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We all know that a happy pet makes for a happy home, so for dog
owners it is our job to make sure that the home is a safe and
comfortable living space. From big ranches to one bedroom flats our
dogs are forced to adapt to the homes that we have chosen. The best
thing you can do for a dog is to keep their needs in mind the same
way that you keep your own every day.
"Dogs need food, water, and shelter, however, most dogs need
more than that" explains Dr. M.A. Crist, clinical assistant
professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine &
Biomedical Sciences. "Dogs have emotional needs as well as physical
requirements, they are social animals and need to be a part of the
family or be included in your daily routine"
"Some dogs acquire bad habits due to neglect or boredom. They
begin to bark or express numerous emotions such as anxiety,
aggression, boredom, playfulness, hunger and can sometimes even
become destructive," Crist continues, "Enrichment toys are
recommended to help with this. These usually have foods placed in
them and then the dog has to work on getting the food out over a
period of time."
For potential dog owners who live in smaller environments such
as an apartment, condo, or duplex-type of space it would be best to
purchase a small breed dog with an expected mild-mannered
"A crate can help limit access to areas that are off limits
until all household rules are learned such as what not to chew on
and areas the pet is not to eliminate in. It should be just large
enough for the pet to stand and turn around in and strong enough to
securely contain the pet." Crist continues, "It might be wise to
place the crate in your bedroom or a nearby place especially if the
pet is a puppy then one can hear the puppy whine if it needs to get
outside to eliminate."
According to Crist, older pets should be kept nearby so that
crating is not associated with social isolation. Once the pet is
comfortable in the crate near you, one can gradually move it to the
location you prefer. Crating a pet for separation anxiety will not
solve the issue. A crate can prevent the pet from being
destructive; however, the pet can be injured if trying to escape
from the crate. Separation anxiety should be handled with
desensitization training and counter-conditioning. An owner may
need to consult with a board certified veterinary behaviorist for
"We do have to be mindful if this pet is a puppy or an older dog
because each requires different needs," suggests Crist. "Puppies
less than six months old should not be left alone or neglected for
more than three to four hours at a time because they cannot control
their bladders for long periods of time. Another consideration is
if the apartment has a balcony, then one has to always be mindful
that the pet does not fall from the balcony. Stairs could also
present a problem to some dogs if they are a senior pet or if they
Some people with yards or larger properties often have dog
houses for dogs that sleep outside or are outside for extended
periods of time. The idea that a dog is an 'outside' dog does not
mean that the owner cares any less for it, but if your dog is going
to be outside for the majority of the day there are some things to
keep in mind.
"Some believe that outdoor dogs can have a higher risk for being
abandoned," said Crist "When a dog lives as part of the family
inside the house, a tight and caring household bond can be formed.
Occasionally, some puppies that grow up outside receive no
socialization or behavior training. Some dogs may become bored or
lonely and can develop bad habits such as digging in the yard,
barking, chewing on outdoor equipment, sprinklers, or housing."
Crist added that some county laws do not allow the pet to be
chained up outside and require the pet to have food, water, and
shelter. Some dogs that are unsupervised in the yard or outside can
be physically injured from hazards that might be present in the
backyard. They might want to chase other creatures like a skunk,
raccoon, possum or other animals that might visit at night.
For outside dogs, toxic plants and meter readers that may spray
the pet with a deterrent for their own protection are also things
to be mindful of.
So whether you carry your canine in your purse with you
everywhere or give him the ranch to roam, as long as you keep your
tail-wagger's best interest in mind along the way it will keep your
home a happy one.
ABOUT PET TALK
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary
Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.
Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for
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