Guidelines for a good Dog-Human relationship

Revised 6/04/2010:

Just like any relationship, to make it work it takes: Patience, Kindness, Understanding, Consistency, Compromise & Respect.  You should treat your fur kid in the same way you would want to be treated by your loved ones.  Your fur kid will only be as loyal, trustworthy & obedient as the amount of effort you put into loving him and guiding him. Here are some tips to help make this new commitment a joyful and life long relationship.


(1) FOOD:

     (A)Understand the ingredients of the food you are feeding. Stay away from wheat, corn, soy, meat and poultry by-products, coloring/ dyes and high content of preservatives. Follow the bag directions but use common sense.  If the dog is getting fat and eating every morsel, introduce portions of a low fat version of the same food.  If the dog is too thin and not gaining AND the vet finds no underlying cause, mix some higher fat content food of the same type into his diet. Never abruptly and completely change his food.  This can cause indigestion and a very cranky dog for weeks.  

      (B) Be patient when you get a new dog. The dog is in new surroundings with unfamiliar people and possibly other dogs and/or cats.  This will make him anxious and often times curb the appetite.  If he does not eat or is eating very little, hand feed him at first, or sit on the floor and hold his bowl in your lap and pet him while encouraging him to eat.  If he shows aggression, it is insecurity.  Not knowing his history, he may have been starved or the runt of the litter and had to fight for nourishment to survive.

      (C) Feed twice a day at approximately the same time and always in the same place.  Dogs do best with consistency and continuity. 

      (D) Don’t snatch away his food bowl if he is still eating.  This is a sure way to cause food aggression and eventually get bit.  If you have given him something, respect his right to keep it.   In the unlikely event something goes into his bowl, after you have given it to him, that he is not to have, pet him and work around his eating to remove it.  If you have never created the fear in him of being deprived, he will let you get the object out with no problem.  Of course if his health is at risk, do what you must to get the bad substance away from him, but immediately be ready with a fresh bowl of food or a treat.  Always praise him for being a good boy if you must take food from him, even if he was not good.
       (E) Don’t start giving people food in his dog food bowl or he will start to refuse to eat unless he gets the ‘good stuff’.  A few table scraps hand fed as a treat is fine, but don’t do it at the table or he will be helping himself right off your plate.

       (F) If you want to give doggie treats, avoid Ol’ Roy.  Stick with quality low calorie, wheat free treats.  Do not give “Greenies”.  They have been found to cause death by choking.

       (G) Never feed anything with small bones in it, especially not chicken or fish.  Very large Beef and Pork leg bones are safe only if you watch that chunks are not splintered off.  Rib bones are not hard and can splinter, so avoid them.  Remember, if you give him something and then have second thoughts, you need to have a tasty substitute handy or there may be problems.


The best way to temporarily stop the barking is to softly and lovingly assure your dog that YOU have the “situation” under control and that you are proud of him for protecting you, (even when you are sure he is just barking at the leaves on a tree.

 Do Not use a shock collar!!   Do Not ‘debark’. Do Not use any ‘ultrasonic sound’ bark stopper.

      Be aware of the 3 main types of barking: Greeting or enthusiasm, Curious or warning, and  Nuisance barking.   Get familiar with their sound so you can respond accordingly.

      (A) Greeting or enthusiasm can be curtailed, but don’t try to eliminate it.  Just like people, your dog wants you to know he is happy to see and interact with you.  Usually some hugs and pets will quiet him down.   You are his ‘parent’ and just like a child, he wants to be positively acknowledged.

       (B) Curious or warning: Remember this may be a new place to him or a new sound or smell has entered his range.  If he is new to you, he may bark a lot more the first few weeks as he gets use to new sounds:  the heat or AC coming on, the refrigerator, the dish washer or clothes dryer, the neighbor’s cat meowing, a dog 6 blocks away or the mail truck.  Try to correlate the barking with the cause and if possible, show him what is making the noise.  Tell him it is OK. It is not a threat to you or him.  Be calming. 

      (C) Nuisance:  It may be 3:00 a.m. and he has been at it for an hour.  Before you scold, be sure it is nuisance barking and not something that needs attention.  Far too often people have told their dog to shut up, only to find something was amiss and they were in danger.  Most happy, contented dogs will not nuisance bark  If you determine that the constant barking over a week is just boredom, a “Citronella Collar” works great.  After one or 2 uses, just the sight will quiet the barking.  Never leave it on for more then half an hour at a time as their sense of smell is so acute, it can make some dogs literally sick.

      (D) There is also the “reminder” bark.  Did you forget it was feeding time, or time for his walk?  He may not be able to tell time, but they have an inner clock and will remind you.  Also understand, they are not apposed to walking in the rain and can not understand why you would be.

(3) Toys & Chewing:

     (A) Provide plenty of toys that are his to chew up. Nyla bones, rope toys, heavy rubber toys, old tennis shoes and for small dogs fiber filled stuffies are acceptable toys. Kongs are great if you remember to keep them washed after he’s done. Please do not give rawhides to strong chewers.  Rawhide is NOT bio-degradable in the stomach and can clog their intestines if they bite off chunks.

      (B) If he is chewing on something he should not have, give him one of his toys to chew on.  Keep things picked up that he is not to have.  If it is within reach, he will think it is his.  If furniture is his choice for teething, spray it with Bitter Apple, Phooey or some other safe but bad tasting dog deterrent. (I use a touch of the Hard as Nails fingernail hardener on the legs of furniture that they head for.  It lasts about 4 days, but by then they have decided it is not good).


(4) Health & Safety:

       (A)  Never give:  Rawhides, small or splintery real bones of any kind of toys with         plastic parts (remove eyes and nose from ‘stuffies) or things made of wood or metal.   Dogs love sticks and are great for fetch, but not for chewing.

(B)  Be sure all electrical cords are off the floor and out of reach.  If you must have

plugged in cords within reach,  try covering them with a throw rug or stapling to the wall.

         (C)  Wash out and re-fill his water bowl every day. Most dogs love ice cubes so add a few if you don’t mind your dog ‘dunking’ for them then eating them on the floor.  Stale standing water will draw mosquitoes and ants. A small 6 pack ice chest is a great water dish. Water stays cold in summer and less likely for the outside one to freeze in winter.

       (D)  Check his collar every day.  Puppies grow in spurts and it could get too tight in

 a matter of days.  Two fingers should fit under the collar easily. Never leave a choke collar on a dog.  If it gets caught on something, they could strangle themselves.   Choke collars should ONLY be used in a training situation with you holding the leash.

        (E)   Do NOT over bathe your dog.  No matter the breed, over bathing takes the

natural protective oils out of the skin. Some dog like Great Pyrs are self cleaning and should only be bathed 2 x a year.   However for any rough coated (long haired) dog, a thorough brushing is necessary at least once a week.  Always remember to check the dogs nails and trim when needed. Remember the dew claws.

        (F) When traveling, a doggie seatbelt is best.  Second choice is a crate.  Always     hook the leash handle through the seat belt as when you open the door, he could get excited, run past you and get hurt.

(G) Don’t ever leave him in a vehicle on a warm day.  Never leave him in a running

vehicle.  He may ‘shift’ and off it goes.  

(H)  Don’t ever put him in the back of a pick up.  He could fall out and be run over

by the car behind.  The bed could get hot and burn his feet or freeze and his pads would freeze to it.

        (I) When moving or parked in a vehicle, never leave windows so low he can squeeze out or poke his head out, nor so high, he gets no fresh air.  A dog riding with his head out the window can be struck by bugs or gravel from the road and be blinded or killed.

         (J) Learn what common things are poison to dogs.  SPCA website has the list.       
(K) Never leave any substance other then clean water in a bucket or bowl within your dogs reach.  He will surely drink it.  Beer coffee, tea and soda have caused death.

         (L) Never leave a choke type collar on your dog.

         (M) Do not tie or chain your dog to any object then leave him unattended.

         (N) Use a veterinary approved flea and tick preventative.  Give at least a week apart from the Heartworm preventative.


(5)  Doggie Arguments:

    Just like people, dogs don’t always get along and sometimes they just don’t like another dog, period!  But for those ‘disagreement moments’, the best solution is a ‘time out’.  Remove the aggressor from the space.  Tell him “time out” and place him in a place where he would normally not go (like a bathroom).  Leave him alone for no more then 5 minutes. Return and bring him back   Repeat as needed until he understand “time out” means he will be banished for fighting.

(6) Avoid creating a problem
       (A) Do NOT play tug of war.  The dog will not understand the difference between a game and when you really need him to ‘let go’. 

        (B) Do NOT tease your dog.  Do not pretend to throw his ball.  Do not dangle a toy out of his reach.  This frustration can lead to behavior problems.

        (C)The best way to avoid biting problems is to be sure YOU understand that the food and toys you give him are his. This way he will understand if you put your hand in his mouth, you are not going to deprive him of food or toys.  This helps when he is eating something he shouldn’t and you have to stick your hand in his mouth to get it out.  Then always give him an acceptable replacement to eat or chew on.

       (D) Give lots of hugs and petting all over.

       (E) Brush lightly daily even if not needed.  It keeps him use to being touched everywhere with ‘things’.  It will also make you aware if he might be developing certain medical problems.

       (F) Don’t ever hit or strike him with your hand or anything.  Some dogs will become defensive and then offensive and aggressive.  Also they will not be likely to come when you call.

       (G) Don’t ever yell or scream angrily at him. A loud “NO” is fine, but dogs by nature are very sensitive.  If he is being bad, sit on the floor with him (at his level) and talk to him just as you should talk to a child.  They understand much more then people think.  However, if you did not catch him chewing something up, it will not do any good to get after him after the fact.  You must catch him in the act or he will think he is in trouble for just laying there or coming up to you.

       (H) Don’t encourage him to jump.  If you want him on the bed, provide a bench or step so he can step up.  Help him in the car by encouraging him to just step on the floor first or provide a boost to his hind quarters if space only allows for him to get on the seat.  For SUV, get a ramp and insist he use it both getting in AND out. If you are training for Agility events then learning to jump will come after much obedience training.


(7) House Training:

(A)   Like infants, puppies can’t tell you they have to ‘go’.  And just like toddlers, when

they need to go, they have not planned ahead.  It is a right now situation. Also, they need to learn where to go and not go.  Prepare to take your puppy out every hour or so.  It will not be unusual if you stand out in the cold for 20 minutes and he comes right in and squats.  This is typical during the learning process.  If you can not laugh it off and clean up the mess, you would do best to get an older dog that is already house broke.  NEVER rub their noses in their accidents and never scold or hit, not even with a newspaper.  

    (B) A doggie door is ideal for helping your pup learn to go outside when they need

to go.  If that is not possible, hang a bell from the door knob and teach the dog to push it when he wants out. 


Your fur kid should be a life long commitment.  The more patient, consistent and understanding you are, the more rewarding and satisfying that relationship will be.  No dog is perfect, but then no human is either, so give him your best and he will, in return, give you his best.

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