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September 18, 2011 at 3:43 PMComments: 3 Faves: 0

Five Tips for Developing a Healthy Relationship with Your Dog

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

Do these five things to build a healthy relationship with your new dog.

1. Have your dog spayed or neutered.

If you have been reading my blogs, you know by now that I am a HUGE advocate for spaying and neutering all pets. Here are the facts and reasons to why this is so important.

Here are some of the benefits of spaying/neutering:

  • Get rid of a female's heat cycles, so males will not be as attracted to her.
  • Lessen a male's likelihood of spraying and marking.
  • Reduce a female's risk of mammary gland tumors as well as ovarian or uterine cancer (it helps to do this before the first heat cycle).
  • Remove a male's risk of testicular cancer, and lower the possibility of prostate disease.
  • Minimize his or her desire to roam.
  • Eliminate the risk of unwanted babies.
  • Decrease his or her aggressive behavior.
  • Help him or her live a longer, healthier life.

2. Socialize, socialize, socialize.

What do they say in real estate? It is all about location, location, location, right? Well, in the dog world, it is all about socialization, socialization, and well socialization! Take your dog with you as much as possible. Visit pet stores, outdoor cafe's, dog parks, regular parks, and busy city streets. Have your dog meet as many different people as possible. Expose your dog to noises such as train and traffic sounds. Your dog should meet over 100 different dogs and over 300 different people by the time they are 6 months old.Doing this helps to prevent issues such as aggression or fear towards different environments and people.

Never leave your dog in your car unattended during the summer or winter seasons. If it is 80 degrees outside, a car can get up to 120 degrees in 30 minutes (even with the window is open a crack!). In winter, the inside of your car can get as frigid as an ice box in 30 minutes. A dog wouldn't last long in conditions like that.

3. Establish a feeding schedule.

A feeding schedule helps with potty training and other issues. It also helps establish who is in charge. Your dog loves food, so maintaining control of it helps establish you as the boss.

Here are some tips for establishing a feeding schedule:

  • Allow only 20-30 minutes for eating.
  • Tell your dog to "Sit" or "Stay." Your dog should wait patiently until food is on the ground before he goes ahead and eats. If your dog does NOT hold the "Sit" or "Stay" command, pull the food away, redirect them, and try again. Do this until your dog obeys your command.
  • For a new puppy spend the first 2 months placing your hand in his dish while he eats. Do this during at least one meal during the day. Every family member should participate, because this training will help prevent the dog from developing food aggression.
  • Feed your puppy 3 times per day until he is 1 year old.

4. Take a walk.

Walking your dog daily helps prevent boredom, allows him to explore, and gives him exercise.

Here are some tips for making your walk enjoyable:

  • Take a walk at least ONCE per day for at least 30 minutes.
  • Use a gentle leader harness or head collar if your dog pulls.
  • Start by holding leash in your hand without moving. If your dog pulls, just stay still; do not reel him back to you or call him by his name.
  • Reward your dog once he looks back to you or returns to you.
  • Walk. Give a command so your dog knows what you want him to do. For example, "let's go," means it's time to proceed walking. Take a step. If your dog dashes forward and tugs, stop and wait. Use the walk as the dog';s reward.
  • Teach your dog to stop at corners.

5. Teach your dog to come to you.

Even if you don't want to teach your dog commands, consider teaching him the "come" command. It is referred to as the life saving command.

First, NEVER call your dog to come to you for something negative such as taking medicine, giving your dog a bath (if your dog hates water), or any type of punishment.

Here are some tips to teach your dog to come to you:

  • Say "come" or "here." If he refuses to respond, try a different word.
  • Play games where you can practice this command (see below). In every room and outside (make sure dog is tied up when practicing outside). Every time you call your dog to you, give him a treat. Then, gently grab his collar, so he can respond appropriately in an emergency.

Here are some games:

  • Monkey in the Middle: Start with your dog between you and a friend. Take turns telling him to "come." Reward him with a treat and take a step back. This teaches your dog to come back to you from long distance
  • Chase Me: NEVER chase your dog. Instead, have your dog chase you. Hold a treat up to your dogs nose and tell him to "come, come, come," while running away. Your dog will chase you. Run a few steps; then stop and reward your dog with the treat from your hand. This works great if your dog ends up escaping. Call "come, come, come," and run the opposite way. Your dog, having learned to chase you, will be eager to play and run after you instead of away.
  • Hide and Seek: have each family member hide in a room. One at a time, have each of you call the dog to come. Once your dog finds you, reward him with a treat, and repeat the game. This teaches your dog to follow voice commands - not only visual ones.

Follow these tips, and you will have a stronger, closer relationship with your dog.

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  • This is some great advice, thanks. All of the dogs that I have trained or help train have been trained to "come" at an early age and getting your puppy to chase you as you described is a great way to instill this behavior. There's nothing more stressful than dealing with a dog who will bolt every chance they get.

  • I really like those suggestions on teaching your dog to "come" as it's a problem we have! We're definitely trying the hide and seek method.

  • Glad to hear that you both find these tips helpful! Good Luck with the training and always always keep it fun and positive with your dog :)

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