Teaching Your Children to Care for Their New Dog

May 11, 2009

If you have a child, you’ve probably heard those familiar words,
“Can we keep him?” Dog’s aren’t just a man’s best friend anymore;
they’ve become the whole family’s friend. If you’re like any
typical family, the children will probably spend the most time with
your new dog. This is why it’s very important you teach your child
how to take care of him. Here are a few dog rules to teach them:

1. Make sure you remember to feed the dog and give him fresh water
each day. Explain that dogs, especially puppies, need nutrition
each day for energy and proper growth. If you have an outside dog,
it’s especially important that his water dish is changed everyday.
Standing water is a breeding place for mosquitoes. Also dirt can
get flung into their dish. It is equally important for small
children to be supervised when dealing with this type of
responsibility. Sometimes smaller children can be too eager to
help. Explain to your children why we don’t feed dog’s certain
foods such as sweets. Dog food is made to meet their dog’s
nutritional needs and sweets can make their dog sick.

2. Being N-I-C-E to your dog is another lesson to teach children.
Younger children, particularly under the age of four, have a
tendency to be rough with animals. Pulling tails and ears just
comes naturally with their curiosity. With a new dog, you may not
know his temperament very well or how he may react to your child’s
curiosity. Lead by example. Show your child how to be kind to
animals. Show them how to gently pet them on the head or back and
that hitting or pulling can hurt the dog.

3. Teach your child about the importance of exercise with the
family dog. In order for the dog to stay healthy he must move
around and play. If the dog is not overpowering, let your child
walk the dog with a leash. Another fun activity for exercise is
fetch. Let your child throw a ball or stick for the pet to chase.
This is lots of fun for both participants.

4. If you have a rambunctious puppy, make sure your child doesn’t
leave things lying around. Puppies love to chew on whatever they
can sink their teeth into. If they see your daughter’s favorite
dolly on the floor, or your son’s tennis shoe, the puppy will show
no reserve. They will usually dive right in. Tell your child that
your puppy is too young to understand, and that until he gets
older, be extra careful about leaving things lying around.

5. Keep bathroom doors shut. Dogs are notorious for drinking from
the toilet bowl. If you can help it, reduce the temptation for him,
by teaching your child to keep bathroom doors shut.

6. If you have an indoor dog then he’s got to have potty breaks
outside. Keep a schedule of bathroom breaks for your dog. This is
one of the not so fun parts of taking care of a new pet. Remind
your child that if the new dog doesn’t keep to the scheduled potty
breaks that he may find a place in the house. In training a new dog
to use the bathroom outside, the scheduled times must be strictly
kept.

7. Make a chart. If you child is having problems remembering to
feed the pet or take it out for breaks, it would be a great idea to
make a chart of things to do each day. Let your child mark a check
when the chore has been completed. The more he completes the chore,
the easier it will be to remember.

Children don’t always see the bigger picture of taking care of a
new dog, but with our guidance, they will no doubt become good
little pet owners. It’s a good idea to applaud your child when he
takes on responsibility and follows through with it. This will give
them confidence to mature and take on more responsibility as they
get older. Taking care of a pet is a big responsibility. Teach your
kids that just as they have to be taken care of by parents, their
pet has to be taken care of as well. Our pets depend on us
everyday.

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Field Trials for your Sporting Dog

March 26, 2009



For those of you who aren’t too familiar with the term “field
trials,” it is a sport in which the sporting dog competes under
hunting conditions. The dog can pick up the scent of a rabbit or
small animal and follow the trail until he’s found it. There are
also the bird trials where the animal retrieves a fallen bird.
During competition, the different breeds are divided into various
groups. The following groups are: Pointing Dog Trials, Retriever
Trials, Spaniel Trials, Beagle Trials & Hound Trials. The following
guidelines are an example of what is expected before entering your
sporting dog.

If a club is hosting a trial, they must advertise the trial with a
fitting advertisement which states the following information: date
of actual trial along with the place, location of drawing, time of
drawing, sponsoring stakes and lastly, the contact person’s name,
city and state.

The next condition for entering is the age of the dog. There are
two seasons. If you are interested in entering your puppy in the
current season’s Puppy Stakes competition (July 1-December 31,
2005, he must be whelped (born) on or subsequent to June 1, 2004.
The next half of the season is from (January1-June 30, 2006), the
dog must be whelped on January 1, 2005 or after this date.

Before entering your dog in a trial, make sure you have all
information on the dog being entered. It is very important that all
information is put on the entry form. It will consist of the dog’s
name, the breed of the dog, registration number, color, sex and
sire and dam’s names.

“Field trialer” is the name of the owner or handler of the sporting
dog. Field trials is an enjoyable sport for field trialers because
of the exercise as well as the excitement of seeing their dogs
follow a trail. Talking with other field trialers is another thrill
of competing.

If you are new to the sport or just getting started, it can be mind
boggling choosing just the right dog, especially if you don’t even
know how to get started. The first decision in choosing a sporting
dog is deciding which pedigree you want. When choosing a dog, if
possible, find out information about the sire and dam. What kind of
accomplishments have they achieved? What are their strengths and
weaknesses?

It’s a good idea to watch a particular breed in action to see if
that’s what you’re looking for in a sporting dog. Also talk to
other field trialers who are more experienced in this area. They
may be able to recommend a breeder. You can also read magazines or
books on the subject. Find out as much information as you can
before you choose your sporting dog.

Once you’ve chosen a puppy, look the puppy over from front to back.
Look for flaws in the structure of the puppy. Does he have unsteady
balance? Are his hind legs weak or stiff? Are the front legs bowed?
Serious flaws can prevent the dog from performing well out in the
field. The fields are not easy obstacles. There may be bushes the
dog may have to maneuver through and other obstructions in the way.
The dog must be healthy and strong in order to maneuver quickly.

Many field trialers will refer to the nose of the dog as being the
animal’s ability to find the scent and pursue. Each dog has its own
personality as to how he pursues the game. Some can be very
aggressive, while others are more cautious. Each dog may have its
own style which is what makes them so unique. One style is not
better than another. It is really up to the field trialer as to
what he likes better. The way the dog follows the scent is not the
most important aspect of the sport. The most important aspect is
that he finds the trail and stays on it until he finds the game.
How well does their nose perform. When they do lose the rabbit, how
far do they wonder off course? Do they try picking up the scent
again, once they lost it? These are questions to ask yourself about
your sporting dog.

Field trailing is an exciting sport, not only for the sporting dog,
but also for the field trialer. If this sport sounds interesting to
you, get involved with various clubs that support this type of
sport. Go out and give it a try.


Teaching your dog NOT to bark

November 3, 2008

Unwanted barking is one of the most common behavior problems in
dogs. It is normal for dogs to vocalize and bark from time to time
but many times this behavior escalates much to the frustration of
many dog owners. There are many causes of unwanted barking. First
you must determine why your dog is barking before you can begin a
program of retraining. You may need help from your animal
behaviorist
or veterinarian to do this.

One cause of unwanted barking is attention seeking barking. You may
have inadvertently reinforced this behavior if as a pup your dog
barked a lot and you gave him attention to try and stop the
behavior. As an older dog, he may be exhibiting this behavior
because he is left alone for long periods of time, does not have
appropriate stimulation or exercise, or is an active dog that needs
to have a job to be happy. If you suspect this is the cause of your
dog’s unwanted barking behavior, you can start to retrain him by
making sure first and foremost that he is getting enough exercise.
Make sure to take daily walks – this also allows him to explore the
world around him which is good mental exercise as well. If you have
a local dog park, take your dog there and let him socialize with
other dogs and people. Take an obedience class – this is good for
mental stimulation and will help you to better communicate with
your dog. Provide many interesting toys to keep your dog busy while
you are not around. Make sure to spend one on one time with your
dog on a daily basis and make it fun so that your dog learns that
he doesn’t need to bark to get your attention.

Another cause of excessive barking is as a response to something
that your dog is afraid of. Many dogs bark during thunderstorms or
around unfamiliar people. If your dog is barking as a response to
thunderstorms or other loud noises, provide him with a safe place
he can go in these situations such as a crate. Make his safe place
fun by providing good treats such as a Kong filled with peanut
butter to keep him occupied. Play a radio or the television at a
low level to help mask the noise. If your dog is barking at
unfamiliar people, help him get over this fear by enlisting the
help of your friends and neighbors. Have them walk by and approach
your dog. Have them ask him to sit, and when he does so without
barking, have them give him a treat. Pretty soon, your dog will
learn to associate unfamiliar people with treats and will learn new
positive behaviors. If your dog barks at people and noises that are
coming from outside the house, you may want to limit his access to
rooms with windows. This will help cut down on the unwanted barking
behavior.

If your dog is barking when you’re not home, it could be due to
separation anxiety. If your dog is especially attached to you or
has recently experienced a situation of change in his routine such
as divorce, a move, or a death in the family, this could be the
case. To remedy this kind of barking behavior, you will need to
start a course of desensitization. You can begin to do this by
taking very small trips such as just out to the mailbox and back,
while leaving fun toys and yummy treats for your dog. As your dog
learns to behave while you’re gone, slowly increase the length of
time you are gone. To check and see if your dog is barking when
you’re gone, you may need to use a tape recorder or enlist the help
of your neighbors. Separation anxiety often needs to be treated
with medication as well as desensitization. If you suspect your dog
is barking due to separation anxiety, please consult your
veterinarian or animal behaviorist.

Some people choose to treat their dog’s unwanted barking problems
with bark collars. The most humane bark collar available today is
the citronella collar. These bark collars work by spraying harmless
citronella in your dog’s face whenever he barks. Studies show a
very high rate of success with the use of these kinds of collars.
Using a citronella collar for a period of time can help to
reinforce more positive behaviors.

There are many training tips and tools available to help you
replace unwanted barking with more positive behaviors. If you need
more information, consult your veterinary staff or pet professional.


Hunting Dogs: Training equipment that is essential

September 22, 2008

 

Producing a “finished” hunting dog, one that will perform the tasks
of pointing out game or retrieving game, is not a simple matter. In
some cases, it can take several hunting seasons and specialized
training equipment to achieve the desired results.

It would be ludicrous to begin training a dog to perform hunting
skills without first teaching it basic obedience. Your dog must be
able to sit, stay, remain quite and come on demand before moving
into the more complex areas of the hunt. The success of the hunt,
as well as the safety of the dog and its handler, is directly
correlated to the dog’s performance and self control. For example,
an unruly dog that barks at incoming geese will not only spoil the
hunt, but will not be invited back again. Further, a dog that bolts
out of a blind too quickly can jeopardize a shot and even cause a
shooting accident. Control is most essential.

When the hunter is ready to begin training his dog for the hunt,
there is a variety of equipment that will prove valuable. Probably
the first and most essential item is a piece of 3/8-inch
polypropylene rope of about 30 feet in length. The rope allows the
handler to maintain control of his dog during exercises and
eliminates the chance of having to chase the dog and correct him
for straying.

Most dogs have a natural fear of loud noises, especially gunfire.
Therefore, the trainer will have to involve a training pistol or
firearm in his training program. A handgun is preferable; a shotgun
is too large and difficult to handle while holding the lead line
and juggling other training devices. When training the retriever,
training “bumpers” or dummies are utilized to teach the dog to
fetch. These aides come in various colors and sizes. White bumpers
are generally used for “marking” drills where the dog is being
taught to retrieve by sight and colored bumpers are used for
“running blinds” where the dog is sent blindly into an area to
retrieve a downed bird that fell out of sight.

The retriever should be trained to respond to the sound of a
whistle. The voice of the dog’s handler will not always be loud
enough or distinct enough to alert the dog to give up the search
and return to the handler’s side. Some of the more elaborate
whistles come with built-in megaphones that allow the sound to be
heard more easily and direct the blaring sound away from the
hunter(s). They are usually well worth the extra cost.

Some trainers will use a friend or “bird boys” who position
themselves some distance from the trainer and toss the bumpers high
into the air to simulate a falling bird. For those who train
without assistance, bird launchers are a big help. These launchers
come in single or multiple bird capacity; however, they are usually
bulky and can be expensive.

Electric dog training collars are effective but controversial.
These collars have a small electronic device attached that
administers a remote controlled mild electric shock to the dog. The
control is hand held by the trainer. These pieces of equipment
allow an immediate correction when the dog fails to respond to the
more conventional command. The level of shock involved has been
compared to the static shock one receives from a carpet or from
touching a car door handle in cold weather. Actually, the electric
collar could be considered a humane alternative to the aggressive
tactics or brute force used by some trainers.

One of the best ways to embark on training your hunting dog is
learn from the experts. Training tips and guidelines are now
available on tapes that show the student step by step training
procedures. These instructional tapes should be on every novice
trainer’s list of essential training equipment.

When you’re training your dog in the wilds you should be prepared
to care for him if he is injured. Therefore, the final thing on our
list of essentials is a First Aid Kit. Many of the items you’ll
need for your dog are also appropriate for use on humans, so the
kit can be mutually beneficial to both you and your dog. Fill the
kit with such items as: sterile bandages, topical solutions, tape,
scissors, tweezers, antibiotic ointments such as Neosporin,
ibuprofen (safe for both humans and canines) and possibly a
veterinarian prescribed anti-inflammatory such as Deramaxx or
Rimadly. A well stocked First Aid Kit has prevented many a pleasant
hunting trip from becoming a nightmare.


“Sit! Good Dog!” Teaching your dog new tricks

September 16, 2008

 

To teach “sit,” have a yummy treat in your fingers and place your
hand near your dog’s nose. Say, “sit,” and move the treat over your
dog’s head toward his tail. As he follows the treat, he should sit
naturally. When he successfully completes this behavior,
immediately give him the treat as well as verbal praise in an
excited voice, saying something such as “good dog!” When you are
first teaching this behavior, always give the food treat and the
verbal praise. When your dog seems to be associating the word sit
with this behavior, gradually wean him off the treats. You may want
to train your dog to a release command such as “okay!” so he knows
when he can discontinue each behavior. As with all training, you
should teach “sit” in short (10 minutes or less) sessions followed
by free play.

To teach “lie down,” first get your dog in the sitting position.
Hold a yummy treat in your fingers and place your hand near your
dog’s nose. Say, “lie down,” and bring the treat straight down to
the floor. As your dog follows the treat, he should naturally place
himself in the down position. As soon as he gets in the proper
position, reward him with the treat and verbal praise. If you are
using a release command such as “okay!” you can now use it to let
your dog know it is okay to stop lying down. As with all commands,
as he begins to associate the behavior with the verbal command,
begin to wean him from the food reward.

To teach “stay,” place your dog in either the sitting or down
position. Grab a yummy treat in one hand and ask your dog to stay
while placing your other hand with the palm open in front of his
nose. When your dogs stays for one or two seconds, give him the
treat and verbal praise, and use your release command. You will
want to gradually increase the length of the stay.

Once your dog has these building blocks firmly under his belt, you
can begin to teach him new and exciting tricks. One of the most
popular tricks to teach is “play dead.” To do this, ask your dog to
lie down. Teach him to roll on his back by holding a yummy treat in
your hand in front of his nose and moving it in a small circle
while giving the command “play dead.” As his nose follows the
treat, his body should follow until he is on his back. Reward him
with the treat and verbal praise. With practice, your dog will be
able to associate the command with the behavior and you can wean
him off the food reward.

Another popular trick is “shake.” To teach your dog to shake, first
get him into the sitting position. Have a treat ready and say,
“shake.” Gently grab right behind his paw and lift it into the
shake position. Give him the treat. You will need to repeat this
step several times until he learns that he will get the treat by
lifting his paw by himself. While he is learning “shake,” reward
even the smallest attempts at getting into position by himself with
food and praise. Eventually he will associate the command “shake”
and lifting his paw with positive rewards.

Another fun trick is “bow.” This is a very natural position for a
dog to be in. To teach this behavior, get your dog in the sitting
position. Have a treat in your fingers; hold it in front of his
nose and say, “bow.” Push the treat straight toward your dog’s
chest. As his nose is following the treat, he should naturally get
himself into the bow position. When he does, reward him with the
treat and verbal praise. As with all tricks, eventually wean him
from the treat.

Tricks are fun to teach your dog and it gives him mental
stimulation while enhancing the time you spend with him. There are
many books available on teaching new tricks to your dog and many
dog trainers offer tricks and games classes. Keep training sessions
short and fun, and always use positive reinforcement. In no time,
your dog will be entertaining your friends and family.


Your Child vs. Your Pet: How to Keep the Peace

August 25, 2008

 

How will my dog and my new baby get along? Will I have to get rid
of my loyal, furry companion in order to ensure the safety of my
child? These are the questions that plague many dog owners as they
anticipate the birth and homecoming of their first child. The good
news is that even though the process of introducing your dog to
your newest family addition is a careful and cautious one, it’s not
impossible. With some pre-planning on your part, you can train your
dog to get along with your child and can raise your child to
respect and love your dog as much as you do.

Getting Your Pet Used to a Baby

So, you’re expecting a baby. Congratulations! This is a time of
change, discovery and joy like no other. If you are a dog owner,
however, your happiness may be tempered by thoughts of your dog and
how your “fur baby” will react to all of these monumental changes.
Fear not! If you start preparing your dog for the baby’s arrival
well in advance of the baby’s due date, you should be able to
minimize any associated conflicts or problems.

If your dog currently has access to all rooms in the house, get him
used to not entering which ever room will serve as the nursery.
Keep that door closed so your dog will not consider it part of his
regular territory. Then, get the dog used to your being in the room
without him. Keep the nursery door closed while you’re assembling
baby furniture or decorating the room. This way, the dog will learn
that even though there is activity there, he is not a part of it.
Make sure, though, to pay a little extra attention to your dog once
you leave the nursery and return to his territory.

Has your dog been to obedience school? If not, now is a great time
for you both to go. Not only will it allow you to spend some
quality time together before the baby comes, it will give you the
tools necessary to control your dog’s behavior. It will also help
your dog get used to being in a room full of activity, other dogs
and (maybe) children. This aspect of obedience school is an
especially important one if your pre-baby household has been a
relatively quiet one.

Another way to get your dog used to some of the noises a baby
brings is to buy some tapes of babies crying. Start playing the
tapes at a very low volume until the dog seems not to notice the
sound anymore. Then, gradually increase the volume until it reaches
a realistic level (the process should take place over days and
weeks, not all in one day). When your baby cries at home, your dog
will be less startled.

When your baby finally comes home, keep the dog away from the
infant for the first few days. He should already be used to baby
noises, but get him used to the baby’s smell by putting one of the
baby’s blankets in his resting or sleeping area. When it’s time to
introduce your baby and dog to each other, keep the dog on a short
leash and reward him during the introductions. This will reinforce
the idea that the baby is a positive thing. Also, pay attention to
your dog while he and the baby are in the same room. This will help
your dog avoid seeing the baby as a threat or something that is
taking you away from him. No matter how well trained your dog is,
though, never leave the baby alone with him.

Take extra care as your child enters the crawling and walking
stage. Depending on the breed, your dog may be absolutely terrified
of this little crawling creature or he may view your child as prey.
Neither of these scenarios is permanent, though. Your dog just has
to get used to your baby moving itself around as opposed to being
carried around. Keep your dog next to you while the baby is
crawling or walking and reward him for being still (this is where
the obedience training comes in really handy!). Your dog will most
likely get used to your child’s new movements in no time at all.

Teaching Your Child How to Properly Interact with the Family Dog

As your child grows, it’s important to teach him or her how to
properly deal with and treat the family dog (or any dog, for that
matter). Teach your child from early on to “play nice” with the
dog. Teach him or her not to pull the dog’s fur, strike the dog or
startle the dog on purpose. Dogs are animals and their first
instincts, when faced with a threat, may lead them to bite or
growl.

Your child should also be taught not to chase a dog when it’s
running away from them or to bother it when it’s sleeping or
eating. Teaching your child that a dog is a living creature, not a
toy, will go a long way toward preventing some avoidable acts of
aggression.