Dog care 101: The Owner’s Handbook
By Joshua Montgomery
This is my full Ebook on dog care. If you want to download the PDF simply sign up for ThePawsHub Email list to start the download.
Let’s start at the beginning. This guide is mainly geared toward new owners. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t helpful tips that the doggy loving veteran hasn’t seen before! We will cover all the most important subjects that dog owners care about, and maybe some they haven’t thought of before.
This handbook is meant for people who already have a dog and want to learn more about how to care for them. If you don’t know how to get started finding the perfect dog, check out my article Dogs 101: The Right Dog For You, 5 best Tips for First-Time Owners.
Hi there, my name is Joshua. Thanks for checking out my very first (but hopefully not last) e-book! I have been an avid animal lover ever since I was little. I remember one time my dad told me that if we ever moved to the country, he would let me have as many animals as I wanted. My love for animals (especially dogs) never abated. I think that might be the reason we still live in suburban Cincinnati. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this handbook, I worked really hard on it, so if you enjoy it, please let me know by contacting me on all my social media accounts or emailing me at Thepawshub@gmail.com.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
Once, when my Shih-Tzu, Dachshund mix (or “Shweenie”) was around two, she decided to drink some nasty pond water. We never thought to discourage our dogs from lapping up the foul-smelling liquid, as they had never done it before, and typically avoided the area altogether. Regardless, not long afterward, she began to grow lethargic; she was constantly throwing up, she wouldn’t eat, and she’d barely even drink.
That’s when we decided to take her to the vet. They told us that she had a bad infection and that we should expect the worst. However, after four days, lots of medications, and thanks in no small part to the wonderful round-the-clock care staff, she got better and is now happier and healthier than ever.
Finding the right vet for you should be at the top of any new owner’s to-do list. You and your dog should be able to build a relationship with your veterinarian, so you both feel comfortable on the (hopefully) rare occasions they need to keep your pup for any extended period of time.
Here are some things we will get into in this section:
-Finding a vet
-Finding an emergency vet near you
-Spaying and neutering
-Scheduling regular checkups.
Finding a vet
Before stepping foot in any veterinary clinic, you should run a quick google search to find vets in your area. I recommend this because customer feedback is an important indicator for any good business.
Do people like you? 5-star review. Are people dissatisfied? 1-star review. Remember, people are likely to leave a bad review if they had a sub-par experience, but that just makes the good reviews that much more informative. Sites like VetLocator are useful; simply type in your zip code, and it provides you with a list of vets in your area.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask your pet-loving friends for their personal recommendation. People—pet owners specifically—love recommending their favorite places, and veterinarians are no exception.
What to look (out) for
Helpful Friendly Staff
So you have a vet in mind? Don’t be afraid to call ahead and ask for a tour of the facilities before you decide to take your pup for a checkup. Any good veterinary clinic will welcome the opportunity for you to meet the staff and make sure they have everything in order to your satisfaction.
Remember, vets are a place of business, and the sign of any good business is a welcoming attitude toward potential customers. If the staff is rude on the phone or they are unwilling to make time for you to visit, simply move on. If the employees are disorganized and discourteous, it is probably a systemic issue of poor management, and you are better off somewhere else.
I used to take my first three dogs to a vet in a poorer neighborhood. The waiting room was a mess, the floor had cracks in some places, and there was a 22-inch TV sitting atop an end-table. Not ideal, but it had a few upsides:
The staff was great! They loved seeing my dogs come in, and they truly cared about the wellbeing of my fluffy monsters. Another upside was the examination rooms, clean as a whistle! Luckily, with their great business practices, they were able to do a full redesign, and now I wouldn’t think of taking my dogs anywhere else!
My point is if you can afford it, of course, go for the pristine pet hospital where they offer you sparkling water with cucumbers in it. But if you are like me, you are looking for substance over style approach that won’t break the bank.
It is important to note that the facilities DO need to be clean. On your visit, make sure you ask how often they clean out the cages and examination rooms. As with any hospital, a sterile facility is vitally important to your pet’s health.
Finding an emergency vet near you
Some vets simply do not have the staff or equipment to handle emergency situations. Therefore, it is important to locate the nearest 24-hour emergency care vet.
ER vets are usually much more expensive than the typical clinic, but they do offer round-the-clock care, and they are able to treat more varieties of illness.
It is important to note that because of the high cost, you should only go to an emergency facility for life-threatening situations, surgery, or when your local vet advises you to do so.
Add to contacts
Be sure to add both your primary and emergency vet’s info to your phone so you can easily make appointments or call ahead to make sure the emergency care vet is prepped and ready for your arrival.
Some vets will even send you text updates with pictures of your pooch if you have to leave them for an extended stay.
This is an issue that has needlessly killed thousands of pets, mostly due to owners who are ignorant to the cost of owning a dog.
My boss at my old job told me the story of how one day her dog became very ill. Noticing the warning signs, she rushed him off to the closest emergency veterinary care center. Before admitting her gravely ill dog, the vet was trying to get her to sign papers and make a payment while her dog was sitting there! She didn’t have enough money to pay for the care upfront, so they told her there was nothing they could do. With tears in her eyes, she quickly drove her sick pup to the next closest emergency vet where her dog was admitted no questions asked. Her dog was saved and is now living happy and carefree.
This unfortunate practice is put in use in many animal care centers, and it stems from many people who are unable or unwilling to make payments even when payment plans are available. It is emotionally hard to understand why some vets do this, then again, vets are businesses. If your vet serviced everyone who had an emergency but no way to pay, they would go out of business, and those who would be able to pay would be left without a place to go.
A good vet will try to work with you to find some way to pay, whether it be an in-house payment plan or a third party solution. However, if they don’t…
Here are some things you can do to make sure you don’t end up in a similar situation:
-Make sure your prospective vet supports payment plans and ask whether it is their policy to admit without payment.
-Have emergency money just in case.
-Find a family member who can get you the money fast.
-Purchase pet insurance.
Spaying and neutering
One of the biggest issues in the pet world is irresponsible owners who refuse to spay or neuter their pets. Stray dog and cat overpopulation is becoming a real problem in many American cities. Dogs who live at home and are spayed or neutered generally lead happier lives and are less prone to infections, cancer, and diseases.
Q: But my dog is purebred, what if I want to continue the bloodline?
A: Ask yourself, are you capable of taking care of four to six dogs by yourself? If nobody purchases the puppies from you, where will they go? Remember, if you are asking this question, it means a dozen other people are asking it too. Don’t worry, your dog’s entire breed isn’t going to die out just because you neutered him.
Q: Won’t it hurt? I don’t want my dog to be in pain.
A: The process of sterilization is a routine procedure, during which anesthesia is commonly used, and painkillers afterward. Your dog will be as good as new a few days after the procedure.
Spaying and neutering are the responsible things to do. Not to mention dogs who are spayed and neutered live, on average, 1.5 years longer than their non-sterilized counterparts.
Getting regular checkups is as important for your dog as it is for a human. For a puppy’s first year, it is recommended they go to the vet for shots every 3 to 4 months. From one-year-old on, however, most vets recommend about once a year for a full physical, heartworm blood sample, and rabies shots.
When to visit vet:
Most of the times your dog has an issue, it can be solved by a visit to the local vet where they may do minor surgery or prescribe a specific medication to clear up any issues. Here are a few examples of common reasons for a quick trip to the vet:
-Ear infection. Many dogs develop ear infections due to a lack of cleaning. Be sure to clean your dog’s ears regularly and consult your vet if the area becomes red or infected.
-Skin allergies. If your dog starts scratching itself excessively, it could be due to a number of causes. If you notice your dog licking its paws excessively, chewing the base of the tail, or having red scabbed skin, get in touch with your vet.
-Arthritis. If you notice your dog is limping, has stiffness after exercise, or swollen limbs, it could be a sign of arthritis. See your vet and let them know what symptoms your dog is displaying so they can diagnose and treat your poor pup.
-Diarrhea. There are many reasons your dog could have diarrhea. A sudden change in diet and ingestion of spoiled food, are among some of the common causes.
It is important to be able to recognize when your dog needs to be rushed off as fast as possible to an emergency vet. Again, make sure you know where your closest 24-hour emergency vet is located. That info just might save your dog’s life. Here are some of the most common reasons a dog is admitted to the ER:
-Trauma. This should seem pretty obvious to most people. If your dog is hit by a car, has a gunshot wound, or seems like he has broken bones, take him to the vet immediately.
-Diarrhea and vomiting. If your dog exhibits excessive vomiting or diarrhea, especially if you find blood in the fluid, contact your emergency vet.
-Inability to urinate. Urinary blockage can be life-threatening to dogs. If your dog is having trouble urinating or has blood in its urine, take him to the vet as quickly as possible.
A visit to the ER can be expensive, so for routine surgery, a clinic is your best bet. If you are unsure of whether a situation is life-threatening, you may want to ask your local vet, and he/she will either fix your pup there or refer you to an emergency vet who can perform the procedure.
Canine First Aid
Not all health issues happen when you are close to your vet. It is important to be able to recognize whether you can or cannot handle whatever problems your dog is having. If you believe your dog is in a life-threatening situation, take him to the vet immediately. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
It is better to learn how to save your dog’s life now, so you won’t be paralyzed if the moment comes. If your dog is unresponsive and isn’t breathing, you may want to perform Cpr. Here is a link with all the steps you will need to resuscitate your dog. If there are more than two people available, have one person call your emergency vet to tell them to prepare for your arrival.
Recognizing health issues.
Sometimes your dog will have health issues that are hard for you to notice. For instance, many people don’t realize that a dry nose usually means there is something wrong. From your dog being sick to an allergic reaction, it is an often unnoticed health issue.
Many of these issues can be fixed at home, but it is always good to contact your vet just in case. Here are a few non-emergency situations that can usually be handled at home:
Dogs, like humans, get an upset stomach every once in a while. If your pup throws up, don’t worry too much; he probably accidentally ate something bad for him. If your dog continues vomiting, however, ask your vet what you can do to help. Make sure you are able to describe the color and consistency of the vomit as this information will help your vet diagnose what ails your pretty pooch more quickly.
If your dog doesn’t eat his dinner, there is probably an explanation and a solution that doesn’t involve calling the vet. For instance, if you just got your dog, he may not eat at first because he is nervous and wary of his new surroundings. On the other hand, if you just switched the type of food your dog eats, he might be a bit obstinate about eating the new food at first. Try mixing the two types of food together instead of making the switch all at once.
If your dog hasn’t even touched his food in a few days, it’s probably time to take him to the vet.
We’ve all been there; you’ve just gone on a walk with your dog, and he is huffing and panting so hard he might just blow your house down. You notice it and offer him a bowl of fresh water. He refuses and decides to flop on the ground, panting as loud as ever.
There are many reasons your dog might not be drinking at the moment. Maybe he drank a lot earlier in the day, or maybe he is an older dog who needs less water.
Whatever the case, you will only need to contact your vet if your dog doesn’t drink for more than a day.
“I thought you said dogs were carnivores, so why is my pup eating grass?” I know, I know. Dogs are mostly carnivorous, but they also like to eat grass for health reasons. Some dogs eat grass because they don’t have enough fiber in their diet, while others trim your yard simply out of boredom. It is generally understood that eating grass is not harmful, and can, in fact, aid in digestion in some dogs.
-Treating minor wounds.
If your dog gets a small cut or scrape while you are on your morning walk, there is no need to rush him off for an expensive visit to the vet. Instead, you can treat the wound at home.
To treat small cuts or scrapes that don’t penetrate the skin, first, try cleaning the area with warm water. If your dog’s fur is in the way, use an electric razor to cut the hair around the wound. Once you have access to the injury, apply an antiseptic to the area, such as chlorhexidine. Try to keep your dog from licking the treated area for at least an hour. Clean the wound and apply topical antiseptic/antimicrobial ointment daily until healed.
Note: If your dog is bitten or gets a puncture wound, take him to the vet. They will be able to care for him with the proper methods.
What to do if your dog eats from the forbidden categories of food.
Dog’s stomach and immune system are very different to those of humans. This being the case, there are some kinds of food you should absolutely never feed your dog, as they are likely to lead to health problems or even death. Here are some types of food you should avoid at all costs:
-Chocolate (the darker, the worse): Deadly
-Macadamia nuts: Causes major health problems
-Garlic: Causes major health problems
-Grapes and raisins: Deadly
-Apple seeds: Deadly
-Coffee beans: Deadly
-Bacon: Causes major health problems
If your dog ingests any of these characterized-as-deadly types, call your vet right away. Your vet may suggest you induce vomiting using hydrogen peroxide and will ask you the size of your dog and how much he weighs. That way, your vet will be trying to determine how much hydrogen peroxide to give your dog. The general rule is 1 tablespoon per 20 pounds. Once your dog vomits, continue to monitor him for any signs of abnormal behavior including, but not limited to, pacing, shaking, panting, and extreme thirst. If your dog experiences any of these symptoms or refuses to throw up, take him to the vet immediately.
Everybody wants their dog to be healthy, but many owners miss the mark. Luckily, having a healthy dog is not as hard as it sounds. It is a lot easier to make your dog healthier than it is to go on a diet yourself, but who knows? Maybe your dog will inspire you to get in shape so both of you can be happier for longer.
The right amount of food.
How much food you should give your dog will vary, based on a variety of factors, including weight, breed, and any illnesses he might have. Most experts recommend feeding twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Talk to your vet and ask how much food your dog should be eating.
Note: Dogs are hunting animals, which means, in the wild, they have to eat any meal they might come across because they never know when their next meal will be. This instinct is still very much ingrained in domesticated dogs. If you always keep food in their bowl, they are likely to overeat, which can cause a myriad of health problems.
The right kind of food.
Choosing the right food for your dog will play an important part in his health and happiness. If you are switching from one food brand to another, make sure you mix the new one in with the old. This will help your dog’s body to get used to the new diet, as well as ensure that he will accept the new food as part of his daily meals. For a quick guide on what ingredients to look for, check out the article I wrote on how to read pet food labels.
Link to how to read nutrition facts
Plenty of water.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. You should always have fresh water in your dog’s bowl, rinsing it out and refilling it about once a day. Dogs often don’t drink as much water as they should, as dogs in the wild got much of their needed fluids from eating small animals. If your dog is on a primarily kibble diet, ample water access is vital.
How often to let your dog out.
Most dogs will let you know when they want out, others choose to pee on the floor in front of you. Here’s how to fix that. It is recommended you let your dog out around 3-5 times a day. This is a generalization, though. If you have a younger or smaller dog, you will probably need to let them out more often. If you feel your dog is urinating too little or too often, consult with your vet, as it may be a medical issue.
Note: Do not leave your dog alone for too long without letting him out. If you are going to be away for an extended period, consider using a pet sitting service so your dog can relieve himself somewhere besides that new carpet you just installed.
Every breed of dog needs a lot of exercise. The best way to get exercise? Walks! Walking your dog every day will make your dog feel closer to you, plus if you work on a proper walking technique, he will be more obedient.
You don’t have to walk your dog, though. If you have a fenced in yard, try playing a fun game of catch. Rainy day? An intense game of tug-of-war indoors. The point is, as long as your dog gets tired and has a good time, the type of exercise really doesn’t matter.
Whew, now that we have all that medical stuff out of the way, let’s get into some of the more fun stuff. There are a few things that every dog owner must have. You probably already know most of the stuff you’ll need, but there are always a few things that may have slipped your mind.
-Tags and IDs.
Awhile back, when my family was out of town on vacation, we had a family friend puppy sit our two dogs for a week. When we got back, there was only one dog at home, and a note on the kitchen counter explaining that Savanna, the younger of the two dogs, had escaped. I was horrified. I probably went through about half of the stages of grief within a few minutes.
After the panic was over, I started crying; I had lost my dog, I was heartbroken. Then, my mother hit the voicemail button on the home phone, and a message played. “Hello? We live two houses down, and we have your dog. She just came up to us as if she lives here. Come on over and pick her up anytime.”
I went from sad to happy in the blink of an eye! We got to the house, and the people there were incredibly nice. We retrieved the pup (who is laying on a mountain of blankets as I’m writing this) who acted as if she’d done nothing wrong at all.
This whole incident begs the question. How did they know where Savanna lived, and how did they know who to call? Thanks to an ID tag, of course.
Identification is absolutely essential for any dog to have. It doesn’t matter if you have the most well-behaved dog in the world, all it takes is one door accidentally left open for you to lose your pup. To ensure your dog isn’t lost forever, get your dog an identification tag.
You can find a custom tag maker at most pet store chains. Make sure you include any numbers that can be used to get ahold of you and also your area code in case your dog travels far away before he is found. Adding the numbers of some local friends and family can greatly increase the odds of you getting your dog back. Some people suggest putting your dog’s name and address on the tag. It is up to you whether you want to do this. As long as you have enough reliable phone numbers, you should be just fine.
Some vets will give you a custom tag with information on your dog’s rabies vaccine status. This can be very helpful info as they often include the vet’s phone number as well. I once found a beagle walking around in front of my house. I called the numbers on her tag, but nobody picked up. That’s when I noticed the vet tag. I called the number, and it turned out they knew who the dog belonged to, were able to call him, and arranged a pickup at the vet.
Like I said, the more numbers on your dog’s ID tag, the more likely it is you will get him back.
You can never have too many dog toys. Many dog owners give their dog a ball or two and think nothing of it, but a good number of toys will help keep your dog’s mind stimulated. Remember, if your dog is chewing on a rope, that means he isn’t chewing on your couch. Depending on your dog’s breed, it is important to give them appropriately sized toys. Nobody wants a $3,000-dollar medical bill because Fido ate a tennis ball.
-Food and water bowls.
Non-toxic food and water bowls are an absolute must for any dog. I say non-toxic because some dogs like to chew on their bowls or—like my Shweenie Ella—pick them up and throw them. I personally prefer heavier bowls so my dogs can’t just knock them over out of boredom (or spite).
I used to have only two dogs, and one water bowl was plenty for both of them. Enter Oliver. My Rottweiler, Oliver, drinks about 2 ½ bowls worth of water a day. He drinks so much water that we had to get him his own separate water bowl. Still, it seems like every time I walk into the room, his bowl is dry.
It is probably a bad idea to leave your dog’s food bag open, exposed to the air, so that it goes stale. If your dog food bag is resealable or is easily able to roll closed, you should be just fine. However, you may want to keep your dog’s food in an easily accessible container. It is recommended you keep your dog’s dry kibble in a cool, dry area.
-Collar or harness.
A good collar is not only useful for walking your dog and displaying ID tags, but also a stylish accessory you can use to express your dog’s personality. It is important that the collar you choose is of good quality, meaning it won’t fall apart after a few months of use. Also, make sure the collar is tight. You should only be able to fit three fingers underneath. Don’t worry too much about it choking. Most dogs’ necks are covered in fur, so the actual neck is smaller than it seems.
Before our yard was fenced in, we would let our dogs out on chains. Our dog Savanna (mentioned earlier) used to break every collar we got her, running full speed to the end of the chain.
That is when we decided a harness might be better, both for her safety and our wallets.
If you have a larger dog, or if your dog chokes itself when walking with a regular collar, you may want to opt for a harness. Harnesses allow more control over your dog, as they disperse pressure all over the body instead of the neck.
-Car safety harness.
When you are driving with your dog, you may want to consider their safety as well as your own. Studies have shown that people who don’t buckle up are more likely to be injured or even die in a car crash. While not as extensively researched, we can assume the same is true for dogs. Securing your dog with a properly anchored safety harness can help you drive more worry-free, knowing that your dog isn’t climbing around on the tops of seats while you are careening across the highway.
A very popular way to make sure your dog isn’t roaming your house at night or when you are away is crate training. There are many benefits to crating your dog, including bed space, setting boundaries, and knowing your dog is safe in his cage instead of trying to figure out a way into your garbage can or food pantry.
Crate training your dog is not for the faint of heart, though. If you are unable to stay consistent with the necessary steps to make sure your dog is content to stay in his cage, I would recommend avoiding an unnecessary ordeal and train your dog to stay in his bed instead of yours.
Note: Some rescue dogs have had bad experiences with crates, whether it be abusive owners or ignorant, but well-meaning pet parents, who cause their dog to associate crates with pain and depression. If your dog is absolutely against crating, it is best not to force him, but rather look into other options. Leaving your dog in his cage too long can cause serious psychological trauma and health problems.
These things are lifesavers no matter what kind of dog you own. Are you hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, and you don’t want your dog sitting next to your guest with his puppy-dog eyes begging for food? Dog gate. Are you worried that your dog has been eyeing that roast on the counter a little too conspicuously? Dog gate. Does your dog whine if he is locked in a room unable to see his family? Dog gate.
There are endless reasons why you might need to set boundaries for where your dog can and cannot go. Just make sure you give your dog enough toys to keep him occupied wherever you choose to section him off, and you’ll be happy with the result.
A good alternative to both gates and crating is setting up a playpen. Usually used for younger or smaller dogs, playpens provide a good amount of space while still separating him from anything he might want to get into.
A good-sized playpen will make sure your little doggy doesn’t start jumping on your guest’s legs as soon as they arrive, and if properly furnished, can serve as your pup’s own personal domain.
An important part of owning a dog is how well you train them. Many people say “My dog is too stupid” or “He just doesn’t listen.” It is often the case that your dog is trying to understand you, but you aren’t making it easy for him. A common reason your dog won’t listen is that he sees you as an equal or someone who gives him everything he wants, instead of an owner who takes care of him.
Dogs are pack animals. Each pack has a ranking order from alpha to omega. If you wait on your dog hand and foot, don’t establish dominance, and give in every time he refuses to obey a command, you are only reinforcing your dog’s belief that he is the leader of the pack. However, if you make your dog submit to training, establish yourself as alpha, and make it clear that you are not to be disobeyed, you will both be much happier in the long run.
I, along with most experts, recommend positive reinforcement training. This means when your dog obeys, he gets praised, and he gets a treat. If he disobeys, he is ignored. Dogs love attention and treats, so if you associate making you happy with a dog biscuit and a pat on the head, your dog will try his best to do whatever you want him to do.
Negative reinforcement training is something I would only recommend to people who have a lot of experience training dogs, as most people misunderstand the meaning.
For instance, if you come home from work and you find a puddle of pee on the floor, and you decide to spank your dog, that is poor training. Your dog will not be able to associate the puddle with the spanking and will not understand what he is being punished for. Alternatively, if you come home to the puddle, put your dog close to it, associating him with the urine, and take away his favorite ball in front of him, he will be negatively reinforced not to use the bathroom inside the house.
It is best to leave this sort of training to those who know when to use it, as unwarranted punishment can lead to your dog growing even more unruly.
Remember to try using a commanding tone when giving your dog an order. This ensures your dog associates a certain tone with doing a trick, instead of the same voice you use when you are praising him. That being said, here are some basic tricks every dog should know:
A very easy command to teach. Get on your dog’s level and hold a treat near his nose. Slowly raise the treat up using the word ‘sit.’ Once his butt touches the ground, say “Good boy, sit!” and give him the treat. With enough repetition, your dog will associate sitting down with praise and a treat. If your dog is having trouble with this one, try gently pushing his bottom to the ground. With a few more tries, he’ll be doing it on his own.
Note: Do not give your dog a treat if he sits on his own. Remember, you are praising him for obeying you, not simply for the act of sitting.
Getting your dog to come when you call him is incredibly useful. Having your dog come find you wherever you are is great if you don’t want to go wandering your house looking for your pup.
Start by placing your dog about six or seven feet away. Say your dog’s name along with the command ‘come.’ If he starts moving toward you, continue encouraging him. Once he is about a foot away, give him a treat and praise him. Train him with this command a few times a day, and you will save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run.
Note: Do not use this command to get your dog to come over to you so you can punish him. You want your dog to associate ‘come’ with praise and happiness. Punishing him when he just obeyed your command will confuse your dog and make him more likely to avoid obeying in the future.
This is a great trick for any pooch to learn. Teaching your dog to wait can make sure he doesn’t start scarfing down any potentially harmful food you might drop on the floor, as well as stop him from bolting out the door whenever you leave.
To teach the ‘wait’ command, hold your dog in place by pressing on his chest with your hand, set a treat on the ground in front of him, and every time he lunges for the treat, gently push him back using the word ‘wait’ until he calms down. Once he is calm, do not let him get the treat himself. Rather, pick it up, say “good boy,” and hand it to him. This helps to assure your dog understands that he just followed an order instead of grabbing a treat off the floor after being told not to.
When your dog is standing in front of your tv, you will be glad you taught him this trick. To teach your dog how to lay down, first get on your dog’s level and give your dog the command to sit. Once he is sitting, gently push down on his shoulders directly above his front legs and pull his legs out from under him. Once he is laying down, use the command ‘down’ and give him a treat. With a little repetition and a little patience, your pup will have this trick down in no time.
When your dog doesn’t know how to walk properly, it can feel more than a little frustrating. From the pulling and the not listening to the constant distractions of every new smell or sound. Luckily, this can all be solved with the proper training technique, with some hard work, and a whole lot of patience.
Start by putting your dog’s leash on his collar. If he tries to jump while you do this, wait until he stops to try again. You don’t want your dog tackling your legs every time you suggest the two of you go for a walk. Before you walk out the door, this would be a good time to test out the ‘wait’ command.
Before you start walking, make sure you have plenty of treats in your pockets. Keep a firm grip on the leash at first, as an untrained dog is more likely to try to run away. Make sure your dog has about two feet of leash. Too much and your dog will be the one walking you, not enough and you might as well be dragging him by the collar. As you walk, if your dog starts pulling, stop in place, and when your pup looks back at you, and the leash goes taut, give him a treat. This tells your dog that he needs to pay attention to you during your walks, instead of following every squirrel who climbs a nearby tree. Give out treats whenever your dog walks close to you without pulling. This lets him know that this is the ideal walking position. Keep at this. It may take a while to learn, but it is invaluable to have a dog that not only loves to walk but also loves to make you happy while you’re doing it.
Note: Never let your dog pull you in any direction. You are the one walking him, not the other way around. If he starts to pull, stop in place. If your dog does not turn around to face you or doesn’t loosen the leash, start walking in the opposite direction and give him less of a lead. This will let your dog know that you are in control and that his bad behavior won’t get rewarded.
Stick to it and remember these are commands, not suggestions. Do not give rewards because your dog looks frustrated or when he is “close enough” as this encourages an incorrect behavior. If you put in the time and effort, you will have a happy, well-trained dog in no time at all.
Some of the things you will want to train your dog to do won’t necessarily be categorized as tricks. That is where behavioral training comes in. For instance, if your dog is overly attached to a toy, but you want to train him to play with all his toys, you may take away this toy, place it on a shelf where he can see it but has no access to it, and give him a different toy along with a treat. If you repeat this type of training enough times, your dog will start to behave differently, hence the name ‘behavioral training.’
Behavior to encourage
There are good behaviors and bad behaviors, and it is important to know the difference so you can recognize which ones to encourage and which behaviors you should discourage. Positive reinforcement is a great way to make sure your dog follows every command to the best of his ability. Here are some of the behaviors that you should encourage in your dog:
Often overlooked by new and experienced owners alike, socialization is one of the keys to the happiness and safety of your pup. Dogs are social creatures, pack animals by nature. This means that dogs often get sad or depressed when left alone for too long. If you are at work most of the day, or if you are going to be out of the house longer than usual, you may want to ask a friend to doggy sit. If that doesn’t work, you can use a pet-sitting service to (rover affiliate) make sure your dog is safe, happy, and not searching for your favorite pair of shoes to use as a chew toy.
As with any behavioral training, it is important to keep a calm, upbeat attitude. Dogs are surprisingly perceptive and will pick up on your emotions, so if you are scared, your dog will be on the lookout for danger. If you are calm, however, your dog will be more relaxed and open to new experiences.
-Introducing your dog to humans
Getting your dog used to being around people is vital for any dog owner. If your dog is uncomfortable around humans, he can become anxious, scared, or even hostile. The trick is to slowly show your pup that nothing bad will happen to him if he meets someone new (he may even make a new friend!).
When introducing your dog to a new person, first lock your dog in a room and let the person inside your house. This will help ensure your dog doesn’t see this new person as an intruder, but rather as a guest. Once the new person is indoors, open the door to the room your dog is in. If your dog does not immediately walk to the person to say hello but instead cowers in the corner, set out treats near the new person. Once your dog eats the treats, he will likely become more comfortable being around new people.
Next, try handing the treats over to your guest and have them hold the treat out to their side. It is important that your guest does not try to approach or interact with the dog. He will come over when he feels comfortable. There’s no need to scare him by having a stranger tower over and try to pet him.
If your dog takes the treat out of your guest’s hand, kneel down next to your dog and praise him (not like that!). After your dog is comfortable taking treats from the stranger, have your guest kneel down and offer their hand for your dog to sniff. If he does not cower away, have your guest try to pet him on his back (not the head, as some dogs take this as an act of aggression) while you continue praising his good behavior. With patience, your dog will accept the stranger and start to see them as a friend.
Note: I would recommend using this technique with many types of people: kids, men, women, people of other races, and people with hats or beards, just to give your dog a wide reference. That way, he understands that people aren’t out to hurt him, and that, by being outgoing, he will make plenty of new friends.
-Introducing your dog to other dogs
Having a dog that is friendly toward other dogs makes walking, and trips to the vet, much easier. A dog that doesn’t know how to act around other dogs is more likely to get into a fight, as the other dog might take your dog’s high energy greeting as an act of unwanted aggression and decide to attack. If your dog has difficulties controlling himself around other dogs, try following this method: First find someone who has a well-socialized, well-behaved dog who can help you. Take your dogs to a neutral territory such as a park to avoid any territorial aggression. Have the other dog walk past while you keep a firm grip on your leash. Do not pull your dog back as this can result in negative behavior. If your dog sits without pulling on the leash, give him a treat to reward his good behavior. Next, have the dogs walk toward each other. If your dog starts yanking at the leash, simply turn away and try again. Every time your dog walks calmly beside you, give him a reward. Once your dog has calmed down enough, allow the dogs to meet. If your dog starts jumping or is too eager when sniffing the other dog, slowly and gently pull them apart and try again, rewarding him for behaving calmly. Again, a dog with high energy that meets another dog instantly escalates the situation which can easily be mistaken for aggression.
An unsocialized dog can not only be unfriendly to strangers and other dogs but can also be dangerous. If you are not 100% sure that your dog won’t bite them, never give permission to a stranger to pet your dog. In many States, if your dog attacks somebody, you can be held personally liable and face having your dog taken away from you or euthanized.
Behavior to discourage
Some dogs have a problem with playing too rough, others were never taught to stop nipping as a puppy and continue to do so into adulthood. Others, still, may be territorial over food or toys. Luckily, all of these are fairly simple to remedy.
If your dog is playing too rough with gentle bites and, every so often, he bites too hard, he probably just needs to be taught to be more gentle. When puppies play, one puppy will often bite another one too hard, and the bitten puppy will yelp. This is partially a cry of pain and partially a reprimand to the other dog to let him know that play will not continue if he plays too rough.
To curb this behavior, play with your dog and wait until he bites you too hard. Say a high pitched “Ow!” or “That hurt!” and stop moving your hand for a few seconds. Your dog will stop once he hears the high pitched noise and when he recognizes that he hurt you, he will likely kiss the boo-boo to make you feel better. When he does this, resume playing with him repeating the process every time he bites too hard until he learns what crosses the line.
Having a dog nip you out of nowhere can often be surprising and cause you to jump in shock. If your dog likes to nip, try redirecting his behavior elsewhere.
Wait for your dog to nip you. Once he does, tell him to sit, maybe make him do a few more tricks, then hand him a treat and a toy. This teaches your dog that playing is a good fun alternative to nipping. It is important you make him do a trick first, so you don’t reward him for nipping you by handing him a toy.
If your dog bites or bares his teeth when you approach his food bowl, he is probably being territorial and protective. To let your dog know that you aren’t interested in stealing his meal, try getting as close to the bowl as he will let you and toss a few treats into the bowl. Each time you do this, get a little closer until you are able to touch your dog while he is eating without a reaction.
Not many people like to walk into a house and be tackled by their dog (well, I do, but I am not most people). Jumping up is a natural behavior but one that should be trained out of your dog’s system as soon as possible. Here is what I found to be the easiest way to train your dog to stop jumping on you, without actually sitting down and training him (who has all that time, right?).
Every time you walk in the door and your dog jumps on you, simply turn away and ignore him. When your dog remains calm, then you can greet him and praise him for waiting like a good boy. Do this every time your dog jumps up on you and have everyone who enters your house do the same.
Remember, it only takes one person to encourage a bad behavior in a dog. It may seem harmless, but it is only a matter of time before your mastiff tries to greet your grandma, who ends up leaving your house with a broken hip.
This is one behavior that is hard to train out of dogs if they weren’t trained properly as puppies. To stop your dog from gnawing on your belongings, it is important that you differentiate between what is a toy and what isn’t. A shirt sleeve hanging out of the laundry bin looks a lot like a rope toy to your dog.
Set out a basket or bin where you keep your dog’s toys. This will help him understand which objects are his and which are yours.
If your dog is chewing on something he isn’t allowed to have, consider using a spray deterrent. Your dog will be less inclined to chew on the chair legs if they taste bitter.
Another reason for excessive chewing is boredom. Dogs are smarter than we give them credit for, and they can get bored too, especially if they don’t feel challenged. If your dog has a gnawing problem that is a result of understimulation, try one or more of these things:
-Teaching more complicated tricks
Even a few small changes can make sure your dog stays happy and active. If none of these work, try seeking out an animal behaviorist.
If you come home to see all sorts of things torn up and broken into, your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety. If you believe your dog has separation anxiety, it is a good idea to take your dog to an animal behaviorist to help understand why your dog is taking such severe actions. Animal behaviorists also help with positive reinforcement training to make sure your pooch stays calm when you are not at home.
Must resist cuteness… Begging is a total no-no when it comes to dog training. My family didn’t know much about dog training with our first few dogs. We figured “Hey, what’s the big deal? It’s just a few table scraps.” The result: now we can’t enjoy a single meal without furry little vultures watching our every move.
With my Rottweiler, Oliver, I made sure he was only fed dog food and treats. No table scraps. No food off our plate, and now he is the only one who can be in the room while we are eating without watching us like a hawk.
Note: Don’t feed dogs from the table or food you are already eating. It is important to differentiate between the food that your dog is allowed to have and the one he’s not. If you correctly establish food boundaries, your dog will be less likely to eat off the counter and raid the pantry for snacks.
Regular grooming is important for your dog’s health and happiness. Plus, you and your dog get to spend quality time together whether you are brushing, washing, or clipping his nails. Dogs that are not regularly groomed are more likely to develop skin conditions such as rashes, infections, or even their own personal bug breeding grounds (Yuck!). Use these tips to make sure your dog always has a healthy fluffy coat that you can cuddle with forever.
Generally speaking, you should brush your dog every couple of days. This helps remove dead skin, excess hair, and spreads the natural hair oils evenly across your dog’s coat. If your dogs are like mine, then you probably have a hard time finding a coat to wear that isn’t covered in dog hair. Regular brushing will save you time using a lint roller and vacuuming the house, which are two things I hate doing.
It is recommended you bathe your dog at least once a month. If your dog spends a lot of time outside, or he likes to roll around in the mud, I would recommend more like twice a month. Remember to teach your dog that baths are a good thing by praising him during the whole process and giving him a treat afterward.
No human likes to trim their dog’s nails, and no dog likes to have his paws touched. However, it is important to trim your dog’s nails about once every three weeks. If you feel uncomfortable trimming your dog’s nails, either have someone who knows how to do it help you or make an appointment at the grooming salon.
How often you should get your dog’s hair cut completely depends on his breed and the length of his hair. If you have a short-haired breed like a Rottweiler, you may never need to cut his hair as they shed out their coat every year. Alternatively, if you own a Collie or Pomeranian, you might want to cut your pup’s hair every one to two months.
-Brushes and combs.
Finding the right brush for your dog’s fur type can be incredibly helpful, especially if they are prone to knotting or excessive shedding. Whatever breed of dog you own, I would recommend reading The Best Dog Brush Review from Topdogtips.com. It is a very detailed, well-researched article that can help you find the perfect brush or comb for you and your dog.
Many grooming salons will charge you to clip your dog’s nails. I find this unnecessary, as you can usually buy a pair of clippers and do it yourself for less than the cost of one clipping. A whole lot of owners will say, “He doesn’t like it when I touch his paws. It is easier to have someone else do it,” but with that attitude, your dog will never like it, and in fact, might grow to resent being sent to a stranger whenever his nails grow too long.
As with anything to do with dog care, it is important to be patient and teach your dog that getting his nails clipped is a good thing. With a little positive reinforcement, nail clipping is an activity that your dog can grow to enjoy instead of running every time you bring out the clippers.
Note: If you decide to clip your dog’s nails yourself, keep some cornstarch handy in case you cut to the quick and cause bleeding.
A good, natural shampoo is a great addition to any owners grooming toolkit. Dog shampoo with ingredients like natural eucalyptus, oatmeal, aloe vera, and citrus extracts will help prevent itchiness, promote a healthy coat and skin, and keep your dog dust mite and tangle-free.
Artificial fragrances, colors, and preservatives are chemicals commonly found in dog shampoo and should generally be avoided. Also, try not to use any shampoo made for humans, (even babies) as dogs have more sensitive skin than we typically do.
Optional grooming supplies
If you have a large breed dog, it is likely difficult to bathe him in a regular-sized bathtub. That’s where the doggy pool comes in. Set it up in your backyard, hose your pup down, lather him up, rinse him off, and get him dry. It is that simple. Bathing isn’t the only thing a dog pool is for. Any dog can have a great time splashing around to cool off on a hot summer day.
A good option for drying your dog off after a bath is dog towels. I know what you’re thinking, “But I have towels at home, won’t those work?” The answer, yes, any towel will do, but if you want to make sure your pup gets extra dry, there are many microfiber dog towels that are very absorbent, making the process of drying your short hair dog a breeze and your long hair dog a little bit easier.
So you bathed your dog. Now what? You’ve got a fluffy sponge ready to run around your house and dampen everything you hold dear. You toweled him off the best you could, but the moisture still left in his coat threatens your favorite blanket and the comfort it provides!
Easy; buy a blow dryer. Any blow dryer will work, but if you have a long-haired breed, it is recommended you opt for a dog grooming hair dryer, which is typically quieter, more powerful, and gentler on your dog’s skin and fur.
Thanks for reading!
Hopefully, this dog care guide has helped you in some way. If you enjoyed this e-book or have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Thepawshub@gmail.com. Don’t worry, I won’t bite. 🙂
The information I have provided is not guaranteed to be accurate. This book reflects my own personal opinion and experience. Please contact a trusted, licensed veterinarian for any information regarding your pets.
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