Crate Training

That new puppy you just welcomed home will be a lot happier (and so will you) after crate training. Here’s everything you need to know:

The number one rule of dog training is to crate train.
“Aren’t they cruel?” “Can’t she just sleep in my bed?” “Won’t he be lonely?” The answer to all these questions is a resounding “no.”

Dogs are den animals; if you use the crate correctly, your puppy will come to see the crate as their den, its safe spot. It’ll go there when it is afraid or uncomfortable, or needs to take a break from a chaotic or busy house. Frequently, dogs even choose to sleep in their crate instead of elsewhere in the home because they feel safe and cozy.

Crates offer protection

Crates and kennels keep pets safe when no one is supervising them or when something unexpected happens.

Dogs with separation anxiety, who might ordinarily destroy furniture or other property, will feel secure and—more importantly—be unable to hurt themselves or cause damage when crated.

Also, crates keep pets safe during thunderstorms or on holidays like Independence Day or New Year’s Eve when noisy fireworks often result in lost and missing pets.

When learning how to crate train a puppy, there a few things to remember. Start by choosing the right crate. There are a few types, and it’s important to get the best one for your lifestyle. An airline kennel—or travel crate—has solid sides with a wire mesh door, making it a good choice if you plan to travel with your pet. Crating during travel is the safest way to go, and solid side crates will protect your pet in the event of an accident. Wire crates are open on all sides and are a good choice if you only need a crate for your home. They usually have a slide-out bottom tray for easy cleaning and because the sides are open, allow the pet a full view of the room.

Size is important! Your dog’s crate should only be big enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. For a puppy that will grow into a large dog, you can avoid buying two crates by finding one that has a divider; this will allow you to enlarge the space as your dog grows.

Now that you’ve chosen the perfect size and style crate, let’s talk about how you actually use it. First, don’t just put your dog in the crate, close the door, and walk off. That will make your pup averse to the crate, which would mean starting out on the wrong foot.

If your dog doesn’t want to go in the crate right away, put a favorite treat just inside the door so that he’ll have to stick his head in the crate to get it. Be happy and encouraging. Since we are rewarding for going in, don’t give any treats for coming out and don’t force your pup in or out. In the early stages, most dogs will back out, but don’t worry about this. Toss a treat in and lots of verbal praise ‘Good Boy!’ when he enters the crate for it. After a while, your pup will begin to enjoy this game and build up confidence.

Once your dog starts to get comfortable being in his crate, you can try closing the door. If he seems comfortable, leave him confined briefly—five to ten minutes, several times a day. Slowly add more time as his comfort level increases.

If you are using the crate as a house-training tool, take your puppy straight outside as soon as you open the crate door so she understands that she should relieve herself outside instead of in your home.

If your dog seems nervous in the crate, sometimes covering it with a blanket or towel helps the pup calm down—just be sure your pet can’t pull the fabric into the crate and chew it. Especially when training a puppy, it’s important to keep beds and towels out of the crate. Bored puppies chew, and blankets and beds can easily be ingested, resulting in major medical issues or even surgery.

Teaching your dog to love her crate is a great first step in training her to be well-behaved and well-mannered member of the family. You can build on this new relationship with these smart ways to keep your pet happy while you’re away.

The dog grooming guide

Even if your dog is a regular at the grooming salon, a bit of pet pampering at home will not only maintain a glossy coat, but is also a way of checking for skin irritations or pesky parasites that might have set up shop in your dog’s fur.

Maintaining a dog’s grooming routine is important not just because it keeps them looking good, but also because it allows us to keep a close eye on the condition of our dogs’ skin, ears, teeth and nails, solving small problems before they become big ones and avoiding costly vets bills and distress down the line.

Baby powder is your new best friend (after your dog, obviously)
Sprinkling a bit of baby powder on your dog’s tangles means you will be able to comb them out a lot more easily. Make sure it’s talc-free baby powder to avoid irritation.

Best paw forward
Most dog owners let their dog’s nails go too long between trims. On average, their nails should be trimmed every three to four weeks. Your dog’s nails shouldn’t touch the ground [when standing], so if you hear a [loud] clacking noise on hard surfaces, the nails need some attention.

Brush up your skills
Make sure you use the right brush for your dog’s coat type and clean the brushes after every use to avoid infections. For short-hair breeds, like labs, use a short-toothed comb. For medium-length breeds with undercoat, like the husky, use a double or single rake to reach the dead undercoat. For poodle-type dogs, use a pin brush and a slicker or straight comb. For long-haired breeds like Maltese, use a double rake, straight comb and also a slicker, depending on whether they have an undercoat or not. For wire-haired breeds, use a slicker brush and a wide-toothed flea comb for the hair on the face.

Lather, rinse, then rinse again
It’s important to use a shampoo and conditioner that is formulated for dogs, not humans. Human shampoos can be harsh and toxic if ingested. Go for an all-natural shampoo and conditioner as it’s better for their coats. And make sure you rinse every bit of shampoo and conditioner out of your dog.

Open wide
Ideally you’d be brushing your dog’s teeth daily, but for most healthy dogs a few times a week is fine. Again, they need their own products. Most human toothpastes contain fluoride, which is poisonous to dogs. Instead, there are meat-flavoured dog toothpastes which are understandably popular. It’s best to get a finger toothbrush too to reach right into the nooks and crannies of the dog’s mouth.

Timing is everything
Exercising your dog before you groom can help them stay still while you work on them. It’s especially useful for younger or high-energy dog breeds such as labs or border collies.

It’s not what’s on the outside…
Dogs that are eating a diet that isn’t balanced may not be getting the proper nutrients they need for a healthy and shiny coat. Low-fat diets may also cause an omega-6 deficit that can lead to coarse, dry hair. Check the label of your dog food to see if omega-6 is included – it should be.

How Do Dogs Recognize Human Faces?

For social animals that live in groups as humans and dogs do, it’s important to be able to tell one individual in the group from another through facial recognition. But until recently, the aptitude for recognizing facial features was presumed to be a quality that only humans and possibly primates possess.

As it turns out, this highly developed skill is one we also share with our canine companions, which makes sense, since it’s an established fact that faces and eye contact play an important role in human-dog communication.

In a study published in the journal Animal Cognition, researchers at the University of Helsinki, Finland, set out to examine facial recognition in domestic dogs, using pictures of faces on a computer screen. Facial inversion effect (a fancy term that means faces are harder to recognize when they’re upside down) and responses to personal familiarity were tested using eye movement tracking.

The study included 23 pet dogs and 8 kennel dogs, and the question the researchers wanted to answer was, if dogs are not trained to recognize faces, are they able to see faces in the pictures, and do they naturally look at familiar and strange faces differently?

Among their findings, the researchers discovered that dogs are more interested in the faces of other dogs than human faces.

Not surprisingly, dogs who live with families are more responsive to human faces than dogs living in kennels, and are more observant of familiar rather than unfamiliar human faces.

The dogs also showed great interest in the eye area, which according to the researchers suggests they perceive images representing faces.

Can Dogs Identify Faces Even When They’re Upside-Down?

The study also analyzed the dogs’ responses to faces that were shown to them upside down, because some species do not process inverted faces the same way they process faces that are right-side up.

Humans have the ability to quickly and accurately identify normally oriented (right-side up) faces because we are instinctively able to identify faces in a different way than we identify other types of objects. We recognize right-side up faces as complete structures rather than as a collection of parts. But when faces are upside down, we must perceive them as we do other objects — as individual parts rather than as a complete structure.

According to the University of Helsinki study, dogs also have more difficulty identifying faces that are inverted. However, since they spend a lot of time looking at the eyes in both normally oriented and upside-down faces, it suggests they do recognize the objects as faces regardless of orientation.

It’s Official: Your Dog Knows Your Face!

Use of common Household Products

While there’s a specially made product for just about anything dog owner’s will deal with, from smells and stains, to fleas and other pests, to dealing with a dog that digs, and everything in between, it turns out many of the household products you’re already using serve dual purpose for pet parents!

1. To quickly and safely kill fleas without the use of poisons, chemicals, or pesticides, reach, instead, for a bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid. With your dog in a tub, starting from the neck and working your way down, lather up a small amount of the dishsoap with clean water and work down your dog’s body. Allow the soapy suds to soak on your dog’s skin and fur for at least 5 minutes. This method actually works better than many flea shampoos at killing and ridding a dog of fleas.

2. Are you finding stubborn stains in your dog’s ceramic food bowls? Simply fill the bowl with a brown cola, like Coke or Pepsi, let sit for an hour, and rinse stubborn stains away. The phosphoric acid in the cola dissolves the food, dirt, and drool stains.

3. Speaking of your pet’s bowls, do you have a problem with ants making their way into your dog’s dinner? Just smear a dab of petroleum jelly around the bottom rim of the bowl to stop the pesky insects from stepping foot in your dog’s bowl.

4. Do you trim your dog’s nails yourself? If you accidentally trim a nail a little too close to the quick and don’t have any styptic powder in the first aid kit, safely stop the bleeding by pressing the bleeding nail into a dab of lip balm or wax.

5. Some dogs, for a variety of reasons, are known to snack on either their own stool or the stools of other dogs in the home. To put an end to poo-eating, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of 100% pure canned pumpkin to your dogs’ bowls at each meal. Not only will the pumpkin add beneficial fiber to your dog’s diet, the papain in the pumpkin will change the taste of the poo to something a little less appealing (if you can imagine that!).

6. Quickly and easily rid carpet and upholstery of shed dog hair using a pair of rubber gloves. Just run a gloved hand under water, then wipe away shed hair. The wet rubber glove will attract loose hairs. Just rinse the glove and repeat as necessary.

7. To keep dogs from digging or playing in flowerbeds or vegetable gardens, sprinkle the garden beds with ground black pepper. Because of their incredible sense of smell, most dogs will catch a whiff of the pepper and steer clear of your garden.

Got any other unique tips or tricks for pet parents? Please, share them in a comment below!