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Caring for Dogs

“The reason I love my dog so much is because when I come home, he’s the only one in the world who treats me like I’m the Beatles.”
–Bill Maher, Comedian

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 your family.

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.

For more tips on how to train your canine companion humanely, check out PETA’s Four “P’s” of Training. For solving dog behavioral problems, If Only They Could Speak, Dogs Behaving Badly, and The Dog Who Loved Too Much, all by Nicholas Dodman, are excellent. For books on the negative effects of crating, check out Dogs Hate Crates and Dog in a Box, both by Ray and Emma Lincoln.

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.

Veterinary Care

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.

Commenting is closed.
  • jen&keeta says:

    Does anyone know about what states allow you to take dogs into the rest stop areas, or what you do when you are traveling with your pet. This past summer, on a shorter car trip of an hour and a half, I stopped at a rest stop and walked my dog so she could have a bathroom break. I had to go myself, but I didn’t because I was by myself and didnt want to leave her in the hot car or have a stranger watch her. If it wasnt so busy, I would of just snuck her in and would of used the family bathroom so I didnt creep anyone else out.

  • PETA says:

    @Aidan 55432 Thanks for your comment! Please be sure to check out for resources for kids! 🙂

  • Aidan 55432 says:

    I’m taking care of my friends old dog and he’s very well behaved when I tried your steps! Oh and just so you know I’m a kid and I did it. It’s so amazing how your steps worked so perfectly! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

  • Fernando says:

    What a no-brainer. And here I was causing unsacesnery stress to myself and my dog by trying to squirt the fluid into her ear. Thank you for this common sense approach.

  • Amelia says:

    I have three puppies and two of them have not been fixed but i got the female one fixed.

  • Emelle says:

    Great article, but I have to disagree with feeding dogs before people. As dogs are pack animals, they need to follow the rules of a pack, and wait until people are fed before they can eat. This is particularly important where children are concerned, as a dog who ia regularly allowed to eat first will assume it can dominate anyone who eats after it. My dogs are taught to lie quietly while we eat, and they’ve learned that they won’t get fed from the table. Any left over food from our meals is given to them in their bowls, rather than from our dishes or hand-feeding.

  • Robert says:

    A lot of the neighbours on my estate have cats (I am the only dog owner) and I get on very well with most of them, but one has said that my dog should be kept on a lead (I have no problem with that as I pick up my dog waste anyway) but thier cats roam the estate and urinate and mess everywhere, do I have the same right as to tell them that they should keep their cats on leads also?

  • puppylover says:

    I have a question… I don’t want to be a judgmental neighbor, but the dogs across the street are kept in a box up off the ground.their waist must fall threw to the grass. There is a caged fence around this box..but i have only once seen them out of the box since they moved in. the poor puppy are always crying and this box is in the sun during the hottest parts of the day. now there is like a white tarp on top of the box..and i believe they must have water. I guess my question is …is it inhumane to keep two dogs locked in a crate out side 24/7.

  • Helena says:

    Dear Mandi, I’ve been working for the pet industry for 3 years now, and what has been said here is true, especially about the food, however to answer your question, a puppy needs at least 3-4 walks a day and lots of play time, this is also a good way to start toilet training as you walk them so much you can use a simple command like “be quick” and reward the puppy when he has a wee outside, in terms of food, look for a good quality food from a pet specialist don’t buy any pet food from the supermarket, and look for meat as the first ingredient and no cereals, there are now some really good foods which are meat based and grain free like Orijen, Acana, Fish for Dogs, K9 Natural, taste of the wild and ZiwiPeak, I believe that a dog should be fed a meat based diet, they are overall 98.9% same DNA as wolves so they are carnivores by nature, even though some people feed their dogs a vegetarian diet. Not only will a good diet keep the vets away but your dog will live longer. Hope this helps, how old is your puppy now anyway?

  • sandystarr28 says:

    I always eat first, except when giving treats for good behavior. But I always give my babies a bite of what I eat. My dog LOVE raw broccoli, carrots, celery, etc. They like the crunchiness, and it’s good for them; nobody can tell me different. They absoutely BEG for washed potato peels. As for the collar/harness issue: you have to base it on your dogs. I have three Jack Russell Terriers, and their brawny necks are way bigger than their heads (their brains are bigger than their bodies). I could never walk them or take them camping in state parks without harnesses, but if I leave them on all the time, they tend to rub red, hairless spots under their arms. Inside their 8-ft privacy fence and inside the house, light collars are fine. I also write my name and phone number along with the dogs name with a black magic marker on the collar, should they ever shoot out the door someday…much better than metal tags that can irritate them (the Jacks just chew them off). On the otherhand, my lab/shepard rescue does fine with just a plain collar. In case you were wondering, these little people’s names are Jillybean, Rocky, Skippy and Bridgett.

  • Pixie says:

    I recently adopted a young Shi Tsu puppy from this shelter. She was brought there after she was mistreated by her previous owners. She was about 4 months old when we adopted her, and now she’s like 6 months old and has rocked our world! However, she’s not very happy about wearing the harness, but neither she likes the collar, and it’s a rule on my neighborhood to have all pets with some type of collar or harness, even the most tiny and cute ones should wear it, or else we would get a fine of 100 dollars for it. Which would be a good way to make my dog feel comfy with the harness?

  • Ashley-P says:

    Ablocher: You can learn more about PETA’s stance on “pet-keeping” here:

  • Ablocher says:

    Hello Peta, I come to you a little confused on an issue. Several sources I have read say you are against having pets (or as I too say animal companions) yet you do have many good articles on taking care of your animals. so what is Peta’s official stance on “Pets”

  • Lexie says:

    A meatless diet for a dog is not a good idea. They are carnivores by nature. Sorry if your a vegetarian but no meat for a carnivor just doesn’t work out very well. Also, you should keep an eye out for what table scraps you’re giving your dog.
    Over doing this could cause health problems too. I make my own dog food with meat and also my own homemade doggy treats, healthy and better tasting than pet food. Even kibble puppies like them.

  • pigu says:

    I disagree with a couple of things in this article. First – There are a few good dog food kibble brands out there. Wellness and Blue Buffalo come to mind. I actually tried both myself and the taste is okay. I think high quality dog food is very healthy. Also, while I agree harnesses are better for a dog than collars..My dogs HATE harnesses and prefer collars, since they dislike the harness I let them use the collar.

  • Mandi says:

    How many times a day should a puppy be walked? What dog foods are healthy for dogs? I love this and totally agree with everything it says. These a re a few questions I’ve always wondered and would like some more input on. Thanks 🙂

  • danielle says:

    I have to disagree with feeding animals first statement. Dogs are pack animals, and the pack leader always eats first. My dogs actually become uncomfortable the odd time I’ve given them food first. Even in the pack there is a hierarchy. My “top” dog always starts eating before the more submissive one.

  • danielle says:

    I have to disagree with feeding animals first statement. Dogs are pack animals, and the pack leader always eats first. My dogs actually become uncomfortable the odd time I’ve given them food first. Even in the pack there is a hierarchy. My “top” dog always starts eating before the more submissive one.

  • Aidan says:

    My family has a maltese dog and her fur gets lumpy and matted if she isn’t groomed often enough– is this painful to her?

  • Draco92 says:

    I have one dog that i do not consider my property, i consiter him my friend and brother but i must admitt i have let my guard down since 2008, i have been so busy and i did not even realize untill now that i think he is unhappy. I love him more then i do for my family and i have failed him as a friend but from now on i will make more time even if i will get fired for it. Change must be done

  • LeRenard says:

    LurcherOwner: It isn’t uncommon for dogs to develop some urinary incontinence as they age. The muscles controlling the bladder weaken over time (not unlike people) and they simply cannot hold it as well as they used to, and often aren’t even aware that they’re having an accident. There are long term medications that can be very helpful with this, so you should discuss the issue with your vet.

  • LurcherOwner says:

    My dog is an older female (9 yrs) and she’s been spayed. She is suffering from some bladder problems (frequently wetting her bed – only when she is very relaxed or sleeping) we’ve bought several beds so we can always have a clean one and we’ve put puppy training pads underneath to protect the carpet. I always lavish her with praise when she remembers to ‘ask’ to be let outside. Would taking her out of bed (not waking her up) in the day to encourage her to go outside be appropriate or would it stress her out more?


  • madeline Johnson says:

    does anyone know if the brand PRESCRIPTION DIET tests on animals and what’s a good flea and tick preventer for dogs and cats? Please help me find answers- I wish Peta had a special section for this info-thanks.

  • Ashley-P says:

    Hi Amy! Check out this link for tips on flying with your animal companion:

  • Amy says:

    If I absolutely MUST bring my dog with me on an airplane, how can I make sure she’s safe?