Just Keep The Dog

Just Keep The Dog


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Doing the Work

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Doing the Work
I was on Facebook the other day and I read a post someone wrote that they were in search of a shock collar.  They described how frustrated they were about their dog who keeps darting out the door.  A bunch of people commented on electric fences and other types of corrective tools.  The original poster reiterated how she was at her "wits end" with this dog and that she had tried everything from yelling to sneaking out the door.  I wanted to pull my hair out.  And then I had to remember that I was once in her shoes.

Prior to going through dog obedience/behavior training, most people spend their dog ownership "dealing" with behavioral problems. 

When I had my door darter, I had to establish pack hierarchy. I was alpha and the dog was part of the pack, the lowest part. That meant, no dog on furniture unless invited her up. No pets unless I initiated it. So when she wanted to play I ignored her and once she got bored and gave up, I initiated play. She began to look to me for guidance instead of just going nuts.

When it came to the door, I practiced door manners. I went to the door and she would immediately follow. Dogs understand body language, not human language unless it is something they associate with training. So I walk to the door with my back facing her, I stop about four feet away from the door, turn around and call her to sit and stay in front of me. Praise and treat. Then, I walk to the door, still with my back to her and remind her to stay. Praise and treat. I reach for the knob and look back to check if she moved. If not, I turn the knob. If she darts, I give a small growl. Nothing crazy, just something to stop her. Then I put her back and sit stay at the invisible line I established initially. This is where the work is when you train in problem areas. It is step by step, moving back to the spot where she began. Praise and treat for each step she does well. If she doesn't do what you want, you try again then praise and treat.

Eventually you'll get to the point where you will stand at the doorway with the door open and she will still be at that invisible line. Then you will close the door and praise highly.

For door darters, you have to teach your dog that it is YOUR door, not theirs. It is your house. You are in control. While you're training you will find yourself feeling bad, even maybe feeling like a bully. But dogs are pack members. They respect and love the alpha. You as alpha will make them feel secure and safe. No need to dart, no need to go crazy because they trust that as their leader, you got this.

Dogs speak dog and humans speak human.  Training is the line that connects you both.  It solves or prevents the majority of behavioral problems in dogs.  Having a dog is like having a kid-- they require your help in being successful family members!  Take the time to do the work.

Today's Toon

Do You Feed Raw?
Johanna from our Facebook page is looking for some advice on raw feeding.  She currently cooks her dog food but would like to know more about raw.  Please click here to leave her a comment! 
Are You On Instagram?
Post your doggie pics and use #justkeepthedog to tag us!
Your pic will make it to our Featured Instagram Dog!
Bruce gives me puppy eyes!

New Baby?  Don't Give Up The Dog!
Click on the Newsletter!
I always hated that part in Lady And The Tramp when Lady's owners bring home the baby and suddenly Lady is kicked out of the house and left to stay outside.  The dog is a part of your family.  When you find out you're pregnant, you have months to prepare him for the change in his pack that is about to take place.  Don't automatically assume he'll adjust as soon as you haul that infant carrier into the home.  Check out Bark Buster's Bringing Home Baby tips to find out how you can help your dog adjust!

Book Highlight

JJ The American Street Dog
by Diane Rose-Solomon

I met someone on Twitter a few weeks ago.  A fellow dog lover!  I swear, people who love dogs have a heart where a special blend of love exists.  Diane Rose-Solomon is the author of JJ The American Street Dog, a book dedicated the educating children about adopting instead of purchasing a dog from a pet store.  This book is beautifully illustrated and my two young boys absolutely love it! I purchased this book a few weeks ago and it arrived quickly. 

Thinking of Dumping Your Dog?

Every dog in a shelter has his own story.  Each of them loved their family before being dumped off.  Most people who surrender their dogs do so for very common reasons:
  1. Moving - apartment doesn't allow dogs
  2. Lack of training - chewing, barking, pottying in the house
  3. Not enough time - busy lifestyle, children, too many pets
  4. Cost - routine health care, senior dog needing special care
  5. Allergies - sudden reaction to dog's dander or fur
So you're moving and the new place doesn't allow dogs.  Here's an answer - don't move there.  I live in a city where the majority of apartments do not allow dogs over 35-50lbs.  Bruce is 90lbs!  I couldn't live in the beautiful apartment I wanted unless I gave him up.  Well, that wasn't happening.  I searched and searched, asked around, and read reviews.  Eventually I found a place that accepted large breed dogs.  It wasn't as gorgeous as the other apartments, but I wasn't worried - I could easily make the new Bruce-friendly place Home.

Is your dog constantly driving you nuts by chewing your shoes, peeing in the house, or barking at the wind?  Train him!  The majority of a dog's behavioral issues can be corrected and prevented with training!  If you can't afford a trainer, You can definitely find great training tips for free on YouTube.
If your lifestyle is too busy because you're a single mom with two young kids, your dog may be your biggest source of peace.  I'm serious!  I'm a single mom of two young boys.  I work full time and when I get home I have plenty of work to do.  But I still manage to make time for my dog.  And you know what?  I love that I have to take him outside because I get to have some fresh air and some time outside.  I am almost forced to stop doing things and just enjoy nature.  I don't spend a long time on walks after work because I'm busy.  But I do slip in five minutes here and there throughout the evening to train my dog.  It's like taking breaks away from chores. 

I know all about being on a budget.  Trust me!  So I make sure to do some dang good cost comparison before deciding on a vet.  Also, humane societies are great at providing care at lower costs.  If your senior dog suffers from arthritis and you can't afford that laser therapy, apply heat compresses to his hips (or wherever he suffers) and give massages.  If you're struggling with dog food, you really can make your own.  Spend some time every Saturday making home made dog food to last the week.  It can be lots of fun if you let it!

Shampooing your dog in hypoallergenic shampoos can help and so can over the counter allergy medication.  Non-drowsy store brand Benadryl can help you deal.  It's not addicting and is not too bad on the wallet.

Contact a rescue group or humane society for tips on how to deal with issues that can be handled or prevented.  There are plenty of people out there who want to help you keep your dog!

But what if I've exhausted everything and really can't keep him?

Sometimes the only option is to give up your dog.  Sometimes you HAVE to.  If this is the case, please ensure you give your dog the best chance at a great future.  Instead of taking your dog to a shelter, try other options first.  Ask coworkers, friends or family if they'd be willing to give your dog a good home.  Do not utilize Craigslist!

Craigslist is a great place to shop for items at a cheaper price, but too many predators are just waiting for you to give them your dog.  Too many dogs end up being flipped or used as bait dogs for dogfighting.  Instead of Craigslist or other online classifieds, contact an animal rescue group.  Better yet, see if you can find one that is dedicated to your dog's breed.  Always seek a no-kill place.

Talk to your veterinarian about your situation-- they know their clients and who might provide a good home.

Always be honest about your dog's history.  This will help the rescue organization or vet find the suitable home. 

Suggested Reading
The Dog Guide - A great training resource!
Bark Busters Dog Training Tips - Free tips from a great training program!

Thank you for reading!
 I write not for myself but for my dog and others like him who
waited behind cage bars for someone to take them
Please send your input to me at Justkeepthedog@gmail.com!

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