Pet Column – Dogs at the Crossroads

Our friend Shelby.

By Lupa Jernigan, Desert Dogs

The number one reason pets end up in shelters or abandoned is behavioral problems. The best way to prevent behavioral problems is training.

Everyone loves the puppy when he comes home as an adorable Christmas present. They are less enthusiastic when he is lifting his leg all over the house or chewing up the couch cushions.

The first order of business with a puppy is teaching him or her to relieve himself outside. A crate is the best training tool for this process.  Dogs will complain about it at first but they quickly learn to appreciate the crate as their safe little den.

When using a crate to train your puppy, you will need to be very careful about timing. He should be in the crate anytime he’s not supervised. When you take puppy out of the crate, he should immediately go outside. It’s important to watch and see that he does in fact relieve himself before he’s allowed back inside. After he has done so, you should be able to allow a bit of freedom indoors before it’s time to go back into his crate.

Dogs will need to go potty after they eat and as soon as they wake up. If you are careful, you can avoid most accidents. If you do catch them in the act, stay calm! Just take them outside right away.  You will both get better with practice but over reacting will create fear and anxiety and that definitely won’t help!

There are ways to make crate time more interesting for your dog. A Kong toy, filled with something delicious like peanut butter or soft food will provide distraction. Some owners even find it useful to feed the majority of their dogs’ meals in a chew toy. There are also some great puzzle toys as well that hide treats. Dogs have to think a little to work out how to make them open.

It’s important to make crate time pleasant. It should never be used as a punishment. Start out with short times in the crate. Try to catch them being quiet before you take them out, but regardless don’t leave them crying for hours. You can stretch the times as your pet gets used to the idea, and be sure and use it when you’re home as well as when you leave. If you only crate your dog when you leave the house, he may develop anxiety around you leaving.

And finally, remember that a tired dog is a good dog.  Make sure your pup is getting plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. He or she will be much happier to retreat to his little den when he’s had some good play time.

Be sure and let me know what you think and send your ideas for future topics to [email protected]!

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