Ways to Help Your Dog Relax

Most dog owners at one point or another have seen their dog in an anxious or stressed state. It can be unfortunate to watch your dog feeling stressed, especially when you don’t know what to do. So to help you and your pup feel more at ease during those anxious times, we’ve put together some helpful tips to ease your dog into a more relaxed state of mind.

 

‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’: What we mean by this is when your dog sees you acting calm and speaking in a low, soothing voice, he will also be in a calm state of mind with you. Dogs read our body language very well and respond to it immediately. If you are talking in a way that gets your dog excited, then you can only expect him to be excited! The more you practise being calm in your own life, you will quickly see your dog becoming calm right along with you.

 

Go For a Run!: Have you ever noticed going for walk quickly improves your mood? The same goes for your dog! Making sure your dog is properly mentally and physically stimulated helps to ensure they are not redirecting any excess energy into being anxious. A tired dog is much more likely to be calm and relaxed as opposed to a dog who hasn’t had a walk all day!

 

Thundershirt: Using a special design of ‘pressure points’ (but not painful), the thundershirt helps anxious dogs by fitting snugly and applying pressure to make the dog feel more secure. Similar to how a baby feels when being swaddled, the thundershirt fits tight on the dog’s torso and makes most dogs feel safe during anxiety-inducing instances such as thunderstorms, loud noises, vet visits, fireworks, etc. Although the thundershirt may not work for every dog, many dog owners have found a lot of relief with this product.

 

Whether you decide to use anxiety-reducing products or simply talking in a less excited tone to you dog, the best way to help your dog stay in a calm state of mind is patience and consistency. Especially if your dog is prone to being anxious, sometimes the best method is to ask a trainer or behaviourist on what long term exercises you can do to help your dog. Just as we don’t want to be constantly stressed, our dogs shouldn’t have to be stressed either. Making sure to watch our own behaviours and staying in a calm state of mind around our dogs will help them to relax.

Potty Training Your Dog

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Potty training your puppy is one of the most important milestones in their training. For most owners it means no more little ‘accidents’ in the house! It’s also a huge confidence booster for your pup when he knows he has done something right and makes you happy! If you’re looking for a ‘piddle-free’ home, read on for our potty training tips!

 

Frequent Potty Breaks

To really succeed at potty training your dog, you need to give them many opportunities to do what you are asking of them. If your dog is still a puppy, we recommend anywhere from 5-7 breaks every day (for about 10 minutes each). It is best if you also try to time the breaks about 15-20 minutes after they’ve finished the meal as this is most likely the time that they have digested and are ready to do their business. Why so many breaks? The more opportunities you give your dog to go to the bathroom, the more likely it is that they will go and that will give you your chance to praise them for going to the bathroom!

 

Don’t Reprimand

Of course there are many different believes on dog training in general. We don’t see much benefit to reprimanding your dog if they’ve had an accident inside the house. This can include speaking loudly/negatively toward your dog, bringing their nose to the ‘scene of the crime’ and saying “no???. As most people know, dog’s live in the moment, so when you bring them over to their poop or pee in the house and say no, they likely do not comprehend that we are telling them “look at this pee that you did an hour ago, I don’t want you to do this again???. They just know you are making them get really close to their pee and may not know why! So it is generally best to just ignore it, definitely don’t praise them for it but don’t reprimand them either. Just continue to praise when they do they right thing outside!

 

Praise! Praise! Praise!

As we mentioned briefly in our other two tips, it is so important to praise your dog when they have gone to the bathroom outside. Without that praise, they won’t know that they are doing what you want, so they may not be inclined to do it again. And timing is very critical! Pay attention to your dog and the second that they are going to the bathroom, get your excited voice going and start telling your dog how amazing they are! If you aren’t paying attention and give them praise 5 minutes after they’ve already gone, your dog may not understand what he is getting that praise for.

 

If you follow our potty training tips consistently, we are confident that in no time your dog will be potty trained and you will have no more little ‘piddles’ in your home.

Train Your Dog to Come When Called!

 

One of the most valuable things you can teach your dog is to come when called. Otherwise known as their recall. When a dog has good recall, you can go virtually anywhere with your dog off leash and be able to fully trust that he will keep watch of where you are and come back when you ask him to.

Before we dive into the process of teaching your dog good recall, you should keep in mind some breeds may be harder to train, but not impossible! Many dogs that were bred for scent tracking such as beagles, bloodhounds, etc., can take longer to teach ‘come’ as they get distracted by interesting scents (scents that are usually more interesting than us or even the treat we might have). But don’t be discouraged, it really isn’t impossible, it just may take more time and it is so important that you stay positive and consistent for successful training.

The most popular way to teach you dog ‘come’ is to simply have them on leash and while holding that leash, ask your dog to ‘come’. When he does come, give him praise and a treat! If he doesn’t, then simply tug on your leash gently pulling the dog towards you and when he reaches you, give him praise and a treat just as you would if he did it on his own. This will help communicate with your dog exactly what you are asking him to do (you are after all teaching him a word he’s never heard before!).

When your dog seems to understand it, you can then continue to use longer and longer leashes so that you are then challenging him to come to you from a farther distance. Don’t be discouraged if your dog did great on the short leash but not on the longer leash! Even on the long leash you can gently pull him in towards you and give praise when he reaches you. It is very important to not continuously keep repeating the word ‘come’ as it will let your dog think he doesn’t have to listen to you the first time, he can come when he feels like it. If you ask your dog to ‘come’ and he doesn’t, don’t repeat the word, simply pull him in towards you. You want to teach your dog that if you say the word come, he is expected to run to you right away.

If your dog gets really good at the long leash exercises, you can start introducing some distractions to challenge him. Have a friend walk by, or a friendly dog hanging out nearby. Slowly you will be able to introduce more and more distractions that your dog will learn to ignore and only focus on what you are asking him to do.

In no time at all your dog will be enjoying life off leash and you can live worry-free knowing that no matter what distractions are happening around you, your dog will reliably come back to you.

Crate Training Your Dog

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Crate training your dog can be very beneficial to both you and your dog. Although some owners will sometimes see sending your dog to his crate as a punishment, when introduced properly, it can be a safe space for your dog to feel secure and relax.

It is a great idea to crate training almost any dog. Every person as well as dog should have at least one place that they can feel safe and peaceful. When lined with a comfy bed or blanket, your dog will feel nice and cozy in his crate and many dogs will sleep more soundly at night when put into their crate. Leaving your dog constant access to his crate will allow him to separate himself if he feels too overwhelmed or stressed.

Crate training is also extremely helpful if you are potty training your dog. Most dogs do not want to soil their sleeping quarters, so they are more likely to try and stay clean when in their crate. When potty training, it is vital to not leave your dog in his crate for too long (longer than he is able to go without relieving himself). It is a good idea to give your dog lots of bathroom breaks when potty training, especially 20-30 min after eating as that is the typical time they will need to go. Make sure you aren’t leaving your dog in his crate for too long, you don’t want him to resort to doing his business inside the crate and then getting too used to that habit.

When looking for a crate for your dog, make certain it is not too small or too big. Also take into account if he has anymore growing to do. A crate that is too small for your dog will make him feel uncomfortable and cramped, ensuring that he will not be very happy to go into the crate. And there is no need to get the biggest dog crate on the market when you have a miniature or toy breed dog. Bigger is not always better, most dogs will appreciate having a crate the perfect size for them so they can move around comfortably but also be nice and cozy. Make sure that when your dog is in his crate, he can easily stand up straight with approximately 3-6 inches of extra space above his head; as well as able to turn around in his crate easily.

To help your dog have a positive association with his crate, do not force or push him in to it. Leave the door open to the crate so you can let him investigate it at his own pace. If he looks curious and starts sniffing the crate, or even starts to wander inside, give him lots of praise! Help him to realize that the crate is a happy place and not a punishment.

Ensuring that your dog has a safe place to escape to is just one of the many responsibilities a pet parent has. It is up to you to help your dog realize that his crate is not a punishment, but instead, his own little private space if he feels stressed or just wants a peaceful place to sleep. An easy mistake to make is not having the right size crate for your dog which can often make or break your efforts. Make sure it is not only the right size, but also appealing for your dog; adding in a dog bed or even a t-shirt with your scent on it will help make a little sanctuary for your furry best friend.

Strengthening The Bond With Your Dog

One of the greatest benefits of owning a dog is the unconditional love. Dogs bring so much happiness into our lives. It is so important to keep that wonderful loving relationship strong between you and your pet and there are many great benefits to keeping that friendship strong!

When you interact with your dog, whether it be going for a walk, doing a training session, or playing in the backyard, you are strengthening your bond. You learn to read their body language better and they learn the same about you! Hanging out with your furry best bud is a great way to spend the day, but did you know it also helps your mental state? There have been numerous studies proving that pet owners have significantly lower stress levels compared to non-pet owners. Lower stress results in less risk for stroke and cardiovascular issues.

The emotional bond that we make with our pets, also greatly helps with depression and anxiety. This is partly due to the fact that dogs need to get outside daily! Which means we have to go out into the world and explore with them. Being out and about, getting some fresh air and sunlight is a great mood booster for both dogs and humans!

So with all these great benefits, how should you be bonding with your dog? It can be as simple as going for a walk; but make sure you are alert and attentive to your dog during the walk! This is the part that most owners forget. Watch your dog reacting to different objects on your walk and when he looks back at you for direction, tell him ‘good boy’ so he knows you are focused on him. During your walk, take spontaneous breaks to have your dog sit, lie down or give paw, whatever tricks you’d like! This shows your dog you aren’t interested in everything else going on around you two, you are interested in him, and it will help your dog to also pay more attention to you.

There are so many ways you can help strengthen the bond between you and your dog.  Some examples are playing fetch, going for a hike, exploring new places together or even training your dog on agility equipment! Even something as simple as cuddling with your pet helps to improve your bond as most dogs are very responsive to touch and it’s a great way to communicate to your dog your affection. Or consider teaching your dog a new trick! If he already knows all his basic commands, think of something new! Teach him the name of one of his toys so he can go grab it when asked. Learning new tricks will not only help you two bond, but also keep your dog mentally satisfied as he is challenged with a new problem he has to figure out through the help of your communication.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to just have fun and enjoy the time you are spending with your dog! Dogs are easily able to identify when a human is being sincere or not so make sure you really are doing something fun together! Whether you two are practising for a dog agility competition or having a lazy afternoon cuddling on the couch, enjoying each other’s company will help to reinforce your bond.

Buy From a Breeder or Adopt From a Rescue?

 

There is a much discussed debate amongst pet owners & enthusiasts of whether to get a dog from a registered breeder or from a shelter/ rescue. Everyone seems to have a very strong opinion on this subject so to make the right decision for you, it is important to look at the positives and negatives to both sides.

 

Buying from a registered breeder

The major benefit to buying from a breeder is you know exactly what you are getting. You can meet the parents (and even learn about grandparents!) of your potential puppy. You will also be receiving the puppy with all of their pedigree papers, genetic health testing and some of their puppy vaccinations already completed. A good breeder will tell you what specifically he/she breeds for in terms of health and temperament. Some people believe that buying a puppy from a breeder will really help you ‘mold’ your perfect pet as they go home with you at about 8 weeks so they will grow up with you and your family. Being from a registered breeder who specifically breeds only one kind of dog, you are able to really research exactly what breed is perfect for your family and being a purebred dog you will get only that breed.

One of the downsides to buying from a breeder is that purebred dogs on average have more health problems compared to that of mixed breeds. Also keep in mind how much work a puppy is. An 8 week old puppy means you will have a full-time job of introducing your dog to the world, socializing, training, bonding. Of course, getting any dog (including from a shelter) will be a lot of work, but that work feels like it’s doubled when you have a puppy.

 

Adopting from a rescue or shelter

The most obvious benefit from going to a rescue, you are saving a life. Not only that, you are actually saving two lives; the dog you are adopting and the space it opens up for another misfortunate dog to come into the rescue and get a chance at being rehomed.

Most of the dogs you will see at shelters will be mixed breeds (sometimes unidentifiable!) and typically mixed breed dogs have better health compared to purebred dogs. But if your heart really is set on a purebred dog, they do sometimes appear in rescues too! There are also many shelters dedicated to saving various purebred dogs. With a quick internet search, you can easily find rescues dedicated to rehoming many breeds such as pugs, greyhounds, even poodles! Most of the dogs in shelters are out of their puppy days and are fully potty-trained which is wonderful to not have to worry about. Many shelters will let you ‘foster to adopt’ so you can truly see if the dog is a good match for you and your family before committing to such a huge life change. And if you find out later on that there are some behavioural issues with the dog you’ve adopted, you can always reach out to the rescue you adopted from to get advice or recommendations for a reputable dog trainer. When you compare the costs involved in buying from a breeder vs adopting from a rescue, adopting is definitely more cost effective. Shelters will take care of costs such as up to date vaccinations, spay/neuter and microchipping before you take your new dog home. When adopting from a rescue you get the pleasure of learning all about your potential dog’s personality first as many of the staff have worked with and gotten to know the dog’s behaviours and quirks.

Keep in mind, when adopting from a rescue, as the dogs are typically mixed breeds, you may not know exactly what to expect. You can only do your best guess as to what breeds make up your dog, and then research those breeds. The biggest worry many people have when adopting a dog is the potential for behavioural issues. Although these behaviour issues may arise, keep in mind than even a purebred puppy from a breeder is not immune to having some undesirable behaviours too. It is all about how you bond and train your dog. Sometimes a mixed breed dog from a rescue will have some quirks, but you are not alone, as previously stated, you can always reach out to the rescue for help.

 

Whether adopting from a rescue or buying from a breeder, make sure you and your family are 100% ready for the responsibility of a dog and have fully considered how it will change your lives.