Responsible Pet Ownership: Dogs

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photograph of a pug

Are you really ready for a dog?

  • Can you afford veterinary care, food and grooming cost?
  • Will you obey laws that pertain to animal ownership?
  • Do you have allergies?
  • Will you take time with your pet on a regular basis? Dogs need daily exercise and training.
  • Will you make a commitment to a pet for its entire life? A dog or cat may live to be 20 years old.
  • Will you have the pet spayed or neutered?
  • When you take a vacation, do you know what to do with your pet?
  • Does your landlord allow pets? If so, do they require a deposit?

If you answered yes to all of the above questions you will be a responsible dog owner.

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Having a dog is FUN...

...but it's also a big responsibility. Remember that your dog depends on you for everything. Use the list below to learn how to take care of your dog the right way. Giving your dog what it needs is being a responsible owner and good friend.

Are you a responsible owner?

Do you...

  • provide fresh water at all times?
  • provide quality dog food?
  • have your dog checked by a veterinarian at least once a year?
  • make sure your dog wears its current license and ID tag?
  • make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise?
  • bathe and groom your dog regularly?
  • play with your dog?
  • train your dog?
  • give it lots of love?

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Safety Around Dogs

All dogs are different, just as people are different. Some dogs are friendly and some are not. Sometimes even a friendly dog may bite.

Dogs may bite when they are surprised, excited or scared. Running, yelling, loud noises and teasing can cause a dog to bite you.

If a strange dog comes toward you:

  • Be calm and stand still. Never run away.
  • Face the dog and watch him, but don't stare into his eyes.
  • Speak softly but firmly to the dog, saying things like, "good dog".
  • After the dog has calmed down and doesn't look scared or angry, you can leave safely by slowly backing away.
  • Never run from a dog.
  • Never touch a dog you don't know.

If you're riding a bike and you see a strange dog:

  • Stop the bike.
  • Get off the bike on the side away from the dog.
  • Keep the bike between you and the dog.
  • Back away slowly to an area of safety, perhaps a parked car.

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Dogs In Pickups? shouldn't happen!

Don't let your dog travel unsecured in an open pickup truck bed. Dogs can't "hold on" the way humans can, and any sudden start, stop or turn can toss your pet onto the highway. If the impact of hitting the road at a high speed doesn't kill it, oncoming traffic probably will.

There are other hazards to consider. Most dogs love the feeling of wind blowing past their ears at 60 mph, but that wind can seriously irritate mucous membranes and blow pieces of grit into the animal's eye. Insects or flying debris can also lodge in the nasal passages or get sucked up into the windpipe.

It is safest to allow your dog to ride inside the truck cab, or leave it at home. If it must ride in the back of a truck put the pet inside a crate that will give some protection from the wind and weather, and tie the crate securely to the walls of the truck bed so it cannot slide about or be tossed out of the truck.

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When Shelter is Necessary

Lincoln City Ordinance 6.08.200 requires that animals have convenient access to shelter throughout the year. This requirement is defined and interpreted to include the following:

  1. Any dog kept outside habitually or left outside unattended repeatedly when adults persons are not present on the property must have shelter as described below.
  2. For circumstances not included in the above, any dog kept outside for more than 30 minutes during inclement weather conditions should have access to an artificial shelter which provides adequate protection for existing and anticipated weather conditions. A responsible dog owner will use good judgement based on weather conditions vs. dog's health, breed, and size.
  3. All dogs should have access to shade at all times during warm weather.

Dog Shelter Guidelines

  • Shelter for a dog is defined and interpreted as a structure having 4 sides including a roof and floor with one side having an entrance. The shelter should be small enough so the dogs body heat will keep him warm and yet be large enough for the dog to stand and turn around. It should protect the dog from temperature extremes and precipitation.
  • Bedding material should be maintained, cleaned and replaced as needed. The shelter should be in good condition and not have any nails or other protruding objects. A shelter having insulated walls is ideal and recommended.
  • One shelter per dog is ideal with some type of flap over the entrance.
  • For dogs kept in an unheated garaged, a box with bedding to retain body heat is recommended. Ideally, the floor of a shelter box should not be concrete, because it will transmit coldness to the dog unless it has come type of heating elements. A crawl space under a porch is not acceptable, because it does not retain the dog's body heat and will not keep the dog off frozen ground.

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Breaking the Barking Habit

Water Training Method

This method works for almost all dogs and is simple to use if you follow these guidelines:

  • First, be consistent and persistent. The dog will not learn if he is corrected one time and not the next. For this reason, plan to teach when you can be home most of the day.
  • Fill a plant mister or water pistol with water.
  • When the dog barks, immediately give him one or two squirts of water while the dog is barking and say "Quiet!" The dog will be confused if you wait until he stops barking.
  • If the dog backs away, repeat saying "Quiet", as you move towards him give him one more squirt of water.
  • Repeat each time the dog barks needlessly. Always praise your dog if he barks in a watchdog situation.
  • With this conditioning experience your dog will soon learn to expect a squirt of water when you shout "Quiet!" Once he has made this association, you will not need to squirt him again.

Barks When Nobody's Home

Try leaving a radio on when you go out. It may fool him into thinking you are home. Get the dog used to being in a closed room or the basement by using the following method. Tell him to be a good dog and close the door. When the dog starts to bark or howl, burst into the room and scold him, "Quiet!" then leave and wait to see if the dog barks again. If he does, repeat the commands with more force. Try to convince him that you will always be there to scold him if he barks. Increase the amount of time you leave the dog alone until he is comfortable when you leave for long periods of time.

Barks At Any Little Noise

These dogs need special attention. Set up a situation where you know he will bark. For example, the arrival of the mail carrier, cars passing by or the presence of another animal. When he begins to bark tell him firmly, "Quiet!" Until he understands the command, slap a rolled newspaper on your hand, not the dog, to reinforce the command.

Barks During The Night

Feed your dog late in the evening so he will be drowsy and sleep through most of the night. If possible, it is best to bring your pet inside for the night.

Is Tied Up

Make sure your dog is as comfortable as possible. He should have shelter, fresh water, and food. Make sure he can't tangle himself up in the line he is tied with. The dog should have enough room to move without stepping in his food, water, or feces. Give the dog lots of attention when you are home and set aside time each day to play with your pet.

Barks Non-Stop

If your dog is corrected once and then continues to bark, speak to him directly with a commanding "Quiet!" If the dog still doesn't understand, hold his mouth closed (being gentle and careful not to cut off breathing) for a moment and say "Quiet!"

A barking dog is often a bored dog that gets no exercise or affection. Happy, healthy, well trained dogs don't bark unnecessarily.

If These Methods Don't Work

You may want to contact a reputable obedience training school. A trained dog will stop barking on command. Obedience school will also help to control your dog in other situations.

Is Your Dog A Nuisance Animal?

According to Lincoln City Ordinance 6.04.435 it is unlawful for any person to "own, keep or harbor any dog which by loud continued, or frequent barking, howling, or yelping shall annoy or disturb any neighborhood person or persons", If you own a dog that barks frequently and/or excessively, you own a nuisance animal.

The Pros and Cons of Barking Dogs

Not all barking is bad. Barking is a dog's response to his environment. It can alert owners and neighbors of a stranger's presence or other potential problems.

Barking also tells the owner when the dog is in distress.

Excessive barking is extremely annoying. Noisy animals create neighborhood tension. Chronic barking is a sign of a board or nervous dog and should be stopped immediately.

If you can answer "Yes" to any of the following questions your dog could be a neighborhood nuisance:

Does your dog bark excessively when...

  • someone rings the doorbell or walks by?
  • he hears a siren?
  • another animal comes into view or another dog barks?
  • he is alone?

Do's and Don'ts for dog owners

  • Do find out why your dog barks.
  • Do correct the behavior immediately and consistently. If you correct your dog once and don't the next time, he will never learn.
  • Do be patient. Braking the barking habit takes time, but with patience and understanding you should be able to complete the training in two to three weeks.
  • Do tell your pet "good dog" when he obeys your commands or barks for a trained reason.
  • Don't squirt your dog with the garden hose or throw things at him.
  • Don't hit your dog. This is not an effective replacement for the water treatment method. Hitting your dog will probably make it impossible for you to ever train your dog without professional help.

Remember you are teaching, not punishing.

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