Anxiety in outdoor dogs can be a common and difficult problem to treat. Pet retailers who have a basic understanding of the challenges and solutions can offer their customers helpful advice. The more helpful you are to your customers, the greater the loyalty and client retention you will likely see.
As a professional dog trainer, I’ve met owners who, for a variety of reasons, elected to keep their dogs as outdoor pets. In about 50 percent of these cases, they did so because of the dog’s poor behavior.
Whenever possible, I encouraged owners to teach their dogs proper indoor behaviors so that they could be more like a family member than a backyard dog. Because dogs are wired for social contact, it can be stressful for them if they are deprived of it. For this reason, I always encouraged owners to teach their dogs to come inside and give them more of the social contact they need. This inevitably led to happier, well-adjusted dogs and more satisfied owners.
Teaching dogs to behave in the house involved various treatment programs in which the dog was taught to come into the house quietly and calmly. Owners were instructed how to teach their dog to not jump on furniture, steal food from counters or tables, jump all over people, run out the front door, raid trash, chew inappropriate objects and go to the bathroom in the house—the number one issue. I plan on covering these solutions in future articles.
Some cases didn’t allow for the dog to be permitted in the house. In almost every case, these outdoor dogs exhibited various types of stress responses, including excessive barking, digging, fence jumping, jumping on doors and windows, excessive excitement upon any human contact and jumping on everyone that came into the yard. Whenever teaching the dog proper house etiquette was not an option, I found the following steps to be effective in alleviating a dog’s stress.
Spend More Time with the Dog
Owners should take their dog to obedience training and dedicate at least 20 to 40 minutes per day to interacting with the dog. In addition, the backyard (where most people keep their outdoor dogs) should be a place where owners conduct obedience and play with their dog. Not to suggest that training shouldn’t be done around the neighborhood, but some of it should also be done in the backyard. This prevents the yard from being the place of banishment for the dog. You can also suggest that owners encourage other family members to become a part of the training and play process as well.
Make the Backyard More Fun
Aside from obedience and play, encourage owners to make their yards more fun and interesting for their dog. Have them leave interactive toys in the yard so he has different things to play with throughout the day. If their dog likes to dig, recommend to owners that they install a sand pit. The owners can encourage the dog to dig in the sand pit by burying some favorite toys in it. This can go far toward eliminating a digging problem.
Some owners have had great success with the purchase of a wading pool. Why? Because some dogs dig to find a cool place to lie down and others love to play in the water. The owners should place the wading pool in the shade and fill it with one to two inches of water. Many dogs will love lying in the pool so much they will stop or significantly reduce their digging behavior.
Some other items retailers can offer to make keeping a dog outdoors better for both the dog and the owner include:
• A sturdy, well insulated doghouse
• Quality water and food bowls
• Interactive toys
• Leash, collar and identification
• Flea and tick repellants
Consider a Second Dog
Since dogs are very social, if an owner cannot realistically give her dog the time he needs, another dog can help fill this void. This simple measure can make a huge difference in a dog’s life. Of course, two dogs can also be twice the work and is more costly, but it is worth serious consideration.
Although the goal should always be to have a dog live in the house as a member of the family, sometimes this is not possible. In those cases, proper training, equipment and social interaction are crucial for the canine’s wellbeing and the owner’s happiness. An educated pet retailer can offer the advice and products to ensure this success.