BHA… a Time Bomb in Your Dog’s Food?
by MIKE SAGMAN
Butylated hydroxyanisole better known as BHA… is “reasonably anticipated to be a human “carcinogen” (a cancer-causing agent).
According to the National Institute of Health, BHA in the diet has been found to consistently produce certain types of tumors in laboratory animals2.
Yet FDA regulations still permit its use as a fat preservative in food under the assumption it is “generally recognized as safe” in low doses.
Here’s what concerns me… and why you might want to take notice yourself. Dogs are a “captive” audience. They have no choice but to eat what we put in front of them… the same commercial food… every day… sometimes twice a day… year after year.
It’s that cumulative exposure that worries me. The additive effect of using any artificial preservative relentlessly… especially when it’s been proven to cause cancer.
Even though they may not remain as effective for quite so long, natural preservatives are considered to be much safer.
That’s why quality-oriented dog food companies avoid the use of these cheaper synthetic “shelf-life extenders” altogether… and why (for your dog’s sake) you should, too.
When you read (on a label) some fat or oil ingredient is “preserved with BHA”… step aside. There’s probably a safer alternative dog food within easy reach.
. 1.Report on Carcinogens, Eleventh Edition; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Toxicology
Program, CAS No. 25013-16-5 ↩
Some Things to Think About
Puppies have sharp teeth and nails. A playful puppy could easily nip or scratch your child. Ouch!
A puppy may chew on anything it finds, including your child's favorite stuffed animal or sneaker.
A puppy will treat your child like a littermate. Some puppies play rough, jump, use their mouths in a friendly but sometimes painful way, and could knock your child over.
Is your child old enough to know that a puppy or dog does not want to be squeezed or tossed around like a stuffed toy?
Young children will need to be supervised at all times with a pet. A curious toddler will pull at an animal's fur, limbs and ears. A puppy, dog, or even a cat may react with a quick bite before you can intervene. Having an older child around, or another responsible family member, will help but this won't prevent all accidents.
These viewpoints are based upon questions that are most frequently asked by new puppy owners, we always suggest that you find a reliable veterinarian who has Vizslas in their practice for clarification and education from an educated professional. This material is based upon over 40 years of experience raising Vizslas. Suggestions for changes are always welcome.
Roger Poole & Lisa Poole
We personally use a high-energy, high-quality food (28% protein & 15% fat content) for our young puppies. We will be happy to discuss this in more detail, so please contact us. We are also strong advocates of Innova puppy food. It can be purchased at PetSmart and high-quality dog food stores. There is no CORN or BHA in this food. We strongly advise that you make little or no dietary changes during the first two months that you have your puppy. This includes keeping treats to a minimum. Please let us know before you make any changes to you pup’s diet so that we can be sure that you are making the right choice. Be wary of vets who sell their own food and recommend that you switch – they are just trying to make a sale just as the pet store will also attempt to up sell. If you need help choosing a new dog food, Natura Pet, the maker of Innova, has a pet food comparison wizard on their website,www.naturapet.com/pet-food-comparison.
It compares Innova to many of the most common dog foods.
Pick one type of quality food the dog likes and stick with it! In general, always feed in the crate. Following are additional guidelines and tips to assist you:
- Feed your puppy food 3 times per day until 7 months old, using a measuring cup to determine the amount each feeding.
- After 1 year, gradually switch to a quality adult food and feed only 2 times per day.
- At 1 1/2 years, feeding once a day is fine; again, don't hesitate to call us to discuss the fat and protein content your dog may need or for other related requirements. This will depend on your dog’s level of exercise!
- NEVER feed your dog canned food, as this does not provide your dog with the protein/fat required for proper development. Dry kibble is also preferred to avoid dental problems in future.
We always add water to our dry food to make it expand before our puppies and adult dogs eat. It only has to set a few minutes. We do this for a very important reason. Stomachs of dogs with deep chests like Vizslas have a tendency to invert, and one of the contributing factors is the expansion of food in the stomach. We have never had a problem with any of our dogs because we follow this simple feeding step.
Note: It has been unfortunately proven that 85% of owners create the problem of obesity in their dogs. Obesity is one of the most serious health problems affecting dogs, but it is one of the easiest to prevent. Please contact us anytime if you are unsure about your dog’s weight or development. REMEMBER, A FAT DOG IS NOT A HEALTHY OR HAPPY DOG!
Lastly, there is no point feeding in the crate if the door is left open. The purpose of feeding in the crate is to focus the dog’s attention on eating in a timely manner, preventing the dog from wondering off to play. Keep fresh water available outside the crate at all times.
Points to remember:
Running With Dogs
See Spot Run
How to turn your pooch into an endurance animal.
By Christie Aschwanden
From the September 2010 issue of Runner's World
STEP 1: Get Fido Fit You wouldn't drag an untrained spouse out for a five-mile run right off the couch—right? And you shouldn't throw your beloved goldendoodle into the fire, either. Though your dog was probably born to run fast, you need to start slow. Here's how to get rolling. Don't start too young Puppies shouldn't run with you until their bones stop growing, since their joints are prone to injury. This takes about nine months in small dogs, while large breeds may grow for up to 16 months. Easy boy Before you start, assess your dog's health and fitness status. If Bowser is overweight or severely out of shape, begin by walking. If you just adopted him from the pound, take him out for some easy strolls to assess his energy and fitness levels. Don't go long... You want to ramp up slowly, just like you did when you began running. "Start with three times per week for 15 or 20 minutes, and build up from there, adding five minutes each week," says JT Clough, a professional dog trainer and coauthor of 5K Training Guide: Running with Dogs. ...Or hard "Just like us, dogs need a five-minute warm up before they run," says Clough. Look for signs of fatigue—flattened ears, tail down, heavy panting, and hind legs dragging. If the dog is exhausted, he may sit down and refuse to continue—a sure sign you've gone too far or too fast. And if he's really lethargic postrun, he might need a day or two off. STEP 2: Teach Rex the Ropes Runners may assume they can haul their dog along on a run, and the animal will just know what to do. If that works for you, thank your lucky stars, but dogs can be confused, crazy, even dangerous on a run if you can't control them. Here's how. Use a leash A gentle tug lets you guide Fifi's body and attention where you want it. "The dog needs to learn that it can't stop to pee every five yards," says Robert Gillette, D.V.M., director of Auburn University's Veterinary Sports Medicine program. Play nice You want the dog to be within three feet of you, to one side. Reinforce good behavior with a small treat or praise. Eventually the dog will see that the run is the real reward.Be the pack leader "The dog needs to understand that this isn't pure playtime, it's exercise time," says Gillette. Begin training sessions with laps of a short route—to reinforce behavior in a familiar environment and avoid getting stranded with a dog who's misbehaving. Teach courtesy If you encounter strangers on a trail, pull off to the side to let them pass without interacting with your dog. Remember, no one loves your dog as much as you, so don't assume others want your dog to greet them. Pick it up No one wants to step on poop during a run or hike. Have a plan and proper gear for disposal. (And, no, leaving a stinky bag under a bush doesn't count.)
The simplest technique for puppy-proofing your home is to go about it the same way you would make your home safe for a young child, except pay closer attention to items that a puppy can chew or scratch. Consider anything left on the floor or within reach of the puppy “fair game”. If you take a minute to look around your house, you should immediately see items that a young dog can chew-on / destroy, or even worse, be harmed by. If you have not owned a puppy before, get down on your hands and knees and view your home from the puppy’s vantage point. Electrical cords, cabinet corners, carpeting, and shoes lying around are all in plain view of your new companion.
When left alone, even for a few short minutes, a young puppy with his razor sharp teeth can ruin or destroy furniture, carpet, etc. It only takes a single chew on a lamp cord to harm and electrocute a small dog. All the puppy-proofing in the world is no substitute for keeping a close eye on your young canine while he is learning the difference between right and wrong.
The simplest technique to teach a young dog what he is allowed to chew and what he isn’t is to issue a stern “NO” command and then replace the item he is chewing with an acceptable item. During this period, the puppy will be drilled many times on the “NO” command. It is very important to apply praise when you get the desired change in behavior. Make sure you have hard chew toys or rawhide handy when your puppy is loose so you can quickly make the correction and stop the undesirable behavior. Soon he will realize that he can only chew on the items you give him. Be consistent in your approach. Don’t allow him to chew on one pair of sneakers and not another, that is sending mixed signals to the dog that will prolong the process.
One final point, if you are unable to watch your puppy it’s a good idea to confine him in an area where he cannot get into trouble. Fence off a part of the house where the puppy cannot get into trouble or better yet, use a crate to confine your young canine. If choosing to crate your dog, make sure you pick the proper size so he is comfortable. A crate that is too large will offer a puppy an opportunity to soil one area and lay down in the other.
Points to remember:
Follow This Proven Potty Training Method
The arrival of a new puppy is cause for great excitement in any household. It soon becomes clearly apparent that puppy house trainingis an urgent priority and the number one thing to teach our new housemates.
You'll find lots of puppy house training articles and theories across the net and in books everywhere, but I'm pleased to say that I've got a method that has never let me down. The potty training technique I have come to rely on and trust requires a fair degree of commitment to begin with but the rewards are quick and last forever. My veterinarian first told me about this potty training method which could be summed up as follows:
Closely monitor your puppy to prevent messy mistakes, enthusiastically reward desired behavior every time, and if a mistake happens work out where you went wrong.
Puppy House Training - General Rules
Physical Punishment Is Never An Option In The House Training Process
Puppy House Training - Step by Step Process
This method is for when you are at home with your puppy. Follow it as closely as you possibly can.
Equipment you'll need:
I prefer to use a crate. Ensure that it is comfortable, safe and the right dimensions for your puppy.
You can also set up a small pen area with a comfortable dog bed, fresh water and a couple of chew toys (like a food stuffed kong toy).
Choose the spot outside where you would like your puppy to go to the toilet (eliminate).
Keep your puppy in his/her crate, pen area. Your puppy cannot have free run of the house at this early stage, he must be confined. Every 60 minutes take your puppy straight to the designated toilet area outside. Carry your puppy or walk on a leash. You should do it off leash and the next time on leash. A 6 foot leash works best.
In addition to your 60 minute schedule it is important to take your puppy outside after each meal time (most puppies go to the potty within 15 minutes of eating, waking up from a nap and when the puppy starts sniffing the ground and going in circles.
That's the puppy house training process. Follow it consistently, and I'm sure you'll experience pleasing results.
Please read this section extremely carefully.I shall repeat over and over: teaching bite inhibition is the most important aspect of your puppy's entire education.
Certainly puppy biting behavior must eventually be eliminated. We cannot have an adult dog playfully mauling family, friends, and strangers in the manner of a young puppy. However, it is essential that this be done gradually and progressively via a systematic two-step process: first, to inhibit the force of puppy bites and second, to lessen the frequency of puppy mouthing.
Ideally, the two phases should be taught in sequence, but with more active puppy biters you may wish to work on both stages at the same time. In either case, you must teach your puppy to bite or mouth gently before puppy biting behavior is eliminated altogether
Inhibiting the Force of Bites
The first step is to stop your puppy from hurting people: to teach him to inhibit the force of his play-bites. Physical punishments are certainly not called for. But it is essential to let your puppy know that bites can hurt. A simple "Ouch!" is usually sufficient. When the puppy backs off, take a short time-out to "lick your wounds," instruct your pup to come, sit, and lie down to apologize and make up and then, resume playing. If your puppy does not respond to your yelp by easing up or backing off, an effective technique is to call the puppy a "Bully!" and then leave the room and shut the door. Allow the pup a minute or two time-out to reflect on the association between his painful bite and the immediate departure of his favorite human playmate. Then return to make up. It is important to show that you still love your puppy, only that his painful bites are objectionable. Have your pup come and sit and then resume playing once more.
It is much better for you to walk away from the pup than to physically restrain him or remove him to his confinement area at a time when he is biting too hard. So make a habit of playing with your puppy in his long-term confinement area. This technique is remarkably effective with lead-headed dogs, since it is precisely the way puppies learn to inhibit the force of their bites when playing with each other. If one puppy bites another too hard, the bitee yelps and playing is postponed while he licks his wounds. The biter soon learns that hard bites interrupt an otherwise enjoyable play session. He learns to bite more softly once play resumes.
The next step is to eliminate bite pressure entirely, even though the "bites" no longer hurt. While your puppy is chewing his human chewtoy, wait for a bite that is harder than the rest and respond as if it really hurt, even though it didn't: "Ouch, you worm! Gennntly! That really hurt me, you bully!" Your puppy begins to think, "Good Heavens! These humans are soooooo sensitive. I'll have to be really careful when mouthing their delicate skin." And that's precisely what you want your pup to think: that he needs to be extremely careful and gentle when playing with people.
Your pup should learn not to hurt people well before he is three months old. Ideally, by the time he is four-and-a-half months old — before he develops strong jaws and adult canine teeth — he should no longer be exerting any pressure when mouthing.
Decreasing the Frequency of Mouthing
Once your puppy has been taught to mouth gently, it is time to reduce the frequency of mouthing. Your pup must learn that mouthing is okay, but he must stop when requested. Why? Because it is inconvenient to drink a cup of tea or to answer the telephone with fifty pounds of wriggling pup dangling from your wrist. That's why.
It is better to first teach "Off" using food as both a distraction and a reward. The deal is this: once I say "Off," if you don't touch the food treat in my hand for just one second, I'll say, "Take it" and you can have it. Once your pup has mastered this simple task, up the ante to two or three seconds of non-contact, and then to five, eight, twelve, twenty, and so on. Count out the seconds and praise the dog with each second: "Good dog one, good dog two, good dog three," and so forth. If the pup touches the treat before you are ready to give it, simply start the count from zero again. Your pup quickly learns that once you say "Off," he can not have the treat until he has not touched it, for, say, eight seconds, so the quickest way to get the treat is not to touch it for the first eight seconds. In addition, regular hand-feeding during this exercise encourages your pup's soft mouth.
Once your pup understands the "Off" request, use food as a lure and a reward to teach it to let go when mouthing. Say, "Off" and waggle some food as a lure to entice your pup to let go and sit. Then praise the pup and give the food as a reward when he does so.
The main point of this exercise is to practice stopping the pup from mouthing, and so each time your puppy obediently ceases and desists, resume playing once more. Stop and start the session many times over. Also, since the puppy wants to mouth, the best reward for stopping mouthing is to allow him to mouth again. When you decide to stop the mouthing session altogether, say, "Off" and then offer your puppy a Kong stuffed with kibble.
If ever your pup refuses to release your hand when requested, say, "Bully!" rapidly extricate your hand from his mouth, and storm out of the room mumbling, "Right. That's done it! You've ruined it! Finished! Over! No more!" and shut the door in his face. Give the pup a couple of minutes on his own to reflect on his loss and then go back to call him to come and sit and make up before continuing the mouthing game.
By the time your pup is five months old, he must have a mouth as soft and reliable as a fourteen-year-old working Labrador Retriever: your puppy should never initiate mouthing unless requested; he should never exert any pressure when mouthing; and he should stop mouthing and calm down immediately upon request by any family member.
Whether or not you allow your adult dog to mouth on request is up to you. For most owners, I recommend that they teach their dog to discontinue mouthing people altogether by the time he is six to eight months old. However, it is essential to continue bite inhibition exercises. Otherwise, your dog's bite will begin to drift and become harder as he grows older. It is important to regularly handfeed your dog and clean his teeth each day, since these exercises involve a human hand in his mouth.
For owners who have good control over their dog, there is no better way to maintain the dog's soft mouth than by regular play-fighting. However, to prevent your puppy from getting out of control and to fully realize the many benefits of play-fighting, you must play by the rules and teach your dog to play by the rules.
Play-fighting teaches your puppy to mouth only hands, which are extremely sensitive to pressure, but never clothing. Shoelaces, ties, trousers, and hair have no nerves and cannot feel. Therefore you cannot provide the necessary feedback when your pup begins to mouth too hard and too close to your skin. The play-fighting game also teaches your dog that he must adhere to rules regarding his jaws, regardless of how worked up he may be. Basically, play-fighting gives you the opportunity to practice controlling your puppy when he is excited. It is important to establish such control in a structured setting before real-life situations occur.
Adapted from writings by Dr. Ian Dunbar
Running With Dogs
A Breed Apart
Can your dog go the distance?
By Christie Aschwanden
From the September 2010 issue of Runner's World
Sure, most fit canines could thump us in a 5-K, but anyone who has ever watched leashed runners at a local park knows that some animals are better athletes than others. But how does your dog rate? Or if you're searching for a perfect running partner, what kind should you pick? Not surprisingly, it depends. There's no perfect running breed for all conditions, and a dog's personality and temperament are as important as its pedigree, says Susan Dicks, D.V.M., an Albuquerque-based veterinarian and marathoner. Mongrels can make fine runners, espeically if they're medium-sized, alert, and eager. Some breeds, such as huskies and greyhounds, were bred to run, and most working dogs are naturally suited to running. By contrast, squishy-nosed dogs, such as pugs and bulldogs, don't make good distance athletes, because they're prone to overheating. That's not to say your pug can't run, but he probably shouldn't join you for a late-summer 15-miler. If you want to go long, run in the snow, or hit technical trails, some breeds definitely rise to the top. So say Liz Devitt and professional dog trainer JT Clough, who cowrote a book about training dogs to run. Here, they pick their top running breeds in eight categories.
Long, Steady Runs
(More Than 10 Miles)
• German shorthaired pointers
• Jack Russell terriers
A medium build, well-muscled hind quarters, not too heavy
Brisk Shorter Runs
(Less Than 10-K)
• Pit bulls
• English setters
• Golden and Labrador retrievers
A muscular and lean build, and a mind for sprinting rather than slogging
(7-Minute Miles or Faster)
• German shorthaired pointers
A medium-size, lean build, and a mental aptitude for running
Long, Slow Runs
• Labrador retrievers
• Standard poodles
A bigger body that can handle the distance—if you go slow
Running in the Heat
• Rhodesian ridgebacks
• Airedale terriers
• Fox terriers
A long nose, a short, sleek coat, and a svelte body
Running in the Cold
• German shepherds
• Swiss mountain dogs
• Siberian huskies
A thick coat and a stockier body type
Running on Trails with Obstacles
• German shorthaired pointers
• Border collies
• Belgian sheepdogs
Sure-footed and quick to react (such as herding and hunting dogs)
Most Obedient on Heavily Used Trails
• Golden and Labrador retrievers
• Standard poodles
• Border collies
Nonaggressive, people-oriented, and obedient; has a calm personality
The Humane Society of the United States
Many common household items can pose a threat to animal companions. Even some items specifically meant for pets could cause health problems.
To protect your pet, simply use common sense and take the same precautions you would with a child. Although rodent poisons and insecticides are the most common sources of companion animal poisoning, the following list of less common but potentially toxic agents should be avoided if at all possible.
Trouble on the inside
The HSUS recommends that pet owners use all household products with caution and keep a pet first aid kit (for dogs and cats) and manual readily available. The HSUS has a first-aid book in conjunction with the American Red Cross entitled Pet First Aid: Cats and Dogs. If all of your precautions fail, and you believe that your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary service immediately. Signs of poisoning include listlessness, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, lack of coordination, and fever.
In case of emergency
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center operates a hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 888-426-4435 for a fee of $60 per case. If you call, you should be prepared to provide the name of the poison your animal was exposed to, the amount and how long ago; the species, breed, age, sex, and weight of your pet; and the symptoms the animal is displaying. You'll also be asked to provide your name, address, phone number, and credit card information.
Never use the crate as punishment!
Never open the door while he is crying, even if you have to wait hours for a 10 second pause in the crying before letting him out.
Select the proper size crate for your dog. If you buy a crate that is large enough to accommodate him when he is full-sized, block off an area inside the crate to make it just large enough for him to stand up and turn around. Making it too large will allow him to soil one area and live in the other.
Take him outside to eliminate before putting him up in the crate for the night or an extended period of time.
Take him outside immediately upon letting him out of the crate. With puppies, you may have to carry them outside to avoid accidents.
Let him naturally find the crate in your kitchen, living room or wherever you decide the crate will reside.
Make sure you place the crate in an area well circulated, free of drafts, and out of direct sunlight. Placing food in the back of the crate will encourage your pet to explore and enter this new area. Let the dog get comfortable with the crate before attempting to close the door on him. Once you close the door, reward him with praise and/or a treat. Keep the first few sessions with the door shut short. Ten seconds without crying is what you’re striving for. Open the door and give him lots of love and praise. Slowly, and I mean slowly, increase the time with the door shut.
Although there are many different methods of housebreaking a puppy or house training, it is an essential task that should be addressed early on in the pup’s formative weeks. Most dog owners who wish to bring a new puppy into their home between six and nine weeks of age; this is the time to begin establishing rules and routines of housebreaking a puppy with the new member of your family.
Dogs are relatively clean animals and housebreaking a puppy can usually be accomplished in a short amount of time without extensive input on your part. You must remember that this youngster is adjusting to his new environment. When housebreaking a puppy, you have to remember young puppies have little control over their bowels or bladders and by their nature, animals go when they need to go. Waiting to relieve themselves outdoors is a learned behavior and as such must be taught. Anxiety from being separated from their mother and littermates, introduction into new surroundings, overexcitement, being frightened and marking instincts may all cause a pup to spontaneously urinate from time to time.
There are many different tips and techniques for housebreaking a puppy - some of which are controversial, for these purposes we will briefly outline the basics.
Most people will designate an area such as the kitchen or laundry room as the place to confine their new puppy. These areas will usually have linoleum flooring, making it much easier to clean if an accident does occur when housebreaking a puppy. Some recommend "paper training" the pup, however, others argue that this can confuse the dog, making him think it is okay to eliminate in the house.
When housebreaking a puppy is often a good idea to introduce him/her to a crate. A quick tip on crates; most dogs will not eliminate in their crates unless left for too long a period of time. The crate will basically become the dog’s "den" and needs to become the pup’s "safe place." Therefore, never use the crate as a punishment. Be calm when approaching your pup to remove him from the crate or confined area. If you excite him, he is more likely to urinate before you get him outside.
While housebreaking a puppy designate an outside area specifically for your dog to eliminate or not is up to you, but take your pup out often and give him plenty of praise immediately after he does void! Wherever the pup relieves himself, that area should be kept relatively clean, as leaving feces in an area can attract other dogs and increase the spread of parasites. Dogs are creatures of habit; they like regimentation and will quickly adapt to a schedule. It is therefore important to establish these routines as early as possible and stick to them. You must also learn to read your dog and be aware of his individual needs. Most dogs will display their own individual signals when they are ready to go. Sniffing the floor, circling an area, staring at you or the door, whining or barking can all be indicators to inform you that he needs to relieve himself.
As in all dog training, housebreaking a puppy is a process that requires time and commitment on your part.Above all, remember that being patient and using common sense and consistency will make housebreaking a puppy and other training drills much easier to accomplish for both of you.
By Dr. Ian Dunbar and Christine Adkins
Most puppies seem to love everybody and everything. How do we best ensure that our dogs continue to get along well with the world as they grow up? Many owners of new puppies will have heard about something called socialization. This is the second most important item on any puppy's educational curriculum, whereas the most important goal is bite inhibition. So what do these terms mean, is there any need to hurry, and what if they don't happen?
The degree of a dog's socialization-whether he becomes a "well-socialized" or "poorly socialized" member of the community-depends on the type of social environment he experiences while young. All young dogs (like young people) will learn about their social world through interacting with it. Those who are exposed to a wide variety of positive, rewarding experiences will form a different view of the world than those who are isolated, mistreated or bullied.
Your aim, as owner, should be to help your dog grow to be both people- and dog friendly. If your young pup is exposed to a large number of dogs, humans and other animals under a variety of different but essentially non-traumatic circumstances, your puppy will grow up to be an adult dog who enjoys the company and actions of other dogs and people. Occasional outside individuals may be obnoxious or frightening, but on average, the world is a good place and there is no need for defensiveness or fear.
On the other hand, if a pup is kept in isolation, he has no opportunity to learn about the outside world and as an adult, other dogs and people will seem strange and threatening. The dog will be ill-equipped to respond in a calm, non-aggressive manner. And an adult dog who is startled, fearful or threatened is an entirely different matter from a scared little puppy.
A young dog must also learn how to behave appropriately. This is his best defense against being mistreated or bullied by other (evidently poorly socialized) dogs later in life. If a puppy has few partners with which to practice social behaviour, he will not necessarily learn the full repertoire of appropriate doggie behaviours, and will not learn to be calm and confident in a wide variety of situations. A dog that flees in fear upon encountering other dogs is likely to be chased! As time goes on, the fear is merely reinforced by each encounter.
How do dogs learn this naturally? Almost all canids (members of the dog family) are highly social animals with complex and variable systems of interaction. Unlike birds, which will figure out how to mate and fly and hold territories even if separated from their parents soon after hatching, dogs need time and adequate opportunity to develop their social skills during the first four or five months of puppyhood. Young dogs learn what is acceptable and what is not from their mothers and siblings, and later, from other members of their community. Generally, the learning of social skills and how to read the body language of others is through trial- and-error- most importantly through play while young.
As they develop, they will test their social boundaries with other, strange dogs, to find out just how much they are able to get away with. Young puppies can get away with a fair bit. However a five-month-old pup who is a bit too cheeky with a dominant adult male in the park (attempting a mounting, for example) will learn in no short order that he is out of line. Rarely are there any injuries (though the pup might shriek as if the sky is falling in on him), and owners are best to let this natural process unfold, to treat it as a "that's what you get!" rather than a calamity. The pup has just learned something important about how to interact socially as an adult with other dogs. If his early socialization was largely positive, this kind of event will be assimilated as a lesson rather than a trauma. He will probably keep his distance from the gruff one for a while, and will then learn that if he does so, nothing bad happens.
Learning to interact with humans A puppy's best education regarding how to behave with other dogs involves other dogs, especially other puppies whose jaws are not strongly developed, or later on, well socialized adult dogs with good bite inhibition. Socialization with other dogs, however, is only one part of the equation. Much more important to a dog's getting along in the world is that he learn how to interact well with humans. He must learn not to be fearful of people who happen to look, act or smell different. If you are able, expose him to people in hats and sunglasses and different types of uniforms, people with different skin colours and styles of facial hair, people doing tai chi in the park, even people in scuba gear if you can arrange it- and make it jolly! Especially make an effort to introduce your young puppy to men and children. Keep the treats and positive reinforcement flowing whenever he manages to be calm and friendly in these novel situations.
Getting along with other animals A dog is not pre-programmed to know what types of creatures are potential social group members. (This is, perhaps, why they are one of the few non-human animals we can bring into our homes and enjoy as family members.) You can teach him to be quite cosmopolitan if you put your mind to it. The best time-and for some, the only time-to teach a dog to be friendly to cats or rabbits is during puppyhood. After about three months of age, the socialization window begins to close. And don't stop with just household pets; you never know when you might be hiking along and a horse and rider show up-and if your adult dog has never been exposed to them, you won't necessarily like how he reacts. Seek out situations early on where your young pup can get used to all kinds of animals and feel calm, relaxed and relatively disinterested around them.
Start right away Puppyhood is without question the most important time to teach your dog as much as possible about the outside world and about how he can most successfully interact with it. Most puppies are removed from their natural learning environment- their mother and siblings-at about eight weeks of age. After you bring an eight-week-old pup home, it is up to you to continue his social education. This is most effectively done before 12 weeks of age. There is no time to waste.
Bite inhibitionBite inhibition is the most important skill your puppy needs to learn.This is not the same as socialization, but often comes as part of the package. Young dogs normally learn bite inhibition from their littermates before about 18 weeks of age. If they bite too hard, the recipients react! If you acquire a puppy at eight weeks, you'll need to take over this education right away. It is important to note that this does not involve stopping a puppy from biting altogether, as you will then actually interfere with his learning how to soften his bites. Bite inhibition involves using the mouth with control rather than never doing so at all. Most adult dogs bite and nip a great deal when they play; however injuries are rare. While their jaws are easily strong enough to break bones, playing dogs (or even those who feel they must drive off a rival or discipline an unruly puppy) deliberately choose not to.
Timing is crucial. It is extremely difficult to teach an adult dog to exercise bite inhibition. One might eventually, by risking his or her own skin, teach a dog to inhibit his bites with humans, but it would be inhumane to subject an unsuspecting dog or cat to the uninhibited bites of the one you are trying to educate.
Then reap the rewards
A well-socialized adult dog is able to greet a variety of other living creatures confidently and affably, and to deal calmly with most novel experiences. A well-socialized dog will trust that his surroundings are basically friendly and benign provided that he acts within the accepted boundaries he has learned. He is a pleasure to interact with and to take places- which can be nothing other than a win-win situation. But do not delay. Puppyhood is the time to teach your dog these essential life skills. ■
Dr. Ian Dunbar is a veterinarian, animal behaviourist, and author. He has written numerous books on dog behaviour and training, including Before You Get Your Puppy, After You Get Your Puppy, How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks, and most recently, Doctor Dunbar's Good Little Dog Book. He is Director of SIRIUS Puppy Training, founder of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, and host of the British television series, Dogs With Dunbar. Ian Dunbar lives in Berkeley, California, with Kelly and Claude, Ollie, Dune, Ugly and Mayhem.
Running With Dogs
Make Dog Your Copilot
Five reasons to run with your furry friend.
By Christie Aschwanden
From the September 2010 issue of Runner's World
1 People don't have tails that wag On days you're dragging, Sparky can remind you that running should be joyful. His relaxed stride and frisky vigor are contagious. Dogs even look like they're smiling. 2 It's better than bonding over a bowl of kibble You like to run. And dogs are natural runners. You might be surprised how much you get out of sharing this common interest. It's even better if you both take a nap afterward. 3 They don't worry about negative splits Human partners can get caught up in how many calories they've burned and their GPS stats, but a dog will remind you that the best workouts are the ones where you run free. 4 They won't accept your excuses When that tail starts wagging, it's hard to say no. One University of Missouri study showed that people who exercised with a dog were more likely to stick with it than those who go it alone or with a human partner. 5 A tired dog is a good dog Get Fido sufficiently tired, and when you get home, he's more apt to snooze at your feet than terrorize the postman—or chew up your new Nikes.
Dealing with a crying puppy is often the first problem a new puppy owner must face. During the first night a puppy is separated from the rest of the litter he will often whine and fuss. This behavior is a very natural survival skill learned early in life. Whether its in the whelping box or in the wild, a puppy learns very quickly that when separated from the pack, calls for help will allow other members of the pack to quickly located him, thus reuniting him with his peers. To that extent, many animal behaviorists recommend allowing a new puppy to sleep in the same room with you to reduce this separation anxiety.
Moving a crate into your bedroom accomplishes two things. First, as stated above, it reduces separation anxiety for the puppy. Second, it allows you to monitor your puppy’s housebreaking routine. Before putting your puppy up for the night, make sure he has had a chance to go outside and eliminate. Inevitably, you will find that as you close the door to the crate he will begin to whine and fuss. At this point you will want to introducing a "QUITE" command and bang your hand on the top of the crate. If the puppy continues to whine, just ignore him. The last thing you want to do is reward this behavior by opening the crate door and comforting him. If you do, he will soon begin to learn that if he cries, the door will open, which is not the association you want to establish.
Try placing an undergarment or blanket with your scent on it in the crate with the puppy. Additionally, placing a ticking alarm clock outside the kennel can be comforting to your new puppy for the first few nights away from his littermates.
During the night, if your puppy seems to be stirring, get up and take him outside immediately. With puppies you may have to carry them outside to avoid accidents. Once he has had a chance to relieve himself, bring him straight back inside to his crate. If he begins to fuss again, issue the "QUITE" command once again.
After a few nights of dealing with the whining and carrying on, your puppy should begin to make it through the night with minimal fussing.