Proper Pet Parenting
How To Be The Best Parent Possible To A Newly Adopted Pup
Adopting a dog can be overwhelming, but bringing home a new furry friend is also fun, rewarding, and exciting. Being a good pet parent starts from the moment you think about adopting a dog all the way through their life. To ensure you enrich your dog’s life as much as it does for you, following are tips on how to make your newly adopted dog feel right at home.
TIPS TO MAKE YOUR PUP FEEL COMFORTABLE
– Maintain a safe environment. See your home from a dog’s perspective and put away anything that could cause harm or get it into trouble. You want to stow away items such as electrical cords, medications, harmful chemicals, plants, and food, as well as keep the garbage in a safe spot where a dog can’t get into it. By maintaining a clean space, especially the floor, you can help to keep your pup safe and comfortable.
– Learn to decode your dog’s language. You want to be able to recognize the difference between aggression and over-stimulation. If dogs feel threatened, they will often try to flee the situation first, but if they can’t get away, they may growl, bare their teeth, bark, and stand up on their toes with their ears and tail raised to make themselves look bigger. Dilated pupils don’t necessarily mean “aggression” – they can also indicate over-stimulation, which is common in puppies and often seen before they pounce, even in play. Over-stimulation can also cause puppies to experience piloerection (the raising of the hair over their back and down to their tail – also known as hackles).
– Give your dog lots of love and attention. Dogs love their humans and crave quality time/attention. Leaving a dog in the backyard or alone for extended periods of time is not healthy for them. If you work long hours, hire a dog walker to get your newly adopted dog out during the day for some exercise and companionship.
– Exercise your pup. Dogs that don’t receive enough exercise can resort to bad behaviors like chewing, digging, and barking. Make sure your dog gets a brisk 30-minute walk a day to get its energy out and keep it healthy.
– Sign your dog up for a training class. By teaching your dog commands, it will help you learn how to tell it what you want and don’t want it to do in your household. It is important to create a bond with you and your dog, as well as learn how to communicate with it.
– Socialize your dog. Socializing dogs can have a tremendous effect on their development and interactions at home. Newly socialized dogs become calmer, friendly, affectionate, and can adapt better to new environments.
– Educate children on how to interact with your dog properly. If you have children, teach them the proper way to interact with your dog. Most bites occur with kids under 12 years old, but education is the best form of prevention. Educating yourself, as well as your kids, on the best ways to approach their four-legged family member is a must. You’ll ensure you’re the best human and pet parent around.
PREVENTING pet stressors
There are many things that we, as humans, do to dogs that they don’t enjoy, and this puts them and us at risk for stress and injury. Some of these include:
– Hugging: While we may think it’s sweet and comforting, pets often feel trapped and scared during hugs, particularly when humans pull pets into their faces.
– Waking them up: Who likes being jolted out of sleep? As dogs age, they can sleep more heavily, and can be startled and react poorly if woken up abruptly.
– Changing their routine: Dogs appreciate routine, and it’s difficult for them to have abrupt schedule changes like weekday versus weekend schedule differences. Changes can cause them to stress and lead to behavior problems like chewing, barking, digging, or other destructive behaviors.
– Try to keep their schedules consistent: waking up at the same time to take them out, feeding them at the same times with the same diet, and keeping their exercise routine consistent. Routine helps humans, too!
– Inconsistent signals: Often, humans don’t realize they are giving dogs mixed signals about appropriate behavior, and this confuses them. If you don’t want your dog to jump up on you, then you should never pet it when it does so.
– Bringing new people or pets into the house: It can be scary to dogs to have strangers enter their household (their safe zone), so introductions should be done outside the house in neutral territory. Slow, calm introductions will help facilitate positive meet and greets. Follow the dog’s comfort level and don’t force any interactions.
AVOIDING Common Mistakes Pet Owners Make
– Reinforcing bad behaviors: Many pet parents don’t understand that giving dogs attention when they are doing something inappropriate will encourage them to continue that behavior. Ignoring the dog when it performs bad behaviors and rewarding it for good ones will lead to a better-behaved pup.
– Not taking your dog to a training class: When people don’t train their dogs, they feel like they don’t listen to them when, in reality, the dogs don’t understand what they are being asked to do. Take the time to learn from a professional on how to help your dog be a good dog. If your dog is a rescue, going to training will help you build a bond with it. It is important to get pets of any age into a training class to ensure that you know how to communicate with it in a way that it understands and to have an expert help you with any issues that could arise.
– Not socializing your dog in a critical period: Puppies need to be socialized, and there is a very short window to accomplish this so they are comfortable with new things and people in their lives. Not socializing a puppy can lead to skittish or aggressive behavior later on. It’s important to expose your dog to as many new situations (i.e. other dogs, people, textures, and objects) as possible before it is 16 weeks old.
– Not researching the breed: Many people choose a dog because it is cute or as an impulse. Not understanding the breed you are adopting can lead to problems. If you adopt an active dog and don’t have an active lifestyle, it isn’t going to get the proper exercise or stimulation it needs – which can lead to bad behavior. Some dogs have innate behaviors that are undesirable for a family setting, like protective herding or aggressive tendencies. If you are considering getting a dog, research various breeds that will work for your family and set out to find one that meets those criteria.
– Not watching children around your dog: Many people are very trusting of their family pet, but 50% of dog bites happen to children 12 years old and under, and many of those are by the family pet. Children do not understand how to properly read signals a dog gives when they are uncomfortable, and this can lead to a bite. If you have young children, you should always supervise them while they are with your pet. Although they are important family members, remember that dogs are still dogs. Teach your child how to properly interact with the dog by not pulling its tails, ears, or fur, sitting on it, running at it, etc.
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