Tips for Dog Owners
Although you can’t guarantee your dogs behavior, there are many ways that you can help your pet behave well in public and with other people and animals.
- Adopt from a well-managed animal shelter whose staff and volunteers can fill you in on the dog’s background, personality and behavior in the shelter.
- Spay or neuter your dog as soon as possible. Healthy puppies can be spayed or neutered as early as eight weeks of age. Spayed or neutered dogs may be less likely to bite.
- Socialize your dog! Well-socialized dogs make enjoyable, trustworthy companions. Under-socialized dogs are a risk to their owners and to others because they can become frightened by everyday things - which means they are more likely to become aggressive or bite. Socializing is the opposite of isolating. It’s important for puppies to meet, greet and enjoy a variety of people, animals, places and things. Done properly, socializing helps puppies feel comfortable and friendly in various situations, rather than uncomfortable and potentially aggressive. The main rule for effective socializing is to let your dog progress at her own pace and never force her to be around someone or something when she’s clearly fearful or uncomfortable.
- Take your dog to humane, reward-based training classes—the earlier the better. We recommend starting your puppy in puppy kindergarten classes as early as eight weeks, right after her first set of vaccinations. Early training opens a window of communication between you and your dog that will help you consistently and effectively teach her good behavior.
- Make your dog a part of the family. Don’t chain or tie her outside, and don’t leave her unsupervised for long periods of time - even in a fenced yard. Most tethered dogs become frustrated and can feel relatively defenseless, so they’re much more likely to bite. Well-socialized and supervised dogs are much less likely to bite.
- Don’t wait for a serious accident to happen. The first time your dog shows aggressive behavior toward anybody, even if no injury occurs, seek professional help from a qualified animal trainer, or call the Special Services Officer at the Chadron Police Department.
- Err on the side of safety; be aware of common triggers of aggression, including pain, injury or sickness, the approach of strangers or strange dogs, the approach of people in uniforms, costumes or unusual attire (especially hats), unexpected touching, unfamiliar places, crowds, and loud noises like thunder, wind, construction, fireworks and appliances. If possible, avoid exposing your dog to these triggers. If your dog seems stressed or panicked in crowds, leave it at home. If your dog overreacts to visitors or delivery personnel, keep it in another room when they come to your house. Work with a qualified training professional to help your dog become more comfortable with these and other situations.
- Always supervise children and dogs. Never leave a baby or child younger than 10 years old alone with a dog. Teach your children to treat your dog gently and with respect, giving the dog its own space and opportunities to rest.
- Fulfill basic animal-care responsibilities. License your dog as required by law and provide regular veterinary care, including rabies vaccinations. Don’t allow your dog to roam alone.