Training Archives - Hot Diggity! Dog Walking + Pet Sitting

Before you take on the responsibility of another dog, you must ensure that you will be able to handle adding another friend to your family. Make sure that you will be able to afford the costs of more food, supplies, medicine, and vet appointments. It is also important that you have enough space for your dog, especially if they are a larger breed. 

Do you have enough time for the new dog? This is another important question to ask yourself because a new furry friend means even more time outside exercising your pups. It can be a lot of work, especially if you aren’t expecting it. If you’re ready for the added responsibility, however, bringing a new pet home can be a great experience. There are just a few things to keep in mind.

Before They Arrive

Before your dog comes home, you should prepare your house for the new addition. If you have a dog already, this is a good time to make sure that your house is safe for additional pets. For example, ensure that the houseplants that you have are safe for dogs. If you are bringing home a puppy, it may be wise to take additional steps to make your home and yard safe for the dog. You may also want to purchase important supplies for your pup ahead of time, including things like food, bowls for food and water, a collar, a leash, and toys.

Introductions

Before you officially bring your dog home, you should ensure that everyone will get along with the new pet. To do this, take the time to make sure all members of your household meet the new addition and give their approval. This includes your existing pets! Many shelters will allow you to bring your dogs and cats to the shelter to meet the new dog to ensure that they can live harmoniously. Additionally, introducing your pets in neutral territory like a shelter will keep resource guarding and aggression at bay. 

Remember that all dogs have different personalities and preferences. There will be certain dogs that won’t get along; that’s normal. However, it is important to find this out before you bring a new dog home instead of after. Otherwise, this tension can lead to territorial aggression, something that can also result from anxiety in your dogs. Introducing them ahead of time is a good way to help avoid this issue completely. 

If it isn’t possible to make introductions in a neutral space like a shelter, it is important to gradually introduce your pets as opposed to just tossing them together. Consider introducing your dogs while they are in a crate, then easing them out of it once they’ve calmed down have become somewhat used to the new addition’s presence. Don’t forget that you’ll also need to take time to walk the new pet around their new home. When introducing your dog to the new home, it is helpful to introduce a bit of the house at a time. Consider allowing them to look around one room at a time.

Home Alone

It can be very stressful for your dog to be home alone in a place with which they are unfamiliar, especially if they are home alone with new animals. At first, try to limit the amount of time that your dog is home alone. One way to make it easier for them is to set up a quiet and calm place for them to be while they are at home alone, like a bed with their own toys.

If any of your dogs suffer from separation anxiety, a new addition to the environment can increase this dramatically. Limiting initial alone time together is a good way to combat this, in addition to things like CBD oil for anxiety, and crate training. A lot of dog owners are turning to this natural remedy to help make their pup feel more comfortable when they’re alone.

If you choose crate training, gradually ease them into the space and make it comfortable for them. If your new dog is a puppy, ensure that the crate will have enough space as they grow. It may also help to set up the crate in a room that makes them comfortable and is away from noise and distractions. Make sure it is well-ventilated and light enough, too. The crate should be seen as a safe space for your dog, not a punishment, so you want to ensure the space suits them.

Settling In

When your dog is the newest addition to your family, it will be easy to shower them with attention. Remember, however, that you’ll eventually want them to fit in with the rest of your family on a daily basis without special attention. Try not to give them too much attention, in other words, because doing so could inadvertently train them to expect praise and treats all the time. Make sure that you love all of your pets equally and include them all as a part of your family. One way to do this is to take your dogs for walks together, which will help them to be active and bonded. It may take time to adjust them to this new routine, so make sure that you remain patient with your dogs and reward positive behavior. You may also plan “doggie dates” for them to all bond with each other and the family. This will help to acclimate the new dog and create shared time together.

 

Bringing a new pet home is no small decision, and there are many things to consider before making the choice. If you do decide that expanding the family is the right choice for you, make sure to use this guide to ensure a smooth transition for everyone.

This guest post is from Madison Adams, you can view her travel blog here!

Pets add so much joy to our lives and we want to reciprocate this unconditional love, however, daily responsibilities like work and school often mean that we can’t spend as much time with Buster as we’d like.

It’s hard to come home tired after a long day and work up the energy to take your energetic pup out for the exercise they need. Don’t sweat it – we’re here to support pet lovers so no one needs to forego pet parenthood because of work, family, travel or educational pursuits.

One of the most important ways we support pet lovers is with daily dog walks, which help reduce stress for both you and your pup; you don’t worry when you’re home late and Buster doesn’t become anxious, depressed, or unhealthy.

Healthy

With diabetes and obesity becoming increasingly common among dogs, daily exercise is a great preventative approach to keeping Buster healthy, happy, and agile for years to come. The amount of exercise needed varies by breed between 30 minutes to two hours per day and vets agree that regular walks promote digestive health, keep aging dogs limber, relieve joint pain, maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, high-blood pressure and diabetes.

Happy

Walks also support emotional well-being, maintain routine and reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotional and behavioral issues by allowing your pet to get exercise, explore, and enjoy company and love during the day. Dogs build up a lot of restless energy during the day and often have a hard time finding productive, nondestructive ways to keep themselves entertained. Release that energy in a healthy way by going on a midday walk instead of turning to shoes or couch cushions for entertainment.

Social

In addition to being a great form of exercise, walking can be an exciting part of your dog’s day. Daily walks help with socialization, allowing pups to explore new scents and sights in addition to meeting other dogs and humans. Walks are also a great way to practice walking on a leash and reinforcing training, reducing aggression and anxiety in the future.

Whether your 15-year old bulldog wants a slow 30-minute saunter around the neighborhood or your Shepherd puppy needs a two-hour forest pack hike to be worn out, our award-winning team is here to help you create the perfect walking experience for your family.

Get in touch to schedule weekly walks or talk to our admin team about your favorite four-legged walker or hiker.

So, your beloved Buster has taken over your couch and chances are, they make you feel guilty by staring at you with their huge puppy-dog eyes each time you tell them to come down. If this keeps up, you won’t be able to enjoy watching your favorite TV show without smelling musty or getting pet hair all over your jeans. (Although pet hair is an emblem of love for many fur-parents, your guests might think otherwise.) And now that autumn is bringing back Portland’s signature rain (and mud), you really don’t want your outdoorsy dog tracking dirt onto your furniture. So, what now?

1. Break the Habit and Stick to the New Rule

Breaking the habit is going to be a challenge if you and your dog are used to snuggling on the couch or watch TV together; however, you need to be consistent to be successful. A dog can be clingy and just like a human child, thinks they own everything you do. Whether you have changed your mind about pet-friendly furniture because your dog is shedding heavily or incessantly chewing the couch or pillows, once you make a rule, it’s up to you to stick to it. Make sure every family member (mom, dad, sister, brother, even cat if you can) sticks to the rule; otherwise, it can confuse your furry family member.

2. Training and Treats Go a Long Way

Say “get off,” “down,” or a similar command each time you catch them lying on the couch or as soon as you see them putting their paws up on the furniture. They will act stubbornly at first but be persistent. Bite-sized goodies tossed on the floor can be a good way to entice all four paws onto the ground. When Buster gets it right, make a fuss and reward them with more treats.

3. Make Sure Your Dog Loves Their Bed

The reason dogs prefer lounging on your couch instead of their own bed might be that they find the comfy couch a lot nicer than the bed you bought at a bargain sale. Try making the couch less appealing by providing a cozier and a more enticing bed with pillows and some toys that your dog will surely love. You may also plug in a DAP diffuser near their bed for the first few weeks to create a welcoming atmosphere as they breathe in soothing pheromones.

4. Provide Their Own Sofa

Whether Buster loves fetch, tug-of-war, running, or digging, nothing beats spending time with their owner even if it means binge-watching the newest Shonda Rhimes series all day. Keeping you company is a way of showing how much they love you, and we all love that feeling. Instead of telling Buster to go away, provide a comfy alternative to your sofa – and if a regular dog bed isn’t cutting it, you may want to try creating their own sofa or chair. You can place it right beside your couch so you can both be comfortable while the two of you spend quality time together.

5. Don’t Punish the Pooch

We hope this goes without saying: never punish your pet by hitting or spanking. Not only is negative punishment harsh and cruel, but it is also ineffective and will only result in more behavioral issues. Scold them, tell them “off” or another word you decide to use when they try to push the boundaries and use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior instead of punishing naughtiness. If Buster growls at you or challenges you when you enforce boundaries, you may want to think about taking some training classes together to reinforce your authority and strengthen your bond.

You and Buster love each other and with a few simple (and consistent) changes, you can enjoy your quality time together in a way that keeps everyone happy.

 

This guest post is from Brian Morgan, an editor at DogBedZone.com where he writes about picking the best dog bed for your pup. The site also features tips, guides, and resources for dog owners.

If you have brought a new dog home and you find that he misses you terribly when you are gone, you have probably already discovered how helpful dog sitting and dog walking can be. Dogs by nature like to be active, and feel a strong need to be near their humans. So when they’re alone for too many hours, they can take out their frustration and energy on the furniture. In this post we highlight a few ways to help your dog associate entertainment with something other than your favorite Edwardian chair.

The Importance of Exercise

Your dog should ideally be taking several walks a day and at least a couple of nice long walks. They should have the opportunity to chase after a ball, run over a large safe surface, and enjoy smelling plants, trees and surfaces, as they love doing.

One of the main reasons for undesirable behavior, is a lack of physical activity. If your dog is acting up and you are at work all day just call us! We can help get your dog out on the town whether its a walk down the street, playing ball in the backyard, or even better- going on a whole half-day pack hike.

Even when at home outside of walk times your dog can still be entertained with safe chew toys for dogs. Make sure you use trusted brands only, since cheaper toys can chip and break off, or pose a possible choking risk for pooches. Puppies especially should have a wide range of toys, because they continue to teeth until they are about eight months old. You can also fill up a Kong toy with frozen xylitol-and-salt-free peanut butter to keep them hard at work for a few hours.

Check for Separation Anxiety

If your dog only misbehaves when you are away from the home, bringing home another dog (which will certainly provide welcome company for your pooch) won’t solve the problem of chewing.

As is the case with humans, desensitization can work well for separation anxiety. This treatment involves exiting the door for a few seconds, coming back in, lengthening your absence to a minute, then a few minutes, then half an hour etc., as a way of letting your dog know that absence is always temporary and that you are not abandoning them.

If you think your dog might have this condition it is important to speak to your veterinarian who may recommend treatment in severe cases. The key is to enhance your dog’s wellbeing through a combination of approaches. Exercise, for instance, is always a good approach.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

In addition to chewing, a dog with separation anxiety will often show other symptoms, including howling and barking, trying to escape, doing his necessities indoors, and pacing. One of the reasons it is so important to see your vet is that these behaviors may be caused by other conditions (including infection, bladder stones, neurological problems, etc.).

There are certain events that can bring about this type of anxiety, including a change of guardian, change in schedule, moving residence, etc. The death of a family member can also spark different behaviors.

Spraying Furniture as a Deterrent

When chewing is occasional, you can nip it in the bud by spraying your furniture with a natural spray, which you can make at home using essential oils. Blend around 1 cup of water with around 10 drops of citrus essential oils* and white distilled vinegar. The bonus of this type of spray is that (unlike sprays made with chemicals) it won’t contribute to indoor air pollution, yet it will lend your home a beautiful, natural fragrance; make sure you use therapeutic grade citrus essential oils, which are safe for dogs and humans alike.

To stop your dog from chewing on your furniture, provide him with plenty of activity, ensure he has toys to let out his chewing instinct on, and try natural deterrents you can make at home for a small price.

*WARNING for cat owners: Essential oils, including citrus oils, contain phenols which are harmless towards dogs and humans, but highly toxic to cats. Inhaling phenols or getting them on their fur and licking the phenols off will cause symptoms of toxicity and require veterinary intervention. Search for cat-friendly no-bite sprays such as Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray to use at home.

Photo by andrew welch on Unsplash

While it might be difficult to get used to at first for either a new cat owner or a new cat, nail trimming is an important part of keeping your feline healthy. Without regular trimming, cat’s nails can actually grow long enough that they will curve into the cat’s paws. This is not only painful, it can lead to serious infections too. Thankfully, trimming your cat’s nails doesn’t have to be an H. P. Lovecraft horror fest with a few training tips and tricks.

  • Start by training your cat to be comfortable with their paws being handled. While they’re relaxed from being pet, offer them treats while you handle their paws. Don’t continue if they become uncomfortable, and stop the treats when you stop handling their paws.
  • If they already like being on their back, this is the best position to be able to trim their nails in and a great time to train them to be comfortable with having their paws handled. However some adult cats already don’t like being on their backs and will have a hard time with it, so you’ll have to find an alternative position where they’re comfortable.
  • For adult cats that are already afraid of nail trimmers, help improve their association by pulling out the nail trimmers during happier times such as feeding and petting. Don’t use them at these times, but just place them nearby so that they become familiar with their form and reduce their negative association with them.
  • When do you trim a cat’s nails, start with just one at a time and then give them a treat. While they’re eating, cut the next nail if you can. It helps at this point to have an assistant providing your cat the treats.
  • Especially at first, don’t trim more than five at a time. This helps reduce the stress buildup from reaching the point where your cat will want to run away.
  • If your cat really really can’t stand it, you can gently wrap them in a towel and trim one foot at a time. Even with this method it’s best not to go for all four paws at once. If they’re angry or stressed that will build up their negative association with trimmers and make every attempt difficult and unpleasant. However if used gently, the towel method can be a helpful training tool in the beginning for particularly skittish kitties.
  • Make sure you’re not trimming their nails too far! You only want to clip off the sharp clear end, avoiding the pink quick inside which is sensitive. This is why it’s helpful to have an assistant, your cat comfortable so they’re not pulling away, and especially to have trimers that are sharp and easy for you to handle and see the nail while using.

Here’s a handy video to give you a visual overview of the process of trimming your cat’s nails,

We wish you luck with helping your cat become comfortable getting their nails trimmed! If you have any other tips or tricks, feel free to let us know! And if you’re on the lookout for a new feline best friend, check out some of our favorite cat rescues on our Community Partners page.

Further reading: http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/trim-your-cats-nails-without-the-stress

This is a special guest post by the Synergy Behavior Solutions Team, a stellar veterinary behavior and training team dedicated to improving the lives of pets with behavioral issues. To learn more about them, read on and then visit them at their website.

It is not unusual for dogs to be worried or fearful of new people in their homes. For some dogs these behaviors are more pronounced when the owners are present. Some dogs are more worried when they are alone and a stranger (like a new dog walker) comes into the house. Here are a couple tips to help your dog feel more comfortable.

The first step to helping your dog be more comfortable is to learn how to “speak” dog by reading your dog’s body language. Dogs have a lot to communicate, if we just open our eyes to see them, instead of just our listening with our ears. Many people recognize the overly fearful dog who is hiding in the corner or the ones who are barking and lunging at people. What many people miss are the more subtle signs of stress and worry they might be showing before they are “screaming” (shaking, barking) with their body language. More subtle signs might include: avoiding eye contact, pinning ears back along the head, panting when it’s not hot, or refusing food. If your dog is giving you those more subtle signs of stress, remove them from the situation before they feel the need to escalate to more aggressive behavior. To learn more about dog body language and learn more about how to speak “dog” check out http://www.ispeakdog.org.

An essential part of dog care is knowing the dog's preference for treats or their dietary needs. Our Portland dog sitters and dog walkers always make sure to know these critical details!

The second step is to let your dog choose when to (or when not to) interact with the new person. Frequently, strangers want to make friends instantly with your dog. Like many people, dogs need time to warm up to strangers. When we let our dogs choose if they want to meet a person, it can be on their terms, when they feel comfortable. Don’t force your dog to interact by dragging them to meet the person, or even having the person hold out treats. Once your dog wants to approach the new person, have them ignore them. Have them avoid staring at the dog. Reaching out or leaning towards or over them can be an invasion of their personal space and scary. Instead let your dog sniff, approach and retreat as they deem necessary without physical interaction. Let your dog set their own time table of comfort. It may take minutes, it may be hours and it may be days. Slow and steady is the safest path to making new friends.

The next step is letting your dog choose how to interact with the new person. This is where reading body language is very important. Some dogs might like to play a game of treat tossing, where the person throws a treat away from them and your dog gets to find it. Then when they start approaching the person again, they toss another treat away. With this game, the dog is being rewarded for approaching but they do not need to come all the way to the new person. They are getting a double reward of the treat and also increasing distance away from the new person.

Some dogs eventually like to be touched. We suggest “touch testing” for these dogs. Start petting their chest or shoulder, but only for one to 3 seconds (yes seconds!) and stop. See if the dog moves closer or maybe nudges your hand, that is a yes from the dog to please continue. If when you stop the dog steps away, then it is time to stop touching them and give them a break. Do not encourage them to come back, wait, remember it’s their choice.

A cute dog cuddles their favorite Portland dog walkerThese are just a few helpful tips to get you started understand what your dog is saying and helping them be more comfortable. If your dog is showing signs of aggression towards strangers we recommend keeping everyone safe and avoiding interaction with strangers. Then, we recommend reaching out to your dog’s veterinarian, then an experienced reward-based behavior professional, for suggestions on training and behavior modification. Remember that using punishment may suppress reactivity towards people, but won’t address the underlying reasons (the emotional causes) for the negative behavior. There is a lot that can be done to decrease a dog’s anxiety and improve their relationships with people, so don’t wait! Ask for help.

Chewing is always a difficult problem with puppies, and it’s one that needs to be resolved for your pet to be a part of your household as well as to protect your new family member. The good news is that most dogs do grow out of their chewing behavior. The bad news is that they can do quite a lot of damage before they outgrow the habit, and often dogs with anxiety issues will continue having chewing problems into adulthood. Here are some ways to train your puppy (and protect your home!) as well as help your puppies grow into calm adult dogs:

Reward conditioning: Essentially, treat your new puppy like a toddler. When you are around, watch them like a hawk. When you see them grab onto your leather loafers or a chair leg, distract them with some other, more attractive option. When they take the rawhide chew or nylon bone or whatever “good” toy you want them to chew, give them lots of praise, petting, and treats. Absolutely do not try to chase your puppy to get the shoe or bra out of their mouth. That will tell them that it’s all just a big game to you and will encourage them to continue stealing things they know you’ll want to chase them to get back. Even though it is a lot of fun, you must resist! Play chase with good toys instead!

Chew toys: Figure out what kind of chew toys your dog likes and don’t forget to switch them up frequently. Some dogs love cow bones, some antlers, some prefer balls, some prefer stuffed animals, and some prefer ropes! Oftentimes even if the toy is the exact same your puppy will be excited about getting a second, new version of it. And pay attention to how strong of a chewer your puppy or new dog is. You don’t want to buy them toys that they’ll rip to shreds in less than an hour both because it’s a waste of money and not good for them to be eating so much plastic!

Chew toys such as hooves are great for dogs, but if they chew them too much then they can get diarrhea (not to mention the smell is horrendous…). Strong chewers can also tend to whittle away hooves and bones down to such a point that they’re very small and can be easily swallowed. These small fragments aren’t usually digestible and will either lead to vomiting or diarrhea or worse. So make sure to throw them out before they get to that point! Don’t give in, no matter how sad Buster’s puppy eyes are!

West Paw Design makes EXTREMELY durable dog toys. So durable in fact, that if your dog does manage to destroy them they will replace them for you for free! Besides the Zogoflex line by WPD the only other toys my dog Merry has never managed to destroy are the Chuckit! balls and Kong toys.

Crate training: Crate training is the most feasible option for many people, and it can keep your puppy feeling safe and secure when you’re away. This is one of the easiest ways to train a dog to be calm during separation. It takes a lot of practice when you’re home at first, but beyond the reward of an intact couch your dog will also be much happier and calmer when you are away. Working on training with a puppy or any new dog also increases the bond between you two, no matter what you work on. Plus if you ever move crate training is a fantastic way to make your dog comfortable with such a major transition.

Preventing chewing: If your puppy tends to chew on a surface that is color safe and won’t be damaged (like your fingers), you can coat the surface in white vinegar or rubbing alcohol. The smell and taste will make the object much less tempting. There are also better smelling alternatives such as Bitter Apple spray.

But more than using sprays to discourage chewing you could also use this as an opportunity to puppy-proof your house by being as diligent as possible about cleaning up. Even for adult dogs open trash can be a danger. Make sure trash is kept securely away and it would be best if electric wires such as chargers were also hidden away too. Even if they’re not plugged in they contain metals which may pose a danger to a puppy if they eat them. Cleaning up or using preventative sprays won’t change your puppy’s underlying behavior or your adult dog’s anxiety issues, but it’s a good way to help keep them (and your stuff) safe while you work on training them to chew safer toys or have less separation anxiety.

Don’t give up on your puppy: It can be hard to retrain an instinctive behavior like chewing, but it’s well worth it to have a happy, well-adjusted dog, who lives a long life as your best companion!