Ideally, dogs should be taken to council-designated areas where they can be safely let off the leash to run free. It is important to use these specifically designated areas not only to ensure their own safety (preventing the risk of being hit by a car) but also the safety of farm livestock and wildlife which can be threatened by a dog let loose in their habitat.
Keep your dog busy by prolonging his mealtime with a number of interactive toys such as Kongs, treatballs, or Bustercubes (treats can be easily pushed in but will engage your dog for hours trying to get them out). Also try hiding part of his meal around the yard to stimulate his natural foraging instincts. Treats and toys are available at the RSPCA online shop.
The key method to adopt here is one of positive reinforcement. Firstly, you need to show your pup the area where it should do its business, and each time the pup toilets in the designated area, immediately reward with a treat or verbal praise. In order to prevent mistakes from happening, it is important to both diligently supervise your dog while it is indoors and take it frequently outdoors. This will speed the learning process and prevent any accidents from occurring in the house.
Regular socialisation and training, from as early as eight weeks of age, is an important factor in raising a well-behaved and socially acceptable dog. New puppy owners will benefit from enrolling their pups in a Puppy Pre-school class as soon as they bring their four-legged friend home. The RSPCA Pet Dog Manners class may also benefit your 4 legged friend!
Pedigree or purebred dogs are more expensive to buy if purchased from a breeder and their nature and appearance is generally predictable (as they should conform to a breed standard). Crossbreeds (or 'designer dogs') are dogs of mixed ancestry. They are robust and often make great pets. Keep in mind though, that when you purchase a crossbred puppy it might be difficult to accurately predict how these puppies will develop. Both purebred and crossbred puppies and adult dogs are available at RSPCA Adoption Centres.
Safety is also a consideration. In September 2018 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement warning about the risk of tremors and seizures in animals treated with products containing drugs in the isoxazoline class, which are used to combat fleas and ticks. However, the FDA said it still considers the products "safe and effective".
During summer, a flea control shampoo and a flea rinse should be used. However, this should by no means substitute a proper monthly flea control regime such as Spot-On, Revolution or Frontline. Consult your vet or chat with the RSPCA's friendly vet nurse team for free advice on flea control for your pet. It's important to remember, after the application of flea treatment be sure to wait 24-48 hours before bathing your dog.
When holiday time arrives, many owners find themselves with the problem of how to care for their four-legged friends during their absence. If you are unable to leave your dog with family or friends, the next best thing is placing them in a boarding kennel. Dog owners are urged to call and inspect the establishment of their choice well before their departure so as to assess its suitability.
As mentioned above, puppies respond well to positive-reinforcement based training. It is important to acknowledge that dogs cannot possibly know which behaviours are right and which are wrong - it will be up to you to teach them. Take the time to show your puppy what you want them to do and reward them with a treat, praise, or a game each time they do the right thing.
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