May 26 2020

Socializing Your New Puppy During Quarantine

Since April 24, Wayside Waifs has offered a Virtual Adoptions Program to continue our mission of helping homeless animals during this time of social distancing. This extra time at home with your new pet is ideal for bonding and training purposes but can make it difficult when you are wanting to socialize your new puppy. Puppies have a window of learning social and coping skills between 4 and 14 weeks old. Since we are limited to the people and places we can visit during this time it’s important to get creative to be sure your new puppy is developing skills during this crucial stage of development.

The “New Normal” – Scheduling

Although your schedule is likely very different now than it was or will be, it’s important that you get your new puppy accustomed to what their day WILL be versus getting them used to a typical day in this “new normal” we are adjusting to. Although you may be staying home now, it is advisable to give them some time away from the family during the day so they can learn coping skills and how to “be alone.” If you have already been crate training or baby gating your puppy in another room when you leave for short periods of time then you are on the right track! Now try this out when you are home to teach them that quiet time is normal. Extra enrichment such as a special toy or treat for this quiet time will give your puppy something to do independently. Also, playing some light music or having the TV on for them might help make them more comfortable.

Checkout our Behavior Article Library for tips on crate training and enrichment ideas.

New Surroundings

While you may be a bit limited to what you can expose your new puppy to right now, you can start with baby steps by introducing them to different things in and around the house. Start with exposing them to different surfaces; grass, concrete, rocks, water, mud, tile, carpet, etc. Pairing this exposure with yummy treats and positive praise will make it a fun experience. Be sure you are doing this at a pace that is comfortable for your puppy. Some puppies may take longer than others to adjust to new things and allowing them to go at their pace will ensure the experience is positive.

Now that your puppy is confidently exploring new surroundings, encourage them to take the next step in adventuring by climbing and crawling under things. The stairs can be a daunting concept for some puppies and encouraging them with treats and praise can help conquer them. Certain factors may slow this process down such as the size of your puppy, the steepness of the stairs, and if they are hardwood versus carpeted. So be patient as your puppy figures it out and be sure you are there to supervise this process, especially in the beginning.

Car Rides

Getting your puppy used to the car is important to make traveling fun for everyone! Some puppies can initially get motion sickness while riding in the car so keep your trips short and build them up with time. Using the crate in the car is the safest way to transport your puppy and ensures they are secured during your travels. Putting their favorite blanket and/or toy in the crate during travels will help them feel more secure. There are also other options such as doggy seatbelts to be sure they are kept safely in the backseat during traveling. Once your puppy gets comfortable in the car they might enjoy a puppuccino from your favorite coffee shop drive-thru as a reward for their progress which is the perfect time to reward yourself as well for your patient, hard work as a puppy parent!

Preparing for Visitors

Although you may not be getting visitors at this time, you can prepare your puppy for what is expected when someone comes to the door. Have a family member ring the doorbell and “be a stranger” with yummy treats in hand to build up positivity around visitors coming over. Doing this often will help remove the fear of the doorbell and associate it with meeting new friends.

Work on Leash Skills

Getting your new puppy used to leashes early is a great way to build up your future walking or running partner. Get your puppy comfortable with having the leash on; start by clipping the leash to your puppy’s collar or harness and letting them walk around the yard comfortably while you hold onto the leash. You may need to gently encourage them with treats and praise. If they don’t seem bothered by the leash then start with small distances around the neighborhood and slowly build it up. If they aren’t confidently walking around the yard with the leash attached then just keep practicing until they are. Be prepared for new things such as passing cars, strangers, and other dogs which might be a bit scary for your puppy. Have their favorite treats ready to reward them for being brave during these new encounters.

While it is tempting to allow our puppies much more freedom and slack on our scheduling during this time, it can come back to bite us as we head back to work and our “normal” routine. A little forethought and preparation now will greatly increase your chances of a well-rounded adult dog.

Watch more tips here!

If, after trying these suggestions, you are experiencing undesirable behaviors with your new pet, submit questions to our behavior team by clicking here.


May 7 2020

Preparing Your Dog for Your Return to Work

Many of you have been working from home, or home more than normal because of the shelter in place orders.  As we prepare to head back to work and out into public more, it is important to realize that this can be a stressful transition for your dog.  They have likely enjoyed having you around more, and this is the new “normal” for them.  It is possible to alleviate some of this stress by implementing a few things now.  

Less kennel time, more play, extra treats and tummy rubs – how will your dog adjust to you being back at work and home less?

Below you will find some tips for easing this transition for your furry friend. 

  • Begin returning to the routine you will follow when you go back to work.  This will include waking, feeding, and going to bed at the appropriate times.  
  • If your dog crates while you are gone, be sure you are still utilizing the crate some even while you are still home.  You can crate your pup while you do yard work.  This is a great time to reinforce the crate with a yummy treat included like a frozen Kong, or long-lasting chew.
  • Begin exercising your dog in the morning and evening, keeping the middle part of the day open for relaxation since that is what our dogs partake in when we are gone.  
  • When you do head back to work, you can leave on the television or radio the first few days to simulate what they have been hearing while you have been home.
  • Leaving them some mental enrichment like a new toy or long-lasting chew can help keep them busy while you are away.  Always ensure the item is safe if not monitored.  

Most dogs will do very well and roll with the punches as our routines change, but if you notice your dog is struggling as you get back into your normal schedule, you may consider finding someone to come and let your dog out and spend a short time with them mid-day for a few weeks.  Remaining flexible and realizing that just like us, some dogs need a little more time to adjust to change can go a long way.  Hang in there!

If, after trying these suggestions, you are still experiencing undesirable behaviors in your dog, SUBMIT QUESTIONS by clicking the link under Ask A Trainer on the Behavior and Training page of the
Wayside Waifs website: www.waysidewaifs.org.


May 6 2020

Pet Tips: Storm Season

We can expect this time of year to produce thunderstorms and occasionally there’s the potential for more severe weather. The best start to managing your pets’ storm anxiety is to be weather aware. Checkout the forecast ahead of time so that if there’s a chance of a storm, you are already planning on how to help your pet cope and to what degree. Every animal is different in their anxiety levels and triggers so some pets may not be affected by storms while others will benefit from one or a combination of the following tips. It is best to try these methods out before a storm or anxiety trigger to see which is most beneficial for your pet.

Provide a Positivity Storm Inside

Offering fun, positive distractions can help shelter your pet from the stress of the storm. Turning up the TV or music is a good way to help with some of the noise storms produce. There are even specific TV shows made just for your pet with calming visuals and sounds. Checkout Youtube to explore some pet worthy binge watching! A high-value treat like a frozen peanut butter Kong can also provide a rewarding distraction. Redirecting their mental focus to a brain game like a puzzle using their favorite snack as a reward might outshine those storm blues. Checkout our Pinterest page https://www.pinterest.com/waysidewaifs/ for some fun DIY projects for your pet!

Yummy Distractions!

ThunderShirts

Similar to swaddling an infant the ThunderShirt can help make your dog feel more secure by applying a gentle, constant pressure. Research suggests that this type of pressure can release a calming hormone like oxytocin or endorphins. It’s advised to remove the Thundershirt for about 10 minutes every 1 to 2 hours to avoid irritation. This is a drug free, training free method that is over 80% effective. 

Calming Treats

This is a safe, natural way to provide anxiety relief and reduce stress using herbs and vitamins. There are a lot of different brands that offer calming treats for your pets so be sure to do your research in selecting the right one for your pet. PetNaturals is a tried and true brand at Wayside Waifs and is available for purchase in our Whiskers and Wags retail store. 

Other Calming Remedies 

Wayside stays a step ahead in caring for our Waifs by anticipating the anxiety as a result of being in the shelter environment. We use different forms of a product called Adaptil which produces a copy of the natural pheromone produced by the mother dog a few days after giving birth. It gives her puppies a feeling of safety and comfort and also benefits adult dogs by providing a feeling of reassurance. At the shelter and in foster we utilize Adaptil wall plug-in diffusers, collars, and sprays to help ease anxiety of the animals in our care. 

In severe cases, your vet may advise medication to help ease your pets anxiety. Always consult with your vet with questions and concerns surrounding your pet’s physical and mental health. All pets are different in what works for them and your vet may be able to better direct the route to take to best manage your pet’s care. 


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