You want to take your new puppy out for a stroll; now, all you need to do is train him to walk on a leash. Watch as Expert Pet Trainer Kathy Santo show you how to walk your new family member.
Hi, I'm Kathy Santo with IAMS, and today we're going to talk about how to leash train your puppy. Once your puppy is around eight weeks old, you can begin leash training. The first thing you'll need is a collar or harness that fits your puppy appropriately, never too lose or too tight. You should be able to fit two fingers between the collar and your puppy's neck. When deciding between using a collar or a harness, there are a few things to consider. Does your puppy have any respiratory issues? Does your puppy pull when being walked on leash? Use a harness or head halter if your puppy pulls on leash, or has respiratory problems. Before you can jump right into training, you'll need to get your puppy used to wearing a collar and having the added weight of a leash. The best thing to do is have him wear the collar or harness and leash around the house, so he becomes used to the feeling.
Be sure to keep an eye on your puppy to make sure he doesn't get trapped, caught, or accidentally injured. If your puppy is noticeably struggling, or looks scared, start off with a shoelace, or a small piece of rope, so he can get used to dragging only a little something around. This will help him get used to the added presence and weight of a collar and leash. Now for walking on a leash. The leash should have some slack, because when you put pressure on a dog, their natural reflex is to move or pull in the opposite direction. If you find that your puppy is afraid of walking with the leash, try placing treats along the route you know you'll be walking, to give him the notion that good times are ahead. That way, he learns to focus on what's ahead of him with curiosity, and not fear. As you begin walking your puppy, you will notice that your pace will sometimes have to be faster than you expect to retain slack in the leash. The more you work with your puppy, the quicker you'll be able to train him to slow down, while maintaining the needed slack. As you walk around, begin incorporating specific commands for your puppy. Basic commands include sit, stay, and heel, or let's go. Do your best to remain consistent with your commands, and guide your puppy through the learning process. For example, when you say sit, guide your puppy to sit until the command is recognized by the puppy. When you say heel, make sure your puppy is obeying your command before you start walking again. When your puppy starts to move ahead too quickly, come to a complete stop and wait for him to cease pulling before going forward. Practice his stop and go, never allowing your puppy to dictate your pace. If your puppy continues to pull on his leash, ask him to change directions, while saying "turn." This will condition your puppy to always look for you for direction, instead of him feeling like he can dictate where the two of you go next. I also like to run backward, and then switch to a different direction. This gets your puppy excited about chasing you. Remember to reward your puppy when he does the right thing, so that he begins to understand what you're asking him for. If your puppy still isn't catching on, try upgrading your treats, practicing in an area with fewer distractions, or working on more basic commands. Leash training takes time and patience. Both you and your puppy may get frustrated during the learning process. Do your best to avoid tugging. It's not fair to correct them for something they don't understand. As your dog enters adolescence, and clearly knows the difference between right and wrong, it's OK to give a slight occasional tug on his leash, if he insists on being difficult. If you remain patient and consistent with your puppy, he'll be leash trained in no time. I'm Kathy Santo with IAMS, and I hope that you found this helpful as you welcome your new addition to your family.
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Keeping Your Senior Dog Healthy and Active
It depends on the breed of dog, but your pet's senior years generally begin at age 7. Louise Murray, DVM, director of the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and author of Vet Confidential (Ballantine, 2008), tells you what you need to know to keep your older dog spry and happy.
Senior Dog Health: Preventive Health
At this stage, Murray recommends taking your dog to the vet twice a year. "So much can happen to an elderly dog," she says. Your veterinarian can take blood annually to test liver and kidney functions. "Discovering problems early is extremely important," she says. Your vet can be on the lookout for conditions that often affect older dogs, such as anemia and arthritis.
Senior Dog Health: Urination, Bowel Movements, and Appetite
Pay attention to what might be subtle changes in your dog's habits: Is she drinking more water or urinating larger amounts? These behaviors might indicate a liver or kidney problem. Have your dog's bowel movements shifted? This could indicate a digestive issue. Diabetes or digestive problems might cause your dog to eat more but still lose weight. Knowing the dog's patterns can help the veterinarian determine a course of treatment.
Senior Dog Health: Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Medicines
Continue to use preventive medicines.
Senior Dog Health: Dental Health
Clean your dog's teeth daily. If she has tartar buildup, you might need to have her teeth professionally cleaned at your vet's office, which requires sedating your pet.
Senior Dog Health: Exercise
Your dog is probably less active, so steady, moderate exercise is best for her now. Don't turn her into a "weekend warrior" who, after lying around on weekdays, accompanies you on a 10-mile hike on Saturdays. This is especially hard on an older dog's joints.
Senior Dog Health: Diet
Your veterinarian might wish to put your dog on a senior diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Senior Plus. These formulations contain nutrients specifically geared toward older-dog health.
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