Petiquette For Perfect Pups
If you are a pup parent, chances are you think that your pup is perfect. Mine certainly is. Seriously one of the best dogs there ever was. As hard as it is to believe for us dog lovers, however, not everyone loves dogs (GASP!) and not everyone thinks your pup is perfect (WHAT?!?). As responsible pet parents, it’s up to us to make sure that our fabulous furry friends don’t interfere with our neighbor’s right to the quiet enjoyment of their homes. Whether you reside in an apartment, condo, or single-family home, there are things you can do to help everyone love your pup as much as you do. We call it PETIQUETTE. noun. The customary code of polite pup behavior in society to ensure endless love from your friends and neighbors.
Leashes. Unless you and Rover are at the dog park, keep your pup on a leash. You know your dog like the back of your hand, but you don’t know all the other dogs, people, and events you may encounter that might trigger unusual behavior in your dog. Leashing your pup keeps him and all the other critters and peeps safe. Plus, Rover’s leash can tell the world what kind of pup he or she is – adventure dog, princess, fashionista, bad to the bone. The possibilities are truly endless.
Poop Bags. I was just at a nice, well-maintained dog park last weekend and came home with poop on my shoe. UGH. WHY? Pay attention people! Don’t leave home without this essential and use them every time your pup poops. Dispose of the bags in a thoughtful manner – tie them up securely and place them in a designated container or common trash can. A carabiner clip on your leash can not only hold your poop bag dispenser, but also your house key, and a used poop bag. So handy if clean up duty comes mid-walk so you don’t have to swing a full bag the whole way home. Just remember to toss the bag before entering your home! Lesson learned the hard way. P.U.!!
Vaccinations. Show your pup some serious health love. Keep up on your dog’s vaccinations according to your vet’s recommendations. Don’t forget monthly heartworm treatments and flea and tick prevention. Fully vaccinated pups make for better pup friends.
Exercise. Dogs are a big-time commitment. Critical for keeping pups happy and healthy is to make sure they get regular exercise – and by regular, think several times daily. Learn more at the AKC website.
While living in an apartment, your dog is somewhat confined. He or she isn’t going to have a lot of room to run around, let out energy or play. Not only can this make little Buddy feel cooped up or frustrated, but it could also cause him to let out his energy in not-so-constructive ways (like chewing up your furniture, digging into your walls or doors, or barking).
Training and Socialization. Expose your dog to different people and settings regularly. Take him to the park, to the pet store, on a walk through town. Check out the Bring Fido app or website for a plethora of pet-friendly places that will welcome your dog. Praise him for behaving calmly around strangers and other dogs, or any other strange dog triggers. I once had a dog that had a very negative reaction to men in hats and to Siberian Huskies, but literally loved everyone and everything else. So weirdly selective.
Praise him lavishly for obeying commands and behaving well. Using positive, rather than negative, reinforcement will help your dog enjoy training.
ID Tags, License, Registration, Microchip. Be sure to get a dog license in the county where you reside. Registration fees are nominal, and the tag will help others to identify your furry friend if she decides to go on an adventure solo. Microchipping your dog is the ultimate, as a tag is removed when your dog’s collar is removed, but a microchip is there for the life of your dog. There are also sites where you can register the microchip number; again, so helpful if your dog becomes lost or stolen. Check out Home Again or Free Pet Chip Registry.
Spay, Neuter. Unless you intend to breed your pup, spay or neuter. It’s ultimately better for your dog’s health and disposition. And he really won’t miss his boy parts. Quit anthropomorphizing.
Control the Bark. Keep your neighbors in mind. Be courteous and consider that many people are sharing the space around your home. A dog that barks a lot will not be best received in an apartment with shared walls or a front door that is in a high traffic area. Ask your veterinarian about behavioral training if your dog is a barker. You can invest in a hand held barking deterrent, or a device that sounds when you are not at home.
Deal with Separation Anxiety. Some dogs, like my perfect pup, suffer from separation anxiety. I envisioned him being totally miserable every time I left home. Then I purchased a dog camera that allows me to see his activity on my phone and even speak to him. Turns out I was anthropomorphizing; he mostly slept after a minute of barking to let the world know he was not happy being left alone. There are even dog monitors that will allow you to remotely dispense a treat and are compatible with Alexa. Aww, way to reward your good boy or good girl.
Create a Doggie Haven. Dogs find it easier to relax and wind down if they have their own space, so make Miss Toes her own little haven in a corner of your apartment. Put a calming dog bed, a few toys, and her food and water bowls in his corner to give her a place to retreat when she needs a break. Or if she’s crate trained, make her crate as comfortable as possible. One of your used t-shirts can provide comfort, too.
Proactive Damage Prevention. Pet Proof. Even perfect pups can occasionally find it hard to resist temptation. Or get even. When Bosley came into my life, I bought him a shiny red raincoat with a yellow duck on the back. His humiliation the first time wearing it forced him to take a nice chew of my best Italian leather loafers. I learned my lesson. So you won’t have a hard lesson to learn, move breakables or “chewables” to higher ground. Make electrical cords inaccessible to curious paws and noses. Block off any area of the house that’s off-limits. Block access to (or give away) any house plants that are toxic to dogs.
Potty walks are essential! Potty stains on the carpet, along with chewed doors, trim, and walls will present a financial issue for you when you eventually move. When your perfect pup has an accident (that was probably your fault, haha), be sure to clean it up right away using a cleaner that will remove the stain and neutralize the odor.
Playtime and Companionship. We all need a daily dose of fun for our mental health. So does Buster. In addition to outdoor exercise, Buster will love a game of toss or tug with you – his favorite thing in the whole wide world. She’ll also appreciate a play date with others of her own kind. You know, other perfect pups. A play date with a neighbor’s dog, a visit to the dog park, or an All Day Play session at your local pet retreat can work wonders. Playtime can also reduce stress-induced destructive behavior. It’s a win-win!
Good Eats, Drinks, Treats. Who doesn’t love dinner, drinks, and snacks? Of course you are going to feed and water your dog, but strategically offered snacks can encourage and reward the best pup behavior as pups tend to prefer treats over good boy stickers.
Groom. Fur sheds. Hair grows. Whichever you pup possesses needs frequent attention. If you opt to brush outside to avoid a mountain of fur inside, do so a respectful distance from your neighbors and common area, and bag up the inevitable mountain of fluff for the rubbish bin. Be sure to keep fur cleaned up from your carpets whether you brush indoors or out.
Find a Sitter. A sitter can be heaven-sent in terms of keeping your pup happy when you’re away working or having (GASP!) a life outside of your dog. Check out local dog resorts for day care or boarding, or Rover or Wag! for pet sitting or walking.
So, so many things to do and see to as a perfect pup parent, right? But aren’t they worth the effort? And won’t it be just grand when your neighbor welcomes your furry friend with some scritches (maybe ones even good enough to get that back leg going) instead of a harsh glare.
RESOURCES: Pet Safe, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Kennel Club, Apartment Guide, Human Animal Support Services