Do you have a dog that is potty trained “most” of the time? Maybe it “hides” accidents sometimes? Thinking about rescuing an older dog? Or do you have a new puppy and you want to potty train them correctly from the start?
Let me tell you a story about a relative of mine. She loves her dog. She takes care of him the best way that she know how to care for him. She would never do anything to intentionally harm him. She has sort of potty trained him to go on pee pads sometimes. He has some accidents — a lot of accidents. Sometimes she says it is because his stomach is upset. Or “he hardly ever does that. I just don’t know what got into him.” I do! HE ISN’T POTTY TRAINED. She has never had a dog that was completely potty trained and she doesn’t really know how or why. You can’t train a dog if you don’t know how. If you have a dog that is not quite trustworthy or even a dog that is not trained at all, the process of getting them trained is the same:
Decide whether you want your dog to pee/poop inside the house or outside. If you want your dog to think it is okay to go potty inside the house, you can go ahead with pee pads. If you want your dog to go potty outside, DO NOT USE PEE PADS AT ALL. Pee pads teach a dog that it is okay to go potty indoors. Do not use pee pads as a drop cloth and hope you will figure out where the next mistake is going to occur. You can put down pee pads in every room and the dog will go somewhere else anyway. The dog I mentioned did just that. She had pee pads in every bedroom and the dog went poo SIX times in the dining room without letting anybody know that he even wanted out. It was normal poo. He was not sick. She cleaned it up and took him on a long walk. Then once they were home, he went in the dining room and did it again! Not once did he use a pee pad. I do not want my dog using any part of my house as a toilet so I will only include how to teach your dog how to go outside. This is not a judgement. It is your dog. You can teach it whichever way suits your lifestyle best. If you don’t mind having your dog poo and pee wherever and whenever he/she wants, then by all means, don’t bother potty training them. In the interest of full disclosure, I prefer dogs peeing and pooping outside so that is what I can share and help to teach. I have never taught a dog to go potty indoors. I feel that using pee pads some of the time is confusing to dogs if you want them to go potty outdoors most of the time. Don’t confuse your dog.
Tethering your dog to you will also speed up the process. You can easily tether your dog to you by fastening their leash to your waist or a belt loop. This is especially effective for dogs that seem to go unexpectedly or “right in front of you”. If your dog starts sniffing around, it is easier to notice if they are tethered to you. If your dog starts to sniff around, scoop it up and take it outside. If it starts to go potty, scoop it up and take it outside. Yes, this can be messy. Don’t wait for them to finish. Do not scold, yell, swat, or smack them. DO NOT RUB THEIR NOSE IN IT. NO ROLLED UP NEWSPAPER. Those old methods that our parents used have been proven to not be the most effective. You will end up with a dog that is frightened to go potty around you and they will be more likely to hide going potty under tables or they won’t want to go potty while with you on a walk. Don’t shame your dog. This is not their fault. It is your responsibility to train your dog to know how to behave. If you don’t know how, here is some help. Here is an article from UC Davis that talks about the negative effects of punishment on dogs and why positive methods yield better results.
Clean up accidents with a good enzyme cleaner like Nature’s Miracle that removes the scent completely. Masking the scent is not enough. Do not make a big fuss when you are cleaning it up. Try to clean it up when the dog is not looking if possible. Ammonia based cleaners will attract more accidents. Vinegar is often recommended but I have had mixed results with using vinegar. Use a good enzyme cleaner for best results. Nature’s Miracle is a favorite of pet sitters and it is easy to find.
Take your dog out frequently (every couple of hours at first) and take them where you want them to go potty. Praise them and give them treats when they go. Walk them long enough. Many people do everything right except they shorten the duration of the walks. Huge mistake. An extra 5 or 10 minutes can make all the difference.
If you are going to just let your dog out in the backyard, will have to watch them carefully to make sure that they have gone potty and not just played around in the yard. I like to take mine out on a leash to the potty area first. I unleash them for play after I know they have gone potty when I am training them to go potty outside. That way I know that they have done their business.
If your dog is trying to get your attention, do not assume that they want to play or are just restless. They may be trying to let you know that they need to use the toilet. I have made this mistake with my own dog. She often seems overly friendly when she has to go potty.
If you want your dog to let you know that they need to go potty in a more obvious way, you can teach them toring a bell to go out.
Be consistent and patient. Your dog’s success will be directly related to your willingness to be consistent.
Don’t make excuses and live in denial. Either your dog is potty trained or they aren’t. If a dog is sick and can’t hold it, that is something that needs to be addressed. UTIs, parasites and upset stomachs happen. Always rule out medical conditions first.
If you have a puppy and are starting from scratch, this is not going to take very long. I have potty trained puppies in a few days. Older dogs that have been allowed to have accidents, have used pee pads, or have not been trained will take longer because they will have bad habits to overcome. The longer you wait and the more you let it slide, the longer it will take for your dog to learn the correct way to go potty. As long as the dog is healthy and has no medical or psychological conditions that cause incontinence, they can and will learn. They are not bad dogs. They just need proper effective training. Eddy, I am talking to you!!
Getting a young active dog to stop pulling on walks can be challenging. Some dogs “get it” right away. I have never had one of those dogs though. I tend to like active breeds so I have had some major “pullers”. The most important thing that causes this is also the simplest.
Consistency is more important than the technique that you use to curb pulling. If you let your dog pull for the first 5–10 minutes of a walk to “let them burn off some steam first”, you are telling the dog that it is okay to pull some of the time. Since they want to pull naturally, they will be confused and constantly test you to see if this is one of those times that pulling is okay.
I have been guilty of this myself. Sometimes, I want to get to the car with my dog and not have to stop 50 times on the way to the car because my dog is pulling. I frequently take her to work with me and the car is about 5 minutes from the house. Sometimes if she is pulling, it can take 10 minutes. I don’t want to wait. I get impatient. Sometimes I am just tired and don’t feel like “training”. I just want to go for a nice walk. I got Betty to be my running partner and all the pulling was really frustrating in the beginning. After having her for a year, she was still pulling. I had to evaluate what I was doing to allow this to continue for so long. She is a very smart dog, so I know it isn’t because she can’t learn. I realized that I was not being 100% consistent. I let her pull sometimes. I didn’t stop EVERY time she pulled. I didn’t turn around EVERY time. I did it most of the time. It wasn’t good enough. There are a few different things that you can do to help teach a dog to stop pulling and walk on a loose leash. If you don’t do them every minute that you are walking your dog, your dog is not going to completely stop pulling. At least none of mine every did.
Here are some ways to help train your dog to stop pulling on a leash:
When they pull, stop walking. Do not start walking again until there is slack on the leash.
Turn around each and every time that your dog pulls. Yes, you will look crazy. Your dog will figure out that the only way to get going again is to pay attention to you.
Get a no-pull harness like a gentle leader or a halti front-clip harness. It makes a huge difference in training. You can’t substitute a harness for training. It will definitely speed up the process though.
Take regular daily walks. If you live in a house and are just letting your dog run around and go potty in the backyard, the pulling during walks is going to take a lot longer to remedy. Most dogs enjoy a couple of good walks per day or more. The more often you walk, the more practice you will get and your dog will learn faster. If your walk sporadically, it is going to take a lot longer.
Be patient and consistent — really consistent.
Once I got consistent, making to sure to not miss any walks, and required good manners the entire time, my dog got a lot better. It is amazing the results we can get when we examine what we, the owners, are doing.
Nikki was a Labrador Retriever puppy that was brought home by my ex-husband one day while we were still married. She was about 8 weeks old and super cute. He brought her home as a surprise. I love dogs and we didn’t have a dog because we both had agreed that we moved too much because of his job. A co-worker had told him that if he didn’t find a home for her that day that he would hit her in the head with a shovel and bury her in the woods. Of course we kept her. She became my dog very quickly. I fed her and trained her. I walked her. When our marriage started falling apart several years later, she was my companion. When he would yell at me or get angry, she would sit at my feet between us. She was protective of me. I loved her. After my divorce, I moved to California to be closer to family.
Nikki came with me. My ex wanted nothing to do with her. I went through a seriously depressing period in my life during that first year after I divorced. I was running out of money and I had a job that I worked 14 hour days with one day off per week. Nikki had been a house dog. I took a job a few hours away from family and Nikki stayed with my very pregnant daughter while I found a house to rent. Nikki joined me after a few weeks. She was stressed out from being left behind and all the changes. While I was at work the first day, she ate the metal mini blinds in the living room of the home that I was renting. I figured this out when I came home at lunch to check on her and let her out. I didn’t have a crate back then. People were just starting to take their dogs to doggy-day cares — but I couldn’t afford it. I didn’t even know about crates. I couldn’t tie her outside. I didn’t have a kennel. The backyard was not fenced completely. The second day she tried to eat her way out of the front door and damaged much of the door frame. I tried putting her in the backyard next and she ran away two days in a row. I had to leave work to get her from the local pound — twice. I had a terrible boyfriend at the time that was completely wrong for me. Dating too soon after my divorce was just one of many bad choices I made that year. The job didn’t work out. The boyfriend left (thank goodness). I ran out of money and I couldn’t afford my rent. My son had just joined the Navy. My daughter had just had her first baby and had moved to Washington with her husband that had just joined the Navy too. I had no friends or family that could or would take Nikki. I didn’t know where I was going to live or work. If I could have thought of ANY way to keep that dog, I would have kept her. Looking back, I probably should have stayed in California. I ended up moving back eight years later anyway. I didn’t have the benefit of hindsight back then though. But, at the time, I felt like my best choice was to move back to Arkansas where I knew people in the car business (my line of work at the time), and could afford the cheaper cost of living (my rent went from 2000 per month to 800 per month). I knew I could work there and afford it. I also knew that I would be living out of a very cheap hotel for the first couple of months and dogs were not allowed back then. I made the choice to find my dog another home. I hated the idea. I couldn’t think of any other way though. I found a lab rescue group and they took my dog. A week later, they told me that they had found a retired couple living near the beach that wanted Nikki. I still miss that dog. I still feel guilty about having to give her up. My children were mad at me. I was mad at myself. It wasn’t a decision that I made lightly for a dog that had been there for me for 7 years. I received a very kind letter from them telling me what a great well behaved dog she was and how happy they were to have her with pictures of their grandchildren playing on the beach with Nikki. I know that Nikki had a better life with them than she would have had with me post-divorce. So, when I hear about someone that has to make that choice, I go a little easier on them. Many people are very quick to judge anyone that says that they need to re-home their pet. I have been that person. It was not my first choice. It was my last resort. It was a terrible decision for me. It was the right thing for my dog though. I hope I never have to make a decision like that again. I am glad that there was a rescue group to help me. Five years later, when my circumstances had changed, and I could be a good pet owner again, I chose a rescue group for this reason. I have been on both sides of the rescue process. I don’t judge Betty’s former owner for surrendering her. He did the best thing for her if he could not care for her. I am thankful.
I met a new client this week that has had two strokes in the last six months. She wants someone to help guide her as she walks her dogs. Since her stroke, she has become blind and uses a walker. She didn’t want me to walk her dogs for her. She wanted someone to help her walk her dogs. But then she got sick again. She cancelled the walks. She was worried about what would happen to her dogs if she had to be hospitalized again. She is 60 years old and had been a nurse and was considered healthy prior to her strokes — not overweight, no diabetes, no diagnosed health issues. It got me thinking. How many people are ready to get sick? What happens to your pets?
My daughter wants my dog. She would take Betty from me now if I let her. She jokes about getting Betty in my will. I have always talked about the importance of making arrangements earlier rather than later so my kids are not afraid to speak of these things with me. I have recently moved and a few other things have changed so I need to update my will. I am not sick. I am healthy and have no reason to think that anything is going to happen to me. I think this is the perfect time to put my wishes down on paper and let my kids know what I want to happen “someday”. I also have a mother and grandmother alive that do not have wills. I am not looking forward to dealing with either of their estates eventually — so I understand that most people simply do not want to face their immortality. Here are a few of the reasons that I hear from family and friends that don’t have a will and what I say to them…
I don’t have anything. Maybe you don’t have much cash. But do you own a home, have kids, or pets? Do you want the state to decide in time what will happen to any of these? Do you want your kids to end up in foster care or with a relative that is not your choice to raise your children? What about your pets? Do you want them to end up in a shelter? Many older pets do not get adopted. I see pets posted regularly for adoption from owners that have become ill or deceased. Post stickers on your front door alerting first responders that you have pets. Keep a card in your wallet that says that you have pets at home alone. Have emergency numbers on this card. Give them a key so they can get into your home and feed, water, and let your pets out if you become hospitalized or worse. Please talk to your friends and relatives and figure out who wants to make your pets part of their family.
I can’t afford a lawyer. Maybe you don’t have hundreds or thousands of dollars to spend on something that you don’t really want to do. Do you have $39? There are online forms that are state specific that can write a basic will for you. You can take the forms and get them notarized for about $10. For most people, a cheap will is still much better than no will.
I’m too busy. I’ll do it later. I’m healthy. This is a bad idea for most things. You know that this is a huge risk to put something so important off for another day. We never know when we will be too sick to handle this. My Grama cannot execute a will because she has dementia. We talked to her about it for years and she waited too long to get her affairs in order. The idea scared her and she never wanted to think about it. So, now, she is 94 years old, sick and we will have to deal with her estate without a will.
It won’t matter to me, I’ll be gone. Seriously? Thanks! You are getting socks for Christmas.
I know nobody wants to think about being gone or hurt. It isn’t a fun topic. I also know that if you get it handled, you don’t have to worry about it anymore. That is the great thing about handling it. You can just enjoy your day doing something else and know that if the worst happens, your family and friends know what you want.
Therapy dogs, Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) Service Dogs, or family pets… Life is better with dogs. I think everyone should be allowed to have a dog live with them. If it was up to me, they would be allowed in all housing without an additional pet fee or pet rent. I don’t think you should have to have a mental health diagnosis to have an emotional support animal. I think we all benefit with dogs in our lives. I know some people have pet allergies or fears. This article is not about people that do not want a dog. I am talking about people that do want dogs. While, I am making my wish list, I would love to see affordable dog obedience classes offered at community centers and senior centers. For those that are confused about the different classifications, click here for definitions. It is important to know the legal difference between the classifications covered by the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act). As a pet sitter, I meet all kinds of people. I know a stroke patient that can no longer walk her dogs. People with PTSD benefit greatly from the company of dogs. I have helped all sorts of people that travel frequently for work. I know firsthand how much dogs enrich the lives of their owners. We know that dogs are loyal and faithful.
I am blessed to have five generations of women living at the same time (shown in the photo below). I can see in my family how much a good dog can add to life at any age. My grand-daughters love to learn about dogs, my daughter loves to play with them, my mother loves the companionship, my grandmother still enjoys the comfort. Dogs are happy to be part of the family. In my family, most of us have dogs that we think of as family. We all love our dogs. How many of you have felt like your dog or cat is your only friend at least once in your life?
I live in Los Angeles and it is a very dog-friendly place. But, I have lived many places that were not dog-friendly at all. So, what can we do to help our animals be more welcome in even more public places (and at homes)?
Obedience train your dog. A well behaved dog is more pleasant to be around. This is true regardless of the size of your dog. Larger dogs are scarier to a lot of people so people tend to take training them more seriously. Small dogs need obedience training too. If your dog is reactive or aggressive, work with a trainer to minimize this behavior before you bring them around other dogs and people — especially dog parks.
Train your kids how to behave around dogs. Kids need to learn how to treat animals for their own protection as well as the animal’s safety.
Follow local animal laws. Leash your pet. Scoop the poop. People that believe these laws are for other people are the problem — not their pets. Even if your dog is friendly — follow the leash laws.
Avoid the scams. There are many scams out there to “register” ESAs. There is NO legal registration for ESAs. Scammers out there are taking your cash to “register” these animals.
Don’t lie about it. It makes it so much harder for people with genuine Service Dogs to travel when people try to pass off family pets as service dogs. Don’t be part of the problem. If you don’t legally need an animal to perform tasks for you, don’t pretend that you do. It is illegal and it is really wrong.
These few things can make living with pets easier and more pleasant for everyone. We owe it to our pets to do our part. They do so much for us.
More dogs run away on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. Fireworks, thunderstorms, and other loud explosive noises are terrifying to many dogs. About ten years ago, I had a golden Lab named Nikki. She was a great, easy-going dog most of the time.
The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. I love fireworks, summertime, picnics, and barbeques. I decided with my family to go see fireworks out on the Arkansas river from our fishing boat to celebrate the holiday. We loved taking Nikki with us on the boat and she always enjoyed a nice boat trip too. We spent the day fishing and swimming. It was perfect until the sun went down and the fireworks started. My poor normally calm dog, panicked. She desperately wanted to escape the boat and the exploding fiery sky. She tried to crawl into any hiding space that she could find. She tried to create hiding spaces. She was panting heavily and trembling. We had made a huge mistake subjecting her to fireworks. We had no idea that she would react so badly. We probably should have thought it through better — but we didn’t. She was fine around shooting, thunder and lightning so we thought it would be okay. We were wrong. If we had not been on a boat, she would have bolted. I hated seeing her so frantic while knowing that it was completely my fault and could have been easily prevented. I should have left her at home where there were no fireworks going off in our neighborhood.
I have a border collie now named Betty that is afraid of thunderstorms. I rescued her when I lived in Arkansas where there are frequent storms. She trembles and hides under the bed or in her coveredcrate until the storm has passed. Her fear is not nearly to the same level of panic that Nikki had during fireworks. Still, this is not a dog that I would take out in public on the Fourth of July. Because fear of fireworks and thunder is so common among dogs, I would not recommend taking any dog out to enjoy fireworks. As much as we may love fireworks, we have learned to love them. Fire in the sky is what dogs see. It is unreasonable and unfair to your poor dog to think they will share your love of fireworks. I learned this the hard way. Some dogs can be destructive when fear turns into panic. Betty gets crated if we are having a storm. If my neighbors decide to set off fireworks, I will put her in her crate to keep her safe. Her level of fear can be managed with these simple precautions.
For some dogs, this is not enough. There are several other things you do to try to help calm dogs that are extremely fearful during storms and fireworks and to keep them safe:
Crate train your pet. A crate can be calming to a dog that is already accustomed to being in a crate. It can also prevent your pet from running away or becoming destructive.
Thunder-shirts help calm dogs in the same way that swaddling comforts babies.
Calming collars are infused with naturally calming smells like lavender.
Turning the television or music on low helps drown out some of the scary noises.
Placing the dog in a quiet room (preferably in a crate).
Giving the dog treats during storms and other loud noises can help improve the association that they have with storms and ultimately help desensitize them.
Make sure your pet has a collar with your current information should they become lost. Make sure they always wear a tag on their collar with your phone number on it.
Microchip your pet. If they lose their collar -or someone takes it off, a vet or shelter can still determine how to get your pet back to you. Make sure that your microchip info is up to date. If your pet is already micro-chipped, have your vet check by scanning your pet during your regular exams to be certain that the chip has not migrated out of your pet. This can happen! My Betty was micro-chipped by the rescue group before I got her. When I took her for her first vet visit, the vet could not locate the chip, so we chipped her again. The vet explained that sometimes the chips do work their way out of pets.
Know your pet. Building trust is calming to a pet. Do not expose them to more than they can handle like I did with my old Lab. Most dogs, even if they are trained to tolerate fireworks, will not actually enjoy the festivities like we do. I hope you and your family (and pets) have a very happy Fourth of July.
Wish you took better pictures of your furry friends? I take a lot of pet pictures to send to dog owners that miss their pets. Here are a few basic tips that I have learned to help capture your pet’s best side:
Location — Look for colorful and pretty backgrounds. Pets look great outside in nature. Don’t take them somewhere scary. I took Betty on a road trip from Texas to California during the blue bonnet bloom. I tried to get good shots in the beautiful blooms. None of my pics turned out great because the traffic noise terrified her. She could not wait to leave the side of the road that I selected. If you can catch them having fun naturally — that is even better. Always check out what is lurking in your background also. I have taken what I thought were great pictures only to later see too much clutter in the background ruining my shot. Things like poop bags on your leash and trash in the yard won’t make for a great picture. Fallen leaves can be really pretty though.
Time of day and lighting make a huge difference. The “Golden Hour” is the hour before sunset. Everything is bathed in a perfectly golden light. Cloudy days can make for some pretty awesome pictures too because you don’t have a lot of shadows.
The classic “sun behind you” angle makes for great clear shots. Sometimes taking a picture facing the sun can be very beautiful too though because it can make the picture glow from behind. Play around with lighting. Natural lighting is the prettiest. Try to avoid using a flash. It will annoy your pets and make their eyes look funky.
Composition matters. Try using the rule of thirds in photography. It gives you a nice balanced picture that is pleasing to the eye. When you are looking at your picture in the camera, imagine your photo divided into 9 equal squares and arrange things in the shot so that they line up at the inter-sectional lines where the thirds meet. Click on the link above for more details. Try to get things lined up in the frame so that you need to do minimal cropping. This will help keep your photos crisp.
Get down at their level instead of taking the picture from above them. If you can zoom in, do it. It makes it easier to catch your dog doing something naturally cute.
Teach a good “stay” and a good “look”. Makes it much easier to get a good clear shot. Treats definitely help too. Some people tape a treat to the camera near the lens.
Make sure the eyes are in focus and open. The eyes tell a story in pictures.
Play with your dogs or take them for a short walk before photographing them. A panting dog looks like it is smiling. Open mouths always look happier.
Use the burst feature on your camera or camera phone. This comes in very handy with active dogs. Take numerous pictures while they are running around. I often take 20 pictures to get one great one.
More bad news… Anybody that promises you that if you follow their advice, your dog will be completely trained in a few months is, more likely than not, lying to you. Yes, we have all seen the puppies that are a few months old and seem to be completely trained. I don’t have one of those dogs. And, you probably don’t either.
Don’t get me wrong. Someday, I hope Betty will be much closer to a perfectly well-behaved dog. I do train with her most days and she has made wonderful progress when I compare her now to what she was like when I first brought her home 18 months ago. Her first year of life was spent being ignored in a backyard and escaping that same backyard. She has a typical rescue dog story. Too much work and energy for her previous owners to handle.
I met Betty when she was 11 months old. She has always been sweet-tempered. But, she had not been exposed to very many things so she was reactive to most noisy common things. Babies crying, small children running, bicyclists, skate boarders, cars, other dogs on leash, leashes, and collars were scary things. She also barked at coffee pots and ceiling fans. She had terrible nightmares every night. During these nightmares, she would bark ferociously in her sleep. I got her a crate. This helped her as she was already used to this from being in the shelter. We worked on potty training. She learned basic commands so quickly that I thought I had a genius on my hands. She learned all the basic obedience commands the first week that I brought her home. She dug holes in the yard with true passion. She jumped up on every person she met with exuberance. She barked — like a fiend some days. She tied herself up in curtains after months of being good in the house and chewed up a windowsill trying to free herself. I kept training her. After about 9 months of exposing her to new things and training her at home, she had overcome many of her initial fears. She was really great at home and with low distractions. It was time to up the distractions. We signed up for group classes. We have been taking group classes for about 6 months off and on now. We took some time off during a major move. The training never stopped though. She is a pretty great dog nowadays — not perfect yet though. I spent a lot of time training my grandchildren how to be calm around dogs and they are a large part of the reason that Betty is great around kids now. We have done a ton of training at parks full of kids playing. We started far away and have gotten closer and closer.
I know that I am on the right track with Betty. I also know that it takes time to work out the kinks. She still pulls a little (sometimes a lot) when we go for walks. We go on four walks per day on average. She still is leash-reactive if you walk your dog too close to us. If I pull to the side to give you room to pass, that is not a cue to come over and say hello to us. If she was in a backyard or at the dog park off-leash, she would not bark at you or your dog at all. She doesn’t dig anymore. She doesn’t bark at home unless she has a good reason. She might still jump on you if you greet her with an excited voice. So, please be calm. Don’t tell me that it is okay for her to jump on you as you pet her. I am training her to not jump on anybody and you are making it take longer. I will try to step on her leash and keep her from jumping up on you in the first place if you insist on greeting her. I am trying to teach her that she doesn’t get to greet everyone. So if she is already worked up and you ask to pet her and I say no… it is not about you. She is in training. If you greet her calmly, she will sit (most of the time) and wait for you to pet her. You can bike past her and skate past her now. She can watch your kids playing at the park and not bark. Yes, I work with dogs full time. I love what I do. No, my dog is not perfect and may never be. I know that people will judge my skills with animals based on the manners of my own dog. After all, Betty is the face of my brand. The one thing she has always mastered is making me smile. Please go easy on us if you think she should be better after all these months. We have come a really long way already.
Apps have definitely changed the way we live and share information. How we take care of our dogs is certainly easier with apps. Here are a few of my favorite apps to help you to be a better dog mama or papa. They are listed in the order that they appear on my phone:
Facebook — Facebook has many dog specific groups and pages. Many have trainers, vets, and behavior specialists among their members. Have a favorite breed? Most breeds have a dedicated group as well. Search topics like obedience, trainers, walkers, etc. to connect on subjects that matter to you. There are even raw food groups and nail maintenance groups.
Instagram — Love taking pictures of your pup? Instagram has great filters and companion apps to make your dog pictures even better.
Rover — Need a dog walker, dog sitter, someone to drop-in on your furry baby? Rover offers local sitters and walkers as well as in-home boarding and doggie daycare. Full disclosure here: I started as a Rover sitter and still take an occasional client from the site. Basic criminal background checks are done on all Rover sitters/walkers and Rover insures your dog and property. See Rover for full details and disclosures.
Pet First Aid — This is a great app for canine and feline first aid and wellness. In addition to basic first aid, it also has articles on dog training, dog friendly hotel locator, preventative care, and tips on how to give your dog medication (just to name a few categories). Love this app!
Nextdoor — This is an app that helps neighbors connect with each other about local topics. Get a recommendation on dog friendly businesses or dog parks. Lost dogs are also posted here.
Chewy — This is a great place to get a good deal on dog stuff.
BarkHappy — Want to set up a doggy play-date? Locate dogs nearby, pet friendly places on the map, see pet policies and amenities, attend dog friendly events and host your own, as well as lost and found alerts.
YouTube — Wonderful place to find training videos. YouTube has so many trainers and cute puppies. It is a classic at this point.
Dog Breeds 101 — Curious about other breeds or want to know more about your dog? This app has basic information about 80+ of the most popular breeds.
Weather Puppy — Smile every time you check the weather. The puppy changes dependent on the weather forecast. You can even add photos of your own dog.
These are the apps that I have on my Iphone that help me have more fun with Betty, my border collie. What is on your phone that helps you with your furry friends?
Are you thinking about getting your first pet? Are you wondering what to consider before bringing that adorable little furry ball of kisses and wagging tail home?
My daughter loves dogs. She always has. She has been married now for several years and her two daughters also love dogs. Her husband has given the green light for a family dog and they are all looking forward to having a dog baby. So, I have been thinking about ways to help her be ready for her new baby. This article is for her and any other person thinking about adding a new pet to their family.
Here are a few things to consider BEFORE you start looking at shelters or online at places like www.petfinder.com. Please rescue your pet as a first choice. There are so many pets looking for a family. Many are purebred pups that turned out to be too much work for their families. Many have been abused and neglected by people that had no idea what was involved with raising a puppy. Mixed breeds can also make for some pretty awesome family pets. They are often hardier than purebred dogs because inbreeding among purebred dogs can increase the likelihood of many health problems. Okay, now that I have that out of the way, I can get off of my soapbox and get back to some other considerations to make before bringing that adorable puppy home:
How much room do you have? Some dogs need a lot more space than others do . Research breeds and learn a little about general dispositions of breeds. All dogs are different but the breed does matter.
How much time do you have to train a pet? A puppy will need a lot of attention. It will not necessarily sleep through the night. It is a baby. It is very similar to bringing a bay home. They are adorable — but a lot of work too.
How old are your kids? Kids and pets are wonderful together if properly trained and introduced.
How often is someone home? It is not fair to bring a dog home that will be alone all day. Bored dogs are destructive dogs.
Are you physically strong enough to manage and exercise your pet when it is full grown? Smaller pets are easier to manage if you are older, less active, or have a disability that would affect the management and care of a pet.
Will you be able to keep the pet for the rest of its life? 5–20 years? A pet deserves to be kept for its entire life. I am not bashing anyone that has ever re-homed a pet. I have been in a situation where I have re-homed a pet. It was not planned and it broke my heart. I still feel guilty about it — even though my pet went to a much better home than I could provide at the time.
Can you afford a pet? Vet bills, food, grooming, etc. are not cheap. Can you budget for all of these items?
What do you want to be able to do with your pet? Again, be realistic about your lifestyle goals for your new pet. A chihuahua may not make a great running buddy. It makes a great couch buddy though. Most border collies don’t want to lie around watching tv all day either. They do make great hiking buddies though. Check out different breeds to know their tendencies.
Okay, now that you have figured out that you are really ready for a dog and you are ready to find your new family member, what do you need to be ready?
Is the puppy old enough? Has the puppy had a chance to be with it’s mother and litter mates for at least 8 weeks? This is the law in many US states. There are many reasons that puppies need to stay with mama for at least 8 weeks in addition to just the health reasons. Critical socialization occurs with mom and the litter. Do not take a puppy any sooner.
Bedding should be comfortable and fairly inexpensive at this point. Puppies and fearful older dogs have a high likelihood of chewing up whatever bedding you provide. This is not the time to spend $100 on a designer dog bed. A simple blanket will do for now.
Crate — I highly recommend having a crate for your new dog for their safety as well as the safety of your home. New puppies and newly rescued dogs can be very chewy. For tips on crate training, read my article on crates.
Food — There is just as much debate about dog food as there is about people food. www.dogfoodadvisor.com is a great objective website that compares all the major brands of food. Many people are huge advocates of raw feeding. It can be a great option with one caution. If you have anyone in the family with a compromised immune system (babies, elderly, sick), I do not recommend raw because if the increased chance of salmonella or Ecoli. Therapy dogs are not allowed to be raw fed for this reason. A dog that is raw fed can spread bacteria with their kisses.
Food and water bowls — Ideally durable bowls that can’t be destroyed easily and are dishwasher-safe.
Collar and leash — You won’t get far without these. A flat collar is a good choice for a puppy. Puppies will outgrow them quickly. Leashes can be chewed through in about a minute if you don’t monitor a new puppy. Have a few — just in case. I always keep a spare collar and leash that I have picked up at a dollar store (In my doggy first aid backpack) in my car. You never know when you will need a new one. Best to be prepared.
Clicker if you plan to use clicker training. I like them because they consistently mark the desired behavior at the perfect time. Think of it like taking a mental picture for your dog of the exact behavior that you desire. Many people also use a “yes” instead of a clicker. I have done that when I don’t have a clicker handy.
Treat bag and treats — I like ones that have holders for poop bags and magnetic closures at the top. A waist belt to secure the bag will drop less than one that clips onto a waistband.
Vet address -The location of the nearest emergency Vet is something that you need before you need it. Plus puppies need a lot of shots the first few months. Check with your vet to see what is recommended in your area.
Poop bags — Lots and lots of these little bags. You can always find them at dollar stores. It is the law to pick up after your pet in most US States nowadays. You do get used to it
Patience -lots and lots of patience. You could get really really lucky and get a dog that is a breeze to train, doesn’t chew anything up, and never causes trouble. The chance of that is about as likely as finding a unicorn in your backyard though. It is going to take longer than you think. Be consistent and patient. Having a dog is one of the best things around in my opinion.