a means of exploring their environment. Therefore, it is necessary that acceptable outlets for this behavior be provided. As you have likely already noticed, puppies will chew on virtually anything; including household objects as well as owners’ hands and clothing. Redirecting this behavior is more effective than just discipline alone. The puppy should be provided with many permissible chew options. When the puppy begins to chew on an unacceptable object, the puppy should be told “no” in a stern voice and given an acceptable item to chew instead. Acceptable chew items include “Kong” toys stuffed with food, rope toys enhanced with cooking spray and garlic salt and other chew toys that have been made attractive with food. Under no circumstances should any puppy be given bones on which to chew. All too commonly, puppies will ingest these, leading to stomach upset or worse, intestinal obstruction or perforation. It is recommended that a supply of many chew toys be available. When the puppy becomes bored with one toy, it can be replaced with another. By the time the puppy is given the initial toy again, it has become a novel proposition. A common mistake many owners make is to provide the puppy with old clothing, such as an old shoe, as an alternative chew toy. However, the puppy cannot discern between the old shoes it was given and brand new ones just bought by the owner. This oftentimes leads to the outcome of new clothing being destroyed. For this reason, old clothing is an unacceptable chewing alternative.
Some puppies will persistently mouth and chew on the owner’s body parts and clothing. For many owners, this chewing is difficult to stop. This is because of the normalcy of this behavior during canine development. Puppies are trying to get feedback about the environment and their behavior through chewing. As you may have already noticed, puppies chew on each other constantly during play. One lesson learned during play is how much pressure from the jaws is needed to cause pain. When puppy “A” chews on puppy “B” and bites too hard, puppy “B” will yelp. Puppy “A” usually stops and has then learned that his behavior causes pain. When puppies chew on people, often no feedback is given. However, the same principle described above can be applied by the owner. When a puppy chews on the owner, the owner should loudly yell “ouch” so that the puppy realizes that it must inhibit its jaws in order not to hurt others. Through this type of feedback, puppies learn “bite inhibition.” Bite inhibition is an important component in bite and injury prevention.
Through hard work and diligence on your part, this frustrating behavior can be eliminated. Use of the above techniques is generally very successful in addressing this very common problem.
SOCIALIZING DOGS TO PEOPLE
Ideally every puppy would receive a good foundation of experiences for the ability to cope with all kinds of people as an adult dog. Even if the genetics for temperament in your pup are not the best, or your pup has a bad experience when young, a good foundation of social experiences will give the best chance for a dog to have good social skills. If your puppy comes from two temperamentally-sound parents and is lucky enough to avoid any traumatic experiences with humans during formative months, you might never see problems from lack of good early socialization.
Bad experiences unfortunately happen without anyone being able to foresee or prevent them. What you can do, though, is give your dog plenty of positive experiences. That way when your dog has had a bad experience with, for example, a man with a beard, several previous GOOD experiences with bearded men will have already taught your dog that a bearded man is not a bad guy.
QUALITY AND QUANTITY
Having lots of experiences with humans will not help your dog if those experiences are of poor quality. When “quantity” means a number of bad experiences, quantity is not a good thing. Your goal is to build in your dog a belief system that most encounters with humans will be safe. Your dog learns from bad experiences, and those experiences need to illustrate the message you wish to teach the dog.
A dog that has high-quality positive experiences with humans may still not be adequately socialized if there are not enough experiences. Let’s say you have your dog Joe out for a walk and a passing man frightens him. Perhaps the man crashes into Joe, drops something on him, or steps on his tail. Maybe it’s accidental, maybe the man is under the influence of some substance, but either way, Joe has a bad experience.
If when this happens and he has previously encountered 50 men on outings, 40 of whom ignored him and 10 who gave him treats, what is Joe’s opinion of men likely to be? “Gee, men are usually okay, but that guy was strange!” Give Joe several good experiences with men soon after this experience and he’ll likely put it into the perspective of many good experiences and decide not to worry too much about men he meets.
If Joe has inherited a difficult temperament, he may require more good experiences and more time to offset his bad experience. The same is true if Joe has not had a large number of good experiences before this unfortunate one.
It’s even possible that Joe will never be able to handle exposure to men, or to whatever type of person he decides to worry about. All dogs are not equal when it comes to the socialization they need and how they will be able to handle the world, with or without good experiences. All you can do is your best.
Bear in mind, too, that some breeds were selectively bred to have temperaments you might find difficult in a companion dog. Be sure to research breeds ahead of adopting a dog to find one likely to fit your lifestyle.
To establish the good social experiences with humans that your dog needs, plan contacts with people. Dogs don’t tend to catch infections from humans, so there may be places you can take your puppy to meet humans before the veterinarian wants the pup around other dogs.
Keep outings short so the puppy won’t get tired, and when in doubt, carry the pup to avoid exposure to contaminated ground. Try to do a little every day. The time can increase as the puppy matures and has more stamina and a stronger immune system. Try to remain aware of the dog’s stress level at all times. Your goal is for every experience to end happily.
Don’t let the habit of jumping on people get started because changing this habit later can put your dog’s good attitude toward people at risk. It’s also much easier to prevent than to fix. Don’t let anyone pet the puppy or dog that is standing on hind legs. You may gently hold the dog in four-on-the-floor position (a chest harness in addition to the collar gives you a secure handhold that doesn’t pull against the dog’s throat), wait until the dog quits trying to jump, or even stand on the leash so it doesn’t give the dog room to jump. Don’t try standing on the leash of a big dog, though, or you can get pulled over!
If you happen to have the not-uncommon combination of a shy dog who also jumps on people, you can teach the dog to do paws up to your forearm, and hold the dog there for people to pet. The dog is under control, so it can be reasonable while you work on training skills and social skills with a nervous young dog.
Another way to handle the jumping-up dog is to teach the dog to sit for petting and a treat, and this is a lovely behavior. If you start the non-jumping greetings early enough in a dog’s life, it becomes such a habit that the dog is trustworthy even when highly excited and when around frail people. This is a goal well worth the effort, no matter what the dog’s age.
Being able to take some initiative in greeting people gives confidence to many dogs, which is one reason they jump up. Once you’ve taught your dog not to jump up, it’s helpful to teach the dog a cue phrase for greeting people, such as “Say, hi.” You can add a signal to this, pointing to the person you mean.
When the dog makes the approach, the dog will tend to feel more comfortable. The same is true when a dog offers a paw to shake hands. Dogs love structure, knowing what is going to happen next, and shaking hands can satisfy this desire.
An eye-contact-of-focused-attention exercise is a good way to handle your dog around people the dog might find stressful. When in doubt, start with having the dog focus on you, and then release the dog’s attention for brief moments at a time to see how the dog reacts to the person.
If the dog reacts badly to someone, increase your distance from the person and continue to work with the dog’s attention on you. In the early stages of focused attention it’s usually best to use treats to keep the dog’s eyes on yours. This has the added advantage of giving you a reading on the dog’s stress level. If the dog normally will eat a particular treat, but will not eat it in that situation, that’s reason to think the situation may be too stressful.
Don’t let people corner your dog. A dog on a leash may feel cornered even with a lot of space around because the dog can’t get away. If someone is pushy about petting your dog and won’t listen to your instructions, walk on, keeping your dog’s focus on you. Yes, it’s a bit snobbish, but it’s good for the dog. It tells your dog that you will deal with the humans, and that you are a leader worthy of following.
Acting out aggression or fear tends to fix both the behavior habit and the feeling more strongly. If your dog reacts in this manner to a situation, you need to stop putting the dog in the situation. Change the situation to one the dog can handle and gradually work up to the level at which your dog needs to be able to cope.
For example, let’s say your dog is afraid of men encountered on walks. You need to take your dog out to eliminate, so you’ll need to work the dog around men. How can you approach this training?
First, if the dog is aggressive toward men, get the help of an expert, in person, to work on the problem. Aggression is not a do-it-yourself project. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a behavior specialist in your area. Aggression and shyness are two sides of the same coin, so be alert for a fearful dog to show signs of aggression. If that happens, don’t delay getting help.
In the case of a dog showing mild fear without aggression, it helps to “sideswipe” people not by hitting them as you go by! But instead of walking up to someone and stopping and putting your dog in the position of having to deal with them, just walk by the person, keeping your dog’s eyes on your eyes. At first the distance between your dog and the person is fairly large – whatever it takes for the dog to feel relaxed, maybe 20 feet. The dog may also feel relaxed when your body is between the dog and the other person.
If the person is willing to help, you can walk by several times, getting closer. For the first session, that may be all you do. You might do just that for several sessions.
Dogs notice all sorts of differences in people. With good socialization, dogs learn to ignore the differences that are not important, such as beards, hats, skin color, and the like. If you react in such a way that your dog thinks there is reason to fear that type of person, though, you can inadvertently create fear, suspicion or defensiveness in your dog toward other people. That becomes inconvenient, and sometimes downright dangerous. So strive to treat people the same no matter what their differences when you are socializing your dog!
In socializing your dog, you want to create positive experiences with every variation on the human condition you possibly can. Here are some differences to use.
- Acustom your dog to people of as many different appearances as possible. This includes people who are tall, short, narrow, wide, bearded, short-haired, long-haired, and with skin all the colors of the rainbow. Whatever differences you and your dog come across, your goal is to teach the dog that these things are not important.
- Get your dog used to people who smell different ways. Being in my 20th year as a therapy dog handler, I’ve come to believe that dogs are not as put off by scents as people are. If you don’t like the way someone smells, you may notice it makes no difference to your dog. What you don’t want to do is react in such a way that your dog will be afraid of that scent.
- Let your dog get used to people moving in all sorts of ways. That means walking, running, limping, riding a bicycle, skating, skipping, and anything else you can think of or find. Keep in mind the dog’s comfort and safety so your dog will have good experiences with these movements, not bad ones.
- Acustom your dog to all sorts of sounds associated with people. That includes whispering, talking, laughing, coughing, singing, yelling, playing music electronically or with an instrument, and all the other variations you can arrange.
- Give your dog the experience of people appearing suddenly. This is startling to some dogs, so start at a distance and be prepared to distract the dog with an eye-contact exercise.
- Expose your dog to people wearing a wide variety of clothing.
- Get your dog used to people carrying all kinds of objects. A safe distance from a construction site is a convenient place to work on this.
- When you can actively work with your dog when someone comes to your home, this is a great opportunity to get your dog used to people in a potentially delicate situation. If you’re not able to actively control the dog, though, put the dog into an area away from being able to see the visitors. You don’t want any bad habits or beliefs to get started.
As the dog shows progress, you could make your passes closer, and slow down as you pass the person. Eventually you could stop near the person and keep your dog’s attention while perhaps talking to the person.
If the dog gets more comfortable, you might have the person just lightly scratch the dog with one hand reaching from the side behind one ear – not reaching over the head. You might also have the person give the dog a treat. Another possibility is to have the person drop a treat for the dog, if you’re willing to let your dog pick up food from the ground (that’s a training decision).
If your dog is not showing comfort with being petted by people, you could make the choice to just teach your dog to ignore everyone else when with you. This might seem extreme, but when you think about it, it’s not so different from what some humans have to do to endure constant closeness to people living in neighborhoods and apartments.
In tight quarters, people give each other some “space” by simply not engaging every time they pass. Some dogs need more space than others, and if you can’t give the dog physical space at that moment, you can create emotional space. With practice and teaching your dog that you can be trusted to keep things safe, this kind of space can work for many dogs.
CHILDREN AND PUPPIES
The combination of a preschool-age child and a puppy at a critical stage of socialization requires special handling. A typical result is a dog who is never good with kids because of things that happened during critical early weeks and months of the pup’s life.
If you have a young child and want to add a dog to the family, your best bet is a dog already positively socialized to young kids. If you have a young child and a puppy, be aware that a puppy may not show the effects of the child’s behavior until the pup is several months of age.
Be careful how any child is allowed to behave around any dog, and never leave a child under school age alone with a dog for even one second.
Good contact with dogs in the early years can have lifelong benefits for children, so it’s worth a lot of effort to provide this contact for your child and the children of your acquaintance. Just make sure there is enough skilled adult supervision in every encounter. The ideal is one skilled adult handling the dog while another handles the child.
What a sociable dog can do for humans is beyond scientific measurement and beyond words. It is worth a great deal of effort to socialize your dog well with humans. It’s also a lot of fun.
Dogs are the ultimate ice-breakers between people. Handling a dog skillfully around other people is challenging and fascinating. You’ll be rewarded by having your dog provide even more benefits in your life, as well as in the lives of other people.