Housebreaking:

Most dog owners agree the most frustrating part of owning a Dog is house breaking. If done properly, it does not have to be as much of a hassle as some owners make it.  A Dog is a creature of habit. If he is taught where you want him to eliminate, and you control his food and water intake to regulate when he will eliminate, you will have a happy relationship relatively free of accidents.  The biggest mistake made by Dog owners is inconsistency. It is important that you first choose the method of housebreaking appropriate for you and your pet and secondly stick with it. Then, remember the three P's, persistence, patience and praise, and you are guaranteed success.  I know of many Dog owners who are impatient or inconsistent when housebreaking their dog. The end result is a Dog that is never fully housebroken.  These owners blame their Dogs for not being able to learn, when in reality it is the owner that never really learned. Most likely, over time inconsistencies have confused these Dogs into not understanding which are appropriate and inappropriate places to eliminate. Many will choose a favorite corner in the house or the backyard. Some Dogs are so confused they will go out for hours only to come in and leave a present in the middle of the floor. This is probably not the Dog's fault. It is most likely the owner's fault for not properly housetraining their dog.  I will admit that female Dogs seem easier to train than their male counterparts, and certain Dogs are harder to train than others, but the truth of the matter is, if your Dog does not have a medical problem which keeps him from consistently eliminating outside, then it is most likely the training of the pet that has made housebreaking difficult.

Many owners begin housebreaking with puppies. In some ways this is the best way to begin because you are able to catch bad habits before they begin. A puppy's sole purpose in life is to make you happy, so if you train him with consistency and praise, he will do everything possible to go where you want him to go just to make you happy.

If you are beginning with an older Dog, training is usually a little quicker than with a puppy. Unfortunately, if your Dog has been yelled at or hit in the past for accidents inside the house, you may have to work a little harder to gain his trust.

How Should I Housetrain My Dog?

There are a several ways to housetrain your Dog. Four of the more popular methods are described in the sections below. The method you choose should be based on your personal lifestyle, and the personality or characteristics of your Dog.

For example, some methods, such as the paper or litter methods are more successful with puppies than adult Dogs. Crate training is probably the most efficient method, but should only be used if you are at home. If you are away all day, your adult Dog will have access to a limited space and this will help him/her get housetrained most successfully. A healthy adult Dog that has been housetrained, is able to hold is bladder and bowel for at least eight hours before elimination occurs.

Whichever method you choose, be sure to stick to it. Changing back and forth between different methods will only confuse your pet.

With all methods, it is important that the area you choose for training does not seem like a punishment to the Dog. Make sure your Dog has sufficient room to move around and play. If you are using a crate to train, your doggie should be released from the crate at least every hour to go to the bathroom and he should have plenty of supervised playtime outside of his crate.

After choosing your method, be sure and keep your puppy or adult Dog close to you at all times when he is not in his designated area. This will ensure your pet does not choose a favorite spot in the house to eliminate. 

The Paper Method

The paper method seems to work better with puppies than adult Dogs, although it can be used on both.

An adult Dog has better bladder and bowel control so unless you are going to litter train your dog, you may not need to use the paper method at all. If you are planning on your adult Dog to eliminate outdoors, you probably want to use the methods for adult Dogs, or crate training, as described in the sections below.

To begin housetraining your pup with the paper method, first you must choose a location where your puppy will be staying until housetrained. Make sure the room is puppy proofed and that elimination on the floor in this area will not cause permanent damage to your home. A bathroom or small kitchen is usually a good place for this. Once you have chosen an area, cover the entire floor with newspaper. If you have a young puppy, he will eliminate more often than when he gets older. Young puppies do not have sufficient control over their bladder or bowels and therefore tend to go a lot more when compared to an older puppy or adult Dog.  Also, puppies eat more because they are growing. Since they are putting more in their bodies, more comes out. Just be prepared for a lot of mess in the beginning.

When paper training, young puppies love to play with the paper. If he decides your paper looks better shredded than whole, don't scold him. Instead, try and convince him his own toys are much better than the shredded paper. Eventually, the paper will get boring and he will leave it alone. Unfortunately, this is just a part of puppyhood.

In the beginning, it is important to replace the paper as soon as possible after the elimination has occurred. This helps your puppy establish the area as his own, and it will help you get a better idea of where he favors doing his business.

As your puppy eliminates throughout the day, he may choose different areas of the room. As he gets a little more used to his room, he will choose a certain area where he prefers to eliminate.

When his preferred area for elimination is established, begin removing the paper from the rest of the room, only covering the area he uses. Make sure you leave his papered area large enough so that he does not miss the paper. If he misses the paper, the area is too small and you need to add more paper. He has to establish that when he goes potty, it has to be on the paper.

When he uses his papered area, praise him. The more your puppy associates a reward with his choice of the paper instead of the linoleum, the quicker your puppy will be trained.

After he has established that he will use the papered area instead of the floor, begin moving the paper towards the area where you want him to go when fully trained. If you will begin litter training at this time, see the section below on litter training for further instructions.

If you will be training your Dog to go outdoors, you may continue the paper method by moving the paper towards the area he will eventually go while letting you know he needs to go out.

The paper should only be moved a little at a time towards this location. If moving the paper confuses your puppy, you may only be able to move about one inch per day, until the paper reaches its final destination.

If you move the paper too fast and he begins missing, you must go back a few steps and start over in his room. When you feel he has re-established "paper means potty", you may begin slowly moving towards the door once again. Be prepared you may need to restart this process many times with a small Dog, but if you are persistent, he will eventually learn.

Once your puppy understands that he is to eliminate only on the paper, and you have been able to move towards the area where he will eventually go outside, monitoring his habits will be much easier. Once the paper is completely removed, he will go to that area automatically and at that time and sniff or turn circles, letting you know he has to go out.

When you are at home and with your puppy, and he is not in his area, make sure you keep him very close to you at all times. Many owners have said that leashing their puppy and attaching the other end to their belt loop works well. If you allow your puppy to wander off for a few minutes before he is completely trained, he will most likely have an accident in another area of your home, causing him confusion and you, more time in housetraining your pet.

If you do have him out of his area, make sure you return him to his papered area about every 45 minutes, or immediately after he has eaten or woken from a nap.

Set backs are normal with house training. Don't be discouraged if your puppy is doing great, then all of a sudden he forgets everything he has learned. This is normal. If this happens, go back to the beginning of papering his entire room. Usually, the second time through goes much faster and sometimes he will remember mid-way through the retraining where he was supposed to go to let you know he has to go out.  Exercise a lot of patience and persistence, mixed with consistent reward and eventually he will understand for good.

Housetraining Your Adult Dog

The adult Dog is trained similar to the puppy, only without the paper. The concept of her own room is important. That room should be a place she truly enjoys. If she exhibits signs of it being a punishment, such as excessive barking, whining or chewing, this room is probably not a good choice or you need to spend more time with her in her room.

Choose a room that has sufficient space for her to play, sleep and eat, but not too big for her to understand this is "her" space. Spend a lot of time with your Dog in the room playing with her to make her feel the room is a good place to be in. Dogs are clean by nature. If she knows the space is hers, and she enjoys being there, she will be less likely to soil the room.

Your Dog should be walked or taken to the area where you want her to eliminate at least once an hour while she is becoming familiar with her surroundings. Just like with puppies, praise her immensely when she goes where you want her to go. The excitement in your voice will help her better understand that THIS is the place you want her to go. Once that is established, she will do her best to make you happy by eliminating in her designated area.

Once you feel she understands where she is to go potty, you may open her room up to more than just her area.

Be sure not to open up too much too soon. You want to make your home an extension of her place so that she eventually feels the entire home is her area and will not want to soil it. One room at a time and under close supervision is recommended. Until you are convinced she can be trusted, keep her on a leash close by you.

Even after you are sure that your Dog understands she is to go outside to eliminate, she should still be placed in her small area when you are leaving for the day. Sometimes when adult Dogs are left unattended in the house for many hours, they will revert to old habits and find an area in your home that they deem "not theirs" and begin using it as a place for elimination while you are away. If this happens, do not scold her. Clean up the mess and remember that when you leave, she must be confined. Keep her away from that area permanently if necessary. If she smells the residue of past accidents, she is more likely to begin using that area again.

Crate Training

Crate training can be used on either puppies or adult Dogs and is probably the most effective and efficient way to housetrain your pet.

The crate should only be used while you are at home. It is to teach the Dog bowel and bladder control as well as the proper place for elimination. A crate should never be used to punish your pet, and he should not be locked in the crate for too long. If your Dog sees the crate as a punishment or as an owner abusing the crate, it will not train well using the crate. When training, with the exception of nighttime, your Dog should be let out at least every hour.

A Dog will not want to eliminate on his bedding and therefore, unless left in his crate too long, will not eliminate in his crate. Once every hour, place your Dog on a leash and walk him in the area where you want him to go potty. If he has not gone in five minutes, return him to his crate for another hour. If he does go within the allotted time, be sure and praise him profusely. After another hour goes by, the Dog that did not go last time will most likely go this time. Once he has gone, praise him profusely and return him to his crate or keep him leashed and with you until he returns to his crate.

With regularly scheduled feedings, you will produce regularly scheduled eliminations. Eventually you will understand the habits of your Dog and will not need to monitor him so closely. As he learns that he is to go outside of your home, you are able to lessen his crate time. If you find that he begins having accidents, you may have lessened his time too much and you will need to begin again. Although, just as with paper training, the second time is usually much quicker than the first time he was trained.

After you are convinced your Dog understands he is to go outside to potty, you may begin to open up his area just as described earlier in "training an adult Dog". Be sure and open up his area a little at a time so he clearly establishes the larger area as "his area", increasing the desire to keep his area clean.

Eventually, you may be able to open up your entire home, but this is only after a lot of time spent training and the proof of his understanding. If you are leaving for no more than four hours, you may crate him when you leave. If you will be gone longer than four hours, confine him to his own smaller room.

Whichever method you choose, patience is the key. Remember, accidents will happen and when they do, just clean them up and move on. Spanking or yelling at the puppy or adult Dog will not help teach them where or when to go, but instead, it will only teach them to fear you. When a Dog understands what pleases you, he will continue that behavior for the reward of your praise. 

Alterative House Breaking Methods - The Litter Pan

Some circumstances require out of the ordinary housebreaking. Some owners have had success with alternative methods. One of the alternative methods is litter box training.

Litter box training should only be used for small Dogs whose owner is unable to take them outside on a regular basis. Many apartment dwellers and elderly people inquire about this method because of the inability to properly walk a Dog on a regular basis. This method will have the best chance of success with young puppies but some older Dogs may be able to litter train with success as well. Similar to paper training, litter box training begins in a confined area such as a bathroom or kitchen.

Although you may be able to use a traditional cat litter box for this purpose, pet supply stores do sell doggy litter boxes. They are shaped a little different and are a bit larger than the traditional kitty box. Also available are special litters and papers that should eventually be used in the box. Some of the litters produce certain smells that are marketed to attract your Dog to them for better success with this method. Basically, if your Dog understands that he is supposed to use the litter pan for elimination, he will use it regardless of what type of litter you choose.

Like paper training, the beginning stages include paper lining the entire floor of the room. You continually change any soiled paper until the puppy chooses a place on the floor he likes to eliminate.

Once the puppy has eliminated in an area about the size of a litter pan for approximately two weeks, place a litter pan on the floor and paper inside the litter pan. If your puppy refuses to use the pan and begins eliminating on the floor, remove the litter pan and go back to the paper on the floor. Once he has re-established that he will once again use the paper consistently, replace the litter pan with the paper inside. This step may need to be reversed several times before your puppy fully understands that he is supposed to go inside the litter box. If he does go inside the litter box, make sure to praise him profusely. He has got to establish this is the correct behavior before he will be comfortable with it.

Once he will use the litter box with the paper, you may begin the change to doggy litter if desired. As time goes on, you may add additional litter until eventually the paper is gone and only litter remains.

If you choose this method, you must clean the litter box every time your Dog eliminates. He will not go in a dirty box. Failure to consistently clean the litter box will result in your puppy reverting back to the floor.

Common Problems

Occasionally, you will have a a Dog with a medical problem that causes her never to be fully housebroken or, on the contrary, a fully housebroken Dog beginning to urinate and defecate inside the house.

These problems include recurrent urinary tract infections, bladder stones or crystals, or bladder tumors. Older Dogs that lose mobility due to neurological deterioration or arthritis may also begin eliminating inside the house. Other medical problems such as kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, or Cushing's disease can also contribute to indoor elimination.

Some drugs such as steroids may cause a Dog to drink more and therefore urinate more. Other drugs, used as diuretics, will also cause frequent urination and sometimes complete loss of bladder control.

For Dogs that defecate inside the house, any condition that leads to more frequent defecation such as colitis, or conditions that affect the Dog's mobility or control such as arthritis or neurological deterioration could be the cause. As Dogs age, cognitive brain function decline; this could also contribute to indoor elimination.

Only a veterinarian can diagnose these problems. If you are facing abnormal problems housetraining your Dog, even with persistence, patience and praise, it would be wise to have your pet checked to make sure she does not suffer from a medical condition.

Submissive Urination

Submissive urination is a common problem when a puppy or adult Dog feels inferior. In small puppies it is the ultimate showing of respect. These pups have not yet learned how to demonstrate respect properly and often will leave drops or puddles at your feet whenever you return home. If you have an older Dog that has a problem with submissive urination, it may mean the Dog was abused earlier in life.

Excitement Urination

Excitement urination is only seen in puppies. They are so excited to see you they dribble at your feet. Fortunately, this type of urination is something they eventually outgrow with bladder control. Until then, it is best to be patient and not scold the puppy. Consistent scolding for this problem may eventually turn into submissive urination, which is a much greater problem.

If your puppy or older Dog has a problem with submissive urination, the best thing to do is ignore the problem. If you come in and make over with the pet, he will begin to associate the urination as a good thing that makes you happy. If you scold him, you will only make the problem worse. He then will use submissive urination to say he is sorry.

Successful treatment of submissive urination can be accomplished by helping your Dog to gain confidence. Teaching him simple obedience commands such as sit, stay, and shake will help him gain confidence and should eventually eliminate his need for submissive urination by allowing him to understand proper ways to show respect.

Spiteful & Jealous Urination

If your Dog that is otherwise housebroken, suddenly begins urinating or defecating inside your house, and medical problems have been ruled out, there is probably a change in her life that is causing it.

Many people complain their Dog will pee on their furniture when company arrives. They ask if that's a sign the Dog is jealous or spiteful because they are not the center of attention. Maybe. But honestly, only an animal behaviorist can answer that question.

If your Dog is exhibiting odd behavior, such as urinating on your furniture, first ask yourself what changed in your pet's life when the incidents began to occur. Many people will find it was at a time when they introduced a new pet or baby into the household. Unfortunately, there is no bottled answer to how you solve your specific problem.

Although, we would like to think of Dogs as having the same emotions as people, they do not. They do have emotions, but their reactions to situations are not the same as ours. Animal Behaviorists are trained to understand why your pet does what she does when she does it, and what steps you can take to prevent it from happening in the future.

Animal Behaviorists are not Animal Trainers. Your veterinarian should be able to refer you to an Animal Behaviorist in your area. The extra expense incurred for visiting a specialist for specific housebreaking problems could save you the expense of ruined furniture and carpets in the future. 

Coprophagia

Better known as eating their poop. Many Dogs have this disgusting habit and there is no conclusive research that indicates why they do this. Some Dogs just love to eat theirs, or any other animal's feces that may be available for consumption. A favorite among many Dogs is the feces left from cats in the litter box.

You will find many mother Dogs clean up after their litter of pups. Some research indicates that puppies learn this bad habit from their mother. Other research indicates it is caused by an imbalance in the diet. Still other research indicates it comes from the carnivorous instinct left from when Dogs hunted and consumed the entire body of animals in the wild including the leftovers in the intestine. No matter what the reason, it is a disgusting habit and one that is virtually impossible to break.

If you would like to try and break your Dog of this habit, the most effective way is prevention. If you can keep her away from the feces by immediately cleaning it up, or keeping her on a leash when she empties her bowels, you will prevent her from getting to her treat.

Another method used is an additive that may be purchased from your vet. When added to their food, it makes their excrement taste foul to them. Unfortunately, this method does not deter all Dogs. Some will continue to chow down anyway.

Conclusion

Housebreaking your Dog will take a lot of persistence, patience and praise, but the end result will save you and your pet many days of frustration and guilt. For the first few weeks, expect the training to be constant. After that, you will see the time spent lessens as you gain more confidence in your pet and your pet gains more confidence in understanding where you want him to eliminate.

 Discuss any problems you encounter with your veterinarian or animal behaviorist. Eventually, he will be completely housebroken, making the few months you spend in the beginning pay off with a lifetime of reward.

Accidents when housebreaking

Housetraining is essential and you should start out as you mean to go on, the earlier you start this then it will lessen the chance of accidents happening around the home. Of course when the puppy is very young the odd accident will happen, your puppies’ bladder is only small and for him it might seem miles to make it through the door in time. Be constant and vigilant in your efforts rewarding your puppy when he goes to the bathroom in the right place and gently scolding him when he has an accident.  Crate training lessens the time it take to house break a dog, but you must take the pup out immediately upon removal of his crate, when they are really young I recommend that you carry the pup outside to keep him from having an accident on the way to the door.  Pups usually need to be taken out to empty within an hour of eating or drinking.  Do not free feed a small pup until it is house broken to help you know when they will need to go out.  Always allow the pup an out before kenneling for the night to help it not have accidents in the crate.  Dogs really do not like to soil their bed but a pup has very limited bowel or bladder control until it is over 6 months of age.  I recommend that you hang a bell from the doorknob and teach the pup to ring it to go outside.  This usually just takes a few days, however you have to be careful that the pup does not use the bell to tell you he just wants to go out to play.  If you see a puppy walking around in circles with its nose to the ground there is a good chance that he is looking for a potty place, so immediately scoop him up and take him to the designated spot.  Command "Empty" over and over as the pup goes to the bathroom in designated and he will soon learn to associate the words with the action and you can command them to empty before going to bed, going for a ride, etc..  This makes the dog and you more comfortable and relaxed for travel or bed.

Nipping

All puppies will nip and those little teeth can hurt so nipping should be dealt with early, if not then you could have problems if your puppy doesn’t outgrow this stage as he gets older. When your puppy nips you shout out “ouch” in a voice loud enough to startle your puppy, he will soon get the idea that this is something you aren’t happy with. Another way to go about stopping this is to very gently push on your puppies’ nose when they nip; dogs don’t like this sensation and will then associate nipping with the unpleasant feeling.  Another comment that I think needs to be added is that you should NEVER PLAY ROUGH with a pup.  This only gets the pup excited and they will forget that they can not play with you the way they play with other dogs.  Pups are growing at a fast rate and do not realize that something that was cute a month ago now hurts; so stop the behavior early and be diligent.  Dogs should NEVER BE ALLOWED TO BITE even gently.  Command "No Bites" as you correct the behavior.

Barking and yapping

All dogs will bark or yap when they get excited but some seem to do it more than others and this can get annoying not only for yourself but also for your neighbours. Some dogs will bark or yap for attention or if they are bored, try to give your dog or puppy enough attention and exercise and when they start to yap or bark uncontrollably then you should say “quiet” and if they stop then reward them with a treat. It is important that you speak in a soft voice so that the pup has to quiet down to hear what you are saying.  When he is quiet, reward him.  All rewards are not food, Labrador retrievers have a need for love and affection, use that to your advantage.  I seldom train with treats and I take them away as soon as possible if I do use them after the pup has demonstrated that they are truely trained in a behavior.  If a pup does a command 80 % of the time or better you can safely take away the food treat and just give affection.  A Simple "Good Dog" goes much further with the Lab breed tan with most other breeds.  Consistency is important when teaching your puppy and dog and if you persevere then most dogs will learn to stop yapping or barking when you speak the magic word.  Another Command that I use is "No Speaks", this is because I teach them to speak on command so it is easy to teach them when not to speak.

Jumping up at you

Jumping up at you or onto your lap might seem cute when the puppy is little but when it grows to it’s full adult size this can be a problem, also some people just don’t like dogs and if you have a visitor who doesn’t then your dog can be very scary if it’s bounding towards them and leaping up. Again perseverance and training is the answer, nip it in the bud while your puppy is young and this won’t become a big problem when older.  When the pup comes at you take him by the paw and gently push him back, pups do not have great balance and he will probably stumble a little but he will learn that he is not allowed to jump.  Dogs generally do not like their paws being grabbed so if you can aim for the paws to hold onto as you push him down.  Repeat "No jumps" as you push him away.

Running away from you

You should teach your new puppy its name very early and teach him to respond and come to you when called; you can do this by confining your puppy to just one room and repeating his name while offering a treat. When your puppy comes to you then make a fuss of him and gradually widen the space you are teaching him in, for example trying this out in the garden where your puppy will find more distractions. Perseverance is essential at this time but if rewarded most puppies catch on really quick, you can use treats also when teaching your puppy to stick by your side when out.
  I have found that a gentle, singsong time of voice is much more apt to get a positive response from your pup.  If your pup is running away often you scolding him will only make him think that now is not the time to get close to you.  Pups fear punishment and will run away when threatened so be gentle for quicker results.  The big exception is if your pup is headed for trouble; be loud - be firm and allow the pup to hear the concern.  He will probably stop and wonder what all the fuss is about.

* How much should I groom the Labrador?

To help keep them clean and healthy the Labrador should be brushed once per week, this will also help to keep shedding to a minimum, you should also keep a regular check on their toenails and have them clipped or clip them yourself with clippers bought from your vets or pet store. If you hear a dogs nails clicking on a hard floor it is time to have the nails trimmed.  On a smooth surface such as tile or laminate it is hard for a dog to get a grip on the floor if his nails are too long and they will like Bambi trying to learn to walk on ice, this allows the possibility that the pup will be injured.  A bath including shampoo should only be done when absolutely necessary as this can take away the oils from the coat.  There are bath wipes on the market that are really good for a quick wash job and a descenting that work well and make him smell better without a full bath.  Also, there are many doggy perfumes on the market but I just spritz my girls with a small amount of my perfume and it lasts for days.  One of the best features of a Labrador is his wash and wear coat, briars do not tangle in it, etc. so baths are usually not neccessary but most Labs love the water and therefore a bath.  How much time do you have to groom your pet? Many people do not realize that in order to get a longhaired breed to look like the Dogs in magazines, a minimum of 30 minutes grooming per day is required.

* Are Labradors hyper active?

Hyperactivity isn't particularly a trait with the breed however, just like humans dogs are different and you can occasionally come across a Labrador that is hyper active. Most Labrador Breeders a trying to breed this quality out of the breed because a hyper dog is hard to train and a hard to train Labrador retriever is a poor example of the breed.  Labradors must be able to be quiet in a duck blind, steady on the retrieve, sit on a whistle for commands, and generally be extremely easy to train.  Do your homework on the bloodlines and ask a lot of questions from the breeder and she should be able to match you with a pup of equal energy level as you.  You don't want a couch potatoe if you are into the outdoors active lifestyle and you don't want a bouncing off the walls pup if you are a couch potatoe.  So, ask questions, ask questions, ask questions.  A good breeder will be able to tell you the temperment of a pup from his development up to date.  A puppy will always have plenty of energy to spare as it's growing up but then all puppies do and this is only a normal thing, if a puppy wasn't energetic then there would be something seriously wrong. By about the age of 18 months however this usually starts to phase out as the puppy matures into a full grown dog.  Remember, Labradors are power chewers and will be destructive if left inactive for too long, or if they are bored.  If the weather is nasty outside, you may play indoors for exercise. A game of fetch with a squeaky toy can be just as beneficial as a brisk walk in the park when the weather is nasty. Some owners do not have the luxury of outside play due to the environment in which they live or because their own health prevents them from participating in outdoor activities on a regular basis. Those owners can be creative with indoor games that will serve as exercise on a regular basis for their Dog.

* What are Labradors like with children?

Labradors overall are excellent with children and they make a very good family pet, however you should never leave a young child alone with any animal no matter how well behaved the animal is. All babies should be kept off of the floor and all children should be taught to be the master not the dogs playmate as Labs are often rough with their playmates.  Overall the Labrador is one of the best breeds to have around children as they are usually very gentle and well tempered.  Always watch children around any animal because an animal may be easily hurt by a child and will lash out to protect itself.  The only things a Dog really needs are food, water, shelter, and love. If you provide the essentials and add vet care, grooming, training and play, you have all the ingredients for a happy Dog that will feel loved and love you for a lifetime.  It's really not difficult to teach your Dog to love you. Dogs are born with the natural instinct to be social. They also have the need for order in their hierarchy. Once it is established that you are their master and you will take care of them and provide all the essential items they need, they will do anything you ask of them. Their number one job is to serve and love their master. If you make a commitment to providing your pet with the essentials needed to insure their happiness, they will love you unconditionally forever.  Exercise sessions should consist of 2 times a day for 30 minutes if possible. Start off slow and gradually work your way up to the half-hour sessions. Tailor your exercise to fit your Dog, then gradually train your Dog to fit into your exercise regimen.  If your Dog should overheat during an exercise session, take her to a shady area and have her lie down. Apply water to her head, neck and chest and fan her with cardboard or whatever is available to speed up evaporation and cool down her blood. Ice restricts blood flow so do not apply ice. Take your Dog to your veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.

No matter what stage of Dog ownership you are in, you will run into a few bumps along the way. If you understand why certain problems occur and what the best way is to handle those problems, you will feel much better about your choices.

Many owners do not realize that Dogs are forgiving and can be retrained to abandon stubborn traits picked up along the way. It is never too late to begin again.

Veterinary Care

Probably the most important thing your pet needs is regular veterinary care. It is important to establish a relationship between your vet and your pet as early as possible. The better developed your pet's medical record with your vet, the more likely your vet will be able to prevent or treat problems before they become serious.

Heartworm is becoming more and more common among Dogs and is not easily cured. The money you spend now to prevent heartworm could save you hundreds of dollars later, and could also save your Dog's life.

The second set of shots is at nine to twelve weeks of age. The second set of vaccinations includes a second booster for DHPP and a rabies vaccination. Once again, discuss any non-core vaccinations that you think may be needed, such as a vaccine for Lyme's disease.

The third set of vaccines will take place at fourteen to sixteen weeks of age. This will include the puppy's last vaccination for DHPP.  After the puppy has received his last vaccination, you may expose him to other Dogs. Until he has received all vaccinations, it is best to leave him at home where he is not exposed to illnesses that he has not yet received full immunization for.

Vaccination Schedule for Adult Dogs

Yearly Booster of DHPP

Rabies Booster at 1 year, then every 3 years following 2nd Rabies Vaccination

Bordetella

An adult Dog must have a yearly booster of all vaccinations. This yearly vaccination includes distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvovirus, as well as rabies and bordetella if he is exposed to other Dogs on a regular basis. This yearly visit should also include a heartworm test.

Vaccination Schedule for Puppies

Puppies - 6 weeks to 1 year

6 to 8 weeks - First puppy shot (DHLPP) + Corona

9 to 12 weeks - Second puppy shot (DHLPP) + Corona

13 to 16 weeks - Third puppy shot (DHLPP) + Corona

Over 4 months - Rabies (repeat l year later)

A puppy should have its first visit to a veterinarian at six weeks of age. The first examination will consist of a physical examination, including a fecal examination for worms and the first set of vaccinations. The six-week vaccinations include distemper, hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus (DHPP).

Depending on your puppy's lifestyle, non-core vaccinations may also be needed such as bordetella (kennel cough), coronavirus (DHLPPC) and leptospirosis.  (This is what I use and recommend)

This first visit should also include a discussion on flea, tick, and heartworm preventative medicines. Most of these medicines are now available in drops that can be placed on the Dogs skin and absorbed

Preparing Your Dog's Home

Pets are a lot like newborns. You need to be prepared prior to their arrival to better facilitate the initial adjustment period that both you and your pet will go through.

The initial transition will be much smoother if you have a room set up prior to your pet's arrival. A secret to success is having their food, water, bed and toys set up and available in their room as soon as they are introduced to their room. This enables your pet to immediately begin to associate that room as theirs. This association becomes extremely important when trying to housetrain.  A suitable room can be a bathroom, kitchen, hallway and sometimes a garage. Whatever room you choose, pet proof it by removing any items that may cause your Dog harm. Also, choose an area where you will spend a lot of time. This helps ensure your Dog will not see their room as a prison, but instead, a place of love and security. This room can also be used as a room for initial training of your Dog because it will not have the distractions that sometimes exist in unfamiliar surroundings.

If you will not be able to spend a lot of time in the room with the Dog, use a baby gate so that the Dog can still see and hear you. If you close a door on a Dog and leave him alone, he may see it more as a punishment than a safe place. Social interaction with his family is extremely important at this stage and will set the groundwork for all training down the road.

Your pet's room will need the following items:

 * Food

* Treats

* Food & Water Bowls

* Brush/Comb

* Pet Bed

* Toys

* Chews

* Baby Gate(s)

* Dog Crate

Once your new Dog understands this space is its own, you may begin to slowly open up more areas of your home. A common mistake is opening up too much of your home at once. It's understandable; you love your new pet and want it to spend every moment with you. The problem is that if you open up too much at once, your Dog may become confused and you may create unwanted behavioral problems such as difficulty in housetraining and chewing of items that are not theirs.

Choosing a Bed

Although many Dog owners think that their own bed is the best bed for their pet, this is not necessarily the case. Did you know that a Dog is actually more comfortable in his own bed?

A Dog will sleep where you teach it to sleep. Many Dog owners choose their own bed as a place for their Dog to sleep, but a Dog actually gets a more sound sleep in his own bed than in bed with you. Your tossing and turning disrupts his sleep as much as his laying on the blankets and your feet will disrupt your sleep.

It is important that a Dog's bed fits its personality. For example, if your Dog likes to stretch out while sleeping, you should choose a bed larger than normally recommended for your Dog. If your Dog likes to curl up while sleeping, the size recommended for your Dog's size would probably be best.

Some Dogs like to borough. A bed with room to bury his head under a shirt or blanket would be best for this type of Dog. If your Dog likes to get under the covers instead of on top, you will know you have this type of Dog.

Pet beds come in all shapes and sizes. You can buy specialty beds shaped like small couches or overstuffed pillows stuffed with cedar and memory foam. You may choose a form fitting bed with foam sidewalls or a crate mat, which is basically a rectangle of 2" foam covered with material. There are orthopedic beds for older Dogs or Dogs with arthritis and some stores even sell waterbeds for Dogs.

I have found that popular auction sites like Ebay are the best places to find large selections of high quality pet beds at reasonable prices. 

Introducing a New Pet to Your Home

The first few days your new pet is in your home will be an adjustment period for everyone. If you have a puppy, training begins here. Most puppies are not already housebroken, so around the clock walks will be necessary for a while until your puppy understands that out means he goes outside to do what puppies do best. 

If you have another pet in your home, you will have to introduce your new friend slowly. Make sure you do not leave your new Dog and an old pet together alone until you are sure they will get along. Many pets that have already lived in the home for a while go through a "jealousy phase" and seem to need assurance that they are still important before they will accept the new pet. Actually what is taking place is that the old Dog and new Dog are establishing the hierarchy of the family. Establishing that you and your family are the leader of the pack to the new Dog is also essential at this time, especially if the Dog seems a little more aggressive at first. After a week or two together boundaries will have been drawn and your new Dog and old pet will know their place in the home.  One way I have found to alleviate some of the problem is to introduce the pup and older dog on neutral territory and then go home as a family.  This helps the older dog feel as if they had a say so on whether or not the pup was accepted into the pack and also help you guage whether or not your old dog will be overly aggressive with the new family member.

The same rule goes for children. If you are introducing a new pet to a home with a small child, do not leave the pet and child alone. Many children need to be taught the appropriate way to pet a Dog. They must learn that picking them up by the neck or tail is not the proper way to show your new pet you love them. Puppies also have extremely sharp teeth and sometimes play too rough until taught otherwise, thereby accidentally injuring a child.

Outdoor Safety

If your Dog will be spending a lot of time outdoors, make sure you take every precaution to keep your Dog safe.  Fences keep your Dog in and unwanted animals out. Many Dogs are attacked every year by more aggressive animals living in their neighborhood. These pets are mauled and sometimes killed by vicious Dogs that run at large. A fence helps eliminate the attacks of more aggressive Dogs by keeping them out and your pet on your own property, away from items and other animals that may cause them harm.  If you are in an area that does not allow for fencing then I would recommend that you stay with your pet at all times.

When walking your Dog make sure you use a sturdy leash and collar. If you will be walking in an area where your pet may have a propensity to pull, a harness may be the best restraint. Pets can easily slip out of ordinary collars causing them potential danger and you excessive frustration. A Dog that slips from their collar to chase other animals is gone in an instant. Many of these pets are never found again, where others are injured by cars or other dangers they are not aware they should avoid.

If you do walk your Dog and your Dog accidentally escapes from you, do not chase your Dog. Remain calm and call him. If he thinks he is in trouble, he may run further to escape your punishment.

Feeding Your Pet

How you begin feeding your Dog will determine how she expects to be fed for the rest of her life. It is important to start off right with her feeding. There are many commercial brands available that will fit the specific needs of your Dog according to her age and physical characteristics.  A common misconception among Dog owners is believing that feeding their Dog table scraps is good practice. Unfortunately, this is completely false.  Table scraps, although sometimes hard to resist feeding her, can cause problems.  First of all, table scraps do not consist of the balanced diet your pet needs which can cause gastrointestinal upset. Also, feeding your Dog certain foods, such as chicken or pork bones can cause intestinal damage and sometimes the death of your pet. Chocolate and raisins can have the same effect.  Many owners do not realize that feeding their pet table scraps can encourage obnoxious behaviors such as begging and barking for food.  Have you ever been at someone's home and watched their four footed friend beg at the table? Although you may think this is cute, remember, that Dog begs like that every time those people sit down to eat. Yes, morning, noon and night, they see their Dog either wobbling in a begging position or barking to get bites.  If you start your Dog off on the right foot when eating, your Dog will be healthier and not a nuisance during your dinnertime.  Also, teaching your Dog to eat ONLY from his food bowl will be reinforcement in training her not to take food from strangers when away from home, which someday could potentially save her life.

Scheduled feedings and free feeding are two types of feeding you may offer your Dog. Both depend on your lifestyle and the personality and physical characteristics of your pet.  Scheduled feedings usually take place in the morning and evening and consist of measured amounts of food. Free feeding is exactly as it sounds. You set a bowl full of food on the ground and the Dog eats whenever hungry.  Dogs that are on scheduled feedings are sometimes more easily trained than those allowed to free feed. This is because food can be used as a reward, where if the Dog is free fed, food may not be an adequate reward because the Dog can have it anytime she likes.  Free feeding does not work for everyone and some breeds are more likely to have trouble free feeding than others. This is largely due to some breeds having the tendency to gorge themselves causing weight problems. If your Dog eats excessively or is overweight, free feeding is probably not the best choice for your pet. Also, if your pet spends many hours alone during the day, free feeding is not a good choice. What goes in must come out and if your Dog eats while you are away, she may need to eliminate prior to your return.  There are many brands of dog food available, and the most expensive brand is not necessarily the best. Some brands design their food specifically for the type of puppy or dog you are raising.  For Labrador Retrievers and all large breed pups, feed a food designed for slow, controlled growth.  I personally like Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy.  The bags or cans of food themselves will give you a guide on how much of that particular food you should feed your Dog according to her weight. You can adjust the recommended amount based on the amount of exercise your Dog gets and the climate in which she lives. If your Dog spends the majority of her time in hot weather, she will not need the caloric intake of a cold weather Dog.  Also, you will find that some Dogs have an allergy to corn based foods. These Dogs usually develop sores and scabs on their skin from excessive scratching. Once the corn-based food is eliminated from their diet, the sores go away. This is one reason many vets recommend a lamb and rice formula of Dog food.

Feeding Your Puppy

Puppies should be fed several regularly scheduled meals every day throughout the first three months of life. This will help prevent bloat. As your puppy gets older, you can reduce the feedings to two meals per day, morning and evening or offer free feeding as an alternative choice.

Puppies require more calories and fat to grow. Talk to your veterinarian about what type of food to feed your puppy through her first year of life. Many recommend specific brands and most recommend food without a lot of additives.

Feeding Your Adult Dog

A Dog is considered an adult Dog from about one year to six years of age. This time period should have a balanced diet of quality food, offered according to your Dog's weight, and rich in the vitamins and minerals needed to promote a healthy life.  Once again, consult with your veterinarian on the brand they would recommend for your particular breed of Dog. The vet should also have a medical history established by this time so they will also be able to add additional insight based on potential allergies or weight problems your Dog may exhibit.

Feeding Your Older Dog

Most older Dogs retain their ability to digest the essential nutrients from food well into old age. However, some older Dogs do require an adjustment in their food intake dependent on their amount of physical exercise. Older Dogs are usually not as active and therefore require a reduction in calories. Special food, designed for the older Dog, is a good idea for feeding your older Dog.  Also, large breed dogs should have joint supplements in their food to help prevent arthritis from forming.  Most of these formulas contain moderate levels of high quality, highly digestible protein as well as modified levels of polyunsaturated fat and vitamins B and E for better digestibility and health of your older pet. 

Pet treats may be supplemented to your pets diet at any stage of their life. Remember, most of these treats are just that "treats" should not be the primary source of your pet's caloric intake. If a Dog fills up on treats, she will be less likely to eat her regular food which is balanced for her general health. Also, excessive treats can lead to weight problems, as most of these treats are extremely high in fat and calories.

Vitamins and Other Supplements

A common question asked by many Dog owners is if their pet should take supplements for their health. Quality Dog foods will contain the recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals your pet needs, but many pets can benefit from extra supplements to treat conditions such as skin allergies and arthritis as well as decrease their chances of contracting other age related diseases such as heart disease and some cancers.

Your pet's body naturally contains many antioxidants that work together, in a variety of ways to help protect and insure health. Depending on your Dogs environment, some Dogs need extra vitamins and minerals provided by supplements to help reduce the harmful effect of pollution or other negative influences in their daily lives.

Pollutions can cause a condition called oxidative stress. This condition damages your Dogs body much the same way as metal will rust when exposed to certain elements. Antioxidant supplements can help counteract the harmful effects, increasing your Dog's life span and slowing the aging process.  Damage caused by oxidative stress has been linked to age related degenerative diseases including cancer, heart disease, liver and kidney disorders as well as arthritis and diabetes.

Dietary supplements for your Dog may be purchased at your local pet store online. There are many different brands and varieties available, so you may need to do a little general research based on your Dog's environment before choosing a supplement that is best for your Dog.

Exercising your Dog

Exercise is an extremely important part of your Dog's life. It offers him a release of energy and an incredible way of bonding with you.

Daily exercise is recommended for all Dogs unless advised otherwise by your veterinarian. Overweight Dogs may have heart conditions, so be sure to start these pets off slow and check with your vet before beginning an exercise regimen with these Dogs.  Dogs are a lot like people when it comes to exercise. The more they do, the more they can handle. Dogs can even be trained to participate in vigorous exercise, such as running with their master, if trained properly.  When exercising, make sure water is available at all times. If you are exercising at a place other than your home or where water is not regularly available, carry a container of water with you so you may offer it to your pet while out. Your local pet store offers special water containers for this purpose.

Exercise may consist of playing Frisbee in the park or a walk around the block. Recommended daily amounts of exercise can also be obtained while training your pet. For example, the FETCH and RETRIEVE or HEEL commands are excellent ways to train your Dog and get their exercise at the same time.

Whatever exercise you choose for your Dog, be sure and take into consideration your Dog's age and the climate at the time of exercise. Most Dogs will encounter problems during exercise if the weather is too cold or too humid, unless the Dog is used to those conditions on a regular basis.

Basics About Puppies

One of the advantages of having a puppy is that you start from scratch. Although the puppy will have natural characteristics as associated with their breed, you are able to set their schedule and train them properly at an age where they are able to learn best.

You may start a puppy in basic obedience training after he has received his last series of vaccinations, at around 16 weeks of age. By starting early, you are able to avoid pitfalls and obnoxious behaviors before they become stubborn traits that are difficult to break.

Puppies will have natural characteristics in the beginning that they will eventually outgrow to an extent, but training can also be used to deter this obnoxious behavior. Some of these traits include nipping at ankles when you walk or playing a little rougher than you would like. If you ignore the puppy when he exhibits the unwanted behavior, eventually he will get tired of the game and will quit. Teaching your Dog the "OUCH" command can also be effective when teaching bite inhibition.

Puppies' feelings are hurt easily. These babies should not be yelled at or hit for unwanted behaviors. Instead, use proven training techniques to correct the unwanted behavior. For example, a trick to getting your pup to stop chewing your shoe is to gently take the shoe away and give it a Dog toy instead. Or better yet, teach your puppy the "TOY" command so he can get his own toy. Most puppies will gladly take the new toy and forget the shoe. They are teething and really don't care what they chew on as long as they can chew. They are also establishing in their minds which items are appropriate and inappropriate when chewing.

Did you know that by using excessive force to train a puppy, you will create other unwanted behaviors that will be even more difficult to break? For example excessive force or instilling fear in a puppy can cause that puppy to have a greater propensity to bite as an adult Dog. It also can cause shyness, anxiety and submissive urination, all problems you want to avoid if possible. Your scared Dog will also be extremely difficult to train.

Geriatric Dogs

As a Dog gets older, their body naturally begins to slow down just as a human body does. It is important as a Dog ages to have regular checkups with your vet so they may watch for common health conditions associated with older Dogs, such as arthritis, congestive heart failure and certain cancers.

It is important to give your older Dog the same care she received when she was younger, with a few changes. Food should be changed to something that is easily digestible with fewer calories than she ate as a younger Dog. Also, exercise is still extremely important to maintain her health. She may need to slow down a bit though to better accommodate her changing body. That leisure jog may turn into a leisure walk due to her aging process.

A Dog ages seven times faster than a human. That means for every year she is old you should multiply that number by seven to associate her age better with the human aging process.

Grooming Your Dog

Many Dog owners make the mistake of bathing their Dogs more often than needed causing skin irritation and dryness. Excessive bathing strips your Dog's skin of essential oils needed to maintain a healthy skin and coat. A Dog only needs to be bathed approximately once per month to stay clean and maintain her healthy appearance.  It is a wise idea to use dry baths in between in the form of wet wipes. These help eliminate some of the pet dander that occurs between baths as well as adds the natural oils back into their coat for that healthy shine.

A secret to successful grooming is to begin early. If your Dog gets used to grooming as a puppy, he will be less likely to be frightened as an adult. Basically, to a Dog, grooming is an extended petting session. Most professional groomers will have many stories about Dogs that cannot wait until they are up on the grooming table. I know of one Dog that actually escaped his yard and ran away to the groomer. In the morning when she opened shop, the Dog was waiting on her front step.

People who have problems with their Dogs nipping or pulling away usually have not exposed their pet enough to grooming. With time and consistency, the fear should fade.

In order to sufficiently groom your pet, you will need the following items.

* Brush/Comb

* Shampoo/Conditioner

* Nail Clippers

* Dog Clippers (optional)

* Scissors

* Toothbrush

* Dog Clippers

* Cotton Balls

* Eye and Ear cleaner

In order to properly bath your Dog, use doggy shampoo and shampoo her twice. You should bath twice because the first time you are lifting the dirt and dander off the pets skin, then the second time through cleans more of the Dog's coat. Bathing your Dog twice will help keep her cleaner longer, making it easier to wait between baths.

After your Dog has been bathed, make sure to towel dry them thoroughly to prevent chilling, especially in cold weather. You may use a hair dryer and Dog brush to groom while drying, or allow her to air dry before you complete grooming her.

A secret to drying your Dog with a dryer is keeping your hand under the stream of hot air while drying your pet. This enables you to make sure the temperature is not too hot for your Dog's delicate skin. If your Dog is accidentally burned while using the dryer they fear that dryer in the future making it harder to dry your Dog after a bath.

Canine dryers are available from pet stores, but are probably not necessary unless you will be professionally grooming for profit or show.

Some Dogs will naturally have problems with runny eyes and waxy ears. Special products designed specifically for individual problems are available at your pet store. After she is dried and combed, use eye and ear cleaners if necessary to remove any unwanted stains or excessive drainage and wax.

Between baths, your Dog should be brushed weekly. This allows the natural oils from her skin to be distributed evenly throughout her coat daily giving a healthy sheen. Brushings are important for both long and short hair breeds. As well as the health benefits it offers to your pet, these brushings also help eliminate excessive shedding on your furniture and carpet and excessive pet dander in your home. Did you know that pet dander is the major source of human allergies to pets?

A grooming issue frequently overlooked is the clipping of the nails. A nail clipper designed especially for trimming a Dog's nails may be purchased at a reasonable cost through most pet stores.

It is extremely important not to allow your pets nails to grow too long between clippings. This is because a Dog has a vein running through the middle of its nail. If you wait too long between clippings, the vein may grow longer than normal causing it to be easily clipped while trimming the nail. Cutting the nail too short, severing this vein, will cause bleeding. Although usually not a big deal, this cut may become infected causing further pain and needing treatment for your pet.

If you are unsure how short your Dog's nails should be trimmed, have your vet or a professional groomer show you where to cut the nail the first time your pet's nails are cut. This will allow you to have more confidence when cutting her nails in the future and eliminate delay of this essential grooming due to an owners fear of cutting too close.

A good way to keep your Dog's nails filed down between clippings is walks on asphalt or concrete. The hard surface naturally files down your Dog's nails, in addition to the walk providing him with some daily exercise.

Another grooming item frequently overlooked is the brushing of her teeth. It is important to brush her teeth, or in the alternative use a dental bone, on a regular basis. Some Dogs hate having their teeth brushed and never get used to it, while others seem to enjoy it. Whether or not your Dog will love her brushing lies in the personality of your Dog. Special supplies for brushing your Dog's teeth may be found at local pet stores or over the Internet

If you are planning on showing your Dog and need more in depth grooming advise for your particular Dog, there are many great books available on grooming. Also available are specific supplies that may be needed for regular advanced grooming.

The secret to grooming is consistency. Many owners say their Dog does not like to be groomed, which is actually false. All Dogs enjoy grooming once they understand what to expect. If you consistently groom your Dog, they will enjoy it as much as their petting and play time. Grooming becomes an extension of your love for them and they eventually will associate it as a good thing instead of something to be feared.

Professional grooming can be a nice get away for your Dog. Usually your Dog is dropped off early in the morning and spends the day at the groomers, just like at a spa for humans. She will start with a bath and air dry (or possibly a blow dry), and then in the afternoon, her nails will be clipped and groomed per your instructions. In between the bath and grooming, she will get to watch other Dogs go through the same ritual. Most Dogs actually enjoy watching and are excited when it becomes their turn.

If you have ever had your Dog professionally groomed, then you probably have noticed your Dog leaves with a different personality than when they entered the groomer's shop. The Dogs seem to know they look better and have additional confidence and pride when picked up that lasts long after going back home.

Breeding

If you are interested in breeding your Dog, you have a couple of options. You can invest in a breeding pair, or purchase one quality male or female and use them with or as a stud service.

Many breeders choose to use a stud service instead of purchasing a male, while other breeders prefer to purchase a male and use him as a stud. Standard stud fees are usually "pick of the litter" or the price of one puppy from the litter.

No matter which way you decide to go, it is imperative that you begin with a solid bloodline to insure quality in breeding.

Most reputable breeders will give you a pedigree along with the registration papers. The pedigree should have the puppy's bloodline at least through his great grandparents and you want to see a pattern of champion and grand champion in his pedigree.

Each breed has a standard and if you see a pattern of quality Dogs in your Dog's pedigree, you are better able to predict the quality traits your Dog will possess as an adult and how close your Dog may be to the standard for that breed.

Also, you will want to observe the parents of your puppy for signs of temperament. If you observe aggression or shyness, your puppy may exhibit the same traits as an adult and therefore would not be a good choice for breeding or showing when grown.

Spaying or Neutering

If you will not be breeding your Dog for show, it is a good idea to have your pet spayed or neutered.

Spaying your female Dog or neutering your male Dog has proven to result in longer healthier lives for the pet. Most Dogs, male and female, may be spayed or neutered at around 18 months to ensure proper growth and orthopedic soundness for males you may want to wait even longer.

Female Dogs bleed for about 10 days twice a year while they go through their estrous cycle. This time also encourages unaltered males to hang around your home. These male Dogs may be territorial causing danger to you and your family, not to mention the nuisance of these unwanted Dogs tearing up your property throughout your female's heat cycle.

Neutering your Dog prevents testicular tumors and may prevent prostate problems, perianal tumors and hernias, all of which are more common in unaltered male Dogs.

The male Dog also tends to be less aggressive after neutering. He will hump things less often and is less likely to "mark his territory", even in your home, with a strong smelling urine.

Spaying or neutering your Dog will make him or her a better pet. The common conception that spaying or neutering makes a Dog lazier and overweight is not true. It is true that your Dog will be less likely to roam, but this only increases your pets safety by eliminating the danger of getting hurt or killed while looking for its mate.

Basic Psychology of Dogs

Why is my Dog so aggressive? Why is my Dog so shy? Why does my Dog pee on my couch when company arrives?

These are common questions of many Dog owners and unfortunately, there is no bottled answer for any of the questions.

A common mistake made by most Dog owners is thinking their Dog thinks and reacts like a human. This conclusion is completely false and an underlying reason of many problems associated with Dog care.

Dogs are pack animals. Before you can begin to understand the psyche of a Dog, you have to understand that because they are pack animals, they bond so well with you because you are the leader of their pack.

Once a Dog owner understands how a Dog thinks, acts, reacts and communicates, they are better able to cope with raising and training their Dog properly.

For example, many people perceive that their Dog is jealous when they act out after the arrival of a new pet or baby. The Dog is not jealous at all. The Dog is establishing its place in the pack. Whatever odd behavior they are exhibiting is only because they are showing the new arrival that they rank higher, or in some case lower, than the new addition.

Some Dogs are naturally more aggressive than other Dogs. They will establish their order from the start. A common mistake of many Dog owners is trying to change the order to make it more fair and equal for the Dogs. A Dog does not care about fairness and equality; people care about fairness and equality. A Dog only cares that he maintains his rank and if he feels his rank is threatened, he will act out.

A less aggressive Dog that has been in the household for many years, may step aside to allow the new arrival to take the higher rank. This is fine among the Dogs, but sometimes a little hard for the owner of the Dogs to swallow.

Both Dogs need to establish that you are their pack leader and look to you for guidance through the initial adjustment stages but as long as your actions do not change towards the first Dog, rank will be established and boundaries will be drawn amongst the Dogs without your intervention.

A time that you may have problems with establishing rank is with Dogs of the same temperament. Sometimes Dogs that are equal to each other will fight for highest rank amongst themselves. If this happens, you may want to speak to someone experienced with this type of aggression to better help you deal with the situation.

Your status must be established early on to be successful in a healthy relationship with your Dog. You are the leader, not the Dog. If you make the common mistake of believing you are hurting your Dog's feelings by being persistent in correcting their behavior, you may take solace in the fact that you are not hurting their feelings. It is all a part of establishing your leadership in the pack.

The quicker you realize that the Dog does not really exhibit human emotions as we think they do, the sooner you will be able to move forward in establishing a healthy relationship with your Dog. Firm, but not overbearing is important. Mix the firmness with fairness, love and affection and you will establish your leadership and respect with the Dog.  

Separation Anxiety

Another type of psychological problem that is common among Dogs is separation anxiety.

Some Dogs have developed an unhealthy dependence on their owners and although there is no conclusive evidence as to why it happens with some Dogs and not others, there is evidence that indicates many of the Dogs that exhibit anxiety upon separation may have some similarities in their backgrounds.

Many factors could have contributed to this problem; some of the common factors would be separation from his mother at too young an age, or abuse by an owner. Whatever the underlying reasons may be, the problems caused by separation anxiety can be devastating to both you and your pet.

Many owners who have Dogs with separation anxiety are unable to leave their pets unattended for much time because they may come home to a destroyed home. Many of these Dogs will tear up objects or urinate on items in the home as a way of dealing with the anxiety of the separation. Other Dogs may excessively howl, bark or scratch at walls and doors, causing further damage, until their owner returns.

Before leaving for an extended amount of time, make sure you have dealt with problems that occur from separation anxiety before leaving.

Separation anxiety can be dealt with best by allowing the Dog to gain confidence in themselves. Basic training commands will help him gain some confidence and utilization of "his place" will offer him security while you are away.

Begin with short absences. Do not allow yourself to make more of your leaving by giving the Dog extra attention, and do not make more of your coming home. Your departure and arrival should be as uneventful as possible.

You may gradually extend your absences, but if your Dog still shows excessive signs of anxiety, medication may be required.

Your vet can prescribe anti-anxiety medications that will help your Dog when you are away. You may also want to check into alternative methods of daily Dog care, as described below. These facilities have proven to help ease the anxiety of separation in many Dogs. Many of these Dogs were able to stop using their medication after becoming adjusted to their new routine.

Alternative Options for Daily Dog Care

Did you know that Doggy Day Care" is now an alternative option for daily pet care? These facilities have gained a lot of popularity as of late with professionals who want to be Dog owners, but feel guilty about leaving their Dog at home all day by themselves because of the owners work schedule.

The "Doggy Day Care" provides an excellent avenue for being a Dog owner and not having to worry about the well being of your pet while you're working.

A "Doggy Day Care" center is usually exactly as it sounds. A daycare where your pet is free to play with other pets all day while you are away at work. They have sufficient indoor and outdoor exercise and the facilities screen pets for aggressive behavior and proper vaccinations prior to admittance to the facility.

The best part is that your Dog, through play, expends a lot of its excess energy which makes him a much happier pet while with you at home after your long day.

Many "Doggy Day Care" centers have increased their hours to permit overnight stays, accommodating overnight business trips. This turns the centers into a Daycare/Pet Resort. This is the best of both worlds for your Dog if it is an option. Not only do these Dogs get to spend their days with familiar faces, but also if the need arises for out of town business, the only alteration to the pets schedule is that you do not pick them up after work to take them home.

What to do With Your Pet When You Go Away

In today's society there are many more options for "boarding" your pet while you go away than ever before. You may board your Dog in a kennel, check her into a pet resort, hire a pet sitter to come in to your home, find a friend or relative that is willing to take her into their home, or enroll her in a doggy daycare.

All have their advantages and disadvantages and all really depend on the personality of your pet.

Dog kennels are the most popular choice and usually consist of a facility, licensed by the State that will board your pet in cages with sufficient food, water, and exercise.

Pet Resorts are a little more expensive than boarding kennels, but more amenities are included as part of their stay, so if you were planning on purchasing extra petting or exercise sessions at a kennel, the cost of the two may equal out.

Contrary to popular belief, most Dog sitters do not spend the night in your home. They check on your pets to make sure they have food and water and return to your home two to three times a day to walk your Dogs.

If you are lucky enough to have a friend or relative willing to take your pet while you are away, you are extremely lucky. This is the best of all worlds. Not only do you have someone who cares about your pet while you are away, you have someone you can check with anytime you may be worried about your four-legged friend. If this is an option for you, you may want to take advantage of the offer.

If you are choosing a place that will house other Dogs at the same time as yours, make sure they require proof of vaccination. If they do not require proof from you, then they are not requiring proof from other owners either. Your Dog could be at a considerable health risk by boarding in such facilities.

Traveling With Your Pet

If your pet is healthy and loves riding in a car, taking your pet with you may be an option. Many people now choose to take their Dog with them, instead of leaving them behind in a kennel with people they do not know.

Many motels and resorts have recognized this fact and now accommodate and cater to pet owners than in the past.

No more than ten days prior to your travel, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a general physical and an update on any shots your Dog may need prior to travel. Many areas of the country have higher risks of contracting certain diseases, such as Lyme disease, than other areas of the country, and non-core vaccinations may be appropriate for your final destination.

If your pet is not used to traveling, begin with shorter trips to get her accustomed to the feeling of the car. Many pets will become car sick when traveling. It is better to find out if yours is one of them before you leave on that trip.  One trick is ginger or green tea added to their food or water or in a pill form, it helps to settle their stomach.

Feed your pet lightly before traveling in your vehicle. This will reduce stomach upset, or at a minimum, reduce the amount of upset you see in your vehicle if she should happen to get sick. Once you reach your destination, it is okay to feed her a normal portion of her food.  In warm weather, use your air conditioner as much as possible. Keeping her cool will reduce her overall stress and keep her more comfortable.

She should be restrained while you are driving. Although she may love sticking her head out the window, it is not the safest idea in pet travel. There are many devices available today that allow you to restrain your pet safely if she is not crated while you are driving. It is a good idea to use one of them.

When you stop for a break, do not leave your Dog in the car alone or allow her to run free in the rest area. A car parked in the shade can still reach deadly temperatures inside and it is illegal to leave your pet unattended in the vehicle in some places. By leaving your pet unattended your pet may suffer heat stroke or death. They also may be the targets of a thief.

Many pets are lost quickly by allowing them to run free "for only a moment" while at a rest stop. Make sure your Dog is leashed at all times. It only takes a moment for them to get lost, or dart the wrong way and be injured by another car in the area. 

Conclusion

As a Dog owner, it is natural to want to give our Dogs the best of the best. These loving social creatures try so hard to please us that it is the very least we can do for them.

Being a Dog owner carries with it huge responsibilities and not everyone is cut out to sacrifice the time and effort needed to adequately care for and train a Dog. But for those of us who sacrifice the time and make the effort, we are rewarded greatly by the companionship, love, trust, and loyalty of our four-legged friend.

Now that you better understand your Dog and its needs, it is never too late to change your behavior so that you are better able to teach your Dogs what you expect.

It's a comfort to know that the Dog that rebounds endlessly off our walls with excessive energy is trying to tell us that it needs direction and discipline from us, their masters, as well as needs to know its place in the hierarchy of our homes. Understanding this better helps us deal with the problems caused by this type of behavior and enables us to begin taking steps to correct the problem the right way, with an idea of where to turn if we run into barriers along the way.

Dogs are forgiving and love unconditionally. If they can sense you are happy with them, they are happy with you.

Is the Labrador Retriever Right For You?

A. REQUIREMENTS OF THE LABRADOR RETRIEVER
If you've owned a Lab before, then you already know the answer to this question and can skip this section. For those who have not yet experienced the joy of sharing their homes with one, the following may answer some questions.
 

The pros: It is not by chance that the Labrador has become one of the most successful companion dogs in the world. Throughout its history, though interbreeding and diversity of type have taken place, three attributes of the original ancestors of the breed have persevered: the short, dense coat, the otter tail, and the good natured temperament. Even-tempered, utterly dependable with children, loyal, devoted, affectionate, highly trainable are just a few of the adjectives which describe Labs. For these reasons and many others, Labs are the favored breed as guides for the blind and helpers for the deaf and paralyzed.
Labs require very little maintenance in comparison to other breeds. Because they are a short coated breed, they require minimal grooming. They should be exercised regularly to maintain muscle tone and fitness (as they love to eat, if not exercised sufficiently they tend to pack on the pounds). Contrary to belief, they do not require a lot of open space to run around and can live quite comfortably in an apartment with frequent leash walks (though it is a treat for them to go on outings where they can safely be unleashed and allowed to play ball or go swimming). Owning your own home with a fenced-in yard just means there's less walking for you. The Lab is, after all, most happy when his owner whom he loves above anything else (except his food, maybe) is happy.


The cons: There are two negative features of the Lab that do not particularly trouble me but may be of consequence to others. The first is that Labs shed. The trait which made them desirable to the waterfowlers nearly 200 years ago owes its water repelling ability to the short, dense undercoat characteristic to the breed. The trait is still highly desirable and necessary, unfortunately, to some it may be a nuisance. If you perceive shedding to be unpardonable, then buy a terrier. Personally, I'd rather live with several companionable Labs all blowing their coats at once than live with one high-strung, unshedding terrier.
The second negative feature doesn't really affect the owner at all, but rather the dog itself. This is an intolerance to heat. This, of course, can be said of many other breeds particularly those bred to work under cold weather conditions. Labradors thrive in cool to cold weather, but during the summer special attention must be given to ensure that they do not become over-heated. Air conditioning is not a necessity, in fact, it isn't recommended since dogs do not acclimate well to extreme temperature changes (for example, relaxing in an air conditioned home in which the temperature may be equal to or less than 75o F, then having to go outside and relieve themselves where the temperature is higher than 85o F). A solution to prevent over-heating is to exercise Labs early in the day or late in the afternoon. Also, a reminder that fresh water should always be available.


B. ESTIMATING CARE COSTS
It is quite natural for the first-time-buyer to consider cost when selecting a puppy. There is nothing wrong with shopping around for the best buy, but low prices, or high prices for that matter, do not constitute the best deal. Probably the worse possible place to purchase a puppy is a pet store in the mall. The quality of the dog is atrocious, its health questionable, and the prices are absurd. Equally as bad are the so-called breeders who undercut prices in order to make a quick sale. Their usual scheme is quantity in place of quality, and they make up the difference with mass production and cut corners.
 

My best suggestion to prospective puppy owners is to shop around and compare. In this way, one will see the differences in breeders and what they breed. Study all aspects paying particular attention to the number of dogs that are kept on the premises, the appearance of these dogs (cleanliness, health, disposition), the environment in which they are kept. Of greater importance is the appearance of the dam of the litter (it is normal for the dam to sometimes lose her coat while caring for a litter, but she should not look weak, malnourished, or ill in any other way).
 

Why should one stress health and quality over price? The best way to answer this question is to estimate the cost of care for a Labrador as done below. An average Labrador's life span is 12 years. The estimate includes only the necessities and does not include any special health problems or injuries which would require medical attention and prescription medications. By studying the estimate it is clear that the initial price of a puppy is minimal compared to what one should expect to in the long run. Skimping on quality now may only cost one later down the road, both financially and emotionally.
 

Looking at the estimate one may also see why breeders must sell puppies and not give them away. A lot of time and money go into breeding. There is no profit if one does it correctly because every penny that is earned usually goes back into the care and maintenance of the dogs. So why breed? Every breeder of repute has a specific goal in mind when breeding. Usually it is to breed puppies that will be equal or superior to their parents overall. It is the breeder's desire to consistently produce the ideal specimen of the breed.
 

ESTIMATED CARE COSTS


I. Veterinary Costs:
Age Procedure Cost
5 weeks Parvo Vaccine Courtesy of Breeder
*6 weeks Puppy Shot- DA2PP+CVK/wormer/Heartworm preventive Courtesy of Breeder
7 weeks Kennel Cough Vaccine-Intra Trac II/ Eye examination Courtesy of Breeder
8 weeks Puppy Shot/wormer Courtesy of Breeder
9 weeks Kennel Cough Vaccine-Intra Trac II $8.00
*10 weeks Puppy Shot/wormer $35.00
12 weeks Puppy Shot/wormer $15.00
13 weeks Lyme Vaccine $15.00
*14 weeks Puppy/Adult Booster-DA2PP+CVK/LCI/wormer $35.00
15 weeks Lyme Vaccine $15.00
16 weeks Puppy Booster $10.00
*18 weeks Puppy Booster $30.00
*6 months Rabies Vaccine $30.00
 

II. Additional Veterinary Costs:
• Yearly Heartworm Testing (clinic) $20.00
• Yearly Heartworm Preventive(based on Heartgard prices) $58.00
• *Yearly Adult Booster $30.00
• *Rabies Booster (at 16 - 18 months then every 1, 2 or 3 yrs depending on vaccine used) $30.00
• ACVO eye exam (yearly) $35.00
• CERF registration fee: Initial $10 - (yearly) $7.50
• OFA X-rays $40.00
• Anesthesia $20.00
• OFA registration fee $20.00
 

III. Miscellaneous Costs:
• Yearly food cost $240.00
• Supplies (crate, leashes, dishes, shampoo, flea/tick preventives, grooming, etc.) $150.00+
Veterinary costs are based on AAHA accredited hospitals and clinics.
* Includes the average veterinarian examination fee and indicates the minimum requirements for preventive immunization.
 

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