Doggie Boot Camp


Christmas Dogs

Many people buy dogs during the holiday season. But since most South Bay residents have limited backyard space, there are things that should be considered prior to bringing home the new family member. You need to consider lifestyle, housetraining and how the dog will get exercise.

The first goal is to pick the right dog for the individual’s lifestyle. The internet has many great sites that can help steer you in the right direction on both temperament and health issues of particular breeds. There also are many wonderful rescue dogs that could benefit from a loving home. One of the best web sites for rescue dogs is Be certain to choose a dog that is appropriate to its owner’s lifestyle. Take into account whether the new owner has kids, works long hours or travels frequently.

Five years ago, Lola, a Havanese, was rescued and given as a present to Mary Ellen for Christmas. Lola arrived with no housetraining skills and a ton of energy. What made the situation even worse was that Mary Ellen did not have a backyard with grass. This can make housetraining more difficult because dogs tend to housetrain quicker when they can eliminate in grass. “Because I did not have a grass backyard, I was concerned that my new dog would ruin my rugs.” Mary Ellen said. She decided that she needed help and called her veterinarian for advice. “He recommended that I purchase some wee wee pads and speak with a dog trainer to speed up the process.” Wee wee pads are an absorbent disposable material that dogs easily tend to eliminate on. This worked for her situation and works even better when it’s raining. Lola refuses to go outside when it rains. “The wee wee pads give me peace of mind that the housetraining will not be lost when it rains” Mary Ellen said.

Statistically, dogs that are not housetrained are one of the main reasons people give up their pets. Accordingly, immediate implementation of some successful housetraining strategies is key to the dog becoming a part of a new family in a hurry.

The second suggestion for Mary Ellen is to give Lola walks during the day to provide mental stimulation. A tired dog is a good dog, less likely to get into trouble. By making sure your dog does not have excess energy, you’ll help shortstop problems, and your dog will learn good habits. These good habits will help increase the human/animal bond. “We walk Lola around the same times every day and if we forget, she’s quick to remind us” said Mary Ellen. Dogs are very smart and will often remind us if we neglect a scheduled activity. I had a client a few years ago whose dog would start jumping around when it heard the final Jeopardy theme song. He was conditioned to go for a walk immediately following the show.

The bottom line is that sometimes just providing a backyard is not good enough. This is why you can keep a happy, healthy dog even in an apartment. If a dog has interaction with the outside world and the owners help the animal understand what is expected of him, it makes all the difference in the world. “All we had to do was show Lola where we wanted her to eliminate and then praise her when she did. I’m convinced Lola wanted to understand - she just didn’t know what was expected of her,” Mary Ellen said. This is often the case. Generally, dogs are just looking for information, and we’re simply missing the cues they’re giving us.

So this holiday season, if you’re looking for a dog for either yourself or someone you love, be sure to take into account the prospective owner’s lifestyle, the importance of immediate housetraining and the significance of exercise to keep the dog physically and mentally healthy.


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