How to Help Your Dog Acclimate

Change can be stressful and unwanted and that is one thing as adults we must get ourselves ready for. Whether you are starting a new job, moving or simply traveling to a new place for work, you want to prepare yourself. I have never been a fan of change, but that certainly did “change” when I wanted something better for myself, which we all also want for our pets. When I started working downtown in Chicago, I was beyond overwhelmed. I would have horrible anxiety getting on the subway, I wasn’t sure if I could live up to my new career and I always had a feeling of worry. I calmed myself down day by day, paid close attention to my mentor and have shaken my stress and anxiety. I stressed myself out, but once I learned to calm down and take a deep breath life got a whole lot easier. 

I know that most of our dogs do not have jobs, but changes do happen in our pets’ lives as well. It is up to us to help make these changes as stress free as possible. Dogs are creatures of habit, and they get into a flow of where and when they get to do certain things, typically after puppyhood. How do you acclimate your dog to new situations? Let’s say you are trying to kennel train your dog and he doesn’t like the cold. There can be lots of circumstances in which your dog may protest a new exercise, and that is why we must guide and support them. 

Kennel training your dog may not be the easiest task, but in this blog, I will give a couple pointers on how to help. When you are kennel training your dog, you want them to go into the kennel stress free and willingly. You can start by using positive reinforcement, essentially you will make it worth your dogs while to go into the kennel by luring them with food or treats. Some people may use their favorite toy, I personally wouldn’t use toys especially in the beginning of the process just because they may potentially ingest the toy if they are overwhelmed by being in the kennel in the first place. When starting out this process I recommend kenneling them while you are there to supervise. Many dogs can hurt themselves by trying to break out of the kennel or even biting the metal wiring. I personally always suggest never putting your dog intp the kennel with a collar on especially until you trust them in there. I only say this because all the kennels that I have put together in my life working in dog daycares and boarding facilities always had a warning label that read “TAKE OFF THE DOGS COLLAR WHILE KENNELED” 

If your dog no longer likes to go on walks since the weather is changing and it’s getting colder you must motivate them. Some dogs, especially smaller dogs and dogs with less fur usually wear a nice little pup coat and maybe some booties. You can always try out the new clothing in the home to try and get them used to walking/moving around while wearing their gear. If they do not want to walk outside with the gear on, bring some high reward treats and help them get going on their walk. If you are against the idea of dressing up your dog that’s totally fine too. I would just suggest shorter timed walks on more frigid days, maybe even try getting a tread mill for indoor winter exercise. Getting your dog on a treadmill isn’t as hard as you would imagine but it would also take some patience from you and practice from your dog. Treadmilling your dog is another big activity you would need to supervise. Typically, I would start by getting the dog on the treadmill with a leash, motivating them with treats. If they refuse to get on the treadmill while it is on, take a step back and make the new first goal getting them on the treadmill while its off. You can try leaving treats on it throughout the day as well as even possibly feeding them meals on it just so they are comfortable being on the treadmill while it is off. This is a great activity for them in the winter and it is great mental stimulation for them. 

This may sound a little crazy but not only dogs, cats as well need to acclimate to new food. When you are changing your dog’s food or even opening a fresh bag of the same food, it’s in your dog’s best interest you mix the last of the old bag with the newer bag. When you are changing your dog’s food completely,  it’s a good idea to mix mostly the old food with a little new food, then gradually mix in more and more of the new food. (I suggest 1/5 of the new food and 4/5 of the old food, and then gradually integrate them to completely new food only.) A lot of dogs have food allergies, so I believe this helps make sure the food is right for your dog as well as making sure that they aren’t getting sick from the high increase of protein intake. I only say that because most dog food is full of filler and if you are changing them to a better high-quality food, it can really bother their stomachs since they lacked protein previously. 

Lots of dog and cat owners are switching to “raw” food. I totally support it. I believe it is better for a lot reasons, mainly because they are eating human grade food to an extent. I am not against dry food, but it is good idea to switch up your dog’s diet every now and again. If you take a good look at what’s in your dog’s current dry food, I am sure you would have a lot of questions and/or concerns. Most are full of filler and that’s not the best thing to feed your dog everyday forever. Take small steps toward changing their diet. Acclimate them slowly. Try putting a little ground beef on their dinner every other night. I believe this can really help all dogs be healthier, this will especially help dog parents who have very picky eaters. 

Remember the key to helping your dog is to support and guide them through rough new situations and help them build self-confidence to try new things. Also, little by little is always very helpful and a lot less anxiety ridden! 

The dangers of strangulation in the crate 

The reason being, if a dog snags the collar on a hook or bar in the crate, it will very quickly start to panic. As the dog tries to free itself from the snagged collar, it can stress the dog, and start to tighten around the neck.  

The dangers of choking in the crate 

Another reason to take a dog’s collar off in the crate is due to boredom. When dogs are left alone for long periods of time, they will start to find ways to amuse themselves. This can often mean they start to chew, scratch, or paw at the collar. I’ve also heard a report of how a dog managed to get its bottom jaw into the collar, so the collar was stuck in the mouth. You can imagine how stressful and painful that was for the dog when it was left overnight in the crate in that position. In fact, the same study I referenced earlier said that more than half of pet professionals (e.g., vets, kennels, dog walkers), have experienced a collar related incident with dogs.