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Friday, September 16, 2011

Renting an Apartment: Using a Crate an Important Training Tool

The following information is from my book,

"Renting with Rex: How You, Your Dog, Your Landlord and 

Your Neighbors Can All Thrive in Rental Housing."

Jackie Phillips
Feel free to contact me anytime at the above email address.

All text is copyrighted and protected. Any unauthorized use is prohibited.


Here are the topics that will be covered:
1. Using a Crate as an Important Training Tool
2. Dogs Need to Have Their Own Space

Renting an Apartment and Having a Dog

Does your dog have any experience in being in a crate for long periods of time?

Using a Crate as an Important Training Tool

Training your dog to use a high impact plastic airline-style kennel or a wire crate in your home is of great benefit for housetraining, provided it is of the appropriate size. When purchasing a crate for housetraining purposes, you should first need to make sure that the size of the crate fits the size of the dog. The crate should be just big enough to allow the dog to stand up, turn around, and lie back down. If the crate is purchased specifically for housetraining, it is important that the dog does not have enough room to relieve him or herself in one end of the crate and then have room to sleep or eat at the other end. It is unnatural for dogs to want to relieve themselves near where they live. Dogs have a built-in motivation to hold themselves until you take them out. Because dogs have this built-in motivation, you can teach them bladder and bowel control for longer and longer periods, if you are very clear to them that you will be there to take them out.

In addition to being a housetraining aid, a crate works really well to give your dog a space of their own away from the activity of the home and away from other animals. Despite the general perception of a crate being a means to punish a dog, a crate is intended to be more like a safe haven. For your dog, it is like having his or her own room to retreat to for food, for sleep, or for quiet play with a favorite toy.

Dogs Need to Have Their Own Space

I have four brothers and sisters, all in very close age range of each other. Until I was in high school, I shared a room with my older sister, who is a year and a half older than me. I remember the little spaces I would find in the room we shared where I could hide out even just for a short time. Sometimes I would move things around in the closet and build a small hideaway with my desk chair and a blanket from my bed. Sometimes I would put a blanket over my desk and hide out under the desk, reading my newest book from the library or writing in my diary with a flashlight. Sometimes, I would do nothing. Just try to be still and be quiet. To this day I remember those precious spaces and others I found and designed in the house when I was too young to leave on my own. When I got older, I found places of refuge from a chaotic household outside in parks and other places.

These thoughts come back to me when living in an apartment with two dogs plus other animals. Even now, I establish certain spots that are off limits to the dogs, like the bathroom and the kitchen. I used to have the bed off limits, but my dog, Scout, slowly took that over. The kitchen has strict restrictions for safety reasons in case I happen to be holding a hot pot of water. I eat a lot of pasta.

I firmly believe that your dog also needs to have spots all to themselves that are off limits to humans and other pets. I have found my dogs going to these spots all by themselves when they want to rest or just get away from the commotion in the house. Some examples of types of favorite spaces that work well for apartments are crates or kennels, either with or without a door, allowing the dog free access as they choose.

Another idea is to give your dog its own bed and put it in a spot that will remain consistent. One benefit of having a portable bed is that it can be taken with you if the dog boards at a kennel, travels with you in a motel, or stays with family and friends. Having this bed gives your dog a consistent, safe spot he can always turn to in any kind of environment.

You can also designate a piece of furniture like a chair or under a table, and have the dog’s bed in that location. If you choose a piece of furniture, it should be furniture that is no longer being used by the humans in the house. It should always be there for the dog, and not have the bed move from one place to another when somebody wants to use that furniture.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Renting an Apartment: Moving from a House to an Apartment

The following information is from my book,

"Renting with Rex: How You, Your Dog, Your Landlord and 

Your Neighbors Can All Thrive in Rental Housing."

Jackie Phillips
Feel free to contact me anytime at the above email address.

All text is copyrighted and protected. Any unauthorized use is prohibited.


Here are some of the topics covered in this segment:

1. The Difference in Moving from a House to an Apartment
2. What questions should I ask myself before moving to an apartment from a house?
3. What will you do when company comes over and they are wearing really nice
4. How many people will be handling the dog?
5. Can you afford to bring in a dog walker or take them to doggie day care while
            you are gone if needed?

Renting an Apartment and Having a Dog

Moving From a House to an Apartment with Your Dog

The Difference in Moving from a House to an Apartment
The biggest change for an owner and a dog to make when moving from a house to an apartment is the loss of access to a yard. When you live in a house you don’t have to take your dog out several times a day. Many dogs who live in a house with a yard don’t go out for a lot of walks, if at all, because their owners use the yard as the dog’s form of entertainment and exercise. When a dog is regularly confined to its own house and yard, the dog rarely experiences the world. This confinement can lead to a fearful and undersocialized dog.

Compare this experience to that of a dog that lives in an apartment. The owner and dog go out for walks several times a day and the dog gets a lot of repetitive exposure to people, other animals, urban and suburban sounds and common distractions. Although both situations have their own advantages, living in an apartment can actually produce a better socialized dog.

What questions should I ask myself before moving to an apartment from a

What kind of social experiences has your dog had in the past? 
Will he be able to adjust to the increased exposure to living in an apartment?
If your dog is several years old and fearful of people and noises, you may have a difficult time adjusting your dog to an apartment unless you take very specific proactive steps toward helping your dog through his fears. If you are not willing to help him decrease his fears, your dog may be miserable in a high traffic apartment complex, and his fears and anxiety may increase if left untreated.

Socializing Your Dog with People, Other Animals and Noises
It is especially important to socialize your dog when living in an apartment because each time you take your dog out for exercise or to relieve itself, it will automatically come in contact with all kinds of people, animals and sounds in all types of situations. There will be children playing, stray cats, stray dogs, people who are afraid of dogs, loud engines, trash blowing around, and, of course, other dog owners who unabashedly allow their dogs to come right up to yours whether you request them to or not.

Socializing a dog
Whether you get your dog as a puppy, young adult or full grown adult, you need to start socialization as soon as possible. The easiest way to socialize your dog is to make him or her a part of your family. Take your dog with you everywhere you go, to as many places as possible and never stop this good habit. Obviously, there will be certain places where dogs are not allowed or it is not safe, such as a Fourth of July celebration, a Mardi Gras parade, or a large community event with high heat and a lot of noise. If a place or event seems safe and open to you bringing your dog, however, feel free to take him or her with you. You will have endless training opportunities for distractions.

It is important to be aware of your dog’s temperament when starting to socialize him or her. If you have a dog that has behavioral problems like fear or aggression then you will need to start in quieter areas and build up to these locations, planning to make it eventually to these high distraction places as your goal.

If your dog does not have these issues, and is generally happy and friendly, try taking him downtown for walks, on buses, in cars, to the lake, to dog parks, to the vet office, inside pet stores or any stores that allow dogs, over all kinds of footing like metal, concrete, carpet, grass and sand. Bring your treats, toys, clicker, water and practice on sits, downs, stays, attention, recalls on leash, sitting when being petted, release words, etc. If you make this a life long habit, you will have a confident, social dog that is a joy and pleasure to be around.

Once your dog is trained and socialized the two of you can go to more places together. The more trained and socialized your dog becomes, the more activities the two of you can participate in together. It is a snowball effect that never ends. For example, when you come across a brand new situation with new distractions that the dog has never seen before, you will already have a trained and social dog that is responsive to all of your training tools. You can ease yourself into the situation rather than allowing your dog to be unsure and fearful.
Compare your socialized dog to the dog tied in a backyard, fearful and aggressive because his life exists solely in the tiny area that only his eyes can see. If you take that dog outside his comfort zone, outside his backyard, he reacts with pure fear and lashes out and bites or runs away, never being allowed to experience everything life has to offer.

Another very simple way to socialize your dog is to walk him around your neighborhood. Start walking your dog at least once a day in the beginning, and then about twice a day as you move out to further territories. This kind of activity will allow your dog to see and experience all the normal daily activities that occur outside of his small circle. Your dog will see and eventually meet all kinds of people, bicycles, skateboarders, other animals and experience all kinds of noises and smells. When you are out on your walk make sure you are polite. Carry poop bags with you, as well as water and a collapsible nylon bowl. Don’t forget to bring a big bag of tasty treats and a clicker if you use one.
Do not allow your dog to be afraid when encountering a new experience and do not “reassure” your dog when it appears to be nervous. Both actions will reinforce the unwanted behavior and set your dog up for failure. When you come across a new object, sound or smell, walk with the dog up to the object and encourage him to move closer, rewarding them with a click and a treat with each step closer they take on their own. Do not force your dog by pulling or pushing your dog him towards the object. For example, if you come across a set of wooden stairs that makes your dog startle from a distance, walk slowly up to the object, rewarding them with a click and a treat for each baby step they take towards the object.

If you hit a threshold where the dog starts to panic or become aggressive and won’t move any closer to the object, stop immediately. Your goals for future training sessions would be to be able to move your dog past this threshold, one step at a time. Each step needs to remain positive and stress free. If you find the dog, once again, become panicky, back the session up to the step just prior until the dog become accustomed to the situation or object that is causing this reaction. Then move on to the next step closer and closer, each step remaining positive.

What will you do when company comes over and they are wearing really nice cloths?
If you would normally put the dog outside when company comes over, then what will you do when you live in an apartment and there is no yard? Can you put the dog into a bedroom and close the door? You might want to practice having the dog in the room before company comes over, so both you and the dog can be more ready and relaxed when the real “test” happens.

How many people will be handling the dog?
This is important because when more than one person handles a dog then it is critical that all handlers are consistent with the dog in its training. This is similar to children. Children quickly realize which parent will enforce which rules.

Dogs that were used to having an attached yard where they had free access will now have to be maintained on a strict schedule of food, water and walking.

Can you afford to bring in a dog walker or take them to doggie day care 
while you are gone if needed?
If you live alone in an apartment, it is critical to understand that the dog needs to have somebody take them out when you are gone. Since the dog no longer has access to a yard to allow them to relieve themselves than another alternative needs to be established for when you are not at home. Maybe you can take your dog to family or friends to stay with while you are away.