How to Catch Stray Dogs So You Can Take Them to a Shelter

There are approximately 70 million stray animals in the United States making it common to see a stray around your home or work place. A common question becomes how to catch stray dogs. 

Benefits of the Shelter over Strays Being Left Outside

Stray dogs have the risk of abuse, injury, poor nutrition, infectious disease, trauma, and parasites. Intact dogs have the potential to add to the pet overpopulation. The benefits of getting a dog to a shelter are that he is safe, his medical problems are treated, he gets consistent higher quality nutrition, and a chance of getting a loving forever home.

15 Tips on How to Catch Stray Dogs

There are important tips on how to catch a stray dog.  Your goal may be to take this dog to the shelter or pound. The most important thing you can do is be safe and not be injured or bitten. There are reports of well-intentioned rescuers getting bitten, attacked or hit by car traffic.  Be safe.

  1. Observe the dog. From a distance, observe the dog. Does the dog seem appropriate? Scared? Happy? Erratic? Sick? Aggressive?  If you notice ANY of the above signs of aggression, back away slowly and calmly, avoid eye contact and call for help. Part of this observation is to look for any signs of rabies that can be fatal if you are bitten. Call for help. Call the police if you believe this dog is a threat.  Learn more about to approach a stray dog. Learn more about signs of aggression such as yawning, growling, blinking in this article: When You Should Avoid Approaching a Stray Dog. (Insert LINK) If possible, take a photo of the dog that you can share on social media to obtain help or determine if the dog is lost.
  2. Call the rescue or shelter. Once you find or catch the dog, confirm where you will take them. Ensure they are open and available to take your dog.  If they are closed, they may be able to hook you up with a temporary foster to match this dog.
  3. Assess your environment. Look for traffic or anything else that can make the area unsafe. This is a good time to consider ways you can trap the dog in an area such as a fenced in yard. 
  4. Consider your catch options. Your ability to catch a stray dog will depend on the size and personality of the dog, and your experience with dogs. Some dogs will readily come to you and others run away. It is easy to have treats, snacks, a leash, pet carrier or crate, and even a collar if possible.
  5. Consider transport options. You may want to consider how you will get the dog you catch to the shelter or rescue group if that is your goal. You may want help to transport such as with an animal control group or take them in your car.  The ideal is to have a crate the dog will fit in the car to make transport safe.
  6. Carefully approach the dog. When approaching a stray dog, make soft clicking or kissing noises so the dog knows you are there. Then watch and carefully observe his behavior. If the dog seems to be fearful or aggressive in any way – call for help. The police or local dog warden will come or direct you to someone that can help.  Avoid direct eye contact and move slowly. Crouch and use your side to face the dog so you appear less threatening.
  7. Gain the trust of the dog. Try to connect with the dog by speaking softly. Move slowly. Offer a treat or snack.  This can be quick and easy in some dogs or very difficult and even impossible in other dogs. This can take days or weeks of feeding and treats in some cases. The best treats are high reward smelly snacks. Leftover meat or wet dog food are excellent choices.  This can start with food in a bowl while you are a distance away. The goal is to work your way closer to the feeding site. The sequence may be a dog eating the food by himself to moving closer day by day to the point you are hand feeding the dog. Allow the dog to eat from your palm. Continue to talk to him calmly.  You can softly and gently touch the dog’s neck while offering treats to allow him to get accustomed to your touch while getting a reward.
  8. Let the dog approach you. You can toss a treat to a dog and as they move to the treat, toss the treats closer to you until you can potentially get a leash over the dog’s head. Keep your body to the side and not directly facing the dog to appear less frightening. Take your time. Do not make any sudden or loud movements. Speak quietly in a soothing tone.
  9. Offer your hand. Allow the dog to move toward you and smell the back of our hand. Offer your hand with the palm down. Do not make sudden movement or touch the dog. Allow him to take his time to smell you.  This is a dog’s way of getting to know you.
  10. Touch. If you believe you can do so safely, you can touch the dog on the neck. Avoid the face or top of the head. 
  11. Leash over the dog’s head. Once you get a leash around the dog, continue to offer treats and talk slowly. They can become very frightened and try to run or turn and bite out of fear. This can take minutes, hours, days or even weeks of working with a dog. Some small dogs can be captured in a crate with treats. Your local animal rescue group or pound can often lend you supplies such as crate, leash, or muzzles.
  12. Safety first. If you have any doubt about a dog’s intension or aggression potential, the safest thing to do is to call for help.
  13. Transport. Now that you have caught the stray dog, you can transport him to the pound or rescue group. Ensure the dog is secured in the car and not able to run around. Free roaming dogs in cars can cause accidents by getting under the gas pedal or distracting you. Keep the car windows closed, turn down loud music, make the temperature comfortable, and continue to speak quietly and softly to the dog. These tips can help minimize his stress.
  14. Communicate about the stray. Once you have caught the stray, you can see if the rescue group wants help to determine if there is an owner. You can call local veterinary clinics, rescue groups, create and post a found poster online or in the neighborhood about the stray dog
  15. Get Help. If the above has not been successful, it may be time to call in reinforcements. The local shelter and rescue groups may have traps and other devices to help catch a feral stray.

Some dog lovers enjoy the experience. If you do, learn more about Stray Dog Rescue: How to Help Your Community. (Insert LINK) If you decide to take in a stray, there are a few things you should know. Learn more with Taking In a Stray Dog: What You Should Know (Insert LINK)

What NOT to Do When Catching a Stray Dog

  • Do not chase after a stray dog. They will trust you less and can run further away or run into traffic or an even more dangerous situation.
  • Never grab a loose dog. This is a good way to get bitten.
  • Don’t ever run away from a stray dog.
  • Don’t directly face or cower over the dog.
  • Avoid cornering the dog. This can make them feel threatened.

Additional Articles that May be of Interest About How to Catch Stray Dogs:

  • Stray Dog Rescue: How to Help Your Community (Insert LINK)
  • Building a Winter Dog House for Stray Dogs (Insert LINK)
  • How to Catch Stray Dogs So You Can Take Them to a Shelter (Insert LINK)
  • When You Should Avoid Approaching a Stray Dog (Insert LINK)
  • Taking In a Stray Dog: What You Should Know (Insert LINK)
  • Dealing with Fleas in Dogs (Insert LINK)

 

Building a Winter Dog House for Stray Dogs

With the number of strays in the United States, some pet owners worry about how to protect them during the cold winter extremes. One way to do this is to build or create a winter dog house.

Stray Dogs in the United States

The Humane Society of the United States reports that there are about 70 million stray animals (dogs and cats) in the U.S and of these roughly half are dogs. Of this huge number, it is estimated that only three million dogs make it to shelters. This means that out of 35 million stray dogs, 32 million are left on the streets and roads around the U.S.

Some areas have incredibly rough climates in the winter that can make life tough and sometimes unbearable depending on your location in the country and world.

Difficulty For Strays to Survive the Winter Months

It can be very difficult tor stray dogs to survive in the winter. Some of the difficulties include:

  • Poor nutrition – Stray dogs have poor access to good nutrition and it can be even worse in the winter when things are frozen. They often have exposure to poor quality food, spoiled food, and/or poor nutrients and minerals.
  • Frostbite – Frostbite is an injury to tissue that occurs when an animal is exposed to freezing temperatures accompanied by high winds. The primary areas that are affected in dogs include the feet, tail, and tips of the ears. This is even more common when a stray dog gets wet and does not have shelter.
  • Trauma – Many dogs will wander in the winter to search for food. This can lead to trauma from being hit by a car, gunshot wounds, lacerations, and much more.
  • Animal attacks – Most stray dogs are intact which increases their desire to fight with another dog. Animal attacks can occur not just between dogs but also by other animals. They can occur any time of year but may occur more in the winter when predators are hungry. This is largely dependent on location.
  • Disease – Stray dogs don’t have the necessary vaccination and parasite control of owned dogs. They are more commonly exposed to dangerous and life-threatening infectious diseases.

Tips On Where to Build A Winter Dog House

One way to protect outdoor dogs in the winter is to build a winter dog house. The best place to home a dog house for strays is somewhere out of the wind where dogs have easy access.

Here are some tips to consider as you build a winter dog house:

  1. Size – The correct size for a winter dog house is to be big enough for a dog to sit, stand and turn around. It doesn’t need to be bigger than that. If it is too big, they will lose heat.
  2. Outdoor Location – When you place a doghouse outdoors, it is important to consider water movement, flooding potential, and wind direction. If it is on someone else’s property you need to ask permission to place the winter dog house. If you are thinking of a spot, before you place the doghouse, go there after heavy rain. Look to see where and how the water runs off.  Monitor for storm direction and position the dog house with the opening against the wind.
  3. Bedding – The best bedding is fresh clean straw. Blankets can hold moisture and freeze.
  4. Winter Dog House Essentials. –  To build your winter dog house you will need to consider several essentials in the design. They include an elevated floor to minimize exposure with the wet cold ground, an insulated interior (such as with EPS foam), a waterproof roof (shingle or metal), and a door or flap. You can create a “door” by using thick heavy plastic cut as flaps and nailed across the top to protect the cold wind and weather from entering the dog house. Dog houses made of wood are the first chose. Avoid metal and tile as they hold the cold temperatures.
  5. Build the Winter Dog house. Once you know the dog house size and have an idea about core elements, it is time to build your dog house. You can find several online designs including this one from Home Depot. Home Depot’s Guide on How to Build a Dog House or WikiHow to Build a Dog House.
  6. Test the Winter Dog House – Once you build the dog house – test it by spraying with a hose and looking for leaks. Spray from the top, bottom, and sides as you mimic a bad storm. If you find cracks, seal with insulating spray foam.  Also make sure there aren’t any exposed nails, sharp edges, or splinters that could injury the dog.
  7. Position and Level the Dog House. Position the dog house based on your location and use a level to ensure it does not wobble.

We hope these articles provide you with tips to build a winter dog house.

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8 Different Ways to Exercise Your Dog

Exercise and playtime are critical to a dog’s physical and mental health and wellbeing. It is important to provide daily exercise based on your dog’s age, breed, and underlying health issues. There are different ways to exercise your dog and the best way is to do something that both you and your dog enjoy. We will review why exercise is important and offer some ideas on how to exercise your dog.

Why Exercise is Important for Dogs

Exercise has benefits for both us and our canine companions.  Some of the benefits include:

  • Improved weight control. Dogs that exercise burn more calories and have better weight control.
  • Less behavioral issues. Exercise is a great way to release pent-up energy and tension that can lead to behavioral problems. In addition, it can be fun! Dogs that get plenty of exercise have fewer behavioral issues including digging, excessive barking, chewing, tail chasing, lick granulomas, urine marking, and eating inappropriate objects.
  • Improved mood. Mood-stabilizing chemicals called serotonin are released in the brain with exercise. Serotonin makes dogs feel content and “happy”.
  • Improved muscle development. Exercise leads to increased muscle development, strength, and endurance.
  • Improved housetraining. Puppies and dogs that exercise are often stimulated to urinate and/or defecate outside on a more regular basis. Exercise can improve your ability to housetrain your puppy.

How Much Exercise is Enough Exercise for Dogs?

Most young healthy dogs need about 30 minutes of exercise twice daily. Some dogs need more while others need less. For example, a 1-year-old Labrador retriever may just get started with 30 minutes while a small breed dog such as a miniature poodle or dachshund may have had enough after 10 minutes or less. There are also some breed considerations. Dogs with long noses and good airflow can generally tolerate more exercise than brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs and pugs.

How do you know enough is enough? Your dog should feel a bit tired and content. Be careful during extreme weather events not to over-exercise your dog (see more below underdog exercise precautions).

Dog Exercise Precautions

Dogs with underlying health issues such as heart or lung disease, musculoskeletal problems, neurologic problems, and/or seniors may need much less exercise or only particular exercises. Check with your veterinarian for the specific recommendations based on your dog’s age, weight, and underlying health problems.

Extremes in temperature can be dangerous to dogs. High temperatures and high humidity can lead to life-threatening heatstroke. Learn more about Heat Stroke in Dogs. The cold and wind can also be dangers causing Frostbite in dogs. 

If your dog ever collapses, or appears weak or pale, stop your exercise immediately. If the weather and climate is hot, take your dog’s temperature and begin cooling measures. Cooling measures include wetting your dog with water and call your veterinarian immediately.

Benefits of a Worn Out/Tired Dog

The biggest benefit of providing your dog with exercise is that dogs that exercise sleep better, are healthier, more content and happier. Simply put, a tired dog is…a happy dog.

Best Exercises You Can Do With Your Dog

The very best exercise for your dog is one that you enjoy doing together. You can provide exercise by doing things together or determine what kind of play your dog likes best. For example, some dogs love to fetch while others like to run.

Exercise can also be playtime. Provide toys and play that suits your dog’s personality. This can differ from dog to dog but can be squeaky toys, fetch toys, chew toys, or puzzles. Learn more about Dog Toys: How to Figure Out What Your Dog Likes Best.

Here are some exercises you can do with your dog:

  1. Biking – If you are a biker, you can take your dog with you. Here are some great tips on how Dogs Make Good Bicycling Partners.
  2. Boating – If you are lucky enough to have a boat then boating with dogs can be a blast and swimming is great exercise. Not all dogs enjoy swimming or are good swimmers. Get tips in this article – Boating with Dogs. You can also take your dog swimming or even swim with your dog.
  3. Camping – Camping is fun and a great way to spend time with your dog. Camping can be combined with walking, hiking, running, and fetch time. Here are some tips about Going Camping with Your Dog.
  4. Hiking – Taking a hike with your dog is a great way to get exercise. Learn more about Hiking with Your Dog.
  5. Playtime – It is fun to watch dogs play. If your dog catches balls or Frisbee this can be as much fun for you as it is for him.
  6. Running or Jogging– Some dogs love to run with you as you exercise. This is a great way for dogs to release some pent up energy. Learn more about Running and Jogging with Your Dog.
  7. Swimming – Some dogs love to swim and it is possible to swim with your dog. There are some important safety tips for swimming with dogs. Learn more in this article – What You Should Know About Swimming with Dogs.
  8. Walking – Walking is an amazing way to get exercise and spend time with your dog. It is something you can do all year. It is important to walk when it is not too hot such as earlier in the day or later in the evening. Get some great walking tips with hits article The Pet Owner’s Guide to Walking a Dog.

We hope these tips give you some ideas on how to spend time and exercise with your dog.

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How to Keep Your Dog Off Furniture In Your Home

While some pet owners gently pat their laps or areas beside them to encourage their dog to get up on the sofa, bed or chair with them, not every pet owner wants this behavior. Some pet owners love their dogs but want them to sleep in their dog beds or other areas they deem appropriate.

The decision to allow your dog on the furniture is ideally not is a personal one but one made as a family. Consistency is important to help your dog understand what is acceptable and expected behavior and what is not. Behavior problems can develop from inconsistency.

If you aren’t sure as a household if you want your new dog on or off the furniture, the best policy is to start off with a no furniture policy. It is much easier to grant access than take it away.

Why Dogs Love to Go on Furniture

Just like with us, it is natural for a dog to enjoy a warm soft place to sleep and you may notice where they sleep because they sleep during many of our waking hours.  Dogs generally sleep fourteen hours a day including naps and longer periods of sleep. Learn more about Sleep Behavior of Dogs.

However, there are alternatives to dogs sleeping on our furniture. Dog beds come in hundreds of shapes, sizes, fabrics, textures, and styles. If you are choosing a bed for your dog and this is part of your training to keep your dog off the furniture, consider a fabric similar to his favorite spot.

When shopping for a dog bed, the most desirable features include ones that your dog loves. Your dog’s bed should provide comfort, conserve body heat, be easy to clean and machine washable, durable, and is either waterproof or moisture resistant.  A durable, washable donut-shaped bed with a ridge or bolster around the perimeter can preserve warmth and provide comfort. An ideal location for the bed is one where you spend a lot of time such as the TV room or kitchen.

If your dog is showing signs of dominance and snapping or growling when you try to get him or her to move, you have bigger problems. It is best to discuss options and training with your veterinarian. Some training is required immediately.

3 Benefits of Having Your Dog Trained to Not Go on Furniture

There are several benefits of having your dog trained NOT to go on the furniture.

  1. Some people have allergies – It is estimated that 15 to 20% of people are allergic to pets. The substance that causes the allergic reaction is called an “allergen”.  Some people with allergies have runny noses, coughs, itchy skin or watery itchy red eyes. A more serious reaction can be difficulty breathing. The most common pet allergen is the dander which is the old skin which is shed. It is commonly found on bedding and anywhere your dog has been sleeping. For people with allergies, having your dog trained not to go on the furniture can be beneficial.
  2. Cuts down on unwanted hair on clothing – People that have their pets on furniture commonly have hair on them. Many pet owners leave for work with black pants and find that their bottom is covered in dog hair.
  3. Minimize Confusion – If you travel or take your dog places with you, it can be confusing to have different rules in different places. For example, if you take your dog with you to a friend’s house, they may not appreciate the dog on furniture behavior. It can be difficult for your dog to understand that some behaviors are okay sometimes but not other times. It is less confusing to your dog to be consistent.

Training Tips for Teaching Your Dog to Stay Off the Furniture

Once your dog has learned the comfort of being on the furniture without discipline, it can be hard to eliminate this behavior. The best way to keep your dog off the furniture is to do the following.

  1.  Be consistent. The most important thing you can do is to be consistent and ideally have everyone in your dog’s life be consistent. Having one person allow a behavior while another does not make it very confusing to the dog. Remember, they don’t NEED to be on the furniture. It is not going to hurt them to be in their own comfy dog bed.
  2.  Train. It is ideal for your dog to respect you and be trained in general. Dogs that understand come, sit, stay, down can be trained to understand “off”.  That means get off the furniture. This helps teach your dog that you are the alpha dog.
  3. Train off. You can train your dog to get “off” by saying the word “off” and making a sweeping or pointing hand gesture to get your dog to leave their spot. When your dog moves, give him a treat. Then lead your dog to his bed and give him another treat.
  4. Get a dog bed and train your dog it is his. It is important that you have a nice bed for your dog and once you do, train your dog to go to its bed.
  5.  No rewards. One of the most important things you can do is to reward good behavior. Instead of yelling at your dog, reward the behavior you desire. To learn more about the benefits of positive behavior training, go to 5 Benefits of Positive Behavior Reinforcement for Your Dog.
  6.  Consider when you aren’t home. When you aren’t around, make the location where he/she likes to sleep unattractive or prevent access. Here are some tips to consider to keep your dog off the furniture when you aren’t around:
  • Prevent access. If your dogs like to sleep on your bed and that is what you are trying to prevent, shut the bedroom door. You can also use the baby gates, storage containers, or milk crates on the furniture as an excellent temporary deterrent.
  • Chemical deterrents. Try deterrents around the area where you don’t want your dog to sleep such as by spraying the area with rubbing alcohol, water mixed with lemon juice, or vinegar. This method doesn’t work consistently on every dog. Some dogs like these scents and are not inhibited.  Test anything you use to ensure it is safe on the surface you are spraying
  • Physical deterrents. Create physical deterrents access with things that make noises such as bubble paper (bubble wrap), newspaper or aluminum foil. Again, some dogs don’t care about this and others do. The key is finding what works for your dog. Some people have success with using a car mat or carpet protector and turning it upside down and placing on the spot of interest. The little plastic points can make the area unappealing and uncomfortable.  Sticky Tape® is another thing you can put on some areas. Sticky tape is a double-sided tape that you put on furniture and is commonly marketed to prevent cat scratching. You can prevent access by turning sofa cushions in different directions.
  • Create unpleasant sounds. The best way to keep your dog honest with this behavior is to ensure he believes that any deterrent is consistent. Some behaviorists recommend that you hide and when you see a behavior you don’t want, use an unpleasant sound such as shaking rocks in a soup can, air horn, or spraying compressed air. The idea is to let your dog believe there are consequences to this behavior that has nothing to do with you. That way he stays off the furniture even when you aren’t home.

Changing dog behavior can be difficult and take days, weeks and even months. The most important thing is to be consistent and reward good desirable behavior.

Tips On How to Stop Your Dog from Barking at Strangers

Barking is a normal part of how dogs communicate. The bark can mean many different things but when it is excessive or at times you find it inappropriate then it can be a very annoying canine behavior.

There are a lot of negative consequences to barking that includes angry neighbors, decreased sleep, eviction, frustration, getting kicked out of rental units, anger or even legal action.

Barking at strangers is one of the poor dog behaviors that lead to dogs being given up for adoption, abandoned, rehomed or even euthanized. Barking dogs can also suffer from abuse.

Before evaluating excessive barking, let’s look at why do dogs bark.

Why Do Dogs Bark

The bark is one type of vocalization made by dogs, and others being howling and whining. The bark is a way dogs vocally communicate. Barking is normal. The bark can mean many different things depending on the context. A bark can communicate “hello”, “I missed you”, “a danger is near”, “I feel threatened”, “I’m lonely”, I heard something”, “where are you”, “stay away”, or “I’m scared” or “let’s play!”

Some dogs are more vocal and bark more frequently than others. This can vary by breed and by the dog. Dog breeds that tend to be bigger barkers than others include Beagles, fox terriers, Yorkshire terriers (Yorkie), miniature schnauzers, West Highland white terriers (Westie), chihuahuas, bloodhounds, basset hounds, Scottish terriers, German shepherds, and Shetland sheepdogs. Dogs that are less inclined to bark are greyhounds, King Charles cavalier spaniels, whippets, and Basenjis.

Why Do Dogs EXCESSIVELY Bark

Barking can be acceptable or even good unless it is excessive. Then it is considered a behavioral problem. It is important to determine the underlying cause of the excessive barking to best deal with the problem.

Some dogs bark due to separation anxiety, to receive attention, as part of their play behavior, to communicate needs such as “I have to go out” or “I want a treat”, medical problems, and as a reaction to specific stimuli such as noises, other dogs, other animals such as cats or wildlife, delivery people, and/or unfamiliar noises.

When a dog barks at strangers, it is generally an arousal response as a way to communicate an alert, a way to show fear, or as an act of protection. This bark can be reinforced by your behavior, by other dogs barking, or can even be self-reinforced as dogs will wind themselves up.

Dogs that bark at strangers can be demonstrating territorial barking. This type of barking can occur when your dog sees strangers as a possible threat. While a bark that communicates an alert may be ok, some dogs overdo it. This is especially true in dogs who are fearful and anxious as they tend to be more reactive. Dogs with fears and anxiety will often bark at just about anything and can take a while to settle down.

How to Stop your Dog from Barking at Strangers

Some behaviorists called “barking at strangers” as alarm barking or territorial barking. Some tips on how to stop your dog from barking at strangers include:

  1. Promote wellness. Ensure your dog has a good wellness schedule. Ensure that he is physically getting everything he needs including good nutrition, flea and tick prevention, and recommended vaccinations to prevent disease. A healthy dog is a more content dog.  Learn more about How to Promote Dog Wellness.
  2. Exercise. It is important that dogs get enough exercise. A healthy dog that gets exercise is generally healthy and has fewer behavioral problems. Learn about 8 Different Ways to Exercise Your Dog.
  3. Train. Dogs are pack dogs and respond to a leader. It is critical for you to be the pack leader to minimize behavioral issues in your home. If your dog knows basic commands such as come, sit, stay, you can also train “no bark”.
  4. Train No Bark. You can provide positive reinforcement to your dog for silence.  You can do this by training “No bark” when there is barking and no stranger around. Next, have a stranger approach. As they do, the stranger stops in their tracks. When your dog stops barking, your dog gets a reward. This can take time but can be effective.
  5.  To stop your dog from barking at strangers, let it bark 3-4 times, then stand over it and calmly give it the command, “Quiet.” Go to your dog and gently hold its muzzle closed with your hand and say “Quiet” again, then release its muzzle and step back.
  6. Negative Reinforcement. Although behaviorists prefer positive reinforcement for good behavior, some dogs do respond better to negative reinforcement. There are bark collars that spray citronella that can be a barking deterrent. There are also ultrasonic devices that automatically emit a sound only detectable by dogs in response to barking.
  7. Barriers. You can also create barriers such as cover windows, build a solid fence as options to prevent dogs from seeing the strangers and barking.
  8. Behaviorist. One very good option for dogs, especially those with barking and anxiety, is to seek the support and guidance of a trained veterinary behaviorist. This can help you identify triggers and support you in ways to help your individual situation.

We hope these tips help you with how to stop your dog from barking at strangers.

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How to Get Your Dog to Stop Begging for Food

Begging in dogs can be an adorable behavior in the eyes of some and the most annoying behavior in the eyes of others.

Why Do Dogs Beg?

Begging is a learned behavior that pet parents teach their dog. The begging is rewarded by a snack and the cycle continues. The best thing to do is to not encourage begging to begin with. It is easier not to allow the begging behavior to begin with than it is to untrain begging behavior.

What It Looks Like When a Dog is Begging For Food

The classic begging dog sits or stands inches to feet from you when you are eating staring you in the eye. They also make whining noises or paw at your leg to get your attention. Even more annoying is a dog that barks until they get a treat. A snack appeases them for a few seconds or minutes only to start again.

3 Reasons to Not Encourage Your Dog to Beg

There are some good reasons not to encourage begging behavior.

  1. Company. A good reason to not encourage your dog to beg is to not annoy your friends and company. Not everyone finds the trait as adorable as you do.
  2. Stealing. The behavior of begging can encourage dogs to steal food. This is not only annoying but also dangerous. Some dogs will steal toxic food. For example, bones can be dangerous or food on counters can be scalding hot causing burns.
  3. Dangers. You may be aware of food toxicities such as peanut butter with xylitol or grapes and raisins but your friends, neighbors, or family may not know which foods are toxic. Others may see you give food to your begging dog and believe it is okay for them to do so too.

How to Get Your Dog to Stop Begging for Food 

Begging is a behavior that is as annoying to those around you as dogs that are encouraged to jump on you. Begging can also be a very difficult behavior to break. Below are tips to get your dog to stop begging for food:

  • Be consistent. Make sure everyone in the home is on the same page to stop the begging behavior. It is difficult to have one person in the house encouraging begging while the others are not. This is confusing to the dog and makes them unsure about their lives and what is expected of them.
  • Create a feeding schedule. Develop a schedule of when you will feed your dog. Dogs like routine and find it comforting to have a schedule. For most dogs, a twice-daily feeding regimen works well. As an example, you could feed at 7 am and 7 pm. When your dog eats, give him praise.
  • Feed dinner at dinnertime. Feed your dog when you are eating so he has something to do and is only focused on his own food. Feed your dog in a location different from where you and your family are eating.
  • Consider crate training. Training your dog to love the crate is good on many levels. Dogs that are crate trained find comfort and security in the crate. You can put your dog in its crate during meals which can control begging.
  • Don’t give in. Once you decide that there will be no begging, DON’T give in. Giving in is the worst thing you can do. Dogs can be relentless. One small treat will encourage them to beg for months, even years.
  • Train. To keep a happy home, consider training with your dog. Ensure your dog understands you are the pack leader and knows basic commands such as sit, stay, and come. You can also train your dog to “wait”. This can create an acceptable behavior of allowing your dog to patiently wait until a treat is acceptable.
  • Don’t punish your dog. When your dog is begging, you need to remember that you or some other human-created this behavior. This is a learned behavior that he has been rewarded for. To punish him suddenly for something he has been rewarded for is confusing and he won’t understand what the punishment is for.  Instead, reward the behavior you desire.

A well-behaved dog is a pleasure to be around and for others to come to your home and also be around your dog. One thing to consider is if you encourage and enjoy the begging dog, put him away when company is there.

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How to Stop Poor Dog Behavior

Poor dog behavior is one of the most frustrating problems that veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and pet owners deal with. Because it is “behavior “and not an underlying medical problem such as vomiting or diabetes, many pet owners think it will be “easy” to fix. However, it takes dedication to stop poor dog behavior. Some dogs have their owners trained and inadvertently encourage poor dog behavior.

Understanding and correcting poor dog behavior is important because it is one of the most common reasons that people abandon their dogs or give them back to humane societies and shelters. Some studies suggest that by the age of one year, a large percentage of dogs have been in 5 to 6 homes before finding forever homes. Much of this relocation is due to poor dog behavior.

Let’s learn a few tips about understanding your dog, common causes of poor dog behavior, and tips on what you can do at home.

Understanding Your Dog

If you have a dog that behaves badly, it is easy to wonder why. It is important to remember that a dog is a pack animal. This is an important point because many behavior problems can be corrected by understanding this, respecting this, and ensuring you are the pack leader.

As you understand more about dog behavior, you will understand that in some situations training is critical. For some dogs this is easy and for others it is hard. Training your dog takes intentional effort. It can take days, weeks or even months of consistent time communicating with your dog in a way he understands to have a well-trained pooch.

Another important point is to understand that training is not the same thing as punishment. In fact, training is about responding to your dog in a way he understands and doesn’t reward his behavior. Sometimes attention is bad. For example, if a dog is barking and you keep yelling “bad dog”, that is attention. He doesn’t understand your words. Learn more about understanding your dog’s behavior in this article: Training Your Puppy.

Most Common Poor Dog Behaviors

Below are common poor dog behavior problems and tips to help.

Inappropriate Chewing

Chewing is a natural behavior in curious puppies as they learn about and explore the world with their mouths. Chewing does have benefits to the teeth and gums. However when chewing is excessive, is on inappropriate objects, or leads to swallowing objects that are not digestible, it then becomes a problem. Some dogs chew when they are bored or stressed.

Veterinary behaviorists suggest that if you see your dog chewing on your favorite shoe, to immediately redirect his chewing to an appropriate item, like a durable Kong® toy or another chew toy. Just as it is critical to redirect his behavior, it is critical for you to praise his good behavior when chewing on the toy.

Ensure your dog has plenty of physical and mental stimulation with toys and playtime.  Learn more about Why Do Dogs Chew Everything When You’re Gone? And How to Deal with a Chewing, Destructive Dog.

Begging at the Table

This may be an adorable behavior to some but annoying to others. Some people decline a dinner invitation at someone’s home because they have a dog that sits there begging and staring at you the entire meal. If you decide to fix this poor dog behavior, it is critical that everyone in the home is consistent with this training. It is confusing to a dog to have some members of the family feed him from the table and the other half yell at him.

One option to deal with begging behavior is to crate train your dog or feed your dog in a different room. You can also provide your dog with a food puzzle during dinnertime. Learn more about How to Get Your Dog to Stop Begging for Food.

Digging in the Yard

Some dogs love to dig and find it to be great fun. Some of this behavior is based on instinct as they follow a scent, play, or release energy. However when digging is excessive and destroys your yard or flower garden, then it becomes a problem.

One way to deal with this behavior is when your dog is digging, redirect his digging activities to something you find appropriate. Play a game of fetch. Provide a treat toy. Go for a walk. You can also replace his inappropriate digging to a location you find acceptable such as a sandbox in your yard. Remember to reward good behavior when he is digging in the appropriate area.

Barking at Strangers

Dogs may bark at noises, doorbells other animals, or strangers. This can be acceptable in small doses but when it is excessive or you live in an area where everyone is a stranger, this can be downright annoying.

How to Catch Stray Dogs So You Can Take Them to a Shelter

There are approximately 70 million stray animals in the United States making it common to see a stray around your home or workplace. A common question becomes how to catch stray dogs.

Benefits of the Shelter over Strays Being Left Outside

Stray dogs have the risk of abuse, injury, poor nutrition, infectious disease, trauma, and parasites. Intact dogs have the potential to add to the pet overpopulation. The benefits of getting a dog to a shelter are that he is safe, medical problems get treated, consistently higher-quality nutrition, and a chance of getting a loving forever home.

15 Tips on How to Catch Stray Dogs

There are important tips on how to catch a stray dog. Your goal may be to take this dog to the shelter or pound. The most important thing you can do is be safe and not be injured or bitten. There are reports of well-intentioned rescuers getting bitten, attacked or hit by car traffic. Be safe.

  1. Observe the dog. From a distance, observe the dog. Does the dog seem appropriate? Scared? Happy? Erratic? Sick? Aggressive?  If you notice ANY of the above signs of aggression, back away slowly and calmly, avoid eye contact and call for help. Part of this observation is to look for any signs of rabies that can be fatal if you are bitten. Call for help. Call the police if you believe this dog is a threat.  Learn more about How to Approach a Stray Dog. If possible, take a photo of the dog that you can share on social media to obtain help or determine if the dog is lost.
  2. Call the rescue or shelter. Once you find or catch the dog, confirm where you will take them. Ensure they are open and available to take your dog.  If they are closed, they may be able to hook you up with a temporary foster to match this dog.
  3.   Assess your environment. Look for traffic or anything else that can make the area unsafe. This is a good time to consider ways you can trap the dog in an area such as a fenced-in yard.
  4. Consider your catch options. Your ability to catch a stray dog will depend on the size and personality of the dog, and your experience with dogs. Some dogs will readily come to you and others run away. It is easy to have treats, snacks, a leash, pet carrier or crate, and even a collar if possible.
  5. Consider transport options. You may want to consider how you will get the dog you catch to the shelter or rescue group if that is your goal. You may want help to transport such as with an animal control group or take them in your car.  The ideal is to have a crate the dog will fit in the car to make transport safe.
  6. Carefully approach the dog. When approaching a stray dog, make soft clicking or kissing noises so the dog knows you are there. Then watch and carefully observe his behavior. If the dog seems to be fearful or aggressive in any way – call for help. The police or local dog warden will come or direct you to someone that can help.  Avoid direct eye contact and move slowly. Crouch and use your side to face the dog so you appear less threatening.
  7. Gain the trust of the dog. Try to connect with the dog by speaking softly. Move slowly. Offer a treat or snack.  This can be quick and easy in some dogs or very difficult and even impossible in other dogs. This can take days or weeks of feeding and treats in some cases. The best treats are high reward smelly snacks. Leftover meat or wet dog food are excellent choices.  This can start with food in a bowl while you are a distance away. The goal is to work your way closer to the feeding site. The sequence may be a dog eating the food by himself to moving closer day by day to the point you are hand feeding the dog. Allow the dog to eat from your palm. Continue to talk to him calmly.  You can softly and gently touch the dog’s neck while offering treats to allow him to get accustomed to your touch while getting a reward.
  8. Let the dog approach you. You can toss a treat to a dog and as they move to the treat, toss the treats closer to you until you can potentially get a leash over the dog’s head. Keep your body to the side and not directly facing the dog to appear less frightening. Take your time. Do not make any sudden or loud movements. Speak quietly in a soothing tone.
  9. Offer your hand. Allow the dog to move toward you and smell the back of our hand. Offer your hand with the palm down. Do not make a sudden movement or touch the dog. Allow him to take his time to smell you.  This is a dog’s way of getting to know you.
  10. Touch. If you believe you can do so safely, you can touch the dog on the neck. Avoid the face or top of the head.
  11. Leash over the dog’s head. Once you get a leash around the dog, continue to offer treats and talk slowly. They can become very frightened and try to run or turn and bite out of fear. This can take minutes, hours, days or even weeks of working with a dog. Some small dogs can be captured in a crate with treats. Your local animal rescue group or pound can often lend you supplies such as crate, leash, or muzzles.
  12. Safety first. If you have any doubt about a dog’s intension or aggression potential, the safest thing to do is to call for help.
  13. Transport. Now that you have caught the stray dog, you can transport him to the pound or rescue group. Ensure the dog is secured in the car and not able to run around. Free-roaming dogs in cars can cause accidents by getting under the gas pedal or distracting you. Keep the car windows closed, turn down loud music, make the temperature comfortable, and continue to speak quietly and softly to the dog. These tips can help minimize his stress.
  14. Communicate about the stray. Once you have caught the stray, you can see if the rescue group wants help to determine if there is an owner. You can call local veterinary clinics, rescue groups, create and post a found poster online or in the neighborhood about the stray dog
  15. Get Help. If the above has not been successful, it may be time to call in reinforcements. The local shelter and rescue groups may have traps and other devices to help catch a feral stray.

Some dog lovers enjoy the experience. If you do, learn more about Stray Dog Rescue: How to Help Your Community. If you decide to take in a stray, there are a few things you should know. Learn more with Taking In a Stray Dog: What You Should Know.

What NOT to Do when Catching a Stray Dog

  • Do not chase after a stray dog. They will trust you less and can run further away or run into traffic or an even more dangerous situation.
  • Never grab a loose dog. This is a good way to get bitten.
  • Don’t ever run away from a stray dog.
  • Don’t directly face or cower over the dog.
  • Avoid cornering the dog. This can make them feel threatened.

Additional Articles that May be of Interest About How to Catch Stray Dogs:

What You Should Know About Approaching a Stray Dog

Stray dogs can be friendly pets that have been abandoned or they can be feral. Some dogs can have normal socialization skills or have behavioral problems such as aggression or various fears. Feral stray dogs may have had no social interactions with humans or have had only bad ones. There are ways to approach a stray dog and times you should avoid the stray dog.

Risks of Approaching a Stray Dog

There are risks of approaching a stray dog. The biggest risk of approaching a stray dog is the possibility of bites or an attack.  This makes it critical to read signs of aggression and take special care.

How does a fearful dog behave when approached? He can run away, cower out of fear, hide, bite, or attack as a few options. It is also possible he could quietly come to you and be affectionate although this is less common.

Another risk of approaching a stray dog is one that runs away which can be into a more dangerous situation such as traffic.

Signs of a Dangerous Stray Dog

A sign of a dangerous stray dog is one that is overtly acting aggressively. Some dogs will only be aggressive if they are cornered and fearful during capture and others can be overtly in attack mode.

How do you identify a dog that has aggressive behavior? Signs of aggression can include snarling, growling, snapping, nipping, biting and lunging. This isn’t necessarily an abnormal behavior as aggression is a survival instinct. When dealing with stray dogs, you need to consider that you are dealing with a dog that can be fearful and unpredictable.

Signs of a potentially dangerous dog include:

  • Avoiding eye contact by squinting, turning the head, or body away from the threat
  • Biting
  • Crouching body posture, lowered body, or tail tucking
  • Dogs that cower back
  • Erect ears
  • Excessive drooling
  • Growling when approached
  • Intense tracking of you
  • Lifting of the lips to show teeth or bear teeth
  • Lip licking or yawning
  • Low bark
  • Pinning or flattening of the ears tightly to the head
  • Raise hackles (hair on their back standing up)
  • Snapping
  • Stiff tail
  • Stiffening or freezing of body
  • Stiffness in posture

The safest thing to do if you have any questions about the safety of being around a stray dog is to avoid the dog. Call for help from animal control or the pound to help you. The most important thing is that you be safe.

Tips on How To Approach a Stray Dog While Staying Safe

  1. Observe the dog from a distance. Does the dog seem appropriate? Erratic? Sick? Scared? Aggressive?  If you notice ANY of the above signs of aggression, back away slowly and calmly, avoid eye contact and call for help. Part of this observation is to look for any signs of rabies that can be fatal if you are bitten. Call for help. Call the police if you believe this dog is a treat.
  2. Consider what you will do once you catch this dog. Some people spontaneously jump in to help then realize they just got in over their heads and don’t know what to do now. Consider if you do catch this dog where are you going to take it? Who can you call for help if you need it? What is open at the time you are doing this? Learn more about How to Catch Stray Dogs So You Can Take Them to a Shelter.
  3. As you consider what you do, call the local shelter, humane society, or veterinary clinic to see what support they can provide. At least you will know your options if you need them.
  4. When approaching a dog you don’t know, approach while making soft clicking or kissing noises so the dog knows you are there. Then watch. Look at the dog’s behavior. Does he seem fearful, aggressive, hungry? Avoid direct eye contact as this can appear to be an aggressive stance on your part.
  5. If you have a dog with you, consider if he is helping or hurting you. Having a dog with you can complicate things and make the dog more afraid. Strays are commonly skittish and scared and having another dog compete for attention or treats can be a distraction.  Assess the situation. On the other hand, some stray dogs may better connect with another dog rather than a human.
  6. A good way to connect with a stray dog is to offer a treat. Gently toss a treat or any food toward the dog. Watch how the dog acts. Be careful.  The best treats are meat-based.
  7. The next step really depends on your experience with dogs. If you have any doubt about a dog’s aggression potential, the safest thing to do is to call for help.
  8. If you believe the stray dog is not dangerous, you can continue to offer treats. Let the dog come and get close to you. Take your time. No sudden or loud movements. Speak quietly in a soothing tone.
  9. If you have a slip lead or leash and can safely put it over the dog’s head, do so.
  10. Now what? If the dog appears friendly, you can transport him to the local shelter, rescue group, humane society, or veterinary clinic. At this point, you may not know for sure if the dog is owned, lost, stray or abandoned. Wherever you take him they should check for a tag, collar, and microchip.
  11. If at any point you observe the dog and believe they are not safe, call for help!

Some dog lovers enjoy the experience. If you did – learn more about Stray Dog Rescue: How to Help Your Community. If you decide to take in a stray, there are a few things you should know. Learn more with Taking In a Stray Dog: What You Should Know.

Additional Articles that May be of Interest About Stray Dog Rescue:

Taking In a Stray Dog: What You Should Know

You may be driving down the street and see a pooch wandering around and consider taking in a stray dog. What should you know about taking in a stray? Can you just keep a dog you find? What does it need? What should you do?

If you find a stray dog, there are certain things you should know about approaching a stray dog. The most important thing is to be safe. Here are some tips on how to approach a stray dog – go to How to Approach a Stray Dog. If you are trying to catch a stray please read How to Catch Stray Dogs.

If you find and catch a stray dog, what do you do next if you want to keep your dog? There are a few issues.

  1. Does the Dog Have an Owner? The right thing to do is to figure out if the dog has an owner and if so reunite the dog with the owner. You don’t know if the dog is lost, abandoned, owned, a run-away, or a stray. You should look at the dog to determine if there is a tag, collar, tattoo (look on the ear or inner leg), and have the dog scanned for a microchip.  A microchip can help identify the owner.
  2. Advertise for a Found Dog. You can place a post on Facebook, Craigslist, Petfinder or other social media outlets. You can also take a photo of the dog and place his picture in the local coffee shops, pet stores, grooming shops, shelters, and your local library. There are also lost and found forums online and at many shelters or rescue groups.  Vet clinics commonly keep logs or bulletin boards for lost and found dogs. When you advertise, supply some information but not all. You want to make sure whoever claims the stray is truly the owner. If you are going door to door – you can show a photo to see if veterinary staff, groomers, or the local shelter recognize the dog.
  3. When is the Dog Yours? Once you find a dog and you want to keep it, when can you feel the dog is really truly and legally yours?  The answer to this varies based on the rules in your state or county. Contact your local humane society to help them answer this question. To call a dog yours, some counties require that you report that you found a dog within 24 to 48 hours of finding the dog to the local law or animal control agency.  After you report, there are given times that after which if there is no claim, then you can keep the stray dog if you wish. This time frame can vary from 5 days to 4 weeks.
  4. Ensure the Stray Dog’s Health. It is important to have the dog examined by your veterinarian if you plan to take in this stray. This is especially true if you have other dogs. Many strays have fleas, gastrointestinal worms, mange or infectious diseases that can be contagious to other dogs. They may want to test this stray dog for heartworm disease, tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease and evaluate him for mites and other infestations.  It is important to get your dog vaccinated, dewormed and placed on medication to treat or prevent fleas, ticks, and heartworms. Recommendations will vary depending on your location in the country.
  5. Deal with Behavior Problems. Some strays are very timid with a history of non-socialization or abuse. You may need to do some reading or consider the support of the behaviorist to help you work through your dog’s problems.

If you are rescuing a stray – learn more about Stray Dog Rescue: How to Help Your Community.

Additional Articles that May be of Interest About Stray Dog Rescue