Bringing a new dog into the household should be one of life’s happiest events. The process always starts with excitement and high expectations. Too often, though, it ends in disappointment. The new puppy wakes everyone three times a night, gnaws on furniture, piddles everywhere, knocks the children down. The new adolescent dog is too wild. The new adult dog growls at your neighbors. And where did all this dog hair come from?
Most people spend hours researching a new mattress, days researching a new car, and weeks researching a new home or job. Yet for a new dog, a companion for the next 10-15 years, the most they do is visit the nearest shelter or pet shop and buy whatever looks cute and appealing. It’s no wonder they end up disappointed.
Whether you are looking for a purebred puppy or a charming mixed-breed, the type of dog you bring into your home matters. A quiet owner will struggle to keep up with a high-energy labrador mix, for instance, while an active outdoor family will be impatient with a snoozy bulldog. And finding the right kind of dog means becoming the right kind of owner—a task that takes some forethought and planning.
How To Find Your Dream Dog is here to fix the disconnect of dog ownership. It walks you step-by-step through the process of choosing the right type of dog for you—not only exploring the canine qualities that can determine your perfect puppy, adolescent, or adult dog, but also assessing your lifestyle to make sure you’re a good match for the dog, too. The book also looks at good (and bad) sources for finding healthy and sound pet dogs, gives guidelines for evaluating individual puppies, and warns of some red flags to watch out for during your dog search. With this guidebook in hand, you can be confident that the next puppy or dog you bring home will be the right companion and friend for you for the rest of its days.
Dixie Tenny is a Certified Training Partner with the Karen Pryor Academy of Animal Training and Behavior. During her 30+ years spent working with people and their pets, she has seen again and again how mismatches between dog and owner can create “behavior problems” that never would have happened if the right dog had been matched to the right owner in the first place. She wrote this book to help puppy buyers and dog adopters start out on the best possible foot with their new pet dogs, and stay on that path for years to come.
Two Great Ways to Keep Your Dog Busy Indoors
by Dixie Tenny
When the weather outside is frightful, how do you keep your dog happy and entertained indoors?
Here are two ideas that will bring indoor fun to any dog, any type, any size, any age.
Every dog can learn to use its nose to find treats or toys, and the search can be as fun as the goodie at the end. Teach your pooch to play “find-it” like this:
First, while holding your pup in place, toss a treat so that it lands in plain sight. Say “find it!” and release your pup to run and eat the treat.
After a few repetitions, try tossing the treat so that it lands barely out of sight, behind furniture. Say “find it,” and release your pup. Most will seek out the goodie; if yours needs help, walk toward the treat yourself and be patient. She will get it after a few more repetitions.
Put your dog away and place a treat in plain sight. Bring your dog into the room, holding its collar, say “find it!” and release. Now the dog doesn’t have your throwing arm to watch, but by this time the cue “find it!” should let her know that there is a goodie in the room.
When she has mastered this, put a paper towel over the treat before bringing her out to “find it!” The paper towel is a new object in the room so she is very likely to go investigate it, smell the treat under it, and dig it out. This introduces the idea that the treat might actually be out of sight, so that she will start hunting for them with her nose. Next, put out two paper towels, one with a treat under it and one without.
Place a treat next to a piece of furniture for her to find. Then place it slightly under or behind the furniture…
Continue until she will hunt for a treat whenever you say “find it.” Eventually my Welsh terrier reached the point where he would hunt all over the house while I sat and read a book! The key is to progress in very slow, gradual steps, and always be willing to patiently repeat any step a few times until it’s clear that your dog is ready to move on.
Puzzle toys are one of the greatest inventions for dogs and their people ever. This is a wide range of toys that incorporate treats. With a simple puzzle toy, you just put treats, biscuit pieces, or other dog-friendly goodies into the toy and let your dog enjoy the process of working to get them out. The Kong is probably the most well-known simple puzzle toy. A Kong looks like an inverted triple-scoop ice cream with a hole in the bottom. Break up pieces of biscuits, use your dog’s own food, add a couple high-value treats like freeze-dried liver pieces; take a spoonful of cream cheese and mix it all together, then push the mixture into the hole in the Kong. You can give this to your dog as is, or freeze it for future use. Most dog trainers have several frozen Kongs in their freezers at all times!
You can also fill a Kong with canned dog food or any number of other fillings. Just be careful to avoid human foods that are dangerous to dogs such as chocolate, onion, raisins, and more.
If your dog doesn’t know what to do with this great-smelling but puzzling thing, start by filling it loosely enough that the goodies fall out when your dog rolls the toy around. Gradually make it harder for him to get the treats out as he becomes more experienced.
If your dog empties a Kong in record time, consider moving him up to the more challenging puzzle toys. There are dozens of these: my favorite include:
Toys that feed entire meals, such as the Kong Wobbler, the Tug-a-Jug, and the Tricky Treat Ball;
Toys that hold the treats inside so the dog must figure out how to remove them, such as the Busy Buddy Barnacle or Squirrel Dude, or the Bob-a-Lot Treat Dispenser.
For the maestro, try toys that require the dog to manipulate the puzzle by lifting latches, pushing little doors open, and more. These include the Dog Activity Flip Board, the Dog Twister, and the Mad Scientist Puzzle.
Consider trying some Find-it and picking up a few puzzle toys. Your dog will thank you for making her days indoors more interesting!
About the Author
Dixie Tenny has been helping people and their dogs find each other and form successful partnerships since the early 1980s. She founded two rescue organizations: Purebred Dog Rescue of Saint Louis in 1984, and Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue, Inc. in 1987. Dixie was the Director of Training for the Greater St. Louis Training Club, Inc., for five years, creating classes and overseeing the work of 40 head and assistant trainers. In 2003 she and another experienced trainer created Dogs Unleashed, LLC. They traveled to clients’ homes and worked with behavior and training issues.
Dixie’s professional credentials include trainer certifications from the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior, and the Association for Pet Dog Trainers. Dixie formed her own business, Human-Animal Learning Opportunities, LLC (HALO) in 2013. HALO hosts continuing education seminars for dog trainers.
Dixie has lived with a wide range of dogs over the years including mixed breeds, Australian Shepherds, Welsh and Cairn terriers, and more. While in Seattle, Dixie raised a labrador puppy for Canine Companions for Independence, Inc. (CCI). Currently Dixie lives with a Beauceron and an elderly Papillon, as well as four cats. When not doing things related to animals, she reads widely, enjoys the company of her three grown children, follows baseball and English Premier League football, and travels the world.
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