Understanding Your Dog’s Unique Needs

Understanding Your Dog’s Unique Needs
Understanding Your Dog’s Unique Needs

                      Understanding Your Dog’s Unique Needs

How well your dog adjusts to being left alone for long stretches of time is strongly influenced by his personality and temperament. A dog with lots of nervous energy who craves human companionship will have a much more difficult time being alone in the house than a calm, independent dog. And a mature dog who has outgrown the problem behaviors associated with younger dogs can often can be given the run of the house. So before leaving your dog behind, take a good long look at him and his personality. Try to think like he does. Imagine the worries he might have and what might make him feel comforted. Then devise a stay-at-home plan that best suits your dog’s unique needs.


Breeds and Temperament

Knowing the innate characteristics of your dog’s breed (or breeds, if she is a mix) can guide you in arranging her environment and daily schedule. There are many books available that describe individual breeds in detail. You can also find information on specific breeds on the Internet.

Use this information as a starting point in assessing your dog’s needs and what you can do to help her cope with being left at home by herself.

The Mellowing of Maturity

As your dog matures, you may be able to leave him with the run of the house. He’ll have outgrown chewing, digging, and clawing on floors and walls and will have better bladder and bowel control, so you won’t have to worry about “accidents” in the house Overall, the same commonsense guidelines prevail with the mature dog. Check out the environment from a safety perspective. Remove or put away anything he might eat or get into that could harm him. For example, if you use a chemical deodorizer or stain remover in the toilet, keep the toilet lid down. You don’t want your dog ingesting toilet cleaner if he should decide to take a drink. Leave him water, a couple of his favorite toys , something to chew on, and a window to look out.


Protecting Your Furniture
An older dog who has been well trained may be allowed to roam free in the house while you are away. Leave her favorite house items, such as her crate and a chew toy, available.
Napping on the Couch
Even a well-trained, mellow, mature dog may continue to sneak naps on your bed or on the couch. This seems to be a habit that few dogs outgrow. If the habit bothers you, toss a blanket on the couch or bed before you leave the house to keep the hair off your furniture. Remove the blanket when you return home — if your dog knows that you are displeased with his choice of napping accommodations, he won’t nap there while you’re home. If the habitreally bothers you, there are training techniques you can use to break it. 
If you truly want your dog to stay off the furniture when you’re not around, you will have to spend some time training him. And you will need to be consistent — if he’s not allowed on the furniture when you’re not there, he can’t be allowed on the furniture when you’re at home. Likewise, if you don’t want him sleeping on the bed when you’re not home, don’t invite him to sleep at your feet when you go to bed. Never allow him to sit or lie on furniture at anyone else’s house, either.
Start the off-the-furniture training when you can be home most of the time for 2 or 3 days in a row.
Note: If you must leave the dog alone in the home during the training period, make sure that he cannot get into the rooms with off-limits furniture.
1. Invite the dog to follow you into the living room, bedroom, or another room with “no-dogs-allowed” furniture. Choose a seat and command the dog to “lie down and stay” at your feet. Reward him for doing so with a treat.
2. If at any time the dog tries to get up on the furniture, calmly but firmly give him the “off” command. Do not sound harsh, meek, or guilty — just matter-of-fact. As soon as his paws leave the furniture, reward him with a treat and warm praise that includes the word off, such as “Good off.” Remind him again to lie down and stay at your feet.
3. After you’ve spent some time relaxing, release the dog from the “lie down and stay” command and leave the room. Go about your business in the house, but keep a close eye on the dog without his knowing it. At some point, he’s likely to head for the furniture to make himself comfortable. The minute he starts to get up on the furniture, tell him “Off” again using a calm, firm tone. As soon as he pulls his feet off the furniture, give him a pat on the head, say “Good off,” and reward him with a treat. Then give him the “lie down and stay” command so that he is lying down in front of, not on, the furniture. Leave him in the lie-down position for about 15 minutes, then release him.
4. Continue this routine several times over the course of a couple of days, always remembering to reward him with a treat and the phrase “Good off” when he removes his paws or body from the furniture.
5. After a few weeks, once you are sure the dog understands what is expected of him, give him the “lie down” command in front of a forbidden piece of furniture and leave the room for about 5 minutes. If he stays off the furniture during this time, reward him with a treat and praise. Do this again off and on over the next couple of days, gradually lengthening the amount of time the dog is alone in the room. Always remember to praise and reward him for staying off the furniture and to release him from the “lie-down” position.
Here are a few more tips for reinforcing off-the-furniture behavior:
Make sure that your dog has a comfortable spot or bed of his own in the rooms where you relax. If he has a comfy bed or cushion to curl up on near you, your furniture will hold less appeal for him. You can even put an old T-shirt of yours on his bed so that he has your scent to snuggle into when you are not there.
Some dog owners have great success by assigning one chair, usually an old one, as the dog’s chair. The dog is allowed to lie exclusively on this piece of furniture anytime. In this case, it works much like having a comfy bed available in the room for the pet.

There are several gadgets on the market that can help make the furniture less desirable to your pet. Most of these work on the basis of motion sensitivity.

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