Christmas Puppy Class!
Super Active Dogs
Christmas Puppies and Kittens - Start the First Days off Right
Super Active Dogs
Does your dog always run through the house with a toy or personal items whenever you are home always on the go? Do find it impossible to get your dog tired no matter how much fetch, walks or other play they have? If so ,your dog is a super active dog. This can be either a delight or a frustration. Personally, I find dogs like this a reason for me to get off the couch, play and get outside. For some, the dog's energy level is hard to keep up with. Take heart, if you are getting frustrated there is hope for both you and your dog.
There are different activity needs depending on the age, breed, temperament and health of the dog. Often people do not realize the aerobic exercise needs of the breed of their dog. In my experience, this is where most frustration lies. People expect a puppy to be full of energy and need play time, training and regular walks and exercise. After the puppy reaches 2 years old, many owners expect them to slow down. Some dogs never seem to lose that puppy energy. Most dogs were bred to work but they have lost their job in our modern lifestyle. So these dogs have pent up energy that they have to expend.
An example of breed related activity is the Jack Russell Terrier. These dogs were bred to chase down rats in a barn and kill them at the rate of 15 rats per minute. These little dogs are ready to run quickly at anything that moves, zoning right in to grab-shake-kill. Eddie the little dog on the TV show "Frazier" was a Jack Russell Terrier. Cute as a button, small in size, a calm, faithful companion to the father. To have a Jack Russell this calm in a home means that dog receives lots of ball play, walks, eating from food puzzles. How much actual time that takes will depend on that particular dog. In my experience, at least 45 minutes of ball play, 2 - 3 30 minute walks a day, and at least 1 meal only out of a food puzzle keeps a Jack Russell calm. In other words, keep them busy. I see many 15 year old terriers still active while other breed dogs are slowing down. Think of the needs of your dog - a Sheppard needs to be out scouting the area, sniffing different places. They LOVE hikes in the state park. A retriever needs to go out for long walks, and have retrieving games.
Meeting the exercise needs of a dog is the best way to manage living with a super active dog. How can you know if you are meeting that need? I tell my clients all dogs need a minimum of 1 minute of walking per pound of body weight per day. For younger or more active dogs, this may be 2 - 3 times that amount. Give this dog 2 - 3 walks a day meeting the time requirement. Active play that has the dog panting, and choosing to rest is the aerobic level dogs need. Typically this is 20 minutes of sustained play. Exercise can be difficult in the winter, but think of creative ways to play in the home, a ball diamond or hikes in the state park. Local trainers and rescue groups are holding barn hunts, dog hikes and other fun owner-dog games centered on the natural behaviors of the dog. If you start supplying this level of activity for your dog, you will find may frustrating behaviors like jumping up on you, pulling things off the counter, and over barking reduce.
If you cannot walk much, or have the stamina yourself to get your dog this exercise what to do? Dog walkers can help, running club members may want running buddies, or someone who no longer has a dog may enjoy some dog companionship. In a fenced in area you can throw a succession of balls one right after the other to keep the dog retrieving. A digging pit made of a sandbox with toys or treats hidden in it is great for the terriers
A fenced in back yard is not enough exercise area for a dog over about 10 lbs. Most dogs eliminate in their yard, but do not exercise. The outing of walks and runs stimulates their mind, and increases the calming brain chemicals. Many of the behavior cases I see in my consulting practice have increased walking as an essential part of the treatment plan. If your dog is not good at walking on the leash, there are positive trainers who can help you as well as videos and resources on my clinic website www.okawvetclinic.com
I know what it is like to live with a super active dog. My own dog Bella is a very active lab/shepard/cattle dog mix. If she does not get three 20 minute walks a day, her 2 meals out of a variety of food puzzles and play, she is a naughty dog. She needs to sniff, play and interact with her world. She is a great watch dog and can be frustrating when the weather is bad or everyone is too busy to keep up with her needs. We step it up when she acts up - we understand she needs her walks like she needs air to breathe. For me, I see her as my motivator to not work too hard, get outside and enjoy the world. I hope you see your super active dog in this way too.
Understanding our pets is an important way to give them what they need.
Christmas Puppies and Kittens - Start the First Days off Right
Christmas is a time for gift giving and receiving. Personally, I would rather see people give or receive a pet at a less stressful time of year, but people still get pets at Christmas. If you are set on getting a pet at Christmas, please do not make this a total surprise to the receiver. If you do add a pet to your home, please be sure to follow this information to make this addition a good experience.
The first stop should be to a veterinarian who offers fun puppy and kitten exams. I stress the fun because this pup or kitten needs to have some treats and good experiences at the clinic to learn to like the veterinarian. Seek a clinic that offers low stress/pet friendly handling for this important first visit. Vaccinations can wait a week or so,but if fleas or worms are present those need to be treated. Most clinics will give away a puppy/kitten care kit which will have a lot of training and good health information to help you get off to a good start. When you get home - read the information! So many clients get this free resource and make little use of it - I love it when people actually read the information in the kit and use it.
For puppies get a crate and start using it the first day. Puppies have to learn to like the crate, so toss treats and feed the puppy in the crate. We have articles and videos on crate training on our clinic website to help you with crate training. Always make it a happy place for them. If your puppy is stressed in the crate, use the mother dog pheromone spray Adaptil/Comfort zone. Spraying a small amount in the crate or on a bandana before crating helps the puppy to settle. The spray can be used for car trips, on a bandana to wear when people come over as well. Our puppy kits include a coupon for Adaptil and I find it helps a lot of puppies adjust to the new home. Have the puppy sleep in the crate and never use it for punishment. If you use it for banishment, the dog learns to be afraid in it and that leads to crate anxiety.
For kittens, get a low sided box; a disposable lasagna pan with only one inch of litter in it works well. It has to be easy for the kitten to get in and out of so they can use it. Clean the box daily!!! For kittens,going to the bathroom is a marking behavior, so if it is dirty they will want to go elsewhere. The plain clay or activated charcoal litter is what most kittens like. Confining the kitten with the box at night helps them use it regularly.
Proper play is important for exercise, socialization and learning good manners for both dogs and cats. For puppies, have a ball, a tug rope and stuffed toy to choose from. Toss the toys around and get the puppy to play at least 15 minutes per day. If the puppy starts to nip or bite stop all play. For kittens, get a small ball, feather on a stick, and stuffed toy for the kitten to attack. Do not allow the kitten to grab or bite onto your arm. If they do, stop play and when they let go toss the toy away from you to have them direct play away. For adult pets, play is also important. Follow the same guidelines to start off a great relationship.
Take your new puppy or kitten out for car rides that are to fun places like the pet store. When people come over to your home, have them toss treats to your pet to have the pet learn people are good. This is socialization and is very important especially for our dogs. Don't let the harsh weather hold you back too much. Even a short trip in the car is good for them.
If you are adding a new friend to your home, there are some special rules for you to introduce and set up the home for pet harmony. It can get pretty detailed and I have articles at my website, but to make it simple - dogs and cats do not like to share. So every pet has it's own bed,food bowls, toys and do not allow them to swap or bug each other around these items. Feed pets in completely separate areas and remove the food bowls. Greet, feed and play with the established pet first and make time equal between both pets. These are some of the most essential rules to keep harmony with adding a dog or cat.
When the weather gets horribly cold, it is really difficult to give our pets as much exercise and play outside. Both dogs and cats that go outside may act up due to boredom. Feet freeze, making in painful to walk very far. It is harder to find the ball in the snow or chase mice and birds that are hunkering down in the shrubbery. Sometimes dogs may have accidents in the house because it is too hard on their feet to get "in position" to potty. Their toilet area may be covered with snow or just frozen, making it hard to smell the area. Accidents are forgivable; they are also very aggravating. Other ways that pets may act up in the winter is being more mischievous in the home. Cats may be knocking more items off your dresser or getting on the counters. Dogs may be pulling things off shelves to get your attention. You may hear more barking at squirrels out the window, or your cats may be swatting at each other more.
What to do? First of all, try to understand why your pets are behaving badly. The house is no where nearly as fun as the great outdoors. There are not as many places to sniff out, dig out or climb on top of. So, to help cure cabin fever, make the indoors more interesting. First be sure to keep the routines regular such as feeding and going outside. When you do feed make feeding time more interesting by using food puzzles rather than just feeding out of a bowl. Both dogs and cats get a lot of mental stimulation figuring out how the heck to get the food out of the toy. Meals in the puzzle, not just treats. You can see some videos starring Bella and Ranger using food puzzles on my youtube channel.
To avoid accidents in the house, keep your dog on a feeding schedule. They will typically need to toilet about a half an hour after eating. You can now predict when they will need to go and not have to spend so much time outside. Take your pet out for short but more frequent breaks and praise praise praise when they get it right. You may give them the first chance to eliminate, come in for 5 minutes (keeping them confined) then go on out again to finish up. Outside cats may still demand to toilet outside. If you let them out, give them some super yummy canned food just inside the house door to reward them for coming home.
Offering a potty pad in the home may be another way to help out the toy breeds. Reward the dog when they use the pad. Shoveling off some snow or making a path can also help the small dog go outside. For the housebound cat, reward them after using the box and keep the box absolutely clean. As soon as it is used, scoop it.
Increasing exercise cuts down on boredom and can help pets get along. Walking, even limited, is still good in the cold. Booties and coats help and there are sizes for the large to small pets. More frequent short walks going in different areas can help to minimize the frozen paws and still provide variety and some outside time. Head halters and front attaching harnesses can make walking easier and safer for the humans as well. PetSafe and other makers have various halter models that are easy to use.
Lastly, find ways to play and get exercise in the house. Games of chase up and down the stairs, review obedience commands or teach them a new trick. This will decrease naughty behaviors that come from boredom.
For cats use laser pointers they can chase, stuffed toys they can pounce on or boxes they can investigate. Cats really need to have their toys rotated every day to keep it interesting. You don't need many; just keep most up taking one or 2 down a day. Be sure you have enough places for the cats to lay and perch on. A step ladder set up with towels on the tread can increase the space to the cats. Placing this near a window can relieve much boredom.
Make the home mischief proof at this time. Remember that both cats and dogs can smell much better than us. So even though you put the chocolate brownies way back on the counter, your dog or cat will be very interested in getting to them. Be sure your garbage has a closing lid as well.
To learn more about pet behavior, tools to use and understanding your pet read my blog and look out for our events announced in our newsletter.
If your pet is driving you crazy, give us a call. Take a look at the behavior services we offer.