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How to Prevent Aggression in Dogs

When you bring home a new puppy the last thing you consider is that he or she could become aggressive.  What many pet owners do not realize is that a dog is rarely genetically predisposed to aggression; rather, the actions of the owners can unwittingly lead to anti-social tendencies.  Listed here are ways to prevent aggression in your new dog. Socialization The most important way to prevent aggression is to properly socialize your pet.  Your dog should be introduced to as many new people, places, experiences, sights, sounds, smells, and animals as possible.  One cause of aggression is fear, and proper socialization helps dogs develop coping mechanisms for new and potentially scary situations.  Socialization should continue throughout your dog’s lifetime. Set Boundaries While dogs deserve to be spoiled by their humans, it is also important to set boundaries for how pets should interact with family members.  A dog whose every...
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Are you Using Dog Treats Correctly?

Three common problems in canine households include pet obesity, excessive begging, and bad behavior based on poor boundaries.  Before you blame your dog (or its metabolism), ask yourself whether your use of dog treats is to blame. Proper Use of Dog Treats The main reason dog treats exist is because dogs learn best with reward-based training.  Since dogs also have voracious appetites, food as a reward is the most logical choice when it comes to training.  In fact, any time a dog is given a reward, be it food, attention, or affection, the pet will repeat any behaviors that preceded the treat or belly rub.  Proper treat use means only giving a dog a reward when it has been earned.  For instance, your dog may receive a treat for sitting and shaking on command, or for peacefully going into his or her crate.  Benefits of proper use of treat include:...
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Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

When you let your dog into the yard does he or she immediately munch on the greenery?  Almost 80% of dog owners report that their pets behave more like herbivores than carnivores from time to time.  Why do dogs eat grass, and is it dangerous for their digestive systems? Boredom One reason that dogs eat grass is out of boredom.  Dogs will do the darnedest things when left to their own devices, and digging for worms (while eating the excess dirt and grass) is one of them.  Limit the amount of time your dog spends in the yard by his or herself, and invest in a few interactive toys. Nutrient Deficiency Another theory for grass eating is that your dog may be experiencing a nutrient deficiency, such as fiber.  Make sure your dog’s food is a high-quality brand with adequate protein, fat, carbohydrate, and fiber sources.  If your dog seeks...
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Adopting a New Dog: The First Two Weeks

The most crucial period of time after a dog is adopted is the first two weeks.  Dogs are most frequently returned to shelters or rescues in this duration due to new owners expecting too much, too soon.  The following is what to expect in the first couple weeks your new dog is home, and common difficulties that are encountered. Name Changing Many adopters change the name of their new pets.  While most dogs are quick to learn their new name, this process may still take 2 – 3 weeks.  While your dog is adjusting to the surroundings and the new moniker, have patience with your pet.  After all, how easy would it be for you if your family suddenly started calling you by a different name? Potty Training Even if your new pet is supposedly potty trained it may take time for your dog to acclimate to new expectations.  Make...
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Jobs for Dogs: Providing Boredom-Busting Activities for your Pet

Dogs behave best when their emotional, physical, and mental needs are fully met.  Many dogs require a job to perform, one which fulfills their original purpose.  For instance, if you own a sled dog breed, your pet will be happiest being given an opportunity to pull.  Specific jobs for all types of dogs are described here. Herding Dogs If your dog is an Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, German Shepherd Dog, Old English Sheepdog, or another breed from the herding group; chances are it has supreme herding skills.  These dogs excel at chasing animals, cars, or kids in an attempt to create order in their doggy brains.  One way to fulfill this need for your pet is to visit an area that is overrun with geese (with the property owner’s permission, of course).  Allow your pet to round up the geese, either off-leash or with the help a check-cord. Companion Dogs...
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Dogs and Children: Dog Bite Prevention

Unfortunately, children represent the largest demographic of people affected by serious dog bites annually.  A conservative estimate is that 400,000 children receive medical treatment in the US each year after a dog attack; however, many cases go unreported for fear of the dog’s welfare.  While no dog bite is ever inexcusable, the fact of the matter is that many attacks can be prevented. Why Are Children Affected More Often Than Adults? Children represent chaotic unpredictability to pets, which can be extremely nerve wracking – especially to an anxious dog.  Dogs have certain drives that are evolutionarily ingrained, such as chasing smaller animals or becoming agitated in the presence of loud shrieks.  In addition, children are less likely to be aware of personal space, and can threaten an animal by inadvertently crowding a dog’s face or food bowl. Rules for Children Never approach a dog during mealtime.  This rule holds true...
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5 Universal Responsibilities of Dog Owners

Owning a dog is a huge responsibility, one that sometimes is not fully considered in advance.  To aid owners in understanding the role they are undertaking in a dog’s life, the ASPCA has created a list outlining the five freedoms every animal should have.  Does your dog enjoy these freedoms? Provide Food and Water At the top of the list of responsibilities that you have to your pet is providing reliable access to fresh water and food.  Water should be refreshed multiple times per day, and the food should be appropriate for your pet.  If your dog lives primarily outdoors, a heated water bowl should be utilized during the winter months so that water does not freeze.  During the summer months, water bowls should be cleaned regularly to prevent the growth of algae. Provide Appropriate Housing Every animal should have access to a roof and four walls of protection, whether...
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Dog Aggression? Diagnosing Common Canine Behavior

One of the worst labels a dog can receive is “aggressive.”  In fact, in many states, that word can be a death sentence.  It is important for owners to understand the signs of canine aggression, and what to do in order to fix the problem. You can find some good books here on this as well. Normal Canine Behavior New pet owners may not understand that nipping, biting, and gnawing are all normal puppy and adolescent dog behaviors.  While these actions can be frustrating (and painful) they are not indicative of an aggressive dog.  Instead, this behavior stems from the fact that dogs interact with the world via their mouths (much in the same way as toddlers), and until they are taught otherwise, they will continue to behave in a way that is most natural.  Therefore, if your puppy nips at your heels, chews on your hand during play time,...
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Tips for Bonding with your New Dog

Bringing home a new dog is a fun-filled occasion for the whole family.  However, pets are often returned within a short period of time because the new animal is not immediately meeting expectations.  For many first-time pet owners, they mistakenly believe the dog will instantly create a bond with its new family, and can be disappointed and frustrated when this expectation is not met.  Tips for jumpstarting the bonding process with your pet are outlined below. Obedience Training One of the best ways to begin bonding with your dog is to attend a structured obedience class.  The positive environment with a seemingly never-ending supply of treats will teach you and your dog how to communicate with one other.  Communication is one of the most important components of bonding, and will help you better understand the needs of your pet and vice versa.  Look for a positive-reinforcement training class in order...
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7 Commands Every Dog Must Know

 Training your dog is not just a matter of him or her having good house manners – it can also mean the difference between life and death.  The seven most important commands to teach your dog, as well as tips for training, are discussed below. Sit Why is “sit” such an important command?  When your dog is getting ready to jump on a new person that walks into your home, asking for “sit” can keep all four of your dog’s feet on the ground.  In addition, by utilizing “sit” as a pre-requisite for other daily rewards, such as going outside or having the food bowl set down at dinner time, this simple command can create a well-behaved dog. Stay Not only can “stay” be useful during an unexpected situation (such as a broken dish in the kitchen), teaching your dog how to stay also reinforces independence.  Dogs with a strong...
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