Top 5 Training Mistakes for New Dog Owners

When bringing home a new puppy or even an older dog that needs to brush up on his manners- training is crucial to the happiness of both you and your new canine friend. When training that lovable new ball of fur, keep in mind that there are a few common mistakes to avoid:

1.)    Long Training Sessions: Spending too much time on any one training session can be trying to both your patience and that of your canine companion. Keep in mind that puppies have especially short attention spans. It’s best to start with short training sessions, maybe 15 to 20 minutes. As your dog becomes more accustomed to the training process, you can start to increase the length of sessions a little at a time.

2.)    Inconsistency with Commands: Once you choose certain command words- stick to them! Not doing so will cause confusion for you pup and will not produce the desired outcome for all the hours spent on training. For example, “down” can either mean “lay down” or “get down” if the dog is jumping up. It’s crucial to pick a single meaning for each command and remain consistent.

3.)    Training when you’re in a Bad Mood: Make sure you have a positive attitude when beginning a training session. You will be less likely to lose your cool and yell- which only frightens the animal and does not enforce correct behavior. You will also be more likely to be patient and encouraging, two things that will help your sweet pup through the training process.

4.)    Correcting a Dog for something that Happened in the Past: No matter how mad you are about that chewed-up shoe or the accident that Fido had in the house, it’s important not to correct the behavior if the incident occurred more than 5 minutes ago. You should only reprimand your pet if you catch them in the act- and physical force should NEVER be used as punishment.

5.)    Not Using Enough Positive Reinforcement: The best way to see results when training is to REWARD good behavior! Treats can be used as an effective source of positive reinforcement- but some owners are afraid their pet will become too treat motivated. A whole lot of praise and a good old fashioned belly rub make for an excellent alternative to treats and will surely teach your pup that his behavior was correct.

The Top 10 Mistakes Pet Owners Make

  1. Buying a Pet on a Whim:  Potential pet owners should take their time researching what kind of pet and which breed works best for their lifestyle. Attributes to consider are size, activity level, age, grooming needs and more. A good match is important to avoid owner frustration and to keep more animals from ending up in shelters.
  2. Not Opting for Obedience Training:  Saving some dough by skipping training classes may not be worth the headaches over chewed up furniture or inappropriate barking. Not very many of us are blessed with the natural knowhow to properly train a dog, so some professional advice is probably worth the investment.
  3. Not Sticking to the Rules: You can’t blame a puppy for being confused if one day he is allowed to sit on the couch and the next he is being yelled at for it! It’s best to set boundaries right away and stick to them.
  4. Handing out too Many Treats: Make Fido work for his goodies. The occasional yummy snack is okay, but most of the time, treats should represent a reward for good behavior.  
  5. Neglecting to Socialize Fido: Socialization at a young age is key to avoiding behavior issues. Dogs should be exposed to people, other dogs, and the outside world in general. Exposure to different situations from an early age helps alleviate anxiety and deters aggressive behavior.
  6. Skimping on Exercise: Canine and feline obesity is becoming an epidemic in this country, don’t let your lovable companion become a statistic. Overweight dogs and cats are susceptible to more health problems than pets who maintain a healthy weight. In order to have as many healthy years with your pet as possible and maybe avoid some costly vet bills, it’s best keep your pet active.
  7. Not Providing Enough Mental Stimulation: A bored pet can mean a destructive pet. Make sure your cat or dog is provided with a variety of toys. For kitty, you can even place a bird feeder outside the window to keep her alert while watching the birds.
  8. Not Puppy-Proofing your Home: This goes for cats too. Before bringing a new furry friend home, always remove dangerous household items from reach. Also make sure they have easy access to necessities, a cat that can’t get to her litter box will learn to just use the carpet.
  9. Too Much Alone Time: Too much time spent alone can cause separation anxiety and destructive behavior for some dogs. For dogs in homes where too much alone time is a daily occurrence, hiring a dog walker or considering doggy daycare might be a good option.
  10. Relying on Punishment: Physical punishment is inhumane and also ineffective, your pet will simply learn to fear you instead of learning appropriate behavior.  Yelling should only be used if your pet is caught in the act, in which case a firm “no” may help deter future incidents. The emphasis should be on training to prevent bad behavior, not on punishment after the fact.

Holiday Gifts for your Furry Family Members

Christmas is just around the corner and a new poll indicates that many canine and feline family members are likely to find something under the tree this year. The Associated Press recently conducted a poll that reported that approximately 53% of pet owners are planning to purchase something for their animals this holiday season. Spoiling your pet rotten over the holidays with the latest fashionable doggy sweater or crystal encrusted collar is certainly enjoyable, but purchasing a more beneficial gift this holiday is also something to consider.

Treats and toys are a great way to spoil and reward your pup this holiday season, but some have more benefits than others when it comes to the health of your pet. Retailers like vetdepot have a wide selection of products for your pet. There are a lot of treats available that are both tasty and contribute to the health of your pet’s teeth, coat, joints, or overall health. Greenies dental treats or CET Chews are both great choices for giving the gift of clean teeth and a yummy snack to your pet.

It’s also the time of year to remember those that are less fortunate, including our four-legged friends. Be thankful for the lovable companion you have and maybe give the gift of a small donation to a local animal shelter to help those furry creatures not lucky enough to have a loving family. Pet food, blankets, or monetary donations are almost always warmly welcomed at most shelters.

Happy Holidays to you and your pet!

5 Thanksgiving Tips You and Your Dog Will Be Thankful For

Preparing a Thanksgiving feast can be a difficult time for you and your dogs.  Due to all the chaos dogs often times can find themselves feeling neglected and indulging themselves in a little too much turkey.  This Thanksgiving follow these helpful tips to help keep you and your dog happy and safe.

  1.  Don’t neglect your pet.  During all the hustle and bustle of preparing a Thanksgiving feast your pets may start to feel neglected.  Take the time to play with and/or walk you pet.  Not only will it make them feel loved but it will make them more inclined to rest while you continue to prepare and eat your turkey dinner.
  2. Don’t leave the turkey unattended.  The rich aroma of a cooked turkey is enough to make anyone want to dig in but even an uncooked turkey is irresistible to a dog.  Raw meat, turkey bones and dark turkey meat can all be harmful to your dog.  Cooked dark turkey meat and turkey skin are difficult to digest and can cause vomiting, diarrhea and pancreatitis.
  3. Clean as you go.  Continue to clean and tidy the kitchen as you go.  Not only will it save you a huge mess at the end of the night but it will eliminate potential hazards to your dog.
  4. Keep the trashcan out of reach.  Many dogs can’t resist the smell of food, even if it has already been disposed.  Keep your trashcans in a safe place away from your dogs so there are no temptations to dig in.
  5. Give your pet a Thanksgiving treat.  Allow your pet to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner without begging for scraps at the table.  Giving your pet a Kong filled with white turkey meat and dog food will keep your pet satisfied and out of trouble.  If your pet finishes their treat while other guests are continuing to enjoy their dinner, don’t cave in to their begging, you wouldn’t want them to over indulge.

We hope these tips will help you and your loving companions to have a Thanksgiving that you can be thankful for.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Don’t Give A Dog A Bone!

For centuries it’s been common to treat your dog to a left over bone from dinner.  According to the Food and Drug Administration this can be very harmful to your pet and your wallet. “Some people think it’s safe to give dogs large bones, like those from a ham or a roast,” says Carmela Stamper, D.V.M., a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the FDA. In April of this year the FDA came out with the top 10 reasons not to give your dog a bone.

Some reasons to avoid bones are as follows; broken teeth, mouth injuries, choking, intestinal blockage, rectal bleeding and infections such as Peritonitis, which is a difficult to treat bacterial infection in the abdomen.  Should any of these symptoms occur you will need to make a visit to your veterinarian which can be costly.  With this in mind, it’s a good idea to dispose of bones directly after a meal and to further take the trash outside to keep your dog from getting into it.

Your four legged friend still deserves a treat though.  There are many treat options available, click here to check out VetDepots selection. Possible treats for your dog are giving them Kong Toys instead of a bone.  In addition to Kong Toys, healthy chew products like C.E.T. Chews can often keep them happy and entertained as long as a big bone would and are safer too!