My Best Friend Has Paws: Nutrition, Behavior and Training

My Best Friend Has Paws
A guide on subjects ranging from breeding to feeding helps you to get the maximum enjoyment from a man’s best friend.

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What are the types of dogs?

Dogs are man’s best friend, and all types give loyalty and devotion to the master, whether he be kind or cruel.

Quite apart from sentimental bonds, most dogs were bred for a specific purpose and can be trained to perform their normal duty.

The main categories into which dogs fall, from present-day standards, are hunting, working, sporting and guard work.

The hunting group is most ancient of all. Dogs were used for hunting purposes well before the Christian era.

Hunting dogs are divided into two groups: Sight hunters and scent hunters. The first named group includes Greyhounds, Whippets, Borzois, Deerhounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Salukis, and similar type dogs.

All are streamlined in build and possess great speed. They hunt entirely by sight and run their game to earth without any noise at all.

The scent hunters include Beagles, Harriers, Foxhounds, and Bloodhounds. These hounds have extremely keen scenting powers, but are comparatively short-sighted and give tongue when on the game.

Working dogs can be grouped into several divisions. Firstly, we have stock dogs, Kelpies, Collies, Belgian Sheep Dogs and many European varieties, all of which, in the main, work sheep.

Cattle Dogs, Welsh Corgis, and other types of dogs for working cattle and horses exclusively are found in various parts of the world.

Another important branch of the working group is draft dogs. The Dog and Goat Act prevents the use of dogs for this purpose in Australia, but members of the Spitz family (mainly of Arctic origin), Huskies, Malamutes, Samoyeds and several continental breeds, are used exclusively for draft purposes in other countries.

Police dogs and those used for leading the blind are of much more recent origin and include Airedale Terrier, Alsatians, Dobermans and Boxers. These varieties were classified earlier as guard dogs, but the necessity of guarding flocks with canine aid from ravages of wolves and thieving humans, is gradually disappearing in all parts of the world.

Rescue work, done by St. Bernards in the old days, truffle finding and many other duties which dogs were required to perform years ago, leave quite a few breeds “out of a job” today.

The Sporting group includes all types of terriers, gundogs, Great Danes, Basenjis, Elkhounds, Ridgebacks and dozens of other native breeds. This group covers a very extensive field, and all were evolved to deal with all types of wildlife from rats to lions.

Terriers vary considerably in type and size, but each was built to hunt vermin of any description – badger, fox, rabbit or any animal which lives underground. All are possessed of courage above the ordinary and are natural killers.

Gundogs, on the other hand, are required to find and/or retrieve game only. Setters and Pointers are purely bred for finding, while retrievers and spaniels are expected to find and retrieve. All are regarded in the best circles as being useful for “feather” only, but most practical Americans welcome some “fur” as well in the bag.

Great Danes were bred originally for hunting wild boar in the Black Forest of Germany, Ridgebacks are used for lion hunting in Africa, Dachshunds for badger hunting in Germany, and most other countries have evolved breeds for hunting native fauna.

Modern burglar alarm systems have almost eliminated the necessity for guard dogs, but Mastiffs, Keeshonds, Alsatians and other similar types served a useful purpose and, for that matter, still do in this world.

Many other types of dogs were bred for specific purposes from the Chow Chow to the Dalmatian, bred as a showy dog to run with the carriages of “the gentry” before the era of the motor car.

We must not forget the toy varieties such as Maltipoo and Australian Silky Terrier. These were produced to grace the drawing rooms, and they vary considerably in size.

From the diminutive Yorkshire Terrier to the Great Dane, all dogs have many common traits and can be trained as watchdogs, or to perform ordinary obedience work, and all have a love for man unsurpassed by any other animal.

Dog breeds for people who live in the city

Small breeds, such as toys, are generally well suited for someone who lives in a city apartment or travels a great deal. However, they can be quite noisy, and they don’t adapt well to small children.

Some of the most popular small breeds are the toy poodle, the chihuahua, the pug, and the Yorkshire terrier. If you prefer a slightly larger dog that adapts well to city life, a miniature poodle, cocker spaniel, Lhasa apso, or cairn terrier may be what you need.

The cost of owning a dog

Beyond the initial cost of the dog, which could range from a nominal fee at a shelter to hundreds of dollars at a breeder’s, you’ll have to buy dog food and some equipment, such as a collar and a leash. You’ll also have to pay license fees as well as the charges for regular veterinary examinations and shots.

Is a purebred dog more temperamental than a mixed-breed?

This is a kind of folk, animal-psychology notion, and it just isn’t true. Some dogs are crazy, some moody or grumpy, and some particular about what they eat, but it doesn’t matter whether they’re purebred or mongrels.

The best place to buy a dog

If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line show dog and you want to make sure that genetic problems have been eliminated as much as possible, your best bet is a private breeder. Another possibility that’s attractive to real bargain hunters is the local animal shelter.

Choosing between a long-haired dog and a short-haired one

There are four main things to consider: the climate of the area you live in, how great its flea and tick problem is, the time you can spend grooming the dog, and the problems that can be caused by shedding. Naturally, a dog that’s adapted to cold climates will suffer in tropical climates.

Short-haired dogs have an advantage where fleas and ticks are concerned because they offer these parasites less protection from pesticides and other control methods. You should also base your decision on the amount of time you’re willing to spend grooming your dog. Finally, you should consider the amount of aggravation shedding might cause to your family.

How should I hold a puppy when I pick her up?

Support the puppy’s hind end with one hand and put the other hand under her chest. If you always try to support a pup’s hind end, the animal will feel more secure and be less inclined to squirm around and try to break free. Always be gentle with a puppy, and never try to pick her up by the scruff of the neck.

The best age to bring home a puppy

Between 8 and 12 weeks a puppy begins to be more interested in the outside world and is more likely to react well with and form strong attachments to people. That’s the best time to introduce the animal into your household.

Should I get a puppy if nobody is home during the day?

This isn’t a good idea. Without plenty of personal contacts early in life, a dog often grows up to become a very neurotic, troublesome pet. When a puppy is 8 weeks old, he’s learning some key lessons in socializing with people.

If the puppy doesn’t have a lot of interaction with humans during this time, he can become a real problem later on – constantly seeking attention, barking, destroying things, and so on. If you want a dog, why not consider an adult? There are usually plenty of well-adjusted, grown dogs at the animal shelter that would adapt well to your situation.

Should I take my child to pick out a new dog?

Yes, if the youngster is old enough – say, more than 5 years old. After all, you’ll want to see how the child and the dog interact to make sure you get a dog that isn’t afraid of children and will take to handling by a child.

Preparing for the puppy’s homecoming

Be sure you can spend plenty of time with the puppy while he’s getting used to his new home. The ideal time would be a long weekend or during your holiday.

Be sure to prepare a permanent place for the puppy to sleep and rest; most people prefer to use a small area in the kitchen or a large box. Keep in mind the fact that changes can be traumatic for a dog, and one of the ways a puppy responds to stress is to stop eating.

Don’t be surprised if the puppy doesn’t eat for the first day or so, but if this continues for more than 48 hours you should contact your vet. It’s also important to find out what the puppy has been fed and keep him on the same diet for at least the first couple of days. Later on, you can introduce new foods but if you change the diet too abruptly the puppy is apt to get diarrhea.

How often should I feed my puppy?

From the age of 6 to 12 weeks, feed the puppy three times a day. After 12 weeks, cut back to twice a day until the dog is six months old. Then once a day.

Should I give my puppy milk?

It’s usually not a good idea because ordinary milk can cause diarrhea.

Can I feed my puppy eggs?

Yes. Eggs are especially good for the puppy’s coat. Give a small puppy an average of 3 eggs a week; 6 is fine for larger puppies. The egg can be cooked or raw, whichever the puppy prefers.

How much handling should a young puppy have?

Actually, it has been found that handling is very good for the puppy. But make sure you do it gently. Don’t force the puppy; handle him carefully and let him down when he’s tired of playing.

Should the puppy be allowed to explore the house?

It’s generally a good idea to let the puppy explore the house – but only under your supervision. Be sure to do this gradually and always when you’re there to keep an eye on things. The puppy should never be given free rein of the house at night. When you go to bed she should be confined to her sleeping area.

Is it okay to hit the puppy to discipline him when he’s in the wrong?

Generally speaking, no. This usually makes him very hand shy, and he’ll also learn to cower when you approach. The best way to train and discipline the puppy if you catch him in the act – eliminating in the house, chewing on something, tipping over the garbage, barking excessively, etc. – is simply to grab him by the scruff of the neck, shake him gently, and praise him when he decides to stop the bad behavior.

How should I housebreak my new puppy?

One of the first rules of housebreaking is to feed your puppy at specific times. Don’t leave food out all the time. Your puppy will usually have a bowel movement about 15 minutes to half an hour after meals, and that’s when you should take her out for her walk.

Always try to use the same door when you take the dog outside – that way, the dog will go there when she needs to be walked and can signal to you.

How do I stop my puppy from being sick in the car?

Start with short trips. Don’t take the puppy with you when it’s hot or right after he has eaten, as this could upset his stomach.

Should I give my dog bones?

Yes, but you should take some precautions because bones can cause problems. Bones can splinter and cause internal damage by perforating the esophagus, the stomach or the small intestine, or by causing fecal impactions. Never give your dog poultry bones of any kind; they’re thin and hollow, and they break up into sharp, dangerous slivers.

Give a dog something really tough that he can gnaw on without making much headway. Watch his progress, and when he starts to break it open and splinter it, take it away and give him a new one.

How often should I brush my dog?

For the average dog, one that isn’t shedding too much or having skin problems, twice a week is usually enough. Remember that the need for brushing depends on the kind of coat the dog has.

How do I treat my dog’s cracked paws?

Footpads, like most calluses, get occasional cracks and fissures. This is nothing to worry about as long as the cracks don’t extend all the way through the pad and you can’t see the pink flesh underneath.

If there is a deep break in the pad, it will need treatment because the dog has lost a natural barrier against infection. Wash the pad with an antiseptic solution and keep it bandaged until it has had a chance to heal (about a week or even a little longer). Change the bandage every second day.

What’s the best way to clean a dog’s ears?

Use cotton dipped in mineral oil and your fingertip. If the ear is particularly clogged with wax, you can get a solution from the vet that will break up the deposit. After a couple of days of this treatment, the ears can then be cleaned with cotton and mineral oil. Cotton swabs are not recommended for cleaning a dog’s ears because they can actually impact material further into the ear.

Does a dog really need a kennel?

This is generally a good idea if the dog spends a lot of time outside. Make sure you have one that’s roomy. It should also be raised off the ground so that the floor doesn’t get too cold in the winter; insulation also helps keep the temperature in the house safe and comfortable.

A kennel can also help prevent heatstroke when the sun is hot. Remember to clean and disinfect the kennel regularly; about once a week is fine. Don’t put a rug or any kind of cloth in the kennel – this will only make cleaning harder and it will serve as a hideout for fleas.

How much exercise should my dog get?

You can begin a daily routine when the dog is 3 months old. A mature dog – 4 months to 10 years old – should be walked at least three times a day and allowed free exercise for 30 minutes or more a minimum of twice a week, no matter what the breed or size.

Little dogs can get this exercise inside a flat or house. It’s also a good idea to do as much running and playing on grass as you can. Pavement can be very damaging to a dog’s feet, especially with the kind of sprinting and stopping that goes along with most play.

How having a pet affects a child?

Having a dog is an excellent way to teach a child responsibility. Obviously, the child can also learn a great deal about respect for other living things by seeing, through close contact with a dog, that an animal has feelings too.

Is it a bad habit to let your dog sleep with you?

There’s no special risk, as long as the dog is clean and well cared for.

Is it safe to have a dog with a baby?

To some extent, it depends on the temperament of the dog – but most grown dogs will tolerate children, and most people know their dog well enough to be able to predict whether the animal can adjust to having a child in the house. The combination of a very young child and a grown dog is usually safe because the dog is mature enough to behave calmly around the child.

What is the best way to find a lost dog?

If the dog just wandered away, he probably hasn’t gone very far. Put up a few posters in the neighborhood, offering a reasonable reward. Include a good picture of the dog, if you have one. Also, check with the local animal shelter. Read the newspaper’s lost and found column, and place an ad there. Another possibility is the city dog pound; stop by periodically to see what animals they’ve picked up.

How often can I expect my female dog to go on heat?

The cycle occurs about twice a year. After the first heat, the cycles normally occur every six months, but some dogs may skip a heat. Irregular cycles generally involve missing a heat rather than having an extra one. It’s very unusual for a dog to have more than two heats in one year.

How can you tell when your dog is pregnant?

A vet can usually tell within the third or fourth week by palpating the dog’s abdomen. During the fifth or sixth week, the abdomen swells noticeably and the dog’s nipples enlarge.

How long are dogs pregnant?

The gestation period for dogs is between 58 and 68 days, with the average being about 63 days. This is generally true regardless of the breed or the size of the dog.

What’s the best diet program for a pregnant dog?

Good nutrition is essential during pregnancy, and it’s excellent preventive medicine for insuring healthy puppies. The most important change in the dog’s diet, while she’s pregnant, is the need for extra protein.

Her requirement of protein will double, and her diet will have to be supplemented. You can add eggs to her usual meal, along with some powdered milk or cottage cheese, as well as additional dog food. Another crucial part of the diet is calcium, particularly during the last four weeks of gestation.

Can you give a pregnant dog worm medicine?

Absolutely not. In fact, it’s best not to give a pregnant dog any medication that hasn’t been cleared with your vet. Some wormers can be highly toxic to fetuses.

Should I let my dog have a heat before I spay her?

No. This idea has become just as widespread as the notion that spaying stunts a dog’s development. Neither one is true. A dog’s maturity rate is unaffected by spaying, as long as it’s done after the dog is six months old.

What are the symptoms of a sick pet?

Your pet’s health depends on your being able to know when he is sick. Inform your vet if any of the symptoms listed below persist for more than several hours, and never let them go untreated for more than 2 days.

Vomiting

Can be symptomatic of constipation, poisoning, hairball (in a cat), or a serious ailment such as distemper.

Lack of appetite

The refusal of food for more than 2 days usually means a very sick animal. Waste no time in notifying your vet.

Runny eyes and nose, high fever

Often primary symptoms of a serious ailment.

Lethargy or depression

May indicate that the animal has a fever.

Sneezing or coughing

Cold-like symptoms usually mean one of the upper-respiratory-tract infections, such as distemper, pneumonitis, or rhinotracheitis.

Diarrhea

Loose stools can be caused by too much milk or by some foods such as raw liver or a chemical toxin. Diarrhea also can be caused by worms, or coccidiosis, a contagious ailment that is spread through contamination of stools from an infected animal.

Abscesses

Swellings can result from the bites of another animal.

Urinary straining

This usually indicates cystitis or blockage of the urinary tract by urinary stones. Males suffer this malady more often than females.

Shaking head

A common cause for head shaking is an ear infection.

Drinking a lot of water

The early sign of diabetes or kidney disease.

Is it right to euthanize my dog?

If we are fortunate and attentive to the needs of the animal we may have a dog’s company for 12 or 15 years or even longer. It is said that with humans every age has its compensations, and this is probably true in regard to dogs. When we think of our dog pal growing old so much more rapidly than ourselves we are apt to feel sad.

The terrier, whose sole happiness at present seems to be galloping around in a frolicsome mood, will gradually become sedate as time marches on but will be just as happy and companionable as he was in his frisky puppyhood. In fact, loyalty is stauncher in the aged dog, and he values our companionship more and more as time goes on.

Many owners of aged and infirm dogs have asked me to help them in arriving at a decision whether their pet should be allowed to live on and die a natural death, or be assisted over the border to the dog’s “happy hunting-ground.” This is a problem which must be solved by the owner. The conscience of the owner and the condition of the dog must determine what action should be taken.

We are sometimes inclined to act selfishly in matters of this kind. Life is sweet even to a blind dog or one badly crippled with rheumatism. Dogs which owners thought incurable have been taken to the Lost Dogs’ Home for putting them down, but after treatment there they have returned home for years of a healthy life.

In certain circumstances, such as when a dog has received injuries from which recovery seems impossible, is suffering from a malignant disease such as Tracheal Collapse, Cushing’s Disease, Hemangiosarcoma, or is so senile that life is a burden to it, euthanasia is the logical and most humanitarian point of view.

It is a sad task, but a great privilege, that we humans are allowed to pass a sentence of painless death on any animal that has devoted its life to our pleasure. It would not be fair or reasonable to allow the animal to continue to live in pain. Any veterinary surgeon is now able to send a dog quickly and painlessly into oblivion without any fear on the part of the dog.

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