Dog ownership needs much effort and sacrifice. As owners, we need to prepare ourselves for a few expected struggles. Problems with health, communication and relationships are daily hassles we have to overcome. However, these issues are not paralyzing. With awareness about the common problems of dog ownership and a few suggestions on managing them, life with our furry friends is a delight.
1. Toilet Training/Dealing with Dog Poop
The first hassle that often sends owners into fits of frustration is toilet training their pets and managing dog poop. Sadly, many owners fail to toilet train their dogs well. They soon find their toilet habits difficult to deal with.
a) Toilet Training
b) Pay Attention
The first, and easiest way to toilet train puppy or even an adult dog not used to your home is to pay attention to its signals. Make sure that the dog is where you can always see him. For the period you are toilet training him, stop him from wandering around the house.
If you see him circling in a certain area or squatting, he needs to go to the toilet immediately.
Indoor Toilet Training
c) Restrict your dog to a certain area.
The next suggestion is to restrict your dog to the area in your home or yard where you want it to relieve itself. Cover it with lots of newspaper.
As he becomes used to relieving himself in this area, slowly remove the paper until only a limited number of sheets are left.
d) Praise consistently.
Next, remember to praise it consistently. Give your dog a treat when he relieves itself in the correct area.
Help your puppy associate relieving itself in the right area with something positive.
e) Use a crate.
To add, if you cannot supervise your dog, crate train it. Use the crate only when you need to. Make sure the dog has enough room to stand in the crate and lie down.
Make the crate part of your furniture and develop positive associations. Feed it treats within the crate to make him feel safe and secure in it. Do this gradually, moving from the edge of the crate to leaving the treats totally within.
f) Take your dog out after meals.
If you live in an apartment, you may want to take your dog out after meals so that it does not relieve itself within the home.
Outdoor Toilet Training
All owners have to deal with their dog’s poop when they are outdoors. It is only responsible to pick up after your pets with a poop scooper or newspaper.
After all, if you step on dog poop yourself, you are not going to find the smell bearable.
2. Communicating with our dogs
Building relationships with our dogs is another challenge owners face. Reading a dog’s body language is an important way to build better relationships with them.
a) Watch your dog.
The first and most important step towards better communication with our pets is to watch them closely. Each dog has its own mannerisms and habits.
Your dog will choose to communicate with you in its own unique way.
That being said, dogs have a few generic signals they use to communicate their needs. The first of these is bowing. When a dog stretches out with its head towards the ground and its rear upwards, it is giving a signal to play.
It is either signalling boredom or telling owners that it looks forward to playing with them.
c) Tail signals
If a dog stands upright with a slowly wagging tail, it is projecting confidence. When its tail is upright and tense, it is being dominant or aggressive. Restrain it at once to prevent dog fights or bites.
If it wags furiously, it is being friendly. Pay attention to your dog if it has its tail between its legs, because it is showing anxiety.
d) Fear signals
When a dog rolls over on its back and avoids eye contact with you, it is showing fear. It turns back the corner of its mouth and flattens its ears.
Decide if your dog is afraid of a stimulus in its environment or you, its owner.
Of course, it will also run under the table if loud sounds scare it.
3. Behavioral Problems
Dogs are not perfect and have behavioural issues in the same way children do. Owners have to deal with annoying canine conduct. If you have your own yard, use an electric fence for dogs.
a) Food Aggression
Food aggression is a problem when there is more than one dog in the home. The dominant leader of the pack may not take kindly to his food being eaten.
Separate the dogs into different areas to feed them.
b) Dog-to-dog aggression
Before your dog gets physically aggressive, watch out for the signs. It will usually snarl or bare its teeth. Its tail will tense.
If it is too late to stop a fight, lift the dog on top by its hind legs or splash them with water. Of course, take your dog away from the others as fast as possible.
Humping is another nagging problem with canine behavior. It is embarrassing if you have guests. Dogs do so as a way to assert themselves in a pack or simply because they feel attracted to a member of the opposite sex.
Sterilize your pet. If it humps you, give a firm “no” and ignore your dog until it stops.
4. Dog Health
Behavioral problems aside, dogs face a host of health issues. Here are some suggestions for coping with the common ones.
a) Ear Infections/Odor
Ear infections are a common dog health issue. Mites and allergies are the common causes of problems with a dog’s ears.
To deal with them, first recognize the signs. These include:
- Head shaking
- Vigorous scratching of the ears
- Lack of balance
- Rapid eye movement
- A red ear canal
- Swelling in the outer part of the ear
- Yellow or brown discharge
If you notice these signs, seek advice from your vet about suitable ear medication for your pet.
Tapeworms, ringworms, roundworms and hookworms often plague dogs. The worst of these are heart worms, as these choke the heart and are life-threatening. Signs of a worm infestation are:
- Weight loss
- A sudden loss of appetite
- An abrupt loss of weight
- A rough coat
- and a poor appearance.
The best way to diagnose these problems is with a visit to the vet. He will put your dog through a battery of tests and recommend suitable medication, depending on the type of worm your dog has.
Fleas plague dogs and are a dangerous nuisance. They can cause skin allergy and, of course, excessive itching. Signs of fleas are:
- Excessive itching
- bald patches
- allergic dermatitis
- Flea eggs that look like little black dots
Speak to your vet about suitable medication for your pet. Frontline, a solution that rids dogs of fleas effectively, is a wonderful solution. However, do consult your vet lest your dog develops allergies.
When your dogs vomit, it is a sign that he has either ingested a foreign object or is not used to the food you are feeding him. Dogs are curious creatures and often pick up food scraps or other objects they see on the floor. These may cause discomfort and ultimately, nausea.
If your dog cannot digest a new brand of food, introduce it to him slowly. Mix it with the other brand of dog food he usually eats. If he still experiences nausea, stop feeding him with it.
Owning a dog comes with a share of challenges. The many years of faithful companionship make the sacrifice worthwhile.