Dogs generally don’t like change, and a new strange family member is the biggest change that could happen to them. Changes in the new mother’s appearance, smell, mood and behaviour, a sudden drop in attention available for the dog, countless visitors, sleepless nights and other disturbances to the usual way of life are all sources of stress for the dog. Any behavioural issues will likely be made worse by the stress, and you can expect new problems emerging. I will share a few practical tips on how to prepare for your baby’s arrival as a dog owner.
Last week Milo had to endure yet another house move. He changed countries three times during the seven and half years of his life, and this move was his fifth house move. Despite being used to it, Milo hates moving. It seems that it isn’t the prospect of a new place that annoys him (after all, I don’t think he actually knows about our plans for a new home), but rather the whole process of packing, moving and disassembling furniture, things disappearing from their usual places and, no doubt, our stress. Milo’s way of expressing anxiety and frustration is stealing and guarding various things. In addition, his allergy always flares up when he is stressed.
A few days ago we received a letter from the local council stating that someone has complained about dog barking. To say that we were shocked is not enough. Milo is never left alone for long periods of time except for the two days this year, when we had to leave him for the whole day. The only people, who could have complained, are our upstairs neighbours. When we asked them about it, they said that they were concerned for Milo’s well-being, because he barked almost every day for 10-15 minutes at a time. I’m not going to share my annoyance with the fact that they failed to tell us first. After all, how on earth could we know that he barks, when we’re not home? Moreover, I seriously doubt, that Milo actually barks that often. Next day after we received the letter, we installed a web-cam. I was on holiday for a few days, and Milo was home alone, while my husband was at work. We haven’t seen or hear him bark once. He was sleeping like a log on the sofa, which is pretty much his favourite pastime. Anyway I’m going to share a few tips on how to make your dog comfortable while you’re gone. From now on, I will make sure that I stick to them myself, although being home alone had never been an issue for Milo before.
We love travelling. Milo, however, is not the biggest fan of it. Although Milo is used to transatlantic flights and long road trips, today we prefer to leave him in the kennels. Sometimes, we take him with us on short weekend breaks, but taking a dog on a plane is too much of a hassle, especially, when travelling to and from England. Milo has been to a number of pet resorts in England, in Russia and in America. I decided to share my experience in choosing kennels. So, how to choose a pets’ hotel?
Just like people dogs vary in their threshold of what kind of touch they consider appropriate. A dog’s reaction to being touched can range from joy and relaxation to growling and biting and everything else in between. Teaching your dog to be comfortable with touch will make trips to the vets, bathing time and other necessary activities less stressful. Moreover, a dog that has serious body guarding issues can be a threat to your safety. There are a couple of things that you can do to teach your dog to accept and enjoy being touched.
Trainer Trisha’s post made me think about the things I have learnt about dog training. I was lucky to begin my journey into dog training, when the harsh and often cruel methods were no longer taught. I wanted to write “no longer used”, but it is not true. Choke collars are still being sold, and I still hear about people giving advice based on the old-fashioned ideas of hierarchy and “what wolves do”. I often face the challenge of persuading the owners that their relationship with their dogs should not involve concepts like “domination” and “punishment”. Relationship with a dog is about leadership and guidance, not dictatorship and competition for the “alpha-male” status. Would you really compete with a creature that is, let’s be honest, intellectually inferior to you? Our dogs look up to us. They want to please us and make us happy, because it makes them happy.
The most important thing that I have learnt is that dogs don’t misbehave, because they want to be mean. They misbehave, because we taught them so.
I have mentioned that Milo’s behavioural problems are to the most part a result of these old-school methods such as choke collars and severe punishment. I didn’t know then, but when I look back at what was going on, I feel terribly sorry for him. He lost his trust in people almost completely and it took us a long time to earn it back. Although he still has some bad habits learnt back then, Milo is the most affectionate and loving dog. Every time he shows his trust and confidence in us, I am sincerely flattered and amazed. I am greatly touched, when he lets us clean his ears, when he asks for help and when he is worried, if he lost sight of us during walks. I think: “Wow, how did I manage to earn it?”.
After all, this feeling of being needed, trusted and loved is the very reason why we want a dog companion, isn’t?
Dogs are extremely conservative. They prefer to stick to their set routine: to take a walk at a certain time, to perform the same dance before each dinner, to sleep in certain places of the house every day… On one hand, dogs are resilient and adaptive, and, probably, this is why they have been our companions for thousands of years. However, they are not as flexible as people. Dogs adapt to change, but they seek stability and consistent routine. Lack of consistency is exactly what caused the majority of behavioural issues. If a dog doesn’t know what to expect and what is expected, because the rules are changing from day to day, he feels insecure. If people fail to set boundaries and consistent rules for the family, the dog will take on this responsibility. The trouble comes from the fact that the dog’s idea of proper rules and boundaries is not what people would consider suitable. Hence, growling, snapping, guarding, battles for sofas and armchairs, terrorized children and pulled backs and shoulders resulting from being dragged on a leash.
The solution comes from the same source as the issue. Continue reading