Category Archives: Living With Your Dog

Adopting a Dog

If you are thinking of adding a dog to your family, consider adopting your new best friend from an animal shelter or humane society. You’ll not only get a good feeling from helping a homeless pet, you’ll get an outstanding companion. The staff at these organizations carefully check the animals for sound health and good temperament. In addition, some shelter animals have had the benefit of training to develop good manners while they waited for a new home.

Through no fault of their own, a lot of great dogs wind up in animal shelters hoping for a second chance at happiness. People relinquish their pets to shelters when they are no longer able to care for them. Sometimes this is because the owner was unprepared for the responsibility that comes with caring for a dog. Often, however, caring owners struggling with life-changes or trying to cope with family tragedy realize their pet would be better off with someone else. They bring them to the shelter because they know the animal will be well cared for and placed in an excellent home.

You can find just about any age, size and breed of dog at an animal shelter. Often, people underestimate how difficult it is to care for a litter of puppies, and turn them over to the shelter to raise and adopt out. In other cases, young dogs are relinquished because their previous owners didn’t have the time to provide regular exercise for the pup. So, if you have your mind set on a puppy, a shelter is a good place to look. However, if you would like a more mature dog that is likely already housebroken, you’ll find these kinds of canines at a humane society or animal center.

Upon arrival, shelter staff carefully evaluates each animal for physical and behavioral soundness. They make note of quirks, and work with specialists to eliminate negative behaviors. Most shelters have adoption counselors who interview potential adopters to understand their needs and lifestyle so they can make the perfect match.

Bringing your newly adopted dog home is exciting for you, but may be a little overwhelming for her. Keep her on a leash as you take her from room to room, giving her plenty of opportunity to sniff. You may want the first stop on your tour to be the backyard or wherever you want her to relieve herself. The excitement of a car ride and coming to a new place can give her the need to empty her bowels or bladder.

Dogs are creatures of habit, so the sooner you establish a firm routine, the more comfortable your new dog will become. Always feed her in the same spot and at about the same time each morning. You’ll find she grows to anticipate “what comes next.” For example, if you always feed her after you bring in the newspaper, you’ll notice she becomes very excited when you open the door to step outside. Dogs catch on quickly.

ANAL GLANDS – Understanding them

Each Anal Gland constantly produces a secretion with a pungent odor unique to your dog. Along with urine, the anal secretion is in fact, your dog’s “odor signature” to other dogs.

Dogs, being scent orientated, identify each other by their sense of smell. Dogs will “mark their territory” with urine, which usually does not change much in odor. Because the stool’s odor varies with diet, the anal gland secretes a small amount of fluid on the stool with each normal bowel movement, marking it with the dog’s “odor signature.”

The Anal Gland is an active working gland located just below and slightly outside the anus. In most dogs, the anal gland is self-cleaning, and does not require routine cleaning.

Dog care information anal glands absessed anal gland ruptured anal gland understanding How to express a dog's anal glands veterinary emergency diarrhea and soft stools Acidophilus secretion normal bowel movement DietOccasionally the glands can get clogged or blocked, causing the dog to lick at its anus or drag its rear across the floor or ground. Sometimes these actions will empty the anal gland. If the gland remains clogged, it can become infected very quickly, abscess, and can even rupture. An absessed anal gland or ruptured anal gland is a veterinary emergency.

Diet plays an important role in maintaining a healthy anal gland. Since it is the pressure applied by a normal, solid bowel movement that expresses the gland, diarrhea and soft stools may not apply enough pressure to completely empty it. If your dog has a repeating problem, you need to adjust its diet to eliminate diarrhea and soft stools. Finding a dog food that your dog can digest easily, and then staying with that food, will insure firm stools, reducing problems with the anal gland.

If your dog’s gland is overactive or you can not control the problem, then you can learn how to express the anal gland at home. Checking your dog’s anal gland is an important part of caring for your pet, is easy to learn and can save you hundreds of dollars in vet bills.

Routinely cleaning a healthy anal gland has no benefit and can actually cause harm by disturbing the natural balance of the secretions or by causing irritation. If your dog has a persistent problem, we recommend you talk to your veterinarian. If it is ruptured or appears infected seek immediate veterinary help.

How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

What to have on hand: You will need a nail trimmer designed for pets (DO NOT USE CLIPPERS DESIGNED FOR PEOPLE), and a nail file to trim the nails. You should also have a “blood-stop” or styptic product handy incase you trim a nail too short. You may also need a warm, wet cloth and a small scissors to clean the feet.

Inspect the nails and feet: Before clipping nails, make sure the entire foot is healthy and clean. Inspect the area between the toes, pads and at the base of the nails for dirt. debris and matted hair.
Matting between the toes and padding can pull on the skin and cause pain while you work with the feet. Removing any matting will add comfort to the foot. Remove any matting between the toes and pads with a small scissors, being very careful not to nick the skin or pads.
Clean any dirt from inbetween the toes and pads and at the base of the nail with a warm, wet cloth or cotton.

Where to cut: trimming dogs nailsWithin the center of each toenail is the blood and nerve supply for the nail called the “quick.” Cutting into this area will cause bleeding and pain. In white nails you can see the vein or “quick.” It looks like a pinkish area in the middle of the nail. You want to cut outside this area leaving a little room at the end of the nail.
In dark nails, the quick is not visible, making them more difficult to trim without cutting into the quick. Cut dark nails in several small cuts to reduce the chance of cutting into the quick.

Clipping your dog’s nails: Begin by spreading each of his toes. Using a sharp guillotine-type nail clipper, hold the clipper with the face plate and screw towar the dog’s toe as in the figure here. Cut off the tip of each nail on a 45-degree angle, just before the point where it begins to curve. If you cannot visualize the quick, trim very thin slices off the end of the nail until you see a black dot appear towards the center when you look at it head on. This is the start of the quick that you want to avoid.

Bleeding: If the tip of the nail begins to bleed, apply pressure for a few seconds using styptic powder.

Filing: Once the nails have been cut, you can smooth rough edges with a file, emery board or grinder. Do not file any nails that had bled.

Make sure to get every nail. Many dogs have an extra nail on the inside of the foot near the ankle called a dew claw. It is extremely important to trim the dew claw because it does not contact the floor and will not wear down. A few breeds also have a dew claw on the hind feet and some breeds such as the Great Pyrenees have 2 dewclaws on each hind foot.

Don’t forget to praise your dog and reward with a wonderful treat.

Nail Care

Like you, your dog’s nails grow continuously and require routine maintenance.

overgrown dog nails

(A few lucky dogs never need a trim because they wear them down by exercising on hard surfaces.)

If the nails are too long, they can cause the feet to splay (spread out) creating discomfort and possible deformation of the foot. Nails can actually curl under the foot and pierce the pads at the bottom of the feet and require a trip to the vet.

Severely overgrown nails can cause a variety of problems including broken nails which are painful and bleed profusely. Long nails can break or split, a very painful condition that can become infected. Overgrown overgrown nails on dognails become “needle” sharp inflicting injury on you and your pet and can get caught in carpeting and upholstery.

Trimming your dog’s nails is important for your dog’s overall health. Your dog’s nails should be examined every 3 to 4 weeks. A dog’s nails should barely touch the ground and should not click when walking on uncarpeted areas.

Click Here for instructions on How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Separation Anxiety

You can’t leave the house! You can’t even pick up your car keys or put on your coat. Doing so will send your dog into a panicked frenzy. If you do leave, even for a short time, your dog may bark, chew, soil, or attempt to escape.

There are many possible causes for separation anxiety including genetics, early learning and owner behavior. Your dog is a social animal that relies on the pack for protection. Dogs that lack proper socialization and training, or a history of abandonment or unusually long confinement are more likely to exhibit this type of behavior.

There are steps you can take to lessen your dog’s discomfort.

Never say good-bye.
When you’re going to leave don’t make a fuss. Just walk out the door. Leave the hugs and kisses for when you return.

Crate Train Your Dog
A pet crate, when properly introduced, can become your pets favorite place. Dogs are denning animals and enjoy the safety and security of a closed space. Crating your dog will also ensure that you return to an undamaged house.

Leave him a favorite toy
Save a favorite play toy for your away time. Give it to your pet just before you leave. Keep it out of sight the rest of the time.

Leave the TV On
Tune the TV to an animal channel. The sounds will keep your dog company.

Change your exit routine.
If picking up your car keys signals anxiety for your dog, pick them up routinely throughout the day when you are not leaving. Move them from room to room making them jingle. Practice leaving and come right back in the house. Do this repeated timed to de-sensitize your dog to the routine.

Obedience train your dog.
Enroll you and your dog in group obedience classes. Working with other dogs and learning what is expected of him will not only socialize him better, but will give him more confidence.

Housebreaking – Submissive Urination

Many puppies “piddle” when excited or nervous, but when this behavior continues into adulthood, your dog can be defined as a “submissive urinator.” This problem, more commonly seen in females, can be embarrassing as well as frustrating, but fortunately there are steps you can take to correct this problem.

Before beginning any type of behavioral modification training, have the dog examined by the veterinarian for possible medical reasons. Disease and illness can make it difficult for the dog to control urination as Dog Submissive Urination Urinates when scared piddles on rug pees fear fearfulcan physical abnormalities. If the cause is medical, treatments such as surgery and medications may cure the problem. If a physical abnormality is not treatable, coping mechanisms such as diapers may be in order.

If your dog is found to be healthy the problem is most likely behavioral. In order to understand the behavior, you must understand the pack language of dominance and submission. Timid animals that do not wish to appear as if challenging a dominant member of the pack will roll on their back and urinate. This is proper behavior among pack animals and expresses submission. This is not “bad dog” behavior, spiteful or deliberate, but is simply a message stating “you are my boss, I will not challenge you.” Understanding this behavior can go a long way in helping you correct the problem.

Since the dog is naturally submissive, training based on encouraging submissiveness is unnecessary and will only make the problem worse. Disciplining the dog for uncontrolled urination only tells the dog you are still trying to dominate. His response will be to submit more, exasperating the problem.

When dealing with this type of personality, negative enforcement such as scolding and punishment should be avoided at all cost. Instead, use positive reinforcement when training your dog with treats, lots of praise and encouragement.

Here are a few tips to help correct the problem of submissive urination:

Obedience training can help build your dog’s confidence making him feel less threatened. Make his training fun with lots of play time.

In situations that prompt submission, use a distraction or downplay the greeting. Tell other people to ignore the dog for a few minutes until he settles down.

When arriving home, distract the dog with a ball or treat upon entering the house, or ignore the dog completely until it is calmer.

Work in gradual steps and don’t expect too much right away, and remember, be patient because accidents will happen.

House Breaking – Crate Training

Why It Works

The easiest and best way to prevent inappropriate dog behavior such as destructive chewing or house breaking or training accidents is with the use of a dog crate. Crate training a dog allows you to leave your home, sleep through the night or work uninterrupted knowing your dog’s behavior is under control. These “playpens” prevent your dog from potentially hurting themselves or getting “into trouble” within your home. A dog crate is also a safe way of transporting your dog in the car.

Dog Crate Training House Breaking crate training a dogIt is very instinctual for dogs to want to retreat to a “den-like” area. If you properly teach your dog to use the crate, they will think of it as their safe place and will be happy to spend time there when needed.

How To Start

Dog crates should be introduced to dogs in a very positive manner. To help dogs feel at home in their crate, it is important not to use the dog crate as punishment or discipline. Make sure that your dog’s crate is located in a central area within your home, where they spend most of their time. It can be comforting for your dog to have a soft towel or blanket in their crate, as long as they are not destructive with it. Each time your dog walks into their dog crate, they can get a special, tasty “crate treat.” If yoDog Crate Training House Breaking crate training a dogur dog only gets that special treat when they are in their crate, they will look forward to going into their crate!


The crate is a secure retreat for your dog and also the key to Dog Crate Training House Breaking crate training a dogsuccessful and fast house-training. Dogs naturally do not like to soil in the area where they must sleep and eat. In order to keep their sleeping area clean, dogs teach their own bodies how to physically “hold it” when they need to eliminate. Once this important concept is learned, it is our job to follow the necessary steps of successful house-training when our dogs are out of their crate.


There’s a popular saying among dog trainers: “There’s no such thing as a bad dog.” While that may be true, any trainer will admit that there are dogs with very bad training jumping on people

Simply put, behavior is a way of acting and reacting. When a dog acts or reacts to a situation in a way that has a negative impact on her owner or others, the behavior is considered to be “bad.” Yet, to the dog, it’s just what she does.

Eliminating a bad behavior requires training to give the dog a new behavior, or habit.

Dogs Jumping

One of the most common bad behaviors is jumping up on people. This habit is established when a dog is a puppy. Puppies jump at their mother to get her attention so she will feed them. Dog owners find it adorable that their puppy works so hard to get their attention as she jumps. The naive owners come down to the dog’s level or pick the puppy up, not realizing they have just rewarded the dog for jumping and barking. Unfortunately, behavior that is cute in a puppy often becomes annoying in an adult dog.

Large dogs that jump on people for attention easily knock down and accidentally injure children and older people. Small dogs have less ability to injure someone, but usually dirty clothes and snag stockings. In both cases, while you might not mind your dog jumping up on you, other people probably don’t feel the same way.

Training your dog to sit to be petted is the easiest way to break the jumping habit. To help her develop the “sit for attention” habit, you must ignore her when she jumps on you. You might turn your back or simply walk away. If she follows you, turn quickly and tell her to sit. If she does, pet and praise her. You can reinforce this behavior by having her sit before you put her food bowl down. Every time she sits, she gets a reward of either attention or food. Every time she jumps she gets nothing.

Never pet or coddle a dog to stop the bad behavior. You are only reinforcing the bad behavior.


Digging is a natural, instinctive behavior in dogs. The most well known reason dogs dig is to bury or retrieve bones or treasured toys. On hot days, some dogs naturally dig and lay in a hole to escape the heat. Breeds such as terriers were bred to dig up and kill rodents and other vermin, and haven’t lost the instinct. In some cases, digging may be a dog’s way of trying to escape either physical confinement or boredom.

While we know digging is instinctive in our pets, we sometimes can’t help but wish they wouldn’t do it. Compulsive diggers and dogs that dig excessively are frustrating. Their owners don’t want to punish their pets for doing what comes naturally, but they also don’t want their yards to be covered by craters. Luckily, there are ways to reduce and even stop dogs from digging.

Before you can treat the behavior, you need to understand your dog’s reason for digging. Does she only dig when left alone? Does she always dig in the same spot? Is she digging under a fence? Does she tend to take her rawhide chews outside the minute you give them to her? Answering these questions can help you determine the right approach to take in training your dog.

If your dog digs only when she is left alone for long periods of time, she is probably trying to alleviate her boredom. A good physical workout before you leave will tire her out so that she sleeps part of the time you are gone. Be sure to equip her with toys that engage her mind as well as her body, so she can stay busy when she wakes up. Pet supply stores have an amazing array of chew toys and dog “puzzles.” These are hollow cubes or balls into which you place small pieces of treats. Your dog will be able to smell the treats inside, and must figure out a way to get to them. Usually, this requires nosing and rolling the puzzle until a treat falls out of one of many small openings.

Another way to deal with a digging dog is to channel her behavior to an acceptable spot. Some dog owners create special digging pits for their dogs. These are small areas of soft dirt in which the owners bury treats. Some are placed deeper than others, so that dogs have to use their sense of smell to find the treats. To make this technique successful, bury treats on an irregular basis, and never let your dog see you placing them in the dirt.

You may have to make an extra effort with very compulsive diggers. If your dog repeatedly digs in a favorite flower bed, you might need to put up a physical barrier to prevent her from gaining access to the spot. Remote punishment is another technique that sometimes works well. This is simply something-a blast of water, for example-that distracts the dog the moment she begins to dig. Some people suggest that the owner distract the dog personally, either with a blast from a squirt gun or by shaking a can of coins. However, this is only feasible if you are with your dog constantly. Your dog may stop digging in your presence, but she will likely continue to dig.

Chewing and destructive behaviors in dogs

There’s a popular saying among dog trainers: “There’s no such thing as a bad dog.” While that may be true, any trainer will admit that there are dogs with very bad habits.

Simply put, behavior is a way of acting and reacting. When a dog acts or reacts to a situation in a way that has a negative impact on her owner or others, the behavior is considered to be “bad.” Yet, to the dog, it’s just what she does.

Eliminating a bad behavior requires training to give the dog a new behavior, or habit.

Dogs Chewing

Another unpopular behavior is chewing. Destructive chewing is most often an chewing and destruction bad behavior dog trainingindication your dog is bored. If your dog chews up the couch cushions or destroys a wicker chair while you are at work, it is probably because she had nothing else to do. If you look up from a book or television to find your dog chewing on your favorite shoes, realize that she is releasing pent-up energy.

Give your dog the chance to exercise her body and brain. Plenty of physical exercise will tire her out so that she naps while you relax.

Pet supply stores carry a variety of toys that provide mental stimulation-doggie puzzles to keep your pooch busy while you’re away. Also, if your dog is a chewer, make sure you give her chewing toys of her own.

It is never a good idea to give your dog an old shoe or sock to chew on; she can’t tell the difference between your favorites and your discards because they all smell like you.