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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Overcoming Grooming Fears (A Blog Request)

My VERY dirty white puppy needs a grooming!
Wow, such a great request for a blog post topic! This is a very broad topic, as dogs can be resistant to grooming for many reasons and in many ways. As I thought about how to approach this post, I decided the first thing to do was to break it down. There are so many aspects to a grooming session. We should begin by asking questions about each aspect to see where the issue is. 

Is your dog resistant to the entire process of grooming? Most likely there are activities of grooming that go better or worse than others. Which part of the process is your dog resisting? Being restrained? Having certain parts of her body touched? Having toenails clipped? The way the brush or comb feels? The strong smells of some grooming sprays and products? Being up on a table? How many aspects of the grooming routine can you break the session into, and which ones are causing resistant behavior in your dog?

Can you easily and gently restrain your dog in various body positions with both of you remaining calm and relaxed? Can you hold her in your lap, lying on her side, lying on her back cradled in your arms or between your legs on the floor? Can you hold her feet for several seconds, or hold her chin or muzzle to hold her head still? Think of all the ways that you touch and move your dog during grooming sessions. Is she comfortable with each of them or is one or more causing her stress? Can you touch your dog anywhere on her body in a gentle way with her remaining calm and relaxed? Each foot, each toe, her collar, ears, teeth and lips, around the eyes, tail, up and down each leg?

Are you sure your dog’s resistance is not due to her being sore or in pain? If it hurts when you touch or manipulate your dog’s body, she will not want to cooperate with you. If you suspect that your dog is hurting from an injury or a condition such as arthritis, please schedule a visit with your dog’s veterinarian to get it checked out. If this is a chronic condition, you may need to find different ways of grooming that are more comfortable for your dog. Are you pulling mats in her hair as you brush or comb? Even small mats can really hurt when they get caught in the brush or comb – if you have long hair, you know this! Ouch!

Consider the products you are using to groom your dog. We want our dogs to smell nice, and there are all sorts of nice-smelling products for us to put on our dogs, but remember that your dog’s sense of smell is so much more sensitive than yours. I know most grooming products have a smell that I consider to be strong. Imagine what that must be like to a dog that can smell so many many things that I don’t even notice! And the dog can’t even walk away from the strong smell because it is stuck to her and follows her everywhere! If you are using a spray on your dog (even a mist of water), is she comfortable with the spray? Many dogs are not.

If you put your dog on a table to groom her, is she relaxed on the table? Will she comfortably move around and change body position on the table, or is she stiff and unsure? Whether you use a table or not, is your dog comfortable in the area that you’ve chosen to do grooming in?

And lastly, how do you approach grooming time? Are you approaching grooming your dog as a chore that you don’t want to do? Are you hurrying to get through it as quickly as possible? Are you afraid to groom your dog? Many people are afraid to do certain grooming tasks, such as clipping toenails. Do you approach grooming with the expectation that it is going to turn into a fight with your dog? Any of those emotions can result in you holding tension in your body and breath, as well as emitting a sense of anxiety to your dog. 

If you’re having trouble grooming your dog, make a list of some of the areas of the routine that your dog is not comfortable with. Maybe it was something I listed, or maybe it’s something totally different. List as many things as you can. Each aspect may need to be introduced individually and gradually in separate sessions before it can be put together again in a full grooming session. Take some time to slowly work on anything about the grooming routine that worries your dog. Work on it away from grooming time, just for a few minutes at a time (or maybe even less) until your dog starts to become more comfortable with it.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day!

Feb. 23rd is National Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day!  Wow, Treasure (and her friends!) really like this day!  I think they would like to celebrate this day every day  Here are some of Treasure's favorite treat recipes!
Liver Brownies
2 pounds chicken livers
2 c. corn meal
2 c. wheat germ
2 eggs
2 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. dried parsley
Liquefy liver in food processor, pour into bowl and add other ingredients.  Mix until smooth like brownie batter.  Spread on a cookie sheet (you can line pan with parchment paper) until evenly spread about 1/3 inch thick.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  When it's cool, cut into shapes.  Keep frozen or refrigerated!
Tuna Brownies (do you see a theme here?  Treasure is a brownie girl!)
2 cans tuna, drain but save liquid
2 eggs
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 c. flour, any type
Mix all together, adding just enough tuna water to make a brownie-like batter.  Spread into a pan - spray with cooking spray first and dust with flour to prevent sticking.  Bake at 300 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until browned and not sticky.  Cool slightly and cut.  Keep frozen or refrigerated!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bring Your Dog Inside – Day 7 and Beyond

Wow!  You’ve done great!  It’s the end of the first week already!  I hope you and your dog have had a good experience with bringing him into the house. 
Now, where can you go from here?  You've got one more week in the challenge!  Continue with what you've been doing with your dog every day and begin to expand on it.  Here are some ideas for over the next week. 
Remember to exercise your dog every day, as this will go a long way toward helping him be able to be calmer inside the house.  Continue to extend the amount of time your dog is inside with you during the day as you feel able to handle the supervision and your dog learns how you want him to behave.  Use the leash when you need to and let the leash drag when things are going well.  Use gates to keep him in the same room with you for a while so you can intervene and stop behaviors you don’t like and can reward behaviors that you do like.
Use his meals to feed him in the food toys.  You can buy many, like Kongs, or you can make them using empty bottles and containers.  These will keep your dog occupied for part of the time he is in the house with you, and will also help to tire him out.  Always make sure you have a bone and a few toys around for your dog to chew on.  Dogs need to chew, so provide him with things that you want him to chew and he will learn to leave your things alone.
If you find that you need a short break from supervising, you can use the crate or your dog’s sleeping area so you know he will be safe and you don’t have to watch him as closely. 
Begin to explore ways that your dog can stay inside for most of the day with you.  If you work or are gone during the day, can your dog stay in the house while you’re gone?  You may be able to hire a dog walker or a neighbor to give your dog a walk in the middle of the day.  Leave your dog with lots of things to chew and play with.  You can leave him his meals while you’re gone in his food toys.  You can use gates to confine him to certain areas of the house that are dog-proofed and have easy to clean floors.
If your dog must be outside during the day while you’re gone, look into fencing your yard or at least fencing a pen or kennel for your dog.  When your dog is within a fence, he can move around freely off the chain.  He can have toys and bones left with him so he has things to occupy his time during the day while you’re gone.  You may be able to build a fenced dog kennel so your dog has access to a garage for shelter and the fenced area for doing his business and playing.
You have made a lot of progress with helping your dog to have a more comfortable and enriched life by bringing him into the house with you!  Thank you for letting me come along on this journey with you.  Please continue to bring your dog into the house with you every day.  His life, and yours, will be much enhanced by the relationship you will build together!  I hope you will continue to visit my blog to learn more about how to give your dog a fuller, more enjoyable life!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bring Your Dog Inside – Day 6

The routine is mostly the same today.  You and your dog should now be beginning to fall into a routine and a way of doing things that is becoming smoother for you both.  Remember that exercise!  That’s super important so your dog will be able to stay calmer in the house with you.  Find an hour of time for your dog to spend with you in the house, on leash still, with you rewarding behavior you like. 
If you find your dog is acting calmly and in ways that you like, you can begin to drop the leash instead of holding it for the entire hour.  Use gates or barriers to keep him in the same room as you, so you can still supervise him and reward good behavior.  And if he starts to do something you don’t want him to do, calmly pick up the leash and move him away from the area.  Once he starts to do something you like better, reward him. 
Tonight you will feed your dog one of his meals in the house.  Measure out the amount of dry food your dog normally eats at one meal and pour it into the empty milk or soda bottle you saved from yesterday.  Leave the lid off, so the kibble can fall out of the top opening of the bottle.  Now, give this toy to your dog.  Help him see how to push the bottle around to make the food fall out a few pieces at a time.  This is a great toy to keep your dog busy so he’s not pestering you, and it will help to tire out his mind so he can be calmer in the house.  If he crushes the bottle while he plays, it’s no big deal.  The food will still fall out, and you can replace the bottle with another one a different day. 
You can do this during the hour your dog is already in the house, or in addition to it.  Letting your dog play with a food toy every day is a great way to stimulate his brain and keep him busy.  There are many types of food toys and puzzles for sale in pet stores and online, but using empty bottles is a cheap and fun way to keep your dog entertained.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Bring Your Dog Inside – Day 5

Today will be the same as yesterday – exercise your dog, bring him in the house staying with you for an hour (or longer if you’d like), reward behavior you like, and to have your dog sleep in the house overnight.  The longer your dog is spending in the house with you, the more he will need business trips outside, so be aware of when he’s getting restless and sniffing around looking for a spot.  Take him outside on his leash, use your cue words, and reward him when he goes.
Tomorrow you will begin to feed your dog one meal in the house.  To prepare for tomorrow, save an empty milk jug or soda bottle, rinse it out well, and let it dry.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bring Your Dog Inside – Day 4

Remember to exercise your dog today.  You decided yesterday what time you would bring your dog inside for an hour.  And hopefully you set up the room and cut up the treats so you can be successful today.  Before you bring him inside, give him a chance to do his business (use your cue words). 
When you bring your dog inside, keep him on a leash and next to you.  Have the treats you cut up near you too, but out of your dog’s reach.  You don’t want him helping himself!  You can go ahead and do what you would normally do for this hour, just keep your dog with you.  You can sit and watch TV, work at the computer, wash the dishes, whatever needs to be done.  If you need both of your hands free, you can sit on the handle of the leash to anchor it, or you can slip your belt through the leash handle to keep the dog with you. 
Remember that you must be supervising your dog for this hour in order to prevent bad habits and to reward good habits.  This is how he is going to learn.  Your dog may pull on the leash.  He may jump on you to try to get attention.  He may lie down and chew on his bone.  Whenever he does something that you like, say “yes” in an enthusiastic tone of voice and then drop a treat to the floor near him for him to eat.  Then go back to what you were doing. 
Be ready to “yes” and reward again when he does something that you like.  The more you can reward behaviors that you like, the quicker he will learn how to behave in the house.  If he does something that you don’t like, you can interrupt him and give him something else to do.  If he is chewing something he shouldn’t, give him a bone or one of his toys instead.  If he is trying to chase the cat, use the leash to move him away until he stops, then reward him for not trying to chase the cat. 
This will seem like a lot of work at first.  That’s why I’m only asking you to commit to an hour at first.  If during that hour, you need to do something where you can’t have the dog right next to you, you can trade and have another family member take the dog for awhile, or you can put him in his crate for a moment or two.  But the purpose of having him in the house with you for this hour is to have him with you, so don’t forget to take him back out of the crate when you’re finished.
If you get frustrated, take a short break and put your dog in his crate or bedtime area.  It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you’re starting something new and your dog might feel overwhelmed too.  Each day this will get easier and easier.  Your dog will learn what behavior you expect and you will get better at rewarding him without needing to think too much about it. 
Remember your dog’s chance to do his business before bringing him in for the night at bedtime.  The bedtime routine should be getting a little bit smoother each night as your dog learns what to expect.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bring Your Dog Inside – Day 3

Exercise your dog first!  That is always important to remember.  Hopefully by now you’ve found some form of exercise that works for both you and your dog.  If the weather is too hot or too cold or it’s pouring down rain, can you find somewhere else to give your dog exercise?  Can you use an empty garage or the basement to throw a toy for him a dozen times?  Or maybe you know someone with an empty indoor horse arena where you could run your dog for a bit?  If you exercise your dog inside, remember to let him do his business before and after the playtime!
I talked a little bit about management before.  Management is what prevents a lot of behavior issues from happening.  Set up the situation and the house to prevent all those things from happening that you don’t want to happen.  Pick up the kid’s toys and your good shoes so they are not laying in the middle of the floor for your dog to chew on.  Move any breakable trinkets and antiques out of your dog’s reach and tail range.  Keep him in the same room as you so you can supervise him and stop any bad habits before they can start.  It will make your job of teaching your dog so much easier if you set up the environment so he can be successful.
Tomorrow you will start to bring your dog inside for time in the evening when he will spend time out of the crate being with you.  Try to set up the room where you will be spending the most time so it will be safe for your dog to join you there. 
Find a soft tasty food that you can easily cut up into pea-sized pieces.  Use something that will be safe to feed your dog.  You can use soft dog treats, cheese, cooked chicken, or something similar.  You will want about 2 cups of pea-sized pieces in a baggie or a container (like a yogurt container with a lid) ready for tomorrow. 
You will use these treats to reward your dog for doing things that you like.  This is how dogs learn.  If they get rewarded with something that they like when they do something, they will learn to continue to do that same thing so they have a chance to earn more rewards.  Over time, the behaviors that you are rewarding will become habit and your dog will do them more and more, and you won’t need to reward quite so often.  But in the beginning, anything that your dog does that you like, feel free to reward it!
Decide on a time in the evening when you can have the dog in the house with you for an hour tomorrow.  You might choose to bring him in for an hour right after he has his exercise, or you might choose to wait until later in the evening after you’ve had dinner and you’re getting ready to sit down and watch TV.  Decide now so you have your day tomorrow planned out. 
Remember to give your dog one last chance to do his business (using your cue words) before you bring him into the house at bedtime tonight.  Settle him in his bedtime spot with his bed, bone, toys and a few small treats or pieces of kibble.   Use music to help calm your dog for a bit before you turn off the light. 


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bring Your Dog Inside – Day 2

Remember to exercise your dog sometime in the evening before you bring your dog into the house.  Twenty to thirty minutes of good off the chain physical exercise should be sufficient. 
About a half hour before you go to bed, walk your dog very briefly around the yard on leash (off the chain) to see if he needs to do his business before bed.  Then bring him inside using the leash.  Keep him near you and allow him to get used to the house for a few minutes.  Take him to his bedtime spot and show him his bed and his bone. 
Let him sniff around inside the crate or small gated area and leave him with a few dog treats or pieces of his dog food, the bone and his toys.  Stay nearby at first, but don’t fuss with him too much.  Turn on the music softly.  Let him be able to see you, but just allow him to get settled. 
He may jump around excitedly and he may even bark a little bit.  Try to ignore him unless he is really getting upset.  He should settle down after the lights are all turned off and everyone has gone to bed.  Talk to him softly if you need to let him know you are still nearby.  If the crate is next to your bed, you can stick your fingers through the bars for him to smell you and know you are nearby.  I promise you that each night will get better and easier as your dog learns what to expect.
If your dog is quiet for most of the night but then wakes up suddenly and is restless, he may need to take a trip outside to do his business, but most adult dogs can easily make it through the night with no problem.  First thing in the morning when you wake up, get your dog outside quickly before he has time to make a mistake.
So let’s talk a bit about housetraining.  Did you know that dogs can be taught to do their business on cue?  This comes in very handy when the weather is cold or rainy and you don’t want to walk your dog for miles to find just the right blade of grass.  You can begin to teach your dog this now, as you are beginning housetraining.
When you walk your dog for that last business walk before bedtime, try to stand in the same general area of the yard, and say the cue you want to use – “do your business.”  When your dog does go, praise him.  You can’t make your dog go if he chooses not to, but if you use the same words each time you take your dog outside, right before he does go, he will learn to associate the words with what he has to do.  By standing in one spot and not walking all around, you will be teaching him to go wherever you choose, and not only on that perfect blade of grass.
All dogs should be taken out for business last thing before they go to bed.  That will help them (and you!) be able to sleep through the night undisturbed.  Dogs will need to go outside first thing in the morning and at least 2-3 other times throughout the day.  Puppies and older dogs may need to go outside more often, as they can’t hold it quite as long as other dogs.  Anytime your dog is acting restless, he might need to go outside, after a meal or a big drink of water, after a crazy playtime or times of excitement – these are all good times to take your dog outside for a business break. 
With time, you will get to learn your dog’s personal schedule, so you won’t be taking quite so many trips outside.  But in the beginning, you can’t take your dog outside too often.  Also, be aware that dogs do get digestive upsets, just like we do.  There may be times when he will need more frequent trips outside if he’s not feeling well.  Most dogs will learn over time to let you know they need to go outside by running to the door or doing something else that will alert you.
Giving your dog run of the house before he is housetrained reliably is asking for trouble.  Dogs don’t do their business in the house to make us angry or to spite us.  They go because they need to go and they haven’t learned any better yet.  So, if your dog is running around where you can’t see him, and he has to go, he is going to go and there is no way you can prevent it because you aren’t there.  It does no good to admonish your dog when you find the evidence, because your dog has already moved his mind on to other things.  In order to housetrain your dog quickly and reliably, you must be watching him all the time so you can prevent him from going in the house and get him outside.
If you notice your dog starting to go in the house, distract him quickly and get him outside ASAP.  Once outside, give his business cue and then be ready to really praise him when he does it outside.  Praising your dog when he goes outside is the only way he will learn where you do want him to do his business. 


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bring Your Dog Inside - Day 1

Provide your dog with some exercise off his chain today.  He needs some form of active exercise off the chain.  Exercise time should be enjoyable for you too, so think of things you enjoy doing.  How can you include your dog in that time?  Dogs enjoy hiking and walking.  If it’s warm outside, many enjoy swimming.  Dogs can learn to run next to you while you jog or ride a bicycle.  Or you may find that just taking your dog to the park to run and chase a ball or Frisbee brings you just as much enjoyment as it brings him. 
Dogs are social animals and your dog will enjoy having you spend time with him.  Just spending some time with you will reduce his stress levels and help him to become calmer.  The physical exercise will tire his body and his mind, while also reducing stress, and that, too, will help him to become calmer.
Prepare for tomorrow’s activity.  Tomorrow you will bring your dog into the house to sleep overnight.  Decide where you want your dog to sleep in the house.  Dogs prefer to sleep in the same room with us.  They are used to living in a group, so being with you is calming for them.  Also, by letting a dog sleep near you, he is seeing you sleeping and being calm, so he is more likely to also be calm and sleep.  You can put the crate in your bedroom if you don’t trust your dog loose in the room at night.  Put a blanket in the crate, but one that you don’t care if it gets a little bit chewed. 
You can use a gate or barrier to block the dog in the bathroom, kitchen or other easy to clean room overnight.  But your dog may bark and whine if he cannot see or hear you.  A radio playing soft classical music may help him to settle down and not feel so alone. 
If you can have a big bone and a toy or two for your dog to have in the house, that will be helpful for keeping him occupied, and he will do less barking and whining overnight. 
Wherever you decide to have your dog sleep, gather the supplies, set up the crate, and have everything ready for tomorrow so you don’t have to rush around at the last minute.  Having your dog sleep inside with you is an important first step in teaching him to be calm in the house.  By bringing him in overnight first, at a time when he would normally be calm and sleeping, you can begin right from the start instilling the good habit of being calm in the house. 


Monday, February 10, 2014

Bringing Your Dog Indoors

If your dog has been living outdoors for a long time, he probably won’t know how to behave the way you’d like him to inside the house.  My challenge to you for the next two weeks is to commit to bringing your dog inside every day while I teach you how to teach him to do what you want.  The hardest part will be committing to bringing your dog inside every day if it’s something you haven’t been doing, because it will be a change in routine.  But give it a go and I’ll give you tips along the way.  Even bringing your dog inside with you for short periods of time will start to teach him how you want him to behave and you can build up to longer times with him indoors from there.
Let’s start with some background information that you will need to know …
Did you know that dogs can be on leashes even inside the house?  Make sure you have a six foot leash that is comfortable for you to hold.  The leash will help you to keep your dog near you so you can teach him appropriate behaviors for in the house.  Dogs don’t automatically know how we want them to behave, so it’s up to us to teach them.
One thing to keep in mind is that dogs do need physical exercise.  Your teaching will go much easier if you make sure you give your dog exercise before bringing him into the house every day.   He’s not going to exercise himself while he’s tied on the chain, so it’s not really fair to expect your dog to relax quietly in the house if he hasn’t had any exercise, especially if he’s a young dog. 
Taking your dog for a brisk walk or run can help him to get enough exercise.  Let him sniff the smells along the way, too.  Dogs need to sniff to explore their environments, and sniffing will help to tire out his brain as he explores all the other dog smells around the neighborhood.  If you have access to a fenced area to let your dog run, that is great too.  Some parks have fenced tennis courts or ball fields that you may be able to use.  Or, get a long clothesline with a hook on one end to attach to your dog’s collar and let him run while you hold one end.  Toss toys for him to chase and really get him running around with you.  You might be able to pay a neighbor to walk or run your dog if you’re not able to do it yourself.  Twenty to thirty minutes of fast-paced exercise is probably sufficient, but more will usually be welcomed by your dog as well!
Management will be your friend as you bring your dog inside the house.  Use gates or barriers to keep your dog away from areas you don’t want him to go.  Keep him in the same room as you so you can supervise him and prevent him from doing things you don’t want him to do.  If you let your dog learn to do things that you don’t like because you’re not watching him, those habits will continue.  Instead, I will show you how to teach him behaviors that you do want right from the start to begin good habits.
If you have a crate or pen that is big enough for your dog to stay in, it may be helpful to you during this stage of early training in the house.  You won’t be keeping your dog in it for long periods of time, but there may be times when you need a safe place to put him for a moment here or there when you can’t watch him.  Having the crate handy will make that easier.  You may be able to purchase or borrow a used crate.
I’m going to start you with small achievable steps to bringing your dog into the house with you.  Try to follow each day’s step, but if you want to do more, feel free.  Each day will build on the last day, so if you are joining us later in the process, go back and review previous posts until you and your dog are caught up!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Outdoor Alternatives to a Chain

If your dog must be kept outside, please provide him with a fenced yard or kennel run with an appropriate dog house or shelter where he can be warm and dry.  Always leave plenty of fresh water for him.  He should always have plenty of shade from the sun. 
By providing a fenced yard or kennel space, your dog can then move around uninhibited without the worry of being tangled or injured by the chain.  Freedom of movement is a great way to reduce your dog’s stress levels and help him to be calmer and more content.  It can also help him be healthier.
You can also leave toys and bones with your dog inside a fenced area.  If he was on a chain, he could toss or roll the toys away and not be able to reach them. This would increase his frustration levels.  And what if another dog came into the yard and stole them from him?  That would not make him happy at all!  Within a fence, all his toys and bones will be contained with him and he won’t be bored. 
By leaving him with things to occupy his time, you will probably notice less barking from your dog.  You can provide him with different bones and toys by rotating which ones he gets on certain days.  Toys don’t have to be expensive, and I have written about some ideas for food puzzle toys you can make at home that you can leave in the yard with your dog while you are gone.  Also see some of my blog posts on food toys and enrichment activities for ideas on how to keep your dog busy.
In extreme weather, provide your dog with access to a garage or bring him into your basement.  Either would be cooler in the summer and will provide a place to sleep away from snow, ice, and wind in the winter.  A dog coat will be appreciated in cold weather too, if your dog has short hair, or is elderly.
There are organizations that may be able to help you with resources to get your yard fenced or to build a kennel run for your dog.  They may help to provide your dog with a warm dog house.  You can do internet searches to find assistance, or you can ask your dog’s veterinarian or a local rescue organization or shelter.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

What Chaining a Dog Cannot Do

Chaining your dog cannot …
… housetrain your dog.  Dogs normally try to keep the area where they live clean, and it can be upsetting to them to have to do their business in the same small area where they sleep and eat.  Even baby puppies who can barely walk will toddle away from their eating and sleeping areas to do their business.  A dog left chained outside for long periods of time may be harder to reliably housetrain because he is learning to do his business in the same area where he spends a lot of time. 
Most likely, he will end up stepping in his business and spreading it around, so the entire area resembles a bathroom spot.  While this may seem ok to you because it is outside, when you bring your dog into the house, your job will be harder to teach him to keep your house clean.  Did you know that dogs can be taught to do their business on cue so you can have them go quickly when you ask them to?  I will show you how to teach your dog this in a future post! 
… exercise your dog.  Dogs need running and aerobic exercise and he can’t do that on a chain.  Most dogs will pace back and forth and pull on a chain, which is not releasing any pent up energy, it’s just increasing his frustration levels and his need to run and burn off steam. 
What can you do to exercise your dog instead? Brisk walking, jogging or hiking with you, swimming in warm weather, chasing and fetching toys, running with you on a long leash or in an enclosed area – these are all great forms of exercise that will allow your dog freedom of movement to exercise.
… teach your dog to be calm in the house.  If you want to have a dog that is calm and well-behaved in the house, you must bring him into the house and teach him what you expect.  Dogs don’t know the rules of living with humans unless we teach them.  Putting him outside on a chain will not solve behavior problems, but it may increase some of them!
If you follow these blog posts, I will show you how to begin to teach your dog to be calm inside the house and how you can encourage your dog to behave in the ways you want him to!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Some Dangers of Keeping Dogs Chained Outside

Chaining can often result in physical injury to dogs.  Dogs can get their body parts tangled in chains that then pull tighter and tighter the more they struggle to get free.  Pulling hard to free a caught leg can pull muscles and tendons and cause pain and even cut and bleeding skin.  Dogs often injure their necks and spines by pulling and lunging repeatedly against the end of the chain.  Sometimes collars will become embedded into a dog’s neck when sores are formed and begin to heal around the collar.
Some dogs have strangled themselves to death when their chain got caught on something.  Others may become tangled and not be able to reach their food, water or shelter.  In extreme heat or cold it can be dangerous and even deadly for dogs to remain outside for long periods of time with no water or shade/shelter. 
There are other reasons that it can be dangerous to keep a dog on a chain.  While keeping a dog on a chain keeps the dog in its yard, chaining does not keep others out of the yard.  Other dogs may wander into the dog’s yard, or maybe coyotes and other predators, or even children.  A dog that is chained cannot get away from an animal or child that tries to hurt it or tease it.  Dogs that feel like they can’t get away feel trapped and are more likely to fight to protect themselves.
If a child approached a dog tied on a chain and the dog felt trapped, it is more likely to bite that child than if it were not on a chain.  Even if the child is friendly, the dog may bite because it doesn’t feel it can get away.  Dogs that are stressed and frustrated from living on chains are more likely to bite in any circumstance.
Dogs left outside are more likely to be the victims of dog theft.  Thieves may steal dogs and sell them to research facilities or dog fighting rings.  Dogs that are unattended make easy targets for thieves looking to sell them and make a quick buck.
These are just some of the physical dangers of keeping a dog on a chain.  But there is also emotional damage done to dogs living their lives on chains.  Dogs normally enjoy the company of others and like to live in groups.  A dog on a chain is lonely and suffers from emotional isolation and boredom.  This causes stress.  When a dog is stressed and bored, it is more likely to learn nuisance behaviors such as constant barking or digging holes.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Unchain A Dog Month

February is Unchain A Dog Month.  There are many dogs that live their lives tied outside on chains.  For some, that is how the family has always cared for its dogs for many generations.  Perhaps they don’t know that there is another way to include the dog in family life.  Or, maybe dogs have always been outside dogs, but it’s now not safe to let dogs run loose with so much vehicle traffic.  Without a fenced yard, the only outdoor alternative then seems to be chaining the dog to a dog house or a tree.  Perhaps at one time, the family tried to bring the dog inside, but the dog didn’t behave very well and it was easier to keep it tied outside. 
If you know of a dog (perhaps it’s your own) that lives life on a chain, please share my blog posts with its human family.   My blog posts this month will educate us all about why life on a chain is not the best life for a dog.  I will offer some suggestions and a protocol for how anyone can begin to bring their dog inside off the chain.  And, if living inside is not an option for a particular dog, I will offer some suggestions to unchain that outdoor dog and make its life better. 
If any reader has questions about how to bring your dog inside off the chain, please do contact me through my comments section below each post.  The posts are not public and will be seen only by me.  If you would like a personal response, you must leave me a personal email address in your comment, and I will get back to you and try to put you in touch with resources and information to help you bring your dog in off the chain.  I cannot offer you personal suggestions through the comment thread – you must include a personal email address in your comment.
If you know of someone who has a dog tied up on a chain, please do not judge that person.  You don’t know why the dog is tied there.  There may be circumstances that you aren’t aware of.  You can offer your assistance in a non-judgmental way.  You can forward along my blog posts.  There are resources that can help.