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Your best friend  - ARF's blog for all things animal!


Welcome to our ARF blog! Check in for animal rescue news, animal care, training advice and much much more.

By Ali, Oct 22 2014 03:00PM

Crate training (also called kennel training) is an important tool for training your new puppy. Many times adopters will be resistant to this idea because it seems "mean" to lock your cuddly new puppy in a cage. But, when done properly, crate training can be a wonderful, positive tool!

Crate training is especially important tool for housebreaking a new puppy but many owners do not purchase the proper size kennel. A crate should be just big enough for your puppy or dog to lay down and turn around. A properly sized kennel will deter a young pup from going to the bathroom since his or her only option would be to potty on his bed! Many crates come with a moveable panel that allows you to adjust the kennel to the perfect size for a growing pup.

Of course, these crated periods must be appropriately timed with the age of your puppy. No 8 week old puppy will be able to keep a clean kennel the entire day while you are at work. But, if you're busy cooking dinner, your puppy should be able to hold it while in his crate. When you take him out of his crate, carry him immediately outside to the place where you'd like him to potty. Carrying your new pup from crate to outdoor potty area prevents him from "messing up" on the way. As he gets older and has the ability to hold it longer and more reliably, he'll be able to walk himself and wait until he's at his designated potty area. Most people find crate training greatly improves the housebreaking process.

Crate training also keeps your puppy from getting into inappropriate items. Puppies explore the world with their mouths! Sharp little puppy teeth can quickly destroy a favorite pair of shoes. And, there's always the worry that puppy will actually ingest items that can cause dangerous and sometimes fatal blockages. Some people like to gate off a small area like a bathroom or a laundry room as puppy's area for when he's unattended. But, take it from us, puppies can eat door moulding or tear up a vinvyl floor faster than you'd ever dream. A crate provides a nice, safe "den" for your pup.

If you focus on making the crate a pleasant experience, your puppy's crate will soon become his favorite spot. Feeding meals inside the kennel and giving special toys during crating periods will help your puppy learn to love his kennel. With enough positive reinforcement, you'll soon see your puppy crawling off to his kennel voluntarily to take a nap! When your house gets crowded and your puppy is overwhelmed, the crate also provides a safe, secure spot for your puppy to go to relax. Dogs and people all need their own space from time to time and your puppy will thank you for carving out a little spot just for him.

The crate should never be used as punishment either or you'll undo all your hard work! If you catch your puppy going potty on the rug, scold him with a firm no and then quickly take him to the proper potty spot and give lots of praise. When you return inside, return to your regular activities. Even if raising kids and puppies has some remarkable overlaps, puppies won't understand the concept of a "time out" for being bad so resist the urge to use the crate for this reason.

Crate training will give you a lot of flexibility. If you have a repairman over at the house, it is nice to be able to secure Rex in his kennel so you don't have to worry about him accidentally being let out the front door. If you plan to travel, crating is an excellent tool if you want to travel with Rex to hotels or visit friends and familiy. If you need to leave him at a boarding facility, Rex will enjoy the experience a lot more if he's used to a crate!

Crate training can have some ups and downs. In future posts, we'll cover some common problems and advice on crate training older dogs!

By Ali, Oct 16 2014 01:00PM

Socialization is an important process for dogs of all ages. Whether you're bringing home an impressionable 8 week old puppy or a slightly nervous adult dog, socialization should be a top priority.

Socializing your puppy or dog should include a broad range of experiences This means exposing your dog to other people, animals and places.

Socialization with other people is easy! Inform guests about your new addition and leave a bowl of treats on the front porch. Ask guest to grab one to give your pup when they enter your house. Puppies and adult dogs alike will benefit from the constant reinforcement that people are wonderful creatures that bring yummy treats.

Young puppies should be willing to accept new people that are presented in this type of positive manner. Make sure you include all types of people - tall, short, male, female, young, old, with beards, wearing hats, etc.

If your young job shows any fear or apprehension, ask your guest to sit down (less threatening) and you, the owner, praise him when he approaches your guest. If he fully approaches your guest, reward him with a treat!

With older dogs, some people are afraid that "you can't teach an old dog new tricks". This couldn't be farther from the truth. While an adult dog may not be as willing to accept new experiences as a puppy, gentle encouragement and rewards will still do wonders.

Take for example my rescue dog Parker. He was found under a bush and very timid. He spent his first few months hiding under our coffee table when anyone new would enter the house. slowly but surely he made progress. Once guests entered the house and settled in, he would come out and approach people sitting on the couch. I always softly praised him or let our guest give him treats. Fast forward 7 years, he's extremely well adjusted and easily approaches new guests in my home! In fact, I've almost forgotten about his timid start because he's so outgoing. Now he acts like guests are here just to see him!

The key to socialization is to keep the experiences positive. Never force your puppy or dog to interact with people if he is shy or fearful. With the right encouragement, you'll be able to take baby steps towards acclimating him to that particular person or experience.

Even with the best socialization, some dogs will have quirks! After all, they have individual personalities just like people, so don't be discouraged if your dog just always seems a little wary of people in hats. The key is that you've identified this quirk so you can also mitigate the problem.

And, puppy owners take note, socialization should be a LIFETIME process. Often times new pet owners will dedicate a lot of time to socialization in the first few months but become more relaxed in this area as time passes. A well socialized puppy can easily become an unsocialized dog if he's kept at home and only interacts with family members during adulthood.

During the first year of life, aim for socialization exercises at least every other day! Into adultood, try to plan a socialization activity each week. Socialization activities can be fun for humans too! Try taking a walk in a new place, a shopping trip to a dog friendly store or lunch at a restaurant with a dog friendly patio dining area!

By Ali, Oct 4 2014 03:00PM

Congrats! You've decided to take the plunge and adopt a puppy. Puppies are a big responsibility but also very rewarding. Keeping your new best friend healthy needs to be your number one priority because puppies lack fully developed immune systems and are susceptible to many diseases.

Want to keep little Rover healthy as can be? Follow these easy step:

1. Complete all puppy shots! Puppies usually begin vaccinations around 8 weeks old and have 3-4 sets of vaccinations spaced every 2-3 weeks. Each vet may have slightly different vaccination schedules depending on a variety of factors but they generally fall within these guidelines. All puppies adopted from ARF have all age appropriate vaccinations. We will not adopt out puppies until they've had some vaccinations but depending on the age of the pup you adopt, you may need to follow up with your vet to complete the vaccination series.

2. Feed premium food! You know the old saying, you are what you eat. Good premium kibble contains mostly meat and healthy whole grains and skips the fillers, dyes and preservatives that are common in cheaper, grocery store brands. And "premium" doesn't have to mean costly. Many pet stores and feed and seed type stores carry good quality food that won't break the bank.

3. Keep your puppy away from public places where unvaccinated dogs may frequent. Socialization is important but you also need to protect your puppy's health until their vaccinations "kick in". Discuss the appropriate timeline with your vet.

4. Buy heartworm preventative! Most puppies can begin heartworm preventative when they're old enough to begin vaccinations. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and we all know how common those pests are in the deep South! An unprotected dog is highly likely to get heartworms so discuss starting heartworm prevention right away. Heartworms are dangerous to your dog's health, very costly to treat and do irreversible damage so prevention is key! Heartworm preventatives are relatively cheap and most are given monthly. Most importantly, they are extremely effective so if you start your puppy right away and continue his treatment year round, you should easily be able to protect your pup from getting this terrible parasite.

5. Get good flea protection! Fleas are more than just a nuisance. Fleas are the source of parasites like tapeworms and some dogs are extremely allergic to flea bites. In an allergic dog, the reaction quickly escalates from a single itchy bite to a full blown rash and constant chewing on the tail and hind quarters, often to the point where no hair remains. But, don't just use that generic over the counter stuff from the discount store. Many flea preventatives can be toxic to puppies, so consult with your vet to make sure your pup is old enough to begin treatment and discuss your options. Many newer generation topicals and pills exist that are easier to administer, safer and more effective.

Follow these simple steps and you'll be well on your way to having a happy healthy furry best friend!

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