Love & Let Live
Every animal deserves a second chance at love — and life. We invite you to be part of the solution and give back to the animals who give us so much.
We offer a wide range of services to help resolve pet behavior issues. If you have a finicky feline or a problem pooch, help is available online, over the phone, and in person. Here are a few of the more common issues we hear about most often — that you can fix!
Where should the introduction take place?
The initial introduction between your current dogs and your new one should be done during the adoption process at the shelter. This allows them to get familiar with each other before your new dog comes home.
What should I do during the first meeting?
Remember to stay calm and relaxed during the introductions. Any tension on your part will be transmitted to the animals and may increase the risk of an negative response. Keep your leash loose, but keep a firm grasp on it in case you need to pull your dog back for any reason.
What should I do when we arrive home?
What behaviors should I watch for?
Your new dog may ignore the current resident and want to explore your home. Be alert for very stiff body language, teeth display or growling. Both dogs may have a little anxiety, so it is important that you stay relaxed. Keeping the leashes on will afford you more control over the situation. You may simply step on the leash to stop either of the dogs.
Can I leave my dogs alone together?
Always separate your dogs when you can not supervise them, such as when you are leaving your home. If you are not there to provide a leadership role, your dogs may be having negative interactions without you knowing it, which can lead to increased tension between them.
Crate training is a great way to keep your pet (and your furniture!) safe when you are not home. Crating is also very useful housetraining tool. The crate itself should be large enough for the dog to stand up, turn around and lay down comfortably. However, the crate should not be so large that the dog has room to use the restroom at one end and relax in the other.
Designate a place for the crate in your home. Do not place it close enough to furniture or drapery that the dog may be able to reach.
Put the crate in its designated area and leave the door open. This gives the dog a chance to investigate the new object and lessens the potential for fear. Ignore the crate for a few hours. Do not attempt to put the dog inside at this point.
Place her favorite toy into the crate and leave it there for her to retrieve. Do not speak to the dog. Stay relaxed and observe only. If she will not go inside to get her toy, place a small amount of her food inside and observe only. If the dog is still too afraid to venture in after the object, place her favorite food treat inside. Stay relaxed and observe only.
Once she has gone inside, do not shut the door or overly praise her. Either action will startle her. It is important that she not feel pressured to go into the crate. She needs to feel safe in and around the cage as this will become her personal area.
After she steps out, repeat step 3 until she is completely comfortable venturing into the crate.
The next step is shutting the door with her inside. This should be done quietly and calmly so she does not feel trapped. Do not latch the gate. Shut it and immediately open it again, allowing her to step out.
Take her outside to use the restroom. When you bring her back in, repeat step 6, leaving the door shut just a little longer than the first time and latching the gate. If she becomes stressed, stop the exercise for the day.
Gradually increase the amount of time she is in the crate until you are able to leave her in it for 1 1/2 hours at a time without her becoming upset. After she is comfortable being in the crate for that period of time, you are safe to leave the house. Crate training may take time, but your peace of mind is worth it!
Dogs adopted from shelters may be stressed out from living in a kennel environment. They may also have had bad experiences in the past that have made certain situations uncomfortable for them. For this reason, they may act out when they become over-stimulated or fearful. This is a normal behavior that takes time and patience to overcome.
Dogs are naturally social animals that truly want to be a part of your family. In some cases, they need a little extra help from you to get to that point. The end result of teaching your new dog that they are safe and can trust you is one of the most rewarding experiences of adopting a dog from a rescue.
What are fearful behaviors?
Your new dog may be fearful of new experiences because they have not yet learned that they are safe. Wide eyes, ears pulled back, a tucked tail, and a tense body stance are good indicators of fear.
How should I react to fearful behavior(s)?
What activities can calm a fearful dog?
What if my dog snaps at me?
If your dog snaps at you, stay calm. Stand, fold your arms across your chest and hold still. Turn very slightly to the side, until you are at a slight angle from the dog. Do not stand over or stare down your dog, however you should not back away. This tells the dog that although you are not afraid of him, you are not going to challenge him either. Backing away from him at this point would be seen as submissive behavior. Move away only after he is calm and looks or moves away from you.
How can I best handle mealtime and playtime?
Decisions involving mealtimes and playtimes must be made by you, not the dog. At mealtimes, have the dog sit or move away from where you will feed him. Place the bowl of food on the ground, and give him 15 minutes to eat. If he has not eaten, pick up the bowl and put it away until the next mealtime. This may seem harsh, but is normal canine behavior from the dog’s point of view.
The same procedure should be followed for playtime. These actions signal to your dog that you are the leader. A dog with a calm, confident leader will develop into a calm, confident dog. If you do not fill this role of leadership, he will attempt to. This can result in increased anxiety for the dog and may lead to unwanted behaviors.
Many dogs suffer from anxiety or fear due to a wide variety of reasons. Past abuse, life as a stray or even the chaos of a kennel environment can turn a normally stable dog into a very fearful one. Time, patience and an understanding of how the dog interprets the world around him will make a huge difference in his behavior. There is nothing quite like watching a dog change from a cowering, fearful dog into one full of love, trust and playfulness. It may take some time, but the results are worth it!
Your new pet needs time to adjust to living in your home, so be patient. Dogs that may have been house trained previously will still need a refresher course upon arrival.
Consistency is vital.
As with all training, consistency is vital. Feeding time should be as close to the same time every day as possible, even on weekends.
Keep the dog with you.
Keep the dog with you; instead of allowing it free run of the house until housetraining is completed. It is recommended to keep your dog attached to you on a leash until they are housetrained.
Place the dog in her crate.
When you are unable to supervise him, place the dog in its crate.
Take the dog out.
Take the dog outside on a leash to the specific area you would like him to use. Walk him around the area, saying the word you will associate with the behavior: “Go potty.” Use this word every time you take him out.
It may take several minutes for him to complete the task, so don’t give up or get frustrated.
Dogs should be taken out after every meal, playtime and upon waking up in the morning and from naps.
If the dog begins sniffing the ground, moving away from you and the activity he was just participating in, he likely needs to go out.
After he has used the restroom, praise him using treats and the key word (i.e. “Potty”).
Don’t punish him.
If he assumes the position before you can reach him, calmly tell him no and take him outside to finish. Dogs do not learn through punishment, and doing so may lead to stress and distrust on him part.
If you fail to supervise your dog, and he has an accident in the house, do not punish him. He simply hasn’t yet learned correct behavior and may not know how to alert you.
A properly supervised dog should not have an accident in the house. Techniques such as physical punishment, or rubbing his nose in it will only lead to distrust of you and will make house-training more difficult.
When to leave your dog.
No dog should be left unsupervised until they have reliably alerted you to their need to go out for several weeks in a row.
Every dog has different time limits on how long they are able to go between breaks; make sure to allow for this.
How to address a mouthy puppy or adult dog
Mouthing is a behavior that all dogs exhibit as puppies. Their mouth is what they use to explore the world. It is an integral tool during playtime with other dogs, and their primary tool when interacting with objects.
Many puppies will learn not to mouth their owners when they are young, as puppies are very sensitive to correction. Adult dogs who mouth people probably never learned not to do so during puppyhood. It’s likely that their human parents didn’t teach them how to be gentle or to chew toys instead.
Most mouthing is normal dog behavior, and can be easily corrected through training. This is true even for adult dogs.
Bite inhibition refers to a dog’s ability to control the force of his mouthing. A puppy or dog who hasn’t learned bite inhibition with people doesn’t recognize the sensitivity of human skin, so he bites too hard, even in play.
When you play with your dog, let him mouth on your hands. Continue play until he bites especially hard. When he does, immediately give a high-pitched yelp, as if you’re hurt, and let your hand go limp. This should startle your dog and cause him to stop mouthing you, at least momentarily. (If yelping seems to have no effect, you can say “All done!” in a stern voice instead.) Praise your dog for stopping or for licking you. Then resume play. If your dog mouths you hard again, yelp again. Repeat these steps no more than three times within a 15-minute period.
Remember, training a dog requires patience and consistency. If you’re working on decreasing your dog’s mouthiness, don’t allow friends or children to come over and “wind up” your pet or encourage play biting.
Be sure everyone in your network understands and follows the rules.
Separation anxiety in dogs is not bad behavior that should be punished. It is a true panic attack experienced by an insecure dog that is overly attached to its owner and does not feel safe or secure when separated from that person. Separation anxiety is a common issue that can be resolved with time and patience.