Caring For Your Older Dog

Once your dog becomes older it is time to take some preventative steps in order for them remain healthy, happy, active, and to be able to enjoy as many years as possible. Have your vet examine your pet annually or more often, if necessary.

As in humans, keep your dogs weight within the proper or optimum range. Extra weight can do damage to joints and also cause more stress on vital organs. An overweight dog has far more health problems such as joint problems, arthritis, diabetes and liver or kidney malfunctions. Cut down on the amount of treats given to your older pet. It is sometimes hard to resist those eyes but always remember that it is for their own good. Feed your pet once a day or smaller amounts twice a day but remove the food if there is any left. If you have children, explain to them why they should not sneak food to the family pet especially table scraps.

As with dogs of any age, make sure there is always fresh, cool water available at all times. Some older dogs have problems getting to the water bowl so make the water easy for them to access. You can bring the water to them or place bowls of water in several different places so they do not have to go far for a drink.

If possible take your dog for a short walk daily. This helps the dog’s blood circulation and provides some new sights and smells to stimulate their minds and senses. Walking them or spending time with them gives you quality time to spend with your pet. They may be a bit older but still are very curious.

You may need to switch from dry food to a semi-moist or canned food as your dog ages. His teeth may not be able to handle the hardness of dry kibbles. Freeze dried can be a good option because it is very soft for them to eat and provides the essential nutrition still required. Looking after your older dog and taking him to the vet regularly helps keep your dog healthy and happy longer and allows you to enjoy as much time as possible with your best friend.

Dog Crate Training Guide

Why do Dogs Love Crates?
Dogs are, by nature, den animals and feel secure in small, enclosed spaces. Most dogs will seek out a place in your home that will mimic a den. You will often find them sleeping under a table or desk. Dog crates make excellent dens and can serve as a refuge, a hangout and a bedroom. It is very important that the dog crate is never used as punishment – the crate must always be regarded as a safe and special retreat.
The most common misconception about a dog crate is that it is a cruel form of caging a pet. This is completely false, and in fact, a dog will actually find a crate to be a secure and safe sanctuary in the same manner as a wolf enjoys the comfort of a den for resting and eating.

Why do Dog Owners Love Crates?
Next to the training collar and leash, the dog crate is the proven training tool most recommended by professional dog trainers, groomers and veterinarians. Once accustomed to the dog crate, unfavorable behaviors such as house soiling, destructive chewing, digging, unnecessary barking, and howling can be avoided. Crate training is also an ideal system to help ease separation anxiety. Since the dog’s habits will be much easier to regulate by using the dog crate, discipline for misbehavior will be less necessary which will allow a stronger dog and owner relationship. Crate-trained dogs travel easier in their “den” since they feel secure. This sense of security is also helpful if a dog needs to stay at the veterinarian or groomer since the dog is already accustomed to being crated.
And, compared to the cost of replacing furniture, plants, carpet, and other personal items that may be destroyed when a dog is allowed to roam a household unsupervised, the expense of a crate is very economical.

How Can a Crate be Used to Avoid Accidents?
Crate training is proven to be the fastest, most cost effective method of instilling “good dog” behavior. A dog’s natural instinct is to keep the area in which she rests as clean as possible. Most dogs are very resistant to being near their own waste and therefore will make an extra effort to control their own elimination when confined to a crate. By the owner encouraging elimination in the proper place immediately after a dog is released from the crate, the pet quickly learns when and where to ” take care of business.” This is a proven method of house training recommended by nationally known trainers.

How Can a Crate be Used to Solve Other Behavioral Problems?
Most behavior problems such as destructive chewing are due to the boredom of an unsupervised dog. If allowed to continue the behavior, it quickly becomes a habit that is difficult to change. Dogs naturally want to please their owners and receive praise and love in return. If the dog knows exactly what is expected of her, she will gladly behave accordingly to benefit from it and be rewarded. By using a crate during the owner’s short term absences, the dog is simply not able to misbehave. Instead she will rest quietly in her crate. Dogs generally sleep 90% of the time the owners are away. It’s the other 10% that so many things can go wrong. By crating the dog, you are essentially only asking for a small amount of change to the dog’s natural schedule.

How Can a Crate be Used to Ease Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is the number one behavioral problem today. It can be defined as increased fearfulness of the dog after the departure of the owner. This often misunderstood disorder causes loving pet owners to feel they have no other option than to find their dog another home. Dogs are pack animals and are not prepared to cope with isolation. They must be taught how to be alone and reassured that they will not be alone for long. Through positive crate training, the dog’s personal den can provide an increased sense of security, which often helps ease stress and stress-related behaviors. Antidepressant medication may curve the behavior but it will not solve the problem.

When Can You Start Using a Crate?
Immediately! The sooner the better, no matter what age your dog may be. Ideally, a puppy should be introduced to a crate at an early age. In fact, many reputable breeders will already have a puppy familiar with a crate before the puppy is introduced to a new home, which makes that transition much easier for both the dog and new owner. But a dog at any age can be introduced to crate training. Older dogs may view the crate as punishment in the beginning and may need extra encouragement and slower graduated confinement times. Start your training when you are able to be home with your dog.

Why a Wire Crate?
A wire crate is recommended to allow your dog optimum visibility of her surroundings. Your dog will be most relaxed if she is sheltered but still able to view her surroundings without having to get up. She will rest longer and quieter. Wire crates are designed for proper ventilation. Illness can be caused during house breaking if puppies or dogs are forced to inhale urine odors. Complete ventilation will prevent this and many other ailments that can be caused from low ventilation. Wire crates are easy to move and store, and can be cleaned with soap and water. With proper care, a wire crate will last the life of the dog, therefore are more economical than plastic designs.

What Size of Crate Does Your Dog Need?
When selecting a crate for a puppy, go ahead and get one that will fit the dog’s need when she is fully-grown. Precision Pet Products’ Puppy Panels allow you to adjust the size of the crate and are available for larger crates while the puppy is growing. The dog should be able to comfortably walk in, turn around and lay down in the crate. Your pet should not feel cramped, but do not use a crate that is too big, that will defeat the purpose of giving the dog the sense of having his own enclosed “den.” An oversized crate will also defeat the dog’s natural instinct to keep her home clean and free of waste since she may use one end to rest and one end to “go.”

Where Should the Crate be Located?
The crate should be placed in an area that is easy to supervise. Since dogs are highly social animals the crate should be in an area of the household where the family spends most of their time. The crate should not be put in an isolated area. At night, the bedroom is an ideal place for a crate so that the dog can feel the security of being near her owner. Dog owners that are familiar with crate training and its benefits to both people and pets often have two or more crates set up in the house. (For example, one in the den and one in the bedroom.) Wherever the crate is placed, it is important that it not be in a draft or direct heat. Some dogs feel more secure when a towel or blanket is draped over the top and sides of the crate. It is especially important to keep the crate in the bedroom at night while puppies are being housetrained. For successful housetraining, you must be able to hear your puppy cry when she needs to be let outside to eliminate. Each individual dog varies but as a rule a puppy can control elimination through the night as early as three months of age. It is also important to regulate a puppy’s feeding schedule so that this can be taken into consideration as to when and how often she must be allowed to relieve herself. The last meal of the day should come at least two hours before bedtime. It is important to establish a timely routine so that the dog’s body functions can adjust to when she will be released from the crate. As a dog gets older the amount of time she can stay in the crate can be extended but should never exceed more than six to eight hours.

Introducing Your Dog to Her Crate.
Important Note: Always take care to remove both collar and tags prior to your dog entering her crate. Allow your dog to explore the crate on her own. You can toss some of her favorite toys or treats inside and show interest in the crate to encourage her curiosity. Leave the door open during the introduction period. NEVER force your dog into her crate and ALWAYS praise her anytime she enters on her own.
Soon your dog will enter and exit the crate willingly. At that time you should close the door for a few seconds or a minute and remain close to the crate praising her while she is inside. Then, let your dog out in a calm and quiet manor, not making a big deal of it. You do not want the exit of the crate to be an excitable moment. This will make your dog want out of her crate rather than enjoying the time inside. If she barks or cries while inside her crate, reassure her and wait for her to settle down before allowing her out of the crate. You do not want her to associate negative behavior with being released from the crate. Gradually you can extend the amount of time the dog is left in a crate. Your first few absences should be less than 30 minutes. Keep your departures and arrivals low-key. Continue to crate your dog for a few minutes each day when you are home, so that crating does not always predict that you are leaving. Within a few attempts over two or three days most dogs will enter the crate willingly and quietly settle down for a nap. It is natural for your pet to bark or cry when getting used to her new den.
Some owners like to feed their dog in the crate, although the bowl should be removed as soon as the dog finishes eating so that it is not in her way. Sometimes this will help gain the dogs trust with a crate. Remember that puppies will need to eliminate immediately after a meal and adult dogs will need to eliminate within 30 minutes. Once the puppy or dog no longer has a habit of chewing, a washable blanket or some other form of bedding can be put in the bottom of the crate for additional comfort. It is very important that the convenience of a crate not be abused. Every dog needs plenty of exercise and should be allowed the opportunity to socialize daily with her human family.

Puppy Training Guide

Train Your Puppy Early
New puppies learn very quickly with the right kind of instruction. Socialization and training are critically important during early puppyhood – this is by far the most crucial time in your dog’s development; right now, before he’s 3 months old, is the time that he’s soaking up his environmental stimuli like a sponge. What you do and don’t do right now to train and socialize your pup will affect his behavior forever.

Your new puppy has just been taken from his mother and littermates; first things first, what he needs most right now is a sense of security and routine. Read more on what else he’ll need in the new puppy checklist. Play with him quietly and gently, for short periods at a time – don’t overwhelm the little guy with attention and activity. Yes, he’s absolutely adorable, and yes, now’s the time to begin his socialization and training, but young puppies need their sleep and they tire quickly. It’s much better to have frequent and very short play, socialization and training periods rather than fewer but longer visits. And if he looks sleepy during a visit, leave him alone. Just being alive is taking up most of his effort right now, and baby needs his rest.

Training
Never hit your puppy or give him harsh reprimands; he truly doesn’t mean to misbehave – he just has no idea what’s expected of him and is instead doing what comes naturally. Show him clearly what kind of behavior you do want, and show him equally clearly and patiently what you don’t want. He desires more than anything to please you, so he’ll choose the right behavior just as soon as he can figure out what it is. If you yell or punish him for bad behavior, he’ll just get progressively more confused and frightened, making it impossible for him to figure out what the right behavior is. Do both of you a favor by teaching him gently and clearly instead – it’ll save lots of time and plenty of heartache.

For instance, puppies will naturally bite and chew to explore their new world. Teach yours to only bite and chew on his toys. To do this, help him play with his toys interactively, making the experience fun and exciting for him. Praise him and let him know how good and clever he is when he chews them. When he chews your furniture, shoes or fingers instead, firmly tell him, “No chew!” and immediately give him one of his own toys, and encourage him to play with and chew it. Praise him lavishly when he does so. Read here for more on biting and chewing. It’s important to only correct him when you catch him in the act – anything you try to teach him later on will only confuse him – because doggy brains just don’t work the same way human brains do. The only way you can correct your puppy’s behavior (or your adult dog’s, for that matter) is to be there while the bad behavior is happening. Has your puppy started peeing on the hardwood floor? If you can’t be there 24/7 to catch him in the act, don’t let him have access to those places where he can get himself into trouble. Read here to find out more about house training.

Now comes the hardest part of Cute Puppy Syndrome: don’t spend all your time with him. If he’s going to be alone during the day or night on a regular basis once life settles back down to normal, he needs to start getting used to it now. If he wakes up from a nap and whines, or howls when you put him down for the night, resist the urge to comfort him. And no matter how irresistible he is, you’re only asking for heartache if you let an un-housetrained puppy sleep with you in the bed. You’re guaranteed to wake up on wet sheets, and there’ll be nobody to blame for it but you. You need to stick to the rules, and to start explaining them to him firmly right away – whatever you do, don’t let him get away with things just because he’s an adorable baby puppy. Remember, he’s learning and soaking up everything that happens; what you’re teaching him is that he gets away with things, so he’ll go on trying to get away with things forever. And if you let him get away with it now, he’ll only be completely confused later when you’ve changed the rules on him. Read here for more on obedience training and socialization.

Socialization
For your pup’s happiness and overall mental health, he needs to get used to a wide variety of people, places, animals, noises and objects. The social skills you help him develop in puppyhood will last him throughout his life.

Acquaint your puppy gradually and gently with his collar and leash; he’ll find them strange and possibly alarming at first. Introduce him slowly to unexpected sounds like a car starting, a hairdryer, a rustling plastic bag or a vacuum cleaner. If the sound is a loud one, let him hear it from the next room at first; on the second or third time he hears it, he can be in the same room. Take each new introduction slowly and gently.

Start inviting friends over, one or two at a time, to meet your pup. Include men, women and kids of every age and ethnicity. Then start to invite friendly, healthy, vaccinated pets of all kinds over to your house to meet and play with your new puppy. Once he’s had a few of these carefully supervised visits under his belt, take him to the homes of a few of these pets for a short, careful play date. If you know someone with a dog-friendly kitty, this would be an especially good introduction to make at this time.

Take your little guy on short, frequent car rides to shopping centers, parks or schoolyards where there are crowds of people and lots of unpredictable activity. Let him watch safely at first from the car window, then gradually start making little excursions with him so that he can experience the new and different activities firsthand.

It’s normal for your pup to show some signs of apprehension when confronting anything new and different. Remember never to reward fearful behavior; when we attempt to sooth, encourage or calm the frightened puppy, we unintentionally reward the fear. It’s up to you to make sure in advance that each new situation he encounters will be safe, supervised and gentle. You know, even if he doesn’t yet, that nothing bad will happen to him in this new situation. Don’t force or rush him into it; let him explore at his own pace, and take care never to step in to reassure him.

House Training Your Puppy

House training isn’t difficult, but it does take time and patience. You need to be vigilant and consistent in teaching your puppy not to eliminate in the house. Dogs need to be taught that it’s not OK for them to go inside the house – they don’t know this automatically, and left to their own devices they’ll go whenever and wherever nature calls.

Even a pup that’s already been housetrained before you get him may be disoriented enough by his new surroundings that he may have a few ‘accidents’ before he remembers the rules. The most important thing to remember during this house training process is that reproach or punishment for indoor accidents will only teach your pup not to eliminate around you at all (even when outdoors) – but it won’t stop him from doing it indoors when you’re not around. Your young puppy won’t understand why you’re upset with him, and any show of anger or impatience on your part will only confuse him, frighten him and set the whole house training process back drastically.

Unless you can monitor young Fido 24/7, expect a few accidents along the way; the entire house training process will likely last until the pup is at least 6 months old. Puppies are eating-sleeping-pooping machines – in addition, they haven’t yet developed bowel and bladder control, making them unable to ‘hold it’ the way adult dogs can.

You’ll need to paper train your youngster for the times when you’re not home, and outdoor train him for the times when you are. But first things first: give young Fido his own small, fully newspapered room – ideally a tiled bathroom or laundry room, then take control of his feeding schedule, and choose a designated spot outdoors where you’ll want him to eliminate.

Set up a feeding schedule
You’ll never be able to predict your puppy’s ‘output’ times if you’re not controlling the input times. (Dogs usually need to go after meals, after vigorous play/exercise and after sleeping.) Food should be offered only at set mealtimes each day and should not be left available all day or night. If puppy hasn’t eaten his food within 20 minutes, pick up the dish and don’t put more food down until the next scheduled eating time. Of course you’ll need to allow him access to water at all times, but remember that this means you can never be entirely sure when he might need to pee.

Take little Fido outside on a leash as soon as you get up every morning. Take him to the same elimination spot every time and wait there with him until he goes. Once he’s finished, praise him lavishly for being the good and clever puppy that he is, and then take him back inside for breakfast. After feeding, take a few minutes to play with your pup and then take him back outside on his leash, to his same designated elimination area as before.

When you’re home to supervise
After you’ve taken him outside for his after-breakfast elimination, the pup should remain on his leash, either tied to you directly or near you in the same room, so that you can watch for signs that he needs to go again. Every half hour, bring your pup to his papered indoor toilet area in his little room. Stay here with him if it seems that he needs to go. If you’re busy and you can’t actively supervise him at any time, confine him in this room. Have his favorite chewy toys and his bed in the room with him.

Every 2 hours, give your pup the chance to go outside again. Once outside, make sure not to let him off his leash and never combine these trips with walkies or games, or else he’ll beg you for constant trips outdoors. During his initial training phase, just bring him directly to his spot, wait there til he’s finished his business and take him back inside the house. Never miss an opportunity to praise him whenever he eliminates at the right time and place – the more you show him how happy you are that he’s done it correctly, the sooner he’ll be able to master the concept of outdoor-only elimination in his designated spot and become fully house trained. After you come back inside, don’t let your puppy wander freely inside the house – keep him near you on that leash.

At night, keep your young pup confined in his little room. In the morning, put him on the leash but you may want to carry him outside (as opposed to letting him walk) so he won’t accidentally pee as he walks outside.

When you’re away during the day Until little Fido is definitely house trained (which means he never goes inside the house), the puppy should never have the run of the house. When you’re not home with him, confine him to his little room with its newspaper-covered floors.

As time goes on, he will start to show a preferred spot in the room for doing his business. When this place is well established and the rest of the papers remain clean all day, gradually reduce the area of the floor that is papered until you’re only leaving a few sheets down in that one area only. If he ever misses the paper, then you’ve reduced the area too soon; add those other papers back in, and be patient with him. He’ll figure it out in his own good time. Put fresh papers down daily, of course, and as soon as you get home each day, you should immediately leash young Fido and take him outside to eliminate.

Tip:
Buy a modern odor neutralizing product made especially for these purposes, and use it when cleaning up Fido’s messes inside the house.

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