“Should I Get a Puppy?” What You Need To Know Before You Make The Commitment

 
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Catching puppy fever? See a dog and can’t help but stop to pet it? Wondering if you should take the plunge? If you are someone who is experiencing puppy fever, or if you just convinced yourself to adopt the sweetest puppy from Charleston Animal Society, you will want to read this FREE professional advice. We understand adding a dog to your family is a big decision, so we paired up with Canine Revolution Dog Training to cover the most important things you need to understand before bringing home a new puppy or dog. Keep reading to find out how to best transition your new furry friend and establish a lifelong relationship!

Q: What is the first piece of advice you would give someone who is about to get a puppy/dog?

A: For anyone who is wanting to get a dog, especially a puppy, I always recommend that you have a goal (or vision) in mind of what you would like your relationship to be and why you want to get one. This could range from a companion pet, to a sport dog, protection dog, service dog, emotional support dog, therapy dog, etc. The main thing is to have a vision, or goal, of what you want that relationship to look like and then a detailed plan on how you will get there.

Just like with humans, teaching a dog behaviors and manners doesn’t happen overnight, and requires a plan and consistency. This should also include the amount of time you have available to fulfill the needs of a dog or puppy which should include daily physical exercise and some type of structured mental stimulation. It is important to note that just putting your dog out in the backyard for an hour is not the type of exercise I am describing here. I’m talking about a structured exercise regime that you lead your dog with, such as walking. Additionally, we should consider providing the vital resources your dog needs: food, water, shelter, medical attention, and the costs that go along with these, not to mention costs of acquiring the dog/puppy. I can tell you from personal experience, those emergency vet visits seem to happen at the most unexpected times!

Q: Does a first-time dog owner need to prepare their house before bringing home a new puppy or dog?

A: Absolutely. This is where we get into the detailed planning involved with your goal for your dog. Even if you are not planning to do high arousal activities with your dog, such as sports, the concepts about bringing your puppy or dog home are the same. We all want a “potty trained” dog and a well-mannered dog. These both require consistency on the dog owner’s part but also involve some preparation at the house. You will need the “equipment” to establish a proper relationship with your dog, a relationship that should be founded on trust and respect.

A very basic “equipment” list should include: crate/kennel, food/water bowls, leash, collar, food, high-value rewards, self-entertainment toys, and engagement toys. Dependent upon your specific goal with your puppy or dog, you may need to add to this “equipment” list. It's important for dogs to spend time without their owners and this is where self-entertainment toys are useful. I recommend a type of treat dispensing toy for self-entertainment. When I advise new puppy or dog owners on how to set up their home, I recommend to establish a neutral area for the dog. This is where the kennel/crate, and possibly a doggy pen, come in. The kennel should be seen as a positive place by your puppy or dog, we make it positive by playing crate games, feeding dogs in the kennel, and never using a kennel for punishment. Doggy pens are great for establishing neutral space in family areas, but still maintains boundaries for the puppy or dog to abide by.

Q: What "house rules" should you establish?

A: I recommend that the members of the household come together and create a set of “house rules” that they want with their puppy or dog. These “house rules” should be implemented from day one, because as soon as a dog enters your home, they are already learning from the environment and from their interactions with the family. Some useful house rules could be: -No jumping up on humans -No jumping up on counters -No leash pulling -No running out of open doors -No overboard barking -No biting (teething, chewing, etc.) -No digging -Being civil with other dogs -Coming when called -Staying when asked.

Again, these should be determined by your family. There may be differences between two family’s house rules and that’s okay, but we do need to provide that structure to our dogs.

Q: How long does it take to get your dog "housebroken?"

A: House breaking (also known as potty training) consists of three main points: Structure, Supervision, and Schedule. The amount of time it takes to get your dog “housebroken” solely depends upon you as the dog owner! Structure is the boundaries and rules we set for our house. One of these rules may be no “free feeding.” If we free feed our puppy or dog, there is no telling when they may have to go potty. Supervision involves not allowing our puppy or dog to have “freedom to roam” in the house. If the dog can roam freely without owner supervision, he or she can easily potty anywhere at anytime without the owner knowing. Keeping our puppy or dog on a leash with us as we move throughout the house or in a neutral area will help to establish this mindset.

Schedule relates to being consistent with allowing your puppy potty breaks. The length of time between your potty breaks should correlate to your puppy’s age and size. An 8 week old puppy may need potty breaks every 1-2 hours, a 4 month old puppy should be able to hold their potty for 4+ hours. You will come to learn how your dog is in controlling themselves as you progress with them. When a young puppy first comes home, I recommend getting up 1-2 times per night to allow the puppy a potty break. If the puppy has even one accident in the kennel, it will not help you to get through the potty training stage. As time goes on, these nighttime potty breaks can be reduced until they are no longer needed. Additionally, I recommend a short walk at night before bed to help the puppy flush out their systems. A 10-20 minute walk should be plenty of time to allow the puppy to work everything out of his or her system.

Q: Is it important that you get a dog who matches your lifestyle?

A: Yes, once we have a goal or vision in mind for our dog, we should take a look at the type of dog that may be the best fit. This isn’t necessarily breed specific. While yes, in most cases the breed generalizations can be fairly accurate, it isn’t always true. You may not get a German Shepard that likes balls or you may not get a Basset Hound that is “chill.” Each dog has their own personality, just like humans do! I personally know a miniature poodle who enjoys long bike rides where he runs next to the bike.

Q: As a professional dog trainer, what is the most common question that your clients ask you about puppy behavior?

A: When talking about puppies specifically, many dog owners ask me about a puppy who is “biting” them non-stop. If you’ve ever had a puppy, you know what I’m talking about- the puppy biting your pants, shoes, hands, arms, legs, etc. This behavior originates in the puppy’s litter as they play with their litter-mates. The lessons that a puppy learns while it is with its litter-mates and mother are crucial for its development. The “biting” behavior starts when the puppies begin to play with one another, however if they begin to “bite” on the mother, she will show them that is not acceptable with either a snarl, snap of her teeth, or growl.

A mother with a litter understands her role is to be their guardian and leader, not their friend. With that said, when a puppy comes to its new home, he or she oftentimes demonstrates this “biting” behavior on the humans of the household as well, simply because they do not know what the conditions are for interacting with humans. I teach my dogs, and all the dog owners that I work with, that we should not allow them to “mouth” us. This is because the dogs need to understand that there are limitations of the physical interactions between human and dog, we do not want to put ourselves in a situation where our dog may be reading our body language incorrectly, especially with a signal sensitive dog.

Our dogs should respect us to the point where they will not put their mouth on us, even in a gentle way, so that we can preserve this good behavioral habit in the future. It is solely our responsibility as dog owners to show and teach our dogs this behavior. This is even more important with those dog owners who have babies or children, are expecting them, or are planning for them in the future.

Q: If you could leave our audience with one last piece if advice what would it be?

A: I would advise any dog owner, present and future, to ensure that you are providing for your dog’s very basic instinctual needs: daily physical exercise and daily mental stimulation. My preferred method of daily exercise is a nice walk twice per day, at least 30 minutes each. However, a game of focused fetch with your dog can also be a great way to exercise. Other options may include, conditioning your dog to treadmill (this comes in handy on those super rainy days!), conditioning your dog to walk next to you on a bike or rollerblades, hiking with your dog, swimming, etc. Get outside and have some fun with your dog! There are many parks in Mt. Pleasant and the greater Charleston area to allow for a great time.

For mental stimulation, I like to teach my dogs new things, like obedience work or engagement games. To really get your dog’s mind working, train with high-value rewards by marking and rewarding your dog for the desired behaviors that you desire. If your desired behaviors are more complex, such as a “down-stay,” break up the behavior into several segments, teach each segment separately, and then put them together.

A separate, but extremely important, piece of information for dog owners is to ensure that you are properly socializing your dog. Yes, socialization is very important for puppies 0-6 months of age, however it should not stop there. Socialization should be continued for the life of your dog. Unfortunately, I see and deal with many dogs who were socialized improperly. It is a myth that socialization means your dog should directly interact with as many other dogs, animals, and people as possible. This couldn’t be more false. Socialization is providing your dog with positive experiences in proximity to people, places, things, animals, etc. Not direct interaction.

This is because the way you and your dog perceive the world are two different ways. A person bending over saying “HEY!” to a dog could be perceived as aggressive by your dog (think about showing teeth i.e. smiling). Your dog interacting with strange dogs then getting bitten could develop into aggression later in life. These types of negative interactions happen all the time at dog parks and other areas that lack an overall structure and leadership, so be very careful on the type of environments and situations you put your dog into. I like to play engagement games with my dogs in new environments for socialization, it should be both a fun and positive experience you and your dog!

Contact Canine Revolution Dog Training for a FREE consultation! 

 

Top 5 Dog Parks In Charleston

 
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If you are looking for the perfect puppy playground for your dog to run free and socialize, you have come to the right place! Charleston is full of great dog parks in various locations, and is a fun way for both you and your dog to get outside and explore.

Research has shown that dogs who get enough exercise and play in a day are less likely to demonstrate behavioral issues such as anxiety and aggression. Just like humans, dogs get restless after spending a day pent up inside, and need to be able to exercise both their body and mind.

Here are some videos and short discriptions on our top five dog parks in Charleston. If you visit one or have other awesome suggestions, let us know in the comments. Share the pup wealth!

James Island County Park

 
 

Pro: Biggest dog park in Charleston

Con: Entry fee (very affordable)

A great park for many reasons, James Island County Park features fishing, campgrounds, a Splashzone waterpark, a challenge course, kayak rentals, and more. But we’re here for the best part: the dog park! This dog park features a dog beach, four acres of open grassy space, a fenced play area for small dogs, and a cleaning station to rinse your pups before the ride home. All of these amenities come with a $2 entrance fee that is definitely worth the fun your dog (and you) will have. This park is a MAJOR puppy party on the weekends!

Hampton Park Dog Run

 
 

Pro: Free access

Con: Medium dog run

A short distance away from Hampton Park, Hampton Park Dog Run is a great option for people in the Downtown Charleston area. The park features a  medium fenced-in area with plenty of trees to help shade and cool your pups. The park lacks grass, so be sure to bring close-toed shoes and a towel to clean your furry friend after playtime. Your dog will love being able to run free and play with others, and the park has a doggie water fountain, so be sure to bring his bowl!

Hazel Parker Dog Run

 
 

Pro: Located in a beautiful part of downtown Charleston

Con: Small dog run

You can find Hazel Parker Dog Run located right off of East Bay Street. The park features a small fenced-in area with a couple of trees to help shade and cool your pups. It's not the biggest area or most interesting dog run perse, but it is a great "fix" for those folks who live on the south end of downtown. The surrounding scenery is beautiful and once your pup gets out some energy you can enjoy a nice stroll on East Bay. One important thing they do have is a doggy water fountain! Make sure your pup stays hydrated!

Town of Mount Pleasant Dog Park

 
 

Pro: Hidden treasure

Con: Low attendance

Located off Rifle Range Road behind the Mount Pleasant Waterworks Facility, lies a great hidden treasure (dog park) for anyone living in the Mount Pleasant area. Make sure to keep an eye on the signs with arrows pointing towards the “dog park” and you will find it behind the athletic fields. The park features two well-sized fenced areas for off-leash play for your small or big dog.

Running alongside the dog park is a beautiful Marshview Trail if you would like to enjoy a leashed walk with your pup. The trail is paved and winds you through the woods under gorgeous oak trees and eventually leads you to the marsh, where you will have an incredible view of miles of marsh grass and water views. There is a small shelter with a bench if you want to bring a picnic or just sit and relax.

Palmetto Island County Park

 
 

Pro: Lots of pup action

Con: Entry fee (very affordable)

Another great option for those in the Mount Pleasant area, Palmetto Island County Park is a 943-acre park that includes a fenced, off-leash dog run. Be aware the run is not well-shaded, so as always, it’s important to bring a bowl and plenty of water for your furry friend. There’s also a small-dog area and the park includes picnic tables, nature trails, and areas for fishing, kayaking, and crabbing. Be advised that the dog park is closed for routine maintenance until 9 a.m. every Wednesday, and admission to the park is $2 per person.

Be Adventurous With Your Dog

Enjoy Charleston’s many options to explore with your pup! The weather can be a bit extreme at times so please remember that it’s always important to bring a portable bowl, extra water, and a towel with you at all times. Toys and snacks are always a great call, too!

 

 

Have a busy schedule and can’t make it to the dog park during the week? We will come to your pup and make sure that they get the amount of daily exercise they need. Contact us today to start groovin’!

Should You Hire A Dog Trainer? An exclusive interview with “Charleston’s Dog Whisperer”

Should You Hire A Dog Trainer? An exclusive interview with “Charleston’s Dog Whisperer”

Dog training in Mt. Pleasant, SC

Hiring a Professional Dog Walker in Mt. Pleasant, SC? Your Questions Answered

 
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Remember when you were a child and you thought that getting a dog meant all play and cuddles? Then you became an adult and realized that having a dog is all play, cuddles, and lots of responsibility. One of the biggest commitments to your dog, that you may not have realized before, is their daily exercise. In this article, we will answer the questions you have about hiring a professional dog walker in Mt. Pleasant, SC. 

Q: Hobbyist vs. Professional: Which is best for you?

The Hobbyist Dog Walker

Someone who typically does dog walking and pet sitting as a way to spend some time with pets and earn some extra mula ($$). They are most likely neither insured nor available full time. You can usually find them through apps such as Nextdoor, Rover, and Wag! It is possible that they may have a Facebook page but not an official website.

The Professional Dog Walker

A company that is legally registered as a business. It is insured, licensed, bonded, and has an official website. It has a system in place that makes the process for clients very smooth. Typically they will have an online booking system that will allow you to conveniently request and pay for your services. Ideally, they will have a free app that will allow you to receive pictures and updates on your mobile device so you can see your pup while you fulfill other obligations. You can often find a professional dog walker in your area by typing “dog walker” into a Google search. Explore and see which company would be the best fit for your pup!

Q: How Long Is Each Dog Walk?

A typical dog walking visit can last anywhere from 20-45 minutes. However, each dog is very unique, so every walk is specifically catered to your dog’s needs. You know your dog best so your dog walker should be able to accommodate your dog's needs. Some dogs need more exercise than others, and some dogs just want some fresh air and lots of belly rubs. Regardless of your dog’s activity level, every visit should leave your pup feeling relieved and happy!

Q: How Can I Trust A Dog Walker?

Trust is the most important component when it comes to letting someone in your home and caring for your dog. If you decide to hire a hobbyist dog walker, be sure to ask for multiple references, and their experiences with caring for dogs.

If you choose to hire a professional dog walker, they should be licensed, insured, and bonded. They should also have a system in which you are notified after each visit and have trained professionals to care for your dog.

 *Did You Know?

Did you know that a professional dog walking company has employees? This is a big deal when it comes to trust, because every employee will be pet CPR certified, will undergo an extensive hiring process, will be involved in on-going pet education, and will be covered through the companies insurance and workers compensation.

Q: Will My Dog Get a Walk When it’s Raining?

Living in the Charleston area, we are not shocked when it rains. In fact, we have many rainy days! If your dog normally goes for walks when it’s raining, then we will walk! Just give your dog walker a heads up that your dog doesn’t mind the rain, and we will throw on a raincoat and boots and get to walking! However, if that’s not the case and your dog would rather go for a quick potty break and spend the rest of the time playing inside, let your dog walker know that, too.

Pro Tip: Always leave a towel in an easily accessible location so that your dog walker can dry those paws after playing in the rain!

Q: How Do I Know That My Dog Went for a Walk?

Transparency is key when building relationships with you and your dog walker. A professional dog walking company will have a software program and will send you updates during or after your scheduled visits. Each update will include a picture of your dog and a detailed report about their visit. In addition, office managers make sure that each walk is completed daily through an online portal.

Q: Can My Dog Walk Off the Leash?

Mt. Pleasant has strict rules on keeping all dogs on leash for the safety of your pets and other residents. The only time your dog will be off leash is in your home or if you have a gated backyard.

Q: How Much Does Daily Dog Walking Cost?

Dog walking services vary in price depending on who you choose. Hobbyist dog walkers can charge around $9-$15 a walk. However, if trust and reliability are most important you will want to consider hiring a professional dog walking company. Rates can depend on how many pups you have and the services you are looking for. They can run anywhere between $20-$30 a walk.  

Q: How Can Groovin’ Paws Dog Walking and Sitting Help You?

One of our most popular options is a mid-day, weekly walk for dogs whose parents work long hours. This option is great because it will give your dog a break throughout their day, will stimulate them mentally and physically, and will allow them to go potty and poo. Be sure to ask about our frequency discounts!

Do you have a question we didn’t answer? Are you ready for quality care for your pet? Contact us today to become part of our Groovin’ family!

New clients who mention this blog will receive a $10 credit toward your first walk.