You Got A Puppy Mill Dog – Now What?

Adopting and caring for a puppy is always a rewarding experience. In exchange for food, shelter, exercise, and regular veterinary care, your pet offers loyalty and companionship for the remainder of his life. Dogs that have lived in puppy mills, however, pose a unique challenge for owners. The treatment they received at the mill will likely have made them distrustful of people, and fearful of anything that is unfamiliar to them. Owners who adopt such dogs must take a few extra steps toward making them feel comfortable and secure in their new homes.

In this article, we’ll describe how puppies are treated in mills so you’ll understand the reasons such pups are hesitant and fearful of others. We’ll also describe the typical behaviors puppy mill dogs exhibit once they’re rescued. Lastly, we’ll provide a few suggestions for helping your puppy feel comfortable within your home.

Inside A Puppy Mill

Puppies are treated poorly in mills. Their physical and mental health take a back seat to revenue. The mill generates this revenue by breeding the pups in their care. But there is a key difference between the breeding activity that takes place in a mill, and that which is done by professional breeders.

Professional breeders do everything possible to minimize genetic problems in the puppies they breed. Mills take no such precautions. Instead, they breed pups without consideration for the likelihood that defects may pass to the litters. For this reason, many of the puppies born from this process are saddled with eye, dental, and joint problems.

The pups at the mill are usually housed in overcrowded pens. The living conditions are often dirty to the point of being unhygienic. Moreover, the dogs seldom receive the basic essentials they need to stay physically and mentally healthy. They rarely see the sun, or have access to a constant source of clean air.

When a puppy is adopted from a mill, the transition to a “normal” life can be jarring to him. You may notice behaviors in him during the first few days in your home that seem odd.

Establishing His Personal Den

Keep in mind that everything is new and potentially frightening to your new pet. When you bring him into your home, he may appear especially hesitant. This is because he has lived with fear his entire life. He has learned to dread the unfamiliar.

First, establish a room – or part of a room – as his personal den. Place bowls for food and water in this area along with newspapers on which he can urinate and defecate. Having an area to himself will make him feel safe, and slowly build his confidence.

Second, after a week has passed, begin acclimating him to a collar and leash. Place both on him for short periods, and let him drag the lead as he roams throughout your home. This will help him become accustomed to the feel, and prepare him for going on walks.

Minimizing Fear And Stress

Because your puppy’s exposure to the outside world was so limited while he was at the mill, he may be easily startled by unfamiliar noises. For example, the sound made by a vacuum cleaner may frighten him. A toaster, television, and blow dryer may also cause him stress. Desensitization training will prove invaluable for helping him become used to hearing these sounds. This type of training takes time and requires patience. But it’s the most effective way to minimize your puppy’s fear and stress of routine noises that occur in your household.

Once your dog begins to feel safe and secure within your home, he’ll explore on his own. He’ll start to peek into other rooms to discover what lies beyond the confines of his personal den. Over time, he’ll gain confidence regarding his place within your life, and look to you as his best friend.

Is Your Dog Bored?

Many of the annoying habits dogs display are due to boredom. Chewing, barking, improper elimination, jumping, and even aggression can be traced to a lack of mental stimulation. This often happens when owners leave their pets home all day by themselves. If dogs have nothing with which to occupy their time, they become bored, and look for alternative ways to entertain themselves. This can lead to a host of behavioral problems.

The key is to prevent your canine from becoming bored in the first place. We’ll offer a few suggestions in this article. The following tips will not only curb your pet’s boredom, but will also make him a more pleasant companion.

Provide Plenty Of Stimulating Toys

Toys give your pet something with which to play while he’s alone. There are many different types of dog toys, and they serve different purposes. For example, chew toys are designed to withstand vigorous chewing, which dogs find stimulating. Other toys offer puzzles for dogs to solve, forcing them to use their minds. Still others combine puzzles with treats; if your pet is able to solve the puzzle, the toy will release a small treat as a reward.

These toys stimulate your dog’s mind. In doing so, they give him something on which to focus his attention, and thus help him stave off boredom.

Teach Him New Commands

When you teach your dog to respond to new commands, you’re engaging his mind. He’s forced to focus and learn something that is new to him. He needs to think ahead to respond quickly and appropriately. Many dogs consider this a welcome challenge, and will strive to respond in the way their owners desire. If you provide your pet’s favorite treats as a reward, he’ll be engaged in multiple ways.

You can also enroll him into professional obedience classes, or specific training courses. Most obedience classes will include activities that work your canine’s body and brain. Training courses can vary from therapy training, dog agility classes, and Search and Rescue (SAR) classes. These, too, stimulate your dog’s mind as well as his body.

Give Him Exercise

One of the best ways to stop your pet’s boredom is to provide him an outlet for exercise each day. A daily 20-minute walk is helpful. Two daily walks is better. The benefit of exercise is that it gives your canine an opportunity to expend the energy that builds within him. It also engages his mind since he’ll be able to enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents of his neighborhood.

Some of us do not always have the time to take our dog for a walk. Sometimes, the weather does not allow us to go out with our dog. In these situations, what can you do? Believe it or not, dog treadmills have become very popular with a lot of dog owners. Treadmills are especially popular with urban pet owners and people with very hectic schedules.

The amount of exercise your dog needs depends largely on his normal activity level. He may be content to sit around the house all day. Or, if he is naturally energetic, he may need more daily activity to keep the boredom away.

Provide Opportunities To Socialize

Owners often forget that dogs enjoy the company of their own kind. Interacting and playing with other digs is both fun and stimulating for them. For this reason, consider meeting other owners to schedule play dates for your respective pets. You can also visit dog parks where your pet can socialize and play with others while you mingle with the other owners.

If you’re away during the day, and unable to provide an outlet for socialization, dog daycare may be a good solution. It works in the same manner as daycare for young kids. You can drop your pooch off on the way to the office, and pick him up on the way home. He’ll have a chance to interact with other canines while you’re at work.

There are plenty of ways you can help your dog keep boredom at bay. The suggestions above will engage his mind, and prevent many of the most common behavioral problems from emerging.

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How To Keep Your Pet Healthy

The family pet is an important part of American homes, often just like part of the family itself. Of course, we don’t go to the extent of inviting our pets over to the dining table, but our love for them is very clear. Keeping our pets healthy is a top priority, given how much we care for them. Here are a few steps to help you make sure that your pets enjoy long and fruitful lives.

Make sure to annually vaccinate your pets. Despite this, a lot of pet owners are declining vaccines due to the safety issues involved. That still shouldn’t stop you from having your pets vaccinated, as it may help them avoid contracting certain deadly diseases like the canine parvovirus. You can protect your pets from these diseases with a standard vaccination, and save money in the long run – they can be very expensive to treat otherwise. The standard costs for treatment can often go over $1,000, including the costs of hospitalization and medicine. Vaccines cost much less than that.

The next thing to consider is dental care. Make sure you have your pets’ dental check-ups scheduled on a regular basis. Dogs that regularly get fed human food are especially in need of regular dental care. Do not take this lightly as liver, heart and kidney diseases can easily set in if your pets’ teeth aren’t well maintained. In fact, there are studies that show that 80% of all pets over three years old have some form of dental disease. It may not really sound like fun, but brushing our pets’ teeth can greatly reduce the risk of dental disease and other health issues in our pets. For our pets’ teeth, preventive measures are just as important.

Finally, we need to carefully monitor our pets’ weight and diet. Usually, monitoring our pets’ diet and making sure it is balanced is the best preventive measure. Choosing a good brand of pet food can help set us in the right path as pet owners to prevent obesity in our pets. Overweight pets may seem cute on the surface, but be aware that an overweight or obese pet can develop serious health problems. Among the health problems an overweight pet can acquire are joint pain and arthritis, as well as cardiovascular issues. A dog treadmill can be an excellent way to exercise your pet if the weather is bad or you live in an unsafe area.

Identifying Different Types Of Canine Aggression

Dog Training ProductsOf all dog behavioral issues, aggression is the one that most frustrates owners. It is very common, though canines display signs for very different reasons. Many owners observe hostile behavior in their pets, but are unaware regarding its trigger. Consequently, they are uncertain about how to respond.

First, it’s important to realize that aggressive behavior is natural to dogs. Though most are domesticated, they remain pack animals, and perceive the world around them accordingly.

Second, in order to properly address hostility in your canine, you must first be able to identify the different types of aggression. Once you can determine the trigger, you’ll be better prepared to “cure” the problem.

With this in mind, we’ll provide a brief overview of the most common reasons dogs become antagonistic. The following descriptions will offer a springboard from which you can remedy the problem.

Protect The Family

As pack animals, canines have traditionally protected those within their group from assailants. If an intruder threatens one member, the others will respond quickly to protect him or her.

In your home, your dog considers you and your family to be members of his “pack.” If he feels you, your family, or other pets under your roof are threatened by a perceived attacker, he will behave aggressively to warn the attacker away. The problem is, many canines become overly-protective, and consider any person outside their “pack” to represent a potential threat.

Protect The Home

Similar to guarding their families, dogs also guard their territories. If an intruder approaches their den, they will respond with hostility to discourage that person or animal from coming closer.

Your canine considers your home to be his den, and will respond aggressively to any person or animal he feels to be a threat. Here, too, he may become overly-protective of his home. If he does, he will treat everybody aggressively, even those you consider friends. Interestingly, this type of aggression is very rare in puppies since they have not yet learned to protect their “dens.”

Stemming From Fear

Canines react to elements that frighten them in the same way as humans: they retreat. However, if retreat is not an option, they will fight. In the wild, if a pair of wolves approach a dog, the dog will initially seek a path that provides him an escape route. If, however, such a path is unavailable, he will turn to face the wolves, despite his fear.

Fear aggression is dangerous. If a person unwittingly corners a canine, that person risks being bitten. Thus, always provide an unfamiliar dog a route through which he can escape.

Guard Possessions

Dogs are hard-wired to protect their possessions. While this trait stems from the need to fight for food outside the human-canine relationship, it has carried over to today’s pets. For example, when a person or animal approaches a dog’s food bowl, he may bare his teeth and growl to communicate his ownership.

Within your home, your canine may express possessive behavior over his food, toys, and even the area in which he likes to rest. This may become a problem if visitors – either people or animals – stumble upon your pet’s possessions without realizing they have done so.

Hierarchical Order

Dogs have always functioned within groups according to their understanding of their pack’s hierarchy. As long as they know – and accept – those ranked above and below them, there is minimal conflict. Conflict arises when there is a bid for authority within the group.

This latter problem occasionally happens between canines and their owners, families, and other pets. The dog will compete for authority, and act aggressively when others confront him.

Canine aggression can only be addressed successfully after the behavior’s trigger has been identified. If you’re having difficulty doing so, consider working with your veterinarian or a professional trainer.

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Does Your Dog Chase Cars?

Dogs chasing cars and proper dog trainingSome dogs love to chase cars. Unfortunately, this often leads to their injury or death. In some cases, they chase an automobile until it stops, at which point they run into its back end, and damage their spine. In other cases, they get hit by another car.

Another problem is that drivers who see dogs lunging into the street are likely to brake quickly, or swerve into oncoming traffic. This poses a serious danger to other drivers and pedestrians.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the reasons dogs chase vehicles. If you’re able to pinpoint the trigger, you’ll be more effective in curbing the tendency. We’ll then offer a few suggestions for discouraging the behavior in your pooch.

Understanding Why Dogs Chase Cars

Your dog is a natural predator, even if he doesn’t seem so. This can manifest in different ways. For example, if given the opportunity, he’ll stalk and chase small rodents. If he happens to corner one, he’ll rarely follow through in harming it. The reason? Because stalking his prey is a game for him. He has no intention of harming or killing the rodent.

The same is true when your dog chases people riding bicycles, kids on skateboards, or even other pets. It is the mark of normal, happy, and well-balanced socializing with others.

There are a few breeds that have a stronger predatorial sense than most. For them, the act of stalking and catching their prey is not a game. If they catch their prey, there is a good chance they will kill it. While this level of stalking is rarely directed toward vehicles, it is possible. It is also difficult to control.

Even though chasing cars comes naturally to a dog, the tendency can be discouraged before it becomes a problem. The key is addressing the behavior as early as possible.

Preventing The Problem Before It Starts

When your dog first shows signs of interest in passing vehicles, immediately call his name to capture his attention. Once he looks at you, and keeps his eyes on you, praise him and give him a treat. This trains him to understand that ignoring traffic and giving you his attention when you call results in a positive outcome. This will prove invaluable if you accidentally release his leash while traffic is passing nearby.

One of the best ways to make sure your dog does not chase cars, even if your are not there to correct him, is to get either an underground dog fence or a wireless pet fence.

An underground or wireless dog fence will contain your dog without the cost of unsightly wood or chain link fencing. These Dog Fences are easy to install and after a few training sessions, your dog will never run away again.

Curbing An Existing Tendency To Chase

If your dog has already developed a habit of chasing cars, you’ll need to first test his ability to come when you call him. This is critical. Everything revolves around his perception that you are the priority. Start by testing him in a quiet environment with no distractions.

After he consistently responds to your commands, take him to a park or similar setting that offers distractions without the danger of traffic. This will teach him to ignore other things, and focus his attention on you.

Next, test his ability to focus near semi-busy streets. Make sure you keep a tight hold on his leash to prevent him from bolting into traffic. Many dogs will respond consistently to their owners at home or at a park, but will lose their focus when presented with the opportunity to chase a car. Be wary.

Many dog have been injured or killed as the result of chasing vehicles. Train your dog to ignore traffic, and listen to your voice. It may one day save his life.

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