HEALTHY HABITS TO GET YOUR DOG INTO
DDW BLOG Post #0009
DDW discusses what would be expected to become routine to some degree in your pet's life such as grooming, socialization, crate training, and exercise along with dental maintenance. Learn more about why incorporating these routines early on can make life easier in the long run. Many suggested are also opportunities to bond with your dog. Learn how they promote a pet's healthy mentality and reduce potential future behavioral challenges allowing for a great addition to your family.
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Many of us have heard the story of that dog that has bitten the groomer, attacks the guest that walks in, runs from being called on for a bath and that dog that has really bad breath. It is a much easier task to spend time with your pup early on and condition them into good habits and behaviors than trying to break the pups out of them. *"... it takes about 21 to 28 days to learn a new habit. That doesn’t sound like too long a time, but the research also found that people tend to drop out a new behavior after about 2 weeks if they don’t go out of their way to keep going." DDW offers several ideas for activities to get you and your pup started towards some healthy habits along with links to other outside resources for further worthwhile insight.
Grooming is important for the pups to get used to whether done by a professional or yourself. If you get the pup used to it, the occasion should be much less stressful for everyone involved. Stressful events create an unhealthy mentality. Please visit DDW's 'Doggy Salon' for grooming tools, maintenance and hair products.
Starting grooming habits early is best. The recommended age is 12-16 weeks and/or when they have all required shots to safely convene in an area with other dogs. This is for the protection of your pet just as much as it is other dogs. Groomers require updated proof of these vaccinations which you can get from your veterinarian; so be prepared. Trusting your baby in the care of another can be difficult, click this link for a great article by AKC, a reputable source: "12 Tips for Choosing the Right Dog Groomer".https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/things-to-ask-potential-groomers-before/
For at-home grooming:
YouTube is a great resource for tutorial videos for cutting and trimming. You can search these lessons by breed.
Find a good spot that will not hurt your back if you are put in a physical position for a certain time, i.e. leaned over. I prefer to do it at my kitchen sink; this works for me because my dogs are little. If your only option is a bathtub, try a detachable showerhead to help with rinsing.
** This time with your pet should not be hurried and should be done when you feel you can give the activity your highest level of focus and patience.
Set up for trimming:
- Prep the area/cleared of clutter
- Round- nosed scissors
- Proper clippers
- Proper nail cutters or a nail grinder
- Comb/ brush
Set up to bathe:
- Prep the area/cleared of clutter
- Have towel reach
- Need tear-free (tearless) shampoo and conditioner,
- Gloves if preferred
- Rubber mat to lay to keep dog stable
- Comb/ brush
Helpful Grooming Tips To Consider:
- Safety: It is important to have everything within reach. You do not want your dog to jump and you cannot leave him/her there by itself for any amount of time. Injuries are painful for them and costly to you. Also, one of my number one tips is to put a rubber mat down to keep the dog from slipping and sliding. Also, run the water simultaneously over your hands throughout the bath to make sure the temperature of the water is not too hot or cold. These considerations would help to avoid a traumatic experience that would create future anxiety towards bathing.
- Caution: While nail trimming, either choose a nail cutter for dogs that will help guide you with how much length to cut or a nail grinder. It is extremely painful for dogs if their nails are cut too short. Seek a vet's attention if you do cut a nail too short and the bleeding does not stop soon after. Trim the hair between the padding of the feet with a nose hair trimmer for men. This hair needs to be kept short for comfort. Use the round-nosed scissors for the face and by the eyes for safety.
- Awareness: Place cotton in the inner ears to avoid them from getting wet. After the bath, proper drying is also important. If you use a hairdryer, use low heat. If your pup air dries, provide a warm room to do so. The following article is an interesting and detailed read entitled, "5 Common Mistakes Pet Parents Make During Bath Time".
Brushing and Massages: Puppy massages help with bonding, in addition to, building trust, Getting your pup used simple brushing sessions and used to the human touch through massage is very healthy and can create many bonding moments. If the pup does not like the brush, try daily for minutes at a time. Patiently build on more time while showing the pup he/she is safe from being harmed by the brush. Many dogs develop a strong adversity toward grooming, brushing them regularly early on is a smart way to try and avoid this.
*Socialization means learning to be part of society. When we talk about socializing pet puppies, it means helping them learn to be comfortable as a pet within human society-a society that includes many different types of people, environments, buildings, sights, noises, smells, animals and other dogs. Socializing your dog with other animals while young under your supervision and after all vaccines are given, is a great idea. This practice will help to curb future aggressive behaviors. Also, company or in-home visits are good to have to get your pups used to people coming into their space. **Please be extra careful with puppies and small dogs. Set up a safe area, even demonstrate a safe way to hold a puppy such as on the floor while in someone's lap. Don't allow your pup or small dog near a larger dog that you don't know well. The following link "10 Ways to Socialize Your Dog" may be helpful and offers many different ideas:
Routine and Exercise
A structured schedule/ routine and lots of exercise is excellent for bonding with you and especially any other family dogs. A schedule prompts a dog to understand what to expect of you and in turn, you can know what to expect of them. Dogs love to run over a walk any day. If you can even manage a jog or any exercise that would allow your dog to run alongside while riding your bike, skateboard, etc. Once the dog has been altered to a calm disposition through exercise, take advantage of the moment. They are more easily focused in this state; you now have an advantage and can train or weed out any other behaviors through observation also reflecting health issues, etc. Dogs bond through exercise and play, so keep this in mind while introducing a new pup to an already established pack. "The pack" would mean any family member, you included, and any other animals in the household.
Crate training If you choose to crate him/her for sleep or during the day, it should always be " their safe space", so do not use it for punishment. To help set them up for success and familiarize them with the crate, sit on the floor alongside and let them investigate the space first. You can put their favorite blanket, toy or your shirt in the crate with them for comfort. Each time you put your pet inside, give them a treat/reward. Having their own space gives them a place to go to minimize any anxiety they may be feeling. The crate image to the right is linked to Amazon if you are interested in the product.
During the day, utilize the crate for no more than 4 consecutive hours at a time. However, leading up to that, practice leaving them for short then to longer periods of time so they understand that you are coming back. Remember, they may develop anxious behavior if this training is not handled properly. They have a pack mentality, so it may be expected that they bark endlessly or destroy the area they were left in at first. If we use time and patience for crate training, you will both be better off in the long run.
Preventative Maintenance For Dental Health
The preventative care and maintenance of a pet 's health provide a great solution for a well deserved healthy life. Dental hygiene is one of the most important regimens to implement. If a symptom from compromised dental health is left untreated, this can become a bigger problem than you could have anticipated. Sometimes more serious issues can only be detected by a professional. Dental issues are to be taken seriously; seek a professional if concerned.
Dental Hygiene Regimen: A Dental hygiene regimen is an example of preventative maintenance. Although smaller dogs are more prone to the growth of plaque than larger dogs, all dogs are susceptible to plaque. Periodontal disease caused by plaque is considered a serious repercussion of dental neglect and lack of maintenance. It is the tartar build-up that remains manageable by brushing or scraping off which, if neglected, turns into plaque. The only solution when it gets to the stage of periodontal disease is to remove the teeth. This is quite costly, more importantly, quite painful for your pup and also affects their overall longterm health.
Avoid having to remove teeth from neglect with a daily brushing regimen which can be implemented at a more minimal cost. This is a routine that is easier for a younger dog to learn. If you have an older dog, this can be more of a challenge. You can start with the pup getting used to the toothbrush in the mouth, then used to the actual brushing while you work your minutes up each day. Overall, any routine involves consistency and persistence on your part. A few minutes a day can keep your larger bills in your wallet and your dog in its best health.
Dental Chews: Let us not forget what it feels like to have a toothache ourselves as we humanely spend money on our pups to avoid health issues. There are several products you can use in the meantime as a daily preventative. Whimzies (image on left) is a great dental chew that DDW sells. There are several types of dental chews and you can ask your veterinarian which one he recommends AND WHY. I suggest knowing why your vet is recommending any product because their reason may not work for your individual pet's overall situation or disposition.
Water Additive: I highly urge you to consider this product. People are always complaining about their dog's breath. Get into a healthy routine with your dog DAY 1 with 'FRESH BREATH' BY TROPICLEAN - Advanced Whitening Oral Care Water Additive', sold here at DDW. It would be difficult to introduce this product later on because your pup may not appreciate the difference in the taste of their water with this additive. Some may advertise as "tasteless and odorless", this has not been my experience. I can tell it took time for them to get used to this, it works AMAZINGLY for breath.
A "Wellness" Plan Helps Supports Dental Cleanings
We have already established how expensive dental can be. A decent wellness plan is especially beneficial in the first year of your pet's life as everything needs to be done including spay and neutering. Note: If you are signing up for a wellness plan, you are committed to paying out the year in full and can do this on a monthly basis. When you sign up for another year, it is the same commitment. The benefit I love the most after year 2 is the annual teeth cleaning. For a little more money you can opt for an additional teeth cleaning within the policy year. For small dogs prone to tarter and plaque, this is a great benefit. For neutering/spay and teeth cleanings, the procedure and anesthesia are included. For all of the aforementioned reasons, a wellness plan is to your advantage. To learn more about wellness policies, read Pet Insurance And Financing High Vet Bills.
Ask your vet for wellness plans they may be affiliated with. I highly recommend Banfield Wellness Insurance which is offered in all Banfield Vet's located in the Petsmart chain across the country.
Your Personal Pet's Dental Regimen: It takes only 48 hours for plaque to turn into tartar. Dogs can avoid plaque and tartar build-up with hard foods/kibble and healthy snacks like carrots. However, this will likely not be enough. The preventative care and maintenance of your pet's health provide the best solution for a well deserved healthy life. Besides preventative home regimens like brushing teeth, dental chews and water additives, our pets need annual dental check-ups and cleanings. With a professional eye, a bigger health issue can be avoided. Dogs often do not exhibit signs of pain which leaves us with another reason why we need to make dental maintenance a routine. Sometimes, only a professional can point out potential issues and with just one vet visit. If left untreated, the issue can become a bigger problem than you could have anticipated. For more about a wellness policy and even pet insurance...read our very own DDW post, "Pet Insurance And Financing High Vet Bills".
For those that have older dogs that need to be "re-conditioned", this can be an overwhelming task. You can hire a trainer or do a YouTube marathon to get some ideas from the many dog training tutorials out there. I love watching Cesar Milan, personally, but there are many other great gurus. With patience, perseverance and consistency, retraining your pup will be successful. Understanding the psychology of a dog's would be a good place to start; understanding what it means for you to position your self as the Alpha. For more insight on the psychology of a dog, click the following link of a page entitiled "Canine Dog Psychology and Behavior Resources".
**How to break a dog’s habit:
- Step 1: Know exactly what you would like to see change.
- Step 2: Know when the habitual behavior is most likely to happen.
- Step 3: Notice what your dog does before (the sign) committing the habitual behavior.
- Step 4: Do not allow the behavior to happen, stop it when your dog gives the sign.
- Step 5: Continues to stop the behavior from happening for a month or more.
There are many ways you can bond with your dog, why not simultaneously help set them up for success while spending time with them in productive and stimulating ways. Dogs are eager to please and love when you give them jobs to do. Both humans and dogs do well with routines. All of these suggestions are great to implement making life either happier, healthier, but definitely easier for both of you.
FINAL WORDS FROM DDW
Many dog experts say that a dog that is acting out or has bad habits is not the fault of the dog, but the owner. Please educate yourself as a dog owner, in the long run, you will have a happy house and a well-adjusted dog always eager to please.
Finally, keep an eye on your dog while training just like you would a mischievous child. This way you can be consistent with your training. Give high praise when the pup is doing well and a firm NO when he/she isn't. Please do not hit your pups, your dog should not fear you!
Remember CONSISTENCY and PERSISTENCE....Best of luck, Kimberly
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