Physical and Mental Exercise

enrichment 2Mum, I’m bored…                            Dogs are a lot like children. If you don’t give them something fun to do, they will make their own fun—and often not in ways you approve of.

Give your dog plenty of physical and mental exercise, and you get a happier, healthier, better-behaved dog. Well-exercised dogs bark less, chew less, sleep more, and rest easier if left home alone. They are also much less likely to rummage through the trash or attack the couch cushions.

What about leash walks?
Leash walks are great brainteasers because of all the sensory information dogs get from them, but they don’t count as aerobic exercise. Your dog needs to run, swim, or do something else that gets his heart pumping for at least 30 minutes every day.

Workouts for the body.
Chasing a ball or Frisbee. Swimming. Playing tug. Active play with other dogs. Off-leash romps or hikes.

Workouts for the brain.enrichment 3
Work to eat. Biologically speaking, your dog is not supposed to have a bowl of kibble plunked down in front of him. He is a hunter by nature, meant to work for his keep. Mimic this by serving your dog’s food in a Kong or treat ball. Your dog will spend the first part of the day figuring out how to get at his food and the rest of it recovering from the mental effort. Perfect!

Toys galore. Toys are a great way to engage your dog’s brain. Dogs have distinctly individual toy preferences, depending on the day, time, and situation. Do some detective work and find out what truly tickles your dog.

The best toys have a purpose. They deliver food, present a challenge, squeak, or make themselves interesting in some other way. Some classics to consider: Rope toys, plush toys (with or without squeakers), Hide-A-Bee (Squirrel, Bird), tricky treat balls, soft rubber toys (vinyl), and hard rubber toys like Kongs and nylabones.

Once you have a good selection, develop a toy strategy. Designate a popular toy for use only during alone time, like when you need to leave your dog in his crate, confinement area, or a spare room. Then, rotate the other toys daily to keep the novelty factor high!

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The Kong

A Kong is a hard rubber, snowman-shaped toy with a small hole on top and a large one on the bottom. A stuffed Kong can keep your dog occupied when crated or when you have visitors. It can provide mental stimulation and provide an outlet for your dog’s energy. And this wonderful chew toy can go a long way toward alleviating mild separation issues and boredom—just give a stuffed Kong to your dog as you leave or hide it so he has to find it and then excavate. (Be sure to provide stuffed Kongs randomly, not only when you leave, so they won’t become associated only with your absence.)

KONG-Classic-KONG-Dog-Toy-SizesBe sure to purchase a Kong that is big enough to stuff. Tiny dogs get a small Kong, but most small dogs get a medium Kong, medium dogs, a large or XL, and large dogs, an XL. There is even a size above XL for very large dogs. Kongs can be stuffed with anything that is safe for your dog to eat. (Never feed chocolate, onions, grapes, raisins, or spicy foods.) Just plug the small hole with a chewy treat or peanut butter, flip the Kong over, and stuff! The stuffing should be well-packed so that your dog must work for it, but not so tightly stuffed that your dog will give up. For inexperienced excavators, make it easy at first by packing loosely and leaving a cookie sticking out of the large hole.

To feed your dog’s meal in the Kong:dog-kong-toy-by-OakleyOriginals

1. Measure out your dog’s kibble.
2. Fill the small hole with peanut butter, cheese or a soft dog treat. Flip the Kong upside down.
3. Scoop a teaspoon of canned dog food into the large hole. Then, add a layer of your dog’s kibble.
4. Repeat step 3 until you reach the top, ending in a layer of canned food.
5. Pour leftover kibble in a dish and place the stuffed Kong on top.
(This is also helpful for dogs who eat their food too fast or eat theirs and then try to steal another dog’s food.)

Suggestions for frozen Kongs that last even longer… Kongsicles!

frozen kong• If you have a puppy, moisten his kibble with water, stuff it in the Kong, and freeze it overnight. He’ll have a fun, energy-expending breakfast the following morning.

• Try various combinations of canned food, gravy, noodles, rice and mashed potatoes mixed with kibble, and freeze.

• Put a dab of peanut butter in the small hole. Turn the Kong upside down in a cup. Fill full of water, chicken broth or fruit juice and freeze. (Liquid-only frozen Kongsicles recommended for outdoor use.)

If you’re in a rush, a fast and easy way to stuff a Kong is to fill it with dog cookies and hot dogs. Squeeze the large opening so it elongates, then stuff with hot dog bits and cookies. The cookies should be just big enough to fit through the elongated hole. If you wish, finish with a bit of peanut butter smeared around the inside of the opening.

So have fun and enjoy the Kong!!!

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The Human Link

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't (2)Yes, dogs are our link to paradise, but we – humans – are their link to the world.
Dogs depend on us to to get to explore the everyday world. Checking messages from other canines on the familiar walk is interesting, but same route and area every day of the year gets boring… and keeps your dogs world quite small. Introducing your dog to new places for walks makes their world bigger. Think about the joy of running in a new forest or digging holes on a beach yet to be properly discovered! Make your dogs world exciting and take him to a new place for a walk today!

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Socialisation

puppy close up
Socialisation is the developmental process whereby puppies familiarise themselves with their constantly changing surroundings. Socialisation is the process of positively introducing your puppy to places, people, animals, sounds, objects and obstacles. It is how they work out what is safe and good as opposed to what is dangerous and not-so-good.

Socialisation is also time sensitive. The older your puppy gets, the harder preventing behaviour problems becomes. Up until 3-4 months of age your puppy’s brain is very open and accepting of what he comes across – socialisation window. After that, your puppy is genetically preprogrammed to become wary of new things, making it harder to shape him into an easygoing, friendly adult dog. Anything you want your puppy to cheerfully accept as an adult—people of all kinds, animals, things, and situations—you must introduce him to often and in a positive manner early!

socialisation new

When it comes to socialisation there unfortunately is no “one formula fits all”… Socialisation must be tailored to your puppy. It’s critical that you go at your puppy’s pace when socialising him, and never force him to interact with something. Creating positive associations to new experiences is essential. While simple exposure does play a role, it is not enough. Make a habit of linking your puppy’s new experiences to food or play.

 

Empower your puppy by ALLOWING HIM TO CHOOSE what he does and does not want to interact with.

OK, so how to socialise your puppy?
• Think about the things your puppy will see every week as an adult: Visit those places, see those people, or experience those things now.

• Help your puppy form positive associations: Cheer and praise him when he encounters something new. Offer a treat/play whenever possible.

Step 1. If your puppy seems even a bit nervous, move a little distance away, give him treats, and then walk away—anything he is unsure about should be encountered in short bursts.

Step 2. As soon as your puppy seems more relaxed, try again. As he sees or hears the thing that scared him before, start your cheerful praise and break out the treats.

Step 3. If your puppy did not seem nervous with the new thing or acts curious about it after he has been treated, go back and let him investigate a little more. Again, praise and treat.

Under-socialised dogs are at much greater risk of developing all sorts of behavioural problems stemming from fear—aggression, agoraphobia, and reactivity towards certain people and animals, for example.

Teach your puppy that the world is safe and prevent behaviour problems in the future!

socialization

 

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No longer wanted…

I recently read an article about one of UK’s oldest dogs – 23 year old Charlie. He was given up by his “original” family in 2010 when he was 16 years old. And the reason for this was “family was expecting a grandchild”… I am flabbergasted… After Charlie had been part of the family for 16 years, he is tossed aside without explanation. Can you imagine how he felt when he found himself in a rescue centre? He had no idea why he was suddenly in this unfamiliar and (most probably for him) scary place. And for older dogs the chances of getting a new home are very slim!

Thankfully Charlie was lucky and caught the eye of family Stuart, who gave him a new home with lovely siblings. With the new family doting on handsome Charlie, he has flourished and given them so far 7 wonderful years! You can read Charlie’s full story HERE.

Charlie-dog-913578

Another very common situation is giving up the dog when you can no longer be bothered… An approximately 4 year old golden retriever cross who is very reactive to other dogs, and has also bitten a child. The family say they have done everything they can to try and help their dog, but the behaviour has not changed. They feel that the best thing is to “put the dog down” as rehoming a dog that has bitten a person would be irresponsible. How did this happen? What has happened that this dog ended up loosing her life?

Well… Let’s start from the beginning! The children had been wanting a puppy for a looooong time, and finally the parents gave in. They got a puppy from a friend, whose dog had an “accidental” litter, and this made the children so happy. YEY! But as the summer is over and the school is back on again, the kids start to loose interest in the puppy. The parents also work full time, so the now adolescent dog, is left free to roam while the family is at work / school.

So left on her own devices during the day, this golden retriever cross finds her own fun in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately she has a couple of not great experiences with other dogs, and quickly learns that when she barks and charges at dogs walking past with their owners, they will go away. Threat avoided and mission accomplished!

Outside this dogs house is also a green area where there is usually a few kids playing. huggingShe enjoys the human company, so has joined in a few times. Unfortunately not all kids have been kind to her, but grabbed her collar quite roughly and also pulled her tail and ears… She has done her best to politely communicate to the kids that she does not like it, but the kids have not understood her. Finally when a kid once more grabs her collar and pulls her, she tells him “NO” by nipping the kids hand. And it works, as the boy immediately lets go. “OK, so that is how I get them to stop when I don’t like something!” Pretty quickly after the incident, the dogs family is informed of what happened on the green. And once they learned about it, they give the dog a good wallop on the head. The poor dog has no idea why her family is screaming at her and what she did to deserve the hit on the head…

A year or so passes,  and a similar incident occurs. And once again, when the family finds out about it, the dog is punished. But even after the second incident, the dog is still left free to roam during the day…

Eventually a year later, I was contacted to get help. I offered some ideas of how to help the situation before I got to meet the dog as well as the family. I told them how I work and what my fee would be. I also explained that helping their dog would require work from the whole family. The family did not hire my services.

The next I heard is that this golden retriever cross has been put down. I was dumbfound and so unbelievably sad for this poor dog. And the saddest thing about this all is that the family now has a new puppy…

Please understand that dogs are living, loving, feeling beings and not property (no matter what the law says!!!). Treat your dog with loving kindness, compassion and respect as well as take the time to learn their language. Remember that including a dog in your family is a commitment for life – the dogs entire, natural life, no matter what!

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House Training a Puppy

puppy-toilet-training1

There are two main rules to toilet training success;
1. Prevent Accidents: Supervise your puppy in the house. Use a crate when you are not sure if your puppy is “empty”.

2. Reward your puppy for going outside: Praise at the right moment, i.e. the second he starts “going.” Reward with a treat after he is finished.

Sounds simple! So how to go about this? Keep on reading to find out.

So lets start with number one, preventing accidents. This is were long-term and short-term confinement comes into the picture.

Long -term confinement is a place for your puppy to stay when you can’t provide 100% supervision. In other words, when you are out, or busy around the house, and can’t keep your eyes on him the entire time. It prevents chewing accidents, toilet accidents, and teaches your puppy to be alone.

“Confinement? Surely that’s too strict?” Not at all. It is the best possible start for your puppy in your household. People often give a new puppy complete freedom right away. Then, when he has an accident on the carpet or chews on the legs of the coffee table, they confine him, and confinement becomes a punishment.

Instead, give your puppy a safe place from the beginning, and let him make a gradual and successful transition to his new home. He will be much happier and your furniture will be intact.

“When do I use it? And how would I set it up?” Use a long-term confinement area if you will be gone longer than your puppy can hold it. The ideal confinement area is easy to clean and easy to close off with a door or baby gate. It should be mostly free of furniture and non-puppy related objects. The best places for a confinement area are the kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, or an empty spare room. Furnish with:

• A puppy pad or litter box
• Your puppy’s crate (with the door open)
• Water and food bowls
• A chew toy or Kong

So you have now  everything set up, and next step is getting your puppy used to his confinement area:

Step 1. Take your puppy out for a walk or bathroom break.

Step 2. Give him a chew bone or a stuffed Kong. Leave him alone in the confinement area while you go about your business in the house.

Step 3. After 5 minutes or before he finishes his chew, let him out but don’t make a big deal about it or make a fuss over him.

Repeat steps 1-3, gradually increasing the time you leave your puppy in his confinement area without leaving the house. Vary the length of your absences, from 30 seconds to 20 minutes, and repeat them throughout the day.

Leave your puppy in his confinement area (or crate) at night. It is normal for him to try a little crying as a strategy to get out, so brace yourself for that. He has to get used to alone-time.

Step 4. Within the first day or two, start leaving the house for really short intervals like just stepping outside or taking out the trash. Gradually work up to longer absences, like running errands.

Next we get to short-term confinement and that means crating your puppy. A crate is a terrific training and management tool. It is useful for house-training, brief alone-time, settling, and any form of travel. Most importantly, a crate teaches your puppy to hold it when he has to go to the bathroom. A crate helps your puppy in many ways—and saves your carpets.

“Is using a crate cruel?” Absolutely not. A crate can be your puppy’s favourite place in the world. Think of it as his crib. Use treats, praise, and toys to make your puppy love his crate. Just remember never to use the crate for more than 3-4 hours at a time, except for bedtime.

General guidelines for crating puppies:

8-10 weeks up to 1 hour
11-12 weeks up to 2 hours
13-16 weeks up to 3 hours
Over 4 months up to 4 hours

As getting puppy used to the long-term confinement, getting your puppy used to the crate also goes in steps.crate-happy

Step 1. Begin crate training right away—preferably the first day your puppy is in your home.

Step 2. Throw small tasty treats into the crate one at a time. Praise your puppy when he goes in to get the treat.

Step 3. When your puppy is comfortable going into the crate, practice closing the door for 1-2 seconds, then treat him through the door. Let him back out. Repeat this step many times, gradually building to 10 seconds.

Step 4. Stuff a Kong with something very yummy or use a special bone that will take a lot of time to chew. Put the chewies in the crate. Shut the door. Move about the house normally. Let your puppy back out after 5 minutes or when he finishes his treat. Don’t make a fuss over him. Repeat this step several times, varying the length of your absences from 1 to 20 minutes.

Step 5. Next, leave your puppy in the crate with something delicious while you leave the house for short errands, like getting the mail or watering the garden. Gradually build your absences.

Now we get to the next part, how to house-train;
Step 1. Take your puppy outside on leash. Take him to the same place every time.

Step 2. When he goes, praise. Offer him a treat when he is finished.

Step 3. If you are in a puppy-safe place, let him off the leash for a little playtime.

If he doesn’t go within 5 minutes, put him in his crate for 10-20 minutes, then try again.

A house-training checklist
• Take your puppy to his toilet place first thing in the morning, last thing before bed, shortly after meals, naps, or play sessions, when he comes out of his crate, and generally every hour or so.
• Until your puppy is perfectly house-trained, always go outside with him so you can cheer and reward at the right moment.
• Supervise whenever your puppy is not crated, especially if he is full. If you must take your eyes off him, even for a minute, crate him or put him in his confinement area.
• If you see your puppy sniffing and circling in the house, take him out immediately.

“What about if my puppy has an accident?” Interrupt mistakes as they are happening. Don’t be too harsh or your puppy will be afraid to go in front of you. After interrupting your puppy, hustle him outside to the toilet area. Praise if he finishes there. Clean up the indoor mess with an enzymatic cleaner to remove protein residue that might attract him to the same place again.

toilet-puppyRemember: Never punish. If your puppy made the mistake one hour or five seconds ago, you are too late. Don’t rub his nose in his own mess or smack him, this will simply make him afraid of you, and he won’t understand why you do it. You must catch him in the act for the interruption to work, and again, you can’t do it too harshly or your puppy will be afraid to go in front of you.

Wishing you happy training with your puppy!

Feel free to contact Make Your Dog Smile if you need help with any aspects of your puppy training !

 

 

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Halloween

halloween_pumpkinHalloween is just a couple of days away, so soon the door bells will be ringing, trick or treaters showing up in strange looking costumes and in the background noisy fireworks… This time of human fun can be a very scary time for your dog, so please keep him safe.

If your dog is not used to “heavy traffic” at your door, you can already today start getting him desensitized to the door bell ringing or knocks at the door, to make it easier for him on the night. Even if your dog is well mannered and a great greeter it is safer to keep him away from the door during the time you have trick and treaters visiting. Halloween costumes are not everyday occurrence and the strange looks of these can scare your dog. And also take to account that not all these visitors are used to dogs and could also be equally scared. Also make sure that the candy you are giving to the trick or treaters is out of reach of your dog!

Fireworks are also connected to Halloween, and if your dog was worried about them last year, chances are he will be even more so this year. During the night (and even before if fireworks start early in your neighbourhood) close the curtains as soon as it gets dark to keep the lights out. A good idea is to cover the windows with blankets which dampens the sounds as well as the lights. Inside the house leave internal doors open not to trap your dog. Make a den where your dog can feel secure and go hiding when the going gets too tough. A crate, big cardboard box or a blanket over a table can make great safe places. Distracting the noise from outside by putting on the TV or playing calming music (check out Canine Lullabies and Trough a Dog’s Ear) can have a good effect on nervous behaviour.

A brilliant help for noise sensitivity in dogs is TTouch. What a lot of TTouch practitioners have noticed is that tension in the back end goes together with noise sensitivity. So doing gentle TTouches on these areas can help before – as well as – during the night. Thundershirts are also a great tool to use on the night. Thundershirt applies gentle pressure on the dogs body, making them feel more secure and therefore more calm when loud noises are around. To find out more about Thundershirts check out their website.

Other things to try is for example Adaptil that can be helpful for reassuring dogs during new experiences and fearful situations. The special scent (odourless to people and other animals) that Adaptil utilises is a replication of the pheromone that mother dogs naturally emit to their puppies just after birth, to comfort them and reinforce the attachment between the mother and her offspring. These products come in forms of plug in diffuser, spray and collar.

Halloween is also a time when a good few pets go missing, so make sure your dogs microchip is up to date. Don’t leave your dog unattended in the garden (or anywhere else for that matter), as a sudden firework or strange looking trick or treater might scare them and as a result they could run away. So please keep your dog safely indoors during this time. A good idea is also to exercise your dog before it gets dark and fireworks as well as trick or treaters are around. This is especially important if you have a dog that is noise sensitive!

Wishing you and your dog a safe Halloween!

halloween1

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