You and Your Dog
Does your pup root in garbage cans, ignore your orders and tear your wife’s nylons? Read this and show him who’s boss
ROYD E. BEAMISH
THERE isn’t much to remember,” they tell you when you buy your first dog. “Feed him five (some people say four) times a day for three months and then cut down gradually. Worm him when he’s 12 weeks old, and if he goes off his feed, be sure to call the vet.”
That’s standard parting advice for all puppy purchasers, whether the deal concerns a three-dollar cocker-scotch-terriehound or $150 worth of Wolmar von Heinzwetter III. It sounds simple. You set out for home with the feeling that dog owning is going to be a cinch.
A few weeks later you begin to understand the sombre origin of that businessman’s phrase: “They sold him a pup.” It stems from cold, unvarnished fact.
The novice dog owner is the victim of what must be the world’s greatest conspiracy. On one side is the owner and his family, striving vainly to adhere to those few simple instructions that make dog rearing such a pleasure. On the other are the puppy himself and all the people in the world who ever owned a dog, every one of them trying to make the procedure as complicated as he can.
No one but an expectant mother is confronted
with as many old wives’ tales, well-meaning but misguided bits of advice and contradictory information, as those hurled from all sides at the new dog owner.
Most puppy purchasers hit their first snag on the question of feeding. “Five times a day for three months,” the man told you. Or was it three times a day for five months? A telephone call can settle that in a hurry. So puppy gets away to a good start on that eminently sound principle of “feed them little and often.”
Then along comes the man next door, who’s “had dogs ever since he was a kid.” He advises you that dogs eat only once a day, and that two meals is enough for a puppy. That’s the way he brought up Spot, he tells you. Spot looks healthy and happy enough; perhaps the man is right.
What you don’t realize at this point is that if Spot hadn’t been superhealthy he’d have starved to death in the first couple of months. Play it safe and keep up with those five daily meals. It’s an inconvenience, even a nuisance, but the puppy’s digestive system will thank you for it. After three months you can cut down to four feedings; at six months
three meals a day are ample. And by the time your puppy is a year old (or 16 months, if he’s one of the large breeds) you’ll be able to cut him to two meals a day.
The morning meal should be light—dog meal or broken-up dog biscuits and milk make an ideal breakfast. But the evening meal should be solid and substantial. Meat, vegetables, cereal, in the form of dog biscuit, and soup are all excellent, with cooked liver or fish substituted once in a while for variety. Potatoes and white bread should be given sparingly, if at all. They’re too starchy, often cause bloating and diarrhea. Between breakfast and dinner you can give your dog a bone with a few shreds of meat on it.—But nothing more substantial.
We nominate for oblivion those dog owners who will tell you to let your dog decide when he has had enough to eat.
“Put food in front of him, and he won’t eat unless he’s hungry,” they maintain. “Nature tells a dog when he’s had enough.”
A few hundred years ago, when your dog’s ancestors were roving the woods and finding their own food, dogs could
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You and Your Dog
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eat all they wanted without harm. They ate until they were gorged, and then went away and slept for a day or two. But in the process of becoming domesticated the house dog of today has lost both the instinct which tells him when he has had enough and the capacity to digest more than a normal burden of food. The truth is that dogs are gluttons now. Put something they like in front of them and they’ll tackle it, no matter what they have already eaten. Then they will wander off somewhere and lie down to battle with indigestion—and indigestion in a dog can be as serious as colic in a baby.
Before we leave the subject of food, there’s one more point: Eggs are just as good for your dog as everyone says, but most people agree they should be given raw. Your dog will eat poached or fried eggs with gusto, but there is one school of thought which contends that a dog’s stomach won’t digest cooked albumen. It’s as well to be on the safe side. A raw egg once or twice a week will keep his coat glossy and in good condition.
Cod-liver oil once a day is another sound practice. It conditions both the dog and his coat if given in doses ranging from a teaspoonful for a small puppy to a tablespoonful or more for a big dog. You won’t have any trouble getting the dog to take codliver oil if you introduce him to it early enough, because dogs love the fishy taste. Often one who won’t eat dog biscuit under ordinary circumstances will gulp it down happily if it’s mixed with cod-liver oil
Buy raw or unrefined cod-liver oil if you have a big dog. A gallon of raw oil costs no more than a 16-ounce bottle of the refined stuff human
beings use, but dogs like it just as much.
Some people have trouble giving medicine to dogs. I remember once when a veterinarian prescribed castor oil for a big German shepherd dog I owned. Two tablespoonfuls was the dose.
I poured out one tablespoonful, backed the dog into a corner and tried to force his mouth open. In the ensuing wrestling match the dog scored the first fall. Castor oil was spattered all over the kitchen floor, I got mad and the dog still refused to co-operate.
He Liked the Stuff
Undaunted, but no wiser than before, I went to the kitchen table to pour out another spoonful. I turned around, to find the dog greedily licking up every pool of the awful stuff from the linoleum! The dope liked castor oil ! I poured the second spoonful into his feeding dish and retired in confusion.
Much later I learned that it isn’t ■necessary to indulge in a wrestling match, even with a big dog, when you want to give him some liquid medicine that he doesn’t like. Get the dog in a corner to start with, but instead of trying to force the dog’s mouth open, simply pull out his lower lip, near the back of the mouth, to make a little pouch. Pour the medicine into the pouch, point the dog’s muzzle slightly upward and then rub the back of the spoon across his nose. That’s all there is to it.
If there’s anything a dog can’t stand, it’s something wet and sticky on the end of his nose. Most liquid medicines are both. The dog will swallow the medicine in his mouth to free his tongue so he can lick off the offending smear on his snout.
One word of caution: Don’t point
the dog’s muzzle too high or some of the medicine may trickle down his windpipe into his lungs. That can produce pneumonia.
Capsules or pills must still be given the hard way, and if your dog is any bigger than a terrier, it’s best to make it a two-man job, this way: One of you hold the dog and force its mouth open; the other push the pill to the back of the dog’s mouth. Then close the animal’s mouth and hold it shut, with muzzle pointing sky-high. Rubbing his throat gently with your hand will encourage the dog to swallow.
If you don’t get the pill well behind the root of the dog’s tongue, he’ll work it back again and, when you’re not looking, spit it out into a corner. A safe guide is this: If the dog seems preoccupied for a few moments after you’ve given the pill, it probably means he hasn’t swallowed it. If the pill went down, he’ll show immediate interest in an old plaything or anything you do that normally attracts his attention. It’s an important distinction to note, because an experienced dog will carry the pill around until you’re not looking.
Worms are a real threat to a dog’s health, but in recognizing that fact there is no need to succumb to the popular superstitions concerning these obnoxious little parasites.
Fallacies About Worms
There are people who will tell you that puppies are born with worms, and others who say that milk or raw meat will give a dog worms. Both are right.
Worms thrive in an animal which is fed chiefly on milk or any other fluid diet, but the diet itself has nothing to do with their origin. Meat which has been left lying around and come in contact with worm eggs will produce worms if fed to a dog, but fresh raw beef will never do so. Liver and “lights” (fatty offal), however, may contain worm eggs, and for this reason should be thoroughly cooked before feeding.
Puppies are born with worms if the mother is infected. The worms get to the pups through the maternal blood supply.
It’s a good principle to worm puppies at six weeks of age, even if no symptoms are present—and always remember that vermicides contain powerful acids and an overdose can irreparably harm a puppy’s stomach.
Oddly enough, it’s the danger of worms that makes fleas on a dog a matter of real concern. Edward Noyes Westcott did dogs a considerable disservice when he coined his famous epigram: “They say a reasonable number of fleas is good fer a dog —keeps him from broodin’ over bein’ a dog.”
A lot of people have taken that maxim almost literally. Many believe that fleas are inevitable on dogs, and quite harmless, anyway. But fleas carry tapeworm embryos, and when a dog kills an infected flea with his teeth, the tapeworm finds a nice new home and grows to full size. And human beings can be satisfactory “hosts” for the same species of tapeworm. For your own safety, as well as your dog’s, you should take steps to combat fleas the moment their presence is suspected.
With your dog properly fed, wormed and deloused, his life should be fairly pleasant, but there is oneother important matter that must be settled before you and your dog are going to enjoy each other’s company. That is training. And you’d be surprised at the number of dog owners who make ambitious plans for training dogs, then throw the whole thing up in despair because they find the housebreaking process so arduous. That is the wrong thing to do.
In the first place, most puppies are innately clean; only one in hundreds will soil his own bed. But anyplace else is a fair target when Nature calls.
It’s your job to show him that other places are just as important as his bed. But be patient. Many new dog owners reason that, after they’ve scolded a puppy two or three times and smacked him once or twice more, the fifth mistake is prompted by nothing else than out-and-out contrariness.
I think, probably, the puppy is aware that he’s going to be punished when he makes a “mistake” at about that stage of the game. But, quite often, all he knows is that this function, which is perfectly natural to him, is a crime to you. He still hasn’t been able to think of any alternative.
So the first thing to remember is that when your puppy makes a mistake—and every time he makes one—show him the answer to his problem. If you are training him to newspapers, place him on the paper immediately; if you are lucky enough to live in a home instead of an apartment, take him outside at once. It will take time, but eventually his laboring little mind will grasp the connection between his misdeed and the paper or the out of doors.
The second rule is this: give the
puppy a break by anticipating his “crimes.” The moment he has eaten a meal, place him on the paper or put him outside, because that’s one of the times he is most likely to want to attend to himself. If you can stand over him until he has done so, you’re well on the way to victory. Praise him lavishly every time he reacts the way you want him to, and pretty soon he’ll begin to take a positive pride in the ceremony.
Pups Have Short Memories
Let the first couple of slips pass without too much fuss. Pick the puppy up, carry him to his prescribed locale, and give him a pat or two by way of encouragement. After that it’s time to get firm with him.
If you can catch him in the act, fine. Speak sharply to him: bad dog! or shame! Pick him up at once and put him where he should have been. If the job has been done and you are sure it couldn’t have been more than a few moments earlier, lead him to the evidence and scold him. After two or three scoldings you can add emphasis with a smart slap on his hindquarters.
But if more than a few minutes have elapsed between the offense and its discovery, let the matter go. A puppy’s memory is woefully short, and punishment then won’t have any connection in his mind with the crime that produced it.
And never rub a puppy’s nose in his filth; that accomplishes nothing at all, and only terrifies the little fellow. Be patient, firm and consistent. And keep your puppy in a room with a linoleum floor until he has learned his manners.
After housebreaking, the number of things you can teach your dog is limited only by your own enthusiasm.
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But there are three things every dog should be taught before he is eight months old—to come when called; to walk at heel; and to lie down when and where told.
All three are easy to teach, and should be regarded as the three “musts” of dog raising. After they have been mastered you can go on, according to your own whims, either to teach parlor tricks, like “dead dog,” or more useful ones, like carrying parcels, guarding objects and locating lost articles.
The main thing to remember in trying to teach your dog anything is to choose simple words of command. One word is always better than two, and the same command should be given for the same things at all times. The dog learns by associating a sound or a sign with an action, and if two similar sounds mean two different actions your dog will only be perplexed.
One experiment conducted by research workers exploring canine psychology shows what happens when a dog is confused, intentionally or otherwise.
How to Make a Dog Mad
A group of scientists rigged up a feeding pen for a dog and wired it electrically. When the current was on they displayed a card bearing a big oval. The dog soon learned that when he saw the oval he couldn’t touch the food without getting a shock. When a circle was displayed, however, the current was off and the dog could eat. Soon he had grasped the idea and did not try to touch the food unless the circle was showing.
Then the scientists played a dirty trick. They began narrowing the circle by degrees and widening the oval. The dog kept up with them until circle and oval were almost identical in appearance. Then he just about lost his mind, because he never knew when he could eat in safety and when he couldn’t.
You set up a lesser degree of the same sort of confusion when you use similar-sounding commands to mean different actions. Sit down and lie down sound much alike when you accent the second word in both cases. The safest thing to do is to use single words: Come for “come here,” down for “lie down,” sit for “sit down,” heel if you want the dog to walk at your heel and bring if you want him to carry something. And if you accompany each command with a distinctive gesture, before long you’ll find the dog recognizing the gesture as readily as the word, and obeying it just as promptly.
One yam illustrating the power of sound in dog training concerns a busy New York executive who kept three dogs in his bachelor apartment. He couldn’t get home to exercise them during the day, so he trained them to race around the apartment whenever the telephone bell rang. Every morning at 11 o’clock he would dial the apartment and let the phone ring for 10 minutes, while the dogs raced around like mad and got their needed exercise. Then he hung up the receiver and the animals settled down again, panting and happy.
The trick worked fine until a friend learned of it and let himself into the apartment one morning just before 11. When the phone rang, and the dogs began to race, he picked up the telephone. The startled listener at the other end of the line heard the unmistakable sound of a panting dog, followed by a click as the instrument was replaced on its hook. He was badly shaken.
There are a few dog habits you’ll want to break. One is the habit many dogs have of jumping up and placing their paws on a visitor. It’s cute when he’s a puppy, but, particularly if you own one of the big breeds, all cuteness vanishes after a few months. And even little dogs aren’t cute when their claws are ruining someone’s only pair of nylons.
The best way to discourage this form of chumminess is to step, lightly but firmly, on the dog’s hind toes as soon as he tries to stand up. He will soon stop, and, although he’ll probably be a little hurt and bewildered at first, you’ll be glad once the habit is broken. Incidentally, the toe-stepping technique also is excellent when teaching a dog to walk at heel, except that in this case the front feet are the target.
Begging at the table is another thing that never should be tolerated. In most cases the owner or some member of his family is entirely to blame, but the dog must suffer before the habit, once acquired, can be broken. The simplest rule is never, never to give your dog a morsel of food while you are at the dinner table. Dogs, like people, never miss what thèy’ve never had. If someone spoiled him before you got him, the only cure for a dog that wanders from diner to diner, begging for food, is to steel your hearts, smack him on the nose and refuse. Eventually he will give up.
Make Him Suspect Gifts
There is one “trick” you can teach your dog which will probably give you more peace of mind than any other single accomplishment, particularly if a dog poisoner should happen to appear in your neighborhood some summer. That is, teaching your dog to accept food from no one but members of your family. It’s not an easy thing to do. You need patience, persistence, a temporary callousness and an accomplice, but the results are well worth it all. The accomplishment has an added value in that a dog so trained will not filch his food from garbage cans or rubbish piles.
The mechanics of the program are simple enough. You merely take a quantity of some favorite food and dose it liberally with pure red pepper. Meat is the best “decoy,” because you can wrap it around the pepper so it isn’t noticeable at first, but in these days of rationing something else may have to do.
Leave two or three of these peppertreated bits around the yard for your dog to “discover” while you are with him. When he has spotted the food warn him not to touch it, with words like shame! bad dog! or don't touch! He won’t pay any attention, but the pepper will make him wish he had when he takes his first bite. After a dozen experiences like this he will realize you mean business when you
say don't touch! And a dog’s mental processes being what they are, he will figure it out along the lines of the old classic: “A’s horse is white; B’s
horse is white; therefore all horses are white.” He will conclude that all stray bits of food are loaded with pepper.
The next stage of training is to have an accomplice who is a total stranger to the dog. Let him offer the animal another piece of “loaded” food, while you stand by and offer your usual warnings. The pepper does the rest if the dog yields to temptation. If you can repeat this with one or two other accomplices, so much the better.
Even when the dog is thoroughly trained on these lines, it’s a good idea to check up on him every few months, leaving bits of food in tempting places outside—both “loaded” and “unloaded”—to make sure he isn’t just outsmarting you. If he shows signs of weakening, go back to the old regime again and keep it up until you’ve won.
You’ll find as you go along that no hard and fast rules can be laid down for teaching or training a dog. Many
excellent principles are set out in books, and common sense will indicate others, but the technique you adopt must depend chiefly on the dog’s temperament.
Some dogs are so sensitive that a mere verbal rebuke (the word Shame! spoken in a disgusted tone works wonders) will send him guiltily to a far-off corner from which he will not emerge until he has been formally forgiven. Others simply scorn any effort at verbal chastisement and respond to nothing less than a smack on the rump with a folded newspaper (which terrifies the pup as much by its sound as anything else). And there is always the irrepressible pooch which refuses to believe you mean any form of punishment until it has been administered at least a dozen times.
Bringing up a dog is a lot of work. But if you will stick to authoritative sources of information, and devote an hour or so a day to the first 10 months of your puppy’s upbringing, he will repay you with years of good behavior and complete faithfulness that will make you feel the training time was well spent indeed.