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Jun 30

Where did my puppy come from?

By dwise_GC | Education

Where did my puppy come from?

Pet shop puppies can sometimes come from puppy farms or “mills”.

A pet shop relies on the power of “cute” and impulse purchases…can you walk away from a gorgeous Shih Tzu puppy in the glass cage? I struggle all the time when I see them.

Truth is, there is a dark side to pet shop animal sales. I am not suggesting they are all the same profit seeking enterprises but they are in the business to make money.

Have you ever stopped to think what happens to the animals they don’t sell and then become “too old” or have lost their “cute appeal”? Often they are euthanased because the business can’t afford or doesn’t want to spend on the necessary vaccinations, worming, food and accommodation costs. After all, they have new “stock” arriving all the time and they need cage and display space.

Now consider the breeding adults…their life is too horrible to contemplate. Trapped in tiny cages, constantly pregnant or whelping. They are denied the basic necessities – fresh air, sunshine, clean food and water and socialisation. They are not usually treated for any medical conditions and essential grooming care is non-existent. They have no opportunity to toilet anywhere but in their bedding or near their measly food or water supply. They are never let out for exercise and sometimes the cages are stacked on top of each other so the poor dogs underneath are covered in waste from the cages above. There is also research to suggest that the stresses suffered by the mother affect the developing foetus and may cause behavioural problems. I sometimes see this with my clients who have terrible trouble toilet-training their new puppy. When I ask where the puppy originated I am often told “the pet shop”. I also see nervous, unsociable puppies who display fearful responses at extremely young ages.

I have heard the same old story all the time – that the puppies come from a backyard breeder who simply didn’t get around to sterilising his older dogs and voila! We now have puppies who need homes. Are they given to the pet shop for free to try to find decent loving homes? No. Not very altruistic when one considers they are sold to the pet shop and then on-sold to consumers at huge prices. I see mixed-breed dogs being sold for around $800 to people who can ill-afford the expense and simply have no idea what is involved in raising a puppy, much less owning an adult dog. Parents often give in to pester power from children with the attention span of, well, a child.

I do applaud that for every puppy purchased from a pet shop that is one less languishing in a glass cage with people staring at them from outside ( if you knew anything about dogs you would know they hate being stared at). Unfortunately you have just greased another cog in the puppy mill chain of production. Not your fault, you probably didn’t know, but maybe you could take a look at Oscars Law 

We don’t treat our dogs with the respect and dignity they deserve. They are not a commodity to be sold in a shop – they are a living, breathing creature with a soul and a lot of love and companionship to offer.

Simple Solutions

1. Know where your puppy is from.

2. Demand proof, or ask nicely!

3. Sign the Oscar’s Law petition

4. Don’t buy a puppy from a pet store if avoidable (this is a bit of a difficult one because those babies need loving homes but it also supports a horrible practice)

5. Adopt from a shelter

Jun 30

Introducing a new puppy to the family dog

By dwise_GC | Education

Have you decided to bring a new puppy into your family? And into a family that already has an adult dog?
The "rules" surrounding canine introductions are simple really -mostly observation and supervision with some understanding of canine behaviours.
But first, let's investigate why you are adopting another dog...is it to provide companionship for the dog you already have? Or do you simply want the pleasure of owning another canine?

Why another dog?

 OK - we will address point number one. You need or want the idea of a babysitter for your dog you imagine is lonely or bored. Not a bad idea. Dogs are highly social creatures and do not generally do well alone for long periods of time. Another dog may be a brilliant solution...provided that Dog number 1 is not badly behaved or untrained by you. In that case, if you repeat the same mistakes with Dog number 2 you will simply end up with two dogs that are naughty and out of control. Two dogs that will nuisance bark perhaps, or create havoc. It just means trouble found company!  
I do not say this to put the kibosh on the idea of a second dog, quite the contrary. I am a firm believer in having at least two or three dogs in a group but that is usually impossible in most urban and suburban areas. All I would like to stress is the absolute importance of owning ANY dog and the consideration that MUST be applied to such an important life choice. Remember they are not a "return with receipt" purchase so choose carefully. 
We will assume now that you have made the leap and brought the puppy home. Do you shove the puppy under the adult dog"s nose and hope for the best? Are you guessing that your dog is jumping for joy that you have suddenly invaded his space? Are you now disappointed that there are no grateful tail wags and your seemingly serene older dog has in fact, taken a swipe at the newbie? Realistic expectations are key here and we will explore some of the ways to help the transition from a single dog house to a crazy happy two dog home!

How old should the puppy be?

Ideally a puppy should stay with the mother and litter mates (if there are any) for crucial social and imprinting skills until the 10-12 week age is reached. By then, they should have learned toileting away from the nest, simple bite inhibition and some appropriate play. If you take a puppy much earlier than that then you should be prepared to replicate the learning they need, so start reading!

Communication is soooo important...

Communication skills are not fully developed yet, in much the same as children may yet not have verbal impulse control nor do they know the difference between communicating with each other or with an adult who is on a different social standing. I know that seems a bit controversial to say, but the truth is we all have different ways of expressing ourselves within peer groups and with older people or those in authority. 

Most adult dogs will sort the new puppy out fairly quickly. Do not become disheartened or think you have upset your older dog because you have a newcomer. Dogs are very attuned to your responses and if you "buy-in" to a perceived sulk you are simply rewarding unwanted behaviour. Try not to project human thoughts and emotions into the old dog/new dog situation. Both animals will simply not understand and it confuses the issue. Treat them as canines who have specific needs when it comes to discipline and boundaries. They have precise ways of dealing with each other from first-time greetings to the way they may play with each other. Older dogs will not ask permission to discipline a younger dog...if another human disciplined a child that is not their own can you imagine the outcry? Dogs don"t need to ask because pack rules are pack rules regardless of where you live.

Your role as pack or group leader

Obviously as group leader you must be there to observe and supervise because sometimes situations can become out of control and you may need to step in. That"s ok, that's your job. Learn to distinguish growls and barks and listen to your intuition. If you think your older dog is getting a bit too serious then call a time-out and allow the elder to escape to somewhere quiet. The puppy won"t care. He will just be ready for the next game! The rough and tumble of a group of puppies playing is adorable and hilarious. Your older dog may not always think so but for the most part let them teach the younger. In a short period of time you will think they are inseparable. Puppies are usually very forgiving creatures and a bit of a stern talking-to canine style won't hurt. I cannot stress enough the importance of your position as overall canine group leader. You must be there to rescue your older dog if the puppy is really being a nuisance. Or to rescue the puppy from real harm if the older dog is intent on causing injury. Watch for changes in body language and their demeanour but you should know it can happen in the blink of an eye. Remember, without their mother to teach them the rules of the den, you have to teach the rules of the house.

Should I punish or reward?

Try not punish your dog if he growls or snaps at the puppy. All you need to do is allow the older dog to move away and keep the puppy separate for a time. Resist the urge to cuddle or seemingly reward the puppy for his rudeness. Don"t overreact to either dog. Growling serves as a powerful communication tool and the last thing you want is for ANY dog to learn NOT to growl for fear of punishment. The most wonderful bonds between a dog and a human are formed when we take the time to understand them and their language. That basic understanding forms a trust so powerful it is a joy to experience. The biggest mistake we humans make is anthropomorphism (attributing human characteristics to other beings) and it is confusing to dogs to say the least. They are NOT your children, they are your family members who happen to be canine and we need to respect that. If your older dog is refusing to accept the younger puppy you may need some outside help. 

Simple Solutions

1. Introduce new dogs to each other on neutral territory…this can merely be a meeting 50 metres away from the front door with dogs on leashes for safety, or in an off-leash park and then everyone goes home together.

2. Of course WATCH ALL DOGS for dominant behaviour or hostility and correct accordingly.

3. This is also something that can be done to introduce new human family members to your dog.

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Jun 23

Dog bite prevention

By dwise_GC | Behaviour , Education

Did you know... Half of all children are bitten by a dog?

Awful, isn't it? Dog bites are considered to be a serious public health problem by the health and veterinary associations around the world, and by local councils. Most bites are by the family dog, or a dog known to the child. These attacks and the resulting injuries (often to the face) may cause life-long disfigurement and psychological trauma for the child and usually results in the euthanasia of the offending dog. There are also ongoing costs associated with the medical care required after a dog bite. You could see for yourself by conducting an informal survey within your school. Visit a few classrooms and ask for a show of hands of children who have been bitten by dogs. Then ask how many were bitten by their own dog, or another dog that they know. You will be shocked by the response. Experts agree that the best way to reduce dog bite risk is through education. Unfortunately, this kind of life-skill education is often overlooked in mainstream curriculum, yet we will spend more time with dogs, either directly or vicariously, than any other companion animal, and we often have no idea about what our canine companions think! For example, dogs don't hug each other and yet we allow our children to hug our dogs. Some dogs may find this "hugging behaviour" too threatening and will take measures to either stop it at the time or prevent it happening to them again by displaying a behaviour of their own. We often ignore this, or don't recognise the signals as serious and do nothing. Consequently this is how many children are bitten on the face. A major component of the d o g Wise program is to discourage children from hugging dogs, including their own, but particularly dogs they don't know. This may sound a bit harsh but how often do we hear the words..."I don't know what happened, it was completely unprovoked"...or..."that attack came totally out of the blue"...? There will almost always be a warning, (or warnings) given, the key is to recognise the signals and respond appropriately. The d o g Wise bite prevention education program can help demonstrate these warnings and other dog body language and is available now for schools, community groups such as councils and day care centres, private day care or in-home training

Jun 23

Why dogs bark

By dwise_GC | Behaviour

Barking is a common issue experienced by most owners. There are reasons why your dog may be barking; it may be in pain or feeling unwell, or it may be due to boredom or anxiety. Your dog may also be very excitable before going for a walk, playing with a new toy or when a visitor comes by. If you can find the cause of the barking, you can address solving the problem. Some good ways of managing your dog’s behaviour is by not giving your dog attention when misbehaving; rather reward your dog when being quiet to reinforce that behaviour. But it is important to explore several reasons why the barking may continue. 

Jun 23

Introducing your new dog to the family

By dwise_GC | Family

Are you pregnant? About to adopt or foster a baby or young person? Not sure what to do or how to go about the issue of introducing a new member to your household and your dog?

The objective of this d o g Wise course is to help introduce a baby or young person into a household that already has a dog or dogs. Dogs play a huge role in our lives and many studies have shown the benefits that come from the merging of our lives with theirs. Children especially, learn valuable life lessons when they share their world with that of a dog. Tragically, this “sharing’ will occasionally result in horrible encounters, sometimes unbelievably, with the loss or disfigurement of a precious child and then the inevitable death of the offending dog. While not necessarily defending the dog, unfortunately they are often simply doing what comes naturally. Only by learning why dogs do what they do, will we be able to successfully manage the relationships within the family unit. You don’t need to discard your dog, just respect their limitations and boundaries and, for both their sakes, NEVER, EVER leave your child alone with a dog, any dog, regardless of how well you think you know it.

Dogs have trigger points that can be ‘tripped’ without one being aware. Children running and playing and squealing; and waving their hands in the air will elicit a predatory response and if they happen to fall over, they become ‘weakened prey’. The child isn’t aware of what they are doing, they are simply having fun, you are busy watching your child (not your dog) or occupied with other things and then in an instant, a hard-wired response is activated and the dog pounces. Small dogs can also have the same reactions so do not be fooled into thinking that your Maltese or Shih Tzu is too cute to bite. Sounds scary? It can be, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

To discover more, call or email for an in-home visit and allow us to help guide you and give you some tips for a happy home that includes your dog! (by the way, we can't help with crying babies...!)

But remember, this MUST be done BEFORE the new person arrives to live in your home. Allow time to help this transition for your dog.