If you are prepared, you’ve won half of the battle. There are situations we encounter as dog owners, that may not happen often, but aren’t that great when they do. Some of us may never even think of preparing for them. Perhaps we are new dog owners, not knowing about them, or maybe we think our dog is so calm in his everyday life, that there is no need to get him acquainted with anything.
I have been training guide dogs for the blind for 5 years and owned many, many dogs in that time. During my career, I have learned that no matter how much experience we have as dog owners and no matter how calm, trusting and generally relaxed our dog is, there are certain events that need some preparation.
It could be that they never happen, but if they do – we and our dogs need to be prepared.
This is a big one. Many see it as something “bad” – the “he who should not be named” of the dog world. Nonsense! A muzzle should be as normal for your dog to wear as a leash. It is not something bad and should not be seen as so. A muzzle is not only for dogs who bite, are aggressive or are fearful.
In many situations, even the calmest and most peaceful of dogs may need to wear a muzzle. For example, at least here in Europe, dogs need to wear muzzles in certain forms of public transportation. Maybe you want to travel with your dog and it is required that he wears a muzzle on the boat, plane, bus or train or your dog needs to wear it when he is at the vet and experiencing something particularly painful.
There are many online sources on how to get your dog used to a muzzle using positive reinforcement, so that it becomes a great experience for your dog. If done correctly, he will probably offer to put his nose into the muzzle on his own when you offer it to him.
I will film a video in the near future, showing how I get my dogs used to a muzzle. Stay tuned!
I wrote a post recently about my love for dog boxes when it comes to housetraining a dog. The truth is, there are many situations when a dog box can be useful. Just like with a muzzle, having a dog who is used to being in a dog box (especially for a few hours) can be extremely helpful when traveling – especially abroad. Other situations include:
- When your dog is sick or injured and needs to avoid moving too much
- Situations (such as new year’s eve) when your dog is fearful and needs a dark, quiet place to get some rest (you can put a blanket over the box to keep the firework lights out).
- When you have more than one dog in the house (who may not know each other) and they need to be separated for feeding or because they don’t get along.
- Traveling in a car or other form of transportation.
There are so many situations where a dog box comes in handy. Check out my post on how to get your dog used to a box by clicking HERE.
Going to the vet is something that every dog needs to do regularly. Whether your dog enjoys the visits or not, depends on past experiences with vets but also has a lot to do with how your vet is with animals. I have had vets who can read my dog’s body language and act accordingly – being firm when necessary and then speaking kindly and giving treats the rest of the time. Then there were vets who were very cold and rough with my dogs and were hated by all of their patients.
Whether your vet is great or not so great, you can do your part by preparing your dog for a visit. Things to practice:
- Teaching your dog to be touched all over and stand fairly still during the process. If there are any areas your dog doesn’t like to be touched, show them that it can be a good experience, using positive reinforcement, but also be sure to tell your vet to be careful in those areas.
- Standing on a table. Some dogs have no problem with being examined on the ground, but when they need to stand up high on a table, things don’t work out so well! This can easily be practiced at home or even on a park bench.
- Practice holding your dog in certain positions on the table. Sometimes you need to hold your dog under his stomach with one arm and wrap the other lovingly but firmly around his head/neck while your vet takes his temperature/gives him a shot, etc. Your dog should also be used to having his legs held down while he lays on his side for further examinations.
4. Being on a leash
Most of our dogs know how to walk on the leash (Stay tuned! I am releasing an eBook soon all about getting your dog to walk on a loose leash!), but I am talking about situations when your dog needs to be on a leash all of the time.
When our dogs get injured and are not able to run and play, have something contagious and need to be held away from other dogs or are in heat – they need to be walked on a leash for longer periods of time. This can be very difficult for a dog who has always been able to walk free.
The other day I was at the dog park and a woman was noticing that her young dog was slowly getting in heat. “Oh great”, she said. “Now I will have to keep her on a leash on our walks. Let’s see how that goes.” I was so surprised by her mentality and commentary.
If you know that your dog is going to need to know how to do something (in this case – stay on a leash) in the near future – prepare for it! She acknowledged that her dog needed to learn something but didn’t want to practice it.
I recommend keeping your dog on the leash every now and then just for practice. Some of the dogs I have owned would never pee or poop while being on a leash and had to learn that first.
5. First Aid
I am so happy I took a seminar on first aid for dogs and should probably take a refresher course sometime soon. It’s something every dog owner really needs to do. We never expect our dogs to fall over and not be able to breathe, injure themselves or eat something poisonous. But what if it happens? Would you know what to do?
We also learned how to bandage our dog properly and that was a great practice for my dog, as well. That is why I believe dog owners should sit down with their pooch and some bandages and get them used to having something wrapped around their foot, for example. Pick a rainy day where you don’t feel like going outside and have some fun with it. Be generous with treats and pets and always make sure you are being safe – don’t make the bandages tight and only keep them on for a short while. (I recommend a course before trying this alone.)
There you have my 5 situations I believe everyone should prepare themselves and their dog for. Have you had to prepare your dog for a one of these or a similar event? Let me know in the comments below! I would love to hear all about it and get inspired.
This post is also available in: English (Englisch)