Urban Kennels is a blog which explores issues pet owners care about, so that hopefully our readers will have a better idea of how they can improve the care of their pet. Whether it is regarding improvements to their quality of life, improving your relationship with them, or finding out about useful services for your pet, we should be able to help.
Sadly, we often hear, on our television screens or in our daily newspapers, stories of children getting bitten by dogs. However, there are around 7 million dogs kept as pets in this country and the vast majority of families never have any problems. Nevertheless, it is always wise to be cautious and vigilant when your dog is around young children.
Dogs may bite for a number of reasons. They may be protective of themselves or the home in which they live; they may be in pain; feel trapped and cornered; they may have been suddenly surprised or they may be over-excited.
Be very wary of a dog with its ears lying back and which may also be baring its teeth, snarling or growling. Look out for a dog that has a stiff body posture, especially if you can see that the hair on its back is raised and if it appears that the dog is standing its ground. If a dog is walking away with its head lowered and its tail tucked between the legs, then the dog is unsure of you or the situation. He may look at you out of the corner of the eye or look at you sideways.
A happy dog looks relaxed, with its ears pointed forward and mouth open with tongue hanging out. The tail and lower part of the body are wagging. Dogs that are keen to play may offer you their toy and will have their hind quarters raised and their fore legs straight in front. They may bark excitedly to get your attention.
It is thought that there are over 7 million dogs in the UK and many of them are bought for company and as family pets for the whole family to love and enjoy.
There are many benefits and advantages to having a dog:
- It is claimed that children with pets have better self-esteem, empathy with others and develop better social skills.
- Dogs provide loyalty.
- There is a reduction of incidence of asthma and other allergies when a baby has been brought into a family which already has a dog. It is thought that children also develop a stronger immune system.
- Families with a dog tend to exercise more as they walk their dog around the local park or around the block once or twice a day.
- Petting a dog can reduce anxiety and has a calming effect. It has been claimed that pet owners suffer fewer medical problems than people who do not have any pets living at home.
- Owning a dog teaches children about responsibility, compassion, caring and respect for another living being.
Even if your dog has been used to children in the past, it will still need to get used to your own children.
Help to prevent your pet feeling overwhelmed by making sure that your dog approaches your children rather than the other way round. This should help your dog to feel more relaxed and less threatened and he is less likely to snap in self-defence.
Your children should try to encourage the dog to approach them by offering a toy to play with. If the dog is happy to approach, then they can stroke the dog under the chin to start with. It is best to avoid patting on the head and tell them that it’s important not to stare at the dog as some dogs find this very threatening. Make sure that you closely supervise these contacts as a small child could feel quite overwhelmed if the dog jumps up.
Some dogs are not happy to be cuddled or hugged so take things slowly at first and over time this may be a possibility.
Children need to be taught to respect your dog and they should not treat it as a toy. A new dog may be upset by high pitched squealing so try to keep your children calm and give your dog space away from the youngsters for a length of time. Children should never tease or bully a dog and you should not allow your dog to jump up at them or nip them in play.
Be particularly vigilant when the dog is eating. You dog should be allowed to eat in some peace away from children. You will also have to take more care if your dog is elderly or hard of hearing as a sudden approach may frighten them and cause them to bite in self-defence.
It is never advisable to leave young children alone with your dog, even if you think that you know your own dog very well.
Buying pets can be quite difficult for conscientious buyers, as there is unfortunately a lot of bad practitioners in the industry, and nobody really wants to provide them with funds to keep going. Some people will tell you that buying from a breeder is the most likely way to encounter bad actors, but considering some of the bad stories which have recently come out regarding pet shops, are you really safe buying from them either?
The truth is, the pet trade industry is still fairly unregulated, so it mostly comes down to a judgement call. Alternatively, buying a rescue pet is a good option, and one which is preferred by pet activists as well. This alternative also means that you get a pet which really needs you, and the money you pay the rescue team for the animal is going to go to a good cause as well.
No matter whether you’re talking about young children or young dogs, starting their education as early as possible is going to give them the greatest chance to learn how to behave. For dogs, this includes important areas such as how to socialise with other dogs responsibly, how to respond to specific commands, and making sure that they are properly toilet trained.
there are a number of qualified dog trainers who provide training services which cater to puppies. Ideally they would provide an opportunity for the dogs to learn what they need to learn in an environment surrounded by plenty of other dogs, as well as some one on one training with you, the owners, so you know how you should treat your pet for them to grow to be well adjusted dogs.
Your last option is to seek the services of a kennel. A lot of people have mixed feelings about kennels, generally due to a negative experience, whether they had the experience first-hand, with their pet, or through anecdotal evidence of their poor quality of service. While this characterisation is not unearned, the reality is never quite so clear-cut, with there being a lot of good and bad kennels out there.
Kennels which provide a good service can ensure that your pet doesn’t just get fed and given water when they need it, but will also receive they attention they need in order to have a good life. They can be wonderful places where your pet will get the attention they need and access to a lot more pet products than you would find in most homes.
For dog kennels, you also get the added benefit of getting a great place for your dog to socialise with other dogs. This can be a learning experience for them, and you may be surprised when upon your return your dog is even better behaved than when you left.
One of the worst times for any pet owners, besides their pet falling ill, is when you’ve got an overseas holiday booked. This can be difficult, as you only really have 3 options and none of them are particularly desirable.
Your first option, and what most people probably prefer the idea of, is taking your pet with you. Unfortunately, this is also the most complicated, and can cause massive distress with your pet. First of all vaccinations are a must with any overseas travel with pets. That, and how difficult getting them boarding passes and arranging for their journey is quite difficult. All of this plus how stressful and down-right terrifying the journeys often are for them, you can see why many pet owners opt for a different option.
Your second option is often times your best option, which is to leave them with friends and family while you’re away. This really comes down to how amenable to the idea your friends or family are, but it does mean that you get somebody with an emotional interest in them looking after them.
A lot of pet owners are reticent to start training their dogs, but in many cases it is a necessity, and all cases it can help to reinforce a positive relationship with your pet, providing it is done correctly.
Dog training is something which a lot of pet owners avoid doing, but it is really something they should consider doing as soon as they can. The earlier you start with it is the better it going to be, both in terms of the end results and the speed with which you achieve them.
Starting when they are just a few weeks old is ideal, as they are at their most submissive in this period. It is also a great opportunity to get them socialising with adult dogs so that they see how they’re supposed to behave (an integral part of any puppy-dog training).
Ball launchers are something which everyone will have seen at some point due to their wide popularity, which makes sense due to how massively useful they are. It can be tiring, throwing a ball repeatedly long distances for your dog to run after and catch, and if you’re older or in bad shape you could be risking injury on top of this. A ball launcher helps to relieve a lot of the stress from the action, allowing owners to throw the ball for longer and to further distances as well.
Another great benefit offered by ball launchers which I’m sure a lot of dog owners will sympathise with is how you can also pick the ball up with the ball launcher (providing you’re a little patient). If you’ve had the ‘wonderful’ experience of picking a ball up after your dog has started to slobber all over it, being able to use the ball launcher as a makeshift hand makes the experience a lot more enjoyable for both the owner and the pet.
Making sure that your pet dog remains happy is one of the chief responsibilities of every pet owner, right up there with keeping them healthy. They often go hand in hand, as one of the best ways to keep them happy is making sure they receive a lot of exercise.
A dog’s happiness is dependent of a few different factors; exercise, socialising with humans and other dogs and having a routine. Depending upon the breed of animal you’re caring for you could find a greater or smaller demand on your time.
A border collie for instance is renowned for being a very active intelligent and demanding dog. They need an active life where they have responsibilities and a job, which requires certain life choices from the owner as well. Failing to do this can cause depression, so you need to consider if you’ll be able to provide them with the life they require.
British bulldog’s are at the other end of the scale; largely satisfied with being left at home during the day while you’re at work and an otherwise great companion when you are home. They still need regular exercise and socialising as well, but keeping them happy is less of concern.