Dear Miss Behavior: How Can I Get My Dog to Control His Tail?

Dear Miss Behavior, Our 90 lb. black lab is a gentle soul who loves children. Unfortunately his tail is wicked and can
knock them off their feet. It’s also very good at clearing off the coffee table. How can we get him to control his tail?

missbehavior

Oh my, that’s a tough one! That’s one of the reasons most of my friends are Aussies! Since I doubt you want to dock his tail, here’s some information about why dogs wag their tail and what we can do about it.

Dogs wag their tails when they’re happy, undecided, or angry. The position of the tail and the way the dog wags it tells a lot about their mood. I’m sure that Ebony’s tail is held in a natural position and wags freely, a case of the tail wagging the dog even. I’m also guessing that when he clears the coffee table it’s because he’s greeting people sitting on the couch?

Unfortunately we can’t control Ebony’s tail, and we don’t want to discourage his friendliness, but we can control his butt. Teach him to do a sit-stay when greeting people!

Use family members and friends to train your dog at first, then move on to strangers on the street, etc. Just ask Ebony to sit and stay while the helper pets them. If he breaks, the helper will back off and you will put him back into a sit-stay. This is a behavior to work on with all people who meet him. Be sure to let the helper (and any new person) know they can’t pet Ebony until he’s in a sit-stay.

marcygraybillAfter Marcy adopted her first dog in 1988, she began to research about dog care. Research took the form of checking out books and videos to learn how to train Lady. Eventually, Marcy and her sister began taking their dogs to the dog run and taking formal dog classes. For about six years, Marcy volunteered for the Capital Humane Society, where she performed a variety of jobs, and took time to watch the dogs and learn about their behaviors. Currently, she’s an obedience instructor at GLOC. “I think the most important is to keep up to date on what’s going on in the field.  I try to read articles, blogs and  new books that come out, and watch any DVDs that are available.”

Advertisements

Dear Miss Behavior: How Can I Become the Pack Leader?

Dear Miss Behavior, I have read that in our relationship with our dogs we are to be the Pack Leader. Can you suggest some things I can do to establish a leadership role with my dog?

missbehavior

For some trainers the concept of Pack Leadership is in question. There are people studying this
paradigm and some are starting to report that this may not be reality.* Others feel that it’s one of the most important tenets of dog training. Either way, we can use some simple steps to ensure that a dog respects his owner and is well behaved.

Be sure Timber has plenty of exercise and give him training sessions everyday. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time; you can practice heeling and recalls on walks. Sit and down stays can be practiced throughout the day.

Tell Timber to do a simple command to earn what he wants. If your dog wants to go outside, ask him to
sit and stay until the door is open. Be sure to enforce the command, and his reward will be being released to go outside.

When it’s time to feed Timber don’t free feed; instead divide his daily food in half, give one half in the morning and the other half in the evening. When you feed him ask him to down and stay while the food is being prepped and placed on the floor. Again enforce the command and release him to eat.

In the evening when Timber nudges your knee asking to play fetch or a game of tug, tell him to do a down or a sit stay before releasing him to a rousing tug session. In each case you’re reinforcing the idea that Timber must work for what he wants. He won’t be allowed to train you or be given things for free. And whether he understands pack hierarchies or not, he understands that you are very important to him.

For more information, read: “Dominance in Domestic Dogs—Useful Construct or Bad Habit?” Journal
of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research (May/June 2009), 135-14. or try Dog Sense: How the new science of dog behavior can make you a better friend to your pet by John Bradshaw.

marcygraybillAfter Marcy adopted her first dog in 1988, she began to research about dog care. Research took the form of checking out books and videos to learn how to train Lady. Eventually, Marcy and her sister began taking their dogs to the dog run and taking formal dog classes. For about six years, Marcy volunteered for the Capital Humane Society, where she performed a variety of jobs, and took time to watch the dogs and learn about their behaviors. Currently, she’s an obedience instructor at GLOC. “I think the most important is to keep up to date on what’s going on in the field.  I try to read articles, blogs and  new books that come out, and watch any DVDs that are available.”

Guest Post: Escaping Hurricane Florence

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. 

Our family has been through many hurricanes and tropical storms from an inland standpoint. Then this past fall, for the first time, we faced an evacuation from a hurricane.

Living in Central North Carolina all of our lives, my husband and I were used to the wind and rain that hurricanes on our coast would bring inland, but we normally don’t have to run from winds or flooding. We rarely have to make choices about what we can take and then being left with just those possessions after a storm. Neither of us realized, until Hurricane Florence, how serious and deadly the whole ordeal could be. The thought that if we made a mistake, this hurricane could have killed us or our dog is awful. It gave us a new appreciation of those who’ve lived thru hurricanes and evacuations.

It’s still clicking in my head that storm surge evacuations can threaten our family! We live in Myrtle Beach, SC, in Zone C. The area of Myrtle Beach is divided into three zones: A, B, and C. The zones are associated with storm surge evacuations. We’re probably about 15 minutes from the ocean, but only a mile or so from the Intracoastal Waterway. We live in a third-floor apartment and so with a hurricane like Florence we could’ve been flooded.

My husband and I both had been keeping up with Florence, before she really became a threat to the Southeast coastline. Originally, the track had Florence curving to the sea, but we still watched. Florence was on a track that most storms took, in that it would likely brush the Outerbanks of North Carolina, but not actually make a direct hit on the Carolina Coast. Florence was the first storm to negate the track and become hellbent on hitting North or South Carolina.

When you hear for a week or more that a hurricane is “coming” your way, you grow fatigued with the news, and almost become complacent. The track changes so constantly that one minute you’re going to get hit, then the next it’s not. Forecast tracks more than 5 days out are full of flaws and the “cone” of where it could hit shifts, shifts, and shifts. It’s impossible to get accurate forecasts for hurricanes many days out. You know it’s out there, but you’re tired of hearing about, yet you can’t forget it.

The week before Florence made up her mind, our weather guy became more serious. There was now a chance for a direct hit from a CAT 4 or 5 hurricane. You’ve seen pictures from Katrina, Harvey, Maria, Hugo; that damage in our area was a real possibility. My husband and I began talking about our possible evacuation plan, going over our list of things to take, and then playing the waiting game again.

The waiting game ended on Monday, September 10th, when our governor ordered a mandatory evacuation off ALL THREE zones beginning on September 11th. We knew then that we’d be running for our lives. This hurricane was powerful and had the option to kill lots of people; we did not want to be in the body count.

When a mandatory evacuation is handed down, you’re supposed to immediately leave, but the question is where do you go? My husband and I were lucky that we could flee to a relative’s place, but not everyone has that option. Travel is expensive; so are hotels. Shelters are opened up in the area for people who want to stay or can’t leave, but being in a shelter could’ve still been disastrous given the power of Florence. Every person in all three zones had difficult decisions to make. You have to think of yourself, your family, animals, etc. Your life is hanging in the balance.

The day before the evacuation was to start, we spent time packing, going thru our list, double checking, and trying to breathe. We made decisions on what we would take and what would possibly get washed away into the ocean. Our possessions can be replaced, but not our lives, but it was still hard to make the decision to not take things.

From the beginning of this storm, our dog was priority number one! The first thing we packed were all of our dog’s toys, food, bedding, medicine, etc. If we had to go to a hotel or shelter, we’d find one that’s animal-friendly. In the past, a lot of people refused to go to shelters in the past because they weren’t pet friendly. Accommodations have become more pet-friendly, thankfully! In addition, some counties now have a hotline you can call to find a safe place to take your animals if you aren’t able to take them. It’s easier these days for all animals to be safe during a hurricane, instead of being left at home to possibly die as used to happen often in the past.

9/11/2018, 3:30 a.m.: We hit the road early to beat the evacuation traffic. We got up, walked the dog, showered, packed, turned off power to our place except for the fridge, locked the door, and left. We did NOT look back; We just wanted to get out of there. We arrived at my sister’s house later that morning and endured another waiting game. It was a long week! Florence finally made landfall in Wrightsville Beach, NC that Friday morning, dumping a ton of rain to all of Eastern NC.

Taking our dog, Eclipse, with us was fairly easy. She loves to ride! We have a pet bed and some blankets that she uses every day, and so those went into the back of our car. We made sure to stop for her to potty and exercise. The only challenge was on the way home. It was a much longer drive and became fussier, but otherwise she was fine.

On Sunday, September 16th, the evacuation order was lifted for our area, and so we headed home. It was an arduous experience! Keep in mind, Florence was still in SC as a depression, dumping copious amounts of rain. The usual route was flooded, and so we had to often had to turn around and find another route. We also drove in conditions that were not normal, including two rain-wrapped tornadoes. So many people on the road with us had to do the same. We became scared that we wouldn’t make it home. We worried that one wrong decision and we could lose our lives or Eclipse. My husband and I both wish we would’ve turned around in Charlotte and said screw it.

The night we finally arrived home, we had more severe weather and tons of rain. The governor received criticism for the evacuation order being lifted, but he wanted people to get home before the flooding hit from the rivers upstream in North Carolina. Most of the roads into the area became flooded and washed out; leaving many people unable to return home.

We saw entire towns flooded, homes destroyed, and people’s lives uprooted from Hurricane Florence. It was so heartbreaking being unable to stop the damage. There’s nothing you can say to make it better. Saying “I’m sorry” only goes so far.

You go through life thinking disaster will never hit you but it can. Everyone here is fatigued. We just want the aftermath of Hurricane Florence to be over with and for the recovery to begin. We’ve decided that we’ll be moving next year; we don’t want to do this again.

Before I end the article, Eclipse wanted me to let you know she kept us going during the hurricane. Eclipse provided lots of opportunities for love and helped us stay calm. Woof power!

If you can, donate to charities to help hurricane victims. Thanks to those who rooted for the Carolinas! #CapeFearStrong #CarolinaStrong

To learn how to prepare for a hurricane, check out: Plan Ahead for Disasters from the Department of Homeland Security.

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: Pet Safety in The Garage

We may not even know it but our garage holds items that can be hazardous to not only us but especially our pets. By understanding and taking the necessary steps to pet-proof the garage you will find peace of mind when your pet wanders around the garage.

Growing up my family had a Cavalier King Charles. He had a doggy door that led to the garage and out the back door so that he could go in and out as he pleased. This meant we always had to make sure there wasn’t anything left on the ground, especially something that could be lethal to him. However, it’s not only items left on the ground that are hazardous but flammable products or heavy items prone to fall over. These tips will help you make your garage safe for your pets.

Improperly Storing Chemicals

Leaving chemicals such as gas, antifreeze, and pesticides on the ground or out on lower open shelves means your pet could easily knock over and consume the chemicals. To properly store these items consider installing cabinets or high shelving. Place the items in sealable plastic bins so that if the bin falls over the chemicals will stay inside.

Falling Items

Extension cords, hoses, ladders and so much more can be slipped on, tripped on or knocked over in the garage. When these items are pulled or knocked out of place they could cause other items to fall on your pet. Overhead racks and hanging your items on a bar and hook system in the garage will help these items stay in place and out of the way.

Work Tools and Power Tools

When tools are left lying around curious pets may try to chew on them or may even step on them. Power tool cords are especially dangerous if a pet were to chew on the cord and could shock them if they are left plugged in. Instead, store these items in a cabinet or on a slatwall which will hold the items in place out of reach.

Having Too Much Clutter

Pets love to explore and get into things because they are curious. Taking the time to get rid of items you and your family haven’t used in years will not only clear up space in your garage but also make your garage safe for your pet. Get rid of old toys, expired food or chemicals, sports gear that doesn’t fit, and really anything else you didn’t remember you had.

Propane Tank And Fire Safety

A small leak can ignite a spark in a propane tank creating a fire or even blowing up. A pet could easily knock this item over. Propane tanks should be stored away from your home and away from any other flammable items. This also is a reminder to make sure you have a proper working fire alarm in your garage.

Dim Lighting

It’s not always easy to see your pet in the garage especially when your garage has poor lighting. Imagine pulling in or out of your garage and not being able to see where your pet is standing or laying down. By updating the lights in your garage or adding lights in areas that previously didn’t have any, you will be able to make your garage more visible and get rid of any areas that were previously shadowed.

Our pets are family. It’s important to make every area of our home safe for them. Once you have taken these steps to pet-proof your garage it will be easier to keep it that way so your pets and family members are always safe in the garage. We want to know, what is your favorite pet proofing tips?

Written by Olivia Waddell for LAA Pet Talk. Olivia is a community manage at Classic Garage Solutions here in Lincoln.

If you’re a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you’re interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: Seniors, Loneliness, and the Pet Solution

Written by Aurora James for LAA Pet Talk. Aurora believes there are no bad dogs. She created DogEtiquette.info to share her dog training tips and advice to dog owners everywhere. DogEtiquette.info welcomes and encourages anyone to use its infographics in their writing. It simply ask that you please cite and link to them as the source.

Stock photo, Pexels
Stock photo, Pexels

Pets provide unconditional love, comfort and support, which make them the perfect companions for seniors. The loneliness problem in the senior community is real. According to a recent University of California in San Francisco survey, more than 40 percent of American seniors experience loneliness on a regular basis. The lack of social connection and emotional isolation is as damaging to a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. There are even connections between loneliness and the progression of cognitive decline and issues such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Taking care of a pet does more for senior than just reducing loneliness. Pets provide a sense a purpose for seniors as they know that another creature relies on them for care and affection. They also help keep seniors active as they have to get up to feed them, take them outside, bathe them, and play with them. Furthermore, pets reduce stress, anxiety, and can even ease feelings of depression.

When it comes to picking out a pet, seniors do have particular needs. It’s not typically the best idea to get an older person a young cat or dog. Kittens and puppies are needy, rambunctious and more likely to wreak havoc on a person’s home and belongings. In the end, a baby animal may actually cause stress, not reduce it. That’s why it’s best to look for an adult animal whose personality is already established and compatible with the person’s own personality.

Not picking a kitten or puppy is just the start. Consider the following with helping a senior adopt a new pet companion.

  • Adopting from a shelter saves a life and your small adoption fee goes back to helping more animals in the community. Plus, shelters have adoption agents that will work with you to find the perfect pet for your situation.
  • Consider the senior’s living situation when deciding what kind of pet to adopt. A large dog needs a yard or some sort of outdoor area where he can run off leash. Cats tend to do better with smaller spaces and are perfect for people living in apartments. Of course, you can’t convince a dog person to get a cat. Luckily, there are plenty of apartment-friendly dogs out there.
  • Cats are great for people who prefer staying indoors as well as those with mobility issues as they don’t need to be walked.
  • If adopting a dog, be sure to go over dog-walking safety with the senior. Make sure they have the right kind of leash and collar. Provide reflective gear they can wear if walking the pet at night. Finally, go over training the dog and how to let him approach other animals in the street.
  • Help the senior set up their home for the new pet before its first day. Provide water and food bowls, toys, a bed, potty pads/litter box, and any other pet accessories they may need.
  • When it’s time to bring the pet home, let the new companion explore the new place. It can be exciting having a new animal in the house, but be patient.

Pets are perfect companions for seniors as they reduce loneliness, provide a sense of purpose, encourage activity, and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. When helping a senior pick out a pet, avoid a young cat or dog that will only disrupt their environment. Instead, look for an adult cat or dog well-suited for their situation, so they can reap all the benefits of pet ownership without all the headaches.

If you’re a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you’re interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: Emotional Support Animals Vs Therapy Pets

Are you like me and thought you knew the difference between an emotional support animal and a therapy animal?  Upon doing some more in-depth research, I found that I did not know much if at all between the two.  Did you know that guinea pigs can be emotional support animals and therapy animals, talk about a win-win!

Emotional Support Animals

An emotional support animal is defined as a companion animal in which a doctor sees beneficial for someone with a disability.  Most emotional support animals are dogs, but there are other animals suited for this task also.

Did you know an animal doesn’t need the training to become an emotional support animal? I’d like to add that in recent years some courtrooms have provided emotional support dogs to those who’ve been on the stand to give a testimony; the dog is right there beside them providing comfort.

Most emotional support animals help a person that has anxiety and/or depression, but they’re not limited to those specific areas. Emotional support animals has even been proven in some cases to be more helpful than medication for depression/anxiety.

Therapy Animals

A therapy animal is defined as an animal that provides treatment for a person. Therapy animals also can be used in providing medical care, behavioral, and emotional care. Therapy animals can be in a wide variety of places such as nursing homes, prisons, schools, and libraries.

The most used animal for this type of task is a dog, but other animals such as cats, birds, and horses have been certified as ones too. The most important requirements are they like meeting new people and going new places. Therapy animals teams will also need to pass an evaluation.

Guinea Pigs

These little creatures are a compact way to provide comfort either as an emotional support animal or therapy animal. Speaking from personal experience, after my husband or myself would have a stressful day, just petting our boy guinea pigs would help. Guinea pigs can be very loving and entertaining, providing an excellent source of laughter and a feeling of well-being to a person.

To serve as a therapy animal, the guinea pig should remain as calm as possible without a nibbling session. Some handlers during sessions recommend the use of veggies or fruits as an incentive for the guinea pig. For a moment, a person interacting with a therapy guinea pig can forget what’s going on and just enjoy life.

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Dear Miss Behavior: How Can I Teach My Dog to Retrieve?

Dear Miss Behavior, We adopted a Labrador Retriever from rescue. He’s three-years-old and has great house manners. The only problem is he doesn’t retrieve! We toss a toy but he grabs it and runs off. Someone said try two toys and trade one toy for another, but he just hides the first toy and then runs and gets the second. We really love the idea of playing fetch in the back yard. How do we teach him how to retrieve?

missbehavior

Some dogs never learn the idea of playing fetch when they’re a puppy. They don’t realize the game lasts
much longer if you bring the toy back to the human.

It’s not difficult to train dogs to retrieve. They have the instinct to chase and pick up; They just need to be taught that giving the toy back is more important that hiding it.

Start with him on leash in the house and have handy a toy that doesn’t roll away too easily and a small dish of tasty treats. Offer him the toy and let him grab it out of your hand and then present him with a treat. Most likely he’ll drop the toy for the treat.

Pick up the toy and repeat several times. Then hand him the toy and say “Give” or “Drop”. If he drops the toy, tell him what a good dog he is and give him a treat. If he doesn’t drop it, put the food on his nose so he does drop it and go back to step one for a few more repetitions.

Once he’s giving up the toy on command, gently toss the toy away from you. Remember he’s on a leash so only toss it a foot or so.

Allow him to run out and get the toy, and call him back. Use the leash to gently guide him back to you if he won’t come willingly.

Again have him give you the toy and reward him. Keep practicing this way throwing the toy a little farther and eventually dropping the leash.

If at any time he starts to run away with the toy, grab the leash and gently guide him back to you. Make sure the treats are really tasty!

Once he’s doing very well inside. Move outside. Keep him on leash until he understands he needs to
bring the toy back and get a reward. Once he’s reliably bringing the toy back for a treat, begin only
rewarding every other toss, or every third toss.

Eventually you won’t have to reward him with a treat because the game will be his reward.

marcygraybillAfter Marcy adopted her first dog in 1988, she began to research about dog care. Research took the form of checking out books and videos to learn how to train Lady. Eventually, Marcy and her sister began taking their dogs to the dog run and taking formal dog classes. For about six years, Marcy volunteered for the Capital Humane Society, where she performed a variety of jobs, and took time to watch the dogs and learn about their behaviors. Currently, she’s an obedience instructor at GLOC. “I think the most important is to keep up to date on what’s going on in the field.  I try to read articles, blogs and  new books that come out, and watch any DVDs that are available.”

Guest Post: Ensuring Your Dog is a Good Neighbor

Stock photo, Pexels
Stock photo, Pexels

Written by Aurora James for LAA Pet Talk. Aurora believes there are no bad dogs. She created DogEtiquette.info to share her dog training tips and advice to dog owners everywhere. DogEtiquette.info welcomes and encourages anyone to use its infographics in their writing. It simply ask that you please cite and link to them as the source.

Dog etiquette is important. As of 2012, 36 percent of U.S. households owned dogs. That’s 43 million households, with a grand total of 69.9 million dogs. So, there’s a strong likelihood that you own a dog or have a neighbor who owns a dog. If that’s the case, here some etiquette tips for all the dog owners who are also trying to be good neighbors.

Installing a Fence

 A good first step is to install a fence around your yard. According to Home Advisor, the average cost of installing a fence runs between $1,643 and $3,857. However, you’ll probably find that it’s worth the money. A good fence ensures that your dog won’t run away or trample through your neighbors’ lawns. Additionally, it gives your dog a sense of order and place, allowing it to roam while also keeping it safe from thieves, or (especially for small dogs) predators like hawks or coyotes. Make sure to install a doggie door to let your pooch access the backyard whenever it wants. Just like us, dogs need exercise to lose weight and not feel cooped up or depressed.

Picking Up After Your Dog

Another etiquette tip is to pick up after your dog. Leaving your dog’s waste on the sidewalk or the grass is unsightly. Of course, this courtesy is more than just cosmetic. Feces can attract rats or drop into the sewer system, contaminating the waterways. Some of the diseases that fester in dog poop include E. coli, giardia, salmonella, and roundworms. Left out in the open, they have a way of getting into the digestive tracts of other animals, or other people’s dogs, and then into their homes. So keep a doggie bag handy whenever you and your dog pop out for a stroll.

Keep It Down!

For centuries, people have kept dogs because they act as our sentries, pricking up their ears and barking if a trespasser approaches. They can also bay at the moon, howl for no reason, or yap at other dogs. Try to keep the decibel level down, especially at night. Maintain a household schedule to minimize the chance that your dog will yowl out of confusion. Then keep that schedule going into the evening hours, which will calm it down because it’s used to your bedtime pattern. Pet it and play with it throughout the day so that it doesn’t feel like it has to raise a ruckus to get your attention–and wake the whole neighborhood in the process.

Public Places

Perhaps the cornerstone of being a good dog-owning neighbor is teaching your dog how to behave in public. A lot of that education starts with you. Be a considerate dog walker. Always keep your dog on a leash, and pay attention to where you’re going so that your dog doesn’t bump into a child or dash across someone’s yard. Also, be mindful of where you let it urinate. (Avoid parked cars or someone’s lawn or mailbox.) Regularly visit the vet, keep your vaccinations current, and make sure your address and phone number are engraved onto your dog’s collar. Finally, introduce it to the dog park, so it can play with other dogs.

Balancing the roles of good neighbor and good dog-owner isn’t impossible. Just make sure your dog is as well-mannered in public as it is in your house. You’ll know you’ve done a good job if your neighbors bend down and ruffle your dog’s ears when they pass you on the sidewalk.

If you’re a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you’re interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

Guest Post: Guinea Pigs and Other Pets

Fruity & Pudding, Photo by Allison
Fruity & Pudding, Photo by Allison

Every living creature at some point in their lives like to have their own space, but in a world with billions of creatures it’s sometimes a little difficult to achieve it. When introducing a guinea pig to your home, you need to consider if you have space enough for it and also how your other pets will react.

When bringing a guinea pig into your house, I recommend buying a large home for each pet (something in the range of $200,000.00!) with lots of yard space to be free in. In all seriousness, I encourage you that whether you have one or more than one guinea pig that you provide them with a big cage. These little fur balls love to run around and need an area to do their morning yoga. Cage space for one guinea pig alone should have at least seven square feet of space, each additional guinea pig should have two to four additional square feet of space. For more information on guinea pig housing, check out info at Guinea Lynx.

Bumblebee & Lucy, Photo by Allison
Bumblebee & Lucy, Photo by Allison

There are other considerations to make too. For example, do you have a place in your home for your guinea pig to live in safely? Your cat may be curious and check out your guinea pig. If you have a cat, make sure the guinea pig(s) cage is not accessible by any means. Dogs can be quite rambunctious and loud. If you have a dog, make sure the cage is in a place where the barking won’t scare your guinea pig(s). Whether you have a cat or dog, they may want to play with your guinea pig and accidentally hurt it. They might also view your guinea pig as prey to eat. In a nutshell, if you have other pets, keep your guinea pig(s) in a safe place so they can enjoy being a guinea pig.

When you bring your guinea pig(s) home, your other pets are going to either be curious, afraid, or not care about it. Do you have a plan of introducing your new guinea pig(s) to your current pets? I don’t recommend bringing your guinea pig(s) and other pets face to face for a while; it can either go well or be a disaster.

Bumblebee & Barnaby, Photo by Allison
Bumblebee & Barnaby, Photo by Allison

Give all of your pets a while to get used to each other, then introduce them from far away. Perhaps, bring your other pets into the area your guinea pig(s) are residing in, but from a distance! Please don’t put your pet(s) right up to the cage; it’ll frighten the guinea pig(s) and possibly your other pet(s).

If your take your time and properly introduce your pets, chances are the introductions will go well and there will be nothing to worry about. The important part is, to make sure that you stay calm and the animals may stay calm as well! For more info on guinea pig introductions, check out Pawsperous Pets.

Finally, when thinking of incorporating guinea pigs into your home with multiple pets, check to see if you have the space. If you live in an apartment, you may only be able to keep two pets at a time or your lease may include no “exotic animals.”

Multiple pets in a home can be a wonderful experience! Guinea pigs love to be social and can get along with all kinds of animals. Just make sure you do your research before thinking of adopting a guinea pig or two. Guinea pigs deserve a safe and loving home too.

eclipse

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please check out our Author Guidelines.

Dear Miss Behavior: My Dog Bites When She Plays

Dear Miss Behavior, My Siberian Husky is a great dog. She only has one problem. Sometimes she gets really excited and starts biting my hands, my arms and even pulling on my clothes. I try telling her “NO!” but it doesn’t seem to make a difference to her. She is about a year old and we take long walks every day. Can you help?

missbehaviorI’m sorry to hear that Angel is trying to use you as a toy. This is a behavior that needs to stop. Not only is it dangerous; rips in clothes are definitely fashion faux-pas.

It sounds like Angel has had quite a bit of practice with the mouthing, so you’ll need some patience in stopping it. Whenever she starts to grab you, say “Ouch “in a loud voice with feeling. It doesn’t matter if she hurts you or not, we’re creating a word that she’ll learn means stop mouthing you and calm herself.

When you first say the word and she stops, you’ll quietly praise her. Tell her she’s a “gooood doooog” in a low and slow voice. You can give her a small treat if you have one handy but don’t pet her. Petting or touching her will encourage her to start mouthing again.

After a few times, she’s going to start testing you by trying to nip you again. When she does, you’ll move onto the next step. As soon as she grabs at you or your clothes say “Ouch,” and cross your arms and turn your back on her. When she calms down, verbally praise her as before.

Angel is quite smart, so she’ll soon figure out that mouthing you means you’ll stop interacting with her. The problem is she’s been rewarded for biting in the past. Anytime you pushed her away, grabbed her muzzle or wrestled her to the ground was probably viewed as a reward. Not only did you touch her but, in her opinion, you actually played with her.

So she’s going try to push you into ‘playing’ with her again. The next step requires her to have a flat buckle collar on and her crate nearby. You said you crate her at night so that’s great. When she begins chewing on you say “Ouch” but instead of ignoring her, you gently take hold of her collar and lead her into her crate. Close the door and leave her alone for a short time. Don’t get angry, don’t yell at her, or be mean when you put her in the crate. If her crate isn’t handy, you can take her to the laundry room or if you’re outside go inside without her. The end result is Angel spending a few minutes alone.

(I’ve been asked if that will make her hate her crate and I say no. Dogs learn to dislike their crates if they’re forced to spend too much time in them or if they’re frightened or teased while in the crate. I loved my cr—room as a child, even though I was sent there when I did something naughty.)

When you go back to her, be sure to keep it low-key when you let her out. Don’t encourage her to become excited. She needs to sit before the door opens. She’ll soon learn when you say “Ouch” to calm herself or she won’t have any playmates.

Remember, Siberian Huskies are very intelligent and have boundless energy. It sounds like you’ve got a good start with the long walks, but don’t forget to exercise her mind as well as body. Take an obedience class and train her every day, not only will she be better behaved but she’ll have less energy. Once you’ve taken her through a couple of obedience classes, the sky’s the limit. Consider agility, flyball, and/or even tracking to engage her.

Thanks to this feature goes to Greater Lincoln Obedience Club, who ran the Miss Behavior Dog Advice Column in their newsletter. Appreciation also is extended to Marcy Graybill, a trainer at GLOC and the expert behind this column. She also hosts her own blog, Dog Log, where she talks about training adventures with her dogs.

marcygraybillAfter Marcy adopted her first dog in 1988, she began to research about dog care. Research took the form of checking out books and videos to learn how to train Lady. Eventually, Marcy and her sister began taking their dogs to the dog run and taking formal dog classes. For about six years, Marcy volunteered for the Capital Humane Society, where she performed a variety of jobs, and took time to watch the dogs and learn about their behaviors. Currently, she’s an obedience instructor at GLOC. “I think the most important is to keep up to date on what’s going on in the field.  I try to read articles, blogs and  new books that come out, and watch any DVDs that are available.”