Looking for tips on raising a happy, healthy pup? You've
come to the right place.
Indoors or Out?
Dogs are pack animals—they depend on you for love and
protection, so keep them inside, take them for walks, and make them a part of
Dogs left unattended in their own yards, even for a few
minutes, have been stolen, poisoned, and beaten. They can suffer from stress
and loneliness, heatstroke in the summer, and frostbite, hypothermia, and
dehydration in the winter.
Because of the danger and cruelty that it poses, several
communities have banned the chaining of dogs. Chained dogs kill as many
children as do firearms, and they kill more than falls from trees, playground
equipment, and fireworks accidents put together.
You and your dogs speak different languages. Humane,
interactive training gives dogs greater freedom and a better understanding of
our world. Untrained dogs are often punished for their "improper"
behavior. Be the one to train your dog—you are the one who will need to know
how to communicate with him or her—but get help from a humane dog trainer if
you run into problems.
Compassion, clarity, and consistency are the most important elements of dog
training. Training should not include any activity or device that endangers
animals (e.g., electric shock collars) or puts undue stress on them. Good books
on the subject include Click Here for a Well-Trained Dog by Deborah A.
Jones, Ph.D.; The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller; and, for
solving dog behavioral problems, If Only They Could Speak, Dogs Behaving
Badly, and The Dog Who Loved Too Much, all by Nicholas Dodman.
Housetraining and Walking Schedules
Puppies should be taken out at least once every two hours
(or within a half hour after eating or drinking) and guided to the same spot
where they can smell having relieved themselves before. Immediately after they "do
their business," they should be praised lavishly in a high-pitched,
excited voice. Crate training does not speed up the housebreaking process:
Puppies do not develop full bladder control before 6 months of age and are
physically incapable of "holding it" for very long.
Take your adult pooch out at least four times a day and
allow him or her time to linger and smell the fire hydrants. If you can't go
home at lunchtime, enlist the help of a neighbor or professional dog-walker.
Crating has recently become a popular practice often used on
adult dogs by people who say that they are protecting their dogs. Often,
however, it will turn out that the true reason for crating is to protect
furniture or simply because it's convenient. But this practice deprives dogs of
basic necessities, such as the freedom to walk around and look out the window,
the opportunity to relieve themselves, and the comfort of stretching out.
Leashes and Harnesses
Dogs are safest and most comfortable wearing a nylon
harness, not a collar, when out walking. Choke and prong collars can be painful
and injure your dog. For a dog who pulls too hard, try the Easy-Walk™ harness
(available online), which discourages pulling without discomfort to the dog.
Socialization and Security
Animals get depressed if deprived of adequate social
interaction, so let them "chat" and play with other dogs on walks and
at parks. A happy dog's life is not one long series of commands: Let them live
a little, make choices, and take their time. Animals are very sensitive and can
become easily frightened, so speak softly to dogs. Don't fight or shout in
their presence, and give them their own hiding places to dash into when they
want to be alone.
Sterilizing dogs helps stem the tide of companion-animal
overpopulation. Spaying female dogs reduces the stress and discomfort endured
during heat periods, eliminates the risk of uterine cancer, and greatly reduces
the risk of mammary cancer. Neutering makes male dogs much less likely to roam
or fight and prevents testicular cancer.
Never wait to take your dog to a veterinarian if there is
any sign of illness or injury, but don't leave your dog with the vet for any
longer than absolutely necessary or allow the vet to refuse to let you see him
or her upon request.
If you have been feeding your dog commercial pet foods, you
may be jeopardizing his or her health. Cheap, supermarket pet foods are often
composed of ground-up parts of animals deemed by Agriculture Department
inspectors unfit for human consumption. Many guardians feed healthful, meatless
diets to their dogs.
Feed dogs first, before you eat. To keep dogs from begging
at the dinner table, teach them the simple phrase "All done!" (You
must be consistent with this—absolutely no more food can be given after saying
the phrase, or the meaning will be lost.) After they understand "All done!"
you will be able to feed your dogs something from the table without becoming
the target of any begging after you stop.
Take care to keep your dog safe in the car: Even on a 78°F
day, the temperature inside a shaded car is 90°F, while the inside of a car
parked in the sun can reach 160°F in minutes. Animals don't perspire as we do
and can quickly succumb to heatstroke.
Countless animals are killed, injured, or lost on commercial
flights each year. Temperatures can become extremely hot or cold in airplane
cargo holds, and the noise is deafening.
Kennels can be stressful and scary and even harbor disease.
Travelers should have a trusted friend or relative look after their dogs at
home, where they'll be the most comfortable.
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.