Practical > Companion Animals - Index > Companion Animal Care

Caring for Your Dog

Basics | Behavior Tips | Housetraining | Household Hazards | Supplies

Teaching your dog to be a well behaved member of your family will take time, but will be well worth it as your dog becomes a beloved friend and companion.

Dogs who have been chained can certainly make good house dogs (like T.J.), but sometimes require additional attention. Be prepared for an "outside" dog to act overexcited when first coming inside. Don�t give up. Your dog will calm way down once he is used to being inside. He is just excited about being in a new place and getting so much attention!

Read an article about rehabilitating a chained dog.


The Basics

A pet is not a toy! Dogs are living creatures with personalities and needs of their own. If you don't want a dog, please don't get one just for your child! You will be the one paying the vet bills. You will be the one buying food and supplies, and you will be caring for the dog when your child grows older and becomes involved in other activities.

Man's Best Friend

The most important thing to remember about dogs is that they are pack animals, genetically bred to work, play, eat, and sleep with company. You do your dog a disservice if you keep him in the backyard alone all or most of the time. A dog wants to be part of a family!

Each year thousands of "out of control" dogs are chained in the backyard or abandoned at shelters because no one spent enough time to teach them to behave properly, or because they have developed destructive habits due to boredom.

Behavior Tips

    Chained dogs often bark out of frustration and loneliness. Just getting your dog off the chain will reduce barking. Some dogs bark more at night. Bringing your dog inside at night should stop barking entirely.

    If your dog barks at people and cars passing by, block your dog's view. Close blinds or curtains and cover up see-through fencing (you can purchase bamboo fencing by the roll, which is solid, cheap, and attractive.)

    Dogs who are well-exercised and happy are less likely to bark. Walk your dog and let him get to know the neighborhood so he won't feel threatened by it. A tired dog will sleep instead of bark.

    Prevent chronic barking by teaching the word "Quiet." After your dog starts barking, startle him with a noise or by tapping a treat on his nose. When he is silent, say "Quiet" and reward him. Then you can use the command "Quiet" to stop barking.

    Decide at the beginning that no one will feed the dog from the table. Don't allow guests to break this rule. Feed the dog before your meal, and he won�t be hungry. 

    Every time puppy bites on your finger say, "Ouch"--not the way a person would say it, but the way a puppy would say it...high-pitched and loud. Puppy will think he's hurting you. Ignore the puppy for a few minutes afterward. Never grab, squeeze or pop them on the nose. This will escalate the behavior. 

    Destroying Property
    Never leave your new dog unconfined when you leave the house. You are asking for trouble if you let an untrained dog have full run of the house! A crate, playpen or small room is best. Privileges are earned and your new dog must be mature and trained enough to be responsible before you give him total freedom. Leave him with plenty of appropriate things to chew on while you are away. 

    Provide him with soft and hard rubber chew toys, along with a tug toy or rope and chew treats. These should be readily available at all times. Stuff hollow toys with treats and food to keep their interest and teach proper chewing habits. Get your dog used to being alone so he doesn't chew out of nervousness. Gradually leave the dog alone for longer periods of time. Don't just leave; say goodbye in the same way every time. Both leaving and returning should always be low key.

    Provide your dog with his own sandbox. Bury toys in it and teach him it's okay to dig in there. Protect gardens with chicken wire or plastic fencing. 

    Jumping On People
    As puppy jumps on you, either back away or turn away, saying nothing. Do this every time she jumps. Do not make any eye, voice or physical contact. This is what the dog wants from you. Only give the dog attention when all four feet are on the floor. 

There is tons of information online about dog training and behavior. Search for specific terms such as: dog barking, introducing new dog, dog jumping, dog aggression, submissive urination, etc. Dr. P's Dog Training Web site is a good resource with tips for every type of behavior problem.

Raise With Praise's site offers a compassionate, non-violent approach to tTraining.

Housetraining Tips

The Golden Rule of Housetraining is...
NEVER let an un-housetrained dog out of your sight while the dog is inside! Every time a dog relieves himself inside, it teaches him that it is OK to go inside. An un-housetrained dog should be either: (1) inside, under your supervision; (2) outside; or (3) in a crate. If you follow these rules of housetraining, your dog should be housetrained in only a week or two. And, yes, adult dogs can be housetrained! It is often easier with adults.

  • Dogs are clean animals and always prefer to keep their home clean. Your dog wants to do the right thing once he knows what it is. You must show your dog the preferred spot for eliminating-outside!
  • The best method of house training is the crate method (Click here for an idea of what a typical day of crate training is like.) Buy a pet carrier or cage only big enough for the dog to stand up, turn around, and lay down in. This will be the dog's �den� and sleeping place. It goes against a dog�s instinct to foul his sleeping place. Even young puppies will try their best not to go inside their crate.
  • On the dog�s first day home, let him wander in and out of the crate at will. Place a blanket or towel in the crate along with some dog treats and toys. Let him get the idea that the kennel is his own private room. Put it where it's out of the way, yet where the dog is near the family and can watch what is going on.
  • Young puppies must be taken outside many times a day. Young puppies need to eliminate within 30 minutes of playing, eating, sleeping, drinking or exercising. Older dogs need to go out four or more times daily. Always take the dog to the SAME spot outdoors to relieve himself. The smell will remind him why he's there.
  • When puppy relieves himself outside, PRAISE him, "Good Dog!!� and give him a treat. Praise for good behavior is the key to housetraining! A dog will quickly associate going outside with treats, and will be eager to relieve himself outside.
  • If you're inside and notice the dog starting to sniff and circle, quickly grab him up or encourage him to go outside. If you catch him in mid-stream, startle the pup with a noise, and then take him outside. Stay to praise him if he finishes.
  • What if you notice a mess on the floor but didn�t see your dog do it? Just clean up the mess without scolding the dog. Dogs are not able to associate past mistakes with a correction from you. You must catch the dog in the act for your correction to be effective. Rubbing the dogs� nose in the mess or hitting him with a newspaper will just shame him and lead him to relieve himself in hidden places inside.
  • Use a cleaner that will kill smells and bacteria, such as Simple Green (grocery stores), Nature�s Miracle (pet stores), or vinegar and water. If you don�t thoroughly clean up the spot, the dog might return to that spot and the smell might make him feel the urge to go inside.
  • Remember, dogs don't like to foul their den. At bedtime, take puppy outside and then lock him in his crate for the night. He'll make an effort not to foul his bed. Then take him outside first thing in the morning.� Some young puppies may not have the muscle control to hold it all night and will have to be taken out during the night.
  • Don�t feed your dog after about 6:00 pm. This will help the dog to make it through the night with no accidents.
  • Dogs can be left in a crate up to 4-6 hours. Dogs should not be left in a crate for more than 8 hours. If you cannot come home during the day while housetraining, consider leaving the dog outside to prevent accidents inside.
  • Some tips to make housetraining easier: Hang a jingle bell on the door and jingle it when you go outside to the bathroom. Your dog should learn to ring the bell when he needs to go outside. Install a dog door. Dog doors are a wonderful invention! Dogs quickly learn to come and go on their own. You can buy dog doors at pet stores and discount stores like Wal-Mart.

Read a schedule of a typical day of crate training.

More articles and advice on housetraining, including hard-to-manage cases.

Household Hazards

  • Anti-Freeze (dogs love it but it is deadly)
  • Pins & Needles
  • Medicine
  • Paperclips
  • Twist Ties
  • Chocolate
  • Cleaning Products
  • Electrical Cords & Cables (You can tape them to the floor or cover them with plastic tubes made for this purpose.)

Necessary Supplies

  • ID Tag
  • Quality Food
  • Chew Toys
  • Collar & Leash
  • Food & Water Bowls
  • Size-Appropriate Crate 


Fair Use Notice and Disclaimer
Send questions or comments about this web site to Ann Berlin,