Saturday, November 15, 2014

It's Not Too Late! Teach Your Dog this One Important Thing Before the Holidays

Holiday get togethers are stressful for dogs, especially Grandma's dog who is used to a calm existence and a set routine. A houseful of guests with excited children can be too much even for the calmest dog. If you are a parent hosting a party, it is not easy to keep track of the dog every minute, while attending to guests, serving food and supervising children. If the stress gets too much for the dog and he can't escape the unwanted attentions of children, he may resort to growling or snapping to protect himself. A friendly family dog that bites a child at a family gathering is an all too common, and completely preventable situation.

One of Doggone Safe's holiday tips is:
Yes, you are doing your dog a favor by crate training him! Dogs like small spaces and they like to feel safe. A comfortable crate fits the bill perfectly. Having a dog that loves to be in his crate gives you peace of mind, especially during hectic times such as a holiday party or large family get together. The crate is NOT a punishment, but rather a sanctuary for the dog. He should have a long lasting and especially yummy chew treat to keep him occupied and happy and out of the fray, especially during high commotion activities such as guests coming and leaving and  the serving of food.

You should also exercise your dog and tire him out before any family gatherings. He will be content to chill out in his crate if he is not full of pent up energy.

Here's what it looks like when a dog loves to go into the crate:

Here is a video that gives some ideas from the Kong company about how to train this.

Here is another video showing how to crate train. Notice that both these videos show how to use positive reinforcement and food to teach the dog to love his crate. The crate is never a punishment and the dog is always rewarded with something great when he goes into the crate.

One of the secrets to having a dog that loves to go into the crate and is content to stay there, is to give him something extra special and long-lasting to chew on.

Get a Chewber!

Doggone Safe recommends the Chewber - a tough but flexible rubber disk that dogs love to chew. Toss it, play tug with it and feed your dog from it. This will be your dogs's favorite toy! Click here for more information, training tips and videos.

Get a Kong and Stuff It!

Doggone Safe recommends the Kong toys that can be stuffed with just about anything your dog loves and even frozen for longer lasting chew sessions. Prepare and freeze a few stuffed Kongs to have them handy to give your dog when he goes into the crate while you are entertaining guests. Click here for more information, training tips, videos and Kong stuffing recipes.

Get a Pet Tutor to do Some of the Training for You!

Here is a brilliant new product that applies the science of learning to a remote training system that reinforces desired behavior and ignores unwanted behavior. Don't confuse this with the other kind of remote training system in which the dog receives a shock (often, euphemistically called a "tap" or a "stim") when he barks or otherwise misbehaves. The Pet Tutor is the complete opposite and is based on positive reinforcement and not punishment. This will be a huge help in crate training. Get one of these to help you with the time consuming aspects of early crate training when you need a high rate of reinforcement and concentrated attention to the task. Then use it to help your dog stay content in the crate.

Here is a video that explains how this works

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Family Gathering Safety Tips for Kids and Dogs

The holiday season is coming up and with it the inevitable spate of parties and family celebrations. These events are great fun for the people, but can be very stressful for dogs. Here are some tips to help keep both kids and dogs safe and happy during family gatherings

Holidays Are Stressful for Dogs

The holidays are especially stressful for dogs due to changes in routine and the comings and going of visitors. Many dog bites happen at this time of year.

When visiting a house with a dog, children should be taught not to approach the dog (even if the dog has been friendly on other occasions). If the dog comes to them they should stand still like a tree and let the dog sniff. Only if the the dog is wagging and panting and coming to them for attention, and parent and dog owners are supervising and have given permission, should a child touch the dog. Dog owners should gauge their dog’s reaction to visitors. If the dog is overly excited, barking or growling, cowering away, trying to hide or otherwise showing signs of anxiety or aggression, the dog should be kept separate from visiting children for the ENTIRE DURATION of the child’s visit. The dog should have its own place in a crate or another room with toys, a bone to chew on and its special bed or blanket so that it can be happy and comfortable and away from guests. Even dogs who seem happy with visitors should never be alone in the room with visiting children. No preschooler, toddler or baby should be allowed to be near your dog unless you personally also have your hands on the dog and can prevent face to face contact between child and dog and can prevent the child from hugging or otherwise bothering the dog.

Greeting People at the Door

Dogs should not be allowed to greet visitors at the door. This is for the safety of the dog and the visitors. Keep the dogs in separate room or crate until the visitors are settled and then allow the dog to say hello if appropriate. If you are not sure about your dog, then leave him confined or keep him on a leash. Make sure that the dog associates visitors with something good for the dog, such as special treats or a stuffed bone.

Not the Time to Train the Dog

If you do perceive a problem between your dog and visiting children - THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO WORK ON IT. It is not reasonable to use visiting children to help train your dog. Take preventative measures to ensure that your dog does not have the opportunity to bite and once the holiday season is over seek the help of a dog behavior specialist who uses positive reinforcement methods to solve the dog's problem.

Family Gatherings

Family gatherings at a relative’s house are the source of fond memories for many. The relative’s dog may not enjoy these events as much as the rest of the family. Noise, confusion and changes in routine are stressful for dogs. Even a normally calm and docile pet may become agitated enough to bite under the extreme circumstances of a boisterous family celebration. Supervision may be lax if each adult thinks that another is watching the children. Children are the most likely victims of dog bites in this situation. Doggone Safe offers the following tips:

  • Put the dog in his crate with a bone or favorite chew toy, at least during the most hectic times – guests arriving and leaving as well as dinner preparation and serving.
  • Assign one adult to be in charge of the dog, to watch for signs of stress and protect from unwanted attention from children.
  • Signs of stress include: The dog yawns or licks his chops.The dog shows the white part of his eye in a half moon shape.
  • If the dog shows any of these signs, then he is worried and wants to be left alone. Put the dog in his crate or in a room away from the guests with a favorite chew toy or bone. 
  • If the dog licks his chops, yawns or shows the half moon eye when a child approaches or is petting him, intervene immediately and ensure that the child cannot access the dog. 
  • Do not allow visiting children to hug the dog. Dogs don’t like hugs and kisses. Even if the dog tolerates this under normal circumstances he may not tolerate this from strangers or in a high stress situation with lots of noise and people. 
  • Other signs that the dog does not welcome attention from children (or adult) guests include the following:

  • The dog turns his head away, walks away or tries to hide under furniture.
  • The dog freezes and becomes very still, with his mouth closed. He may be staring intensely at the person who is bothering him and may growl. This dog is a few seconds away from a bite.
  • The dog growls or raises the fur along his back.

  • Assign one adult to supervise each baby or toddler with no other tasks expected. 
  • If you have multiple dogs, consider kenneling them, crating them or keeping them in another room during large gatherings. 
  • Supervise at all times.

Download our handout with a summary of tips for parents and dog owners


Visit our article library for some articles about keeping kids and dogs safe during the holidays. Scroll through the list looking for those articles marked with a candy cane. Download the Doggone Safe Holiday Press Release with more tips


Doggone Safe Members: Download the Doggone Safe Holiday Press Release that you can edit to send to local newspaper, radio and TV media to promote your business and disseminate our safety messages. Join Doggone Safe.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Doggone Safe Holiday Safety Tips

Doggone Safe has created images to go along with its child/dog safety tips for the holidays.

There are 22 tips altogether. You can download these individually to share any way you want, or you can download all the tips in one free ebook and share that as well.

Click here to download the tips individually or as a PDF. You may share these any way you want, without any changes.

Here are some of the tips: